It rained yesterday in Utica. A steady drizzle. Sometimes more. No sun. Gray all day.
There is a different greenery here. Obviously not palm trees and mangroves. Woods. Elms, maples and the like. All over the place. Thick and full. A different feeling.
I met with people. I talked with people. And took time to finish Bob Woodward’s Obama’s Generals. A definte must read.
There is no direct message intended in the book. It is a recitation of facts. What has occurred between Obama and the generals since he became President. The facts do the speaking. Beware of generals!
The last few pages were especially interesting. Petraeus comes forth for the first time as a well meaning and seriously intended general. So too was MacArthur, if you recall. Mac Arthur forgot who the commander in chief was. It appears Petraeus may be doing so also.
I had dinner with Gus last night. My friend. My buddy. A fellow attorney.
We used to meet for a drink every night after work. For years.
It was good to see him.
Sushi has hit the Utica area big time. There are now several such restaurants. We ate at the newest one last night. The site of a former Howard Johnson restaurant. It was not called Howard Johnson back then. Something else. The name escapes me.
What a beautiful place! Terrific remodeling! A major investment. Met the owner. A young Asiatic. He told us this is the second one he owns in the area.
The fish was delectable.
Gus drank. I had diet soda. We had a good time.
Let me share a bit more about Utica’s knitting mills. The major industry in this area from the early 1800s till after World War II.
My grandfather Louis, my Dad’s father, worked in the knitting mills. He immigrated to the United States from Italy in the early 1900s. He worked his way up to becoming some kind of a floor boss at the Oneita Knitting Mill on Broad Street.
He lived two blocks away on Jay Street. He bought a three story house with six apartments. One in front and one in back on each floor. Eventually his children and their families occupied the apartments. My grandparents lived in the apartment on the first floor front. My parents and I lived in the apartment on the third floor front.
My Grandfather walked to work every day. As did most of the employees at the Oneita Knitting Mill. Everyone lived in walking distance of their place of work. No one owned cars. At least not the working class.
As I said earlier, my Grandfather was some kind of floor boss. People worked under his direction. He dressed appropriately. A vested suit, shirt and tie. A hat.
At work, he would remove his suit coat and roll up his sleeves. The vest and tie remained. Sometimes the hat. He was a neat and tidy man. A proud man.
He was involved with cutting patterns.
He would take me to work with him on occasion. I had to be all of 3 or 4 years old. Hand in hand we would walk to work. Forget he was proud. I was proud!
I would sit in a corner where he worked or walk around. I can still see my Grandfather laying out large pieces of clothe on a huge table. The table had slots built into it. There were large knives. Almost the size of swords. He would first smooth the clothe with his hands. Then take these huge knives and work them through the slots cutting the material into the intended pieces.
All of his hand work then is most certainly done by machinery today.
Years later my Grandfather was old and senile. Probably in his late 80s or 90s. He was in a nursing home. He knew no one. Not his children. Not his grandson, me.
We were able to take him home for Thanksgiving dinner. He was dressed. Even then. Three piece suit and tie. Looked terrific!
He was seated appropriately at the head of the table. Silent. I was sitting to his side. I was watching him. He took his clothe napkin and spread it flat on the table. Then he started smoothing it with his hand as he had done at the Mill years before.
My Grandfather has been gone some 40 years now. Still think of him. Miss him. Love him.
There is a further recollectiomn I have of the Oneita Knitting Mill. It involves my Mother.
We were immigrant people. My grandparents born in Italy. My Mother also. Though she came to the United States early in life.
It is the late 1930s again. I am 3 or 4 years old. My Mother worked at the Mill.
This was a time of worker unrest. Unions were relatively new. There was a strike at the Mill. My Mother was working there at the time. I have a clear recollection of her being beaten by men with clubs. She tried to escape. Ran and was climbing over a fence. Some of the strike breakers caught her. They pulled her to the ground. As they were so doing, one of them pulled down her bloomers. Yesterday’s name for panties. Then walked away laughing as she lay on the ground.
The interesting part is that the owners of the Mill were children of immigrants. Everyone in America is descendant from immigrants, if you think about it. The difference was the owners’ people had immigrated earlier than mine. From the late 1700s to the mid 1800s. They were of Welsh and German extraction.
The Welsh and Germans had been here longer. They were established. They were the haves. My peope the have nots.
Now it is 80 years later. We are all assimilated. Welsh, Germans and Italians. Together with the Poles and Irish who were immigrants during or around the same era. Now it is the Bosnians, Russians, Asians and those from Muslim countries that are the immigrants. Today. Tomorrow they will all be one in the American fabric.
But oh the problems in getting to that assimilation!
Poppa is in Utica. Grandkids Robert and Ally in Key West. Miss them!
Talked with Lisa last night. She told me Robert is the botanist this week at Montessori. He waters the plants. Last week he was the copy writer. He made copies at the copy machine.
I love it that Robert and his class mates are learning all these terms in the first grade! I am impressed!
Enjoy your day!