Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Armature Insulation Story

                                                           The Armature Insulation Story
                                                                        Written 09/2012
                                                                         Howard Yasgar  
     This story was told to me by Barney Kaplan of Detroit Michigan, Barney was an automotive electrician for many years. And this story will probably only be of interest to people familiar with the automotive electrical trade.     
     Barney passed away in 2015 at 96 years of age.

     During WW2, many items were rationed, and some items were just not available, so a lot of innovation was required to get the job done.
     One day in 1943 during the war, a household goods salesman came to the Detroit suburbs, He walked the streets knocking  on every door selling whatever he could out of his catalog.
     At the end of the streets, was an automotive electrical repair shop, so he salesman went inside.
     The Electrical technician was working at a bench putting new wire into an armature for an automobile generator.
     The salesman sort of cornered the electrical mechanic and showed him his catalog.
     The technician politely told him he didn’t need any household goods, but the salesman was persistent. So to get rid of him the mechanic said. “Look I don’t need anything, but if you leave me your business cards I will make sure they circulate all over town.
     The salesman reached in his pocket and took out a stack of business cards and placed them on the electrician’s bench, they shook hands and the salesman left.
      As soon as he was gone the electrician took the business cards and with a scissors cut them up into strips and used them as insulation in the generator armature he was rewinding.
      He didn’t feel guilty because he knew the armature he was repairing would be circulating all around town once he installed it on the car.

The Mardi Gras Researcher Story

                                                             The Mardi Gras Researcher Story
                                                                              Written 2016
                                                                             Howard Yasgar

                  A true story of when we attended the Mardi Gras parades in New Orleans in 1983    

    It was Mardi Gras time in 1983 and my wife and I decided to go to New Orleans.
    So we started making calls to find an available room. After several calls we found a room at the le Richelieu hotel located on Chartres Street.
    Once we were in New Orleans we checked the parade schedule and there was one slated to come down Canal Street that very evening. So about two hours before parade time we walked down to Canal Street hoping to find a good spot along the parade route, someplace where we could catch some beaded necklaces that they threw from the parade floats to the masses of people that were always crowded along the parade route.
     That evening, we were two hours early but the crowds had already started lining the streets, and in some places they were up to 6 or 7 people deep, the whole length of the parade route.
     Eventually I found a spot and we edged our way in, until we had only one or two people in front of us. As the parade came by, I noticed there was a fellow standing next to me to my right, he had a small ice cooler next to him that he stood on, making it easy for him to catch the beads being tossed to the crowd.
     When the floats eventually slowed down and the marching bands went by, he got off the cooler, opened it up and took out a cold bottle of Southern Comfort and he took a few slugs of it. As he put the bottle back, I looked him over, he appeared to be a pretty presentable guy about 30 years old, and was just a bit tipsy. I thought he was a pretty smart guy to have brought a cooler to stand on, so I complemented him on it, and we started talking.  He said that he was from Chicago, and he was going to be in New Orleans for a couple of weeks. So to make conversation, I asked him what he did for a living in Chicago, and he said that he worked in a laboratory as a research chemist. I said you are fortunate to have a job that lets you come to New Orleans for two weeks. Yes he said I’m very fortunate it’s a good job, I have been there several years.
     I was curious, as to what the hell a research chemist does, as I always liked to fool around with chemistry, so I asked him what he was researching. He said he was working for a government funded company that was researching for a cure for cancer. I had to stop and think for a second. Then I said, what happens if you find a cure, does that mean you are out of a job. He got back up on the cooler and he looked at me sort of like I was a dope, and with a wide smile, he said, you don’t you ever worry about that.  
     I took that to mean, he wasn’t worried, because his company had no intention of ever finding a cure. But it got me to thinking. How many companies out there are paid by our government to find a cure but they never seem to find one. I bet there are hundreds of companies doing the same scam, and I really don’t like to think about it. That conversation was back in 1983 and I bet his company is still getting paid for researching. Perhaps he is the
President of the company by now.  
     I was thinking that perhaps the government should put term limits on all the cancer cure research companies, 4 years and no cure and the money stops.  

