“JUMP IN AND START SWIMMING”
(and maybe do a Billion Dollars in Sales)
Book excerpt page from Jim Naughton's Billion Dollar Sales Career and Life story
He sat alone in a holding cell in the main processing building on Ellis Island. It was winter, one of the coldest in 50 years. It was 1930, and the last wave of immigrants were making their way to Ellis Island. The surroundings reminded him of the jail cell he escaped from in Castlebar, Co Mayo, Ireland almost a year earlier. Immigrants needed to have someone “claim’ them once and if they past a myriad of examinations and tests. All his buddies had been released to aunts and uncles hours before.
He, James Naughton, my father waited and waited, disoriented, freezing, confused, and downtrodden, missing his parents and siblings back on their small farm in Clooncurra just outside Castlebar. He was thinking of what awaited him; “are the streets of New York really paved with gold?" Where was his Aunt? Was he going to be sent back to Liverpool? He was lonely and spent the night dozing on an off, dreaming, remembering pieces of the events that pushed, forced and dragged him to America.
He and many of his childhood friends were members or pretended to be members of the IRA back home. It wasn’t really a choice, it was survival. In the 20’s the parents of young English soldiers deemed duty in Ireland too dangerous for their sons, so they pressured the English Parliament to do something. Parliament came up with a brilliant idea. “Why not release from prisons some thousands of criminals, and thugs along with some other punks and troublemakers that should have been in prison, but weren’t, and allow them to “police the Irish”. This is what my father and his neighbors believed, however, it appears that many of B&T’s were actually out of work veterans of other brutal wars. They decided to give them some minimal training, and provided them with special uniforms; the uniform colors gave these thugs their infamous name the “Black and Tans” It’s not a secret that this group terrorized the local farmers. They beat them up and were downright mean.
A band of Black and Tans roughed up and nearly killed one of my father’s neighbors. He apparently was an older farmer and didn’t have sons to help him. Later the body of a Black and Tan was discovered in a local turf bog. Without any questioning or proof, they immediately rounded up any young male farmers, suspected of being members of the IRA, and put them in jail in Castlebar.
My father’s mother and my grandmother Mariah, walked in to town barefoot with her black European dress and shawl, and conducted a hunger strike, sleeping on the damp, cold cobblestones. My grandmother after several days without food and little sleep noticed a local priest being admitted to the jail.*** She begged and pleaded for the release of her son. The priest suggested she go home retrieve some of dad’s clothes and wait for his signal.
Together the priest and my grandmother were allowed to enter the jail for a private meeting, confession etc. with my father. When they left, my father was wearing the priest’s tunic and hat. The priest lay covered up in the cot. Our understanding was that he, the priest was able to convince the guards that he was knocked out and his clothes were stolen. My father was smuggled to Dublin, placed on a fishing trawler and dropped off to relatives living in Liverpool. Liverpool, England was home to a lot of Irish. Later he got on a German ship and made his way to New York.
His aunt finally showed up 30hrs late, signed a paper and he was allowed to leave for Manhattan with his burlap bag to collect the gold nuggets that he believe lined the streets of New York. His aunt just left. In a few hours he entered a “bread line” in the Battery section of Manhattan and stayed there for almost 6months while looking for any type of work.
Did he have anything to do with the killing of the Black and Tan? He said, “that while he hated them, the B&T’s, he might rough them up a bit, but to kill another human being. No way”.
***The following is mere speculation regarding the priest. My father’s brother John was a priest or soon to be ordained one. We’re not sure of the details, but he mysteriously left the priesthood and also showed up in New York. He made his way to San Francisco to find gold, and was apparently killed. There is a question as to whether he was the one who help my father escape.
Also, when my father finally found a construction job in the Bronx, gangs would show up each payday, which was usually a Friday to collect their “protection” fee. H e was able to flash some sort of insignia, badge etc that had to do with the IRA and he was left alone. He felt that as crazy as the mobsters were, they weren’t crazy enough to mess with the IRA. He watched fellow laborers resist the extortion only to be hit on the head with a shovel and buried immediately along with the concrete to become part of the streets of New York. I t was as he said, “not only the time of the Great Depression but also a lawless time”.
THE GREAT DEPRESSION
On his fourth Sunday at Mass, my father and his buddies were listening to the priest stating, “That, my dear brethren, we are experiencing our coldest winter in 50 to 100years. (This mention of the cold winter, was also in a line from the movie Cinderella Man-a film about the era) Many of you have no jobs, so -PLEASE WE DON’T WANT ANYMORE OF YOUR BUTTONS”- you see the Irish Immigrants were brought up to put a penny in the collection basket in the old country. Out of embarrassment for not having a penny, they began ripping the buttons off of their overcoats and tossing those in the basket instead.
Often during my wholesaling career, when the stock market occasionally tanked or we went into a recession, I would often tell my brokers “Remember the Buttons”, to get them to realize that the current situation was “nothing” compared to the 1930’s.
When my children would ask me if that could ever happen again, I would tell them that in that period one of every five Americans were farmers, there was a dustbowl in the west, we didn’t have Social Security, or government oversight agencies such the SEC-until 1933, FINRA, / they had no FDIC, NOR did they have UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE, “so no we could not have a 2nd Great Depression”.
I WAS SO WRONG!!! IT’S DIFFERENT BECAUSE OF WHAT I JUST MENTIONED, BUT WE HAD, AT LEAST FOR MANY AMERICANS a 2ND GREAT DEPRESSION. I also forgot about the “Greed Factor”, and the devastation that greed can cause. We just more than sampled it in 2008. In a way IT’S DIFFERENT this time, BUT IT’S BAD AND A LOT OF FOLKS ARE HURTING, AND A LOT OF GRADUATES ARE HAVING DIFFICULTIES FINDING EMPLOYMENT. I HOPE MY STORY(the year I graduated – 1970 - provided a terrible job market ), MY UNIQUE SALES CAREER, WILL GIVE AT LEAST MINIMAL HELP TO THEM AND ANYONE ELSE WHO NEEDS SOME ENCOURAGEMENT, IDEAS, A JOB.
Please send me an email from the Contact Us Page, with number of Mugs and/or Tee Shirts you would like. I will in turn send you a quote for cost, discount, postage. JPN