American Pastoral Part 6

Since Uncle Ned, a smooth talker, a golfer, and good-looking, had been on the Hudson County gravy train from the day he graduated John Marshall and signed on across the street with a powerful firm right there in Journal Square, and since he seemed to love pretty Mary Dawn best of all his nieces and nephews, every summer after the child had spent her week in the Avon rooming house with her mother and father and Danny, she went on by herself to spend the next week with Ned and Peg and all the Mahoney kids at the huge old Ess.e.x and Suss.e.x Hotel right on the oceanfront at Spring Lake, where every morning in the airy dining room overlooking the sea she ate French toast with Vermont maple syrup. The starched white napkin that covered her lap was big enough to wrap around her waist like a sarong, and the sparkling silverware weighed a ton. On Sunday, they all went together to St. Catherine's, the most gorgeous church the little girl had ever seen. You got there by crossing a bridge--the loveliest bridge she had ever seen, narrow and humpbacked and made of wood--that spanned the lake back of the hotel. Sometimes when she was unhappy at the swim club she'd drive beyond Avon into Spring Lake and remember how Spring Lake used to materialize out of nowhere every summer, magically full blown, Mary Dawn's Brigadoon. She remembered how she dreamed of getting married in St. Catherine's, of being a bride there in a white 196 .

dress, marrying a rich lawyer like her Uncle Ned and living in one of those grand summer houses whose big verandas overlooked the lake and the bridges and the dome of the church while only minutes from the booming Atlantic. She could have done it, too, could have had it just by snapping her fingers. But her choice was to fall in love with and marry Seymour Levov of Newark instead of any one of those dozens and dozens of smitten Catholic boys she'd met through her Mahoney cousins, the smart, rowdy boys from Holy Cross and Boston College, and so her life was not in Spring Lake but down in Deal and up in Old Rimrock with Mr. Levov. "Well, that's the way it happened," her mother would say sadly to whoever would listen. "Could have had a wonderful life there just like Peg's.

Better than Peg's. St. Catherine's and St. Margaret's are there. St. Catherine's is right by the lake there. Beautiful building. Just beautiful. But Mary Dawn's the rebel in the family--always was. Always did just what she wanted, and from the time she marched off to be in that contest, fitting in like everybody else is apparently not something she wanted."Dawn went to Avon strictly to swim. She still hated lying on the beach to take the sun, still resented having been made to expose her fair skin to the sun every day by the New Jersey pageant people-- on the runway, they told her, her white swimsuit would look striking against a deep tan. As a young mother she tried to get as far as she could from everything that marked her as "a former whatever" and that aroused insane contempt in other women and made her feel unhappy and like a freak. She even gave away to charity all the clothes the pageant director (who had his own idea of what kind of girl should be presented by New Jersey to the Miss America judges) had picked out for her at the designers' showrooms in New York during Dawn's daylong buying trip for Atlantic City. The Swede thought she'd looked great in those gowns and he hated to see them go, but at least, at his urging, she kept the state crown so that someday she could show it to their grandchildren.And then, after Merry started at nursery school, Dawn set out to prove to the world of women, for neither the first time nor the last,197.

that she was impressive for something more than what she looked like. She decided to raise cattle. That idea, too, went back to her childhood--way back to her grandfather, her mother's father, who as a twenty-year-old from County Kerry came to the port in the 1880s, married, settled in south Elizabeth close to St.

Mary's, and proceeded to father eleven children. His living he earned at first as a hand on the docks, but he bought a couple of cows to provide milk for the family, wound up selling the surplus to the big shots on West Jersey Street--the Moores from Moore Paint, Admiral "Bull" Halsey's family, Nicholas Murray Butler the n.o.bel Prize winner-- and soon became one of the first independent milkmen in Elizabeth. He had about thirty cows on Murray Street, and though he didn't own much property, it didn't matter--in those days you could let them graze anywhere.

All his sons went into the business and stayed in it until after the war, when the big supermarkets came along and knocked out the little man. Dawn's father, Jim Dwyer, had worked for her mother's family, and that was how Dawn's parents had met. When he was still only a kid, before refrigeration, Jim Dwyer used to go out on the milk truck at twelve o'clock at night and stay out till morning delivering milk off the back of the truck. But he hated it. Too tough a life.

The heck with that, he finally said, and took up plumbing. Dawn, as a small child, loved to visit the cows, and when she was about six or seven, she was taught by one of her cousins how to milk them, and that thrill--squirting the milk out of those udders, the animals just standing there eating hay and letting her tug to her heart's content--she never forgot.With beef cattle, however, she wouldn't need the manpower to milk and she could run the operation almost entirely by herself. The Simmental, which made a lot of milk but was a beef animal as well, still weren't a registered breed in the United States at that time, so she could get in on the ground floor.

Crossbreeding--Simmental to polled Hereford--was what interested her, the genetic vigor, the hybrid vigor, the sheer growth that results from crossbreeding. She studied the books, took the magazines, the catalogs started coming in the mail, and at night she would call him over to where 198 .

she was paging through a catalog and say, "Isn't that a good-looking heifer?

Have to go out and take a look at her." Pretty soon they were traveling together to shows and sales. She loved the auctions. "This reminds me just a little too much," she whispered to the Swede, "of Atlantic City. It's the Miss America Pageant for cows." She wore a tag identifying herself--"Dawn Levov, Arcady Breeders," which was the name of her company, taken from their Old Rimrock address, Box 62, Arcady Hill Road--and found it very hard to resist buying a nice cow.A cow or a bull would be led into the ring and paraded around and the show sponsors would give the background of the animal, the sire and the dam and what they did, what the potential was, and then the people would bid, and though Dawn bought carefully, her pleasure just in raising her hand and topping the previous bid was serious pleasure. Much as he wanted more children, not more cows, he had to admit that she was never so fascinating to him, not even when he first saw her at Upsala, as in those moments at the auctions when her beauty came enticingly cloaked in the excitement of bidding and buying. Before Count arrived--the champion bull she bought at birth for ten thousand dollars, which her husband, who was a hundred percent behind her, still had to tell her was an awful lot of money--his accountant would look at her figures for Arcady Breeders at the end of each year and tell the Swede, "This is ridiculous, you can't go on this way." But they really couldn't take a beating as long as it was mostly her own time she put into it, and so he told the accountant, "Don't worry, she'llmake some money." He wouldn't have dreamed of stopping her, even if eventually she didn't make a cent, because, as he said to himself when he watched her and the dog out with the herd, "These are her friends."She worked like h.e.l.l, all by herself, keeping track of the calving, getting the calves drinking out of a plastic bottle with a nipple if they didn't get the idea of sucking, tending to the mothers' feeding before she put them back in the herd. For the fencing she had to hire a man, but she was out there with him baling hay, the eighteen hundred, two thousand bales that saw them through the winter,199.

and when Count was on in years and got lost one winter day she was heroic in hunting him down, for three days combed the woods for him before she found him where he had got himself onto a little island out in the swamp. Getting him back to the barn was ghastly. Dawn weighed a hundred and three pounds and was five feet two inches tall, and Count weighed about twenty-five hundred pounds, a very long, very beautiful animal with big brown spots around either eye, sire of the most sought-after calves. Dawn kept all the bull calves, breeding for other cattle owners, who would keep these bulls in their herds; the heifers she didn't sell often, but when she did, people wanted them. Count's progeny won year after year at the national shows and the investment returned itself many times over.

