The kind of day it is Thursday, Nov. 23
Cam Tait Edmonton Sun
It was well after last call at the Point After — that south side establishment which was a hub of activity and second home to countless professional athletes, media types and fans — when Tom Towns gave an inviting look.
“C’mon. It’s early,” he said, moving his shoulders and tapping his feet. “Let’s go disco dancing.”
My friendship began with Tom that night in Chuckles. Now, if you were part of the nightclub patrol in Edmonton in the late 1970s, chances are you might have a memory — faded, perhaps — of Chuckles on the west side of the Point.
White suits and disco. Tom relished in such an environment: the boy from Grande Prairie who cracked the illustrious Edmonton Eskimo backfield as a lightning fast defensive back, and was fitted for six Grey Cup rings.
He must have liked the feeling of jewelry.
When the man who donned No. 20 for the Eskimos retired from football in 1985, Tom found a fit in the jewelry business. In fact, he turned down an offer — very lucrative, he says — from the B.C. Lions to join the Irving Kline Jewelry company in 1983.
Now located in the northwest corner of the stately LeMarchand Mansion, Tom sat in the small lounge recently to spin stories about the business. He’s fit, healthy and still has that look of adventure in his eye, ready for anything. Anytime.
It’s been a monumental year for Kline’s Fine Jewelry, indeed, celebrating a full century of operation.
Tom, a self-proclaimed people person with a sense of humour truly as unique and personal as the bracelet loosely dangling from his wrist, remembers the early days.
“I used to hold a piece of gold up and say, ‘Is this 10-carat?” he said before bursting into laughter. “You escalate in any business when your father-in-law is your boss.”
And such was the case with Dick Newman. Tom began managing a store in Kingsway Garden Mall in 1983. Nine years later, Tom became a partner and the store moved south to its present location.
He has built a strong business and treats customers as friends, new and old.
I know. When I proposed to my beautiful wife and she said yes under the big oak tree just west of the first tee at the Edmonton Country Club, my next call was to Tom for an engagement ring. He also designed our wedding rings.
“I always liked drawing in school,” Tom said. “That has helped me design pieces of jewelry.”
He also gives to the community, in more ways than one. For the last two years Tom has been a contributor to the ATCO Edmonton Sun Christmas Charity Auction.
This year he will be hosting three people on a behind-the-scenes look at the operations of an Eskimo game, and a visit to the alumni room.
It will be a great time with an even a greater guy.
The Tom Towns story is far from over. It demonstrates how someone who grew up in Edmonton, went to the University of Alberta and played the sport he loved for his hometown team continues to succeed in business.
He’s been a dear friend and treats me like gold. Pure gold!
Cam Tait is the special projects advisor for Challenge Insurance.