Monday, October 31, 2011

My Grandfather, gramps, and that ghost in the car

My Grandfather MacDonald holds a special place in my heart. Grand parents should hold a spot in every ones heart. To this day I miss him. Many times I think of the Christmas tree that they had year after year. A simple tree, silver in color, with colorful ordenments. At times I would poke at the ornaments and watch them twirl with all the colors of the rainbow shinning by reflection from the moon outside the window. Colorful wrappings covering presents. I would stare at that tree for long periods of time and enjoy its simple pleasure. A warm feeling always came to me. During these times the apartment would be filled with all the delights, fruits, and bowls of nuts and the scent of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.

I would visit my Grandfather and Grandmother mostly on weekends. Gramps was manager and maintenance of the apartment buildings located in Waltham Massachusetts. He took care of them 7 days a week and on occasion we would travel to his home away from work in Kingston, MA. Gramps put me to work while visiting in a way to relieve some of the energy that a young man can have and would also put some much needed cash in my pocket. One of the many chores was to take out the trash, dozens of bags at a time. Tend to the boilers in the basement and mechanical and electrical equipment in need of repairs. The main job I had was to vacuum the hallways of all the buildings; there are 4 buildings with several floors in 2 of them. One other task was to walk a dog of one of the tenants in the building, an easy task. A small poodle type of dog, I am not sure of the breed. The dog was a single woman who I vaguely remember but do remember having a crush on her. I do remember her being a beautiful woman. When vacuuming the halls I would take much pride in making sure all areas were clean to my Grandfathers liking. I guess I was looking for his approval in which he always gave positive statements. In the morning he would wake up early and I would be waiting for him to come out of their bedroom. Making coffee was his first priority, the percolator type you rarely see today. A bulb on top in which you could see through. You could see the coffee percolating. Two pieces of toast, lightly brown in color. Lightly buttered to flavor. Always, I waited for him to bite into his toast first. Gramps had white hair that he combed with the same black comb that always laid on the bathroom sink. A few swipes with the comb and his hair would be set for the day. I would stand at the doorway in awe of my Grandfather. I guess this was with the same passion a son would to his father. My father was long gone so my Grandfather took his place in stature. With thick black rimmed glasses in which I rarely seen off his face. He would sit in the same morning chair with me waiting for the daily chores to begin.

The truck he used maintaining the properties was incredibly interesting for a young kid. The truck was a mess. The dashboard was torn open to reveal the mechanism that controlled the windshield wipers. Every now and then during rainstorms the wiper mechanism would hang up. Gramps would reach in like a surgeon and maneuver the levers to get the mechanism to function. Gramps was constantly grinding the gears of the transmission while shifting. Apparently the transmission on the truck was a bit tricky to function. Jumper cables were stored behind the seat and used often. I remember in the bank parking lot on several occasions him asking passer byers and friends for a jump start. The furthest I remember him traveling in this truck was to the dump located across town. As much trouble as this truck gave my Grandfather, he never traded her for a new one or newer one for that matter.

Gramps didn’t have many friends that I knew of and had few acquaintances. The people he did talk to were always the same people. I would recognize them and there were few.

One particular day of interest gramps and I were loading trash in the back of the old pick-up truck when a screech of wheels came around the corner of the parking lot. The timing of this car was in time with us exiting the building. To a haul not 15 feet from the building exit and the driver’s door swung open before the car came to a complete halt. A man I have never seen before jumped out with an expression of complete panic on his face. Being from the projects I knew when it was time to leave, a time just to watch and a time to duck. This was a time to not move and just watch, dropping the bag I held, I waited. My grandfather walked slowly to the man who stood at the car. He started to plead with gramps. I could not hear what was being said yet the man was slapping the back of his right hand onto the palm of his left with plenty of words in between. Half bent over and veins protruding the skin on his face. Gramps grabbed the man with one hand and pulled him further away from where I was standing, I watch my grandfather intensely and ready to back him up. Gramps said little with short statements, with an expressionless face. The man obviously was in trouble of some kind. He appeared to thank my grandfather several times by grabbing my grandfather’s hand and shaking it vigorously. Jumping back in his car, this was still running, and slammed the gear selector in reverse. He accelerated out of sight. Gramps walked to me slowly with his head down. When he came to a short distance from me he rose his head and looked at my eyes waiting for me ask what was going on. I looked back at gramps and asked him like the friend he is “what’s wrong.” More worried about my grandfather than this unknown. Gramps began to tell me: “he is a federal witness in a murder trial and that there are two guys after him, there’s nothing I can do.” And something about a shot gun. I never seen or heard about that ghost in the car again. Back in the seventies if you were marked by organized crime you instantly had no friends and it was just a matter of time before you were found and then gone.

