Wednesday, January 04, 2006


In the beginning of 1958, I was still working at Bill’s Liquor and working even more hours than before. I was still making $1 an hour plus tips and doing quite well. My immediate boss, “Goody”, a former professional wrestler, wanted me to learn to wait on customers at the counter and so on slow delivery nights; you would find me working the cash registers. These were not the electronic machines you see today, but large metal monsters with multiple drawers and many, many keys. And you had to do the math in your head when returning change to the customer. All quite intimidating. But I became quite good at it.

I remember Thursday nights as being hectic and fast paced. That is when the aircraft plants in Westchester paid their hourly workers and the swing shift would stop at Bill’s to cash their checks. From midnight until we closed at 2 AM, the crowds were constant. I would rush from the registers to the walk-in box to restock and then back out to the counter to cash more checks.

Thursday afternoons were spent preparing for this weekly riot. I would stock the box as full as possible, extra cases of beer stacked everywhere I could. Then I would be sent to the bank around 3 PM to get lots of money for the anticipated payroll checks we would be cashing. We couldn’t afford to run out of cash. And sending me to the bank was a carefully staged event. Sam, one of the owners, would give me a jacket to wear and the jacket had many pockets. My job was to take a large check to the bank and then take the money I received and secret it in all of the various pockets; just in case someone wanted to rob me. The plan was for me to give up just one pocketful. I remember that the bank manager would help me to get all of the money concealed. Nothing obvious in that!

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