A Slice of Life
As the word spread, and Ray’s air conditioning business increased, it wasn’t long before he had to start hiring help to keep up with all the work. At one point he had 5 trucks and 5 people working for him. Things were going really well for Ray, and as a matter of fact, during one year, Ray says he made more money with his sideline air conditioning business than he did working full-time for Leaver Bros.
One of Ray’s employees approached him one day and mentioned that the owner of the Friggitt Lounge had an air condition system that needed repair and wanted to know if Ray was interested in the job. When Ray inspected the A/C unit, he discovered that it had (what appeared to be a bullet hole) in it. He took the job and repaired the unit, after which he and the owner, Joe, became good friends. Things were going well with the Friggitt Lounge and sometime about 1970 Joe asked Ray if he would like to be a partner in the lounge. Ray knew a good deal when he saw one, and bought 1/2 interest in the lounge. Business just got better and better.
Then one day (sometime later) out of the clear blue sky, the local Mafia paid the bartender a visit. They informed him, that from then on their protection fee would be $1200 each week. When the bar tender told Joe and Ray about the Mafia visit, Joe said he wasn’t going to bow down to that kind of extortion, and that they could kiss his behind before he paid them one red cent. Ray tried to tell Joe that these were bad people and that he shouldn’t try to fight them, but Joe wouldn’t listen. Ray finally told him that he didn’t want to get involved with those people and wanted Joe to buy back his share of the business. Joe agreed to honor Ray’s request and just that quick Ray was out of the lounge business.
Ray continued to work at Leaver Bros. and his sideline A/C business. According to him, it wasn’t 3 months later that the Friggitt Lounge became one of many businesses in the area that burned to the ground. That fire made Ray wonder if that original bullet hole in the Friggett Lounge A/C unit might have been the first warning that his friend Joe had received from the Mafia about his refusal to pay their weekly protection fees.
After about 3 years, one of Ray’s original A/C customers, seeing how prosperous Ray’s Air Conditioning business was, approached Ray, telling him how he had always wanted to own a business of his own. He asked Ray if he would be interested in selling his business. After some consideration, Ray quoted him a price and the man agreed to Ray’s terms, and the deal was done. (Keep in mind Ray has been doing all this while working full-time with Leaver Bros.)
Some people have the most interesting life stories. Ray is one of those people, and I consider it a privileged to have him as a friend. If you have liked this story, stay tuned for more interesting blog stories to come, in the near future, about
“My Friend Ray.”