The Parking Ticket Story

                                                               The Parking Ticket Story
                                                                   Written 12/2016
                                                                     Howard Yasgar

     In 1955, I was 16 years old and I had just gotten my driving license. It was an exciting time as I bought my first car, it was a green 1940 Ford convertible.
     My hometown of Westville Connecticut was a suburb of New Haven, At the time Westville was not a place where there were a lot of guys racing around with 1940 Ford convertibles.    
      Located on Whalley Avenue in New Haven, was a hot rod auto parts supply store called Henry’s Auto Parts.
Henry sold just about any kind of junk that you could bolt on to your car. He had suicide knobs for your steering wheel, steering wheel covers, fake pin striping you could plaster on your car.  
     So whenever I had an extra dollar, I drove to New Haven to Henry’s Auto Parts, and I spent a lot of time walking up and down the isles looking at every crazy item he sold, I was always hoping to find something I could put on my car.
     If I remember correctly, Henrys was located on the corner of Whalley Avenue and Orchard Street. And I would always park on Orchard Street, right near the corner of Whalley Ave, right next to Henry’s store.
     One day to my surprise the city installed parking meters right where I parked on Orchard Street. It was quite a shock to me but I parked where I usually parked, but this time I had to put 5 cents into the meter for 1 hour.
       In Henry’s there were always kids like me hanging around, so the time just flew by. All of a sudden, I realized that I needed to put another nickel in the meter. Once I remembered, I ran out of Henry’s just in time to hear and see the meter click and a red color appeared in the meters window. I had my nickel in my hand ready to put in the meter, but I was too late. Standing there was a big fat Irish New Haven cop with his foot on my cars bumper. He was just starting to write me a parking ticket. I was speechless, I couldn’t believe it, that fat cop must have been just waiting there for the meter’s time to expire, just so he could write me a $5.00 parking ticket.  
     As he put the ticket under my windshield wiper, I pleaded with him, look I said, I have the nickel right here in my hand. I was running here to put it in just as the meter expired.
      He was a pretty fat cop, and he perfectly fit the stereotype of what an Irish New Haven Cop looked like, he even had a red nose, but he didn’t look like a bad guy and I think he was listening to me.
      He said, I see your car in the neighborhood all the time, and you appear to be a nice kid. I breathed a sigh of relief as he reached over and removed the ticket from under my windshield wiper. Then He walked over to me and tore the ticket throwing the pieces in the storm sewer. I was so relieved, he had just saved me $5.00, which was money that I didn’t have.                           
      I said thank you officer, and I put my 5 cents into the meter and went back into Henry’s Auto Parts store.
      About 60 days later I received a letter in the mail from the City of New Have. I was being fined $25.00 for not paying my parking ticket.
       The lousy cop had only torn up and thrown in the gutter my half of the ticket. He obviously had turned in his half of the ticket.

The Successful Mistake Story

                                                                  The Successful Mistake Story
                                                                              Written 2017

                                          A true story about my very dear friend Barney Kaplan.   

