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Jeffrey Meranto’s My Best Worst Day Part 6

Jeffrey Meranto's Blog

Skinny Skinny

Skinny Skinny

As one might imagine there are large men in prison. Men who’ve spent years exercising, lifting weights, and taking whatever type of steroid they can get their hands on. But inch for inch ‘Skinny Skinny’ was the largest man I ever saw in prison. Skinny Skinny stood a whisper over 5 foot tall and weighed just under 400 lbs. After I got to know him I asked how he got the name, ‘Skinny Skinny.’

“My Mom was from Mexico,” Skinny Skinny said to me, “she used to watch those TV preachers all day long. Once she sent in a few dollars for some book about ‘Creating Your Own Destiny.’ It said in the book you needed to do something called a ‘Positive Confession’ for whatever you wanted in life. That and send in your best ‘Love Offering’ so they could agree with you.”

“So she sent in a couple pesos and made her positive confession that she would go to America. It happened. No running the border either, she got a visa man. She was legit! So she sent in dollars this time and made her positive confession for a car. She got a Cadillac! When she had me she wanted a skinny kid, so she sent in her money and every day she would make her positive confession over me, ‘Skinny Skinny’. This went on every day my whole life, and the kids in my neighborhood just kinda’ picked it up, I guess.”

Not being able to keep my mouth shut I asked, “So what happened with you bro, I mean you’re a pretty big guy. . ?”

“You know I asked my Mom that the last time she came for a visit. She told me she tried an experiment. She sent in half of what would’ve been her best love offering and would give two times the positive confession to see if it worked out. So instead of sending in $50.00 she sent in $25.00 and instead of claiming ‘Skinny’ over me, she would claim, ‘Skinny Skinny.’ ”

After a long pause I said, “Sorry it didn’t work out, bro.”

“That’s ok, my Mom told me that she never really liked skinny kids anyway.”

 

 

 

Early Retirement – My Best Worst Day, part 4

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                                                                   The Ride . .

No one can prepare themselves for incarceration, ( although I surely tried! ). The one thing I learned before going in was, “Keep your mouth shut, don’t ‘see anything,’ do your own time, and your ride won’t be too bad” These were words that were given to me by a ex-con whom I met at some seedy bar prior to going to prison. The “Ride,” he was talking about was the sentence that The Judge was shortly to impose.

Doing time, being imprisoned was somewhat like a surreal carnival complete with rides, unusual food, and a group of individuals who could easily staff any Ol’ Time Carnival Sideshow. . or Pirate Ship.

Nearly 3 years had gone by since I first “went down,” that is to say, I had been in prison almost 3 years. I was a porter inside my cell block swinging a mop back and forth up and down the cell block with the other porter, ‘Joe Taco.’

“Dirty dogs, the dirty dogs,” exclaimed Joe, “can you believe it? They gave me Cancer. The bastards.”

‘Joe Taco’ got his name from his business. Joe owned hundreds of Taco Trucks and Taco Stands from New York to Los Angeles.

Every year since he’d been in prison either the I.R.S. or The Immigration Dept. , or both, would come to visit Joe and try to get him implicated in new charges. To everyone, especially Joe, this was absurd since Joe was doing ‘all day’ meaning he had a life sentence without the possibility of parole. But still the Government Agents would come and threaten him. Mostly trying to implicate his family in wrong doing since his was a family owned and operated business with Joe making all the big decisions from inside.

He’d been in prison for 19 years, had 3 Heart Attacks, one minor Stroke, and now Cancer. Joe attributed all of this to the stress caused by the continued ongoing investigations he went through for 19 years.

“Can you believe it? And honest Jeff, I’m tellin’ the truth. . ” said Joe, ” They’re killing me with all this stress. And me Jeff, you’re lookin’ at a man who is doin’ time for somethin’ he didn’t do.”

I met lots of guys who said similar things to me about they’re incarcerated for something they didn’t do but, when Joe said this to me I could tell he was being truthful.

