Monday, July 31, 2017

9795. RUDIMENTS pt. 30

Making Cars
My father used to race us up
Route One, back when I was 
about 7 or 8, for any of those 
innumerable trips back to Bayonne.
Mostly to visit my grandmother; my
mother's mother. She had a nice, I
thought, little apartment on the first
level of a large, brown house, with 
a porch and all, on Avenue A in
the 20's blocks somewhere. I can
remember it like yesterday; it was
the same house my mother and her
sisters had grown up in. Going back 
there now, I mostly can never even find
it. It's been all redone, twice over, new
siding, that 'porch' area has been now
absorbed into the house itself, new walls
and things. It looks nothing like the old.
too bad, but whatever  -  things like that
happen and, anyway, the guide-map of
Bayonne itself would not bear any real
resemblance to Bayonne of old if placed
side by side. First off, it used to be made
of wood  -  houses, out-buildings, sheds,
shops, etc. That's all gone now, nothing of
wood even remains. Back then, too, there were
oddball things that I sorely miss : like at 33rd,
or 31st, and Broadway, a hardware store, big
time, selling most everything, loose. It had an
open-front area, with overhangs and stuff,
protected, for maybe coal trucks and things to
load from, and the car-port area stretched out
into the street, where there were two glass-globe
gas pumps. Right on the curbing. Posted price 
was maybe 19.99 cents a gallon, serve yourself 
and pay. On the gas pumps, on the top-face, 
there was this cool little glass globe, a view-glass, 
something like a huge marble. As you were 
pumping the gas, the gas flow going through 
it, as a visual evidence that you were flowing
gasoline, this multi-colored marble thing would 
be spinning around. It was fascinating, and I
looked forward to it each time. Funny thing was,
one of my aunts, years later, re-married, and the
guy she married had a tailor and dry-cleaning
shop right across the street form all this. McCarthy
Cleaners, I think was the name. He bought the name
with the business, even though he wasn't any
McCarthy. Back at my grandmother's place, just
a few doors across, there was a small grocer's
place, a candy store, etc. Small sorts of things
abounded, all name after the owner or somesuch:
Marfucci's Meat Market, Hal and Hazel's, a sundry
shop, a cigar store, a barber. Traffic and pavement
was all slow and easy. That's all gone now  -  Bayonne
itself remains a real nowhere; one of those places they
only maybe throw into a Hudson County guidebook as
an afterthought. A lot of it was military  -  armaments,
gas and oil, boats. A lot of Polish names, Italian
names, and Irish too, I guess; the old mix. Germans
and stuff, I don't know about, except that my Uncle 
once showed me, over by where I was born, there
was a Playtex girdle factory or something and for
the duration of the war (WWII) it had been converted
(rubber shortage meant no girdles. I used to think
of women and sex, later  -  'girdle shortage meant no
rubbers.' Yes, senseless, but fun.), into a POW camp
or jail I guess, for captured Germans who'd gotten
apprehended snooping the docks and local military
areas. He said they had maybe 60 or 70 guys in there.
Down in the really crap end near where I was born,
just about beneath the Bayonne Bridge, was a Hellman's
Mayonnaise facility. Maybe it was a 'factory', but I
like facility better  -  they used to say each egg was
cracked with care, one at a time, there, on the thighs of
the Spanish ladies who worked inside. I never much got
a clear picture of that one, whatever they meant. Do
they even have eggs in mayonnaise? I never wanted
to get 'mayonnaise malaise' over that question, so I
never thought about it too much. And then I used to
think, too, 'do adults ever say what they really man?'
Having to phrase whatever they were attempting to say
-  tenderness, sexuality, sensuality  -  whatever, about
the Spanish women by doing that whole egg-cracking
scenario, that made some fearsome images in my mind.
As a kid, I mean : talk about a cartoon fraught with
strange and subconscious meanings, had these adults
no idea of the fecundity of a child's imagination? Back
then, everything was so weird, people talked funny,
in roundabout ways, of the most serious and harmful
subjects. It was as if, in 1949, war's overload was still
ripping at all their guts. 
Another thing was, Eight Street Station I think it was
called. It was a really vibrant, or should have been
anyway, train depot, right there in town  -  connected
Jersey City, one town away, the Hudson Tubes, NYC,
all that, by train. What they do to it? By the mid/late 50's
they let it rot away and fall to nothing, a useless and
perforated, intermittent-schedule crummy train service
for mail and freight mostly : oil tanks had moved in, the
quaintly urban-small landscape had been torn all apart
for truck roads, oil storage, gas lines, etc. Absolutely
no one, back then, wanted to be caught dead riding a
train. Everything was cars, cars  -  tail fins, fake looks
of speed and streamline, driveways, roads, paving.
The entire idea of trains had fallen away to nothing.
Whatever good they once may have had, they let
it all slip away  -  just like all those little stores.
The influx of supermarkets, cold-storage, frozen
goods, groceries by the half-ton, that all replaced
the small-city graciousness that should have been.
It's all gone now  -  10,000 Hispanics, Mexicans,
indigents, new Arabian entrants, and Indians, and 
10,001 spanking new Dollar Stores. Go figure.

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