Categorized | Carousel, Local Perspectives

Remembering My Guys

February 14, 2011 seemed like such a long time ago. I remember exactly what I was doing that evening. Bill George and I had stopped at a store in downtown Perth Amboy to purchase a big Valentine’s Day balloon. We were on our way to see Richard Piatkowski who was a patient at Alameda Care Center on Elm Street. We knew that Richard was very ill but we wanted to cheer him up that evening.

Vilma Novak was in his room as she always was when we went to visit. I remember her tying the balloon to the railing of Richard’s bed. He wasn’t feeling that well this evening but Bill and I felt the need just to be there. When we went to visit Richard in the past at Alameda although he was in a lot of pain he knew exactly what was going on in the City.

Alan Silber and Kenny Balut would also visit Richard to keep him abreast of what was going on at the various City meetings. Richard also had a laptop which he would do research on different laws going into effect. Not only in Middlesex County but the State as well.

After leaving Richard on Valentine’s Evening. I remember saying to Bill, “I think the end is near for Richard. We have to make sure that we write a fitting tribute to him in the Beacon.” Bill agreed with me and I also said to him I have plenty of photos that we could use.

That evening in my wildest dreams I could not imagine that Bill would leave this Earth before Richard did. Even today it seems unreal that Bill is not here. There was a special connection between Richard and Bill. Bill knew Richard before he ran for political office. Bill told me that Richard had worked as an office manager for Dan-Mar Realty Group in New Jersey. Richard was also on of the people that Bill could count on to do research for him in regards to finding out information pertaining to changes in laws, resolutions and ordinances amongst other things.

At the Council meetings you always knew where Richard Piatkowski stood on the issues. Anytime he spoke at any meetings he always had information on hand. He did research on Agenda items that he thought would be of the utmost importance to the citizens of Perth Amboy.

Each year Richard would be in charge of the Ides of March Dinner, which is put on by the Republican Party. What I like most about attending this event is that the honorees were picked for their contributions to the City and not because of their political affiliations. I remember one year a diehared Democrat was honored by this organization. He was so honored to be recognized for his contributions that he remarked privately that not even his own Party recognized his contributions to the City.

Before I met Bill I personally never went to one political function or for that matter attended a Council or Board of Education Meeting. My involvement in politics was working the polls and voting – period.

I must say I looked forward to those Ides of March Dinners due mostly to the fact that Richard Piatkowski was the M.C. Richard would always have these humorous anecdotes and sometimes would poke fun at himself. He was very good at speaking off the cuff and you never knew what was going to come out of his mouth. It will be one year on 2/24/12 that Richard left this Earth.

I can only go by my relationship with Richard and it was a very good one. The most important thing that someone can possess is the ability to make me laugh and Richard more than filled that requirement.

The circumstances of my working for Bill George was quite unusual. I committed a no-no by disobeying his rules. I had some items to sell and I put two free classified ads in one envelope. One day when I was checking my voice mail, there was a message from Mr. George who I had never met before. He told me that I was not supposed to have two ads in one envelope and that was stated in the paper. When I called back to apologize for my big mistake his machine came on. Two days later I received a phone call from Mr. George and he told me that he liked my voice. He asked if I would I be interested in selling advertising. I said one word to him – a big fat “No”. Apparently he would not take no for an answer and would constantly call me until I finally broke down and said I would do it for a couple of weeks to help him out until he found someone permanently. Sales was not my strong point.

That was back in 2007. I remember that he stood me up three times before I finally met him in person. In the beginning I thought he was sort of arrogant. Almost every two weeks I would threaten to quit because he could be overwhelming. Then it went from quitting every two weeks to once a month. But as everybody knows I was with him until he passed away on February 17, 2011.

Although Bill could be a force to be reckoned with, he was the smartest man that I’ve ever dated. He had so much knowledge about so many different subjects that sometimes I thought my head would explode by what he was saying.

Not only did he attend the Council Meetings but often he was the only newspaper attending the Board of Education Meetings. At the City Council Meetings I would sit in the back and watch him become so absorbed what was being said at the meetings. Sometimes he would turn his head and talk to someone in the audience about what was being said by the Council, Attorney or B.A. Bill did not rely on a notepad instead perfering to use the Agenda to write all of his notes on. I remember when he became upset when the Agenda was printed on both sides of the paper. This gave him less space to write on.

After each Council Meeting there was always the Post-Meeting. Often Bill George, Richard Piatkowski, Alan Silber, Orlando Perez and Hector Bonilla would discuss what was said at the meeting and then they would go on to other subjects. It was not unusual to hear them talk about subjects pertaining to history. They would start off sometimes with discussing the Civil War and top it off with discussing present day wars that were going on. They would stop after I interfered saying to Bill, “I think it’s time to leave – I’m hungry.”

After leaving the Council Chambers often there would be another meeting going on right outside of City Hall. Of course Bill and Richard had to become involved in that discussion. I would allow Bill about ten to fifteen minutes tops to finish with that meeting and then again I would say, “I’m not only hungry but I’m tired. Let’s go.”

What I miss most about Bill is that no matter what disagreements we may have had, everything was forgiven with a good meal. When we used to go to the printer, our favorite place to go to was Charlie Browns. We would both order different meals so we could sample each other’s dish. QuickChek was also another favorite spot to get a quick meal. Just sitting and talking about putting the paper together and finally having the first copy of that week’s edition put in our hands was such a joy.

Bill also had a sense of humor and could make me laugh by doing imitations of well known people. He was very passionate about his paper and what was put in it even if it meant that it would upset people. At one point this caused him to lose advertising revenue. I remember when he revealed the Straw Donor names many of them became upset with him. Eventually most of them came around and realized that Bill was just doing his job. This is just a little bit of my memories of Bill and the majority I wish to keep for myself.

One thing I loved most about Bill is that he was my best accessory when going to political events. Like I stated previously I was not into politics but went with Bill just to take pictures. I knew that with Bill I would not have to talk that much I if I didn’t feel like it because this was his arena and I felt comfortable just having him be there.

Lastly, Bill embraced all of my family members that he met and they took to him as well. When my father was alive he and Bill would get into political discussions. They may have not always seen eye to eye, but Bill always respected my father’s point of view. He never treated my father in a condescending manner. My Dad knew before I did that Bill had an interest in me and he was not at all surprised when we told him we were dating. My father stated quite casually, “I thought that all along because I saw how he acted toward you whenever I saw you two together.” Sometimes Bill and my father would get into such deep political discussions that I would have to say, “Okay Dad, time to quit, and you need to eat your dinner.” Before Bill and I left my Dad’s apartment he would call out to us, “To Be Continued!” meaning that particular discussion was not over yet.

Now Bill George, Richard Piatkowksi and my Dad are having political discussions up above. They were three special people in my life. They probably started their own newspaper. I’m pretty sure that they compromised and every four months they changed who would be the publisher/editor. I bet my father won the first round.

So long guys, ‘til I see you all again.

Love,

Carolyn

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