A Story About How to Win Friends & Influence People, Two: Jobs and the Mob

by Megan M. on February 13, 2009 · 3 comments (Blog) |

The beginning of this story, told to me by my Dad, can be found here.

After his resignation from the New York City Department of Welfare, Mack looked for a whole lot of different jobs. One job he took for awhile was building those ski-ball machines—working in a ski-ball machine factory. Another time, he got on a long employment line at the Brooklyn Navy Yard with his brother-in-law, Aaron. (Aaron was the husband of Esther, Mack’s sister.) Aaron was a very talented and good machinist, but when the interviewer interviewed both of them, Mack got the job.

Mack promptly found out that the job involved working on scaffolds—200 feet up in the air! He took one look at that, and he walked right off the job. It was very hard to get a job then! People were yelling at him, Come back! Come back! And Mack said, “I’m not going up there!”

“How did Grandma Mina feel about Grampa Mack always quitting jobs?” I asked.

“Your Grandma was a very very very sweet woman,” my Dad said, “who simply backed him in anything that he wanted to do. He was just the nicest person, and there was nobody who ever spoke badly about him—ever.”

During World War II, things finally got better; Mack got a job at Republic Aircraft as an inspector. It was his job to inspect the Thunderbolts, check them out and put his seal of approval on them before they were shipped off to the army in the war. He was quite good at it!

When my Dad was younger, he asked Grampa Mack, why didn’t he stay doing that? And Grampa Mack said that at Republic Aircraft there was a big blackboard where they would list statistics, and whenever a plane was shot down it would be listed on that board. Mack just felt too bad, seeing the planes that he’d inspected being shot down by the Germans. He was the inspector, after all. He took that really personally.

Mack’s brother Teddy did very well in the garment business. (Teddy eventually became a millionaire.) So for awhile in his mid-thirties, Mack worked for Teddy and sold clothing. “Do you know who he worked with, who was also selling clothing?” my Dad asked me. “Zeppo Marx,” he answered himself. “One of the Marx Brothers. He’s the one who wasn’t goofy looking,” my Dad explained. “He was always one of the leads in the movies—he was the fourth Marx brother.”

I hadn’t known that.

The real problem, my Dad explained to me, was that the garment industry was controlled by the mafia. Mack didn’t like the unsavory characters, so he quit working for Teddy. So then, once more, he was without a job! But this time he got an idea. He would become a manufacturer’s representative! His idea was to set up a really nice furniture showroom where he could sell lines of furniture to the furniture stores in New York.

There were already manufacturer’s representatives, my Dad explained, but they just took samples of wood and pictures of furniture to their customers. Mack was one of the only representatives who put together a spiffy showroom where store owners could come and actually see the furniture.

Well, Mack wanted to set this up—but he needed 500 dollars to do it! Of course, he didn’t have 500 dollars. But it just so happened that his sister Flo was this really beautiful redhead—just really really striking—and she and Mack were pretty close in age. She was so beautiful that a New York gangster had gotten really stuck on her, fell in love even, and treated her like a princess. For many years they lived on a fancy yacht in the New York Harbor, because this gangster was very rich. (Poor Aunt Flo didn’t live very long, Dad told me, because she had a bad heart from rheumatic fever. She eventually died very young—maybe in her late thirties or early forties.)

In any case, Flo heard that Mack needed 500 dollars, and she said, “No problem! I’ll get it for you.” And she did.

Of course, it was only later that she told him that the gangster had given the money to her to give to him. So Mack got very worried about this particular deal, and he worked very very hard in those early years chiefly so that he could pay off the gangster!

“Did he?” I asked.

“Yeah, he paid off the gangster,” my Dad said. “But what he told me was that, where the gangster was an actual gangster, and had killed people and things like that—when it came to Flo and the family, you would never meet a more polite, generous, warm-hearted, good-natured, compassionate man.”

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