But then Count got stranded out in the swamp because he had thrown his stifle out; it was icy and he must have got his foot caught in a hole, between roots, and when he saw that to get off this little island he had to get through wet mud, he just quit, and it was three days before Dawn could find him anywhere.

Then, with the dog and Merry, she went out with a halter and tried to get him out but he hurt too much and didn't want to get up. So they came back later with some pills, loaded him up with cortisone and different things and sat there with him for another few hours in the rain, and then they tried again to move him.

They had to get him through roots and stones and deep muck, and he'd walk a bit and stop, walk a bit and stop, and the dog got behind him and she'd bark and so he'd walk another couple of steps, and that was the way it went for hours. They had him on a rope and he'd take his head, this great big head, all curly with those beautiful eyes, and he'd pull the rope and just swing the two of them, Dawn and Merry together--boom! So then they'd get themselves up and start all over again. They had some grain and he'd eat a little and then he'd come a little farther, but all together it took four hours to get him out of the woods.

Ordinarily he led very well, but he hurt so that they had to get him home almost piece by piece. Seeing his pet.i.te wife--a wopi-an who could, if she'd wanted to, have been just a pretty face--and his small daughter drenched and covered with mud when they200.

emerged with the bull on the rain-soaked field back of the barn was something the Swede never forgot. "This is right," he thought. "She is happy. We have Merry and that's enough." He was not a religious man but at that moment he offered up thanks, saying aloud, "Something is shining down on me."To get the bull to the barn took Dawn and Merry nearly another hour, and there he just lay down in the hay for four days. They got the vet, and the vet said, "You're not going to get him any better. I can make him more comfortable, that's all I can do for you." Dawn brought him water to drink in buckets and food to eat, and one day (as Merry used to tell the story to whoever came to the house) he decided, "Hey, I'm all right," and he got up and he wandered out and he took it easy and that's when he fell in love with the old mare and they became inseparable. The day they had to ship Count-- send him to the butcher--Dawn was intears and kept saying, "I can't do this," and he kept saying, "You've got to do this," and so they did it. Magically (Merry's word) the night before Count left he bred a perfect little heifer, his parting shot. She got the brown spots around the eyes--"He th-th-th-threw brown eyes all around him"--but after that, though the bulls were well bred, never again was there an animal to compare with the Count.So did it matter finally that she told people she hated the house? He was now far and away the stronger partner, she was now far and away the weaker; he was the fortunate, doubtlessly undeserving recipient of so much--what the h.e.l.l, to whatever demand she made on him, he acceded. If he could bear something and Dawn couldn't, he didn't understand how he could do anything but accede. That was the only way the Swede knew for a man to go about being a man, especially one as lucky as himself. From the very beginning it had been a far greater strain for him to bear her disappointments than to bear his own; her disappointments seemed to dangerously rob him of himself--once he had absorbed her disappointments it became impossible for him to do nothing about them. Half measures wouldn't suffice. His effort to arrive at what she wanted always had to be wholehearted; never was he free of his quiet whole-201.

heartedness. Not even when everything was on top of him, not even when giving everyone what they needed from him at the factory and everyone what they needed from him at home--dealing promptly with the suppliers' screw-ups, with the union's exactions, with the buyers' complaints; contending with an uncertain marketplace and all the overseas headaches; attending, on demand, to the importuning of a stuttering child, an independent-minded wife, a putatively retired, easily riled-up father--did it occur to him that this relentlessly impersonal use of himself might one day wear him down. He did not think like that any more than the ground under his feet thought like that. He seemed never to understand or, even in a moment of fatigue, to admit that his limitations were not entirely loathsome and that he was not himself a one-hundred-and- seventy-year-old stone house, its weight borne imperturbably by beams carved of oak--that he was something more transitory and mysterious.It wasn't this house she hated anyway; what she hated were memories she couldn't shake loose from, all of them a.s.sociated with the house, memories that of course he shared. Merry as a grade school kid lying on the floor of the study next to Dawn's desk, drawing pictures of Count while Dawn did the accounts for the farm.

Merry emulating her mother's concentration, enjoying working with the same discipline, silently delighting to feel an equal in a common pursuit, and in some preliminary way offering them a glimpse of herself as the adult--yes, of the adult friend to them that she would someday be. Memories particularly of when they weren't being what parents are nine-tenths of the time--the taskmasters, the examples, the moral authorities, the nags of pick-that-up and you're-going-to- be-late, keepers of the diary of her duties and routines--memories, rather, of when they found one another afresh, beyond the tensions between parental mastery and inept childish uncertainty, of those moments of respite in a family's life when they could reach one another in calm.The early mornings in the bathroom shaving while Dawn went to wake Merry up--he could not imagine a better start to the202.

morning than catching a glimpse of that ritual. There was never an alarm clock in Merry's life--Dawn was her alarm clock. Before six o'clock Dawn was already out in the barn, but at promptly six-thirty she stopped tending the herd, cameback in the house, and went up to the child's room, where, as she sat at the edge of the bed, daybreak's comforting observance began. Without a word it began--Dawn simply stroking Merry's sleeping head, a pantomime that could go on for two full minutes. Next, almost singing the whispered words, Dawn lightly inquired, "A sign of life?" Merry responded not by opening her eyes but by moving a little finger. "Another sign, please?" On the game went--Merry playing along by wrinkling her nose, by moistening her lips, by sighing just audibly-- till eventually she was up out of bed ready to go. It was a game embodying a loss, for Merry the state of being completely protected, for Dawn the project of completely protecting what once had seemed completely protectable. Waking The Baby: it continued until the baby was nearly twelve, the one rite of infancy that Dawn could not resist indulging, that neither one of them ever appeared eager to outgrow.How he loved to sight them doing together what mothers and daughters do. To a father's eye, one seemed to amplify the other. In bathing suits rushing out of the surf together and racing each other to the towels--the wife now a little past her robust moment and the daughter edging up to the beginning of hers. A delineation of life's cyclical nature that left him feeling afterward as though he had a s.p.a.cious understanding of the whole female s.e.x. Merry, with her growing curiosity about the trappings of womanhood, putting on Dawn's jewelry while, beside her at the mirror, Dawn helped her preen. Merry confiding in Dawn about her fears of ostracism--of other kids ignoring her, of her girlfriends ganging up on her. In those quiet moments from which he was excluded (daughter relying on mother, Dawn and Merry emotionally one inside the other like those Russian dolls), Merry appeared more poignantly than ever not a small replica of his wife, or of himself, but an independent little being--something similar, a version of203.

