It was Brooklyn...the late 70"s. Far removed from hipster renown that it enjoys today, it was the place that gave us Coney Island, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Dodgers and great pizza. It was the setting for unforgettable films like “Saturday Night Fever”, “Dog Day Afternoon”, “The French Connection” and “The Warriors”.
If you can remember the characters and scenarios depicted in these movies, you'll have a good idea of what it was like to experience the borough in that period. It had its' own unique dynamic and was an exciting place to work.
He was one of the driver/ground-hands in our shop. I never really got to know him. He pretty much kept to himself. A definite Brooklyn personality, especially of that era; he was a body builder (which was not as widely accepted a practice as it is today) and worked as a bouncer at clubs on the side. Although not huge, he could be a very menacing presence. One story involved a "correctional" discussion with one of the managers that ended abruptly when he went nose-to-nose and informed the man (with a nasally toned accent), “I… know where you live."
This was just another individual, every organization has one (or more), that everyone seemed to have a story about, though these usually didn't involve a desire to have him on the gang. Gatherings and group discussions invariably involved at least one interesting and entertaining tale about him. The gang that he worked with was a story in and of itself, one that could fill an entire chapter with material left over.
Working in the Brooklyn Division meant being involved with a lot of rear yard distribution. Almost entirely network secondary, the poles weren't big nor were they easily accessible. Everything (i.e., digging, setting, maintaining, as well as removals) was done manually. On one of these jobs, the chief lineman and I were talking, he laughed and told me that he remembered the guy didn't mind working on these locations. He explained that since removing the old butt involved cranking 3-ton chain blocks, he volunteered to do it, stating (in that nasally tone) " eh, it’s good for my arms!"