Debbie Hemley on The Loyal Order
Hemley considers bedbugs and bowling @ Hippocampus Magazine.
Morning after morning, while driving through Boston’s suburbs, I listened to the dire radio reports about the bed bug epidemic in New York City. Every mention of the words bed bugs had a way of transporting me momentarily to a different time and place, to the days of my youth when those two words were spoken at least once a week.
My father’s father, Benjamin Hemley, opened the doors of American Sea-Grass Company, Jobbers of Upholstering & Bedding Supplies, on Cooper Street, Brooklyn, in 1909 with two of his six brothers. Later, it would become the Hemley Supply Company and they’d relocate to Mesorole Street in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. Following my grandfather’s death in 1937 at age 54, the business was taken over by his eldest son, my Uncle Arnold. My father, David, who was only thirteen when his Dad passed away and the youngest in the family, had dreams of pursuing a professional career that didn’t include the family business. But his brother and mother had decided otherwise. After serving in the Philippines during WWII and then cashing in on his family’s promise that he could attend school at Brooklyn College before joining the family company, my father dutifully took his place as second-in-command immediately following college graduation.
My father often told my sister, Ellen, and I that he had come to peace with having his future decided for him. But at times, I doubted he really had. Every couple of years, he set up a projector and a movie screen in our basement and showed home movies. He always played the same old crackly 16 mm, the one of him at sixteen when he worked on a farm in Vermont for the summer. A young, strapping boy, with a full head of thick wavy hair, he could be seen chopping logs and loading barrels of hay onto a wheelbarrow. His sparkling brown eyes made him look like a movie star, or at least someone with a heavy dose of wanderlust, something hard-pressed to be fulfilled in a family business of bedding and mattress supplies.Read More...
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