Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Haiti Paintings Story

                                                   The Haiti Paintings Story
                                            A true story of when I was in Haiti
                                     Written 2010 and rewritten 02/2016 unedited
                                                          Howard Yasgar

       In 1967, I had an automotive supply company located in Miami Florida. A large portion of our business was selling to the Caribbean as well as Central and South America.
     We always had quite a few customers come to us from the island of Hispanola. The island was one third Haiti and the other two thirds was the Dominican Republic.
      I had never really had the opportunity to visit any of our customers in Haiti until a good friend of mine called me in 1967 and requested that I come to Haiti to assist him in removing the railroad there.
      So in 1967 I went to Haiti, and while I was there, tending to the railroad business, I had the opportunity to visit with many of the customers that I had been doing some parts with for many years.
      On one trip to Haiti I brought along a good friend and business associate, his name was Paul Sherlock. Paul was one of my suppliers in Miami, and I thought it would be a good idea to introduce Paul to my customers in Haiti.
      One of my better customers was a Haitian fellow named Alex that I knew had a business located somewhere in downtown Port au Prince Haiti.
       When we went there, I was very surprised to see that he had a nice two story concrete building. On the first floor he had a long parts counter where he sold auto parts to the local walk in type customers.
      As we entered his building I noticed that it was difficult to walk up to his parts counter, as he had rows of local primitive art paintings of all sizes that were leaning up against the counter. Each row had around a dozen unframed paintings of assorted sizes from about 36 inches square down to about 12 inches square.
       I recognized the style of paintings immediately, as they were all the kind of Haitian paintings you would see where ever there were Haitian artists selling to tourists. I knew they were called Haitian primitive art, as the style was exactly that, primitive.
      Many of the paintings depicted Haitian farm life, they were all very colorful, but they were certainly not anything I would hang in my own house.
      The owner of the business, Alex, had an office on the second floor of the building, with the office having a large picture window overlooking the parts counter on the first floor, so he spotted us right away.
      Alex recognized me immediately, and came downstairs with his arms open to greet us, I introduced Paul, and Alex wanted to show us his entire operation.
      Alex walked us around his entire building, and there was no question he was running a good business.
      Once we were downstairs again and getting ready to say our good by’s, I asked Alex what he was doing with all the Haitian paintings leaning against his parts counter. He said what we saw in rows there was nothing, he had plenty more, and he told us how he got them.
      Alex said that Haiti had a lot of itinerant artists, they were guys that liked to paint pictures mostly depicting life in Haiti, although there were some painters that painted more traditional things. Because these artists had no money, they would paint on anything they could find, some painted on pieces of wood and some used stretched flour sacks.
      He said that many of the artists would do a painting on Monday morning, then they would spend the entire week trying to sell it to the tourists. If by Friday they hadn’t sold the painting, they came to Alex, and he gave them $2.00 for each painting.
     With the $2.00 the artists would buy some food and a bottle of cheap rum. They would get drunk and sleep until Monday morning when they would paint another painting.
     What a story, that was, so I looked over the paintings, and some of them I thought were pretty good. I wondered if there was a market in Miami to sell this kind of art.
      I suggested to Alex that I would like to try selling the art in Miami, so I took out $100.00 and gave it to him. I said when you get a chance send about 50 of the paintings to me collect by Air Haiti, Alex said he would do it.
      About 30 days later I received a call from Air Haiti telling me there was a shipment that had arrived for my company, so my partner Don and I immediately got in my car and drove over to Air Haiti.
      There, behind their building, sitting on the tarmac was a giant bundle bigger than my car. It was a bundle completely wrapped in sisal matting and tied with sisal cord every which way. It looked like a package coming out of the jungle somewhere.
      I knew what it was, so I paid the freight bill and we proceeded to slice it open and see what Alex had sent us.
      Not only had he sent the paintings, but he sent hand carved wooden picture frames to fit each one, so we loaded up the car and ended up making four trips to get all the paintings back to our building.
       I was very excited, but my partner Don wasn’t so excited, he was never excited about anything coming from Haiti
       I called Alex in Haiti and asked why he sent frames, he said they only cost him $2.00 ea and he thought it was a good idea. So he sent them. I spent the rest of the week nailing the pictures into the frames.
       I didn’t have a clue as to how t0o sell the Haitian paintings in Miami, so I opened up the yellow pages in the phone book and looked under the headings “Art”, “Paintings”, etc. I made a list of people and started making phone calls.
      My god, I had never heard so many negative people in my life. “No they said, no one wants, Haitian art, they were too tropical. They said, no one wants primitive black art, and no they wouldn’t come over and look at them.
     After about ten or twelve calls I gave up making calls.
     All the art experts in Miami, said I did a dumb thing, they said that the paintings were worthless, only a tourist in Haiti would want to buy one.
     I called Alex in Haiti and told him the bad news, I think he already knew.
     The paintings stood there in our building, and for weeks we had to walk around them where ever we went in the building, and my partner Don gave me the evil eye every time he tripped on one.
     One day the wife of our next door neighbor came in, she said she loved a big flower oil painting we had. She asked how much it was and I said $20.00. She couldn’t move fast enough to buy it.
     Next she brought in a friend and she bought a ship painting for $20.00.
     The next day some city inspector came in and started to give us a hard time about some license and eventually he asked about a painting, so I gave him one and he left.  
      It took me about 6 months but I sold or gave away almost every painting, they were finally all gone except a small one that I think was painted on a piece of pressed wood out of a TV set.
      After calculating all the costs and the air freight and everything else, I have to admit it was a big waste of time and loss of money. It was a waste of time because it was 1967.
      Go in a Haitian or primitive art gallery today, those bright Haitian paintings start at $1000.00 ea. I even recognized the name of some of the painters. It was the same stuff all the art critics in Miami didn’t even want to look at in 1967.


