Going Postal

Vintage U.S. postage stamp

As the psychedelic sixties deflated into the sinister seventies, America was suddenly full of draft-dodgers, drug-burnouts and college-dropouts. They had few prospects and fewer skills. I was among their number. We “cultural casualties” wore the facial expression seen on the faces of people whose home had just been sucked away by a cyclone. It asked, “What the fuck just happened?” It asked the more terrifying, “What am I gonna do now?”

The answer for many of us was, “Take the Post Office test.”

I was among their number.  

Don’t laugh. 

The Post office was a union job, a job for life, a job with a uniform and a good pension and… and… “Jesus Christ,” I thought, “how the fuck did I get here? I’m an actor. I’m supposed to be a Broadway star. I can play a mailman not be one.” 

And, in fact, I was then starring off-off-off Broadway in a roach-infested basement in Manhattan. But, I figured I could get a graveyard shift at the P.O. that would pay my rent and leave my days free for auditions, lunches at the Four Seasons with movie stars and eight shows a week on the Great White Way. I might need this back-up job for a month or two. Tops.

Plus, like all baby-boomers I’d grown up watching The Merry Mailman on TV so I had a special affection for all things postal.  

Ray Heatherton - The Merry Mailman
He was always smiling so how bad could the gig be?

The test was held in a grubby room in an even grubbier West Side mail sorting office. As we applicants milled around outside the building waiting for the start time, I couldn’t help noticing that I was the only person there who was not Black, female and the size of a sumo wrestler.

Sumo wrestler

While these large ladies nervously ate and smoked, I nervously scanned the crowd for a friendly freaky face. Finding none, I assumed this intake of recruits was a demographic anomaly. 

Remember the first tests you ever took in school? The tests that used pictures rather than words? Brightly colored pictures? And, the few words on the page were in big size type? That’s what the test was like to gain a life-long union job with uniform and pension in the United States Postal Service.

Which of these three things does not belong with the other two? 

  • Picture of Horse
  • Picture of Cow 
  • Picture of Banana   

John Q. Public plans to sail to Bermuda. Which of these will he use to make the trip? 

  • Picture of Horse
  • Picture of Cow
  • Picture of Sail Boat

I am not a brain box. Honest. I possess very modest IQ and SAT scores. But, I aced this no-brainer test in no-time and sat there twiddling my thumbs. Suddenly, the not-so Merry Mailman running the test banged his gavel and ordered us to put our pencils down immediately. This African-American gentleman then explained in grave tones that if any of us found this test too difficult we could choose to re-take it. In fact, the Post Office had specially trained tutors who would work with worried applicants to help them pass this stringent test in a month’s time. 

Unison sigh of relief. Laughter. Test papers tossed into air. And, Whoosh! I was almost sucked out of the room in the wake of the departing multitude. 

Vintage Return to Sender U.S. Post Office stamp

Stay tuned for the next exciting instalment of Blog Outa Brooklyn POSTAL REALISM. You’ll thrill as this reporter goes undercover as a mail-sorter trainee in the Grand Central Station Post Office. New York, N.Y. 10017

Boy Outa Brooklyn a murder-memoir by Jack Antonio 
Image: the smiling face of Steeplechase Park in Coney Island, Brooklyn
Available as an eBook and paperback
amazon.com
amazon.co.uk
And as an eBook here
https://books2read.com/The-Boy-Outa-Brooklyn
 

The Death of New York

Dystopian view of New York City

I visit my hometown a year after 9/11 and find it dusty, deflated and more ascared than ever. Paranoia and para-military security guards are everywhere while humor and spunk are nowhere to be found. I search for New York but it is gone. It is gone because New Yorkers are gone. The city has been stolen from the great people who forged it into the greatest metropolis ever known. But, it isn’t planes flying into unloved skyscrapers that displaces those giants who created the Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building, Central Park, the Metropolitan Opera, Yankee Stadium, Coney Island, the Bronx Zoo, Wall Street, Broadway, the Brooklyn Bridge and Green-Wood Cemetery. No. Their city has been stolen from them by a Left-Right political pincer movement like the one that dumped my insane Aunt Rosa into Times Square. 

Abandoned factory interior
New York City families were forged here.

Here is how that pincer worked – the Left flooded New York with Chinese and Hispanics who became permanent wards of the state and thus Democrat voters while the Right welcomed them as cheap labor. In the 1960s, the factory owners tried to pay their White union-workers coolie and peon wages. The Whites resisted, the factories closed and neighborhoods died. The imported Chinese and Hispanics poured into those formerly union factories that had reopened as sweatshops and they worked there for coolie and peon wages. Simple. Clever. Lethal. Just as predicted to me on the stoop.

Boy Outa Brooklyn a murder-memoir by Jack Antonio 
Image: the smiling face of Steeplechase Park in Coney Island, Brooklyn
Available as a paperback and eBook amazon.com
amazon.co.uk
And as an eBook here
https://books2read.com/The-Boy-Outa-Brooklyn
 

The Game of Shakespeare

Commander Whitehead
Commander Whitehead at your service!

While performing in Hamlet in New York, I stopped into Macy’s and saw a display for a new board game – The Game of Shakespeare.The demonstrator was a charming elderly actor with white beard and ascot – Commander Whitehead’s doppelgänger. We chatted about the Bard and the Biz. He had performed on Broadway decades before with Louis Calhern, Maurice Evans, Eva LeGallienne and Judith Anderson – top Shakespeareans all. I was careful not to allude to the disparity in our current positions but he was clearly devastated by that bitter reality. I wondered if he would survive the weekend.

“Please, God,” I prayed “shoot me before I become him.” 

Boy Outa Brooklyn a murder memoir by Jack Antonio 
Image: the smiling face of Steeplechase Park in Coney Island, Brooklyn
Available as a paperback and eBook
amazon.com
amazon.co.uk
And as an eBook here
https://books2read.com/The-Boy-Outa-Brooklyn