All the Ebola hoopla reminds me of back when communicable diseases were handled with like a no margin for error policy. That was long ago. For well over ten years now, Jersey City has had one of the highest rates of Tuberculosis — if not the highest — in the State. Does any paper or politician discuss this grave threat to public health. Nope. Nobody gives it a thought.
Things were way different in the late-’70s. If you got TB, you went to Pollack Hospital and you stayed there until they decided to let you go.
One of the regulars at the Tunnel Bar — let’s call ‘im Johnny Noir — got hauled off for Tuberculosis. Once his condition improved, Noir was let out one weekend, but was told to report back bright and early Monday AM. After two days and three nights of drinking, the impatient patient decided that he wasn’t going to return to the hospital.
Noir’d given the bar’s pay phone number as contact information. After Monday morning started to get some tread wear, the telephone began ringing with calls inquiring about the health-compromised individual. Each time Jimmy Taraski the then tavern owner answered the phone, Johnny Noir just waved a hand and shook his head, indicating a no-go for conversation.
Maybe, an hour later, a police car pulls up and an uniformed officer walks in the door of the Tunnel Bar. Proceeding no further, he says, “Is there a John Noir here?”
“How we gonna do this?”
“You’re goin’ back t’ Pollack. Is it gonna be with cuffs or without?”
Not even finishing his drink, Noir jumped up and hurried to the door. “I’m going! I’m going!”