HLS - The Letters Of Harvey L. Slatin

June 9, 1989

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IT IS NOTED HERE WITH INTEREST that the shortage of water in the Catskills, reported by you in several earlier letters, has apparently been relieved by some prolonged storms.  At least, that is what the weather map in the Bee has shown during the past several weeks.  We assume that you now slosh down to the IGA instead of raising puffs of dust on Main Street with your bootheels, like a version of “High Noon In Stamford.”  Mother nature takes care of her own.

“But who takes care of Mother Nature?” demanded a shrill voice from a thicket.

We have had enough rain this Spring to bring the numbers up to about 3″ below average (14″ instead of 17″).

Now we can water our lawns with good consciences, and freeze ice for our sophisticated libations.  No relaxation of standards in The Big Tomato.

IT IS GOOD NEWS TO LEARN that you intend to take political control of Stamford.  One small step toward Washington.  Albany next stop.

I am prepared, therefore, to offer you some inside advice about how to seize such control.  (My father was involved in civic activities in the Burr’a Queens when I was grow’n up in the City’a Noo Yawk.  So my advice is priceless, as you surely realize.)

The first thing you have to do is Dress The Part.  You will have to wear a derby, a vest, and green suspenders.  No deviations from this dress code are permitted.

And you MUST have a cigar in your mouth at all times.  You don’t have to smoke it, but it has to be there.  It’s a badge of office.

To show concern for your constituents, you must send each of them a turkey on Thanksgiving, and a ton of coal at Christmas.  (I realize that coal is not easy to find these days, and most of your constituents don’t burn it and don’t have coal bins.  But it’s a must.  I can just hear them murmuring, “What a grand man he is, now, that Yew-doe.  Always thinkin’ about the little people, he is.  Another glass to him, Gavin me lad.  And may be never lose control of that Stamford place…wherever it is.”

When you have seized power by means of these tried-and-true rules of appearance and generosity, you will then be eligible for the appellation “Big Tom.”  All political bosses are called “Big” Something.  Another badge of office.  (“They don’t plow your street?  What’s your name?  I’ll just call Big Tom, and the plow will be along before dark.  Don’t worry about it.  And vote the straight ticket for Big Tom and plowed streets.  We can’t let them others get back in office, now, can we?”)

Since you don’t have a political track record, I recommend that you run initially on the promise of “Two Buffer Solutions in Every Pot!”  Not a crowd rouser, but better than shouting “Restore the five-cent fare!” at locals who never rode the subway.  Once you’re in power, it won’t make any difference what you promise.  “Big Tom” will pull in the votes without going out on the stump.  Your constituents will beat a path to your door.  You’ll see.  The derby, suspenders, vest and cigar will turn the tide.

Trust me.

Fred C. (“Big Fred”) Dobbs

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