EDISON AND THE FIRE COMPANY

Getting back to the gas station on Lyons and Schley, I bought a tow truck and we went into the towing repair business. We had a towing and repair business and was there for a good many years. Then came the riots in Newark. During the riots we went through heck in Newark. We had to pack up all our stuff and bring it down to Edison where we had moved because we moved from Hobson Street with the girls because my wife found a house in Edison, New Jersey on Marlin Avenue. When she took me to see this house on Marlin Avenue in Edison I said, “Where are you taking me?” I’m a city boy and this was country, it was all woods in back of us. But she liked the house and I said, “Okay if you like that house that much, we’ll buy the house.” 

We bought the house in Edison and then the riots came like I said in Newark and I had to pack up all the stuff and bring it down to Edison. We stayed away from the place for about three or four days and then when we came back, things weren’t the same. People didn’t come back. The people that were moving into the area were very abusive. I had to walk around with a .38 show the holster because the people used to come in and say, “I’m not going to pay you.” So one of the fellows that worked for us, we’d go out in twos. One boy would park the gas and one stay in front of the car. They would say, “I ain’t going to pay you.” Then you whipped the gun out, stick it in their face and then they’d pay you and they would say, “Oh, that man’s got his stuff.” Never once would they call the police. We went through a lot of robberies. We went through people stealing all the copper out of the bathrooms. We put the copper back in, they’d steal it again. Then Sunoco decided well we’ll put all plastic. They put plastic in and we weren’t giving the keys to kids. We were giving the keys to adults. There was no rhyme or reason for these people doing what they’re doing. But that’s the nature of the beast.

They also defecated in the trailers that we had. There was no reason for that. There was no way of locking them, but they did that. We opened them up and there it was. So we had to get rid of the trailers. They pulled the fence, the boards off the fence. They took the signs off the pumps. They cut the air hose. At that time people would come in and say, “Where’s your air?” I would say, “The jitterbugs.” That means young people at that time. But the hose, They understood that. That was not saying, “Oh, you don’t have the hose.” Well the jitterbugs cut it and that’s that. I would have to take the signs off the top of the pumps because if we didn’t take the signs off the top of the pumps we’d come back in the next day and there’d be no signs. 

Consequently after getting robbed so many times we decided that we had to get out of there and we found a place, well I found a place in Edison on Parsonage Road and Route 27. It was Atlantic Richfield. 

Living down in Edison and still being in Newark I was always interested in fires. I joined the Edison Volunteer Fire Company and I joined the company with Billy Gelfound. We were the two youngest people in the fire company. They taught us about firefighting, taught me how to drive. I liked it very much. I became a lieutenant, I became second lieutenant. I became assistant chief, then chief of the department and I was chief of the department for five years while I was in Edison and I had the gas station on Route 27 and Parsonage Road. The only reason that I obtained the gas station on Route 27 and Parsonage Road was that Don Yackel, who was in the fire company, said he knew that the fellows on Route 27 and Parsonage road wanted to sell the gas station.

So I said to Richie, “Let’s get out of Newark. We’ll go down to Edison.” We bought the station in Edison borrowing money from my father again because we had the station in Newark. We had to fulfill our contract in the station in Newark for the simple reason that they wanted a deposit back then. Instead of giving a cash deposit, I said “I’ll buy stock in Sunoco and you use stock.” They said, “Fine.” So I purchased stock in Sunoco which did very well and they held the stock. So if I forfeited the lease and didn’t serve out my time in the lease I would of forfeited my stock. So we had to leave after we fulfilled our lease. Richie stayed in Newark and I ran the station in Edison. Even after us leaving, I leaving for Edison, Richie was getting robbed in Newark. 

However, we stayed there, fulfilled our obligation and when we were ready to leave we had all the equipment that we had in Edison. As it was people said, “Oh, we’ll come and help you move.” Well it comes the day to move and we rented a truck and it snowed a lot and nobody showed up. So we had to leave one of the fellows that worked for us on Parsonage road and 27 in the Atlantic Station, go up to Edison and clean out the station all by ourselves. We put all the stuff in the truck and we brought it down to Edison, which was a hard job in Newark by ourself. Taking overhead grease equipment down by ourselves, tying ropes, lowering it down. Then loading it into the truck. When we got to Edison I had stopped by the fire house and a lot of guys used to hang out there, and I said, ” Fellas would you give us a hand? It snowed, we have to go up my driveway. We have to unload this truck.”

The fellas jumped in their cars and followed us up in the truck. We got to my garage at 41 Marlin Avenue East and we unloaded all the stuff in my garage. After that, Richie and I were both in Edison. We still had our tow truck and we had to pedal the equipment that I had in the garage. But fortunately enough I was able to sell stuff to distributors, advertising it and we got rid of everything. The grease equipment, all the extra jacks and horses and tools that we had we sold off. Then I was able to park the car back in the garage and I still belonged to the fire department. Right now I have 53 years in the fire department. They don’t let me stay active going into fires, but I belong to the department. I can stop traffic, keep people from going into the fire if it’s a major fire and I go to the fire. That’s basically what I do now. 

Going back to the days in Parsonage and 27, when I got here I met this woman Eleanor Jarris coming into the station and I said to her that I’d like to get the police towing for Edison. She said, “I know Tony Elencis, and my mother and I are very good friends with Tony and we’ll go down there and we’ll see him and see what he says.” So she made an appointment, and Eleanor and myself went down to see Tony Elencis, and low and behold we got the towing for the Edison Police and we got on the list. Whenever there was an accident, whether it was four o’clock in the morning, three o’clock in the morning we got the job with other fellows. It was a rotating list.

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