youre not going to work at being a college
student, then you might as well help me at the
store," my father announced after examining
my spring semester report, which revealed an F
in Calculus II and no grade over C. My fathers
dream that I would be a doctor had died when I
was dropped from Fordhams premed program
at the end of my first semester. That and my continued
poor grades in the spring convinced him that I
wasnt willing to make the investment in
study that he thought would guarantee a lucrative,
independent career. Unaccountably, I would not
stand on the broad shoulders of his hard work,
self-deprivation and shrewd investing to reach
above the world in which he struggled with wits
and will to make his family safe from material
hardship. Maybe I would stand shoulder to shoulder
with him in that world.
that my father wasnt proud of his accomplishment
in establishing his business; he had told me more
than once that it had turned a profit from the
very first month he opened it in 1955.
store, as we always called it, located first on
Church Street near City Hall in Manhattan, was
the sort of business machines establishment that
is almost extinct now. We sold and serviced new
and used typewriters, adding machines, calculators
and checkwriters. The word store doesnt
do the place justice, really. It was a storefront,
perhaps thirty feet wide and fifty deep, but the
rear third was walled off as a repair shop with
a long workbench, at which four mechanics could
work simultaneously. On the back wall of the shop
were chemical baths and a compressor for washing
office machines in preparation for overhauling
them, and a powerful, noisy exhaust system to
remove the fumes and clouds of spray from the
solvents used for this purpose. Still, the smells
of Fedron cleaner, carbon tetrachloride, alcohol
and lubricating oil were always present.
partition of "frost green" sheet metal
topped by glass panels formed the otherwise open
office which occupied a corner of the showroom
and contained two heavy steel desks: my fathers,
where he gleefully typed his invoices with two
fingers on an ancient Royal model XS; and the
one where I would eventually sit, earnestly doing
the bookkeeping that always revealed a comfortable
profit. Along both walls of the showroom, in the
same green as the office-partition, were steel
racks on which were displayed new Olympia and
Smith Corona typewriters and reconditioned Royals,
Remingtons, and Underwoods. Occasionally, an Oliver,
L. C. Smith or Woodstock, relics of another era,
would squat there in the stolid meditation of
old age. IBM Electrics, mostly model As early
on and some older 01s, so heavy that they could
easily anchor a small craft in a storm, patiently
awaited the fingers that would set their motors
humming and their keys clacking. Other shelves
held adding machines and various brands of calculators:
Monroes, Marchants and Fridens. By the standards
of our microchip era, these mechanical miracles
of that time were noisy and slow. The stock was
rounded out with checkwriters and occasional Comptometers,
time stamps, check signers, Stenographs and stock
cancellers. From the store, my father also ran
a wholesale business in used checkwriters and
parts for them, shipping them to dealers all over
the States and in a few foreign countries.
I arrived, he ran the whole enterprise alone,
riding the subway from the Bronx to open on weekdays
at 8:30 a.m. and closing as late as 9:00 p.m.
on the nights when the various mechanics would
come in to work on the machines he couldnt
fix himself. On Saturdays, he opened at the usual
time, but he allowed himself the luxury of driving
in and of leaving work by 3:00.
my father expressed his desire that I help him
in his business, I couldnt deny that it
would be only fair. I began to go in with him
on Saturdays, often suffering with a hangover
and lack of sleep, and occasionally did a business
errand or two during the week. Summer work at
the store became part of my routine, too. As Dad
expected, none of this had any effect on my studies
because they consisted only of going to class
and cramming before tests. We continued in this
way through the rest of my college years, and
when I graduated without much sense of direction
and without attracting the attention of corporate
recruiters, I made the transition to full time
work at the store, an inauspicious beginning,
as I saw it, under a penumbra of failure.
I wasnt so young, twenty-two, and just starting
a family, I might have surrendered to despair.
As a pragmatic solution having to do with curriculum
requirements, I had become an English major when
I was no longer welcome in premed, and in spite
of my poor grades, I had been touched by the world
of ideas as they are expressed in writings of
philosophy, history and literature. I hadnt
accumulated much knowledge, but I had, between
bouts of drinking at the Web and marathon sessions
of poker in the student union, developed a sense
of the world and of myself that made my heart
unquiet at sharing my fathers success at
the store. Although it immediately provided me
with an adequate living and promised me affluence
in the future, the store also was the place to
which I had been sentenced for crimes the nature
of which I couldnt fully articulate but
which had to do with a waste of promise.
talents, if they werent illusory, lay in
some other directionalthough exactly what
direction that was I couldnt say. Nevertheless,
I resolved to do the best I could because, apparently,
the store would define my lifes work.
work and the surroundings were dirty and my daily
tasks boring. Malaise hung over me like the fumes
from the washing tank in the rear, and I breathed
in ancient dust that seemed like the ashes of
the mercenary Dutch from centuries ago. The basement
was the turf of rival gangs of quick roaches and
bloated water bugs that embodied the revulsion
I had to suppress to come to work each day. My
father advised me to adopt the way he used to
deal with his disgust over the bugs: turning on
the light a while before going down to the basement.
That would drive these denizens of the dark into
hiding so that I wouldnt have to see them.
But the bugs were so large that I could hear them
scuttling over the dry and dusty cardboard boxes
stained with their filth. When packing anything
in a carton retrieved from down there, I would
have to knock the box against a wall several times
to avoid sending a stowaway cockroach as an accidental
immigrant to Seattle or St. Paul.
from the start I was thrown into every kind of
work we did. Dad gave me little training or instruction.
For example, he might say, "See what you
can do with that Royal HHP. The backspace isnt
working." More often than not I was able
to troubleshoot the problem. Or Id be sent
by subway on a delivery in the Empire State Building,
shifting from time to time a heavy Friden calculator
from one hip to the other to counterbalance its
weight, and lurching like a drunken seaman, first
to one sidethen the other. I shipped Speedrite
matrices to Denver and F & E inkrolls to Savannah,
Paymaster model 900s to Hamilton, Ontario. I kept
the books, set up the window display, demonstrated
equipment to customers, and designed mail order
spite of my disappointment with myself for not
making more of my education, there was pleasure
for a while in learning new things. In those days
before great economic shifts rearranged the geography
of commerce in the city, before Hunts Point market
and the World Trade Center, before Tribeca, Soho
and all the acronymically-named places, I learned
my way around the city in general but especially
lower Manhattan: Vesey and Varick Streets, Nassau,
Water, Mott, Houston, Lafayette, Greenwich, and
West Broadway; the financial district, radio row,
the wholesale shoe section along Reade and Duane
and the produce markets.
learned to correct a typewriters uneven
line spacing by rubbing down a platen with emery
cloth soaked in carbon tet or alcohol, and how
to use bending tools to bring skewed letters back
into line; how to renew a Royal keyboard, using
a special tool to fasten the nickel-plated rings
that would secure the shiny new letters under
clear plastic; I learned how to adjust a Paymaster
checkwriter matrix to achieve a uniform imprint;
I learned why the German-made Olympia typewriter
we sold, with its spring-steel keys and precision
engineering, was better than the new Royals, Remingtons
never did learn not to make that one last turn
on the screwdriver in an effort to bring nearer
to perfection something that was already satisfactory.
