Saturday, January 30, 2016

7753. BELOW THE WATER LINE (pt.148)

There was an entire undercurrent of crime and corruption
once you passed the area of the junkyards. Weird stuff was
always going on. I remember once there was a place there,
on the left, headed towards Rahway, the first business under
the always-flooding underpass-bridge at the junkyards. The
place was called Marcus Transformers. I guess that's what
they made. It's empty now, just some old factory building,
now part of some larger metal recycling guy's place. It
employed some 30 or 40 people at least. The guy never
paid his payroll taxes or anything, and one day (this is
back, let me add, in the mid-60's) the Feds just closed
him up, and that was that. I was always told, after that and
in various business formats, that you can pretty much do a
lot of chicanery in a 'business' format, but you can't mess
with payroll deductions or taxes. I guess this proved it. The
place never re-opened, and all those jobs were lost. I don't
know what ever happened to 'Mr. Marcus.' Another time,
down the street and left, there was a company called Thayer
Products, or something like that. My mother worked there
for a while, in the mid-70's I guess it was. She was never quite
sure what was going on there, or what exactly they 'made', but
she just did her job. There were always, milling about outside,
mysterious types of people in bunches. They all wore mesh
hats and things  -  the sort of work garb needed inside the
place. It was funny because you could see, in these work
jacket vest things, there were no pockets, just open mesh
external pocket substitutes. No one could steal anything
because anything pocketed would be seen in the mesh by
shift-inspectors who watched people coming or going. So
my mother said. One day she went into the bathroom, the
Ladies Room area, and there was a lady dead on the toilet.
It was quite a scene, but my mother, again, was never too
sure what had happened. There were always shady deals
going down. The whole area was unknown, like a half-ground
for business ventures that weren't too sure of themselves. The
junkyards, of course, they held tough and mattered, but this
was their territory and place  -  oil, grease, metal and rubber,
contaminated ground, run-off and leaks. God forbid any
waterway here. Who then would really want, except for
dark and low-level business ventures, such a place for a
business address? Whenever we walked around that area,
or hung around there, it was always railroad or junkyard
stuff. I never saw it as a good place for regular business.
There's another place, at the end of Inman Avenue, across
from Hiram's Trailer Court, named Brandywine Truck
Salvage or something (it was actually our large 'junkyard
of choice' as kids, and easily accessed by us from a few
different locations and angles). Whatever it was they
did there, and by what means they did it, the owner was
killed there, shot or something, right on the premises;
sometime in the 1970's, I think. Crime was always
just a thin piece of paper away.
To my knowledge, back then, and to the other kids I hung
with, there was no 'drug' culture at all. We'd never even
really heard of that. Boozers and stuff, yeah. We'd see a
few of them, and we knew what was up with that. It just
would never have occurred to us to include the presence
of drugs in any part of our worldview. Twenty years later,
I guess, that was all different : Whatever that lady died
of on the toilet, and whatever those guys were milling
around with in their parking lots, by the mid-70's it could
easily have been drug business. Just never knew. There
was never anything classy or polished about any of the
businesses in that area. Rahway proper had its jewelers
and camera-shops, respectable and presentable. But nothing
like that here. It was funny, anyway, how 'society' of whatever
nature, just began deteriorating pretty quickly after the 60's;
drugs being just one example. Bad taste and bad choices just
took over. It was all downhill from there.
That all had to be reflected, of course, in the regular course
of events; and it was. As I saw it, everything else just began
to deteriorate as well. Judgmental stuff, I mean. It became OK
to forgive, or let things slide, or even to profess 'understanding'
for someone's really awful action or attitude. When all those
underpinnings begin to fade, it's really already over. No one
speaks up for anything, the leaders lose all sense, and as it
progresses, the people with any 'old-line' thinking just get
ridiculed or defamed. It's too bad, and it was too bad, as well,
to watch. Even priests started trying to become hip. All it
ever did for me was add to the confusion I was living. I knew
a guy, all he did, every day, mid-morning or whatever it was,
for the entire Summer or time he was free of work, was walk
the streets with a small transistor radio, held to his ear, on
which he'd listen to this kind of pop-psychology, radio show
 run by a Dr. Joyce Brothers. She died a few years ago, maybe
ten or so, but in her own day, through the 50's and 60's, and
beyond, she was a pretty well-renowned person for reference  -
talk-shows, pop confabs, even situation comedies and TV show
cameos and walk-ons  -  to the slick and the hip. A sort of
breaking 'pop' guru for the counter-cultural race that was then
underway. This guy would listen every day, and rave about it.
He once said to me, 'Radio is great, I love it. It would be perfect
if they'd just get rid of the time and the news announcements.'
He didn't say anything about the endless stupid commercials, so
I guess he didn't mind that. It was funny though, because I'd never
before heard anyone object to the 'time' announcements given on
the radio. ("The CBS News time now is 12:04').... 

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