     Back around 1970, I met Barney Kaplan, he was in the wholesale automotive parts business in Detroit Michigan.
     After WW2, Barney went into the automotive parts business driving a panel truck around looking for good deals and buying auto electrical parts.  In combination with this he opened an automotive electrical rebuilding shop located on Wabash Street in Detroit.  Barney enjoyed being in business because he loved to meet and talk to people.  
     By the time I met Barney, he was very successful having developed friends and customers all over the world.
     As Barney got older, he loved to give people unsolicited business advice. Because Barney had such a broad knowledge in automotive electrical repair and rebuilding business he felt he should disseminate this information to everyone he met. In Barney’s mind, he felt everyone could use his advice.
    What happened was, many of us took Barneys advice and used it to our advantage.  But there were also many business people that took offence to Barney’s offer of free consultation and advice, it was advice that they had not asked for.
    Barney would tell people how their factory should be designed, how the windows and lighting should be located, etc. He gave you all this consultation and advice even if you didn’t want it.  
    After many years of doing this, and as Barney got older, he sort of felt that he was the Guru to hundreds of people in the rebuilding industry.  He couldn’t wait to meet anyone to engage them in conversation.
     So to assist him in starting a conversation with someone that he had not met before, he had a saying printed on the back of his business card.  “What is a successful mistake?”      
     Naturally when people read this, they didn’t have a clue as to how to reply to Barney, and to the few that did reply, Barney always said they were wrong, and then he went into his explanation of what he thought a successful mistake was. Barney’s explanation was usually some business related thing that he felt was a successful mistake.
     Because I knew Barney so well, I heard him go through this routine many times. No matter what the people said Barney would correct them and tell them his version of what a successful mistake was.
    On occasion I would be talking to someone and Barney would approach and naturally, I would introduce Barney to them.  It wasn’t long before he handed them his business card and said “Do you know what a successful mistake is?” Barney just couldn’t wait for them to reply so he could say they were wrong and go into his explanation.
     One day I was sitting at a bar at a trade show in Chicago, I was having a conversation with one of my sharpest sales representatives, he covered the state of Texas for my company.       
      As we sat there talking, who should walk up, but my dear friend Barney Kaplan, who I immediately introduced. In a few seconds, out came Barney’s business card, and Barney turned it over so my agent could read it. Then Barney quickly asked him, “Do you know what a successful mistake is”? Barney couldn’t wait for the guy to flub the answer.
      My sales rep said, “Sure I know what a successful mistake is. It is when you meet a beautiful lady and she comes home with you. Then when you are in bed you find out she is a female impersonator, she’s a guy.
      Barney was speechless, and he never said a word. Personally I thought that was really a successful mistake and I think so did Barney.   
      After that, I noticed Barney removed “What is a successful mistake” off his business card.

The Suva Bay Fiji Story

                                                                          The Suva Bay Fiji Story               
                                                                             Written 01/04/2017
                                                                                 Howard Yasgar

                         A true story that happened on a trip to Fiji, it was a one in a million chance

     In Dec of 1993, I was talking to my good friend Neil Metcalf who was in in Brisbane Australia.
     I was in the automotive parts business in Miami and every year I would plan a trip to Taiwan to visit our suppliers there. This year Neil suggested that after my business was done in Taiwan, my wife Katherine and I should come and visit him in Brisbane Australia.
     Neil said that if we could come to Australia, he would like us to join him and his wife Roselyn on a side trip to Fiji. As Neil was also in the automotive electric business in Australia, he said that he did a bit of business in Fiji, and he also had honeymooned there when he had married Roselyn.  Neil said that he wanted to take us to the very same resort where he was married. It all sounded pretty exciting and we told Neil that we would do it.
     Now, in my business office in Miami we had a room where we kept our fax and copy machine.
     Every time I went into the room, I noticed that someone had had put up a very pleasant picture that they must have copied out of a travel magazine. The picture was on a standard piece of 8-1/2 X 11 copy paper, and they had attached it to the paneling with four pieces of scotch tape in the corners. It had been there for several years, and I couldn’t help but look at it every time I went in the room to make a copy. I thought the picture was pleasant enough, it was a tropical scene with beautiful windblown palm trees and water in the background. I had always just assumed it was a typical Florida scene.
     That office had fake wood paneling, and it always irritated me to see someone had attached the picture to the wall using scotch tape, as it always marred the paneling when you removed the picture. It bothered me so much, that one day I decided to take the picture down. So when I went to do it, it was the first time that I had really looked closely at it. To my surprise it was not a Florida picture it said “Suva Bay Fiji”.
     Wow, what a coincidence, here I was, planning a trip to Fiji. So I gently removed the picture, and yes the scotch tape lifted the color right off the paneling, and I had to touch it up with a black magic marker pen.
      I showed my wife the picture and we decided to take the picture with us to Fiji, who knows, there was possibly one chance in a million we would recognize the place where the picture was taken.                     
      Our friend Neil was a perfect tour guide, and took us everywhere, and eventually we ended up heading for a hotel in the capital city of Suva. On the way to the hotel we passed Suva bay, so I took out the picture out and held it up, but it was just a big disappointment, it was low tide and Suva bay was like a dump, just loaded with trash, with lots of old and rusty ships at the docks.
      It was nothing like the beautiful picture of swaying palm trees that I had in my hand. I got to thinking the picture was a fake, Suva bay didn’t look anything like it.
     After checking into the hotel in Suva, I decided to give it one last shot, so when we went downstairs for supper my wife and I walked over to the front desk clerk and I took out the picture and showed it to him. He studied it for about a minute and said, sure, this picture was taken to be published in a magazine. It was taken from the balcony of room 235 upstairs. The room is presently unoccupied, would you like to see it, sure, we said. He took us to the room, and we went out on the balcony with the picture in hand, and sure enough there it was, the swaying palm trees and Suva bay in the background. We had actually found it, one chance in a million, our mission was accomplished.