Ping! The overstressed assembly would fly apart,
screws and springs scattering across the bench
and dribbling onto the floor, the tiny parts bouncing
and rolling invisibly into crevices and under
immovable objects to lurk there forever lost in
the dust. "Dom!" My father would call
from the office. "Didnt I tell you
it was good enough?" I learned how to break
expenses and income into their appropriate categories
in maintaining the books. But I never learned
to be comfortable offering five dollars for a
used checkwriter I would eventually sell for ninety.
I learned a whole new language of brand names
and machine parts. I learned the prices of all
the things we sold. But it took me a long time
to learn the value of my experience in the store.
main interest was always in the people.
the relaxed atmosphere of the evening, I chatted
with the mechanics who came in to do piecework,
moonlighting after their day jobs.
Pond was a handsome and engaging young man with
a permanent tan and a carefully maintained pompadour
of full, black hair. He would wrestle with one
of the Friden calculators he stopped by to repair,
his face an ever tightening knot of frustration.
Clearly not a student of Zen, he would finally
lift the heavy machine six inches off the bench
and let it drop with a slamafter which,
usually, the stubborn opponent finally submitted.
Bill would sometimes drive Dad home. They became
friends, and my parents had Bill and his girlfriend,
Karen, to dinner a few times. When I first met
Karen, she was a pretty and self-possessed girl.
I always remember her with a prim smile on her
lips and a pink chiffon kerchief around her neck.
But she seemed more and more forlorn as the years
passed, delaying the culmination of her expectations.
She was middle-aged by the time she and Bill married.
By then Bills careful coiffure was streaked
with gray along his temples. Their long courtship
seemed strange and wasteful to me as one who had
married straight out of college.
Randazzo didnt look like a mechanic with
his carefully trimmed mustache, immaculate white
shirts and fashionable gray suits, their slacks
pressed to a dangerous edge and his left hand
adorned with a gold ring in which was set a large,
sparkling stone.. His hair was pure white from
the first day I saw him when he was, perhaps,
forty. Having a wife and children didnt
prevent him from a carnivorous inspection of any
attractive womandefined as anyone in a skirt
or dress who was not wearing surgical stockings.
There was an opening over the bench that would
allow us to see the sales floor from the repair
shop in the rear. When he was back there working
on a Remington adding machine, Vinnies head
was sure to appear in that opening whenever the
click of high heels signaled the entrance of a
pretender to his surreptitious attention. If I
happened to be back there with him, hed
turn to me momentarily, pointing the screwdriver
in his hand to the subject of his appreciation
and say, "Id bite that!"
stopped by for the gab and the rest it gave their
a neat, diminutive Royal salesman with curly blond
hair, a snap brim hat and a gray suit with narrow
lapels, complained of the company cutting his
territory in half just when he was starting to
make some money. Whenever I asked him how he was
doing, he would answer in his distinctive southern
accent, "Well, Dom, its a great lifeif
you dont weaken."
Feit, the short, plump salesman from the Italian
company, Olivetti, had dark, thinning hair which
rolled back in tight waves along his scalp. He
was a forty-something Jewish guy who had seen
action in Italy during World War II and knew more
Italian language and geography than I did. When
I had occasion to tell him that my paternal grandfather
came from Santa Maria, he responded with a perfect
accent, "Ah, vicina di Napoli!" Jerry
had the salesmans tendency to tell the same
stories or make the same observations over and
over, forgetting where in his many stops he had
already delivered them. Consistent with that habit,
he must have told me a dozen times that there
were many Jewish Italians. Fellow Jews addressing
him in Italian was an experience he hadnt
anticipated, so he found it remarkable and amusing.
He was very fond of the Italy in spite of the
and cheerful, Jerry seemed a person married to
his habits but, in all other respects, committed
to lifelong bachelorhood. He only became miserable
when, after a brief period of bliss, he ruined
his relationship with a woman by marrying her.
In his visits to the store soon afterwards, he
would tell us of his wifes recriminations
and tears in perfect innocence as to their cause.
Within weeks, he reported, with the puzzled wistfulness
of a child who couldnt understand how one
of his favorite toys had gotten broken, that she
had packed her things and returned to her mother.
He, in turn, was freed to resume his whimsical
lifetime city dweller, for a year he repeated
the story of finally buying his first new car,
a Chrysler New Yorker, only to have Olivetti provide
him with a company car two weeks later. In a combination
of regret at his unnecessary expense and appreciation
of the irony, he would tell over and over of the
Chrysler New Yorker that never came out of the
parking garage. One day he said, "When I
die, Im not going to be buried in a coffin.
Im going to have them make a ramp into my
grave, and Ill be buried in the Chrysler
New Yorkeryou know, so I can drive to the
candy store to pick up the newspaper." In
the spirit of these comments, I replied, "I
just wish everyone could be so sensible about
such arrangements. I cant tell you the number
of people I know who havent given a moments
thought to how they would follow the Knicks once
with customers exposed me to a variety of experiences,
not all of them pleasant.
late middle-aged ladies came in once, sisters
who looked like twin knock-offs of Aunt Bee on
the old Andy Griffith Show and exclaiming in the
same musical voices. Dad sold them the heaviest
electric typewriter in the store, and I was to
have the pleasure of delivering it to their home
in Brooklyn. By the time I got to the address
on the receipt, both my hips were sore from shifting
the machine from one to the other to ease my fatigue.
Theirs was an ill-kept house near the end of a
street of modest single-family houses in Coney
Island, the edge of nowhere from my perspective.
