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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dad and Eddie Jennings

The first picture in the photo album is of my Dad with his arm around Eddie Jennings; the second is of Dad and Eddie on the job, with Eddie kidding around for the camera, the two of them smiles on their faces, showing the rapport between them ...

Dad worked at the same company, Blickman Equipment, for 32 years "longtime, doll" as Dad would say ... and Eddie Jennings was his best friend on the job.  I see this photo and I am reminded of all the stories at the dinner table about what was going on there today at the plant.  I heard stories about apprentice boys and outside sheet metal workers and the doll in the office and the bosses and how he made the coffee urns that the McDonalds corporation used in all their restaurants back then.    Dad was a metal polisher and he was also the shop steward, because it was union - Dad was a street-smart guy who could and did comprehend what it took in the world, so he was an excellent union guy!  Dad brought me home the Daily News from work, which is how I grew up on Jimmy Breslin :)  Once a year there was a Christmas party - nice place, bring the family, big catered dinner - and Dad played Santa and distributed the gifts to the kids, and this gay guy who worked with them, the guy that no one wanted to accept - Dad turned around and said, 'hey, pal - you got maybe green pantyhose?' - and he had that guy be his elf, see, and then everyone liked the guy and thought he was a good guy :)  And maybe someday I'll share the story of the apprentice who got arrested - falsely it all turned out to be - on his lunch hour and how Dad went to bat for him, and the apprentice he carpooled with whose car I vandalized as some strange teenager wrapped up in her own issues and how my Dad reacted to that ... but for right now, that's enough ; I've already got tears in my eyes like I was peeling onions, ferchrissakes, remembering the last times I spoke to Eddie, when he called to ask why Dad hadn't sent his usual Christmas card, and I had to fill him in ....


  1. P.S. For the hell of it, you know, I just looked up Blickman Equipment now online - hey, they're still around :) Now they're in Clifton - when Dad worked for them I believe they were in Union City. Anyway here is the information I gleaned from their website that I thought was appropriate to add to my post:

    Blickman, Inc. is the nation’s leading manufacturer of stainless steel and chrome products for the healthcare industry. Current product lines include: bassinets, cabinets, carts, hampers, receptacles, stands, stools, tables and utensils. We manufacture these product lines, along with significant custom fabrications, at our 71,000 square-foot facility in Clifton, New Jersey.

    Blickman has been family-owned-and-operated since its founding in 1898. Because we are a medium-sized organization, our staff works directly with the principals of the company and learns from their knowledge and experience. For some, they act as mentors and guide careers as they progress.

  2. The company originated in 1898, the year Sophia Blickman began manufacturing pots and pans in her garage, and selling to neighbors in her New York City metro-area community. The quality of her cookware made Sophia's business thrive. By 1923 the garage was no longer adequate as a production facility. So the S. Blickman Company, as it was then known, moved to a plant in Weehawken, New Jersey. It wasn't until years later―in the depths of the Great Depression―that an employee persuaded her that hospitals, as well as homemakers, needed durable pots and pans, too.

    Eager to explore a new market, Sophia began marketing to hospitals. Thus was born an extraordinary legacy of service to the nation's healthcare industry. Sustained through lean economic times by its reputation for excellence, the company grew, slowly but steadily, and began to add other hospital equipment, fabricated of stainless steel, to its product line. Soon the S. Blickman Company name was familiar, not only in hospital kitchens, but throughout major health-care facilities as well.

    Fred Heisman, Blickman's next President, joined the company as a purchasing executive in 1947, to be followed four years later by Ben Freedman, eventual Chairman of the Board, and an expert at estimating. By 1975, the two men acquired the company's medical-surgical division, renamed it Blickman Health Industries, Inc., and moved it to Fairlawn, New Jersey. Success compelled a recent move to larger quarters, its current 71,000-square-foot plant in Clifton, New Jersey.

  3. In 1997, Blickman acquired J.B. Call, a Burlingame, California-based manufacturer of chrome healthcare equipment and seating products. The company's operations joined Blickman's and moved to New Jersey. J.B. Call products included intravenous stands, revolving stools, foot stools, mayo stands and patient-care equipment designed specifically for the primary-care market.

    Ben Freedman's two sons, Rob and Paul, assumed ownership of Blickman in 2002. Rob, having grown up in the company, inherits the title of President, while Paul, a former systems analyst, becomes its Chief Financial Officer. The essential nature of Blickman as a family-owned-and-operated enterprise, stretching back over 100 years, is now assured for yet another generation.