The only time we Presco Children were shamed in public – before the law firm of Robert Buck had a go at us – was when we were scolded for burying the mongoloid-idiot under a large pile of Santos patato sacks.
“What are you kids doing? Shame on you!”
“He likes it!” we retorted with scowling faces.
We learned the term mongoloid-idiot, because this is what Victor Presco ‘The Spud King of Jack London Square’ would call us when things were not going his way. Things never went his way. We Prescos were heading for financial ruin that I would see replicated in the movie ‘East of Eden’. The ice was melting in the cars full of picked lettuce. In our case, our father put too many 100 hundred pound sacks of spuds on his truck, and a tire blew on the freeway. He could not get a big of enough tow-truck until the the morning. When we got there, many of the sacks had been slit open, and a thousand Bakers – stolen!
I talked online to my therapist on Thursday, and we set a goal where I will takes steps to be rewarded for MY WORK. How threatening this is to me, will be discussed in this blog, named after my mother’s father – who claims he was worked as a slave after his mother died. He was sent away to live with a uncle when he was nine. He had a farm, a daughter, and no son.
Captain Vic paid my brother and I a dollar a day to work at Acme Produce that was headquartered in a Victorian Warehouse on Webster Street next to the train tracks in Jack London Square. If things were slow, I liked to go stand near the clanging bell and red light warning to watch a train go by. I loved to feel the ground shake beneath me. After the Great Baker Potato Disaster of 1958, Rosemary had it. She stabbed our father in the forehead with a steak knife, and out the house he ran. The next day he took $400 dollar from my brother and my bank accounts. Four hundred days of our summer – were lost of our youth. But, we had lessons. We were deliberately denied food so we would know – real hunger. Victor made sure the barflies at Oscar’s….had enough to drink.
When we walked into the giant Santos warehouse in Hayward California, we were taken back. On one side of the warehouse was a mountain of patatos, on the other was a mountain of patato sacks. In the middle were twenty or so converyor belts used for grading. We were told to stand on a box and pick out THE BAKERS that had to be just the right size.
“Let me see you do it!” Victor growled.
We looked at our mother who had a blue bandana on her head. She had a smile on her face, she having every right to see herslef in a scene from Gone With The Wind because the Rosamonds had plantations – and owned slaves! There were these shaded lights overhead with giant lightbulbs. When I saw Van Gough’s The Potato Eaters’ I wanted to be an artist.
“No! No! No! What did I sire – a bunch of Mongeloid-idiots?”
It was eight at night. We might be here until one in the morning. Just then the conveyors stopped. A man stood on some pallets.
“I’m the sheriff, and I got a paper ordering you children off the line. Child labor laws wont’s let them work on any kind of machinery!”
And so ended a long tradition in the Bay Area except for the Presco Boys, who would be put to work on a french-fry cutter machine in order to make fries for restaurants. To read about Bill Gates vast potato field that can be seen from space, and that he has the McDonald Golden Arches in his back pocket, is to see Victor’s dream come true. He knew returants wanted fries, and not bakers, that would fill the customoers up, there no room for their steak. Fast Hamburger joints were popping up all over the suberbs that were spreadin everywhere. Straberry fields were now track homes.
So, we Presco children had the night off. Looking for something to do while our Hollywood Mother furiously graded potatoes, we played on the gunny sack pile. We took turns burying each other in the bundles of ten, then… WE BROKE FREE!
“Can I play?” asked the real mogeloid idiot. Never seeing our namesake, we took him in.
“Sure! Lie down!” This boy was – real strong!
“Bury me deeper!” he cried! To see him burst out from under the sacks was impressive. He had a big grin on his face. We squealed with delight. When I saw ‘The Hunchback of Nortre Dame, that was my favorite movie.
“What are you naughty kids doing. You should be ashamed of yourself!”
As reported in The Post, the soon-to-be single computer magnate happens to own more farmland than anyone else in the United States. Known for loving fast food — although his burger of choice comes from the Washington-based chainlet Burgermaster — Gates, according to NBC News, grows potatoes for McDonald’s in fields so vast they can be scoped from outer space.
Victor and Rosemary
When I was seven I was employed as a BF Goodrich tire salesman. I was a Bald Tire Spotter. My job was to ride around Oakland in the backseat of Vic’s 1940 Plymouth and look at the tires of a car to see if the tread had worn down enough to warrant me taking down the license plate number – while the car was still moving! If you didn’t get the whole number in the short time you had to do this, you whipped your head out the window to get the rest of the number – on the front license plate. Mark sat on the left side, and usually got it right – the first time. He was a year older than me.
Looking in his rearview mirror, with disgust, my father saw that I was a Head Whipper, and may not be cut out for this job. However, this did not mean I got to stay at home with my Mommy.
After Victor went on Strike, and refused to go to work because he saw he got the raw end of the deal, and, after we came back from our merciful vacation at our relatives house, Captain Victim called for a family meeting, and announced in a stern voice;
“From now on. There is no free lunch in this family. You boys are going to work – with me!”
My brother noticed off the top our younger sisters were not going to go to work. Christine was his favorite child. There already existed rumors I was not conceived by Victor, but by a stranger my mother used to attack his masculinity, and, render him impotent. This is why Victor kept a close eye on me because there is that Oedipus thing. Never mind Vic is not my real father, in his mind. Like I said, Vic went out of his way to butcher Freud.
Suddenly Vic hits the breaks, grabs the back of the seat and whips his head around in order to give me his best menacing stare. I do my best to conceal my terror.
“What about that car we just passed! Why didn’t you get its license plate? What are you, a moron?”
Vic throws the car in reverse, and hits the brake.
“What did I tell you. If it’s under a quarter of a inch – IT’S BALD!”
When Victor was hired for this job, his boss never dreamed his employee would use his sons as slave labor. We were not paid a dime. We worked for food and shelter. Rosemary was not allowed to show us affection because she was the Presco Family Secretary. After Rosemary drove Victor out of our house with a knife, our mother told us her husband refused to wear a contraceptive, he telling his help-meet when she begged him;
“It’s like taking a shower with your socks on!”
Vic’s job description was for him to drive around Oakland, by himself, spot a balding tire, then go up to the door and knock. The problem with this, Oakland was full of working stiffs, and many housewives who were home alone were afraid to open their door to this menacing looking man – who was always in a rage! He was not allowed to leave a card, or brochure. Sometimes he knocked on the wrong door.
“That’s not my car, Moron! Why don’t you get a real job, and stop playing grab-ass!”
This is when he had a brainstorm. He would take down the license and have his buddy Skip run it at the police department, and get the name and address. He then got these cards printed up that looked kind of official. There was talk about how a bald tire could cause an accident. I am sure Vic asked for permission to use the Oakland Police seal. I do not recall seeing it. But, the idea was to Bust the Dangerous Baldies, and shame them into buying new tires from Mr.Presco.
If you dare give Victor ‘The Leo’ an angry look, it was evidence you wanted to kill him so you can have your way with his beautiful secretary. The fact that Mark and I would not reach pubescence in four years, or so, did not alleviate Victor’s paranoia. As the weeks wore on, he became more convinced we wanted to do him harm. With my father, the Golden Rule……never arrived! I believe Vic owned much anger towards his father, and, he needed to see what that looked like, with his sons.
As God is my witness, I will make his cruelty famous one day!
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Because all four of Vic and Rosemary’s children became hippies, I believe it is historically and culturally vital to tell their story, along with ours. ‘The Wonder Years’, was fiction.