I knocked on the door several times, but no one
responded, and it seemed dark inside. I was about
to leave, puzzled and dreading the punishing trip
back to the store with my burden, when a neighbor
caught my eye. "Theyre in there,"
he called from the front stoop next door. "Just
keep knocking." Thanking him, and wondering
at the tone of distain in his manner, I did so.
several minutes, one of the sisters did come to
the door, and as she opened it, a stench rose
from behind her and surrounded me. I took one
last breath outdoors and held it as I stepped
over the threshold into a nightmare. The interior
was dark and gloomy. I must have visibly shuddered
as I realized that indistinct shapes oozed along
the floors. The woman asked, "Are you cold,
dear?" and without waiting for an answer,
slipped into the next room for her checkbook.
As my eyes adjusted, I saw that the walls and
floors of the place were riddled with holes and
that the oozing shapes were cats, which were emerging
from some of them and disappearing into others.
Judging from the stench that assaulted me again
when I had to take a breath, there must also have
been many rats, which the cats killed and left
within the walls, the headless bodies gradually
changing to liquid and gas and leaving behind
a maggot-ridden pelt.
business the cat ladies had with an electric typewriter
I couldnt guess, nor did I pause to ask.
I hoped its weight wouldnt send me crashing
through a hole in the floor to a snake pit in
time, a woman in a neatly tailored suit and a
pillbox hat with a veil came into the store. Her
look was familiar to me from the many films I
had seen with my mother twenty years ago in the
late forties. She glanced at some reconditioned
IBM electrics then approached the office cubicle.
As I rose to meet her, she peered at me through
the veil which gave her eyes a hint of intrigue,
but her tone was matter-of-fact when she said,
"I wonder if you could assist me."
madam" I said, unintentionally falling into
the obliging tone of the eager shopkeeper from
those same films, and she walked back to the IBMs
with me in tow.
you are the people to help me," she whispered
in what seemed a mock-confidential tone suggesting
facetiously that she and I were, after all, on
the same side.
we cant, no one can."
have one of these at home," the woman said,
pointing at a model A. I thought whimsically that
her voice and look suggested both fascination
and fear, as if she were playing Barbara Stanwyck
in Double Indemnity.
you looking for a later model?"
you do repairs as well?"
do expert repairs on the IBM. Whats the
problem?" Her manner had begun to shake my
initial view that, although we were playing a
scene from a B movie, we might ultimately come
to terms on the purchase or repair of an IBM electric.
typewriter is bugged," she said in a conspiratorial
tone. She didnt wait for a response, adding
that she had recently discovered that the FBI
and the CIA had wire-tapped her phone. Shed
avoided using it, but then she discovered that
they had cleverly placed a listening device in
her typewriter. Perhaps I broke the spell or undermined
her confidence in me when I said that I didnt
see how a typewriter could be bugged. Anyway,
she never returned. For all I know, she had cast
me as a double agent.
Paul Muni walked into the store I recognized him
immediately. It was 1966. The character actor,
famous for his portrayal of Al Capone in Scarface,
was seventy at the time and looked his age. He
was tall and gaunt with a ready smile and spoke
with the resonant voice of a stage actor. Dad
smiled with pleasure as he chatted with him, and
called me over to meet the famous man. It was
the only time I ever saw my father star-struck.
But Dad never lost focus. He still sold him a
Marchant calculator. When I went to deliver it
to Mr. Muni on East End Avenue, I brought along
a cousin, who was a Marchant mechanic, under the
pretense that he could better demonstrate the
machines features, but really to meet him.
The aging star, who was to die the following year,
told my cousin he could be typecast as the good
kid in a film about inner city youth.
I went on a delivery in City Island, I expected
to find that my destination was a conventional
place of business since the delivery receipt read,
"Lynchs Tugboat Service." Instead,
the place on piers lapped by the waters of Long
Island Sound seemed to be a residence, though
only a little more than a shack. Its siding shakes
were gray and cracked, the asphalt shingles of
its roof curled and the paint on the boards of
its door raised in flakes. Every thing on the
pier which was the bungalows roofless porch
was cracked from many cycles of dousing and drying.
As I knocked, the high sun of late morning shone
on the door, which, after a minutes delay,
Captain Lynch opened. Since he stood inside the
doorway in nothing but his boxers and a ruddy
beard with matching curly hair, it was easy to
see that he was trim and well put together. His
eyes revealed that he had been sleeping off the
night before. He apologized and invited me into
the modest sized room which was his home, as I
could see from the daybed with its rumpled sheetsand
the terra firma part of his business, which he
apparently ran from a desk by the window.
for lugging this thing all the way out here,"
he said with a sleepy smile as he handed me the
what I get paid for," I responded, and then
added, "Oh, thanks, but this isnt necessary,"
as I realized he had also slipped me a five dollar
tip. As the owners son, I always felt that
I should reject tips as offered under a misapprehension
of my position.
to worry," he said. "Ive done
worse with my money."
parted on a laugh. His seemed to affirm that he
had, indeed, done worse and didnt entirely
regret it. Mine was meant to indicate that I had
done the same and had adopted pretty much the
same attitude about it. In my case, this was a
lie, the kind of thing that I said to put a stranger,
and myself, more at ease.
with Dad at the store was, in part, the reprise
of a familiar experience that had receded into
dozen years before, during the time he was employed
by Checkwriter Company, Dad would put in a long
day downtown and then do piecework at home. After
dinner, hed overhaul checkwriters on the
sturdy bench Grandpa had built for him in the
basement. I was allowed to keep Dad company, doing
my homework down there, as he worked at the bench.
I paced back and forth, a textbook in hand, reading
or working at some task of memorization. When
I had finished, we tuned the radio to Boston Blackie,
Gangbusters, The Shadow or Inner Sanctum. As we
listened, I clasped with one hand a lally column,
one of the central supports of the house, circling
it with the cool, rough steel pulling at my palm
and fingers, and seeing in turn, my fathers
back as he bent over his work, the wall that separated
this room from Grandpas wine cellar, some
washed garments Mom had hung to dry by the old
steam boiler and the windows to the world outside.
Dad went on his own and opened the store, he put
in the same long days, but now they were spent
entirely away from home, and I saw him less. High
school and college, along with a maturing social
identity of my own, took me away from home more,
starting to work at the store was not what I had
envisioned for myself, it was, in a way, a return
to some of the pleasures of that earlier time.
In fact, I saw Dad more now, and talked with him
more than I had at any other time in my life.