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Lou, and the Restaurant Scam Story

                                                         Lou, and the Restaurant Scam Story
                                                                     Written 09/210/2016
                                                                          Howard Yasgar

      Back in 1963, I had dealt in Stamford Connecticut with a fellow named Lou. Lou was a really interesting character, his main business, at the time was selling used cars, but he never passed up a deal if he could make a few bucks on it.
      I was absolutely amazed at how Lou operated. When I first met him, he had a pay telephone on the wall in his office in Stamford, and when I went to use the telephone, I noticed a string hanging out of it. Lou said, “Make your call and put in the correct amount of change. When you hear the ding a ling of the coins being accepted, pull the string and all your money will come back. I tried it and it worked. Lou said a friend of his had the telephone key, and had showed him where to attach the string.
      The more I got to know Lou, the more I observed all the crazy things he was involved in. I always wondered how he ever learned to do all these slightly illegal things that he did. I knew he couldn’t have been born with that kind of innate knowledge, but I was embarrassed to come right out and ask him who had taught him all this stuff.
       One day we were driving from Tampa to Miami Florida, and Lou started reminiscing about his youth. He said that when he was 17 years old, he had a friend who was a photographer living in Miami. Lou said he would drive from Connecticut to Miami twice a year to visit his friend, but after a couple of years, he had to stop doing it. I asked Lou why, and he said that every time he visited his friend in Miami, his friend would take him to a different and very expensive restaurant. After they had eaten their fill, his friend would double over on the floor with pain, he loudly exclaimed that there was glass or something in the food. In just a moment the manager or the owners of the restaurant would help him into the inner office and lay him on a sofa. They were all very concerned about not calling an ambulance, after all what would all the customers think with this guy screaming about having glass in the food.
     After about 30 minutes, Lou’s friend would recover, to the relief of the restaurant staff, and Lou would help him walk out to their car, during all the commotion the bill for the meal was forgotten.
     That’s how I learned about one of Lou’s teachers.

The Suede Jacket and the Slot Machine Story

                                                        The Suede Jacket and the Slot Machine Story
                                                                   Written 08/26/2016 Unedited
                                                                                Howard Yasgar

