Nothing Crazy here, boy!
Born on Nov. 19, 1943 to John and Catherine (Pasola) Kalafut, Stanley was broaching 30 when I met him for the first time, and had lived a whole lifetime before he started with Donald at around the time of the founding of the retail component Cosmetics Plus in 1968 and the opening of the first store in Kearny a year later. Donald opened two more stores prior to my coming on board in June 1974, but began closing them again – so that by July, 1974, he had only the Kearny and Rutherford stores.
Stanley was born in Pennsylvania but spent his whole life in or around Newark. He lived on Schuyler Ave in Kearny the whole time I worked for him and commuted to the job up Route 280 – which explained why that road became one of the ways he later sent me when I had to make pickups in New York and Hoboken.
He was still going to school when the Newark riots burned a good portion of that city – and shocked him more than a little.
He met his wife, Diana, in Newark. She had just started to work for General Motors Acceptance Corp in East Hanover when I met him for the first time in the fall of 1972. She was the love of his life, and behind the scenes, she seem to give him strength that I imagine later he needed in order to cope with the increasing stresses that the job and life put him under. When she died in 1999 at the age of 52, he supposedly fell apart, something that affected his job, according to John Telson, who returned to the new warehouse in 2000, just after Stanley’s return to work.
At first, during the fall into early winter of 1972, Stan and I had only a nodding acquaintance, typical of the corporate neighbors in that complex where we all knew each other’s faces in passing, but generally not their names. But after a while, he knew us as if we worked with him, since our boss was often over at their place borrowing packing tape and other items we had run short on, and then returning them when the shipment of supplies came in from the main warehouses in Dallas.
Stanley clearly did not approve of us in general, but didn’t dislike us either, and for my part, I liked him right away because his blue-collar background reminded me of the uncles I grew up with, a conservative, religious man. He had the patience of a saint.
“I liked Stanley Kalafut the first time I met him, though after years of contemplating the issue, I still don't know why,” I wrote in a February 2, 1995 journal entry looking back at that time. “Actually, I knew him before I came to work at Cosmetic's Plus. For a year I worked in the warehouse next door, part of the staff of clowns that managed to get out orders for a crazy card company. I believe he had to think twice before taking me on, after the card company collapsed and I came seeking employment.
“`We don’t put up with nothing crazy here,’ he told me, his serious gaze studying my face for some sign of the madness he had heard many times through the thin warehouse walls, the shouting, laughing, banging and cursing that had been daily routine at the old place.”