The Cuban Crazy House Story

                                                               The Cuban Crazy House Story
                                         A true story written 10/2010 and rewritten 02/2016 unedited
                                                                         Howard Yasgar

      Back in October of 1980 the Mariel Boat lift took place.
      Fidel Castro had decided to allow anyone who wanted to leave Communist Cuba to leave, it seemed like quite a humanitarian gesture on his part.
      However, Castro, being a pretty clever fellow, also emptied out his prisons and Cuba’s mental institutions, allowing everyone to leave Cuba for the United States, all at the same time.
      For companies like mine, located in Miami, it was an excellent opportunity for us to hire employees as all the Cubans arriving needed jobs, so our company which was located in Miami took advantage of this unique opportunity to hire a few of them.
      Besides from Cubans looking for jobs, many of the refugee’s that arrived in Miami started their own small businesses, and some of them started purchasing automotive parts from us.
      One day one of our new Cuban customers came by, and I took him for a walk around our company to acquaint him of what we did. As we walked around I saw that he had focused his eyes on one of our employees.
      As he was leaving the customer said to me, “You should be very careful,” I asked why, he said, “When I was in Cuba I once visited the insane asylum which he referred to as the “Casa de Los Loco’s” or crazy house. He said he recognized one of our employee’s named Jorge as being a patient in the insane asylum there.
      I told him that we had not had any problems with Jorge, but I appreciated him telling me.
      About two days later I was approached by the employee Jorge, who said that he saw me showing a new customer around the company.  Jorge said, “I want to warn you, please watch out for him, once when I was in Cuba, I had visited the insane asylum and I recognized that fellow, he was a patient there.”  


The "Is Someone Listening" Story

                                                                   The  "Is Someone Listening" Story

                                                               A true miracle and how it happened
                                                    Written 9/2015 and rewritten 02/2016 unedited
                                                                              Howard Yasgar

