Kaufmann Leather

by Seymour Pierce


To those that responded to my question about FURRIERS in Newark, thank you! The outfit in question may have been here in the early 1880's. Maybe before "telephone books". The name was Kaufmann Leather, in the Ironbound section. I must preface this essay with the fact that ALL workers wore wooden shoes.

Fast forward to the mid 1900's. In the Newark Post Office, before machines and even before zip codes. Stamps were 3 cents and there were "penny" post cards. Letter carriers were forced to work 12 hours a day,every day, during the month of December, for obvious {Xmas cards} reasons. No jeeps, no wagons ,only strong backs and flat feet. Tension usually pervaded the work areas because of the TERRIBLE WEATHER and awful hours. We did get our job done in spite of it all.

Now the Kaufmann story. On the last delivery of mail on Christmas Eve day. To break the tension, anxiety, pressure, here is what took place. On each carrier desk was a paving block about the size of a shoe box ,collected in our travels. it was used as a "book end" when aligning "flat mail ", magazines etc. in an upright position. Now the tension reliever. One of the carriers, with the best voice Stood up on his desk and shouted . ""KAUFMANN IS PAYING " " KAUFMANN IS PAYING " {leather workers pay envelopes]. At that moment and for about 15 minutes, every one of the 100 carriers took those bricks and slammed them on to their metal cases. ALL SIMULATING the leather workers in their "wooden shoes" running toward the paymaster for their salaries. After the 15 minutes or so we went out into the weather for our last delivery of the "season"

This exercise occurred last during the 1950's when carriers were relocated to branches and all types of machinery replaced the personal touch. I retired about 12 years ago and the custom died over 50 years ago, I still hear the noise and music of brick on a metal surface, played by 100 of the greatest, most dedicated workers I have ever known. In reality, I guess as they say "You HAD TO BE THERE " I hope some are around that were there.


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