Sunday, January 27, 2008

Al Hackman 1/27/2008

A Partially True Story About Jim Altman
I used to park cars with Jim Altman, when we both worked for HDO Productions. This was probably in our Junior and Senior years of High School.
I remember working with Jim twice (or so I'll claim) although it was so long ago I'm not really sure.
For the sake of the story, I'll stipulate that I'm exaggerating a little and call it one night. It was in the middle of winter, and we were parking cars at the Anixter's house. There was some kind of big, fancy party going on there, and the adults were dressed to the nines. There must have been fifty guests or more.
Well, we had the not-so-tough assignment of parking (and driving) some great old American cars. I'm talking about Cadillacs, Pontiacs, Chryslers, Lincolns and Buicks. Big gas guzzlers, made in the U. S. of A. back in the day. We were wearing red vests, freezing our asses off (although, now that I think of it, it might really have been summer). Jim was the ringleader, I was just a disciple of his. Jim knew way more about real life than I, and I looked up to him. He may have been one of the only guys I knew from Highland Park who knew how to smoke and drink with great panache. Like an old time movie star, he was. Suave, that's what he was.
Mrs. A came out at one point, slurring and weaving as she walked, and invited us into the kitchen so we could get something to eat with "the help." I'm talking about black people, in case there's any doubt about who "the help" was in those days. So Jim and I went into the kitchen and stuffed ourselves with whatever the guests were having. And Scott eventually came in to say hi and said we may as well have a few drinks while we were at it. Man, we got hammered. I guess no one gave much thought to driving drunk back then. I know we didn't.
We got tips of as much as $5 at the end of the night from couples whose cars we were more than a little thrilled to be parking and driving--and drive them we did. We would typically take them for a little spin around whatever block (or blocks) were nearby. Use your imagination. I think we were on or near Sheridan Road, but I'm thinking back more than forty years, and I've already asked for poetic license.
When the night ended we counted up our money, comparing notes about who was or wasn't a great tipper. Jim probably had more. Ater all, he knew how to drive stick and I didn't.
So, Jim was a role model for me. Like a big brother. He was one of the many guys from H. P. who helped explain the facts of life to me. Now that I think of it, he looked like the cat who ate the canary. What a grin he had!
From what I can tell, we were lucky and privileged to have grown up where and when we did. I feel the same way about having known Jim--and many others of you as well.
I never saw Jim again after graduation. I hope his pockets were stuffed with cash when he died.


Ed Orlowsky said...

Al,good story! Jim was truly a good guy, not to mention his many talents!

Unknown said...

I hope I don't have to write one for you, Ed. I'd rather die first.