Tuesday, September 13, 2016


There really are so many
things I can start relating
here, and I almost intend
to but sometimes they
get so mixed up and
cluttered that I find
myself confused. Yet,
no matter, I plod on. I
can't exactly keep straight
 -   with 'correctness' and
right attitude  -  because
I've never had any of
that and am not about
to start now. I'll dive in
wherever the water's
taking me. It's sometimes
awkward, and other
times just odd.
In Woodbridge, where
Bitting's Brewery or
Brew-pub, or whatever
it's called, is (I've never
gone there), there's a long,
unknown history at that
spot. Woodbridge Theater
used to be there, where
the police Quick-Chek
is now, and a jeweler or
something right next to
it too. Bittings itself, with
the railroad siding that
once ran right along it
at ground level and
which had a siding/stop
at the Bittings loading dock,
back then, was a granary.
Across the street, where is
now a strip-mall of about
15 little stores, was Klein's
Farm and Garden. It was a
large, for its day, garden
center. (Two days ago,
when I wrote about the
girl with the withered
arm or leg, at Woodbridge
High School, reading the
NYTimes wedding notices,
that was their daughter I
wrote about). What is now
Bitting's was something
akin to 'Woodbridge Grain
and Feed'. I'm not sure of
the name but back in its day,
like any service yard we've all
forgotten about today (for
instance, at the railroad
crossing on Rahway Avenue  -
where I got beaned by
that train, and have
written of  - was Avenel
Coal and Oil. Just
what it sounds like. The
old white house there
stood for years, as did the
golf driving range, to which
they turned their property
over when farming died.
All gone now, and today's
swanky phone-kids
wouldn't have a damn
clue or an interest either).
There once was a thing
called 'utility'  -  real
stuff that served real
needs. If you weren't
set right with your coal
and oil guy, you and
your family would
freeze to death. The
coal yards were
important, the payment
plans and the needed
deliveries. Woodbridge
had its own, yes, too,
of course. Woodbridge
Coal and Oil, with its
storage towers off Van
Buren Street that used
to loom over what later
became Route 35 or St.
George Ave. Horse-cart
and wagon, later fuel-oil
trucks and 30-day terms.
If you lived in town you
couldn't just go cutting
and burning trees, or
even boards and stuff
from your own home.
Towns were set up to stop
those sorts of things with
codes and regulations and
inspections and officials.
In addition, obviously,
the very idea of town
and village business boards
and chambers of commerce
was to enforce and promote
the local businesses at hand.
It all worked in consort.
In 1966, this is the way things
were. Now, as I write, the way
over-extended City Hall and
the municipal authorities are
finished up, behind that
Quick-Chek, and across
from the rear of Bittings,
demolishing the three old
homes that had stood there.
For more parking lot space,
which parking lots, for the
train station nearby now
take up both sides of that
area, and all the space
behind Bittings, which
once was usable and
quite nice scrubby
wild-land  -  since the
days of the granary
closing up. I worked there,
in the old granary building,
when it was something
called New Jersey
Appellate Printing.
We moved in, took that
old space over, and
turned it all into
working areas for a
thriving legal print-shop
-  briefs, court transcripts,
appeals, paperworks for
legal filings, etc. The one
part of the granary there
was tall, towards the rear,
and there had once been
a mountain of grain  - oats,
maybe, or wheat-for-flour,
I don't know, but that it
came in directly off the
freight cars at the siding
and was milled or sold
unmilled by the canvas
sack. Sure was a different
world back then  -  people
would take this home to
their own bread ovens
and bake their own bread.
I was told that a lot of the
old homes had their own
little, outdoor, bread ovens,
and wives would bake two
good loaves at a time, two
being, supposedly, good for
a two-week period. To feed
the family. And then you'd
bake again, two more. I
don't know about any
preservatives or bread
going green and old, and
actually it's just not my
problem now.
Those houses that are
being torn down, right 
across from the old 
granary  -  when we 
worked there the second
house in had three girls 
that lived there, sisters, 
with their parents too. 
Each girl was maybe in 
something around their 
mid or early 20's. Three
of the cutest and most 
playful girls you'd ever 
see. One had a new car, 
newer anyway, and
was the most mobile. 
Those girls used to drive 
us crazy  -  four guys 
working there  - with their 
waves and smiles and 
bend-overs and small talk.
It was all innocent  -  on 
the surface anyway  -  but 
not so innocent when 
we'd talk about it ourselves. 
You know, 'guy-stuff.'
In the tall part of the granary,
where they used to store all
that grain, there was still some
around. About 200 pigeons 
lived in there, up at the rafters
all along the top. We never 
used it, except maybe to hang 
out, on break or something, on
cold days, or bring those girls
over into the loft (OK, just
joking). I used to work with
a guy, now dead, named
Gary Pry, and another really
good guy, from Milltown, 
named Bill Konowalow. He
was maybe three or four years
older than me. I lost touch,
wish I hadn't. Too late in
life now. Anyway, the owner
here, Ron Anzivino, he'd let 
some Portuguese or Puerto
Rican guys in, from Perth
Amboy, every so many months,
and they'd arrive with shotguns
and just shoot the living blazes
out of the pigeon loft rafters.
It was gross. They'd go home
with, each time, maybe 70-75
pigeons, dead. For food. They
said they always left some for
more propagation  -   more
babies and growth. A ready 
supply. I never enjoyed it, 
and the place would then
stink of grief.
One or two other items, and
then I'l let this rest for today.
Girls. Walking into New Jersey
 Appellate, you climb five or 
six stairs, like up from a small
lobby. That's where the receptionist,
bookkeeper, secretary sat. Recently
hired, a real sexy girl from Newark.
Marlene somebody. Maybe half
Spanish or Cuban or something, 
a little chubby, sexy clothes, 
mini-skirts and all that (back in
that day). What they used to call
'fast'  -  she knew her way, let's say,
around a joystick, and they'd not 
even been invented yet. She 
drove a spanking brand-new 
Ford Mustang. I'd use it every 
now and then, she'd let me, 
for speed-trip deliveries and
stuff to Newark or Trenton 
and Philadelphia. Legal 
docketing, filing paperwork, 
and all that. She used to 
rave about the car, that if 
I wanted to pass or speed, to
just floor it, slap the pedal 
to the floor, and it would 
power-downshift automatically
and rip-snort tear off. Cool.
The thing was, with crazy
Marlene  -  and she damn
well knew it, as did all us 
guys  -  was that, where she
was positioned, six or so steps
up, if you stood in specific areas
below you could see right up
her mini-skirted legs. Right to
the wild blue yonder. She never,
ever, made any effort to close
her legs either. No comment,
Before I leave, one more thing.
I had a friend, she's dead now,
God rest, and her name shall 
remained unspoken. She used
to tell me (I was a young man,
not used to any of this, and 
walking always on unknown 
territory and steps) that 
whenever she saw me she
began 'pooling.' I never 
knew what the hell she 
was talking about. (OK, 
I do now). Also, unknown 
to me, she'd start talking 
about her 'kugel' or 'klegal'
muscles, or something,
and how she was practicing 
with them and toning 
them up, just for me. Still
perplexed, I'd laugh  -  like
I knew? I ask you, what 
was I supposed to do?

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