Thursday, April 1, 2010

I Could Spend My Life with a Factory Girl 'Cause A Factory Girl's My Type....

There ain't nothing made here in this country anymore...

Debbie's father owned a factory. She hated that he owned the factory, but loved sneaking in there on holidays and weekends.

"It smelled amazing," she said. "Vague chemicals and sawdust."

They made furniture. With machines, but also with a fair amount of hand craftsmanship. Smooth, polished, beautiful pieces of wood that would last several generations.

I didn't appreciate the furniture back then. Hell, I thought a futon with a frame was the height of luxury.

And Debbie fancied herself a hippie chick. Fringe jackets, long hair, and a thrift-store wardrobe.

And, like most of my friends, she loved obscure music. But she had a specialty that was weird even by the standards set by my friends. She collected solo albums by people from famous bands. So she'd never buy a Faces album, but she had everything Ronnie Lane released. She wouldn't buy a Rolling Stones album, but she had all the Ron Wood records. And she loved the Who, but she only owned the solo albums by Pete Townsend, Roger Daltry, and especially John Entwistle.

She took perverse pleasure in the fact that many of these records were inconsistent (and sometimes not good at all). "The good stuff is always there," she'd say. "When I'm ready, I'll go back and get it."

The day after she turned 19, her dad told her he was closing the factory. It was cheaper to build the furniture in South America and ship it back to the U.S. He kept the company for another 5 years, then sold it to a large company. The South American furniture was better than what you'd get from Ikea, but it wasn't smooth and polished. And it wouldn't last for generations.

The factory closed. The windows were all broken within a few years. The walls sagged and the building was eventually torn down. A Wal-Mart would later be built on the spot, but it wouldn't sell the furniture from South America. By that time, everything Wal-Mart sold came from China.

And Debbie? She went home for the summer the year after the factory closed. And she gave away all the solo albums. "I decided I really want the good stuff," she told me.

But she saved one record: Rigor Mortis Sets in by John Entwistle.

"To remind you of the factory closing?" I asked.

"No. Because the record has a fold-out sleeve. Which comes in handy whenever I roll a joint."

I did mention that Debbie thought of herself as a hippie chick, didn't I? (Link for Gmail subscribers.)


thingy said...


The life history of America, all there.

I think I would have liked her.

Who Am Us Anyway? said...

Oh yeah. All the furniture, it says “Made in Brazil” where a woman, she slaved for sure, bringing home 30 cents a day to a family of 12 -- you know, that’s a lot of money to her. -- Dylan, Union Sundown