     In 1993 my wife Katherine and I decided it was time to take a vacation.
     Because we lived in Miami, it was just a hop skip and a jump to fly to Nassau in the Bahamas. It was only a ¾ of an hour flight to get there. You took off from Miami International Airport, and the next thing you knew you were in Nassau.  Once we were in Nassau we would take a cab and go over a bridge to Paradise Island. Sometimes we would stop and go under the bridge, where the conch fisherman all set up shop.  They would cut up fresh raw conch, all mixed with chopped vegetables and hot scotch bonnet peppers they would then shake it all up with lime juice in a plastic bag. Sometimes we would just sit there on the sea wall with the cab driver and have a conch salad.
     On Paradise Island we would usually stay at the brand new Grand Hotel which was right next to the Paradise Island hotel and Casino.
     By 1993, we had made this trip many times and it seems that the trip always went the same way, Katherine would call the hotel and make reservations, and she would get a confirmation number. Then we would fly over to Nassau, take a cab to Paradise Island, and approach the hotel registration desk to register. Every time we did this, the Bahamian desk clerk would give us a funny look and say they had no record of our reservation, and that was even with our confirmation number. For some reason, it seems that this happened each time we went. The desk clerk would then say they had no rooms available, and that’s when Katherine went into action and asked for a manager. Most of the time the Bahamian manager was just as bad as the desk clerk, but no matter how bad they were, after Katherine was finished with them we always got a room and sometimes a free meal thrown in.
      Now, this happened every time we went to any of the Paradise Island Hotels, so after it happened to us one or two times, I started to let Katherine go to the check in desk without me. I would pick out a comfortable chair in the lobby and wait until all the yelling and screaming was over, and then I would go to the front desk to sign in.
      This year, when we decided to go to Nassau, I looked over my wardrobe only to find that I had outgrown my
Pants and sport jacket. So my wife Katherine dragged me to the mall to get new pants and a sport jacket.
      As I looked for a sport jacket, I saw that the store had lots of Suede jackets, and as I had never owned a Suede jacket before I had to try a few on. They were really nice and very soft, but the price was much higher than I expected to spend. If I recall correctly the jacket was around $285.00, and as I never spent more than $100.00 for a jacket, I started to take the Suede jacket off. My wife gave me the evil eye, and I knew what that meant, so I bought the Suede jacket.
     Now when Katherine and I go to Paradise Island we enjoy going to the casino and playing 21. We can sit and play for hours. When we tire of playing cards, we usually get up and walk around the casino and play a few different slot machines.
      It was about 10 in the evening and the casino was full of people, Katherine and I were walking around and playing the 25 cent slot machines. As we did this, I always keep my eye on where Katherine is so I know where I can find her. That evening I looked over and I saw she was playing a slot machine and the red and white lights on the top of the machine were blinking. I walked over, and saw that the tray in the slot machine was full of quarters. Katherine said, “This is a good slot machine, I can’t lose”.  Every time she put in 3 quarters, and pulled the handle more quarters poured into the tray, bells were ringing, and lights were flashing. We wondered, could it be luck or was the machine broken. Soon the quarters were just about overflowing the machines tray. I looked for cups to put the quarters in but there weren’t any near me. So I started scooping the quarters out and putting them in my jacket pockets. As fast as I scooped the quarters out, Katherine pulled the lever and more quarter came out. It was now pretty obvious to us that the slot machine was broken. By that time, I had no more room to put any more quarters in my pockets and that’s just as well as that’s when the slot machine floor boss saw the blinking lights and came over. He looked at the tray full of quarters, and he looked at Katherine’s innocent face. Then he politely said, “Madam, I believe this machine is broken”. The fellow put his key in the machine to stop the red and white blinking lights and then he reached into the coin tray. He pushed a small handful of quarters towards Katherine,
He then pushed about 80 percent of the quarters towards the left side of the tray obviously intending to keep them for the casino. I watched as Katherine, who had now found several big paper cups, bent over and scooped his big pile of coins into the cups, leaving him with only the hand full of quarters that he had intended for her. He was kind of shocked, but never said a word, as we walked to the cashier cage to turn in our quarters.
     I emptied out all the quarters from the pockets on my new suede jacket, I must have had close to $300.00. It
was then that we noticed my pockets in the jacket were still bulging and about one inch lower than they should have been. The weight of the quarters had stretched the suede jacket pockets, and completely ruined my jacket.
     Once back in Miami, I went to a tailor, and he tried every trick in the trade to fix the pockets. It cost me another $100.00 and now the jacket was not only stretched but crooked as well, and it went right into the garbage.