The interesting part,  is years later a high school friend who’s grandfather is named MacDonald, different last name, was one of the ten most wanted by the FBI. We would get quite a chuckle by visiting the local police department and seeing his picture on the poster yet that weekend we were getting home made wine off of him. (I recently read a book by a retired FBI agent who claims this was not his wine but made by a member of the Winter Hill Gang). All the FBI had to do was simple follow a couple of teenagers and they had their man, Joseph MacDonald family no relation to gramps. Recently Howie Carr of Boston radio fame wrote a book on Hit Men; in there I believe I will find out what went on with that ghost in the car. Today there is a file in the offices of the FBI on McGrath which is my born name, I’ve seen it. They keep track of family members for only one reason and that is you can go either way, criminally or law abiding, it’s in your blood. The FBI really never intended on finding MacDonald. Eventually they took him down at Penn Station in New York for the theatrics of it all. What they don’t mention is that Joseph MacDonald led a long life and was convicted at the age of eighty. Much corruption existed back in the early eighties during the agent, Connelly days of the FBI. Anyone who reads the newspapers even on occasion will remember the headlines during the nineties when the corruption was exposed.

The wine in question was kick ass. It gave me serious hang over that even at a young age kept me in bed until noon. Kept in a thick green bottle with lots of grape skin inside. The taste was harsh. The cost was free.

Creative Commons Copyright by
 Dess Dermondy

Monday, October 24, 2011

General Electric comes to bat

Many opinion makers and others have been talking about the lack of jobs in this country. I believe everybody knows by now that there is a significant shortage of jobs. We do not need to be told that jobs are an issue, we know that. What is in question is how to fix or reverse a trend in motion. The answer lies with the Regan Administration tactics against foreign motorcycle companies flooding the US with their motorcycles. In the early 80’s the Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Company was on a path of bankruptcy. Executives and former owners of the company got together to buy the company back from AMF. The problem was several. The company had quality control problems mounting and the floodgate was open for foreign motorcycles. Retooling of the company as far as making a better product was conclusive with the managers as possible. This would take large amounts of cash and backing by investment houses. Both achievable. What the executives needed was support from the US Government. The support they requested and received was as follows. Foreign Motorcycle companies were flooding the market with alarming numbers just to bring their [product to the masses and it was working. They made no money on the motorcycles them selves but on accessories and parts. The motive worked and was putting the only American made motorcycle out of business in short order. They devised a business plan with the help of the Reagan Administration to levy heavy import tariffs against foreign motorcycle manufactures. Sense these manufactures were willing to sell their product for less than retail value the government levied these taxes to make up the difference. This put their motorcycle prices in line with Harley Davidson. This saved an American icon. The details are many but the system worked.

Today we as US workers are faced with the same problem. Manufacturing has all but ceased in this country. The problem is US companies and foreign companies have their products made mostly in China. The products cost the same or a bit less when these same products were produced in the US. The solution to manufacturing job loss lies with the workable Reagan Administration tax levy to bring the importation of products in line with US made products (if you can find any). I personally would like it to start with General Electrics Solar Energy manufacturing unit. GE came up to bat for the US worker recently by building these wafers in the US. They could have easily and more profitably made them overseas, they decided against it. If the US government were truly supportive of the US worker it would levy heavy taxes against any and all imported products to the US. To encourage a new view for US manufacturing. The details would be many. This would cost some to the US population but would bring back manufacturing back to this country and put people back to work. Foreign countries pay their employees 10 cents on the dollar for their workers. Levy heavy import taxes to bring pay rates inline with US workers. If this foreign government raises worker pay, lower import taxes inline with pay hikes. You achieve two fold: manufacturing back to the US, Humanitarian support of grossly under paid workers in foreign countries.                                                             Creative Commons Copyright by
Dess Dermondy

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The reason why cigeretts are located behind the counter, 1971

I watch TV from time to time to catch up on the news of the world. Recently I have lost interest in television for a variety of reason I not particularly interested in discussing. 80% of channels on cable are useless and boring. Having no TV is mostly ok but at times I miss it. One day while watching TV, a commercial promoting teaching a child to be honest. The boy, at the age of 6, ripped off a model airplane from a local store. The father had the boy, rightfully, return the airplane back and apologize to the owner. The owner greeted the incident with a smile for the boy who was being honest. This is the proper way to teach a child rather than becoming mad and yelling at the child for something that he wanted but apparently afraid to ask for. Maybe the boy was petrified to ask for the toy as history may indicate. The parent was dressed to appear to be able to afford such a small gift. These small gifts can and will leave a memory that will last a life time, think of your memories of minor yet rewarding incidents.

