This is Local638Records.
My dad used to call his work clothes, “tights”. Like Superman wore tights.
He’d leave our house in Closter, NJ before dark and hop a bus for NY Port Authority. “It’s the only city in the world, Goils”. “Nuttin’ like it”. He’d say to us.
He went across the George Washington Bridge before dawn.
He lived for fitting pipes. He broke all 10 fingers twice. And he loved a Rob Roy or a Manhattan when the day was over. (My sister and I would literally become a cloud of cartoon-style brawl dust at the bar, complete with stars and birds shooting out of it, fighting over who got the booze soaked Marashino cherry). That cherry meant favorite kid, but we knew were equal. Dad always made sure the bartender dropped in extras.
Born in 1935 he had a depression-era work ethic. Strong and get-up, never a complaint.
He was hilarious, fun, a man of his word, and a hater of loose handshakes. Dad never let an American Flag touch the ground and thought Freddie Mercury was the greatest “male” singer of all time. He was master of the one-liner, so beautifully & terribly flawed, and our epic father.
Yet above all, he was a New York City Steamfitter in Local 638.
A proud, dues paying, union member since the spring of 1960.
Dad always said he was lucky to find a career that inspired and challenged him, that he was good at, where he “could make a decent buck”. And would ultimately enjoy a lifestyle of Turner Classic Movies, salad bar blue-cheese, and Jewish Rye slices with 40 butter pads a piece.
He would also, “take shit from nobody”.
2001 He was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer and wanted to be with his girls, so he left everything he knew in Jersey and came to Seattle so we could be together.
He brought his WWII books, a cane, some comfortable sweatshirts, and our “pottery”. Lopsided kid art rendered in clay, and some plaster of Paris “hand-turkeys” that Sarah and I fashioned in elementary school. These were of Ming Dynasty value to him, and he packed them for the 3000 mile trip in extra padding.
The last several years sharing a home with him were the most important of my life thus far. In the spectacular last hours of his life April 6th, 2008, he began to fit pipes that weren’t there. Lying in his bed he moved his hands back and forth, as if tightening a U joint. He asked my sister for a wrench, she handed him an invisible one, and he started tightening until it was good.
Then he ordered a round of drinks for everyone and got the best table.
Some say before we die, our mind goes to where we’re most happy.
Or maybe felt the most useful. Or safe.
For my dad? Who I know rarely felt truly safe unless with his girls, he went to work. Pronounced in NYC Steamer, “woik”.
Welcome to Local 638 Records. The place where I woik. Where I ride the bus at daybreak, for better or for worse.
This place is where my two home states meet, bridging that ever-pesky strip of land between Jersey and Washington.
The music I help create with amazing people is showcased here. Something that drives me, and that I am compelled to do because I can. This is our Union.
I look forward to many years of making people laugh, and singing along with the Jukebox.
Owner, Local 638 Records LLC