One of my father’s deals involved him owning a gas station.
It had the largest underground capacity for gasoline in New York State,
and a direct pipeline to the gas station
from a private railroad siding.
My dad had a strange variety of business ventures
financed by investors’ money.
They all had important sounding names.
One of them was The Monarch Mortgage Corporation.
His headquarters for this and several other of his company names
was a one-desk office upstairs over The Bidwell Grill,
his hangout in our home town of Buffalo.
Through this company he somehow acquired a mortgage
on the huge Diamond T Truck Company factory.
The big gas station and its adjacent parking lot
were part of the settlement deal.
I was just a kid when my dad owned that station
at Elmwood and Hertel,
but I remember that his attendants dressed like motorcycle cops…
boots, britches, and all.
One young employee was cleaning the grease pit
with gasoline and a squeegee, against policy.
He struck a light bulb with the squeegee
and blew the roof off the garage section.
My father ran into the flaming pit and saved him,
but the young fellow, Nicky, was severely burned,
and never looked the same again.
There were twin brothers working there, Joe and Matty Kapsiak.
Joe was the personality kid of the two,
and Matty was quiet and serious.
Joe was killed in combat.
After that it seemed strange every time I looked at Matty.
After many warnings,
my father fired one worker for being drunk on the job,
The guy had mob connections
and thugs started coming to our house
threatening us if he wasn’t rehired.
My dad went downtown and had it out with the head Mafioso.
The drunk didn’t get his job back.
He always had motorcycles and things for sale on the corner.
One of the things was a Link Trainer…
an airplane without wings
held up by big horseshoe-shaped steel beams.
The controls worked just like a real plane,
and you could turn it, flip it over,
or just about anything you could do with a real plane, except fly.
Of course it was for training pilots,
and I was just a kid, staring at it.
My dad felt sorry for me,
and tried to teach me to drive in the parking lot,
even though my feet didn’t reach the clutch pedal,
much less the brake.