Over 25 years before Joe owned several Taco Trucks in New York some local toughs were forcing most of the vendors to pay for protection. Joe refused and according to him one of his trucks got torched. So a few short days afterwards 4 or 5 of the ‘tough guys’ were found shot to death. The best suspect for the murders was Joe.

Not that Joe talked much about what he was in for, he didn’t. Mostly he’d just say something like, “Look how they treat me, and I’m a guy who’s in for somethin’ he didn’t do.”

The I.R.S. would come after him because his business dealt mostly in cash. Immigration came after him because he employed  a lot of people who might not be in the Country Legally.

“I’m tellin’ you what Jeff. I ain’t gonna do it no more. Gonna go for early retirement and cheat these pricks outta a few years. That’s what I’m gonna do.”

What Joe was saying was he refused all treatment for his Cancer and was going to die, Intentionally. Thereby cheating The Government from taking the rest of his life a day at a time. “Early Retirement”

Weeks went by and Joe’s health failed rapidly. I’m not sure if his Cancer was super aggressive or if Joe just willed himself to die.

The last time I saw Joe he was being wheeled out of the cell block on a gurney. I was sweeping the bottom tier and as they pushed Joe past me he grabbed hold of my arm and motioned me to bend close so I could hear him.

“Tell everyone Jeff, tell everyone I’m in for something I didn’t do.” His voice barely a whisper.

“I will Joe, I will.”

“Tell ’em I didn’t wipe the prints off the gun I used to kill those pricks with Jeff. That’s what I didn’t do. I didn’t wipe the prints off the gun.” His smile wide and peaceful as they pushed him away.

So for the years I spent in prison, I met at least one man who truly was in prison for something he didn’t do.

 

 

Mrs Jeffrey Meranto. . . The Planner

Jeffrey_Jeff_Meranto jeffreymeranto.wordpress.com

Jeffrey Meranto

When one is first sentenced to prison there is a feeling of being completely out of control.You’ve lost your fight for freedom and now you have to come to grips with it all. But how do come to terms with something so beyond anything and everything you’ve ever known? Believe me everyone comes to this point and most everyone knowingly or unknowingly develops some strategy for coping – for getting through the first part of the nightmare some plan of action. And that’s what I did. I’m a guy so I did what guy’s do I developed a plan.

This is not to imply that Ladies don’t plan. My wife for example plans out everything. She plans events, she plans things to do, she even plans time between things to do so we can do things that just come up while we wait to do other things that she has previously planned for us to do. She is by far the best planner ever.

 We recently went back East to visit relatives in Minnesota and my Bride, as is her way, planned out the entire trip for us. She planned dinners, lunches, places to stay and places not to stay, she even planned allotments of time between planned events so we might catch our breath or do something fun and wonderful that we hadn’t planned to do. Got it?

One day between seeing her Cousins and sleeping at some lake we had “nothing  planned” and she asked me if I had any ideas. I had, since childhood wanted to see “The World’s Largest Ball of Twine Rolled By One Man” and once when she and I were in Minnesota years before I had made attempts for us to go but, she had always had other plans, (this was before she added into her planning strategy plans to do nothing or plans to do other things theretofore unplanned). So I, being aware of her meticulous planning methods, and her complete lack of desire to join my quest, had kept silent concerning The World’s Largest Ball Of Twine Rolled By One Man until we were between plans and being between plans I pounced –  made mention of my long-held desire and waited for her rebuff.

“Seriously? You want to drive an hour to see a ball of string? Why?”

“Look, you know I mentioned this years ago when we were here before. And it’s twine not string.”

“Twine, string who cares? It’s just a ball made out of rope Jeff, er. . Twine a ball of twine. Ok so we’ll go. But only because you never did get that Schwinn bicycle you wanted when you were a kid. Twine. . Seriously?”

