My Love Affair Part 4. The Men in the Building

Men Playing Pool

Life in the highrise continued on. There were more women in the building than men. Believing in the adage that “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,” there were many dishes delivered throughout the building to the few men who were brave enough to live there, some surreptitiously left outside the door by an anonymous donor (anonymous for a while, anyway).

Some were more blatantly delivered. There were casseroles, cookies, and even the most beautiful, sweet baklava you’ve ever tasted. And I tasted quite a few of them in my office. (Impossible to stay on a diet!) 

One of the ladies’ favorites was Larry, who was a born ladies’ man. He dressed nattily. He had a mustache. And he was a handsome dude. He would stroll into the office and let me know what the delicacy of the day (or night) was. The rumor was that he finally got too tired of the adoration and went back to his second (or was it his third?) wife.

Another ladies’ favorite was Hank, who had been a painter and still took on small jobs here and there. He would come home tired, but never too tired to chat with Jim the minute he knew he was in the building. Hank was a great talker.

Jake was a painter, too, but Jake loved to paint pictures in stories best, particularly about fishing. According to Jake, there was no better thing to do, and there was no better fisherman than Jake. Period. He loved to tell Jim about his catches (and releases).

And then there was Nick, who everyone came to call Nicky. He was a big guy, way over six feet — a gentle giant if there ever was one. He’d been an “enforcer” for the Mafia back when. He, too, was from the old country. He had some stories to tell.

Frank was looked up to by all. He was a steady influence, and people respected his opinion. He loved the highrise, and it was a sad day for us all when his daughter decided to take him into her house, rather than leave him in the highrise. I’m not sure he wanted to go.

Another master at handling conflict was Earl. He never had a harsh word for, or against, anyone. Earl was elected president of the building and helped me solve many problems. I valued his thoughtful advice! Quiet and sweet Ben never caused any conflict. He always had a big smile for everyone.

Harry wasn’t a ladies’ favorite because he was married, but he had a story. In his youth he’d been a news reporter, and he had covered the Great Hinckley Fire in 1894.

The Hinckley fire burned an area of at least 200,000 acres, including the town. It was the deadliest fire in the history of Minnesota, and Harry had been there. When he lived in the highrise, he was in his 90s, and as sharp as a tack. He loved to tell us about the fire, but he was a good storyteller on any subject.

We bought a used mimeograph machine and started a newsletter for the highrise. Harry was a reporter until he died — and a good one! We sold advertising to the local business people to pay for the costs. Everyone looked forward to the next edition.

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