Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Countdown To His Death, Part II

When the phone rang around 9:30 that night, I was probably reading for some college course, or playing a dice baseball game, or watching TV.  It was a Thursday night and, if I was watching anything on TV, it would probably have been Ellery Queen, a classic mystery show on NBC that starred Jim Hutton and David Wayne.....
Jim Hutton and David Wayne
Jim was Timothy Hutton's father (and if you don't know who Timothy Hutton is, just Google him) and David Wayne was the Mad Hatter in the Batman TV series in the 1960s.

So my mother (Marge) hung up the phone and called me to the kitchen.  My dog, seeing me heading to the kitchen, tagged along hoping someone will drop a cookie in her direction. Marge told me that the Men at GE (General Electric in Schenectady, NY) had called to say that there had been "an unfortunate incident"  in my father's building at the Schenectady plant.  He was taken to Ellis Hospital and would my mother come get him? Okay, let's look at the issues.

1. Neither of us know where Ellis Hospital is.
2. I do not have a driver's license (age 19) and would not get one for another year.  And what good did it do if I could legally drive? See number 1.
3.Marge calls my older brother who live about ten minutes away, but he was watching over his two little girls, and his wife was out.  I was placed as child care person so Marge and my brother went to find Ellis Hospital.
4. I'll just place one thought here.  As I was sitting in my brother's kitchen, the TV sound turned down, I wondered what was going on at the hospital, or would happen when we got Lou home.

Two hours of silence penetrated my brother's kitchen, the girls sleeping in their beds upstairs. Sometime in here my sister-in-law arrived and I gave her what updates I had, which was very little.  My brother arrived and drove me home.  We lived on the second floor so as I made the climb up the stairs, I may have wondered about the future or where my dog was.  Then I twisted the gold knob on our gleaming white apartment front door and walked into the hell that awaited me.

He was wrapped in bandages and gaused like half a mummy.  He had burns all over his body, and this man, who nowadays would have been helicoptered, lay upon his bed while his wife of 33 years rubbed salve on his wounds.This would be our job for the next twelve hours.  Put the salve on, keep him cool, let him rest.  My dog sat in her official spot in my parent's bedroom, sure at this point that no yummy would be coming, but she wanted to watch the Tall Things doing whatever they were doing   and sniffing the salve and seeing that the Alpha Male was hurt but we weren't licking the wounds

We all collapsed, my mother to the front room couch (she never slept in the bed except one night ever again), I to my bed, my dog moving between what had just become Lou's bedroom and my own
looking for a peaceful place to rest.  We could hear my father moaning at any movement.

We were awakened by the phone in the early morning.  The Suits from GE were calling to see how their, that is, where their patient was.  Marge told Mr.Suit, that Lou was right at home, thank you. The Suit was miffed and said Lou should never have been released from the hospital. The Company would send a limo to bring Lou back to Ellis Hospital.

Here I've got to say that this was one of my mother's best moments.  She told the Suit "No. No you will not do that.  Ellis doesn't seem to know what they're doing.  Leonard Hospital is where he is going so I can keep an eye on him."

And that is what happened.  We packed Lou up and sent him back to the Hospital, just one with a different name.

And it was from here that the skin grafts began, the recovery slow ascended, and on one mysterious day, the Suits fell upon Lou when there was none of the rest of us around, early morning, and had Lou sign papers and then more papers.  To this day we have no idea what he signed.  The medical bills were paid, and Lou still got his check every week.  He worked through the pain and did go back to work. Tough guy from Troy.

But that was the first sign that things were changing.  Here's what we (or I ) think happened. My father was a foundry worker, the man who poured the molten steel into a mold fashioned in the sand below all the foundry guys shoes in an open door factory.  The molds were made in the form of the exterior of a turbine, which powered all kinds of things from trains to mega buildings.  He took me there once to where his foundry was, and showed me around.  I saw a lot of sand (silicate) and large dark machines that shadowed the floor into dark pools of night.  

He took me to his corner and told me how the molten steel was transported by a set of cranes from the melting area to the pour area and into the turbine molding area where the liquid metal would slide down into the sand supported mold.  It was Lou's and his partner's job to make sure everything went right, guiding the mega bucket of steel to its proper positions, watch the pour, and then adjust and cool down the metal so that it could take the proper form.  This is hard, grueling work, and Lou was good at it.  GE knew this too. That's why they sent the limo (and covered their ass).

For any of my Troy NY area readers, Lou would moonlight at Wheeler Brothers Foundry during layoffs and strikes.  They knew he was good as well.

What did I think of all this GE crap? I was bored by it.  Our tour was empty buildings and sand, and I could not wait to get out of there. Remember please I was a teenager in the early 1970s.  And I did say and do stupid things.


Since I am not using Word for this, Bill Gates' minions will not allow me to draw graphics in writing I am using.  Now that that's over.... The picture shows what we think happened.  Lou was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  He should be standing with his buddies in the open space area, but that night, for whatever reason, he was against the wall.  And the steel was poured, and there was a bubble of air that rose to the surface of the molten brew and popped.  Right on my father, and he began burning.

 Next time 1976.  And the long goodbye begins.

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