So off we went to my delight. Until we got there at Darwin Minnesota and I discovered that I had forgotten my camera. But I did have the opportunity to fulfill a boyhood dream! I recommend it to any guy out there. Imagine the years of the years of time dedicated to this. It weighs in excess of 9 tons. Unfortunately I, as I stated had “forgotten” my camera so all I have to show you is what I could pull up on the internet.

Jeffrey Meranto's Dream Vacation

 Driving back my lovely wife say’s to me, “So, did you enjoy yourself?”

“Are you kidding, that was great!” I exclaimed.

“I knew you’d like it, that’s why I planned for us to go there today.”

“You planned,” began my retort, ” right, you can’t stand it that I finally got to see it! But I love you for going with me.”

“Jeff baby, look in my day planner,” she said to me.

And sure enough she had it scheduled in our her plans, listed as ‘MUST SEE’

Sitting back watching the scenery I asked her, “So . . why tell me now? Why didn’t you just say something ahead of time?”

“Because honey, I had to plan that you wouldn’t have your camera. We’d still be there with me snapping pictures of you with your ball of string. You know how you are!”

“So where is my camera?” I asked.

“I let my nephew David  use it!”

“The kid with the blue Mohawk?”

“Yes.”

“It’s not a ball of string. .”

“I know honey, I know I was there. Twine, it’s twine. Happy now?”

And I was.

Jeffrey Meranto – My Wife, My Bride

 

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The Meranto’s

“Jeffrey Meranto, Mrs Jeffrey Meranto,” my new Bride said again and again as she gazed upon the ring I had just placed upon her finger. A ring that had less than a hint of a diamond set in it.

“Mrs Jeffrey Meranto Your Honor. . ,” my mind returning to the present as my Wife stood up before The Judge to give testimony concerning why I should not be sent to prison for the rest of my life for my marijuana charge.

As my Wife spoke memories of my Aunt Stella and my Mother filled my thoughts, “Oh he’s such a Prince your Jeffrey is.” My Aunt Stella said to my Mother. My Aunt Stella who would announce herself on the phone as, “Hey it’s your Fat Aunt Stella, put your Ma on the line.”

“He sure is a keeper your Jeffrey. He’s gonna be a real prize one day, that’s for sure,” Aunt Stella went on.

“True enough,” replied my Mom. “He’s gonna be a prize all right, but whether he’s gonna be The Grand Prize or The Booby Prize only God knows.”

Looking into The Future through my past, as my Wife sat down beside me, I sat there with the understanding that I had become The Grandest Booby Prize of All.

Jeffrey Meranto. .My Best Worst Day, “Sam I Am. .”

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Typical Prison Cell in America

As I read the news a few days ago I noticed that Electrolux had acquired part of G.E. as in General Electric. The large corporation that manufactures every appliance one needs for today’s home, from refrigerators to stoves and washing machines and all things in between. The name Electrolux rang a bell in my head. Electrolux the manufacturer of vacuum cleaners sold quite often door to door by down on their luck types trying to hustle some homeowner into purchasing one of their latest models. So many bells were ringing in my head that I a got a headache thinking back not so many days before.

                                                       Stress The Big Killer

While serving my sentence for Marijuana I was diagnosed with Cancer and transferred to a medical unit for treatment.

“Stress, my good man. Stress is a killer. This is why, in my humble opinion, you have Cancer.” So stated my Doctor as he pinched, probed, and otherwise examined me that day.

My Doctor was from India, he stood something under 5 feet tall and came complete with multi-colored Turban, white lab coat cut in a Nehru style, and a red dot in the middle of his forehead. In his office he wore small yellow and red colored slippers that looked to be made of velvet. His highly polished wingtips sat on a shelf where he would occasionally pick one up to brush off a speck of dust or pluck some something from inside it. His gloved hands would then inspect the shoe place it back on the shelf and he would silently glide back before me and continue with his examination of me, his patient. “Please to be sticking your tongue out and open wide your mouth,” his fingers moments before handling his shoes now inside my mouth. My thoughts went to pictures I had seen of the hordes of people washing in the filth of the Ganges river but, I was too weak from the Chemo to complain.

