Editor’s Note: The Room Service Soda

Today’s Machining World Archives  June 2010 Volume 06 Issue 05

I know I’m supposed to celebrate milestone events. I have a lot to celebrate—a 40th wedding anniversary (see “Afterthought”), the marriage of my son Ari, almost two years of life since my quadruple bypass surgery and the 10th anniversary of this magazine.

I feel enormously grateful for all of these gifts and I count my blessings every day, but celebration is something I have not quite mastered.

In an earlier issue I recounted a story that my father Leonard told me as a kid, but I’ll retell it now. He was just starting out in the used machinery business and was travelling the Midwest with his partner, Uncle Abe. Abe was a fat, garrulous guy who didn’t know a mill from a lathe, but he gave my dad confidence and kept him smiling. My father was focused on the prize and Abe was focused on how he was going to spend it.

One day they arrived in Kalamazoo, bought rolls of dimes, commandeered the yellow pages and phones at a downtown hotel and starting calling local machine shops. They found a fellow who had a Becker milling machine for sale and immediately drove out to inspect it. They bought it on the spot for $500. This was 1942, World War II was on and machine tools were turning into gold. After buying the Becker they returned to the hotel and my dad called Adams Machinery in Chicago. He offered the machine to Eli Blumberg for $5000.

Blumberg countered at $4000 and they settled on $4500, subject to inspection. My father and Abe felt like millionaires. This was a deal to paint the town for, but they were stuck in Kalamazoo. Abe had the answer.

“Len, we’re going up to the room to order two ice cream sodas on room service in the middle of the day.” And they did. They must have been wonderful because my dad told me this story many times. I never tired of listening to it.

My brother Jim and I have shared occasional ice cream sodas along the way, but I doubt they tasted quite as splendid as those Kalamazoo black and whites.

I have worked on my celebration piece for decades, but it doesn’t come naturally for me.

In the Yiddish language we have an expression “Kinahora,” which means roughly, “if you think things are good, wait a minute and they’ll turn sour.” I’ve always had a bit of a “Kinahora complex” and I’m bloody tired of it.

This September I’m buying black and whites at IMTS for anybody who’d like to celebrate with me for 10 years of Today’s Machining World and two years of life after heart surgery.

To the black and white ice cream soda.

Lloyd Graff

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