Sunday, October 20, 2013

Of apples and cider

Yesterday I ate the best apple I have eaten in twenty years. It was a Winesap apple that I bought at the Capital City Farmer's Market in beautiful downtown Trenton. Hard, crisp, a little sour. How about them apples.

It made me a little nostalgic for when the family would take its annual jaunt up to Tice Farms. We would get into the Ford, and drive through Upper Saddle River while Mother would gawk at all the houses she couldn't afford to live in. Then we'd get to Tice Farms. I remember you could buy a cup for a dime and drink all the cider you wanted. Some years me and my brother would share a cup, which was frowned upon. Then the old man would buy Winesap and Macintosh apples, more cider and maybe a pumpkin.

Tice Farms is now long gone, a victim of Bergen County real estate speculators. Upper Saddle River is still there and even more expensive today.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

My summer job

Just reading Amy Poehler's article in the New Yorker on her summer job. Cute. It reminded me of my summer job. I got a job with the Board of Ed. I had the lowly job, that first summer, of scraping gum out of desks. It sucked, but the pay wasn't that bad ($2.50 an hour). It took a political connection to get me the job. 

For years a man we will call Dick lived behind us in Hackensack. He liked to cut through my parent's driveway on the way to O'Neals tavern and he often stopped by and visited with dear old Dad. Years later my father admitted he never cared much for Dick but he put up with him for the sake of my summer job. 
The things my father did for his children. 

7:30 AM was starting time. That was the most painful part of the job I think. I was assigned to the high school, the same place from which I had just graduated. When I arrived, they looked my skinny frame up and down. I would not be helping carry sheet rock for the construction crew. I would not be carrying the boards to repair the seats in the football field. I was assigned to the janitresses (lady custodians), given a putty knife, and told that my job was to scrape gum out of the bottom of desks for all the desks in the school. One of the teachers recognized me and wanted to hijack me. He wanted me to take his car for inspection. He was told where to get off. 

I got along with the janitresses. I didn't fib on them when they snuck into the girls rooms for smokes. I kept to myself and my gum. I scraped a lot of gum out of desks that summer. The last two weeks I got to clean desks, and as a reward, go to help put the liquid finish on them. By Labor Day the desks were ready for a new group of scholars. And I was ready for college. 

In the Senatorial debates, Lonegan talked about how he, unlike Cory Booker, worked when he went to college. I guess I can run for Senate, if that is the requirement. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Life without the federal government

Right now they are fighting the Second Civil War in Washington. The Republicans, led by the Tea Party, want to get rid of Obamacare and are willing to shut down the federal government to do it. Later in October they will try to block the debt ceiling so no American debts will be paid. They claim they want America to remain free while others want health insurance, food stamps,student aid, and other things a man should provide for himself.

It would be strange to imagine life without a federal government. Of course there would be state and municipal governments but they would lose federal funding so be able to do less things.

I do get a taste of life without government on the way to work every morning. Since Trenton can't afford police cars to monitor traffic, you do have a sense of freedom driving to work. You can drive whatever speed you like and go through red lights if that is your wish. What a burst of euphoria that creates.

Of course you can see a country where people plunder farms to eat and where justice comes at the hand of a gun. Free men, armed, walking around the streets, safe because of their skills with firearms. Churches happily feeding the poor. Doctors joyfully treating those with no money, like they did a hundred years ago. Oh to go back to those wonderful good olde days.