       In 1958, when I was nineteen years old, I was living in Westville Connecticut, and I had a very close friend named Jon.
      Jon lived about 20 miles up the road from me in Bethany Connecticut.
      Both Jon and I were car enthusiasts and got along well together, Jon had a liking for the 1957 Ford hot rods that were built for the Connecticut State Police. He had one and we would go to upstate New York, stopping at road houses to take on anyone that wanted to race.
       On day, Jon came to see me and told me that he was getting married. It was quite a shock as I realized I was now losing my good racing buddy.
       After Jon married, I tried to go and see him a couple of times but I detected that Jon’s wife didn’t appreciate him associating with his unmarried former old racing buddies.
       Time passed quickly, and for me, the army came and went, and then in 1963 I moved to Miami Florida.
      By 1963, I had pretty much had lost track of my old friend Jon, but I never forgot about him, so over the next 52 years, whenever I happened to think about Jon, I would punch his name into Google, but it appeared my friend Jon had simply disappeared off the grid, I hoped Jon hadn’t died, so I never gave up looking.
      Over those 52 years I faxed a few people that had the same name, and I sent e-mails to perhaps a dozen more, but with no luck, so by the year 2015 I had pretty much come to the realization I wasn’t ever going to find my old friend Jon.  
      Then a strange thing happened, Out of the blue, I received a Facebook inquiry from a lady in Canada who I had met more than fifty years before. She reminded me that she had known Jon, and best of all she knew Jon’s middle name and she said that she thought Jon had moved to Texas.
      Well that narrowed the field down, it also got my wife interested in helping me to find Jon.
      My wife sat down with her computer, and by using Jon’s first, middle and last name she hoped that by triangulation we would find him, but she didn’t find him. What she did find was a divorce recorded in Texas and Jon’s former wife’s phone number was there.
      My wife asked me if I wanted to call Jon’s ex-wife, but I hesitated, the last thing I wanted was to hear a tirade of bad things from a vindictive former wife.
       Eventually I couldn’t help myself and I called his former wife’s phone number. Luckily her new husband answered, and he listened to my story. He said that he had no idea of how to reach Jon, but he said he had a phone number of a relative that I could try.
      The next day was Sunday, and at eleven in the morning, I called the phone number, but sadly it was some ones answering machine so I left a message.
       We returned from doing our errands around three in the afternoon and there was a message on my wife’s cell phone.
       I returned the call, and low and behold after fifty two years it was Jon. So we must have talked for half an hour. Jon said that he had no computer or cell phone so that might be why it was so hard to find him.
      Then Jon said, “I can’t believe that you called me today, I know it’s been over fifty years, since we last saw each other, but every morning when I wake up I always say a little prayer, and this morning I mentioned in my prayer the names of two of my neighbor friends here in Texas, but for some unknown crazy reason I mentioned your name also.
      Jon paused, and I said, do you think someone’s listening?



The Canadian Fishing Trip Story

                                                                   The Canadian Fishing Trip Story
                                                             A true story about a simple fishing trip     
                                                  Written 01 1010 and rewritten 09/05/2015 unedited
                                                                                 Howard Yasgar