In the process, I discovered more about my father
and formed a closer bond with him than I would
have if I had become a doctor as he had hoped.
had already realized he was generous in the large
matters affecting his family: the provision of
a good place to live and a high quality of education;
but I was aware also that he was careful about
money to the degree one might expect of a person
who came from a relatively poor family and who
had arrived at working age just at the moment
the Great Depression began. One of my aunts, who
had lived with us in the two-family house on Giles
Place, complained in a letter to Uncle Robbie
when he was away in the Navy during World War
II: "Dont tell Joey [Dad], but he wont
let us turn the heat on, and Im freezing."
A story, which was supposed to be about my mothers
naivete when she was newly married, sheds just
as much light on my fathers relation to
money. At the end of the week, Dad would ask Mom
if she had any money left, and if she did, he
would take that remainder in return for what he
called "fresh money." By becoming his
right-hand man, I got a more intimate look at
how close he was in his spendingmostly in
his expenditures on himselfand at his determined
pursuit of money, but I also saw his remarkable
of this was the ostentatious kind. If someone
who was driving him wouldnt accept his offer
of the toll, he would throw the money out the
window of the car. Whether he went out to dinner
with four people or twelve, he would insist on
paying the check. But much more of his generosity
was unostentatious. Dad was by no means wealthy,
but I saw him lend $5000 to a friend without a
shred of paper to record the transaction or any
real expectation of being repaid. On the way home
with him in the car once, he asked me to stop
by the home of one of his sisters, who was having
financial problems. Shy about going in himself,
he handed me a thick envelope to bring in to her.
all his business practices agreed with what I
had learned from my mother or from the institutions
in which I was educated. Still, I couldnt
help admiring his cleverness, his charm and the
intensity of his focus on the task at hand in
the store: making a buck. Among his family and
friends, he was generous, forgiving and loyal;
at the store he could be tough, skeptical and
opportunistic. One instance stands out as typical.
Bolton was one of our regulars. Usually he came
in with something to sell. One day he tumbled
into the store, the compressed features under
his ragged curls eerily lit by a smile. His Hawaiian
shirt, its tails sprung from the waist of his
slacks, was in kaleidoscopic combat with the tie
that hung loosely around his neck like a noose.
He wrestled to keep four heavy F&E checkwriters
under control as he glanced around for a place
to set them down. Coincidentally, back in the
glass-partitioned office, Dad was, at that moment,
on the phone with Richards boss, the manager
of a Safe-Write branch. He covered the mouthpiece
just as Richard called out a greeting in his distinctive
voice that suggested a tightening of the noose
and a corresponding constriction of the vocal
Joe, where can I put these beauties down?"
Richard," I answered, "How are you?"
Dom; give me a hand with these, willya."
hurried forward as Richard hobbled toward a crowded
display table, and I quickly made a space for
him to let down his burden. The machines were
the recent Premier model and looked to be in almost
mint condition. Behind me, Dad was getting off
the phone as quickly as possible, and I winced
when I realized I had used Richards name
while his boss was on the phone. As Dad approached,
he glanced at me with compressed lips and a tilt
to his head that communicated his exasperation
with me. It was the policy of the Safe-Write Corporation
to destroy trade-ins to reduce competition from
used checkwriter dealers like us, but some salesmen
sold them to make some extra money. If Richards
manager found out he was doing this, Richard could
be fired, and we could lose a source of highly
profitable merchandise. We could also lose the
business of the Safe-Write branches all over the
country that bought checkwriter parts from us.
doin, Joe? Look at these babies! Just like
said, "Hi, Richard," and pursed his
lips as he looked at the merchandise.
the first one I thought of when I got these, Joe.
I hadda come all the way from Bensonhurst, but
I figured Id give you the first shot at
looked into Richards eyes and smiled. "Richard,
you have to stop doing me all these favors."
ya talkin about? All you have to do is maybe
ink them and run a rag over them and you couldnt
tell them from newperfect finish and everything.
Not a scratch on them. Joe, you shouldve
seen me. Last time I went through this place I
put my repair stickers on all the machines and
I rigged the sum bars so they wouldnt slide
all the way over. Its an insurance outfitfuckin
crooks. So this time I go to do an inspection,
and I show the office manager, a woman, that it
would be simple for someone to put another number
on their checks ahead of what they already wrote,
make a thousand dollar check into eleven thousand.
The hags mouth fell open like a fish."
Richard laughed, maybe at his deception, maybe
at the memory of the womans alarmed expression.
"I sold four new electrics, $425.00 each
and gave her a loaner and got these babies out
of there real quick. Told her she better not use
them. If somebody altered a check, they could
be out thousands."
let Richard run down, and let his own smile shift
to a wince as he continued to look the machines
over. "Wheres the door for this one,
Richard, and the electric cords? Thats twenty-five
Jeez, let me have a look in my car." As Richard
turned, to look, he spotted a meter maid eyeing
his double-parked station wagon and leapt out
the door, shouting, "Hey, whoa, wait a minute,
hold on, Im just finishing up here."
The door closed giving the rest of the scene the
quality of a silent movie. Through the plate glass
I watched the exaggerated flailing of Richards
arms and the impassive stare of the meter maid.
His arms stopped flailing, and he held them spread
slightly from his thighs with his palms forward
as much as to say, Now, isnt that reasonable?
Finally, the meter maid addressed him, wagging
a finger in his face, and Richard nodded his head
vigorously at her, but when she turned away, he
raised a finger of his own at her retreating back.
As he entered the store, he said, "Give them
a little power and they want to run the world,
for Christs sake."
the display table, Dad was taking imprints from
the checkwriters with an air of expertise, sliding
a sample check into each machine and punching
in whole rows of buttons with two hands and hitting
the operating bar with the side of his hand.
you got the electric cords?"
just remembered I didnt take the cords.
