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In July of 1968, I started tending bar at Drake's Drum in Manhattan at Second Avenue and East 84th Street. Teammate Jimmy Duke, Manhattan RFC, and friend Frank Casa, New York RFC, partnered to open this English-styled pub restaurant that would become the thriving social hub of New York City rugby
On Friday evenings, Jon Prusmack was the first person to enter The Drum, always punctually at 5:30 p.m. Since he worked as a free-lance graphic designer, and not a 9 to 5 employee for a company, his day at home ended upon completing work for hire projects.
Jon was eager to show me the prototype for the first issue of Scrumdown, his glossy black and white magazine about all things rugby, especially, articles about the United States. Only an enthusiastic entrepreneur with a vision, someone who would risk time and money, would have embarked upon this innovative magazine idea. We would chat about the sales and marketing of the magazine, when, around 6 p.m., familiar rugby faces entered the pub. These ruggers with Jon formed a loose scrum to talk about work and rugby.
Jon published only four issues of Scrumdown. It proved difficult to establish a profitable circulation of readers who were widely dispersed throughout the country. He folded the concept after two-years. The rugby community applauded Jon's courageous initiative but no one in 1969 perceived that this niche sport - in any media form - could become a successful enterprise in the United States.
In September, I started Columbia University Business School. For a Marketing Class, I decided to write about Jon’s efforts to publish a US rugby magazine. He suggested the title for the paper, “Ahead of the Curve and Behind the Eight Ball.”
In August 2006, I was writing a book entitled ReWorking Retirement. A rugby friend suggested I contact Jon Prusmack, who had embarked on a new, manufacturing business. Maybe he could provide an interesting story for the book.
We met at the company’s headquarters, a large factory in Rockland County, New York. I had not seen Jon since 1976 when I left Manhattan, returning in 1985. He narrated how, in the early eighties, he conceived of the idea for geodesic, easy to put up military shelters sold worldwide as D.R.A. Systems (DRASH).
We discovered, for the first time, a karmic connection having played high school football against each other in 1956 when I was a senior and he a sophomore.
Jon announced he purchased the rights to the USA Sevens rugby tournament and bought back one hundred percent of RugbyMagazine that he restarted in 1975. He asked me to become a consultant for the rugby company, which I did in October 2006. He particularly wanted me to concentrate on the magazine, which we had discussed in Drake's Drum those many decades ago. Our initial project launched www.ErugbyNews.com to offer content in digital form (Today, www.RugbyToday.com).
He donated the rugby complex at his alma mater, the Naval Academy. (See above photo with Jon and Patrice Prumsack.)
In the future, when I think of Jon, I shall remember the pleasure on his face as he gazed down from the owners' boxes at the USA Sevens in Las Vegas, or from the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship outside Philadelphia. He watched enthusiastic rugby fans filing in the seats, awaiting the start of great sevens rugby, a generous gift and the legacy from a man who loved the game, A.Jon Prusmack.