        In 1991, I was doing business with a company in Detroit called Barney Kaplan Surplus.
        One day, Barney, who was the owner of the company as well as my friend, called me up, and said that he had a customer, who had just bought a fishing lodge somewhere up in Ontario Canada.
       Barney said, the customer had just invited him to come to visit his fishing lodge, and he made it all sound very exciting.
       The fellow told Barney the weather was beautiful in Ontario and they were catching lots of lake trout. So when Barney heard that, he called me up right away and he suggested that we go up to Ontario and stay at his customers fishing lodge, and catch lake trout.
       Barney said he would take his son Jerry and I should take my son Jack along, he knew that my son, Jack, who was twenty two years old was working with me, would probably enjoy the trip.
      He was right, when I told my son Jack, he thought the whole trip sounded exciting, as we had never been lake trout fishing in Canada before.
       So after we discussed it, my son and I went out right away and bought new, take apart fishing rods and also a special plastic carrying cases for them.
       My son and I, were to meet Barney and his son Jerry at the airport in Chicago, where we would all catch a plane to some place called “Red Lake” in Ontario Canada.
       Barney said his friend told him that he would make all the arrangements for us to get to his place once we landed in Red Lake.
       I got our tickets, and we left Miami to meet Barney and his son at the Chicago Airport, where they were flying in from Detroit.
       Everything went just as planned, I had assumed that Barney had everything pretty well organized to get us to the fish camp once we were in Red Lake.
      At the time neither my son nor I knew the name of the fishing camp we were going to, we just assumed that Barney knew where it was, only, that it was somewhere near a place called Red Lake in Ontario.
       We arrived at the Red Lake Ontario airport, and as we waited for our luggage Barney went to talk to a cab driver. As he did that, I walked over and I saw that Barney had a folded brochure in his hand which he gave to the cab driver.
       What’s happening, I asked, “Nothing”, Barney said, “The cab driver will take us to an airfield where my friend has arranged for a small plane to pick us all up. Barney’s friend had said it was merely a hop skip and a jump, from Red Lake to his fish camp. I saw that the cab driver nodded, and he said he knew exactly where to take us.
       We all piled into the cab and the cabby drove us out of town to what looked like a grassy airstrip that was next to a lake. It was all pretty rustic looking country.
       As we all got out of the cab waiting for the airplane to arrive, I saw there was an old antique float plane sitting by the dock at the lake,  so while we waited, I walked down to the dock to look at the plane.
     On one of the float pontoons someone had written “DHC2 Beaver”, wow, I realized that it was an antique De Haviland Beaver, De Haviland used to name all their planes after animals, and they were used a lot in WW2, but that was a long time ago and most of the planes have been scrapped by now or put in a museum somewhere.
       I walked back to the cab and asked Barney how long before his friends plane arrived, Barney said, “Don’t worry, my friend told me, he would have his company pilot come and pick us up any moment”.
       I saw that the cab driver was looking around, and eventually he looked at me and said, “You can never depend on these bush pilots”. I said, what do you mean Bush pilot? I had never expected to be flying anywhere with a bush pilot it sounded scary.
       About a half hour later, a fellow came walking out of the woods, heading towards us. The cab driver said, “Here comes the pilot”.
      I was a little shocked when I saw him, this guy was not a pilot. He looked like a lumberjack. He had mud caked, lace up boots, heavy work pants and a plaid heavy duty jacket. He also had a beard about a foot long and he had a stupid looking pull over wool cap.
      He asked us if we were the fishing guys, and Barney said yes. Barney handed him the brochure he had taken back from the cab driver.
      I really had to look the guy over a second time, he sure didn’t look like any pilot to me.
      Then the fellow pointed towards that old Beaver float plane. Well, at that point there was really nothing I could say, so we all carried everything down to the plane, and as I had long legs, I climbed into the passenger’s seat. The pilot loaded the bags, then he got in and fiddled around with some switches and started the plane’s engine. There was a lot of smoke and a lot of noise. Everything in the plane looked very old and worn out, so I just closed my eyes as he taxied out into the lake and took off.
      Barney, Jerry and my son jack were sitting right behind me. I only opened my eyes when I heard the pilot say, “Where are you guys going?”
       How could he possibly ask us where we were going, didn’t he know, so I waited for Barney to answer but there was no immediate answer. Then Barney said, “I don’t know where we are going, we have never been here before, don’t you recognize the fish camp name that’s on the brochure I gave you”.
