The next hurdle was to relocate the Concord Street residents. I thought it would be easy — the highrise was so much nicer than where they had been living. I knew they would be excited. Not so.
Babe was the biggest challenge. First of all, we had no parking meters to talk to. And no liquor stores just-about-at-the-top-of-the-hill. That didn’t deter Babe — he went to the bottom of the hill, back to Concord Street where the goodies were. Then he’d stagger back up the hill to the highrise. Oh, my. The smell was almost overwhelming. And he’d hit on the babes-of-the-highrise in the elevator (when he wasn’t peeing in the elevator).
His favorite thing was to go to the space just off the community room where we had card tables set up. The ladies loved to play cards every night. Babe would love to heckle the ladies after a few too many drinks. His advances and witty conversation were not appreciated.
Dealing with the top-of-the-hill women residents was like going into the henhouse where all the chickens were flying into the walls. The solution was to move Babe to the first floor and let him come in the side door. Not a great solution, but at least there was a truce.
My office was just off the lobby, and I had a window from the lobby into the main room, which was used for collecting rent. There was another room for storage and equipment, which eventually became a news center, and a private office where we could discuss rent changes — and where people came to complain about Mary.
The buildings on Concord Street were being torn down. There was no other place for Mary. And we couldn’t evict her for greeting people. What to do? I talked with her numerous times, but it didn’t really help. Eventually we solved most of the problems by taking the chairs out of the lobby. It lessened the problem, anyway.
Mary was rough, but underneath it all, she was a good person. I got a kick out of her. I’ll bet she had seen a lot of life, although she never disclosed what “had been.”
Mary’s friends were mostly those from Concord Street. Mike lived across the hall from her. He was a short, quiet man who spoke broken English and sometimes pretended he didn’t know what you were saying. He was one of the most astute people in the building.
Mike was one of the earliest residents, and took a liking to Jim (the handsome one I told you about, who became my husband about a year after we met). When Jim came by to pick me up at night, Mike would come running out of his apartment and say, “JEEM! I have a little something for you. Come into my apartment.”
I wasn’t invited. He explained later that this was not for me.
Mike didn’t drink, but he had a bottle of Slivovitz, which is the most vile-tasting cherry brandy
you will ever drink in your life. As I found out, he poured “Jeem”
just a little tiny shot of Slivovitz. I know it wasn’t exactly the professional
thing to do, but it was his greatest gift and he would have been highly
insulted if Jim had refused. So Jim got his shot of Slivovitz every once in a