Aisle Of Wit

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Who’s Your Daddy? Be Thankful It’s Not This Guy

It’s Father’s Day, and for those of you who are blessed enough to be one or still have one in your to celebrate, I envy you very much.  Mine is now gone nine years, and his last Father’s Day on Earth also turned out to be the day he was by mistake taken to a regular recovery room in a rehab facility he was in instead of the ICU his condition warranted, mostly because the staffer who was on call that day was quite inexperienced, since the regular person had the day off because, well, he apparently wanted to be with HIS dad.  My dad coded that night and while his body lived for roughly another month, for all intents and purposes he was brain-dead from that point forward, exclusively tied to a respirator.

And when he was more conscious, to be sure, my dad had his challenges, particularly after my mom passed.  Mom effectively was his puppeteer, keeping him reasonably capable of holding down a full-time job, as well running a side business preparing tax returns for hia parents’ friends, many of whom operated small businesses in the same working class neighborhood in Queens they all grew up in.  My memories of sitting up with him late into the night at our cramped kitchen table helping him proofread his calculations, checking the printout tape on his outdated adding machine even as the ink ribbon was fading, leaving me to try and decipher if the sum was a 8 or a 0, are among the few positive ones I have of him doing his best to bond with me,  Later in life, he required a full-time caretaker and was more of a child than he was a parent.  I know my sister, who was geographically closer and was often stuck dealing with the caretakers’ complaints and concerns, grew to dislike and disrespect him way more than I did.

But I’d still offer her, as I do you, that we did a lot better with our dad than someone else who grew up in Queens did, and now, as we face a polarized, politiczed and increasingly insurrectionalist future, millions of our fellow Americans can ultimately blame for why we are where we are.

Yes, no matter how we may have lamented who Allan Leblang was, at least he wasn’t Fred Trump.

Fred Trump’s Wikipedia entry reads like the plot line for the backstory of a DC superhero.  And since a lot of his life took place mere minutes from where both my dad and I grew up I was fascinated by the minimal degrees of least geographic separation.  Fred Trump built a Tudor mansion in Jamaica Estates, a mansion I’d pass by daily on my day camp’s bus route.  Trump owned several nearby buildings where doctors and dentists we patroned had their offices.  I distinctly remember their cheap red brick construction, often with cracking spackle between them,  in direct contrast to the more modern amber-colored and newer buildings that were rising up adjacent to them.  On rainy or snowy days, the leaks and lack of heat were frequent and the office assistants we’d remark to would throw up their hands in disgust and say “This landlord doesn’t fix a damn thing”.  That landlord was Fred Trump.

Among some of the other more interesting tidbits you can read should you be as motivated as I was include:

On Memorial Day in 1927, over a thousand Ku Klux Klan (KKK) members marched in a Queens parade to protest “Native-born Protestant Americans” being “assaulted by Roman Catholic police of New York City”.[28] The 21-year old Trump and six other men were arrested.[29][30] All seven were referred to as “berobed marchers” in the Long Island Daily Press.[29] Trump, detained “on a charge of refusing to disperse from a parade when ordered to do so”, was dismissed.[28][31] Among the men arrested on the same charge was a bystander who had had his foot run over by a police car. According to the police, the five remaining men were certainly Klan members.[32] Multiple newspaper articles on the incident list Trump’s address (in Jamaica, Queens),[29][31] which he is recorded as living at on various documents from 1928 to 1940.[28][29][33][34][h]

In early 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower and other federal leaders began denouncing real-estate profiteers. On June 11, The New York Times included Trump on a list of 35 city builders accused of profiteering from government contracts.[48] He and others were investigated by a U.S. Senate banking committee for windfall gains. Trump and his partner William Tomasello[l] were cited as examples of how profits were made by builders using the FHA.[54] The two paid $34,200 for a piece of land which they rented to their corporation for $76,960 annually in a 99-year lease, so that if the apartment they built on it ever defaulted, the FHA would owe them $1.924 million. Trump and Tomasello evidently obtained loans for $3.5 million more than Beach Haven Apartments had cost.[55][56] Trump argued that because he had not withdrawn the money, he had not literally pocketed the profits.[48][57] He further argued that due to rising costs, he would have had to invest more than the 10% of the mortgage loan not provided by the FHA, and therefore suffer a loss if he built under those conditions.[58]

In 1966, Trump was again investigated for windfall profiteering, this time by New York State investigators. After Trump overestimated building costs sponsored by a state program, he profited $598,000 on equipment rentals in the construction of Trump Village, which was then spent on other projects. Under testimony on January 27, 1966, Trump said that he had personally done nothing wrong and praised the success of his building project.[62] The commission called Trump “a pretty shrewd character” with a “talent for getting every ounce of profit out of his housing project”, but no indictments were made. Instead, tighter administration protocols and accountability in the state’s housing program were called for.[63]