      The pilot said, “No, never heard of it, there are a million fishing camps up here in Canada. Then the pilot turned to me, and said, “You mean to tell me you guys don’t know where we are going”.
      Here we were in the sky flying and I couldn’t believe the conversation that was going on.
      I looked out the window, we were flying over what looked like endless tundra, and it all looked the same as far as my eyes could see in every direction. I tried squinted my eyes, but there was no sign anywhere of a house or human being.
      As I forlornly sat there looking out the planes window, the Beaver’s nose started dropping. The pilot
reached above and the engines picked up speed and the nose came up, I had that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, how did I let myself get talked into this?  About every five minutes the nose dipped and the pilot revved the plane’s engines to bring her back up. Thinking we would soon be crashing, I looked at the floor it had mud all over it, and I saw that there was what was left of a folded map laying under the pilots muddy boot.
     Barney yelled loudly over the engine noise and told the pilot the fishing camp owner’s name, and he said the guy drove a black and white Chevrolet Blazer.  I was thinking, if that’s all the information Barney had I was preparing for doom, I could see it all now, Miami man and son lost flying in old antique De Haviland airplane deep in Ontario wilderness.
      As we droned on, it seemed like hours were passing, and I was now preparing myself for the pilot to tell us any moment that we were out of gas and going to crash land.
      That’s what I was thinking, when all of a sudden the pilot was pointing downward, I looked out of my window and there was a Black and white Chevy Blazer.
       The pilot circled the area three times, after the third go around, I asked him if he was going to land.  “Yes he said, but you should help me look for rocks in the water, if we ever hit one while landing it’s the end.”
       The plane taxied up to the dock. We tied up and several young fellows came down to take our luggage.
      We walked up to the main building where Barney’s friend was so happy to see us, I could understand why, as we were the only customers there.
      That night we had a fried fish supper and were given a cabin in the woods with a pot belly stove. We looked the stove over but no one wanted to chop wood and it wasn’t cold enough to use it, so we just unpacked our suitcases.
      Barney said he had brought an extra pair of long johns just in case it got cold. He said they were the real original long johns complete with the trap door rear. No one volunteered, so he asked my son Jack if he wanted to put the long johns on, but Jack, coming from Florida, had never seen long johns before and said he wouldn’t ever consider wearing such a ridiculous thing.
      I think it was about four in the morning, we were all awake and it was freezing cold and that’s when my son Jack put on Barney’s long johns, Barney never forgot about that and he always reminded me about it.   
      In the morning we were assigned several young Canadian college students as fishing guides, and they took us fishing for Northern Pike, even though we wanted lake trout.
      After I had caught two or three big Pike, I told the guides that I wanted to take some back to camp to filet up to bring to Miami.
      I already knew that the guides were all young nature loving college kids, and this was probably their first job they ever had, but that’s when they really pissed me off.
     They referred to all the big Northern Pike we had caught as “Snakes” and one said to me, if you can afford to pay to come up here to fish, you can afford to buy your own fish at home.
     Later that day the guides stopped along the way and we caught some Walleye, which they said that they would cook up for lunch for us.  
     They stopped at a campfire site fire place, and they took out a three foot wide cast iron frying pan and threw in a one pound hunk of lard. When the lard melted they started filleting the Walleye and removing the skin. Barney, whose father was once a fishmonger said, “Hey fellows, leave the skin on the fish that’s where all the flavor is”. The young guides who I am sure didn’t know their ass from their elbow, looked at Barney like they wanted to kill him. They eventually cooked a few pieces with the skin on to please Barney. Barney was right, his fish tasted better, but I don’t think those young kids learned anything.  Barney later said, “These Canadian kids are all morons, and they don’t know what they are doing, anything they put in the frying pan with so much lard would taste good, even a piece of wood.
     The next day Barney and I took out a boat by ourselves to try catching Lake trout. It was cold as hell and nothing was biting, Barney, in his usual  good humor, took out a small dried kosher salami that he had in his pocket and put a chunk of it on the fish hook, but it didn’t help.
      I have to admit it was an interesting fishing trip, but we never saw one lake trout, but I did pack up some Northern Pike fillets to take home to Miami, it was awful, I should have listened to the guides.
      I don’t think my son Jack or I will ever forget that Canadian fishing trip, nor will I ever forget my dear friend Barney, He died in 2014 at 96 years of age.