them, yet distinctive and new--for which he had the most pa.s.sionate affinity.It wasn't the house Dawn hated--what she hated, he knew, was that the motive for having the house (for making the beds, for setting the table, for laundering the curtains, for organizing the holidays, for apportioning her energies and differentiating her duties by the day of the week) had been destroyed right along with Hamlin's store; the tangible daily fullness, the smooth regularity that was once the underpinning of all of their lives survived in her only as an illusion, as a mockingly inaccessible, bigger-than-life-size fantasy, real for every last Old Rimrock family but hers. He knew this not just because of the million memories but also because in the top drawer of his office desk he still kept handy a ten-year-old copy of a local weekly, the Denville-Randolph Courier, featuring on the first page the article about Dawn and her cattle business. She had consented to be interviewed only if the journalist promised not to mention her having been Miss New Jersey of 1949. The journalist agreed and the piece was t.i.tled "Old Rimrock Woman Feels Lucky to Love What She's Doing," and concluded with a paragraph that, simple as it was, made him proud of her whenever he went back to read it: "'People are lucky if they get to do what they love and are good at it,' Mrs. Levov declared."The Courier story testified just how much she had loved the house, as well as everything else about their lives. Beneath a photograph of her standing before the pewter plates lined up on the fireplace mantel--in her white turtleneck shirt and cream-colored blazer, with her hair styled in a pageboy and her two delicate hands in front of her, the fingers decorously intertwined, looking sweet though a bit plain--the caption read, "Mrs. Levov, the former Miss New Jersey of 1949, loves living in a 170-year-old home, an environment which she says reflects the values of her family." When Dawn called the paper in a fury about mentioning Miss New Jersey, the journalist answered that he had kept to his promise not to mention it in the article; it was the editor who had put it in the caption.

No, she had not hated the house, of course she hadn't--and that204.

didn't matter anyway. All that mattered now was the restoration of her well- being; the foolish remarks she might make to this one or that one were of no consequence beside the recovery taking hold. Maybe what was agitating him was that the self-adjustments on which she was building a recovery were not regenerative for him or entirely admirable to him, were even something of an affront to him. He could not tell people--certainly couldn't convince himself-- that he hated the things he'd loved.. ..He was back to it. But he couldn't help it, not when he remembered how at seven Merry would eat herself sick with the raw batter while baking two dozen tollhouse cookies, and a week later they'd still be finding batter all over the place, even up on top of the refrigerator. So how could he hate the refrigerator? How could he let his emotions be reshaped, imagine himself being rescued, as Dawn did, by their leaving it behind for an all-but-silent new IceTemp, the Rolls-Royce of refrigerators? He for one could not say he hated the kitchen in which Merry used to bake her cookies and melt her cheese sandwiches and make her baked ziti, even if the cupboards weren't stainless steel or the counters Italian marble. He could not say he hated the cellar where she used to go to play hide-and-seek with her screaming friends, even if sometimes it spooked even him a little to be down there in the wintertime with those scuttling mice. He could not say he hated the ma.s.sive fireplace adorned with the antique iron kettle that was all at once insufferably corny in Dawn's estimation, not when he remembered how, early every January, he would chop up the Christmas tree and set it afire there, the whole thing in one go, so that the explosive blaze of the bone-dry branches, the great whoosh and the loud crackling and the dancing shadows, cavorting devils climbing to the ceiling from the four walls, would transport Merry into a delirium of terrified delight. He could not say he hated the ball-and-claw-foot bathtub where he used to give her baths, just because decades of indelible mineral stains from the well water streaked . the enamel and encircled the drain. He could not even hate the f ^ toilet whose handle required all that jiggling to get the thing to 205 .

stop gushing, not when he remembered her kneeling beside it and throwing up while he knelt next to her, holding her sick little forehead.Nor could he say he hated his daughter for what she had done-- if he could! If only, instead of living chaotically in the world where she wasn't and in the world where she once was and in the world where she might now be, he could come to hate her enough not to care anything about her world, then or now. If only he could be back thinking like everybody else, once again the totally natural man instead of this riven charlatan of sincerity, an artless outer Swede and a tormented inner Swede, a visible stable Swede and a concealed beleaguered Swede, an easygoing, smiling sham Swede enshrouding the Swede buried alive. If only he could even faintly reconst.i.tute the undivided oneness of existence that had made for his straightforward physical confidence and freedom before he became the father of an alleged murderer. If only he could be as unknowing as some people perceived him to be--if only he could be as perfectly simple as the legend of Swede Levov concocted by the hero-worshiping kids of his day. If only he could say, "I hate this house!" and be Weequahic's Swede Levov again. If he could say, "I hate that child! I never want to see her again!" and then go ahead, disown her, forevermore despise and reject her and the vision for which she was willing, if not to kill, then to cruelly abandon her own family, a vision havingnothing whatsoever to do with "ideals" but with dishonesty, criminality, megalomania, and insanity. Blind antagonism and an infantile desire to menace-- those were her ideals. In search always of something to hate. Yes, it went way, way beyond her stuttering. That violent hatred of America was a disease unto itself. And he loved America. Loved being an American. But back then he hadn't dared begin to explain to her why he did, for fear of unleashing the demon, insult. They lived in dread of Merry's stuttering tongue. And by then he had no influence anyway. Dawn had no influence. His parents had no influence. In what way was she "his" any longer if she hadn't even been his then, certainly not206.

his if to drive her into her frightening blitzkrieg mentality it required no more than for her own father to begin to explain why his affections happened to be for the country where he'd been born and raised. Stuttering, sputtering little b.i.t.c.h! Who the f.u.c.k did she think she was?Imagine the vileness with which she would have a.s.saulted him for revealing to her that just reciting the names of the forty-eight states used to thrill him back when he was a little kid. The truth of it was that even the road maps used to give him a kick when they gave them away free at the gas station. So did the offhand way he had got his nickname. The first day of high school, down in the gym for their first cla.s.s, and him just jerking around with the basketball while the other kids were still all over the place getting into their sneakers. From fifteen feet out he dropped in two hook shots--swish! swish!--just to get started.

