Sunday, September 27, 2015


(pt. 21)
When I say there was only the bible in that room, I mean that :
my mother did have a subscription to Reader's Digest Condensed
Books, which kept arriving. It was through them, as least, that I
read such lower-tier claptrap as 'Seven Days in May', by Fletcher
Knebel, something like 1958, about a government coup in DC, or
something to that effect; another book was 'Advise and Consent', also
something about the inner workings of politics and Congress, though 
dressed as drama-writing, fictional. I don't know what of it all I 
understood, but I kept reading. I enjoyed The Haunting of Hill House, 
by Shirley Jackson, probably most of all  -  there were any numbers of 
others. Each 'condensed' book, as they were called, I guess had things 
left out, shortened by deletion. Whatever. I was 10 years old, what did I
care? I just reveled in words, and let the little plots and things carry 
me along as I watched the word-magic and let it take me. I just rolled
with it. I cannot rightly remember right now what other titles were
in these selections, but it was enough for me. Avenel did have a tiny
little library, an 'elbow room' of sorts. I borrowed lots from that too
I remember books entitled 'The Illustrated Book of .....' whatever each 
one covered : Astronomy, Electronics, the Oceans, etc. And I
loved, also, the 'Landmark Books' series; history/people. The little
library was quite nice, and then  at the same location - it was torn 
down and replaced with a larger, newer structure, with my friend Phil's
mother, 'Mrs. Muccilli' as the librarian and check-out desk clerk.
Always a pleasant place for me  -  they also had some photographs
of the old place they'd just torn down, on the wall. And one of them
surprisingly, had another neighbor girl of mine, Linda Napoli ( she was
about 6 years older than me) as one of the photos, standing near the
main desk as a book was checked out. Fascinating to me.
If that was the genesis of my interest in writing and in words, or even
if it wasn't, it's a good enough spot for me to call it. I found, by that
time, that talking didn't do it for me; writing was much better. When
I was writing, it was all my own  -  talking had to be too shaded, things
kept indirect, the end result of what you were saying needed to be 
considered beforehand (remember Jim Yacullo's repetition of what 
he just said, and my reaction to it as 'why don't you do that first?' a few
chapters back?). Writing was an imaginative magic. Talking was drab.
We were poor. We didn't have an encyclopedia set. I used to call over, 
by phone, to my neighbor's house, two doors over, Ed and Betty 
Fehring, and let them know I'd be coming over, to pick up the 'E' 
volume, or the 'S' volume, of their Britannica's. Mrs. Fehring (always  
just 'Betty' to me) was a daytime friend of my mother's  -  coffee 
clatches, visits back and forth. I had been given, by her, the 
dispensation of having open availability to any of their encyclopedia 
volumes, any time. I never abused it, it was always evenings, like 7pm, 
and always school-work stuff, and returned the next day. I'd go over 
there, knock at the back door (the kitchen in the house was always 
dark, as they were in another room, with television, and the 
encyclopedias, I think, were on some shelves in that main room too. 
It was great). We had the very same shelves, built into the very same 
wall, but all they held were knick-knacks and a few condensed 
books. Mr. Fehring was, as recall a local mailman, and I knew him 
to say hi to. They had two boys, Walter, and Ed. Ed the younger, 
I still have contact with. Walter moved to another part of the 
state, I think. I always liked those boys  -  never had much real 
boyhood 'friendship' contact with them  -  age differences  
and all  -  but anyway.
Remember the war guys and the wounded? Well, another 
instance:  right after we moved to Inman Avenue, the first year or 
maybe two, there was this fellow named 'Whitey'  -  just 'Whitey', that's 
all we ever knew him as. He seldom talked, never anyway much to 
us kids. The houses had all been built without storm windows and 
storm doors. This 'Whitey' guy had somehow managed, from his 
work truck, with supplies and roof-racks and all, to make contracts 
with almost everyone  -  a house at a time  -  to install storms, 
screens and storm doors. He was a constant presence  -  silently 
working, three or four, maybe, days per house, I don't recall exactly.
I guess his strange little monopoly was good enough for him. 
My mother always just said something to the effect of 'you boys 
leave Whitey alone; let him do his work and never sneak up on 
him or scare him.' I remember him, also, constantly smoking, 
and always at work, head down, oblivious. She said he'd been
 'affected' by the war and we should just let him be. 
One day he was just gone.
He'd managed to cover pretty well most of the block  - storm window
stuff back then wasn't like today. It was only in silver, some horrible
non-color like raw metal  -  nothing colored to match, nothing fancy,
real utilitarian stuff, and most people also got a grid/shield thing on
the front door which had their last-name initial, large and centered
in the grillwork. Kind of an attempt at royal presence. Inside these 
houses, I noticed too, curiously  -  for no one else ever seemed to 
make mention  -  the builders had not used wood. Around all the 
interior entryways and doors, the sills and moldings  -  they were all 
metal. I guess it was a volume-factory thing, a cost-cutting measure. 
Straight from the factory to the work-site in great bundles. White, 
painted metal, like a trailer. I used to like them, actually, for 
drumming my fingers on  -  nice, varied, hollow sounds. I did the 
same with the metal sides of the stove, and my mother had some 
pots and pans hanging, on  a head-high rack, onto which I also used 
to drum, using sticks or whatever. Great sounds. Now they call that 
stuff, I think, a 'junk-band' sound and play it in Brooklyn. 
Maybe it's a 'noise band'; I forget, and don't care either.
However I grew out of Inman  -  however and if  -  I have lots more 
to tell and say, but the main quality  -  I really have to say  -  that I 
took with me, took away from those truckyards and prison fields, 
trailer parks and woods and factories and swamps, was a disdain for 
the world; a complete and utter non-faith and non-interest in the 
workings of it  -  in the formal sense  -  and I somehow found out that, 
behind everything, every situation and format, is a lie. That lie is 
foremost. It is the underpinning of all the rest. It's all illusion, and 
people make stuff up  -  they erect 'structures' onto which you are 
supposed to hang your Self, after completion. An individual first 
needs be taught (and this is what the 'system' is all about) and then 
accept, all these pathetic and ridiculous assumptions about things : 
that's the 'system', that's the way. That's why police have badges and 
schools have doors, that's why clocks have faces and those doors 
have latches and locks. It's all to enforce; enforce those assumptions,
 even as wry and belittling as they may be. Without it there is 
nothing and Man is a 'feebling'* monkey, struggling at great odds, 
to tear a shape from his miserable time on earth. Formless and 
meaningless too. The rest is all made up.
* feebling : made-up word

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