The broad said she wanted them."
about the door? And did you see the scratched
check table on this one? Im going to have
to disassemble it and have it nickel plated. Thats
another twenty-five dollars worth in itself."
was beginning to lose air; he seemed smaller,
his muscular chest deflating. "It may be
in the car, but Im gonna get myself a ticket
if I try to find it. What do you say I get it
for you later?"
what do you wan t for these things, anyway?"
was thinking maybe fifty each? They go for much
more in your catalogue."
you like to pay my rent and insurance, my electric
bill, overhaul each of these, wait thirty days
for payment, guarantee them? Theyve got
custom nameplates, too, which means I have to
install regular sum bars in them as well as get
the door and the cords."
give me forty each," Richard conceded. All
the while he had been frequently turning to see
if the meter maid was returning.
said, "Look at these two imprints. These
have to be adjusted or may need new matrices or
matrix supports. This one here has an earlier
serial number that wont bring as much. The
best I can do is eighty for all fourcash."
was edging toward the windowlooking like
a pummeled fighter back-pedaling into the ropesso
that he could see down the street. Just then,
he spotted the meter maid making her way back
on the other side. "O.K., Joe," he said,
torn in two directions at once like one of those
carnival figures suspended on a string, the ones
that spin when you squeeze the sticks. Dad reached
into his pocket and snapped four crisp twenties
from his wad, and Richard stuffed them in his
Joe," he said, as he plunged for the door.
"I gotta get out there before that bitch
met the meter maid at his car just as she flipped
open her pad. She looked up at the flurry of limbs
that was Richard. He spread his arms in a gesture
that said, Why me? She was clearly exasperated
as she moved her considerable bulk aside to let
him get into his car. His mouth never stopped
moving until he glanced back to the store. With
his full jack-o-lantern smile and a wave of his
hand, he pulled out, cutting off a beat up delivery
van whose tires screeched against the pavement
as its front dipped in arthritic pain. The driver
leaned on his horn. Richard, apparently not realizing
where the sound had come from, braked hard in
instinctive response, then lurched forward, his
left arm raised out the window in the waddaya-want-from-me
gesture, and blasted his own horn three times
I thought, "What ever will become of him?"
about coffee," Dad said, handing me a twenty
when I turned back to the office.
Dad. What would you like with it?"
me a bowtie."
sat at our desks which were laden with papers,
my fathers in neat piles, mine awash. Our
coffee was on their pull-out writing tables, the
pastries next to the paper cups on the spread
deli paper. I was alternating sips of coffee and
bites of cheese Danish, saving the thickest part
of the cheese filling for last. Dad was eating
his bowtie neatly, so that every stray crumb fell
on the paper. He mused, "That was not a bad
buy. I have what amounts to a standing order for
those Premier models from Checkwriter Sales and
Service out in Boulder."
then and noon, Dad removed a door and a perfect
check table from one of a batch of damaged machines
he had been cannibalizing for saleable parts and
took four sum bars from a bank of parts drawers.
He inspected the type and found it clean. The
inkrolls of two of the machines were slightly
worn, so he changed them expertly and quickly.
He inked the inkrolls of the other two machines
and took imprints of all four. Before lunch, he
was balling newspaper to pack the checkwriters
for shipment, and soon I heard him on the phone
with Ted Martin in Boulder. "Theyre
cream puffs, Ted. You cant tell them from
new." As I worked on the books, Dad sat at
his ancient Royal manual and clacked outhunt-and-peck
stylemailing labels and an invoice for $780.00,
plus shipping, and filled out the C.O.D. form.
The net cost was under $100.00. Dad was illumined
with satisfaction. Lunch from the Greek deli was
I munched ravenously on my roast beef hero, the
lopsided victory gnawed at me even though I rationalized
that Richard was an unscrupulous roughneck and
Dad had treated him accordingly.
wouldnt have believed one incident if I
hadnt witnessed it. Two young men dressed
in the style of Hassidic Jews came into the store
and identified themselves as students at a yeshiva
over in Brooklyn. They rented a typewriter and
paid for the first month, saying they expected
to use the machine for several months. Dad took
an address from their identification and, when
the first month had almost passed, he sent them
the usual document offering the options of renewal
or return of the typewriter. Weeks passed without
payment, typewriter or response of any kind. Finally,
Dad called the "yeshiva," if thats
what it was. The person who took the call said
that he had never heard of the men and that he
didnt know of any rented typewriter on the
premises. Dad, apparently at a loss, put down
the phone. But in a few minutes he redialed the
same number and got the same voice on the line.
Then my gentle father, who had never struck any
of his four sometimes unruly sonsor anyone
else, as far as I knowmade the following
concise statement very much as if he meant it:
"This is Mr. Angiello again. Tell those boys
youve never heard of to have that typewriter
youve never seen back in my store in two
hours. Otherwise, Ill pick up the phone
and call a man I know who will find them and break
without waiting for a response, he promptly hung
up the phone.
"yeshiva students" walked through the
door with our machine forty-five minutes later,
faces as ashen as those of real and honorable
scholars who spent most of their time indoors
studying the Talmud. Dad inspected the typewriter,
saying sternly, "It better not be damaged."
The "yeshiva students" stood by anxiously
until it passed muster. Then they apologized for
didnt forget to charge them for the extra
relationship with Eddie was a different story.
Dad identified with him to a certain extent, perhaps
because they were about the same age, in their
early fifties when Eddie first started with us.
Their association was close, and as with all of
those in his small inner circle, Dad did his best
to treat him equitably.
Joe, oo, Joe, oo, Joe," Eddie would cry as
he strode through the door at lunch time. The
first oo was drawn out and all of them were intoned
like an indefinite article. The name was stressed,
and the whole series accelerated in a ritual crescendo
of bonhomie. Eddie was a salesman of business
machine maintenance and repairs. He had come to
us from Downtown Business Machines, where the
owner, Jake Graberman, had a reputation for being
hardnosed and ruthless. The Grabber, Eddie called
him, his sandy eyebrows raised and his chin dropped
in disdain. I had occasion to visit Grabermans
premises from time to time to deliver or pick
up various items for Dad. Errands to that place
always depressed me. Graberman was a humorless
man with a post office slot for a mouth, and when
I entered his place, he looked at me as if I were
just another check or bill. His business was conducted
from the ground floor of a stolid building on
a desolate corner of Canal Street. It wasnt
a bad neighborhood; it was a non-neighborhood,
isolated between bridges and tunnels and jammed
among cars honking vehicular expletives day and
suppose Graberman was not sharing with him what
Eddie would have considered adequate compensation
for the revenue he brought in because, after a
few weeks of negotiation, Eddie wound up with
us on the basis that we would split profits fifty-fifty.
He would hawk the work and the maintenance contracts,
and we would do the actual service and repairs.
checkwriter business, from which Eddies
methods derived, was a tough one. Its salesman
faced many closed doors, hostile rejections and
flat-eyed resistance. The competition in Manhattan
was especially fierce because the concentration
of money was like blood in the water. Cold canvassing
there must have felt like being in a tank with
slippery sides and lots of sharks. As I saw it,
these denizens were a reflection of the whole
evolutionary enterprise, full of the most ingenious
adaptations in the name of survival. Some cultivated
a veneer of integrity; others practiced fraud
and a few committed outright theft.
had generalized methods common in the checkwriter
business, to the whole array of other office machines
such as typewriters, adding machines and calculators.