And then that easygoing way that Henry "Doc" Ward, the popular young phys ed teacher and wrestling coach fresh from Montclair State, laughingly called from his office doorway--called out to this lanky blond fourteen-year-old with the brilliant blue gaze and the easy, effortless style whom he'd never seen in his gym before--"Where'd you learn that, Swede?" Because the name differentiated Seymour Levov from Seymour Munzer and Seymour Wishnow, who were also on the cla.s.s roll, it stuck all through gym his freshman year; then other teachers and coaches took it up, then kids in the school, and afterward, as long as Weequahic remained the old Jewish Weequahic and people there still cared about the past, Doc Ward was known as the guy who'd christened Swede Levov. It just stuck.

Simple as that, an old American nickname, proclaimed by a gym teacher, bequeathed in a gym, a name that made him mythic in a way that Seymour would never have done, mythic not only during his school years but to his schoolmates, in memory, for the rest of their days. He carried it with him like an invisible pa.s.sport, all the while wandering deeper and deeper into an American's life, forthrightly evolving into a large, smooth, optimistic American such as his conspicuously raw207.

forebears--including the obstinate father whose American claim was not inconsiderable--couldn't have dreamed of as one of their own.The way his father talked to people, that got him too, the American way his father said to the guy at the pump, "Fill 'er up, Mac. Check the front end, will ya, Chief?" The excitement of their trips in the DeSoto. The tiny, musty tourist cabins they stopped at overnight while meandering up through the scenic back roads of New York State to see Niagara Falls. The trip to Washington when Jerry was a brat all the way. His first liberty home from the marines, the pilgrimage to Hyde Park with the folks and Jerry to stand together as a family looking at FDR's grave. Fresh from boot camp and there at Roosevelt's grave, he felt that something meaningful was happening; hardened and richly tanned from training through the hottest months on a parade ground where the temperature rose some days to a hundred twenty degrees, he stood silent, proudly wearing his newsummer uniform, the shirt starched, the khaki pants sleekly pocketless over the rear and perfectly pressed, the tie pulled taut, cap centered on his close- shaven head, black leather dress shoes spit-shined, agleam, and the belt--the belt that made him feel most like a marine, that tightly woven khaki fabric belt with the metal buckle--girding a waist that had seen him through some ten thousand sit-ups as a raw Parris Island recruit. Who was she to sneer at all this, to reject all this, to hate all this and set out to destroy it? The war, winning the war--did she hate that too? The neighbors, out in the street, crying and hugging on V-J Day, blowing car horns and marching up and down front lawns loudly banging kitchen pots. He was still at Parris Island then, but his mother had described it to him in a three-page letter. The celebration party at the playground back of the school that night, everyone they knew, family friends, school friends, the neighborhood butcher, the grocer, the pharmacist, the tailor, even the bookie from the candy store, all in ecstasy, long lines of staid middle-aged people madly mimicking Carmen Miranda and dancing the conga, one-two-three kick, one-two-three kick, until after two a.m. The war.208.

Winning that war. Victory, victory, victory had come! No more death and war!His last months of high school, he'd read the paper every night, following the marines across the Pacific. He saw the photographs in Life--photographs that haunted his sleep--of the crumpled bodies of dead marines killed on Peleliu, an island in a chain called the Palaus. At a place called b.l.o.o.d.y Nose Ridge, j.a.ps ferreted in old phosphate mines, who were themselves to be burned to a crisp by the flamethrowers, had cut down hundreds and hundreds of young marines, eighteen-year-olds, nineteen-year-olds, boys barely older than he was. He had a map up in his room with pins sticking out of it, pins he had inserted to mark where the marines, closing in on j.a.pan, had a.s.saulted from the sea a tiny atoll or an island chain where the j.a.ps, dug into coral fortresses, poured forth ferocious mortar and rifle fire. Okinawa was invaded on April 1,1945, Easter Sunday of his senior year and just two days after he'd hit a double and a home run in a losing game against West Side. The Sixth Marine Division overran Yontan, one of the two island air bases, within three hours of wading ash.o.r.e.

Took the Motobu Peninsula in thirteen days. Just off the Okinawa beach, two kamikaze pilots attacked the flagship carrier Bunker Hill on May 14--the day after the Swede went four for four against Irvington High, a single, a triple, and two doubles--plunging their planes, packed with bombs, into the flight deck jammed with American planes all ga.s.sed up to take off and laden with ammunition.

The blaze climbed a thousand feet into the sky, and in the explosive firestorm that raged for eight hours, four hundred sailors and aviators died. Marines of the Sixth Division captured Sugar Loaf Hill, May 14, 1945--three more doubles for the Swede in a winning game against East Side--maybe the worst, most savage single day of fighting in marine history. Maybe the worst in human history. The caves and tunnels that honeycombed Sugar Loaf Hill at the southern end of the island, where the j.a.ps had fortified and hidden their army, were blasted with flamethrowers and then sealed with grenades and demolition charges. Hand-to-hand fighting went on day and night.209.

j.a.p riflemen and machine gunners, chained to their positions and unable to retreat, fought until they died. The day the Swede graduated from Weequahic High, June 22--having racked up the record number of doubles in a single season by a Newark City League player--the Sixth Marine Division raised the American flag over Okinawa's second air base, Kadena, and the final staging area for the invasion of j.a.pan was secured. From April 1, 1945, to June 21, 1945--coinciding, give or take a few days, with the Swede's last and best season as a high schoolfirst baseman--an island some fifty miles long and about ten miles wide had been occupied by American forces at the cost of 15,000 American lives. The j.a.panese dead, military and civilian, numbered 141,000. To conquer the j.a.panese homeland to the north and end the war meant the number of dead on each side could run ten, twenty, thirty times as great. And still the Swede went out and, to be a part of the final a.s.sault on j.a.pan, joined the U.S. Marines, who on Okinawa, as on Tarawa, Iwo Jima, Guam, and Guadalca.n.a.l, had absorbed casualties that were stupefying.The marines. Being a marine. Boot camp. Knocked us around every which way, called us all kinds of names, physically and mentally murdered us for three months, and it was the best experience I ever had in my life. Took it on as a challenge and I did it. My name became "Ee-oh." That's the way the southern drill instructors p.r.o.nounced Levov, dropping the L and the two v's--all consonants overboard--and lengthening out the two vowels. "Ee-oh!" Like a donkey braying. "Ee-oh!" "Yes, sir!" Major Dunleavy, the athletic director, big guy, Purdue football coach, stops the platoon one day and the hefty sergeant we called Sea Bag shouts for Private Ee-oh and out I run with my helmet on, and my heart was pounding because I thought my mother had died. I was just a week away from being a.s.signed to Camp Lejeune, up in North Carolina, for advanced weaponry training, but Major Dunleavy pulled the plug on that and so I never got to fire a bar. And that was why I'd joined the marines--wanted more than anything to fire the bar from flat on my belly with the barrel elevated on a mount. Eighteen years old210.

and that was the Marine Corps to me, the rapid-firing, air-cooled .30 caliber machine gun. What a patriotic kid that innocent kid was. Wanted to fire the tank killer, the hand-held bazooka rocket, wanted to prove to myself I wasn't scared and could do that stuff. Grenades, flamethrowers, crawling under barbed wire, blowing up bunkers, attacking caves. Wanted to hit the beach in a duck. Wanted to help win the war. But Major Dunleavy had got a letter from his friend in Newark, what an athlete this Levov was, glowing letter about how wonderful I was, and so they rea.s.signed me and made me a drill instructor to keep me on the island to play ball--by then they'd dropped the atomic bomb and the war was over anyway. "You're in my unit, Swede. Glad to have you." A great break, really.