Minority applicants turned away from renting apartments complained to the New York City Commission on Human Rights and the Urban League, leading these groups to send test applicants to Trump-owned complexes in July 1972. They found that white people were offered apartments, while black people were generally turned away (by being told there were no vacancies);[o] according to the superintendent of Beach Haven Apartments, this was at the direction of his boss.[97] Both of the aforementioned advocacy organizations then raised the issue with the Justice Department.[98] In October 1973, the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) filed a civil rights lawsuit against the Trump Organization (Fred Trump, chair, and Donald Trump, president) for infringing the Fair Housing Act of 1968.[98] In response, Trump attorney Roy Cohn countersued for $100 million in damages, accusing the DoJ of false accusations.[98][99]

Some three dozen former Trump employees were interviewed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).[99] Some testified that they had no knowledge of any racial profiling practices, and that a small percentage of their apartments were rented to blacks or Puerto Ricans.[p][q] A former doorman testified that his supervisor had instructed him to tell prospective black tenants that the rent was double its actual amount.[100] Four landlords or rental agents confirmed that applications sent to the Trump organization’s head office for approval were coded by the race of the applicant.[101] One former employee testified that a code – which he believed was used throughout the Brooklyn branch of the company – referred to “low lifes” such as “blacks, Puerto Ricans, apparent drug users, or any other type of undesirable applicant”, and nine times out of ten it meant the applicant was black; blacks were also falsely told there were no vacancies.[99] A rental agent who had worked with the company for two weeks said that when he asked Fred Trump if he should rent to blacks, he was told that it was “absolutely against the law to discriminate”,[102] but after asking again, he was instructed “not to rent to blacks”, and was further advised to:[103]

On July 1, 1965, Trump purchased Coney Island’s recently closed Steeplechase Park for $2.3 million, intending to build luxury apartments.[64][65][66] The next year, he announced plans for a 160-foot-high (49-meter) enclosed dome with recreational facilities and a convention center.[67] At a highly publicized ceremony in September 1966, Trump demolished the park’s Pavilion of Fun, a large glass-enclosed amusement center.[68][69] He reportedly sold bricks to ceremony guests to smash the remaining glass panels, which included an iconic representation of the park’s mascot, the “Funny Face“.[70][71][72] The next month, New York City announced plans to acquire the former park grounds for recreational use.[73] Trump filed a series of court cases related to the proposed rezoning, ultimately winning $1.3 million.[66] After the site laid vacant for several years, Trump started subleasing it to a manager of fairground amusement park rides.[68][66]

My cousins lived in those luxury apartments, and I rode on those cheap rides.  I still feel pangs of nausea when I think about it.

But not as nauseous as I feel when I uncovered this final nugget:

His body is buried in a family plot at the Lutheran-Christian All Faiths Cemetery in Middle Village, Queens.

Yes, what remains of Fred Trump is in the exact same neighborhood as what remains of my father’s family.  Many of my surviving relatives would call that karma on both sides.

Yet it is what he accomplished–or didn’t–as a parent that has truly left its mark on this world.

Trump was a teetotaler[w] and an authoritarian parent, maintaining curfews and forbidding cursing, lipstick, and snacking between meals.[96][141] At the end of his day, Trump would receive a report from Mary on the children’s actions and, if necessary, decide upon disciplinary actions.[141] He took his children to building sites to collect empty bottles to return for the deposits.[142] The boys had paper routes, and when weather conditions were poor, their father would let them make their deliveries in a limousine.[142] According to Fred Jr.’s daughter, Mary L. Trump, Trump wanted his oldest son to be “invulnerable” in personality so he could take over the family business, but Fred Jr. was the opposite.[143] Trump instead elevated Donald to become his business heir, teaching him to “be a killer”, and telling him, “You are a king.”[144][145] Mary L. Trump states that Fred Sr. “dismantled [Fred Jr.] by devaluing and degrading every aspect of his personality” and mocked him for his decision to become an airline pilot.[146] In 1981, Fred Jr. died at age 42 from complications due to his alcoholism.[147][148]

That one paragraph alone is all anyone needs to know about why we now live in a country of election deniers, idol worship, and insanely misguided devotion to someone who literally cannot bear the thought of being labeled a “loser”.  So impacted and fractured by his upbringing, the leading contender for the 2024 Presidency is manically determined to succeed, and drag along as many people as possible in the process, to rewrite history and not be a loser.  Every angry tweet, deception, mocking and sheer lie that comes out of FOJ’s piehole can trace its roots to the venom that spewed from his daddy, someone that was approrpirately descibed as follows:

According to Nylon.com, the 2018 New York Times exposé on the Trumps’ wealth “led people to know, perhaps for the first time, what Fred Trump looks like—and it turns out he bears resemblance to no shortage of fictional villains, which has inspired a wave of new memes to bless the internet”.[178].

I seem to recall that in some iteration of Spider-Man Peter Parker lived with Aunt May in some part of Queens.  You tell me if J. Jonah Jameson/J.K. Simmons doesnt bear some resemblance to Good Old Fred.

So on a day where all I have are memories, and I have little choice but to focus on what was or should have been, I found it fascinating to learn as much as I can about the father of someone who believes he is now the father–and, as he wrote last night on social media–“king” of our country.

And to realize no matter how much I or my relatives believe we were shortchanged, at least none of us were raised by Fred Trump.

And I only hope what remains of my relatives are pissing off what remains of Fred Trump even half as much in death as they did my family when they were alive.

I hope you’re having a better Father’s Day than am I.

Until next time…