Sunday, January 18, 2009

History ....


I was eleven years old in 1960, living in a soviet-style high-rise housing development in Newark, N.J. and in 5th or 6th grade. For some reason, I got involved in presidential politics and became fascinated with the guy who everyone said could never be elected because he was Catholic - and too young.

I had no idea what Catholic had to do with it, but people said "He'd follow orders from the Pope," or that he'd make the White House a religious place and other stuff that made no sense to me. In fact, I still don't understand it. A lot of things in that election remind me of the current situation. Nixon, like Bush-the-junior, turned me off on some gut level. JFK gave me a feeling of hopefulness and I wanted to do whatever I could to get him elected. Heck, I knew a Catholic girl at school and she was cool, so why not? Never mind, here is what happened.

I went to the local democratic party headquarters office which, in our poor community, was in a vacant storefront with a few light bulbs hanging from the ceiling to better hide the lack of paint. The other volunteers did not seem to know what they were doing, but I offered to do anything they had for me to do. They thought about it and had me stuff letters into envelopes for about three days after school. It must have been September. The second week I went in they asked if I'd go around and get local businesses to put a poster in their window. Who was going to refuse a 11 year old kid? I got rid of all the posters the first day. They were a little surprised as they expected that to keep me busy for a week or two.

So they then had me go door to door in those high rise buildings. That lasted for the rest of the campaign season. I'd ring the doorbell, offer them a flyer and ask if they ever voted before. If they said no, I'd ask them if they were registered in Newark (most of the people in this place were transient) and told them where to go to register and what to bring with them. Thinking back they must have thought it strange that this little kid was doing this kind of work. I remember everyone being nice and I got lots of offers of drinks, cookies, etc. I accepted, you know, just to be polite. I must have gained 20 pounds. It was great.

Fast forward to election night, listening to returns all night on WABC radio in New York. No instant results in those days, but I guess they used exit polls or something. In our state the results were very close, but JFK won by less than one percent of the popular vote. What matters is that he won the electoral college vote and became the president. I think that most people look back upon those days and remember him as a good thing for the US. I certainly do.

It was a time of 'making history' just as Obama is doing. There are a lot of other things going on that are similar as well. Kennedy had Vietnam, the Cuba missle crisis and enemies in high places. Obama has the wars, the emergence of Russia and the economy. He gives me a feeling of hopefulness, just like JFK. Let us hope that Obama lives a long, effective life as president and after his eight years as president are served. They are sure going to be trying times.

What does all this have to do with motorcycles? While living at Ivy Hill Apartments I found what turned out to be a Harley Davidson transmission in the parking lot. Having no place to work and no tools, I be-friended a local gas station owner, and got to take it apart at his place and with his help. That gas station owner, Tony Giordino, became a mentor, my first 'employer' and good friend. All things work together...

I never did see what was wrong with that tranny, but it was cool to take it apart.

4 comments:

anilia said...

How cool. It is amazing how hope gets into your soul isn't it?

Marsh Rat said...

You worked at Tony G's station???? I worked accross the street at the Citgo for Bill Hutchmaker. AND i went to school with Tony's oldest son John, and went to Camp Columbus one summer with him and Ray Hull (lived on Lindsley Av). The last time i was up there the station was boarded up... My Grandparents lived directly accross the street in the Dutch Colonial. We lived two houses down on Waverly Place. We used to get our Christmas trees there... It was also the first place (and last) that i tried to use a knock out from a electric box as a slug to get a free coke. Didn't work, Tony hauled me home (right on Waverly Place) and handed me over to my father (luckily not my mother).
Amazing how our paths have been crossing throughout life.

Marsh Rat said...

OK , This is the very last time I attempt to make a comment. First i had no account (not a comment on my personality), then i had an unverified account. THEN it all disappeared into cyberspace where the vicious kanides are most likely gnawing at it as i type....
You hung out at Tony G's????? So did i sort of. I lived around the corner on Waverly Pl. I went to school and hung out with his son John. Went to camp with him and Ray Hull (lived on Lindsley Pl.) Was the first (and last) place i ever tried to use a knockout from an electrical box as a slug to get a free coke. Tony dragged me home and handed me to my father(not my mother luckily). Later i worked accross the street at the Citgo for Bill Hutchmaker. My Grand parents lived accross the street in the Dutch Colonial house (not the Wash-Mobile). Strange how our paths have crossed throughout life.
MR

OldBikeRider said...

I was going to delete this, but it is a very meaningful comment on how "easy" all this teknology is for us old guys. And what is/are "vicious kanides"?