I was sailing engineless down the northeast coast in winter when my grandfather was put on hospice. I knew he’d want me to keep going with my sailing hustle…
My grandfather was an OG hustler. It’s where I got it from. He could sell literal ideas. His first self directed gig was during the Great Depression as a kid in Brooklyn. His grandmother ran a card room and he would sit under the table with his little brother, Donnie, and collect any chips that were dropped. During adolescence, he kept some raw dough in his pocket from the neighboring bakery and sold “feels” to his schoolmates. The claim? They felt like tits.
His father, Irving, spent too much time at the races and later his brother would join him there–meanwhile the three of them were supposed to be running a family business and my grandmother was pregnant still back in Germany. My grandma kept my pop’s shoes as a promise that he would come back. They met after she had escaped communist Germany and made it into Berlin. He was stationed there in the Air Force. My grandma was working as a cocktail waitress and didn’t know English, but pop knew some German.
Pop’s job in the service at that time was in the mailroom. He would take the train to France and bring back hashish and then push it to his comrades through the internal mail delivery system. “He was like the mayor,” my grandma said.
Back in the states now with his young family, he worked for Kraft Foods. Driving the company car one time on the famous Tappan Ze Bridge overlooking New York City, he crashed. It almost all ended right there.
He told me once that the pressure from all the hustle, after all that time, made him an angry man. And that he let that anger smolder for years until something inside of him had to change. And it did. Though he was never perfect, nor did he claim to be.
Later, he moved on to sell insurance. And eventually, industrial supplies. Which would drive him into retirement, on a mountain, where he lived the life of a yogi and died a legend.
*some details in this story may be incomplete*
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