On The Waterfront

On The Waterfront

( – On The Waterfront

Swarup Hebel: A longshoreman is a dockworker who loads and unloads cargo vessels. The dockworkers, especially in New York, are a rough and tumble lot They are part of the AFL-CIO which is the most powerful labor union in the world. The movie starring Marlon Brando, On the Waterfront, depicts the violent early days of the union on the New York docks in the 1950’s.

One of my jobs (services) when I was with ISKCON Press was to fill the book and magazine orders from all the centers. Whether we printed the book ourselves or the actual printing was done by Dai Nippon in Japan — all the books and BTGs were warehoused wherever ISKCON Press was at the time (Boston and then Brooklyn and eventually Los Angeles).

When orders came to Boston from temples in the U.S. and Canada all I had to do was get the cartons ready and call up a trucking company like Associated Transport or Transcontinental Freightways, make out a bill of lading and have them drive up to our loading dock in the backyard. The consignment was loaded onto the truck and off it went to its destination – where anxious devotees were waiting so that they could distribute Prabhupada’s writings.

By 1970–’71 many temples were being opened overseas – in Europe, Australia, Asia, South America and eventually India. When I got orders from those centers I’d have to book passage on cargo ships that left from New York harbor. That process involved loading up the Ford Econoline van (which was shared by both the Press and the Boston temple) and drive to the Brooklyn shipping yards. The docks were always crowded with longshoremen and truckers coming and going with gigantic shipments packed into their 18 wheelers. In comparison my load seemed very small (in quantity perhaps) It was a pretty intense scene down there and I liked getting in and out of there as quickly as possible.

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