“You must to be cautious of stress, my good man,” the Doctor went on fingers deep inside my mouth. “People in my country live in poverty of the worst sort and they live to be 80, 90, even over 100 years of age. Why, I am asking of you, Why and how? Stress I say to you, they have much less stress than you in your country.” His fingers ever in my mouth raising my level of stress until his India dialect and banter somehow mesmerised me into submissive bliss and my thoughts went to my buddy Joe Taco who had just the year before “retired early” from his prison sentence due to Cancer.

Enter Sam The Scam

Later I discovered myself back in my cell wrapped up in my painful delirium as my cell door slid open and the words “Hey buddy, hi. Sam I Am,”  rang out from the mouth of my new cell mate. The cell we lived in was designed for one person with no room to spare. Sam drug his mattress inside the cell then the cell door shut and for the next 8 or 9 months he became my daily entertainment.

I had never met Sam before but, I had heard about him from my first cell mate, “Bits and Pieces.” Bits and Pieces had told me a tale of how he and Sam had years before run a mail order business from inside of prison where they would sell, through the mail, coupons provided free by any number of large Casinos in Las Vegas.

Sam’s wife lived in Las Vegas, she would gather coupons for everything from free drinks, discounts for Top Name Acts on The Strip, to price discounts for rooms then Sam would have her take out ads in a variety of magazines selling them “At Discounted Package Prices.” Bits and Pieces worked in the prison print shop where he would reproduce all the coupons and even crop in pictures of Sam in an assortment of flyers and they would package it all up send it to Sam’s wife and she would mail these “Discount Packages” to anyone who mailed in the $9.99 they were selling it for. According to Bit and Pieces, they made “A KILLING” on it. That was until Sam got into some trouble in prison for selling fake Rolex watches to some King Pin Drug Dealers from Mexico and had to leave the yard for his own safety.

Prisoners could not have expensive Rolex watches, at least not in that particular prison. Sam would sell the watches and have them shipped to relatives of the Convicts he sold them to. One day one of the Cons went to a visit where his Father came in to see him wearing his new fake Rolex. Now this guy may have been raised poor on a corn farm in Mexico but, he knew enough about Rolex watches to know that the second hand did not go tic tic tic. It’s second hand has a continual sweeping motion so, when he saw the tell-tale tic tic tic of “You’ve Been Scammed” he came back into the cell block yelling, “Sam I Am . . Going To Kill You!” After Sam made his get away he forever afterwards introduced himself as, “Sam I Am” although by everyone else inside of prison he was known as “Sam The Scam” or “Sam The Sham.”

Sam was doing time for some Dry Cleaning Hustle. He’d go to the Library of any city and look through phone books from different large towns near by and copy the addresses of restaurants. Then he’d send them a short letter saying some waiter or waitress had spilled something on his suit jacket, explain that he hadn’t wanted to cause a scene at the time, had it dry cleaned himself, please see enclosed a phony dry cleaning receipt, and would you mind ever so much to reimburse me for this amount?

It all worked well for Sam until he sold the idea to some guy who owned an Ethiopian Cab Company. One day the Cab Company Owner ran into Sam at the Post Office and noticed Sam had a fist full of letters from different restaurants and correctly assumed that Sam was running the same scam that he had sold to him.

Someone tipped the Postal Authorities to Sam’s doings and he later got arrested for over a Thousand Counts of Postal Fraud. “It was that Ethiopian Cabbie, I know it was,” Sam wailed one day. “No sense of enterprise that guy. Hell, this Country’s so big he could have sold the idea to half his family and we’d all still have a big enough piece of the pie!”

“I started selling Electrolux vacuum cleaners back in the Fifties door to door,” Sam one day told me. “I should’ve stuck with them. I’ll bet I could be some kind of a Manager by now. .” His voice quietly rings in my ear now.

Yes Sam, I think you should have stuck with Electrolux. Who knows where you’d be today.

