The Writers Voice
The Other Casualty of War - Chapter Three
We’d play touch football after school in the middle of South Street in Lynn. Once we started playing, it seemed like the entire neighborhood would eventually come out to join in or watch. That was one of the nice things about the neighborhood. Everyone was a friend.
Some of the “El Cobras” would skip school to go fishing. We used to go under the General Edwards Bridge in Lynn. There was a catwalk under the bridge, and that would bring us into the middle of the channel. The fishing was great. We would take the fish that we caught to Arty’s house. His mother would barely yell at him for not going to school. I would usually go to Arty’s house for supper on the days that we went fishing to enjoy the fresh fish we caught.
One time we went with a friend that was going to apply for a job at Orbits Department Store on the Lynnway in Lynn. Arty and I were checking out the sporting goods department while Pete was having his interview to be a stock boy. Arty took some fishing line and put it in his pocket. When Pete came out, we started to leave the store. As we approached the front door, Arty got scared and asked what he should do. Like an idiot, I said to slip the line into my pocket, which he did. As we walked out the front door, we got caught. Pete didn’t get the job, needless to say, and we were all taken to a back room. One of the security people questioned us and asked why we were stealing.
Man, I remember how embarrassed I was, especially when they called my sister. She was pregnant and had to come down to the store to get us out. But she was cool, she never told my parents because I never told them my sister was still riding on the back of her boyfriend’s motorcycle while she was pregnant.
I was 16 years old, halfway through the 9th grade, when I quit school. I learned everything that I was able to learn. Like most 16 year olds, I knew everything, so I thought I would put my intelligence to work and begin making my millions. Besides, eight years of education was plenty. It took some pretty fancy talking to get my parents to agree with this.
I began working in factories in Lynn, Ma. Many were shoe manufacturing companies. But there was one clothing manufacturer in particular which I remember. My job was to iron the permanent press pleats in woman's skirts. Yes sir, I was on my way to riches. About three days later, the boss's son approached me and asked if I felt if it was more important if I were to get a raise right away, or to learn about the business first. Obviously, the boss's son didn't have the keen insight into business I had. Of course I wanted the raise now, and I took that as a promise of a raise.
When I asked about it on the fourth day, he said he was just 'feeling me out' to see what I wanted to do, and he had no intention of giving me a raise. Well then, I made them suffer. I quit! How could they ever run that business without me?
After that job, I went from working in shoe factories to selling Avon products door to-door to working in commercial laundries and being a short order cook in a greasy spoon. Between jobs, a friend and I pulled off a couple of robberies. We robbed a gas station of about fifty dollars one time. We used the money to buy a couple of guns. The guns could only fire blanks, but we thought just the presence of these would help us. Another time we broke into a house, and found a coin collection. We took the coins to a coin shop in Lynn, but the dealer wanted nothing to do with the coins or us! So we counted out the money and split it between us. I think we had a couple hundred dollars. We would have a good time for a couple of days until the money ran out, then we’d start looking for another opportunity.
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