Once my hair grew in, I was a human being again. Instead of being called "s.h.i.thead" all the time or "s.h.i.thead-move-your-a.s.s," suddenly I was a DI the recruits called Sir. What the DI called the recruits was You People! Hit the deck, You People! On your feet, You People! Double time, You People, double time hup! Great, great experience for a kid from Keer Avenue. Guys I would never have met in my life. Accents from all over the place. The Midwest. New England. Some farm boys from Texas and the Deep South I couldn't even understand. But got to know them. Got to like them. Hard boys, poor boys, lots of high school athletes.

Used to live with the boxers. Lived with the recreation gang. Another Jewish guy, Manny Rabinowitz from Altoona. Toughest Jewish guy I ever met in my life.

What a fighter. A great friend. Didn't even finish high school. Never had a friend like that before or since. Never laughed so hard in my life as I did with Manny. Manny was money in the bank for me. n.o.body ever gave us any Jewboy s.h.i.t.

A little back in boot camp, but that was it. When Manny fought, the guys would bet their cigarettes on him. Buddy Falcone and Manny Rabinowitz were always the two winners for us whenever we fought another base. After the fight with Manny the other guy would say that n.o.body had ever hit him as hard in his life. Manny ran the entertainment with me, the boxing smokers. The duo--the Jewish leathernecks. Manny got the wiseguy recruit who made all the trouble211.

and weighed a hundred and forty-five pounds to fight somebody a hundred and sixty pounds who he could be sure would beat the s.h.i.t out of him. "Always pick a redhead, Ee-oh," Manny said, "he'll give you the best fight in the world.

Redhead'll never quit." Manny the scientist. Manny going up to Norfolk to fight a sailor, a middleweight contender before the war, and whipping him. Exercising the battalion before breakfast. Marching the recruits down to the pool every night to teach them to swim. We practically threw them in--the old-fashioned way of teaching swimming, but you had to swim to be a marine. Always had to be ready to do ten more push-ups than any of the recruits. They'd challenge me, but I was in shape. Getting on the bus going to play ball. The long distances we flew. Bob Collins on the team, the big St. John's guy. My teammate. Terrific athlete.

Boozer. With Bob C. got drunk for the first time in my life, talked for two hours nonstop about playing ball for Weequahic and then threw up all over the deck. Irish guys, Italian guys, Slovaks, Poles, tough little b.a.s.t.a.r.ds from Pennsylvania, kids who'd run away from fathers who worked in the mines and beat them with belt buckles and with their fists--these were the guys I lived with and ate with and slept alongside. Even an Indian guy, a Cherokee, a third baseman.

Called him p.i.s.s Cutter, the same as the name for our caps. Don't ask me why. Not all of them decent people but on the whole all right. Good guys. Lots of organized graba.s.s. Played against Fort Benning. Cherry Point, North Carolina, the marine air base. Beat them. Beat Charleston Navy Yard. We had a couple of boys who could throw that ball. One pitcher went on to the Tigers. Went down to Rome, Georgia, to play ball, over to Waycross, Georgia, to an army base. Called the army guys doggies. Beat them. Beat everybody. Saw the South. Saw things I never saw. Saw the life the Negroes live. Met every kind of Gentile you can think of. Met beautiful southern girls. Met common wh.o.r.es. Used a condom.

Skinned 'er back and squeezed 'er down. Saw Savannah. Saw New Orleans. Sat in a rundown slopchute in Mobile, Alabama, where I was d.a.m.n glad the sh.o.r.e patrol was just outside the door. Playing basketball and baseball with the Twenty-second Regiment.212.

Got to be a United States Marine. Got to wear the emblem with the anchor and the globe. "No pitcher in there, Ee-oh, poke it outta here, Ee-oh--" Got to be Ee-oh to guys from Maine, New Hampshire, Louisiana, Virginia, Mississippi, Ohio--guys without an education from all over America calling me Ee-oh and nothing more.

Just plain Ee-oh to them. Loved that. Discharged June 2,1947. Got to marry a beautiful girl named Dwyer. Got to run a business my father built, a man whose own father couldn't speak English. Got to live in the prettiest spot in the world. Hate America? Why, he lived in America the way he lived inside his own skin. All the pleasures of his younger years were American pleasures, all that success and happiness had been American, and he need no longer keep his mouth shut about it just to defuse her ignorant hatred. The loneliness he would feel as a man without all his American feelings. The longing he would feel if he had to live in another country. Yes, everything that gave meaning to his accomplishments had been American. Everything he loved was here.For her, being an American was loathing America, but loving America was something he could not let go of any more than he could have let go of loving his father and his mother, any more than he could have let go of his decency.

How could she "hate" this country when she had no conception of this country?

How could a child of his be so blind as to revile the "rotten system" that had given her own family every opportunity to succeed? To revile her "capitalist"

parents as though their wealth were the product of anything other than the unstinting industry of three generations. The men of three generations, including even himself, slogging through the slime and stink of a tannery. The family that started out in a tannery, at one with, side by side with, the lowest of the low--now to her "capitalist dogs." There wasn't much difference, and she knew it, between hating America and hating them. He loved the America she hated and blamed for everything that was imperfect in life and wanted violently tooverturn, he loved the "bourgeois values" she hated and ridiculed and wanted to subvert, he loved the mother she hated and had all but murdered by doing213.i'f what she did. Ignorant little f.u.c.king b.i.t.c.h! The price they had paid! Why shouldn't he tear up this Rita Cohen letter? Rita Cohen! They were back! The s.a.d.i.s.tic mischief-makers with their bottomless talent for antagonism who had extorted the money from him, who, for the fun of it, had extracted from him the Audrey Hepburn sc.r.a.pbook, the stuttering diary, and the ballet shoes, these delinquent young brutes calling themselves "revolutionaries" who had so viciously played with his hopes five years back had decided the time had again rolled around to laugh at Swede Levov.We can only stand as witnesses to the anguish that sanctifies her. The Disciple Who Calls Herself "Rita Cohen."They were laughing at him. They had to be laughing. Because the only thing worse than its all being a wicked joke was its not being a wicked joke. Your daughter is divine. My daughter is anything and everything but. She is all too frail and misguided and wounded--she's hopeless!

