Tuesday, July 5, 2016

...the corner.

Bert came onto my stage in the shoe department of one of Moody Street's upscale department stores when I was an aspiring -ass hole. I had been selling 'shoes' out of the place for two years during high school days. Anyway, he looked like he just stepped out of the doll-house, perfect countenance.  He was in from the home office. One of their rising stars. I did not know it at that time, but Bert was looking for me; he needed to mentor the employees from my shoe department, meaning me. What an education! Bert would walk around the department store learning the names off those who worked in different departments. He took me along for the ride. I was just the guy from the shoe department; i had no power, valueless, but they started looking at me differently, like I was a somebody in the shoe department. Bert was grooming me for the Boston office. Pure, like a miracle. Emulating Bert was like being the "orgasm" of many dreams. For example, Bert set it up so that I would be the fill-in department store manager for all of the stores in Bert's sector. So when the regular shoe department manager went on their summer vacation, I would open and close their shoe department; this took me to all parts of the state, each week a new set of shoes to sell to a different segment of the states' population. I did the shoe department's inventory,  made adjustments and cleaned up the mis-shelved shoes. I was learning how to recognize the differences between the different sections of the state. This was how I learned to run a distribution. To prove my point, when drafted into the military, I was assigned to be the distributor for one of the distributions points in the Middle East, 1964/65. Bert filled me with promise; I'm so grateful. But! Not everyone saw Bert as I did. The old guy in the men's department of the department store believed that Bert was just too good to be a "guy." Therefore Bert was gay. Anyway, Bert took  me into the men's department; he was buying a sweater and wanted to know my take on it. We are talking top of the line; he wants my opinion; my feet are off the ground; I'm flouting. The old man gives me a wink. That was the first sweater I ever stole; because the old man is the first one out the door at closing; that's when I went into the men's department, picked up a sweater like the one Bert bought, put it in a bag and walked it into the shoe department, leaving it there over night. Now. Bert wore the sweater he bought each day he was there, as one might wear a smock while working. When Bert left, I put on my sweater; the one that I swiped from the men's department -the old guy in the men's department started looking at me in a funny sort of way, like he new what my "secret" was all about. All I can say is, knowing Bert was like being processed through a 'finishing school,' a prep-school's socialization. Now! I also worked across the street from the department store when I was younger. I worked on all three corners doing different things in each of those businesses. That's for another time.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Moody Street

Moody Street, where I grew up, was my school. In my era, being born in 1942, the public school system in those days did not believe in wasting their resources on the Irish Catholic out of Waltham, Mass. Yes, it's true when I say that I received my diploma in 1961; but if the truth be told, they never tested me because I was listed in their system for social promotion. So I had to take a summer course in English that year. The school's principal called me into his office and explained my situation; I was behind the 8ball. So he enrolled me in Newman Preparatory, located in Boston, Mass which would determine weather or not I could graduate from High School.  It was a wake up call. So, when I say: It's a Moody street "high," it's because Moody Street is where I learned the most.  I worked as stock boy in several of the major stores on the street, sold shoes, tended their stock room and made ready the replenishment's because they were sold to a deserving soul so that she could walk among her peers in Ladies' shoes.
I also worked the fountain at the local pharmacy and diner. So I got to fill the "brown bag" on Sunday mornings for the liquor prescription which doctors were prescribing for the local drunks. Right next to the "brown bags," I stacked the local Sunday papers. Yes! All the liquor stores were closed on Sundays when I was working on Moody Street. I started working under the table, meaning there was book keeping, as in double entry. But! The day that I turned 12 years old I could get a work permit which allowed me to do anything that I wished to do. I worked all over Moody Street, up one side and down the other. You teach yourself how to  read because you had to account for your actions. I started shining shoes at my grandfather's barber shop when I was 5 years old. Next store I did part time in the cobbler shop if someone wanted their newly repaired shoes shined by old Mr. Joyce. He was my neighbor just two streets over on Newton & Alder streets. I lived on the corner of Newton & Myrtle streets. They were one block apart going toward High street where his shoe shop repair business was located. Also! It was next door to my grandfather's barber shop. My grandfather didn't own the barber shop; he was the head barber until the day he died. He left the shop one day, they say, on a real good old boy's high - picking up his evening supply of cold beer at the liquor store on the corner of Newton & High streets. He was heading up Newton street, turning on Myrtle street because he lived right next door to where I lived on the corner. Yes! My grandfather dropped dead as he approached his own meager castle for reposing with a cold bottle of beer. Yes! I grew up on the seedy-side-of-the-street, picking up the change discarded because I looked needy. Now let me put it another way: My mother could squeeze a dime out of a penny because she was from the streets too. She was a ward of the state because she was given up for adoption as a new born but she was never adopted. The country was in a depression and she was Irish Catholic. Need I say more? Now! My then wife, circa 1966 Paris, who ran off with my brother in 1969, could squeeze a penny out of a dime if she were lucky. I learned how to slice and dice the dollar -before I could ride my bicycle. Fractions! This is how you learn to barter on a cold winter's day when someone wants their steps or driveway shoveled because of the snow accumulation. On a good snow day I could pick up at least a c-not, $100.00 dollars. I skipped school ever snow day. No one cared; I was Irish Catholic whose mother was being treated with shock treatment at the state's mental hospital. So the best thing that ever happened to me was going to summer school my senior year.  The wake up call did me good.
Well! Maybe meeting Bert, when I was selling shoes for one of the leading department stores on Moody Street, was also a mind altering experience. I'll tell you about Bert on another occasion because he gave me respect. Everybody else wanted to use me or my body. Bert wanted to use my mind. I loved Bert.