Red

Old Journal Writings: #1 of a series

I wrote this Wednesday, November 26, 1975:

School: one lousy history class.  I joke by stepping over a chair.  Try to hitch hike.  I wait forever for the 6 mile bus, about an hour and a half.  Start to talk to this old guy next to me, rather he does most of the talking to me.  He’s about 85 and has a messed up nose like W.C. Fields.

He remembers working Eastern Market here in Detroit, in 1910.   He drove a horse and buggy.   There were no cars back then (or they were rare at least).  Later on, he also worked hauling produce all over the country.  He’d be trucking out and meeting deadlines.  Then, when he got to where he was going he’d always just sleep and wait for the next haul.

He never had time to go to the movies or anything.  He was always working too much.  (“Life is mostly hard work.”)

He says he never gives his name and address to people “Just call me Red!” Now he’s grey.

Red talks about the old Black Hand, the Purple Gang and the Mafia.  They all had to pay protection back then.  He talked a lot about the Prohibition era too, bars.  He said drunken cops threatened to take him in but he never had to get out of the car.  They’d usually just drove him right back to wherever they picked him up from..

His main motto in life was something like “Don’t see nothing and don’t say nothing.”  Yes, “Keep your nose clean and you’ll live a long and healthy life.”

He’s an interesting old guy.  He said that Nixon was the worst president ever.  Now he spends his time riding the busses for free and listening to his police band radio.

The bus finally comes.  It’s very cold out.  I get on for free though, a lady gave me a transfer.

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