Why did you tell her that you slept with me? And tell me that it was she who wanted you to. You say these things because you hate us. And you hate us because we don't do such things. You hate us not because we're reckless but because we're prudent and sane and industrious and agree to abide by the law. You hate us because we haven't failed. Because we've worked hard and honestly to become the best in the business and because of that we have prospered, so you envy us and you hate us and want to destroy us. And so you used her. A sixteen-year-old kid with a stutter. No, nothing small about you people. Made her into a "revolutionary" full of great thoughts and high-minded ideals. Sons of b.i.t.c.hes.

You enjoy the spectacle of our devastation. Cowardly b.a.s.t.a.r.ds. It isn't cliches that enslaved her, it's you who enslaved her in the loftiest of the shallow cliches--and that resentful kid, with her stutterer's hatred of injustice, had no protection at all. You got her to believe she was at one with the downtrodden people--and made her into your patsy, your stooge. And Dr. Fred Conlon, as a result, is dead. That was who you killed to stop the war: the chief of staff up at the hospital in Dover, the guy who in a small community hospital established a coronary care unit of eight beds. That was his crime. 214 .

Instead of exploding in the middle of the night when the village was empty, the bomb, either as planned or by mistake, went off at five a.m., an hour before Hamlin's store opened for the day and the moment that Fred Conlon turned away from having dropped into the mailbox envelopes containing checks for household bills that he'd paid at his desk the evening before. He was on his way to the hospital. A chunk of metal flying out of the store struck him at the back of the skull.Dawn was under sedation and couldn't see anyone, but the Swede had gone to Russ and Mary Hamlin's house and expressed his sympathy about the store, told the Hamlins how much the store had meant to Dawn and him, how it was no less a part of their lives than it was of everyone else's in the community; then he went to the wake--in the coffin Conlon looked fine, fit, just as affable as ever--and the following week, with their doctor already arranging for Dawn's hospitalization, the Swede went alone to visit Conlon's widow. How he managed to get to that woman's house for tea is another story--another book--but he did it, he did it, and heroically she served him tea while he extended his family's condolences in the words that he had revised in his mind five hundred times but that, whenspoken, were still no good, even more hollow than those he'd uttered to Russ and Mary Hamlin: "deep and sincere regrets . . . the agony of your family . . . my wife would like you to know. . .." After listening to everything he had to say, Mrs. Conlon quietly replied, displaying an outlook so calm and kind and compa.s.sionate that the Swede wanted to disappear, to hide like a child, while at the same time the urge was nearly overpowering to throw himself at her feet and to remain there forever, begging for her forgiveness. "You are good parents and you raised your daughter the way you thought best," she said to him. "It was not your fault and I don't hold anything against you. You didn't go out and buy the dynamite. You didn't make the bomb. You didn't plant the bomb. You had nothing to do with the bomb. If, as it appears, your daughter turns out to be the one who is responsible, I will hold no one responsible but her. I feel badly for you and your family, Mr.215.

Levov. I have lost a husband, my children have lost a father. But you have lost something even greater. You are parents who have lost a child. There is not a day that goes by that you won't be in my thoughts and in my prayers." The Swede had known Fred Conlon only slightly, from c.o.c.ktail parties and charity events where they found themselves equally bored. Mainly he knew him by reputation, a man who cared about his family and the hospital with the same devotion--a hard worker, a good guy. Under him, the hospital had begun to plan a building program, the first since its construction, and in addition to the new coronary care unit, during his stewardship there had been a long-overdue modernization of emergency room facilities. But who gives a s.h.i.t about the emergency room of a community hospital out in the sticks? Who gives a s.h.i.t about a rural general store whose owner has been running it since 1921? We're talking about humanity!

When has there ever been progress for humanity without a few small mishaps and mistakes? The people are angry and they have spoken! Violence will be met by violence, regardless of consequences, until the people are liberated! Fascist America down one post office, facility completely destroyed.Except, as it happened, Hamlin's was not an official U.S. post office nor were the Hamlins U.S. postal employees--theirs was merely a postal station contracted, for x number of dollars, to handle a little postal business on the side.

Hamlin's was no more a government installation than the office where your accountant makes out your tax forms. But that is a mere technicality to world revolutionaries. Facility destroyed! Eleven hundred Old Rimrock residents forced, for a full year and a half, to drive five miles to buy their stamps and to get packages weighed and to send anything registered or special delivery.

That'll show Lyndon Johnson who's boss.They were laughing at him. Life was laughing at him.Mrs. Conlon had said, "You are as much the victims of this tragedy as we are.

The difference is that for us, though recovery will take time, we will survive as a family. We will survive as a loving family. We will survive with our memories intact and with our 216 .

memories to sustain us. It will not be any easier for us than it will be for you to make sense of something so senseless. But we are the same family we were when Fred was here, and we will survive."The clarity and force with which she implied that the Swede and his family would not survive made him wonder, in the weeks that followed, if her kindness and her compa.s.sion were so all-encompa.s.sing as he had wanted at first to believe.

He never went to see her again.He told his secretary that he was going over to New York, to the Czech mission, where he'd already had preliminary discussions about a trip to Czechoslovakia later in the fall. In New York he had examined specimen gloves as well as shoes, belts, pocketbooks, and wallets manufactured in Czechoslovakia, and now the Czechs were working up plans for him to visit factories in Brno and Bratislava so he could see the glove setup firsthand and examine a more extensive sample of their work while it was in production and when it came off the floor. There was no longer any question that in Czechoslovakia leather apparel could be more cheaply made than in Newark or Puerto Rico--and probably better made, too. The workmanship that had begun falling off in the Newark plant since the riots had continued to deteriorate, especially once Vicky retired as making room forelady.

Even granting that what he'd seen at the Czech mission might not be representative of day-to-day production, it had been impressive enough. Back in the thirties the Czechs had flooded the American market with fine gloves, over the years excellent Czech cutters had been employed by Newark Maid, and the machinist who for thirty years had been employed full-time tending Newark Maid's sewing machines, keeping those workhorses running--replacing worn-out shafts, levers, throat plates, bobbins, endlessly adjusting each machine's timing and tension-- was a Czech, a wonderful worker, expert with every glove machine on earth, able to fix anything. Even though the Swede had a.s.sured his father he had no intention of signing over any aspect of their operation to a Communist government until he'd returned with a217.

