edited: Sunday, February 17, 2008
By George E. Albitz
Rated "G" by the Author.
Posted: Sunday, February 17, 2008
Become a Fan
Just did a little number for my memoirs. Probably nobody will read them so I'm sending this little sample to you...enjoy!
After my Navy Days I went out to California hoping to play baseball in their winter leagues but that never worked out due to my hitting ability, or lack of it, which I later found was due to a lazy eye problem. I've since had surgery to correct my double vision but now I'm much too old to play, however that's another matter.
I suppose a good biography would include a bully situation somewhere within it's early days but as previously stated I was able to use my feet to keep my distance from most of them so there is not much to write about. Good for my health, but bad for the pen.
However, there is one bit of a sticky wicket that occurred a wee bit later as I found employment at a place called The Union Switch and Signal. The name was obviously originated by someone of higher intelligence with a creative mind as they made signals and switches for railroads. My Dad worked there too and road to work with me in an old green Volkswagen Beetle, (all VWs in those days were Beetles.) I remember it had no heater fan so it wouldn't warm up until you started driving. Usually we pulled into the parking lot just about the time we thawed out. I worked in the machine shop at one end of a gizmo that cleaned machined pieces. I would put them on a conveyor, run them through the apparatus and an old guy named Mel, (he's probably dead now so I can use his name) caught them. Boring!
Obviously I needed to do things to break up the day.
Tom Veranti was a figure of legend. A huge mountain of a man. Some say he was crazy, others said he was nuts. One thing was for sure, he had the run of the facilities. In all the times I knew him I never saw him work. Nobody knew what his job was. He just walked around. Since he was certifiable he was not responsible for his actions so everyone was afraid of him. Even the bosses. Nobody was willing to fire him because of repercussions I suppose.
He was well know for his 56 Chevy that he treated like glass. It was FAST! He drag raced on the roads of his town and never lost, (another page of the legend.) One evening he spent hours in a service station garage detailing his rod to meticulous splendor. It was washed and waxed so fine the teenage gum chewing girls passing by would walk over and fix their hair in its mirror finish.
Mother Nature saw an opportunity to unleash her evil finger of fate and it soon started to rain. Tom slept in the car all night and never left the gas station.
I said to him, “I hear you have a fast car?”
“How would you like to race me?” He didn't seem impressed or even interested.
“I don't know.”
“I always race for money.”
“How about 500 bucks for a quarter mile?”
Man, his eyes lite up like a kid at Christmas, “OK!...what do you have?”
His chin dropped halfway to his chest and he just stood there motionless. As I said before all Volkswagens in those days were Beetles and known for their awesome speed of 0 to 60 in three days.
He stared at me for a few moments, then a big smile came across his face. He didn't say anything, just turned and walked away, but I think he liked me after that because nobody had ever done anything like that to him. I told my friends and they all concurred, “ARE YOU CRAZY!”
Tom and I were friends, and that incident brought us closer together, but there was one drawback...no good deed shall go unpunished.
Any time, anyplace, anywhere Tom would see me he'd walk up, punch me in the chest and say “Hi George!.”
This went on for quite awhile. My friends were concerned, “Every time he sees you he bashes your chest...that gotta hurt.”
My reply, “DUH!”
“What are you gonna do?”
Another asked, “What can he do, Tom will kill him. He can't do anything. He might as well get another job in another part of the world.”
Soon another fateful day came to pass. We were all standing around in a little group talking and Tom walked up, pounded me in the chest and said, “Hi George!”
Without a moments hesitation I pounded him back and said, “Hi Tom!”
Man! His eyes lit up! His face exploded in a big glorious grin. He shook his head and smiled a big smile as he slammed me harder, “Hi George!”
My eyes didn't lite up, I didn't grin, and I didn't smile, but I hit him again harder, “Hi Tom!”
My friends were in shock!
Tom's eyes opened wider, his grin enlarged, and he smiled a broader smile, as he slammed me again even harder than before, “Hi George!”
I hit him again harder, “ Hi Tom!”
He was loving it! It was as though he was gaining energy every time I hit him back.
My Friends passed out.
Tom and I traded about five good punches before I finally said, “Whoa! Whoa, Wait a minute, Tom, This isn't working.”
“It's working for me!”
“Yeah! Well I'm not nuts!”
“Well I'm not trading anymore punches.”
“Well then it won't be any fun.”
A sudden sad expression came across his face. He lowered his head and turned and walked away.
My friends snapped back to reality and harmoniously uttered, “ARE YOU CRAZY? You hit Tom Veranti? I saw it but I don't believe it! You actually hit Tom Veranti! Nobody hits Tom Veranti! You're my HERO!”
In retrospect I suppose I can look back at it all and say I stood up to him and feel good about that. It was a classic confrontation not unlike days of old when nights were bold. The end justifies the means and I must tell you Tom never hit me again, however the end is not always due to the means, as soon after the ordeal our company went belly-up, we were all set free, and I never saw Tom again.
Still, every now and then, on misty rainy nights, I often think of him in a lonely gas station garage sleeping in the backseat of the Chevy that never got to race my Volkswagen.