Thursday, July 10, 2014

My Summer 1964

A Philly Yo = Honolulu's Aloha

“. . . A wounded heart
 will heal in time,
 and when it does, 
the memory 
and love of our 
lost ones 
is sealed inside 
to comfort us.”
                     Brian Jacques

“Memories are bullets. 
Some whiz by 
and only spook you. 
Others tear you 
open and leave you 
in pieces.” 
 Richard Kadrey

“The past
 is a foreign country; 
they do things 
differently there.” 

                            L.P. Hartley


When I was a little kid
my Dad,
a WWII Veteran,
was a very modest businessman.

He owned a small
English Ford truck
full of affordable merchandise
that he sold on his route.

Installment Sales.
A Modern peddler.

Dad's business consisted
of the fact that housewives
in every ethnic neighborhood
of gritty Philadelphia
knew him,
bought from him,
owed him money-
which he kept track of
in small loose-leaf notebooks.

Johnny The Dress Boy.

He had other street names
in other neighborhoods.
His name was not John.

President Kennedy
was Gone
since November;
I had seen teachers
crying that day.

The Beatles 
had first been on TV
 Sunday Feb 9th.
Something New
and Fresh
was blowin` in the wind.

It was 1964.

That Summer
as on other school holidays
I sometimes went to work with Dad.

We left the suburbs early,
drove into the city,
ate street food in the car;
We made our own day.

I shyly talked to ladies
who pinched my cheek
and gave me cookies:
Polish, Italian, Jewish,
Southern Style,

Dad would sometimes park
in a tough neighborhood
and leave me in the car
while he ran into a store
or upstairs in a house.

 Then I observed
the activity of
the living streets
through a child's eyes.

Looking back I wonder:
was I watching the merchandise,
or was it "watching me"
giving me a reason
to be part of the scene?

When pantyhose appeared,
dad placed and filled 
racks of them
in mom & pop 
neighborhood stores.

Photo: Hidden City Philadelphia Link

My dad was friendly
with people of
every status,
every shade of skin color,
and everyone liked him.

The only fear I ever saw
in him had to do with
the Philadelphia Police,
unsmiling, predators
of drivers and the streets.
[ An earlier policing culture - earlier day ]

My suburban schoolmates
and I watched
the first NASA space flights
on TV's wheeled into class.

Some of the other kids
used the "N" word
on the playground.

NOT space age!
NOT cool.

I knew better
and despised their 

50 years ago
this August
Philadelphia exploded:
the Columbia Ave Riots.

Places I had been
were burning on TV 
and in the newspapers.

Places where Dad made a living.

I learned a lot on those streets,
in that city of neighborhoods.
A lot about work
and a lot about life.

Dad did not carry a lunch pail.
He was his own man.
Today we would call him
an entrepreneur.

Eventually, he launched
a janitorial company
becoming a "real"
Small Business Man.

"When you work for someone else,
you are making money for them."
Dad used to say.

Looked at  closely
this attitude values
And he treated them right,
even when they made missteps.

He trained them.
He bailed them out of jail,
he drove them around,
loaned them money for cars,
but he fired some too,

often saying:
"Some people 
don't know what work is."

Alternately he would observe:
"Some people 
just don't know what dirt is."
[ we were in the cleaning business ]

Dad taught me by example
that business comes down to
providing a real service,
so you can hire people
who need work
to feed their families,

If you do it right
 you make money
to feed yours.

Our employees,
some of them,
learned the business
and started their own.

One great guy,
Jerry Gardner,
essentially became
dad's business partner
and a trusted
family friend.

Work is dignified
and deserves appreciation.

I knew that
dad felt a deep
to make the payroll
on time.

Pretty good approach to
capitalism I think!

I had a nice middle-class
but I also cleaned
offices and factories
all over the city
with co-workers and
customers from
every neighborhood 
in town,
 of every background
and skin color.

I can speak
with an Oxford Don,
or a "bum" in the street.

And I make eye contact 
with each of them.

I know the people
who go to work
every day
in the dark,
on the bus,
who keep society

Thanks for the education
Can we stop 
for a soft pretzel?


Thanks for visiting
dear Friends

                  Warmly, cloudia

"Some people strengthen the society 
just by being the kind of people they 
are."  -John W. Gardner  

"The good neighbor looks beyond 
the external accidents and discerns those 
inner qualities that make all men
 human and, therefore, brothers." 
Martin Luther King

Motivation is the art 
of getting people to do 
what you want them to do 
because they want to do it.
 Dwight Eisenhower


Sandra said...

this is an amazing story and I loved every word of it. my hubby is from Perkasie which is about 40 miles from Philly, i read him your post and he was nodding and saying amen to all of it... he is 78 and i am 70 or we will be in 2 months.. we remember all of this and before.

DeniseinVA said...

A great story and a great memory of your dad and of life in Philly.

eViL pOp TaRt said...

A wonderful, inspiring story of your dad and life on the streets of the City of Brotherly Love in the 1960's. This was a delight to read. Yo, Aloha!

TexWisGirl said...

he was a good man.

i loved the 2nd quote, too.

Brian Miller said...

what a cool story...and cool to go along with saw a lot which i am sure shaped who you were to become...the streets will def give you an education...

yo from va.


Myrna R. said...

What beautiful memories you have. So glad, your lessons led you to become someone who accepts and treasures people. Your Dad left you quite a gift.

Adam said...

I enjoyed your story from 1964

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

This is a great tribute to your dad, Cloudia.

Anonymous said...

WHat an inspiring post!

Charles Gramlich said...

If everyone had your father's approach we'd be a lot better off.

Cloudia said...

It means SO much to share ourselves this way.

Thanks, dear Friends♥

Teresa said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful father! Thanks for sharing your story.

Anita said...

Very nice Cloudia ♥i enjoyed myself at your place ♥

EG CameraGirl said...

Your dad was a very special person and you are lucky to have seen that first hand.

Cloudia said...

Thanks for being here today ♥ dears

Elephant's Child said...

LOVE your memories, your photos, your quotes. Thank you.

William Kendall said...

A wonderful tribute to your dad.

Merlesworld said...

That's a good story and has a lot of truth, if you do a job well you will be valued and if you learn to talk to all types of people you will be listened to.
But I must say big companies don't always live by these rules.

Anonymous said...

The bullets and memories is a tad interesting. Yeah, I've had my guts ripped out, but then, sometimes the good memories "zing" in and flow over the scarred guts and make for a nice rerun of the good things. A bit of a unique and fortunate feeling. DrumMajor

Duckbutt said...

A great memoir of a remarkable man.

Cloudia said...

Thanks SO much for sharing this with me!

Small Kucing said...



PerthDailyPhoto said...

Wonderful reminisces Cloudia, your Dad gave you skills to deal with real life.. many don't..

Erika said...

I love your story and what your dad taught to you. :-))))

21 Wits said...

I know from reading before, but each time it's fresh wisdom once again. You are so lucky for those days with your Dad, on the streets where real life revolved. Splendid it was. as all of those days in your life, pretzel or not, TV's on wheels, (Oh yeah)dirty streets and special names (cool how your Dad knew everyone) shaped you into the lovely lady you are today!

Bob Scotney said...

A brilliant post which tells us so much about that time and a wonderful dad.

Alexia said...

A wonderfully interesting story to read, Cloudia. This post gives such great insights about your father, and about you. Thank you.

young-eclectic-encounters said...

What a terrific post, so glad to have found your site. I found you thru Carmi's site