 

 

The Meet ( Jeffrey Meranto meets “The Man” )

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Jeff Meranto’s Inner Self

Offhandedly, without a thought, I had mentioned to the bartender that I could get Marijuana. Rather like telling someone at grade school that you had a sure-fire way of cheating on any test for any subject and since it was well known that at best your own test scores were middle of the road you thought nothing more of it as you sat down in the cafeteria to eat whatever it was school cafeterias fed to young boys with vivid imaginings and raging hormones (saltpeter, I believe was the rumor in my day).

Spoken, then forgotten like your overdue homework, gone like your previous summer vacation, lost like your school team’s last outting on the field.

Never expecting any response other than perhaps,  “Then why are your grades so low, are you keeping your ‘secret’ secret from yourself?!?”  And actually wanting no response at all, speaking simply to fill some imagined void that seemed to exist. Moving forward like a lone graffiti vandal towards a freshly painted surface with nothing to add other than J ♥ L. ( With “L” never being the wiser.)

Yet my bartender didn’t know that I had barely made it through finals at school and mistaking me for a scholar he had spread the word, “Jeff Meranto can get great marijuana at rock bottom prices.”  And having played the part of Carnival Barker he dutifully brought over to my table an interested party.

His body was like a solid mass of iron that had been formed by years of being beaten upon by ball pein hammers. His face was marred from hardships. Not hardships suffered from hunger nor concern of what turmoil some tomorrow might bring his way. Marred by hardhips that he had inflicted upon others.

“Jeffs?” he said by way of introduction extending his hand towards me, “callmeJoes. . SoYousegotsomeProductIhears.”

He spoke with the rapid staccato of a New York City jackhammer words punched together and shot out in short controlled bursts.

My mind tried to pry apart his sentence and find meaning. . product? Product? I was a businessman. I sold Jet Skis. Did he want to buy a Jet Ski?

“Err, umm . . well I got some fantastic prices on some top of the line Jet Skis. .”

“Jeffs. . Skippy here tells me youse got Product” his thumb punching back towards the bartender who’s name until that moment was something other than ‘Skippy’.

“Oh, . . OH Marijuana You want to buy some Marijuana!” The sound of my voice boomed over the music.

“Jeffs, WhatsAmatterYouse? YouseCrazy?” his finger to his lips like an exclamation mark signaling me to lower my voice as he looked left to right seeking some intruder listening to our conversation.

As he said “Whats A Matter Youse” my thoughts looked for safety. I went back to being a boy watching cartoons on the television, The Rocky & Bullwinkle show with Bullwinkle wearing a ‘What’s A Matter U’ jersy. Only this wasn’t Bullwinkle this was Boris Badenov in the flesh, bigger than life, pumped up on steroids.

“Jeffs. . youse got Product or NO. Swhat I’m askin’ ”

It was about this time that fear and the desire to survive took over my mind as well as my mouth. He wanted 100 Kilos, “Rightaways.”

I tried to squirm away, “I have to make a call. I don’t know. . I gotta call my guy.”

“SoCalls.” All smiles, “ThisIcanUnderStands. YouseGottaCallYouseGuy. ButUnderstandsDisJeffs. .UgottaCallsYouseGuy. He’sYouseGUY. Jeffs. I’m The Man” His eyes were nailed to mine as he said again, “I’m The Man, godit’?”

As he leaned close to me the ‘It’ that I actually had was the taste of the smell of a truly bad cigar. ‘Joes’ forever had the snub of a cigar in his mouth even as he sipped his drink and now it was an inch or less from my face. I could taste how rank it smelled this led to an overwhelming feeling of nausea on my part. Slowly again he said, “I’m The Man.”

I had it, or got it. Or so I thought at the time.

FEAR AND TREMBLING

You’ve heard the phrase, “Fear and Trembling.” These are twin siblings. Fear and Trembling’s parents are Stupidity and Greed.

