Thursday, May 26, 2016


There never was any politics
in Pennsylvania, at least none that
I ever saw  -  no 'lawn' signs or
bumper stickers or any of that. All
things always seemed in isolation  -
any of the turmoil and tumult
outside of their Bradford County
concerns seemed not to bother
anyone. Maybe politics was all
just kept in the family. The lineage
just went as 'that's how we always
have voted, no changing it now.' I
really never remember anything
special being discussed as a topic
or a point to be argued over. Nixon,
war, what used to be called 'guns
and butter.' As I said earlier, in
another chapter way back, a lot of
the real old timers would still
remember the dire poverty of the
Depression and the way Govt.
and Roosevelt stepped up and
got everyone through it. I guess
that was Democrat activism, to
them. A few people had sons in
Vietnam, but nothing was ever
mentioned. That all went for
Elmira too  -  no activism of any
sort, no signs there either, that
I recall. No issues. Up at Cornell,
it was all different, people were
clanking around, screaming and
shooting over things, but even that
tumult went nowhere. I remember
the funniest thing, or the oddest
was at Elmira College. I never got
to the bottom of it, as to a how or
why, but each day in their little
student post-office mailroom, a
glass-fronted room of postal boxes
and mail slots and a table or to
for writing, there'd be 20 or 30
copies of the Cuban Communist
Party newspaper, entitled 'Granma'.
That was the name of the boat on
which Castro's successful armed
invasion's landing party came to
shore to win the Cuban Revolution.
Always just looked like 'Grandma'
to me. The paper somehow got there
every day, and I never knew how many
copies were taken, or left. I managed
to grab one most every day as I could.
Mostly, it was always filled with the
usual Party prattle  -  freedom and 
rights, labor and working people, and
like any of that stuff, USA or there or
Moscow, all BS. Every bit of going
through the motions of talking about
rights and freedoms was done while 
at the time the Party was rounding 
people up and torturing, imprisoning 
or executing them for the very same
stuff. It was all an amazing piece of
resourceful claptrap  -  the end result,
the finish line, for the sorts of the
high-minded prattle liberal-minded
and academic sorts always strive for.
No one believed a word of it, and it 
was all a crock of shit, but I think 
whoever was behind this thought 
the mush-headed kids of Elmira 
and its college were yet stupid 
and pliable enough to fall for it.
Even up in Cornell, where things 
were at least a bit different, and 
people were hot-headed and still 
fighting and fuming over issues 
and protesting that damned endless 
war, over and over, guns and butter, 
the kind of old political issue that 
used to rile the old class-strivers. 
No one says guns and butter anymore,
but back until Lyndon Johnson that
was a hot phrase, a point of real
contention; how the expense and 
the running costs of a war AND 
a greedy and hungry military could 
not possibly be sustained while on 
the homefront things remained the 
same  -  food and butter and plenty. 
The point then was there had to be a
choice, you couldn't have both  - and
so if a nation committed itself to 
'War' (like of the sort Vietnam never 
was committed to) there had to 
instead to be a new Wartime 
footing instituted for the country  
-  austerity, extra taxes for the cause, 
etc., which back then was sure to kill
all of LBJ's 'Great Society' programs
and stuff. That's what people were
fighting over in the streets, and that's
why, in March of '68, old LBJ just gave
it all up, and refused to run. Humphrey
ran, and got laughed out of court, again
over the war, by Nixon. As in 'the bastard
we don't know has to be better than the
bastard we now have.' Up in Cornell,
they still battled over this, shooting and
rioting too. The place at least took up
the cause, and joined it with Black Power
crap too. A total jumble. But in Elmira 
and, as I said, certainly my part of 
Pennsylvania, everyone was pretty 
much comatose. The real old timers,
as I said, and they'd tell you over and  
over, they were still raving over Roosevelt
and how he broke them out of the
hard-time Depression poverty with his
road-building work and WPA 
programs and all that. I guess to 
them that was Democrat activism.
