Early this morning, I woke up, as I sometimes do, between 4:30 and 5:00 AM and I contemplated the meaning of life, as I am continually doing. I recalled that, as of late, I have been surrounded by people who seem to accentuate the negative. The glass is only half full, etc. Oftentimes, they could be right, but I've kind of grown up with the attitude that nothing is impossible and "can't be done" is wrong. So, this morning, I was dwelling on my upbringing and wondering why it is that I have that attitude.
As I've mentioned in other dissertations, my father was a Romanian refugee who never knew how to quit anything. He was in America for many years before he learned to speak English. He had no marketable trades and was trying to support seven hungry kids and a wife.
He always felt that, in America, he would hit it big. Mind you, his idea of big really wasn't that big. We lived in a six story walk up dump in a Bronx apartment house. It seemed that the rent was always cheaper in the non-elevated buildings. My father and mother slept on the couch in the living room - or the "day bed", as it was called - and all of us kids slept in one room - oftentimes more than one to a bed. My father always talked about having a house in the country and a new car. But, until I was about the age of 13, things remained the status quo. Still, the six floor walk-up, busses, street cars, and subways.
Then one day, while in his late 50s, my father met up with what would become his niche in life. He got a job as a counterman at the Stage Delicatessen. It was discovered that he was able to make the best deli sandwiches in New York. The bosses loved him. He had the knack of taking less than a quarter of a pound of meat and, by skillfully folding in some coleslaw, his sandwiches appeared three times the size of the normal.
There was always a line waiting to have Sam pack them a sandwich. Relative to his obscurity, he virtually became famous overnight. Offers of employment came from the Carnegie Deli, and one day, he was accosted by the owner of the Gotham Deli on 6th Ave and 54th St, who offered him a partnership to start with him - with a starting salary. Overnight, Sam the Deli Man made the big time. Jackie Gleason would only eat sandwiches that Sam made... Deli celebrity was his.
My father had a domineering streak in him, so although it was a partnership, he pretty much became the sole owner in no time at all. Next thing I knew, we were moving to an elevated building! WOW! The address was 910 Dinsmore in Far Rockaway, New York. It had no elevator. The elevator was in the Dinsmore Towers a block a way. He had his wires crossed. It was a five story apartment house, and there we were back on the top floor - a heart-pounding climb from the street.
Of course, we were all terribly disappointed, but my father remained sanguine, nevertheless. He did get the landlord to drop the rent down to thirty-four dollars a month and we did have a fire escape that we could climb out on on hot evenings to get some air.
There we remained. Every morning, he was up and out of the apartment at five in the morning, taking the long island railroad to Manhattan. During the summers, as the oldest son, I was dragged along to deliver foods around Manhattan, working for tips, of which my father insisted on keeping half to teach me that there are no free rides - everybody has to pay to make a living.
My father read the newspaper everyday and listened to the news on the radio. As illiterate as he was, he was a learned person in his own strange way. But, he had no respect for colleges or universities. He felt that most colleges were a repository of ne'er-do-wells and malingerers. History may bear his thoughts out to be proper, the way things are going. He detested professionals, particularly doctors.
On more than one occasion, he advised me to remember that doctors were not to be trusted. Again, history may bear his thoughts out.
Having all of us children, we would always get sick all at the same time. At the point of desperation, my mother would occasionally find a doctor who would make a house call, though she would not advise them that it was a non-elevated building.
All the poor man ever got was a package of delicatessen sandwiches made by my "famous" father, but they had no money. The pharmacist got paid in sandwiches, almost everybody did. The landlord would only accept money, though.
You'd think that this poor man would be discouraged by this plight, but NO. One night when we got home, he opened up the daily news and showed my mother a house in the country that he could buy for $75 down and $75 a month. The area was called Levittown in Hicksville in Nassau County. Well that sure sounded like the country to me. And it wasn't just a house... It came complete with a washing machine and a television set that peaked out from behind a knotted pine wall.
We were to get a taxi to take us out to Hicksville to see this house on the farm one evening. My father searched out a Jewish cab driver in New York that he could pay for the 30 mile trip to Hicksville with sandwiches.
There it sat - there were three different models. Just beautiful for seventy five dollars down and seventy five dollars a month. The first thing that my mother said was that we couldn't afford it. I quickly offered up that I would sell papers to make it happen. We just had to move in there. He said that he would start opening up the Deli on Sunday and we knew we would be able to afford it. Well, it happened. Shortly thereafter came the 1941 Packer, but that's another story for another time.
To this day, I never get more than temporarily discouraged and I do not take "No" for an answer.
In his later years, my father would put three kids through college, move on to bigger and better houses, and had many new cars. That's from not taking "No" for an answer. Today, I have been advised that asset-wise, I am a multi-millionaire. So don't listen to the naysayers. Try to plan your life along reasonable lines that appear to need you. There is always somebody who will need you.
Every hour that I'm awake, I'm always thinking of how I can do things better or give more value to my clients and employees.
It has to be a passionate desire, not just a desire to make money. Fortunately for me, I am past that stage. Truth be told, I'm sure that most successful men do not do it for just the money.
For those out there who are reading this that feel like they're in a bind, don't feel afraid to call me. Maybe I can help you out. I enjoy that. In everything you do, you want to be the best at it. Give it your passion. Be the best Deli Man, the best salesman, or the best whatever. At all costs, I intend to be the best discounter of important jewelry on the planet Earth, and I never let any of my employees down.
The gentleman that I have as my webmaster I brought in from being a convenience store clerk. He has become my most valuable employee, friend, and confidant. I have little doubt that when I pass on, if things are going the way they are now, he will be remembered in my will. Of course, people have a way of letting you down, but I think I'll do like the song goes... "You have to Ac-cen-tu-ate the positive and EEEEEEE-liminate the negative". So hang on in there.Carl Marcus