Luck also played an important part in Don Seibert's career, although his version was of the almost unnoticed Main Street workaday variety. But it did establish him in the mind of a Penney DM ”a surprising development considering Seibert's invisibility at the time. Soft-spoken Don had been caught in the backwaters of the company, so far behind the dynamic and personable Walt Neppl that ” had they known of Seibert ”even the most imaginative Penney people would have never dreamt of making a comparison.
He was newly married, and his wife was expecting their first child when his jazz band was stranded at a third-rate resort in upstate New York. It was 1946. He had been out of the army for a year. Having worked for J. C. Penney part-time as a teenager, like Batten and Neppl, he went to work full-time selling shoes at Penney's. This was in Bradford, Pennsylvania, where his wife, Verna, had grown up and where they had been compelled to move in with her parents.
Unlike Batten and Neppl, Seibert disappeared for a while. His soaring ambition was to someday manage a shoe department (something, the reader will recall, Batten did almost immediately in Lansing). From another large, religious, Midwestern German family, Seibert was known as the wool-gathering poor relative who moved frequently, put in ungodly hours, and didn't seem to be getting anywhere during his first decade with Penney.
No one, least of all Seibert himself, would have guessed how far he would actually go.