Friday, October 30, 2015

The Stamford Telephone Bill Story

                                                The Stamford Telephone Bill Story
                                                 A true story and how it happened
                                           Written 2013 and rewritten 10/2015 unedited
                                                               Howard Yasgar

      Back in 1961 I was attending New Haven College in Connecticut. The college had what they called a cooperative program which allowed students to attend classes in the morning and work in the afternoon, the object was to allow students to get work experience in whatever profession they were planning on going into.

      I got a part time job, working in the afternoons at Milford Auto Wrecking Company in Milford Connecticut. I did it because my chosen profession was to go into some phase of the automotive parts business. Of course all my professors thought I was crazy for working in a junk yard, because someone that wanted to be a junkman wasn’t exactly what they were expecting of their students.

      The reason I went to work for the Milford Auto Wrecking Yard in particular was because I had bought some used motors from them in the past and I really admired their operation. Not only did they take a car apart for scrap metal, but they salvaged and rebuilt lots of the parts that came off of the cars.  

      So I started out at Milford Auto Wrecking working in the afternoons cutting up automobile chassis in their steel pile. I loved it, I got to use a cutting torch, and I chopped up those car chassis as fast as I could. Every so often the guys that actually cut the chassis out of the cars would forget to remove a gas tank, and it would blow up on me while I was cutting it, sending me flying into the air, it was all great fun. Anyway, I cut up those chassis so fast that they soon promoted me to yard foreman, and I loved that too. I would remove parts from the engines by using cutting torch without damaging anything. At the time it was unheard of and my productivity was way up. Eventually one of the partners, a fellow named Lenny, promoted me to run their starter generator rebuilding shop. I liked that too as I was learning all the ins and outs of the auto wrecking business just like I wanted to.

      Lenny, after observing how fast I worked, saw that I had some free time so he asked me to help him by hauling cars from the Milford junk yard to a small holding yard he had in Stamford Connecticut. I loved that job too until I realized that all the cars I was towing were probably stolen.

      By the time I found out I was hauling stolen cars, I was ready to graduate college anyway so I resigned from my job at Milford.

       It was several months later that a former Milford employee told me that they had stopped using the holding yard in Stamford. So I thought it was my golden opportunity to go into business, and I went to Lenny and asked him to lease me the Stamford yard.

       He did lease it to me, so at the age of twenty three, and no real business experience, I set up to do business there in the Stamford yard. There were a million things to do that I never realized that I had to do. For example there was business and health insurance, and workman’s compensation. There were licenses, and deposits for the water, and for the electricity and then there was a hefty deposit for the telephone. I never realized what a headache having a telephone was.

      The junk yard had a pay phone on the wall but the phone company said they had a lot of problems in the past at that location and they wanted a one hundred dollar deposit or else no phone. Well in 1962 one hundred dollars was a lot of money, and I could hardly afford it, but I needed a phone to run a business. 

       Well, I ran the business there for over a year, and I couldn’t understand why I never made any money. Then one Sunday I brought my fiancée there to show her the business, as I rattled the gate to unlock it, people started to run and climb over the fences all around the yard, they were just like cockroaches running away. I think there must have been twenty five people all stealing parts from my yard on that Sunday. Now I knew why I wasn’t making any money there on Monday through Saturday.

     Well, that was it for me, I realized I had better get out of that business and look for something else to do, so I closed down the yard and left Stamford.

      Fortunately a friend named Lou Gladstein needed someone to temporally manage a business for him down in Miami Florida and that’s what I ended up doing for the next six months until Lou decided to close the place down.

      So by the end of 1963 I was now newly married, unemployed, and living in Hialeah Florida, and I was trying to start up a used auto parts business, and at the time. At the time, I didn’t know where my next dollar was coming from, my wife and I were living in a trailer park, renting a house trailer for twenty dollars a week.

       One day I was thinking about how I could make some money, and I had a brilliant idea, I remembered the one hundred dollar deposit I had placed with the Stamford telephone company a year or so back, so I called them up and they said I would have to send them a letter requesting the return of the deposit.

        I was very happy as one hundred dollars was still a considerable amount of money. So I sat down and formulated a very business like letter and sent it to the Stamford Phone

Company. About two weeks later I went to my post office box and there was what I thought was the refund letter.

        I carefully opened the envelope not wanting to tear the check inside, but there was no check, only a very official looking letter.

       The letter said that they wanted three hundred and eighty five dollars from me. They claimed that the money was fraudulently stolen from their telephone after I left, and they said, if I didn’t pay within thirty days they would take legal action.

       I took the letter home and very carefully resealed it with glue. I took a magic marker and wrote the following on the front of the envelope. 

        “Undeliverable, moved to Port Au Prince Haiti. Please forward this letter to general delivery Port Au Prince Haiti.”  I never heard from the Stamford Phone Company again.




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