Close Family: Influence on Your Life

Sam and Rudolph Bosce, my uncles, were the President and Vice-President of the Star Bread Co., Inc.  They were the two younger siblings of my Mother and Aunt Sarah.  The men had taken over the management of the bakery when Sam Boscoe graduated from D.U. School of Commerce.  Rudolph Boscoe graduated from North High School and was really happy when his Mother told him she could not afford to send him to college as she had his older brother.  Rudy’s answer to this was,”What are they going to teach me anyway, maybe how to carry two baskets of bread at the same time?”

My two cousins, children of Aunt Sarah, and my brother and I grew up learning all about the bakery by working there on weekends and during summer vacations. We worked at everything and anything until the Bakers Union representative forced us to stay away from the bakery area claiming we were taking jobs away from union members.  It was all right for us to do anything else except in the production area for those other workers were not yet unionized.

Before World War II broke out, I had been working on a bread route; I had to join the Teamsters Union.  When I was in basic training, my cousin wrote to me to hurry up and get the war over with, because the new drivers’ contract gave them a $42.00 a week guarantee and an increase to 7% commission for all sales over $250.00 per week.  WOW!  Some of the drivers were making over $85.00 per week.

When I finally did “ get the war over with”, I came back to the bakery, but not as a driver;  I became the Office Manager and I really thought that I had found my notch in life.  I had enough bookkeeping in the accounting courses I had at D.U. to know how to maintain the books, and how to maintain the information pipeline while working with the company accountants. for their quarterly and year-end reports.

My management duties included supervision of six other office personnel. This included four women who were proficient in the operation of comptometers (probably an unknown piece of office equipment today).  There as a daily need for these machines that kept the operators busy all day long.  My duties also included arguing with Sam Boscoe about giving the office workers increases in wages which every time the union contracts gave those workers their periodic increases.  Sam would loudly exclaim, “I never saw a loaf of bread produced by the office!”  I would then come back with, “Do you think you could run this bakery without an office staff?” And then when the arguments got really hot, I would come up with my favorite clincher, “Do you want the office unionized as you managed to force the rest of the shop?”  Of course he got even with me by making me wait for at least three weeks before I got my increase.

I hate to say it out loud, but both my uncles were cheap.  The bakery, in the beginning, was mostly hand work, and, so, machinery was never really appreciated. They always replaced old broken down machines with newer broken down machines. It was many years after the two brothers took over before they learned that it sometimes pays to buy brand new equipment.

As the years progressed, while I was the Office Manager, I made many suggestions that I thought would benefit the bakery.  Most of the suggestions I made were accepted but with ill-mannered grace.  The worst remark I received from Uncle Sam was, “How come you’re so smart?  I remember when you were running  around here in diapers!”  Now I ask you, what the hell difference did that make?

One of my pet projects was to make better relations with the Unions.  With the Teamsters I had no problems, because I had been one of their new members.  The Bakery Union, which also included the Misc. Help, was equally open to my overtures especially with the Union President.  The only trouble I had with them was with the Union representative who came down to the shop to spy on the help to make sure they were following the union contract.  This man gave us trouble because he was a sneak and a bully.  As part of my job I had read the different contracts and knew quite a bit about what we could and could not do.  One day one of the loaders came in from the garage and told me that the “Jerk” was there causing a commotion.  I don’t remember what the problem was, but I do remember it was a lie.  I also remembered that the contract called for the rep. to call the bakery to get permission, before coming to talk to the people on the job.  I went to the garage and faced him with wrathful voice and eyes, reminded him  that he hadn’t called for permission to come in and proceeded to push him out of the garage by pushing him with my chest.  He left screaming that he was going to charge me with assault.  Later, I found out that he was subjected to a dressing down by the Union president who told him, “You damn fool, Shash is the only friend we have at Star!”

There had been a rep. from the Teamsters’ Union checking the time of the drivers coming in from their routes (something that was allowed in their contract)’ He gleefully told the story back at his Union officer and they agreed with the way I had handled the situation.  Eventually Uncle Sam heard of the fight and showed me me how much he appreciated my taking care of the unpleasantness by asking me if I was getting too close to the Union officials and turning against the bakeries.  The bakeries had formed and employers’ group and I’m sure the information had come from them.

It wasn’t very long after that my Uncle called me into his office and told me that I was putting too much time outside of my duties and he gave me a month to change my ways.  I then told him I appreciated the month and that was giving him my notice; that I would stay around to break in a replacement.  I decided to go back to D.U. and finish getting my degree under the G.I. bill, which I did in a year and a half.

My Uncle and I hardly ever spoke to each other again.  All my dreams of some day becoming the Plant Manager of the Star Bread Co. went down in flames.