At the age of 6 I was living in the Prospect Hill Projects located in Waltham Massachusetts. At that time the projects were all I knew and I knew more than most kids twice my age, some good some bad. On occasion we (the group that I hung with all project kids) would venture out side the walls of the project fence to a local store (I forget the name but it was located next to A&P Supermarket). Bernie who is approximately 3 years older than most of us, led the group by default (his age gave him seniority). “Hay lets head for the store to pick up some things.” The things were always the same, candy, cigarettes, rubber bands and (yes) hairpins. Keeping in mind we were only 6 years of age. Those of you who have children in this age bracket try to in vision them doing this, I have a son and could never imagine him doing what I have done (the enviourement in which you live in can and will have a dramatic affect on you). We did not devise a plan on who would be located where when we entered the store or positions. We simply knew what to do. Bernie would normally be the “pick” but on occasion this would change by direction of a clerk who would start to ask questions to some one else. When Bernie was the “pick” he would fire up a conversation with the closest clerk in order to distract her from our positions. It work each and every time. In the sixties and early seventies cigarettes were located out in front of the counter and not behind the counter. They were easy pickings. Candy, always on the list, was second to be heisted the prime targets were root bear barrels and hot balls. Yes hairpins and rubber bands were third. This is referred to as the Old lady style. The u shaped hairpin made of thin steel. The hairpins fit nicely around the rubber bands and we used them as projectiles against cars. All this thieving was accomplished inside three minuets, we were that good. With pockets full of dividable goods we would head out of the store and back to common ground. Cigarettes use to be located in front of the counter and were easy for the taking if you had a good story to tell the clerk. One to two packs each, which totaled a large number. Candy removed by the hand full later to be divided up somewhat equally. Bernie always managed to end up with more than the rest of us. The strong arm of the group, we never complained. We never giggled and act like it was a big deal like we have never done it before. Back in those days when you were poor you had nothing but one pair of cheap sneaks and the privileged had a bicycle. Cigarettes are now located behind the counter, starting with this store which was most likely one of the first to move the cigs for we removed them illegally in large numbers. The tally at the end of the night was far from where it should have been. Between us under 10 year olds and the teenage crowd heisted the A&P (which is long gone bankrupted) for steaks and other goodies used for barbeques later in the evening fueled by alcohol and lord knows what else. The store we heisted later required (with a posted sign) that children under the age of 15 be accompanied by adults. This ruined some of our weekends for a short time there after.

Back to the hairpins. Hairpins and rubber bands are a volatile combination. Dividing these up somewhat equally we would head for the local bushes. When cars would pass we opened fired…dink dink dink of the steel panels of cars and trucks. On occasion brakes would lock up and screeching of tires rang out. Followed by reverse lights coming on. The folks in the cars never got out to chase us for we were long gone by that time. This was one of our greatest adventures on weekends.

As far as cigarettes go we never really inhaled them and at the time cigarettes were in vogue (I wish I never started smoking). Simple puffs on them, sell them or trade them off for firecrackers. I don’t believe we knew how to inhale them. I look at my son today and can never picture him even remotely doing this in any way, remember the enviourment in which we live in can have a dramatic affect on you. My mother to this day doesn’t like the idea of the fact that my 2 brothers and me grew up in the projects but interestingly some the funniest stories she tells come directly from the project error of our life. This story telling would normally come around chrismess time after 2 glasses of wine. One that is told from year to year is the one of the stolen radio from her car. A 1973 Chevy Nova. The radio was stolen the night before and my mother phoned the local police to assist the desk Sargent in the investigation of the stolen radio. After explaining the situation the desk Sargent responded “can’t you people handle this” referring to neighbors. Ask any retired cop from this era and they will confirm that the police never went inside the projects with out massive back ups. Apparently it was a rough place to venture, I never seen it. Living there was no concern about safety or walking around the projects as long as you were from there. If you weren’t from there you better have a good reason to be there and if it was trouble you were looking for it was trouble you found. Many were sent home with there tail between their legs. Looking back I do not recall ever seeing some one who was not from there.