He would make his way into an office by any means
he could think of. He was a tall, gangly man with
Buster Keaton hands and a large and formidable
nose, which was a prow he used to barge into the
various places he hoped to do business. He could
be charming or businesslike, navigating fluidly
the environment in which he found himself. He
would use the front entrance or a side door, if
he could find one. To him, a PRIVATE sign was
just a convenient indication that there would
be no receptionist inside to challenge his entry.
Rejection could never drive its teeth through
his tough skin. As long as he was doing well,
being ordered out of an office by an indignant
manager was just a sign that he had, in fact,
pushed hard enough to determine that no business
was to be had there. "Ock em!,"
he might say, his euphemism for fuck them, an
expression he would never use in its undisguised
office manager called to complain that he had
encountered Eddie in his office under what he
considered bizarre circumstances. Passing a secretarys
desk a number of times, he had noticed a tall,
gangly man, whom he assumed was an employee of
the company, chatting with her as they ate their
lunches, which were spread on the desk in front
of them. When he finally discovered that Eddie
was not an employee, he ordered him out of the
office and forbid him ever to return. That afternoon,
we told Eddie of the complaint. "Shkee,"
he said, with a ping-pong slap at an invisible
butt. This expression had several meanings, pretty
much in line with skedaddle. In this case, it
seemed addressed to the absent office manager,
advising him to piss-off. What did Eddie care?
Business was good, Manhattan was a big place,
and for that matter, office managers came and
main tool was his supply of stickers. These were,
in effect, small business cards with his name
and telephone number. They were made up on a roll
and backed with a permanent adhesive. When he
got into an office, hed slap his stickers
on dozens of machines in a few minutes, wandering
at will from one office to another taking care
to cover anyone elses sticker. Sometimes
he did this by permission of the office manager;
sometimes he just did it. Often he was covering
the stickers of companies that already had the
machines under contractmachines that some
other company was responsible to repair free of
additional charge. He especially liked large,
busy offices that had many machines and a staff
too busy to be fastidious in researching the most
economical sources for service and repairs. Sometimes
in such places, personnel who had the authority
to order repairs didnt have detailed knowledge
of service arrangements. When the secretary or
the receptionist heard a strange noise from her
typewriter, or her calculator jammed, he or she
would follow managements instructions to
call the number on the machine. Only it was Eddies
number. He was energetic and relentless. He would
pick a large office building on Madison Avenue
or Fifth Avenue, say, and, starting at the top,
he would work his way from office to office, floor
to floor, putting his sticker on every machine
he could find. I used to say that hed put
his sticker on your butt, if you bent over at
the wrong moment, probably one on each cheek.
Eddie sold a service contract, we had to check
the machine out initially, clean it once a year
and respond to repair callsif there were
any. If he decided the machine needed to be overhauled,
there was a hefty additional charge, often depending
more on what he guessed the office manager would
go for than what the typewriter or calculator
actually needed. Although Eddie had been in the
business for a good many years, he knew next to
nothing about the operation of the machines or
how to repair them. Sometimes we would get a desperate
call for help from him because he had tried to
do the simple task of replacing a ribbon and couldnt
get the machine to work right. Still, he often
ordered a machine pulled (brought into the shop)
with the price of the work already established,
based on the extent of the repairs he judged necessary.
He might quote the customer $225 for "extensive
repairs" which turned out to be releasing
a cam that was stuck, something that would have
taken five minutes to detect and fix in their
he quoted the price of the work, it was always
some squarish number, from his grab-bag of prices
that were usually in multiples of $25. The price
would be $175, or $225, or $325. Seldom did the
actual cost to us amount to more than $25 to $50.
would come in around noon after a mornings
canvassing. "Oo, Joe, oo, Joe, oo, Joe,"
he would cry, "Oo, Dom, oo, Dom." If
he thought both Dad and I werent noticing,
he might run a cold hand down our middle-aged
bookkeepers back under her blouse. Ronnie
would give out a little yelp, but like many, she
didnt quite know how to cope with someone
who crossed lines of propriety with apparent immunity
from embarrassment. He loped up the stairs, two
at a time, to the small mezzanine space a section
of which contained the small desk that was his
office. On the desk was a telephone and a 3x5
card file. That was it.
alone with his long legs crammed under his little
desk, he opened the brown-bag lunch he had brought
from home or that he had just picked up at one
of the many nearby delis. He stared vacantly as
he ate. Dad, who always pressed lunch or coffee
and a Danish on any regular who was present when
he sent me out, often spoke with disdain of Eddies
near-perfect record of avoiding his generosity,
which Dad attributed to Eddies reluctance
to reciprocate. As Dad used to say, "Eddie
wouldnt go for spit."
Eddie was finished with lunch, he began the series
of phone calls to quote on the pulls he had ordered.
Later, he would come down and sit with Dad to
set up the next days pulls, to give him
information on new contracts and to give him OKs
on his quotes for repairs and overhauls, all scribbled
on scrap paper. Dad encouraged or commiserated.
For him it was a win-win situation. He got highly
profitable additional business with no aging receivables
and no increase of overhead, the only added cost
the direct expense of doing the actual service
work. Eddie did OK, too, churning out hundreds
of dollars a day in OKssubstantial money
in the sixties and early seventies when a dollar
was worth five or six times what it is now.
many a salesman, Eddie was usually upbeat. Then
he would chatter ebulliently about "darling
Millie," his wife, whom he never mentioned
without her fixed epithet. But when an extended
dry spell got him down in the dumps, Dad would
walk him out of the store and across the street,
and there give him a pep talk. When Dad was finished,
Eddie was ready for another swim in the shark
tank. Hed walk back into the store exclaiming,
"Ock em, Joe; ock em all."
Eddie left for the day at around four, Dad was
usually brimming over with satisfaction. Everything
Eddie brought in was over and above what Dad needed
to consider his business successful. He would
outline each deal for me in terms of revenue versus the actual cost of the repairs. I
think he could hardly believe how fat the deal
was. Things went along this way for several years.
afternoon, Eddie handed Dad a couple of routine
cleanings under a service contract for a company
whose name my father didnt recognize. He
had a good memory and the confidence to rely on
it. He told Eddie the machines werent under
contract, but Eddie said he was sure they were.