The Guano Smuggling Story

                                                                The Guano Smuggling Story
                                                           A true story that happened in Haiti
                                                        Written 1/2010 and rewritten 1/2015
                                                                           Howard Yasgar

      In 1963, I was living in Miami Florida when I received a phone call from an old friend named Lou
      Lou had moved to the country of Haiti, and he wanted me to fly there as soon as possible to
Help him with a project, at the time I knew that there was a country called Haiti, but I didn’t exactly know where it was, I was soon to find out all about it.
     Once I arrived in Haiti, my friend Lou and his wife Gladys picked me up at the Francois Duvalier airport and we drove up into the mountains to an area called Fermathe, where they were renting a beautiful home from a Dr. Fritz Cineas.
     Once we were there at the house, my friend Lou told me all about why he needed me to help him, it seems that he had purchased the entire Haitian railroad and he needed my help to disassemble and sell it. I agreed to help Lou, and I stayed at their house for a few days discussing the project.
      In Haiti, in the evenings, it was customary to have friends come by for a cup of local coffee, or a drink of rum and conversation, so one evening, Lou’s wife invited a friend over for supper. His name was Doctor Marc Bulliet.  Mark was a tall, light skinned, distinguished looking Haitian fellow.
      Lou’s wife had said she liked Marc a lot because he was an interesting guy, Lou jokingly told me that Marc was a bit of a story teller and probably worked for the C.I.A.
      One evening over coffee, Mark said he was Haiti’s chief archeologist, and he showed me a business card to that effect. There was no question that I found Marc to be a very interesting and entertaining fellow. Besides from telling me that he was the chief archeologist in Haiti, it appears that he got involved in all sorts of interesting projects and side deals. Actually I think it was best to say that Marc was always getting involved in anything that he could make a dollar off.
       Marc liked the fact that I was interested in getting involved with some of the deals he was talking about with me, and believe me there were plenty to choose from.
       Later that same evening Mark asked me if I ever had heard about Guano, and I told him that I had read that Guano or bat droppings was one of the best fertilizers to be had. I knew that it was very high in Nitrogen which made it ideal as a fertilizer. Marc was overjoyed that he had finally found someone that knew what Guano was.
      Marc said that he had discovered a big cave in Haiti that was loaded with guano. He said the cave was in a very remote location, but the Guano could be dug up, bagged and brought to the capitol of Port Au Prince in Haiti by burro. Marc wanted me to team up with him and sell the Guano in the United States.
     Well, never having tried selling Guano, I didn’t know, if I could, so Marc said if I stopped by his office in downtown Port Au Prince, he would have some samples for me that he had already prepared, and I could take them back to Miami.
      Mark said that he had already had an official chemical analysis done on the stuff, and I could use that information to help to sell the Guano.
      The next day, Lou drove me down to Marc’s office in Port au Prince so I could get the samples before I left Haiti.
       I found Marc’s office to be done in a very old French style, with tall rounded top doors leading to the noisy streets of Port Au Prince, but the office was clean and uncluttered. On Marc’s desk, he had already prepared several beautiful samples for me. It appeared that he had obtained some soft gray, three inch wide vinyl tubing, and he had made it into pouches about eight inches long. Each pouch had the Guano’s chemical analysis neatly typed on the gray vinyl. It appeared that the ends of each pouch had been stapled shut with a simple office stapler. I opened my attache case and found that six of his vinyl pouches nested in it perfectly.
      I left that morning on an Air Haiti flight to Miami, and upon entering the Miami International Airport customs area, I went directly to the line for returning American citizens.
     The airport was crowded and noisy, but the line moved quickly. When the customs officer asked me to open my attache case, I simply placed it on the inspection table, unclicked the latches and opened it.
      It seemed like suddenly the entire airport was silent, there wasn’t a sound to be heard. It was so quiet that I’m sure you could have even heard a pin drop, it appeared that everyone in the airport was staring at the neatly placed vinyl pouches of Guano in my attache case.
      I think no one in the room could believe it, they must all have thought that U.S. Customs had just caught a cocaine smuggler, and a really dumb one at that.
      Suddenly there were six agents around me. The agent in front said, “And what may I ask is that?” That’s Guano I said, looking him in the eye. “I’m sure it is”, he replied, “But it looks like drugs to me,”
      They gently picked up my attache case and marched me to a glass walled office, where the Chief Customs officer sat. They placed my attache case on his desk and said something to him. I saw his eye brows lift as he pointed to a chair for me.
       “What do we have here he said?” I said they are all packages of Guano fertilizer, the analysis is typed on each pouch, but I could see he didn’t believe me.
      He sat there deliberating with his finger to his lips. He placed a sheet of white paper on his desk and removed one of the pouches. He gently removed the staples from the end of the pouch, with a letter opener, and a grayish granulated powder came out. I could tell this was going to get serious, as the Chief wetted his finger with his tongue, he was going to taste the powder.
      Again he said, “What did you say this was, and where did it come from?” I said I came from Haiti Sir, and it’s a fertilizer called Guano, you know “Bat shit”. He immediately withdrew his finger, and decided against tasting it, he sat back, thought for a minute and then told me to take my stuff and get out of there. I think everyone in the airport was watching me leave.
      So as not to leave you guessing, the next week I made several phone calls to golf courses and fertilizer distributors. I got the same story from every one, I was about fifty years too late with trying to sell Guano. It used to be popular, but now commercial fertilizers are available, they can be made to order and done very cheap. Oh well, I couldn’t sell the Guano but at least I got a good story out of it.


Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Inflationary Hot Dog Story

                                                                The Inflationary Hot Dog Story
                                                     Written 8/2015 and rewritten 02/2016 unedited
                                                                              Howard Yasgar

       Inflation is an interesting thing to watch, most people don’t even realize that it is happening.
       I think that everyone realizes that houses and cars now cost more than they used to. But no one seems to notice the small price changes that are happening all around us every day. They are the things that are bound to happen as companies try to keep making the same amount of profit but giving customers less product, but also making you think you are getting what you are used to be getting.  
       Take a look at any frozen food that we used to take for granted were in a 1 pound package, you may be surprised to find that many are now only 14 ounces.
       I assume that everyone notices that the cans of soup are getting smaller, but the prices are the same or even increasing. You would think most people would stop buying them, but, it appears most people don’t seem to mind it
       I must admit, that it bothered me, it bothered me so much that I boycotted the small cans of soup and bought only the normal size ones. That was until I opened a large can of tomato soup only to find it was tomato flavored water, and not really soup. Rather than downsize the manufacturer cheapened the product.
      I was also keeping watch on the containers of yogurt, they all seemed to be shrinking in size right before my very eyes, I have no doubt that pretty soon the containers will have only one tablespoon of yogurt in in the cup, but it won’t stop the manufacturers from raising the prices, that’s called inflation.
     What made me think about the problem of inflation, was hotdogs.
     When I was younger hotdogs were on every restaurant’s menu, just like grilled cheese sandwiches,
Then sometimes in the 1970’s, all of a sudden hotdogs just seemed to disappear off restaurant menus, and for about the next 25 to 40 years you could hardly find one on a restaurant menu.  I assumed there was a good reason for this, I think it was inflation. Because of the higher cost of doing because, no one could afford to sell such a cheap item like the hotdog. Restaurants needed to sell things that make a profit and selling hotdogs just wasn’t profitable.
       Please don’t misunderstand me, you could always find hotdogs in the supermarket and make them at home, but they never tasted the same.  When I looked, I just couldn’t find hot dogs in most restaurants. After all how much money can you make on a hot dog. Even if a restaurant charged $2.00 for a hotdog and they made $1.50 profit, what can you do with $1.50 profit, and making that $1.50 didn’t include the restaurants cost of mustard and ketchup, Chopped onions, and washing the stained tablecloth.
      Now I wondered, what made me ever think about writing about a hotdog in the first place, well it was because the other day I did see one on a restaurant menu for $5.95, and I just read in January of 2016, that Burger King was putting them on the menu for $5.95 each.   
      I remembered back in 1950 when I was eleven years old, my father took me to a local White Castle restaurant, it was located on Crown Street in Down town New Haven Connecticut. I always remember that restaurant because the local street people always went there for a cup of bean soup.
      Well the evening my father took me there, there were several local homeless people sitting at the counter with their cup of soup. My dad found us seats at the end of the counter and he ordered us two of the most delicious hot dogs I had ever tasted. They were boiled New Haven hotdogs on a steamed bun with chili sauce poured over it, and mustard and chopped white onions on top. (I understand that you can still buy them in Detroit). We sat at that White Castle counter, savoring our dogs with the beef chili sauce running down our chins.
       That was until the waiter brought the handwritten bill to my father. I could see the expression on his face change as he studied it. Then he said, “30 cents, how the hell do they get the nerve to charge me .30 cents apiece for a hot dog.  He turned around in his seat and pointed out the front plate glass window and said, “Do you see that street corner over there, well when I was your age, I sold newspapers right there, on that very corner, and I came here every night for a hotdog, and the hotdog only cost me  5 cents each.
      Well if my dad were still around, and he was upset with the hotdog price of .30 cents back in 1950, I would tell him that was inflation even back then.
      What would my dad say now if he saw a hotdog at $5.95?