July 11, 2008
The seldom-politically-correct Dennis ("The Rabbi") sent me an email a few weeks back about the names people used to call each other in Hoboken:
Mostly everyone had a nickname. Either they get one early in life or later on in life. Some got one for what they did when they got locked up, others for what they did for a living, honest and dishonest, but then who am I to judge them. Some ran numbers, some took bets on horses, some did other things. All were accepted as friends, no snobs in Hobokenites.
There was, and this was in High School, Joe Nose, Bobby Tag, Jew Boy, Mousey, Wacker, and various other names. Later on it was, as a adult, Willie over the barrel, Jackie the Sport, Broadway Tony, John the shark, Vinnie the Bandit, who was a sweet man, no, he was not gay.
Even in Abel's Ice Cream Parlor as a teenager there was Eddie the Criminal. Never found out what he did time for, but he could not have done anything like a bank hold up, that was for sure.
Down the docks everyone had a nickname, like Bobby Bananas, the Cowboy, who was found with his head blown off in his own car.
We were raised to accept these names and never laughed at them. Most of these people grew up and are still known, and died with these names. Sometimes nobody knew their real name! AND you never asked for it neither!!!
When George Crimmins first became Police Chief, he was dubbed the "Sewer Rat!" This was because he would check up on the cops who worked mid-nights and if he caught them sleeping on duty, sent them home, with no pay. George was a real nice guy to people. He listened a lot.
Ever notice how Hobokenites all talk with their hands? They know all the right gestures to make, when they get ticked off in a few languages! Yeah, when I get angry, I have to watch myself not to do these gestures. Old habits are hard to get rid of.
It is funny, nobody ever got ticked off by being called a nickname. It just was accepted as a part of life and sometimes it was a hard life.
Nobody ever slighted you for the job you had. You just had to work in Hoboken. Hobokenites usually ask two questions when they meet you. The first is, "How is
your health?" The second, and the important one is, "Whatta you do for a living?"