When Dad asked him to show him the record, he
couldnt produce it. In time, these incidents
grew in frequency. When Eddie was forced to produce
records, it might turn out, that he had concealed
a contract for as much as three years. As long
as the machine didnt need any real service
work, he could keep the whole contract amount
for himself. Nice work, if you can get it! When
Dad confronted him, Eddie agreed to reveal all
the hidden contracts and promised not to withhold
any in the future. Although Eddie hadnt
lived up to his end of the deal, Dad knew that
he couldnt push him to recover all the back
payments to which we were entitled. Eddie would
"squeal like a stuffed pig," as he used
to say. So Dad settled for what was due him for
the current year when these hidden contracts came
to light. The bottom line is that Dad didnt
want to drive Eddie away, and even with the cheating,
having him was very profitable. So whenever he
caught him cheating again, something which happened
many times, Dad recovered what he could and maintained
the relationship. He had no illusion that Eddie
could be replaced. Whenever Eddie said, "Do
this service call the first of the new batch,"
it was a pretty reliable sign that the machine
involved was another of those on which he had
secretly had a contract for a long time but had
never serviced. The urgency arose because the
customer had suddenly realized that the machine
had never gotten the maintenance the contract
Eddie announced his decision to retire, he had
been speaking for a long time about moving to
a rural area upstate, where, by his description,
he would live an idyllic life with his "darling
Millie." I doubted an idyll was her style.
He had been involved with the Boy Scouts for many
years. Now he planned to make this volunteer work
his life, he said.
a while after he left, Eddie continued his telephone
service, and though the business his stickers
generated declined precipitously, his phone rang
occasionally, and Dad continued to send him his
share of the revenue that came from that source.
Eddies phone went completely silent, Dads
suspicions were aroused. He got a dial tone on
Eddies phone, then dialed his own number
from it and got through. The phone hadnt
been turned off. How could it be that, with the
tens of thousands of stickers Eddie had slapped
on machines, not one call had come through in
weeks? Not one person had called the numbereven
by mistakein all that time? Then he tried
a call to Eddies line from his. He got a
recorded announcement directing him to a different
and instantly familiar number with the old CANAL
7 exchange. Eddie had abandoned the scouting Eden
in the Adirondacks to return to the shark tank.
was back with the Grabber.
rewarded financially, I was a partner in effect,
and soon would be in fact. I had begun to enjoy
a modest affluence. I bought my first home overlooking
a pretty lake in a rural area an hour north of
the city. As my family had grown with the birth
of my first two sons in 1963 and 1964, the chance
of doing anything other than continue at the store
seemed to fade.
fathers sheer weight of authority as the
source of my life, livelihood, and education was
enormous, and although he was kind and generous,
other elements of his personality only added to
this weight, which I carried all day and all nighteven
in my sleep, wearying my bones. He was sure he
was right when he wouldnt let me purchase
an Addressograph for a few hundred dollars, a
machine which would have made easier and more
frequent the direct mail advertising which reminded
lucrative wholesale clients around the country
of our existence. He was sure that it wasnt
necessary to stock many of the new Smith-Corona
electric portables in various colors and typestyles
when I wanted to make a splash to attract new
retail business. In his opinion, we would be better
served by purchasing the machines on receipt of
customer orders. He probably saved me from many
mistakes. But his protectiveness did not allow
me to develop an adequate sense of my value to
the business, so I regarded my substantial annual
bonus more or less as a gift.
smothered with love was still getting smothered.
I could have fought back against meanness and
hostility, but I felt helpless in the face of
Dads generosity. I came to understand that,
if I didnt do something on my own, I would
always stand in his shadow. I longed for my own
achievement, something I could be proud of doing
for its own sake, but that would also allow me
to support my family.
I became tormented with my sense of missed opportunity
and failure. This grew more and more profound,
and early in 1965, I was crying myself to sleep
at night over it. When I finally became desperate
enough, I forced myself to realize that I would
have to leave my fathers business, but I
knew that I couldnt do it quickly. I would
have to prepare. Whatever path I might be interested
in taking would require graduate school. Where
would I get the time?
Garfield had been my fathers accountant
from the time the store opened. Warm-hearted and
absolutely loyal to his clients, Phil seemed to
me a Damon Runyon character that had somehow escaped
into real life as that humorist attempted to type
him into fictional existence on a page in the
world of Nathan Detroit. I always enjoyed seeing
him. Hed come in with a big smile and a
witticism which he, at least, always found amusing.
When I tried to comment in kind, hed raise
his hand to my arm to forestall my response, saying,
"Wait, wait, wait a minute!" And then
he would launch into a follow-up that he thought
was even more amusing. He wore a trademark fedora
that seemed a size too small for his head. Even
back then, when he was in his mid-thirties, he
had begun to develop bags under his eyes that
would eventually turn literal, becoming almost
big enough for a squirrel to hide nuts in.
was dead-sure of all his business and accounting
advice. And there was good reason. He was, in
all my experience, right. When Phil said, "I
want you to do it this way," any uncertainty
Id had disappeared, and I forged ahead with
confidence. His own practice was the best evidence
of his business acumen and his character. He built
it from a one man show to a Madison Avenue accounting
firm with several partners and over a dozen employees.
He chose good people, trained them well and rewarded
generously those who could step up and take on
the responsibility that went along with the opportunities
he offered them.
Phil saw the numbers arrange themselves in a certain
way on our financial statements, he would come
into the store with his smile, his fedora and
a cigar. He would hand down his pronouncements
about the appropriate future course of the business
as if he were the descendant of Moses and had
inherited the tablets containing the business
commandments. At one point he suggested getting
into photocopiers; another time he advised us
to expand into stationery; another to devise a
regular marketing program. He might have been
Cassandra as far as Dad was concerned. He seldom
took Phils recommendations, any of which
would have achieved good results, preferring his
own time-tested method, which boiled down to:
Buy as cheaply as you possibly can and sell as
expensively as you can.
I decided that I wanted to go to graduate school
and eventually leave the business, I had difficulty
approaching Dad to tell him. I felt guilty. I
sought Phils advice, and he offered to come
in and talk to Dad about it. Ill never forget
it. He called ahead but wouldnt say what
it was about. When my father asked me, I simply
shook my head in silence. I couldnt say
the words. No matter how I put it, I would be
leaving Dad to carry the whole load of the store
again, after he had rescued me from aimlessly
drifting into some dead-end job. Any words would
have been hypocritical euphemisms for: ingratitude,
selfishness, abandonment and betrayal.
came in with his usual smile and his usual fedora.