thorough report, he was confident that pulling out of Newark wasn't far down the line.Dawn by this time had her new face and had begun the startling comeback, and as for Merry... well, Merry dear, Merry darling, my precious one-and-only Merry- child, how can I possibly remain on Central Avenue struggling to keep my production up, taking the beating we're taking there from black people who care nothing any longer about the quality of my product--people who are careless, people who've got me over a barrel because they know there's n.o.body trainable left in Newark to replace them--for fear that if I leave Central Avenue you will call me a racist and never see me again? I have waited so long to see you again, your mother has waited, Grandpa and Grandma have waited, we have all been waiting twenty-four hours a day every day of every year for five years to see you or to hear from you or somehow to get some word of you, and we can postpone our lives no longer. It's 1973. Mother is a new woman. If we are ever again going to live, now is when we must begin.Nonetheless, he was waiting not for the pleasant consul at the Czech mission to welcome him with a gla.s.s of slivovitz (as his father or his wife would think if they happened to phone the office) but across from the dog and cat hospital on New Tersey Railroad Avenue, a ten-minute car ride from the Newark Maid factory.Ten minutes away. And for years? In Newark, for years? Merry was living in the one place in the world he would never have guessed had he been given a thousand guesses. Was he deficient in intelligence, or was she so provocative, so perverse, so insane he still could not imagine anything she might do? Was he deficient also in imagination? What father wouldn't be? It was preposterous. His daughter was living in Newark, working across the Pennsylvania Railroad tracks, and not at the end of the Ironbound where the Portuguese were reclaiming the poor Down Neck streets but here at the Ironbound's westernmost edge, in the shadow of the railroad viaduct that closed off Railroad Avenue all along the western side of the street. That grim fortification was the city's Chinese wall,218.

brownstone boulders piled twenty feet high, strung out for more than a mile and intersected only by half a dozen foul underpa.s.ses. Along this forsaken street, as ominous now as any street in any ruined city in America, was a reptilian length of unguarded wall barren even of graffiti. But for the wilted weeds that managed to jut forth in wiry clumps where the mortar was cracked and washed away, the viaduct wall was barren of everything except the affirmation of a weary industrial city's prolonged and triumphant struggle to monumentalize its ugliness.On the east side of the street, the dark old factories--Civil War factories, foundries, bra.s.sworks, heavy-industrial plants blackened from the chimneys pumping smoke for a hundred years--were windowless now, the sunlight sealed out with brick and mortar, their exits and entrances plugged with cinderblock. These were the factories where people had lost fingers and arms and got their feet crushed and their faces scalded, where children once labored in the heat and the cold, the nineteenth-century factories that churned up people and churned out goods and now were unpierceable, airtight tombs. It was Newark that was entombed there, a city that was not going to stir again. The pyramids of Newark: as huge and dark and hideously impermeable as a great dynasty's burial edifice has every historical right to be.The rioters hadn't crossed beneath the elevated railroad tracks-- if they had, these factories, the whole block of them, would be burned-out rubble like the West Market Street factories back of Newark Maid.His father used to tell him, "Brownstone and brick. There was the business.

Brownstone quarried right here. Know that? Out by Belleville, north along the river. This city's got everything. What a business that must have been. The guy who sold Newark brownstone and brick--he was sittin' pretty."On Sat.u.r.day mornings, the Swede would drive Down Neck alongside his father to pick up the week's finished gloves from the Italian families paid to do piecework in their homes. As the car bounced along the streets paved with bricks, past one poor little 219 .Ik frame house after another, the ma.s.sive railroad viaduct remained brokenly within view. It would not go away. This was the Swede's first encounter with the manmade sublime that divides and dwarfs, and in the beginning it was frightening to him, a child susceptible to his environment even then, with a proclivity to be embraced by it and to embrace it in return. Six or seven years old. Maybe five, maybe Jerry hadn't even been born yet. The dwarfing stones causing the city to be even more gigantic for him than it already was. The manmade horizon, the brutal cut in the body of the giant city--it felt as though they were entering the shadow world of h.e.l.l, when all the boy was seeing was the railroad's answer to the populist crusade to hoist the tracks above the grade crossings so as to end the crashes and the pedestrian carnage. "Brownstone and brick," said his father admiringly. " There was a guy whose worries were over."That had all taken place before they'd moved to Keer Avenue, when they were living across from the synagogue in a three-family house at the poor end of Wainwright Street. His father didn't have even a loft then but got his skins from a fellow who was also Down Neck and who trafficked out of his garage in whatever the workers could carry from the tanneries hidden within their bigrubber boots or wrapped around them beneath their overalls. The hide man was himself a tannery worker, a big, gruff Pole with tattoos up and down his ma.s.sive arms, and the Swede had vague memories of his father's standing at the garage's one window holding the finished hides up to the light and searching them for defects, then stretching them over his knee before making his selection. "Feel this," he'd say to the Swede once they were safely back in the car, and the child would crease a delicate kidskin as he'd seen his father do, finger the fineness appreciatively, the velvet texture of the skin's close, tight grain. "

That's leather," his father told him. "What makes kidskin so delicate, Seymour?"

"I don't know." "Well, what is a kid?" "A baby goat." "Right. And what does he eat?" "Milk?" "Right. And because all the animal has eaten is milk, that's what makes the grain smooth and beautiful. Look at the pores of this skin with a magni-220.

fying gla.s.s and they're so fine you can't even see 'em. But the kid starts eating gra.s.s, that skin's a different story. The goat eats gra.s.s and the skin is like sandpaper. The finest glove leather for a formal glove is what, Seymour?"

"Kid." "That's my boy. But it's not only the kid, son, it's the tanning. You've got to know your tannery. It's like a good cook and a bad cook. You get a good piece of meat and a bad cook can spoil it for you. How come someone makes a wonderful cake and the other doesn't? One is moist and nice and the other is dry. Same thing in leather. I worked in the tannery. It's the chemicals, it's the time, it's the temperature. That's where the difference comes in. That, and not buying second-rate skins to begin with. Cost as much to tan a bad skin as a good skin. Cost more to tan a bad one--you work harder at it. Beautiful, beautiful," he said, "wonderful stuff," once again lovingly kneading the kidskin between his fingertips. "You know how you get it like this, Seymour?" "How, Daddy?" "You work at it."There were eight, ten, twelve immigrant families scattered throughout Down Neck to whom Lou Levov distributed the skins along with his own patterns, people from Naples who had been glovers in the old country and the best of whom wound up working at Newark Maid's first home when he could come up with the rent for the small loft on West Market Street on the top floor of the chair factory. The old Italian grandfather or the father did the cutting on the kitchen table, with the French rule, the shears, and the spud knife he'd brought from Italy. The grandmother or the mother did the sewing, and the daughters did the laying off-- ironing the glove--in the old-fashioned way, with irons heated up in a box set atop the kitchen's potbellied stove. The women worked on antique Singers, nineteenth-century machines that Lou Levov, who'd learned to rea.s.semble them, had bought for a song and then repaired himself; at least once a week, he'd have to drive all the way Down Neck at night and spend an hour getting a machine running right again. Otherwise, both day and night, he was all over Jersey peddling the gloves the Italians had made for him, selling them at first out of the trunk of the car, right on a main downtown street,221.

and, in time, directly to apparel shops and department stores that were Newark Maid's first solid accounts. It was in a tiny kitchen not half a mile from where the Swede was now standing that the boy had seen a pair of gloves cut by the oldest of the old Neapolitan artisans. He believed that he could remember sitting in his father's lap while Lou Levov sampled a gla.s.s of the family's homemade wine and across from them a cutter said to be a hundred years old who was supposed to have made gloves for the queen of Italy smoothed the ends of a trank with half a dozen twists of his knife's dull blade. "Watch him, Seymour.

