Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Cliff Notes

I was trying to come up with something to post about today. It occurred to me to post about all of my jobs I have had...There must be 50 of them. Seriously. One of my favorite jobs was waitressing in Lincoln at the Country Club, and no it was not like Caddy Shack. I was attending nursing school at the time. I worked with some really great people, fun people, funny people. Which is always important. It was an interesting job, because it did take me somewhere I would not normally go. My husband and I were college students at the time, and living hand to mouth. It was interesting to meet people I would not normally meet-even if I was simply serving them dinner. One of my all time favorite customers was Mr. Cliff Hillegass. Yep that's right, the founder of Cliffs Notes. He was always very nice, and cordial, smiling, and kind. I remember the first time he came in, and I was told who he was. I was shocked, I wasn't aware an actual person was behind Cliff's notes, and I sure as heck did not know he was from Nebraska. I always wanted to tell him "Thank You", for getting me through the Canterbury Tales class I had taken. I never did, he died in 2001. I am sure, I am not the only one that wanted to thank him. What a fantastic idea, and for some reason, when you looked at him you could see there were other fantastic ideas.

I found the following information on Cliff Notes website....

Who was the original Cliff?
Born in a small, rural Nebraska town named Rising City, Cliff Hillegass epitomized the notion of the "self starter." Fueled by his early love of literature, Cliff was determined to go to college. To finance his education, Cliff held down two paper routes in addition to caring for his family's Jersey cows.

As a college student in the dust bowl days of the "dirty '30s," Cliff continued to pursue his love of learning. While a graduate student in geology and physics at the University of Nebraska, Cliff got married and started his first full-time job as a college bookstore representative for Long's College Bookstore (now the Nebraska Book Company). The numerous contacts Cliff develop through his work at the bookstore were crucial to the launch of CliffsNotes many years later.

One Toronto contact, Jack Cole, owned Coles, The Book People, which produced study guides called Cole's Notes that were published in Canada. During one momentous conversation, Cole suggested that American students would likely welcome a U.S. version of the notes. With that idea, Cliff launched CliffsNotes in August, 1958, with a line of 16 Shakespeare titles.

Working out of Lincoln, Nebraska, Cliff built the company that produces the most widely used study guides in the world. Cliff's message for students was to use CliffsNotes to better understand literature.

In 1998, Cliff sold CliffsNotes, Inc., and the brand lives on today as part of John Wiley & Sons, Inc. In May 2001, Mr. Hillegass died at the age of 83.


prairie biker said...

Great Story! Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I agree!

And I owe that man a lot! Like my high school diploma!

Anonymous said...

Good man, that.

Anonymous said...

I worked for Cliff in 1998. What a wonderful man he was, as well as his wife Mary. I remember telling Mary in their beautiful home, how down to earth they were. She told me that it was because they "remember what it is like to come from nothing". truly the most wonderful, generous, unpretentious people you would ever meet.