Friday, January 6, 2017


290. AVENEL, Pt. 12
It's really funny now,
looking back, at the
1967 era : there
were a lot of weird
things to retain.
Crazy stuff like
'The Heartbreak
of Psoriasis'; and
'Summer's Eve
Feminine Spray;'
new things, like
'Dunkin' Donuts',
and 'Blimpie Bases.'
The Blimpie, by the
way, was a hippie-sized
submarine sandwich,
or Hoagie, or whatever.
They original logo was
-  yes  -  a blimp; kind
of in the shape of a
sub-sandwich, tethered
to something  -  an
airfield pole, or something.
All along the lower west
side, hippies everywhere
loved them. Sliced meat,
oils and vinegars, lettuce.
It took a long time for them
to make it out of NYC.
In NJ, even Avenel,
we'd had sub shops for
a long time. The real
kind of sub shop,
where a few people
actually cut the meat
and made the sandwiches.
The thing about these
upstarts, like Blimpie,
and Subway, later, was/is
that they'e franchises  - all
exactly the same everywhere.
There's just no joy in it.
The proprietors have to
buy the meats (delivered
frozen, in waxed, already
settled, portions, with
everything done exact
and by the rule book).
If you ever watch one
of these people, the
 'supposed meats'
are kept in trays,
wax-paper separated,
and for each sandwich
all the clerks do is peel
and construct. Even
the condiments,
tomatoes and olives
and junk, are controlled.
That's the things they
never mention, but
they keep you
distracted by
bragging about their
'bread'. I'm not so
sure about that bread
either, but can't tell
you because I really
don't frequent these spots.
Anyway, these were all
big, breaking things back
then. There was even
something called 'Pssst'
which claimed to be a
spray that 'washed' your
hair, and was advertised
for date nights and
times when you (the
girl, back then),
didn't have time to
rightly 'wash' your
hair, and needed a
quick cleansing
and freshening up.
Beats me what they
were thinking.
men's colognes
and junk started
appearing then too,
besides the normal
after-shave crap like
Old Spice which
had been around
forever. This was
sex-marketing :
Brut, English Leather,
Canoe. At first the
radio ad guys just
said 'Canoe' -  like
the boat. Then a
few years later
they got all uppity
about it, and it
suddenly morphed
into the (very 
French) 'Ca-new-ay'.
Jesus K. Rist, what 
was going on?
If anyone had ever 
walked into Appellate 
Printing smelling like 
one of those, he'd have 
been bounced on his 
head right down the 
stairway  -  and at the 
bank to which we'd
relocated too. None 
of that smell stuff 
worked too well for 
us. Bill Konowalow 
smoked  a strange 
mini-cigar called 
'Swisher Sweets', or 
he smoked De Nobili, 
which looked like a 
dark, twisted twig, 
or something else 
called 'Factory 
Seconds,' which 
were like failed 
cigars which didn't 
pass inspection at 
the cigar factory. 
Each of these were 
little, runty things, 
and each produced 
an 'aroma,' shall I 
call it, of its own. 
Everybody smoked 
back then, and 
everywhere too, 
so it little mattered; 
there was a blue, 
gray, or black haze 
of smoke most 
everywhere. I 
swear people 
smoked while 
making love, 
maybe with a 
stop too, for an 
extra drag. That 
was the only smell 
around, and the 
smell of work. 
The world was 
different then  - 
 all that task-oriented 
stuff, people willingly 
popping blood vessels 
and having heart attacks
 over work and duties. 
I don't know what 
it's like now, but 
it sure seems 
different. Now, you
can't get anyone's
attention. Back then, 
along with the smoking, 
there were a lot of 
round, red-faced, 
ready-to-burst guys. 
They'd drop dead 
on the factory floor. 
One time, we had a 
printing appeal from
a case at the GM Plant 
in Linden, where 
some guy had a 
heart attack and 
died in the course 
of his work. His wife 
had filed suit suing 
GM, saying the stress 
of the work had killed 
him. They drove him 
too hard. The lawyer 
had all this stuff ready, 
and they testified  -  
some co-workers, 
some 'automotive' 
experts  -  about 
the work. (I had 
to read all this 
stuff, as a proofreader 
there, so I'd see it all). 
Their points were 
that this fellow had 
perhaps the most 
tedious, demanding 
job on the auto-plant 
floor, with the line 
always moving; and 
he carried it out so 
prodigiously and 
exactingly, that it 
killed him  -  it (his
job detail) was 
'hanging of the 
rear-loading tailgate 
doors onto station
wagons,' Their claims 
were that it was a 
totally exact and 
to-standard job; 
they had to meet 
perfectly, be hinged 
and torqued , glass 
windows and handles 
and hook-ups and 
things. If you got
 too many bounced,
 from bad work, 
you could get in 
big trouble. He 
sweated a lot, was 
extreme in his work, 
and was...dead. They 
lost the case; thus 
the appeal. That was 
a fairly typical sort 
of the liability cases 
these small courts 
and things handled. 
I guess if you set 
to it you could 
really find any 
lawyer who would
 concoct for you 
a case of any sort  -  
the short order 
cook who went 
crazy from making 
perfect toast, or 
omelettes under
pressure; you 
can imagine any 
of your own 
Back to that 
old bank building, 
the coolest thing 
about it was that 
deep in the center 
of the main floor, 
underneath that 
balcony section 
I mentioned where 
the offices were 
above, there was 
a huge, I mean 
huge, walk-in  -  
I mean drive-in, 
if you wanted  -  
safe. From the old 
days, like in the 
movies, bank robbers, 
people getting stuffed 
into the safe as the 
doors are locked 
on them and the 
robbers take off 
with the dough. 
You could probably 
fit sixty people in 
this thing  - all 
heavy, solid steel 
and chrome, with 
that big wheel-lock 
combination spinner 
thing on the front. 
We used it to store 
paper, sorted by 
color and size and 
stuff. The lock had 
been disabled. I bet 
that baby's still there  
-  the building's a 
gun shop and auto-parts 
place now. I used to 
tell people I invented
'safe sex' there  -  
I'd take a girl in 
and have sex with 
her. Big joke, huh. 
I was always a 
comedian; not 
a good one, but 
a comedian 
none the less.

But working in an 
environment such as
that was pretty fantastic.
I'd never even been exposed
to air-conditioning units 
before; this old bank had 
four separate, gigantic Chrysler
Air-Conditioning units. They
were large, metal boxes, with
fans and pulleys and noises,
that went just about from
floor to ceiling in each of the
four corners of the large 
central room. They did
the job too  -  God knows
what their usage cost.
Neither did I ever know
Chrysler got involved
in air conditioning  -  
must have been the 1940's.
It was nice, in a place like
that, for it to be cooled. The
ceiling above it all,
cathedral-like anyway,
must have been thirty feet,
with the balcony too. Lots of
space to work on cooling.
Things were still 'metal' back
then  -  there wasn't a plastic
piece to be found.

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