Friday, October 27, 2006


We had many many characters that worked at B. Barer & Sons over the years. One of the earliest I knew was Frank Potter.

Frank was an alumnus of the Lou Epstein school of scrap metal workers.

At one time Lou's mother was married to Uncle Ike. The marriage did not last long.

Possibly because as cousin Bud reported Lou"s brother Abe who shared his bed would force his younger step brother's head under the blankets and then fill the tent created with flatulence.

Lou trained his employees well in all phases of the business. He was a tough taskmaster who inspired loyalty from both customers and employees. Most 0f his employees tended to be alcoholics. If their drinking got in the way of their work, he would tell them to go home until they straightened up their act.

One of the people he surplussed was a man named Frank. Frank did not take his bannishment well and having sobered came to B. Barer & Sons for work.

I was fifteen or sixteen at the time and had developed a route buying scrap metal within a fifty mile radius of Walla Walla. Yes, I did drive to Pendleton and Pasco before I was old enough to qualify for a driver's license.

The only time I was stopped by the Oregon State Patrol I had piled scrap iron motor blocks on the old GMC pickup. The patrolman was concerned about one that was perched atop the load. As he spoke he rocked it abit and it rolled to the highway. Chagrinned he helped me reload it to get it out of the path of speeding cars. In the confusion he forgot to ask me for a license and I was down the road.

Once I took Frank on one of my forays. He regaled me with tales of his high school years when his father bought him a brand new model T to drive to school. I was never able to verify this as at the time I knew him he looked and acted like the former hippy on TAXI.

One thing Frank did do for me was to advise me never to eat food at the home of one of our clients who lived at and operated the city dump in a small eastern Oregon town.

I arrived there late in the afternoon. The table was set with stew, milk, etc. My host invited me to join for dinner. Hungry as I was I declined. The next morning when I arrived to load, the same food was sitting on the table at room temperature. I also declined the invitation to breakfast.

Frank worked for us for several years. He was good at sorting scrap metal by alloys and though small and wiry he could load scrap iron with the best.

Eventually, the cheap wine began deterioating his kidneys. After several trips to the hospital as a charity case he was assigned to a nursing facility operated by a farmer who lived about three miles out of town. From time to time he could slip into town and his old buddies would buy wine for him.

His health continued sinking. His caretakers took action. They hid his clothes and that is why one snowy morning in December the bartender at the Liberty poolhall unlocked the front door broom in hand to sweep the stoop found waiting outside Frank clad only in a thin hospital gown and barefoot he had walked the three miles seeking the warmth of his drinking buddies and a shot of cheap fortified wine.

Friday, October 13, 2006

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At dinner with Barbara, Ron and Laurie Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Uncle Nate finds his worth

Mother's brother Nate Mozorosky graduated law school before entering the army to serve in WWI. He beame an infantry officer and served in the war zone in France.

At the end of the war there was a recession and with thousands of young men being demobilized Uncle Nate found a job i n his profession impossible to secure. With the aid of his father, a long time employee, he was hired at Meier and Frank as a buyer at $2400.00 per year.

After proving his worth as a buyer and getting married, he was advanced to $3600.00 per year.

Each season he would travel to New York to buy for his departments. An outgoing and likable fellow he soon made many friends in the trade. More and more these friends chided him about being in a backwater location and probably working for a fraction of his worth.

A loyal employee with all of his ties to the Northwest he was reluctant to venture out.

Finally, he decided to challege his friends. He sent a letter to a contact in Los Angeles asking if there were any jobs available and if so what the pay might be.

By return mail came a firm offer from Broadway Department Store in downtown Los Angeles as a buyer at $10,000 per year- to start.

Uncle Nate worked for Broadway for several years and then started his own wholesale costume jewelry business, "Nathan Morey Creations".

Grandfather stayed with Meier and Frank and after several years he was honored at a banquet for long time employees. The following paycheck had a pinkslip attached informing him he no longer had a job.
My mother gets told

My mother was never a shrinking violet. She spoke her mind. She was fond of telling her story of her encounter with Aaron Frank, CEO of the large Portland department store, Meier and Frank.

As a young girl just out of high school mother got a job at the venerable Portland landmark.

In the employees day room was a memo stating, ALL EMPLOYEES SHOULD SHOWER DAILY.

As mother read the memo she became infuriated. Out of the corner of her eye she spotted the man himself walking through the store aisle.

Confronting him she asked why he would demean his employees by putting up such a sign.

"Little lady", he replied without a moments hesitation. "If I have have to kiss my employees tochases, they should at least be bathed" and strode away.