In my life, Fear and Trembling never before had listened to their parents preferring the relative comfort of having just nearly enough. If only the twins had stayed the path – placed fingers properly in their ears, ever so tightly, and stopped the voices of their parents sweetly singing, “More Than Enough Jeffrey, More Than Enough.”

I would like to plead that I was forced into action by fear for the safety of my family and myself. While I did have a sincere fear of crossing ‘Joes’ this fear was assuaged by my desire for cash. The thought that I could actually get arrested never entered my mind.

So with fear and trembling I set off to call my guy the College Student. He who had come into my life waving cash for Jet Skis and equipment. And had left me with promises of easy money. Promises that I will tell you more about the next time we meet.

 

 

Jeffrey Meranto Phoenix Businessman Indicted On Tax Charges

Jeff Meranto Tax Evasion original artist Emory Way“Tax Evasion?!”

My voice probably carried around the block. Sitting in my lawyer’s office he gave me the news, “Jeff the Feds have just upped the ante. They have brought Tax charges against you including tax evasion.”

Up until that moment I had been a cowed defeated man. I was a child entangled in the undoing of my own design. But the rage I felt at that moment exploded inside me and boomed forth again and again, “Tax Evasion?! Tax Evasion?! Tax Evasion?!”

The truth was I had put all the money I made from my one pot deal into my legitimate business so that I could actually pay taxes on that money. The one Government Agency that I truly feared was the I.R.S. And now I was being told that I was in danger for actually paying taxes. They called it “Laundering” taking money received from something illegal not declaring it as being illegal but, putting it through a legitimate business inorder to  pay taxes on it.

“Calm down Jeff,” my Lawyer.

“Honey relax,” my dear Wife.

“Jeffrey Meranto!”  the voice of my lovely Mother echoed within my heart.

My Mother had died prior to my arrest yet she was continually in my thoughts through those difficult times. Often I would hear her voice telling me what to do at some particular moment like right then, I heard her stern tone of voice that she used whenever I was acting up and she wanted me to settle down, “Jeffrey Meranto.”

Slowly and in great detail I described to my Wife and my Lawyer how I had taken every dime and entered it into my business accounts so I could protect myself from Tax charges. I never spent one penny of that money prior to putting it through my Jet Ski business. As my explanation wound to an end my Lawyer stood up walked behind me and said, “Schmuck.”

“Schmuck?! Schmuck?! Schmuck?! You be the schmuck! You’re his Attorney, NOT his Father! Don’t you Dare Ever speak to MY HUSBAND like that again!” It was my Wife’s turn to explode in rage. She had jumped up running towards my Lawyer shouting and shaking her small fist in his face. “Never Ever Again. Do You UNDERSTAND?!?”

That day brought me somewhat back to reality. I was in danger and not only was I in danger I needed to keep my mind sharp get back in focus. I needed to make hard decisions that would affect not only myself  but, the life of my Wife and family.

My Lawyer explained to me that because I was up to that point in time unwilling to cooperate with the Prosecutors The Government  was “playing hard ball” trying to put so much pressure on me that I would be forced to “Cooperate” as they liked to phrase it.

By “Cooperate” they meant telling them not only about who I obtained the Marijuana from but, they also wanted me to give them information on any and everyone else that I may have known who used, sold, or purchased Marijuana EVER and any and all criminal activities that anyone known to me  may have been involved in.

The truth was that I was willing to cooperate as far as it involved myself ONLY. I was a businessman I didn’t know any “criminals” or if I did they had kept their illegal doings to themselves. I only knew about the young college kid who had helped me get the stuff.