Back to Brandeis. Going to Brandeis was a blast. The students took us everywhere by bus car or by foot. We rarely stayed put at the school we simple were too much to handle. At one time in my life I knew just about every corner of that Campus. Hanging out around students was interesting yet we were probably a pain in the butt to them for we had plenty of questions to ask of them. Makes it difficult to study when you have a runny nose kid 2 feet from you asking non-stop questions. The Gold fishpond located at near the entrance to the school has plenty of Gold fish. They are trapped in a small man made circle of stone and always hungry. You could cast to one side of the pond with a good cast of the fishing rod. The fish were easy pickings. A large in circumference security guard would chase us from time to time but never made it past 20 yards in foot pursuit. He received plenty of heckling while attempting to chase us. One of the most memorable things of Bradeis is the over night camping we did on rear occasions.

One of the and probably the most biggest tree forts you would have come across we built. Located a good 30 feet in the air with plenty of head room between the fort and the ground to cause serious damage if one fell. It was 3 stories high and took a week for the maintenance department of Waltham to disassemble it. It was amazing that we were left alone to build it in the first place.

My friends and me backed each other up in the project right or wrong the details of any conflict would be worked out later. We were project kids and viewed by many as being out castes because we never had money. In those days being poor was a crime and we were felons. If you picked on one us you picked on all of us. We surrounded you and made you very aware that you were not going to win. We were left alone most of the time by using this tactic and very rarely got in a fight.

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Dess Dermondy

Monday, October 17, 2011

Wall Street Greed!?

Current conditions are chaotic on the cold pavement surrounding the institutions that fuel the economy. An up rising by folks who are attacking and exposing the greed machine on Wall Street. This voice has been rising for some time now. With Hedge Funds initiating the call for anger several running. The Hedge Funds have been moving the markets in the direction they chose. This direction has had zero consideration for the technical’s or market conditions. Simply put there has been reasoning for market moving in the north direction. The economy has been shot for some time now with no apparent relief in the near future. It has been greed fueled. Over the summer a small percentage of Executives in a large Institution were caught scamming their own clients out of millions headed up by RUBIN. Most folks do not recognize this name but he is the brother to one worth noting and worked with the FBI. The founders of this Investment Institution shall greet these greed monsters upon arrival.

News papers now head line the occupation of over 100 cities in the USA. This has brought awareness to the machine. What does need to be said is that a majority of folks working in Wall Street are not apart of the Machine. Like most Associations they are being dragged in the cesspool with a small percentage of greed. This has happened to many groups and association in the past of this country. I recently wrote a play identifying this. The two groups mentioned in the play really could be any group in existence. They are two of the most widely known. Well how does it feel Wall Street, what goes around comes around…

Currently I am employed with a very large retailer in New Hampshire and the country for that matter. This position is temporary in support of the up coming Christmas season. The company is an extremely well run company and leader in the retail market. So much so a leader, that you came easily predict the retail out look for the rest of the retail market based on their forecast.  This week end we were asked not to come in due to unexpected slow sales. It’s the week end shift and I enjoy working it. It allows me 4 days off. Let me say with out theory that this is a gauge to the retail out look for the season…slow sales. Slow sales translate into down economy. If they are not selling nobody is. Or not to the volume of expectations. This slowness will eventually drop the DOW.

Lately the US government has been releasing information in tune with drops of the DOW. Artificially stopping a correction in the markets that needs to happen now. This is just prolonging the inedible. As the Market drops and heads for Bear territory they release news that will and has bumped the Market up. Why do they continually do this, well supposedly to support the President? Wrong folks what will happen is the Market will drop during re-election time and used as a tool to oust Obama.

What is being over looked by the Head line releasers is a healthy correction in the Market, regardless of the 20% technical which is dated. Pull back a 3 year chart of the DOW to expose a wide “W” formation. This formation to complete its path to 8500 needs to happen. It simply is healthy and many investors are on the side lines waiting for the pattern to form and “trade out.” This is in parallel with a forest that burns to the ground. At first, the reaction is of devastation but long term effects are well documented. The recovery of the forest is healthier that it has ever been. The fire wipes out over growth and unhealthy accumulation that retards strong growth. Case in point is in Canada. Their tree farms are groomed to produce 1st class lumber. The rebound from the “W” pattern will relax investors for it is health to form and the DOW will never return to that level of 8500.
Creative Commons Copyright by
 Dess Dermondy