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Second Thief, Best Thief – An Old Jersey City Saying
The Jersey City Waterfront once was covered with warehouses and piers. Adjacent to these were miles of railroad yards dotted with innumerable sheds and small buildings for use as storage and as workshops for mechanics, machinists, and welders.
During the depression, children from impoverished families would climb onto the roofs of the outlying structures, both to hide and to gain a view of the surrounding area. From up there, they'd watch for workers stealing from the docks, the trains, or the warehouses. The initial crooks would sneak off into the weeds to hide the swag with the idea of retrieving it at the end of the shift. Seeing opportunity made available, the kids would wait a bit for the situation to cool. Then, they'd climb down, grab the goods, and make a getaway through the vacant lots.
Practitioners coined the saying "second thief, best thief" to describe this method of survival.
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Author Archives: Anthony Olszewski
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 … Continue reading
The Boss’s mother’s house was rosy-beige rounded stone set on a low sandy hill, surrounded by pines and palms. In front, the trees thinned, giving a beautiful view of the gulf. Right now, the great golden disk was just below … Continue reading
Back in the early-‘80s, I had a Harley-Davidson Super Glide. Though the engine was the same 74 cu. in. as a police bike, lacking the racks and packs, the appearance was quite dissimilar. With shoulder-length hair and clad in worn … Continue reading
Early on one bright, warm, spring afternoon, a boozer not previously known, bounced into the Tunnel Bar. As winos start to wander when the weather breaks, and so newcomers generally were not a surprise, this gent had some noteworthy features. … Continue reading
One day back when Jimmy still owned the Tunnel Bar, a stranger walked in, took out a twenty dollar bill, sat down and asked for a Seagram’s 7 with water. Jimmy put a shot glass and a chaser in front … Continue reading
One of the regular customers at the Tunnel Bar who we shall here call Hal was a long-time friend of Hurricane Carter, all the way from Yardville to Rahway. Hal told of an unusual Boxing match in prison with Carter … Continue reading
Rambling Ray was in the Tunnel Bar getting ready to head out to a mega used car lot in PA that was supposed to be like the Holy Land for everything with four wheels. Vinny Buchelle (affectionately known to all … Continue reading
In response to one of any of many examples of bizarre and strange behavior, I commented to a regular customer of the Tunnel Bar, “You can’t imagine how many people that come in here don’ belong out on the streets.” … Continue reading
Vinny Buchelle, one of the regulars at the Tunnel Bar, some decades before had been sent off to Trenton State Prison for statutory rape, or so he claimed. Underneath all that steel and concrete, Vinny suffered a breakdown and so … Continue reading
I was attempting to navigate the fog of 6:45AM and coffee not having kicked in yet, when all of a sudden, after nearly forty years, this reef of memory surfaced. # # # Me and some other guys were hanging … Continue reading
One of the Spanish guys who’d hang out all weekend at the Tulsa gas station on Henderson Street was in the Tunnel Bar for a six pack of beer and a pint of rum. Sal Jr. was the bartender. As … Continue reading