Of Mooncursers and other Spun Yarns

Of Mooncursers and other Spun Yarns
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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Dundalk 1950's

In 1949 I went to the draft board in (I believe it was the Dunlear building) and told a bald face lie. I was fifteen years old and I told them I was seventeen. The next year I quite school and went to Bethlehem Steel co. and then told another one, saying I was eighteen. They wanted to see my birth certificate. In the best southern hillbilly accent I could muster out of my combination Georgia and Baltimore eze"I told them I was from so far back in the hills there was no record of when I was born. There weren't no doctor and there sure weren't no postman to bring it even if they know'd I was born. I said, “ there ain't gonna be no certificate never. But I got my draft card and you can't get one of them less ya'll is eighteen. I got the job. I don't think I fooled anybody because the guys in the mill knew right away I was too young to be in there.

Some job it was I worked in the 42 inch cold strip in the washers where they cleaned the rolls of sheet metal before heat treating it in the ovens. You worked in caustic fumes for eight hours a day, on a swing shift. There was a month lay of and afterward I was sent to the 56 inch rolling mill and galvanize department. There was so much acid in the air all the old timers had black teeth. What a place for a kid to be.

As a young teenager I had worked for two weeks over two summers at Fisher Body so I knew the ropes there a little. They would pretend they believed you were eighteen for two weeks and let you work. That was just before the model year change when the lines were running faster. All of us kids in the galvanize and the washers would leave early on the graveyard shift and pay someone to do our job and punch us out. Then we all went to Fisher body and worked all day. I was moved back to the washers at Sparrows Point one night where I couldn't catch any sleep. I had only had about 15 hours sleep the whole week so I fell asleep on the job. My job that night was to test the tanks and keep the caustic and soap levels correct. The tanks got out of balance and about a thousand tons of of, paper thin, steel stuck together and had to be rewashed. Why they didn't fire me I wonder to this day..

During those years I hung around the Stansbury shopping center with a bunch of other boys. Some worked there in the grocery store. Mr. Eiler that owned the Eiler Crysler Plymouth dealer ship usually found some work for all of us, anything from digging ditches to taring the roof. All of us boys had dropped out of school. Not for the reasons kids drop out today but because you could get a job that required a high school diploma just by saying you had one. Factories were so busy they would hire any one at any age and with any degree of education and they were pretty good jobs.

The late 40's and fifties were the blue bus years. We who lived in the eastern part of Dundalk rode the blue bus and those in St Helina road the Red Rocket to work So you could ask someone how they got to work and kind of new where they lived.

All of us boys worked part time at Eilers pumping gas. He had a glass enclosed island for the pumps and stayed open 24 hours a day. We gassed up the Dundalk Cabs and the Veterns cabs and I think something like Bartons cab's maybe. You filled them and then rocked the cabs back and forth to let the air out of the tank so they would fill all the way to the top. Each driver was required to pass on a cab to the next shift driver with a full tank.

We sold white lightning to any and all that wanted to buy it. I don't remember for sure whether I knew it was illegal or not. We got half for selling it. Either Mr Eyler didn't know we were selling it or didn't care. There were some locals that were going to Virginia to get it and they sold it out of their home as well I think.

All those folks except us kids have passed on so I don't think I am embarrassing any one.

All us boys by 1950 or 51 had nice automobiles and and all the really neat places to go were in Baltimore. We used to go to Baltimore street though it wasn't neat, or cool, but the Burlesque was fun it wasn't just strippers it was Vaudeville as well IT was cheap. And a trip to Harley's about one in the morning was wonderful. We never took the girls there, and if we didn't have to work the next day we would sit in the ally and talk till 3 am.

It is surprising to me that all of us kids that were running the streets and portrayed as hoodlums stayed pretty much out of trouble. My mother worked at O' Donnels Bakery. A little white headed Lady who was another who knew everyone, would chew some of the boys out until they squirmed. Those boys always said, “Yes mam, Mzzz. Pollard no mam. Mzzz Pollard.” One fellow told me, “My God, Doug, your mother's mean.” She liked all of us boys.

Some better than me I think.

We boys were doing what all gangs of boys do. We were falling in love with girls from all over the county. It has always amazed me how boys will go twenty miles or a thousand to find a girl, with a beautiful and sweet girl living right across the street that they are prone to ignore.

By 1955 we were all about gone from Dundalk The town was changing. Many people moved away as their homes brought good prices and People from Baltimore moved into the suburbs. A lot of people by then who had come from Virginia the Carolina's and all over the south began going home. Many were middle aged when they came to Dundalk during the War and they went home with good retirement checks in their pockets.

Boy the 1950's were a time to remember for us who lived them everyone made plenty of money and was almost never out of work. Except when they got huffy with the company, and went on strike.

As any who have read all this can see, I am an old man still thinking of my self as a kid in 1950.

Child hood is when you define yourself. Your failings are so horrible you can never live them down in your own mind. But it's also when you find out what you respect in others. I have often thought that casual friends are people you like and lifelong friends are the ones you would also trust with your life.

To fail is regrettable and forgettable. To fail a friend is regrettable.

This is the end of this portion of blogging here. I would like to say that there were many in Dundalk that I didn't talk about, they were my closest friends in many cases. To talk about them would be even more about myself and this has turned into much more about me than was intendid. I have gone back and added in a little note on an event in 1939 that was left out. It's really cool to be able to publish and go back in and add something.

After Christmas I will try to start a story to live on these pages. I don't know what about for sure, but knowing me, it will be fiction, it will be about Dundalk people and it will be about messing around on the Chesapeake bay from Dundalk and an occasional adventure in Baltimore. It will be about, young to older teenage Boys. I concider the teen years the big years of ones life. A persons whole life is built on top of them. Later years are great too, but life becomes more about the lives of children, great grand children and wives . It's about duty to country and mankind. About where we come from and what we'll leave behind and how we will be judged.

A saying by a good online friend of mine( though he may deny he knows me) is: One wise man once said, "If you seek to gain your life by being selfish you loose it but if you loose it by sharing it you gain it." This a quote from Chief Redelk of Many Nations.

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