Sadly, I learned later after my conviction that that young college kid had been nabbed prior to his ever coming into my place of business the first time. In my indictment there was mention of a Confidential Informant that led the Authorities to me in the first place. “Who could it be?” This tormented me for months. Nobody knew except my one buddy and he was in the same sinking boat that I was in. Turned out the young college kid got picked up for pot and they made him a deal. Since they didn’t want to bust a lot of students they told him that it would be good for him to lead them to older people ( like me ) all he needed to do was see if he could find anyone who was “interested” in buying or selling Marijuana and they’d tell him what to do from there. How he came up with the idea of buying large ticket items with cash as a lure is unknown to me. Where he got the money and how many other people he lured into buying from him is also unknown to me. But I still wonder how many people have ended up in prison because The Government created a situation and tempted some dumb yokel like myself into getting in over his head. Like my Lawyer once said, “Schmuck.”

It turned out that from beginning to end The Feds not only knew EVERYTHING but, I bought the stuff from one Government Agent and sold it to another Agent. It just happened that I opened my mouth to a bartender who introduced me to a Federal Agent who happened to be working on something totally unrelated.

(To this day my Wife won’t even allow me to buy a lottery ticket, “What, with your luck? Are you kidding me?”)

So it was plain, even prior to my knowledge concerning the student’s role in my arrest, that The Government wanted information and they didn’t really care how valid the information was, if people were actually committed to lives of crime, or if the information was somehow manufactured. They just wanted INFORMATION.

Later I asked my Lawyer, “So if I had only declared it as money received from selling Marijuana then I’d have been better off?” “Naw” he said, “They’d have charged you with something else. They’ve always got an angle.”

 

Jeffrey Meranto Phoenix Businessman steps in POOP

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Family Man, Retired Phoenix AZ Business Man Jeffrey Meranto

  I have never worked for anyone other than myself. I write this with a bit of pride but, not for myself . . for my Father.

When I was eleven years old my Father and I were out shopping in the old Christown Shopping Mall. Big stuff back in those days!

We got whatever it was that my Dad wanted to purchase and we did some window shopping. Just wandering about the various stores him looking at tools and things that he thought might be useful around the house me looking at every pretty girl in Phoenix who happened to be there. And at that time in Phoenix Christown was where they were.

(Eleven was when pretty girls began to matter to me! Leading me to later be married to The Prettiest Girl in Phoenix AZ! My Wife, my Bride who has stuck with me through all the good times and bad.)

Jeff Meranto's Dream Bike. 1960 Schwinn banana seat with apehanger handle bars

Jeff’s Dream Ride

And then there it was, the one thing that could turn my eye from all those pretty girls. . a 1960ish Schwinn Bicycle. Not just any Schwinn bike this was HOT, Banana Bike Seat, Apehanger handle bars, 3 speed with a stick shift! WOW!

“DAD, I Gotta have it!” The words escaped from my mouth before I had time to concoct any plan of action that might somehow someway convince my Father that his eldest son who, lacked nothing in life, “NEEDED” this latest new toy.

It was more than $50.00. My Dad looked at the price tag. “FIFTY DOLLARS?!?! Jeffrey, you could get a used car for FIFTY DOLLARS. JEFF you are NOT getting this bike.”

That was that, when DAD looked at me with that “DAD LOOK” I knew I was doomed. Every boy knows that certain Dad Look that says “are you crazy, are you even my child, or did you get mixed up with some other boy at the hospital and I brought the wrong kid home?”

So we drove home. Me looking wistfully out the window dreaming about how cool I’d look riding that bike and my Dad no doubt looking me over making certain that there were familiar family features imprinted upon my face assuring him that daft as I might be, I truly was his offspring. . .

After two days of  wandering  around listlessly and aimlessly because of unhappiness over my unfulfilled “Need” of a new bike my Father called me into the living room and told me that if I really wanted that bike I should WORK for it. And he gave me an idea. Take the lawn mower around the neighborhood and mow lawns. Sometimes Fathers Can Be Brilliant!

So I did just that and I attacked my neighborhood with all the fervor any young 11 year old on a quest can muster. After one solid week of knocking on doors, dragging the mower, mowing lawns, repeat I had amassed about 13 dollars. I could see my prize nearly in my grip, wind whipping through my crew cut scalp as I popped wheelies within the confines of my imagination!

