Whatever Happened to Mikey?

Swingline is the name brand of an old stapler sitting on my desk, that I have stared at for the past ten minutes. The mental pause feels like writers block, but is probably indigestion, or a senior moment. The handy device has been dropped many times and has only a few scratches. It is dirty from forty plus years of handling.

Forgetting about environmental effects, I grab a bottle of Bang and spray it clean. An inscription, made in the USA Long Island City, New York, is readable when the finger grime is removed. The steel grey metal color now shines, and the words, Swingline Speed Stapler, brag about its lasting quality. There are seven patent numbers listed. The patents are probably why it continues to work and I have kept it all these years. It is sturdy and strong, and can also be opened to staple paper flat on a bulletin board.

Remember schoolroom bulletin boards filled with colored construction paper, and displays made from paper plates cut in pie-pieces, to demonstrate fraction equivalents; I taught first grade at St. Brendan’s School in the Bronx and when I left, took the stapler.

The song, Little Rabbit Foo-Foo, and Mikey come to mind, everyone knows Mikey from the Cheerios commercial.

Michael Gilchrist was my student.

There were three Gilchrist brothers: Tom, Michael, and John. John, the youngest, was the three-year old called Mikey in the commercial. The real Michael, my student, says, “I’m not going to try it,” in the commercial, and pushes the bowl of Cheerio’s towards him.

There was a lot of excitement when the commercial ran, and shortly after the family moved to Yonkers.

But whatever happened to Mikey, John Gilchrist?

MSG director of media sales John Gilchrist poses

Mikey is alive and says, “The folklore that I ate Pop Rocks, the exploding candies, and I drank a soda and my stomach blew up,” is not true.

Gilchrist, 44, has been in ad sales, first in radio, including a stint at ESPN, and now for MSG Networks, where he is director of media sales, primarily negotiating with advertisers on TV ads.

Although “Mikey” had no lines at all in his third and most well-known commercial, he built a successful career and appeared in about 250 other commercials.


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