There was a guy at Whitehall, where I
worked. His name was Bob  -  a regular 
cool fellow. I got to know him a little 
bit. A few of the guys there, they'd get 
together, I found out later, in the evenings 
sometimes. The shop foreman, Ron, 
had a key, and the one part of the 
printing shop, which was large,
had a tall, white, cinder block wall, 
and a ramp, where you could sit at
the bottom and look straight out 
at the wall. The place had once been a
car dealership, and this ramp was a
car entry for repair work or the
showroom or something. As it 
turned out  -  I only heard of it later,
as they all started making their 
comments and stuff about the 
night before  - they'd all get together, 
on like Tuesday nights or something,
and show porno flicks projected large,
onto that wall. This was early days of
anything, remember  -  no video, no
phone-movies or internet stuff. They
were still called 'blue movies' and
were still projected and on film  -  just
like an old movie house. Getting far
enough away from the projected wall, 
the image could be made pretty large.
These guys would sit there, whoopin'
and a'hollerin' over what they were
watching. The talk about it all the
next morning was how I found out.
Old Floyd White, he never had a
clue  -  leastways I don't think he
did. This Bob guy had a brand-new
Chevy pickup truck. A large one. 
As an example here of Elmira 
bumper-sticker activism, he had a
bumper-sticker affixed. It read, 'Bees
are good - eat your honey.' The har-har
of this was that Bob also raised bees 
and sold honey, but the point of the
double-entendre messaged sticker
was the sexual nature of the phrase,
not the bees  -  though it also then
advertised his honey-sales. I guess.
It was a big joke among the Tuesday
night porno club guys.
Bob also had recently gotten a new
girlfriend (he was divorced), and her
name was Robin. There was a current
song out, back then, something about
'Fly, Robin, fly...way up to the sky.'
That's all he was ever walking around
singing. I hated that song, and I hated
his singing of it even more. Whitehall
at this time also had a guy working there,
his name I can't recall, who was a charity
case, if anything. He was maybe 28 or 30,
had no teeth, and was dumb as a brick;
and I mean a really dumb brick. He was
a backwoodsman, for sure, something that
somehow managed to struggle back into
Elmira each day. Floyd used him for 
wrapping shipments, preparing UPS
stuff, and, occasionally, making 
deliveries. Trouble there was, no 
one really wanted to see him 
representing the company at the 
big-deal places we delivered too, 
so it didn't happen that often. Mostly, 
Mr. White would make all his weekly 
business rounds and bring the finished 
jobs with him, for their people to take
out of his big Chrysler. He bought a new
one each year  -  always green, and always
about as ugly as a flat-chested nun in a
leper-colony mission (which is a really
bad allegory, but one we used to make 
fun of the million things we made fun 
of.  We had this really, really fat woman
who worked for us, collating and stuff.
She was about 500 pounds and could 
hardly walk. In point of fact, when 
she sat she needed TWO folding 
chairs. Her name was Barbara Beach. 
We called her Barbara Beached Whale. 
A real bunch of guys we were). Anyway, 
this toothless guy, we were all friends 
and such with, he was OK, had fairly 
normal tastes and things. He had 8
kids already, and was always busy
having more. They lived in a trailer
somewhere in Heavesville (made up
name, but that's the sort of names that
were all around up there. Dumbest,
wackiest-sounding place names ever).
The car he somehow drove  -  and you'd
occasionaly see these sorts of wrecks  -
was so out of alignment, or the frame
twisted, or something, that when he 
driving straight, the car seemed to 
be trying to turn, or twisting or as if it
was going sideways. The tire-wear
was so outrageously uneven that it
was laughable. And, sure, we laughed.
We used to joke, if he was asking
directions to somewhere you'd never
have to tell him to make a right at the
light, because the damed car was
always trying to make a turn anyway.
We all swore Floyd must be getting
money to 'hire the losers' or something,
from a Govt. organization or a welfare
agency somewhere. 

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