My Father asked me, “So how’s it going? How much didya’ make this last week?” I was so excited, “13 Dollars Dad!” He smiled his Dad Smile then asked me, “And how much do you plan on giving me?” “Huh?”, was the best I could answer.

“For the use of my mower. Rental fees for using my lawn mower. What do you think is fair?”

My very first Bubble burst.”POP!”  I had never thought of Anything like that which he being a Father very well knew. He explained to me some basic facts of business which I can put here in brief: “It’s a ‘Dog eat dog world’ .”

By the time I had gotten enough cash to purchase that bike I bought my own lawn mower, which my Father would charge me storage fees for, and truly entered into the world of small business ownership. 4 years later with two high school guys as employees I had 3 lawn mowers, 2 gas powered edgers, and and assortment of odds and ends for lawn and garden grooming.

We were moving after I turned 15 and my Dad helped me find someone to buy my client list plus the equipment for a good profit! Then the I.R.S. came into play, “POP”, my second Bubble burst.

So due to my Father’s wisdom I have always owned my own business and I’ve never worked for anyone other than myself. Which leads us to later in my life when I owned several businesses including a Jet Ski sales business. which is where my troubles began.

jeffrey meranto's bubble

Just prior to my stepping in Big Doo-doo the economy was good, very good. But everyone was talking about ” The Bubble ” and when it would POP. I was up to my ears in debt and everyone I knew kept talking about The Bubble Busting.

One day my Grandson came to spend the weekend and while I was unpacking his things I saw he had brought his own bath stuff . . including a bottle of Mr Bubble. “POP”
Looking back on it, I Laugh, BUT at the time I was panicked. 
Then one day at my business a young guy walks in and asks if he can make a purchase with CASH. 
What do you think I told him?
Long story short, he makes several purchases each time with CASH. So I ask him straight out, “What do you do for a living?” Turns out he’s a Student at The University and he point blank tells me he sells “POT” He’s ready to graduate without any debt. Before he leaves he tells me that he has stopped selling the stuff as he’s about to graduate, But if I ever want any to call him before the semester ends and he’ll get me some for his cost.
Why oh why I ever mentioned it I’ll never know but I did. I was at an upscale club in Scottsdale and I said something to a bartender. The next thing I knew he was introducing me to a “friend of his.” Some guy with a ” Back East ” accent who was ” in the market.”
He wanted 100 kilograms. I was thinking 100 baggies as in Ounces and I thought that was a lot!
I called the Student he said he’s never bought that much before he’d have to get back to me. When he did he gave me a price and I thought “That’s got to be Some Good Pot” as I was thinking Ounces NOT KILOGRAMS! But I also felt better because I never thought this Back East Guy would want to give me that kind of cash.
I asked the kid what the markup would be on resale, he said ” Easy Double & That’s Passing Along A Discount.”
I was more than nervous I was flat out afraid. So I met with the buyer told him the outrageous price and he told me ” No Problem. Meet Me Tonight.”  My heart stopped. The rest of the story is a blur. The bottom line is the Back East Guy was a Government Agent. My one and only sale was to the Feds.
They told me to give them my supplier & the student. I kept thinking how that young boy had his entire life ahead of him, my wife also brought that up to me after I told her the whole story. So my wife and I agreed I would keep my mouth shut and I would dance to whatever music the Prosecutor played.
Possession of Narcotics?? I asked my attorney if they were serious. My attorney said that they were angry because I wouldn’t talk to them and the Federal Prosecutor wanted to make an example out of me. I still wonder, ” An Example Of What & To Who? “
So now even to this day I’m still an example. My charges of Possession of Narcotics & Tax Fraud still haunt me. The fines totally wiped me out financially.
So to anyone and everyone who might be worried about some “BUBBLE BURSTING” there are worse things. Yet even those worse things can be lived through.

Come Back For My Next Post Where I Describe In Hilarious Detail ALL The Bump and Grind that a naive businessman turned wanna be pot dealer can get up to!