He found my father and me in the showroom and
said, in his most commanding tone, "Come
into the office, Joe, we have something to discuss."
this all about," my father asked, "Dom
wont tell me a thing."
What is it?" Dad asked, not sure whether
to be irritated or apprehensive as he sat down
and looked back and forth between Phil and me.
Phil stood over him next to his desk, and I hovered
at the entrance to the office as if poised to
make a break for the door if things didnt
wants to go back to school to get his masters
so he can teach. Can you let him leave early,
say two P.M. each day, so he can go to class and
that all?" my father replied, "Of course."
some ways, Mitchell Goodman was as different from
Phil as another human being could be. He was a
regular customer in a small way, buying typewriter
ribbons and bringing his portable in occasionally
for repair. From the first time he found the store,
which was within ten blocks of his home, we began
to talk. Mitch was a tall and large-boned man,
in his early forties, balding but with long iron-gray
hair sticking out from under a knit cap. His eyes
were soulful, and his smile warm and genuine.
When I helped him, his attention made me feel
I was being regarded as an individual rather than
a type (shopkeeper) or someone who functioned
occasionally as a tool (the guy who fixes my typewriter).
favorable impression of him was ratified as a
relationship developed between us. I was very
ill-informed, had never developed the habit of
reading the newspapers, and was very focused on
myself and my family. I was nesting, I guess.
I had two children by then, the spring of 1965.
Over time, Mitch and I shared our stories.
had been in the army during World War II, and
had written and published a novel, The End of
It, based on this experience. He was married to
a poet, Denise Levertov. I didnt know who
she was really, but I was impressed anyway. I
showed him some poetry I had been writing for
a while, and he said he liked it. He shared it
with his wife, who had been a friend of William
Carlos Williams. Id never even heard of
Williams, who had recently died, much less read
his poetry, so I was surprised to hear from Mitch
that he and Denise thought that my stuff sounded
a lot like his. I had lunch with them once at
their home over a meat packing plant down on Greenwich
Street, and they encouraged me in my poetry, Denise
saying she thought it pretty good: "Better,
in fact, than lots of the stuff that is being
published in the little magazines," is how
she expressed her judgment.
was a person of conscience and commitment, who
was growing ever more concerned about American
involvement in Vietnam. During the time we saw
each other frequently in the middle to late sixties,
he wrote and edited a book called The Movement
Toward a New America, which amounted to a manifesto
of all the high-minded ideas that surged into
the public consciousness then, some of which have
survived as permanent changes in our culture:
womens liberation, the anti-war movement
and racial equality, to name a few.
I was admitted to Fordham with the help of an
old professor of mine at the college, a Jesuit,
to pursue a graduate degree in English, Mitch
and I saw each other less but still kept in touch.
That was the summer of 1965.
the next few years, his anti-war activities, became
more consuming and put him in league with such
people as Noam Chomsky, the Berrigans, Marc Raskin,
Rev. William Sloan Coffin and Dr. Spock, the famous
baby doctor turned peace activist, and Mitch was
convicted in 1968 along with the rest of the Boston
Five for his courageous stand in support of the
draft "refusers," as he called those
young men who wouldnt serve in Vietnam,
some of whom demonstrated against the war by burning
their draft cards. The conviction of the Boston
Five was overturned in the same year.
his conversations with me, Mitch never made much
of his own peril, sacrifice and hardship, but
he did tell me once that the local people in Temple,
Maine, where he had a small subsistence farm,
people he regarded as decent folks, had warned
him that strangers had been in town asking questions
about him: the FBI, of course.
opened my eyes to an idea about life different
from those models I had been offered previously.
His life was one of courage and conviction but
not buttressed by religious faith nor dedicated
to the service of family. He served mankind as
a pacifist warrior who held himself responsible
to do the right thing at all costs. At a time
in the Cold War, when it appeared to me that the
human race would end in atomic annihilation, a
fear Mitch seemed to share then, I asked him why
he bothered to struggle at great cost to himself
against the inevitable. He answered, "When
the end comes, I want to know that Ive been
"on the right side." Just as I never had the
vocation or faith to emulate the Jesuits, whom
I admired, I did not have the courage or vision
to follow his path. But I have been grateful ever
since that he saw something in me worth his time
I finally left the store to begin my teaching
career at Mercy College in 1970 and to raise my
family, I left, too, the common ground on which
we met, where I used to fix his typewriter and
he used to read my poetry. I still heard from
him from time to time and had his wife to the
college for a reading of her poetry. Then we fell
out of touch as people often do when the practical
business of life carries them in different directions.
When I learned that he had passed away in 1998
up in Temple, Maine, I hoped that he did so with
the conviction to which he had earned the right:
that he had been "on the right side.
my interview for the professorial position at
Mercy, Sister Joannes was impressed with my business
experience, which she felt would eventually be
of practical value in the conduct of the English
Departments affairs. The truth is that I
had learned very little of business methods or
principles that could be transferred to my work
at the college. But when I first met Ophelia gone
mad in Hamlet, she was not the first case of insanity
I had ever known. Troubled people, heroes, thieves,
lechers and opportunists in the plays of Shakespeare
and in Chaucers Canterbury Tales had counterparts
in my experience at the store. When, I read in
the General Prologue of the "verray parfit gentil
knyght," his moral qualities were reminiscent of
people of courage and virtue to whom the store
had introduced me. Much of what I had learned
at the store came from my insights about the people
I encountered there, especially Phil Garfield
and Mitch Goodman, and about my father, my knowledge
of whom deepened as we worked together.
I had occasion to encounter dishonesty and hypocrisy
in my later life, especially in academic life
where it abounded, I had the examples of these
people to guide me. They helped me, too, in recognizing
those flaws in myself. When I could help someone
else by listening or by intervening in their behalf
with authorities they found intimidating, I did
so. When I had the platform to speak against unfairness
for friends and faculty colleagues, I spoke with
directness and passion. Often it didnt count
for muchbut I was aware, at least on those
occasions, of being "on the right side."
I know that the heroes, whom I met at the store
and whose beliefs were so different, were part
of that. Mysteriously blended with my fathers
strength and unwavering dedication to family,
they have been my models.
us with your comments.