See how small the skin is? The most difficult thing in the world to cut a kidskin efficiently. Because it's so small. But watch what he does. You're watching a genius and you're watching an artist. The Italian cutter, son, is always more artistic in his outlook. And this is the master of them all."

Sometimes hot meatb.a.l.l.s would be frying in a pan, and he remembered how one of the Italian cutters, who always purred "Che bellezza . .." and called him Piccirell', sweet little thing, when he stroked the Swede's blond head, taught him how to dip the crisp Italian bread in a pot of tomato sauce. No matter how tiny the yard out back, there were tomato plants growing, and a grapevine and a pear tree, and in every household there was always a grandfather. It was he who had made the wine and to whom Lou Levov uttered, in a Neapolitan dialect and with what he took to be the appropriate gesture, his repertoire's one complete Italian sentence, " 'Na mano lava 'nad"--One hand washes the other--when he laid out on the oilcloth the dollar bills for the week's piecework. Then the boy and his father got up from the table with the finished lot and left for home, where Sylvia Levov would examine each glove, with a stretcher meticulously examine each seam of each finger and each thumb of every glove. "A pair of gloves," his father told the Swede, "are supposed to match perfectly--the grain of the leather, the color, the shading, everything. The first thing she looks to see is if the gloves match." While his mother worked she taught the boy about all the mistakes that can occur in the making of a glove, mistakes she had been taught to recognize as her husband's wife. A222.

skipped st.i.tch can turn into an open seam, but you can't see it, she told the child, without putting the stretcher into the glove and tensioning the seam.

There are st.i.tch holes that aren't supposed to be there but are because the sewer st.i.tched wrong and then just tried to go on. There is something called butcher cuts that occur if the animal was cut too deeply when it was flayed.

Even after the leather is shaved they're there, and though they don't necessarily break when you stress the glove with the stretcher, they could break if someone put the glove on. In every batch they brought up from Down Neck his father found at least one glove where the thumb didn't match the palm. This drove him wild. "See that? See, the cutter is trying to make his quota out of a skin, and he can't get a thumb out of the same hide as the trank, so he cheats-- he takes the next skin and cuts the thumb, and it doesn't match, and it's no G.o.dd.a.m.n good to me at all. See here? Twisted fingers. This is what Mario was showing you this morning. When you're cutting a fourchette or a thumb or anything, you got to pull it straight. If you don't pull it straight, you're going to have a problem. If he pulled that fourchette crookedly on the bias, then when it's sewn together the finger is going to corkscrew just like this.

That's what your mother is looking for. Because remember and don't forget--a Levov makes a glove that is perfect." Whenever his mother found something wrong she gave the glove to the Swede, who stuck a pin where the defect was, through the st.i.tch and never through leather. "Holes in leather stay," his father warned him. "It's not like fabric, where the holes disappear. Always through the st.i.tch, always!" After the boy and his mother had inspected the gloves in a lot, his mother used special thread to tack the gloves together, thread that breaks easily, his father explained, so that when the buyer pulls them apart the knots sewn on each side won't tear through the leather. After the gloves were tacked, the Swede's mother tissued them--laid a pair down on a sheet of tissue paper, folded the paper over, then over again so that each pair was protected together.

A dozen pairs, counted out loud for her by the Swede, went into a box. It wasn't a fancy box back in the early days, just a plain brown box with a size223.

scale on the end showing the sizes. The fancy black box with the gold trim and the name Newark Maid stamped in gold came along only when his father landed thebreakthrough Bamberger's account and, afterward, the account with Macy's Little Accessory Shop. A distinctive, attractive box with the company name and a gold and black woven label in every glove made all the difference not only to the shop but to the knowledgeable upscale customer.Every Sat.u.r.day when they drove Down Neck to collect that week's finished gloves, they'd bring along the gloves the Swede had marked with a pin where his mother had discovered a defect. If a glove bristled with three pins or more, his father would have to warn the family who had made it that if they wanted to work for Newark Maid, sloppiness would not be tolerated. "Lou Levov doesn't sell a table- cut glove unless it is a perfect table-cut glove," he told them. "I'm not here to play games. I'm here like you are--I'm here to make money. 'Na mano lava 'nad, and don t forget it.""What is calfskin, Seymour?" "The skin from young calves." "What kind of grain?"

"It has a tight, even grain. Very smooth. Glossy." "What's it used for?" "Mostly for men's gloves. It's heavy." "What is Cape?" "The skin of the South African haired sheep." "Cabretta?" "Not the wool-type sheep but the hair-type sheep."

"From where?" "South America. Brazil." "That's part of the answer. The animals live a little north and south of the equator. Anywhere around the world.

Southern India. Northern Brazil. A band across Africa--" "We got ours from Brazil." "Right. That's true. You're right. I'm only telling you they come from other countries too. So you'll know. What's the key operation in preparing the skin?" "Stretching." "And never forget it. In this business, a sixteenth of an inch makes all the difference in the world. Stretching! Stretching is a hundred percent right. How many parts in a pair of gloves?" "Ten, twelve if there's a binding." "Name 'em." "Six fourchettes, two thumbs, two tranks." "The unit of measurement in the glove trade?" "b.u.t.tons." "What's a one-b.u.t.ton glove?" "A one- b.u.t.ton glove is one inch long if you measure from the base of the thumb to the top." "Approximately one inch long. What is silking?" "The224.

three rows of st.i.tching on the back of the glove. If you don't do the end pulling, all the silking is going to come right out." "Excellent. I didn't even ask you about end pulling. Excellent. What's the most difficult seam to make on a glove?" "Full pique." "Why? Take your time, son--it's difficult. Tell me why."

The prixseam. The gauge seam. Single draw points. Spear points. Buckskin. Mocha.

English does. Soaking. Dehairing. Pickling. Sorting. Taxing. The grain finish.

The velvet finish. Pasted linings. Skeleton linings. Seamless knitted wool. Cut- and-sewed knitted wool... .As they drove back and forth Down Neck, it never stopped. Every Sat.u.r.day morning from the time he was six until he was nine and Newark Maid became a company with its own loft.The dog and cat hospital was located on the corner in a small, decrepit brick building next door

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