Grumpy Will, TV Charlie and Billy Goat

Old Grumpy Will’s place at 212 15th, Jersey City was a hub of homosexual action down by the Tunnel Bar. This was not any first wave colony of creatives wending their way to Jersey City. Instead, these were some who’d found their sexuality in prison while doing hard time and wound up stuck outside of the Holland Tunnel as the industrial tide receded.


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Will was in his 80s and claimed to have been sent to Dannemora prison for murder. His on and off love interest was one TV Charlie, so called for his supposed expertise as a television repairman. Will and Charlie’s relationship hit some sort of snag. Stopping by the Tunnel Bar for his regular vodka and soda (on a Russian doctor’s orders), Grumpy Will related how, in an attempt to reignite the fire, TV Charlie had taken to wearing women’s underwear. (As luck would have it, Sissy from the projects later that day mentioned the theft of women’s garments off of the clothes lines.)

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A much younger Maynard type — a billy goat by Will’s description — who worked in the nearby Erie-Lackawanna Warehouse, began to spend the evenings with Grumpy Will and TV Charlie. (This same individual years later became homeless and so took up residence in the bus shelter on Palisade Ave. by Christ Hospital.) To impress their new friend, TV Charlie told of receiving a large pension check from the Navy each month. Billy Goat did find this interesting, so much so that he brought a Journal Square rough trade pair with him to meet TV Charlie on the day the check was to appear. The money was never anything more than a mirage, but the original story was so well-crafted that the duo wouldn’t now accept the truth. The tough two tied up TV Charlie and tortured him with lit cigarettes. As of course that failed to result in any cash, they then tried to hang TV Charlie with an electrical cord cut from a television set. (I don’t know if the irony was by design.) This was too much for Billy Goat who ran screaming out of the apartment, through the hall and into the street. This upset the two perps who then also fled. Luckily for TV Charlie, the wire broke before he choked and died.

A day or two later, Billy Goat bounced into the Tunnel Bar while Grumpy Will was there. Billy Goat denied any intentional involvement in TV Charlie’s ordeal. After this, Billy Goat became a regular at the Tunnel Bar, often providing items at a discount after the stuff somehow walked out of the warehouse with him.

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About Anthony Olszewski

Anthony Olszewski has written on a wide variety of topics: cage birds, tropical fish, popular culture, the poetry of Amiri Baraka and a chapter on genetics for a veterinary text book, as a small sample. He worked as an editor at a magazine produced by TFH, the world's largest publisher of pet books. Anthony Olszewski is the author of a booklet on Hudson County history, Hudson County Facts, and a book of short stories, Second Thief, Best Thief, that are sold on Amazon. Anthony Olszewski established PETCRAFT.com in 1996. A pioneer on the Web, the Site continues to provide unique information on a range of companion animals, focusing on birds and fish. As a community service, he operates Jersey City Free Books. Anthony Olszewski was born in Jersey City, NJ (Margaret Hague Maternity Hospital, 1956) and is a member of Mensa.
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