Thursday, July 10, 2008

Reminisicing about my New Brunswick Years 1974-76

This is Part 1 or 2

When I left URI in January 1974 I did not have a job.  I had several interviews in fall 1973, but no job offers.  After being on my own for two years it was very difficult to move back with my parents in Queens.  I went to school for all those years and had nothing to show for it.  Since I was bored sitting around the house, I went to a temporary agency and got a clerical job at a bank.


 Finally, in May 1974 I got an offer from a chemical company called Rhodia in New Brunswick, NJ.  I will not discuss career issues in this journal entry.  As soon as I got the job offer I ran to New Brunswick to look for an apartment.  I found a temporary apartment in someone’s house in the Hungarian section of town.  New Brunswick has the highest concentration of Hungarians outside of Hungary.  However, my landlord was Polish and just wouldn’t leave me alone.  Finally in September, I found a studio apartment in a luxury building called the Colony House near the College Avenue campus of Rutgers.  Back then my rent was $245/month, but my salary was $12,000/year.


Anyway, let me move on to social issues.  Some of the people have unique names.  I don’t want them to find this entry by Googling themselves, so I will refer to them by initials.  In the 1970s people married much earlier than they do today.  It was very common for people to marry shortly after graduating from college.  Relatively few unmarried couples lived together back then.  It was tough for me to see many of my friends get married in 1973.  I lost most of then within a year.


It is tough to go it alone in a strange town.  At least this time I had a car.  It is natural to seek out people of your own kind.  In neighboring Highland Park there was a Jewish Community Center that had a singles group.  In spring 1974, it was fading away.  It seems that in singles groups everyone loses interest at the same time.  When they don’t find the person of their dreams they “move on.”


I met a guy in that group I will call MT.  He was about my age and also worked as a chemist.  He was a great enthusiast of outdoor activities such as hiking and camping.  However, he lacked common sense.  He once phoned me at 2:30 AM to ask me if I wanted to go hiking the next day.  He was tactless in his dealings with women.  He would talk with a girl for about 5 minutes, ask for her phone number and not call her for a month.  Then he wondered why the girl turned him down for a date.  In June 1974, I went with him to a singles weekend in Lancaster, PA.


The second man I met through that group was RL.  He was very good looking but just could not find himself.  He had a degree in history, but just didn’t know what he wanted to do.  He had a job as a janitor in a school, and hadvery low self-esteem.  Girls would just walk up to him.  His father got him a job as an assembly line worker for the General Motors plant in NJ.  We called him Deadbeat.


Back in those days there were Jewish singles dances aka “Meat Markets” where the meat was kosher.  They presented a very artificial and tense environment where you tried to pick up a girl.  There was an organization called the Dunham’s that ran Jewish singles dances.  Every year after Yom Kippur they would hold a dance we called the Annual JAP Festival.  JAP is an acronym for Jewish American Princess.  That is one expression popular in the 70s that died.


There had to be a better way to find a young lady.  We found out about a chapter of B’nai Brith specifically for singles.  B’nai Brith is a fund raising and service organization, but the people there were definitely looking to pair off.  We had some good times in that group.  I met a guy there AJB who became my best friend during my NJ years.  However, we were both frustrated together having problems finding the right girl and the right job.  I kept in touch with him after I left NJ in late 1976, but in 1978 he hurt me very badly and we went our own way.



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