Monday, April 21, 2014

The price they paid

January 2, 1978

Harold knew from the start he would hate the job at Capitol Airlines.
But my grandfather obsessed about money so much for so long, somehow the state for money had gotten into Harold’s blood, too.
Like his brother, my uncle Richard, Harold began a personal campaign to get as much money as he could.
The job paid well; it just wasn’t enough.
Yet in his position, he knew he could raise money in a different way. He was, however, concerned about getting caught.
Grandpa had survived the scandal in 1944 by the war’s end a year later and the nation’s desire to put it all behind – Grandpa hadn’t been the worst of the profiteers who tried to capitalize on materials. Grandpa had tried to horde construction materials that should have gone into the war effort. The Great Depression had hit our family hard, and he saw this as a way to finally come out on top.
His mother, Jenny, saw things differently and turned him in.
The government apparently saw that he had a large family to feed and agreed to let him go if he gave up in cash what he had gotten from the sale of material.
Harold had a similar problem. He didn’t have to worry about his mother spying him, but rather other workers. He wasn’t to work at the airport alone.
How he got connections to sell the goods smuggled in, he never said. But he was convinced that “they” who oversaw the whole thing only took him on because they might be able to pin it all on him later if things went wrong.
There were other drawbacks, he didn’t talk much about.
He did his job as an airport security officer, checking those things that came in to make certain that the special packages got diverted before they got inspected.
Why he sometimes came back to the house with his eyes glued shut from being beaten, I didn’t understand until years later, and his had nothing to do, he said, with what he did at the airport.
And those that did this to him later paid a hefty price.
After all, he said, he a valuable man, he was connected. Those others at the bar who didn’t like his being gay should not have waited for him outside, should not have hit him.

What price they paid, Harold never said. 

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