Different Slants

Seeing the World from a New Angle

Joy’s Diamond Ring (4):Romance & Racketeers…by Robert M. Katzman

Robert M. Katzman’s Amazing Story:  http://www.differentslants.com/?p=355

Part 4 (scroll down for parts 1-3)

After Buddy was released from ‘The Slammer’, as my Dad always phrased it, his relationship with my Dad resumed like nothing had ever interrupted it, like World War II, for example.

Buddy the Hun was unavailable to serve his country in that war because he was already serving his sentence in that same government’s Federal Penitentiary.

When they had their first post-prison reunion in 1951, Buddy was trying to decide how to make a living.  My Dad suggested Buddy try becoming a jeweler like he himself had done, after the war.  My Dad laid it out for him: No heavy lifting, the merchandise would never break down, like say, a washing machine, for instance, and (not a small part of my Dad’s reasoning in this situation of career repair) it was distinctly possible to run a store selling jewelry as a cash business.

Buddy the Hun thought it over, especially the ‘cash business’ aspect of it.  Because to Buddy’s way of thinking, he wanted nothing further to do with the Federal Government of the United States—including paying any taxes.  He figured he’d already paid them enough in years of his life.

Buddy knew he had lines-of-credit waiting for him, and he was also fairly certain he could obtain an ample supply of easy-to-move merchandise like diamonds and watches.  What he didn’t know, like how to convincingly portray himself as an experienced jeweler, he would learn.  And his old pal Izzy would be there to help him, as long as it took.

So, with old chits to collect for time served, Buddy the Hun became Buddy the Jeweler, by appointment only.

Time passed.


Now we’re back in December 1977.

A week before I made the decision to propose marriage to Joyce, I called my Dad—the former jeweler—and asked him where I should go to buy her a ring, since I knew nothing about jewelry, carats or what something like that should cost.  Being a jeweler wasn’t genetic.

My Dad told me he knew a guy “who would take good care of me”, and to let him make a phone call to arrange a meeting, first.  I said ok.

A couple of days later, on December 27th, my Dad called me and told me to meet him Downtown at 5 North Wabash, under the elevated tracks, or in other words…at the location of his former store from long ago.  He must have thought I had no recollection of his place, but I did.

He told me he had an old friend there, a guy named Buddy the Hun, who would sell me a ring on December 31st, the same day I planned to propose.

I first thought, 

“Buddy the Hun?  Is he serious?” 

My second thought was, which I said aloud to my Dad,

“Isn’t that cutting it a little close?  I need the ring that same night.” 

My Dad, with his trademarked confidence, assured me that his friend was very reliable and that I would have my ring that same day.  I had no way of knowing that normal people who go shopping for rings take weeks or months to do that, and that a personally created ring was something that took a long time to get done.  As a person who built newsstands out of piles of wood, and had the attitude that if I wanted to build a bookshelf or hang a door, it was no big deal and I could do it in an hour or so, depending.  So, I assumed making a ring was like that, too.

After all, people who aren’t carpenters might think hanging a door was a daunting achievement and only someone with mystical talents could do that.  Everything is relative to what you know.  Or don’t know.

So, if my Dad said this ring would happen at a certain time and place, why would I question that?

I agreed to meet my Dad at his old address Downtown at noon, twelve hours before the ring was to be presented to Joyce.  We met at precisely at noon, both of us being punctual men, which actually means having respect for another person’s time.  Without much chit chat, we rode up the same old brass elevator that resembled a jail to me, with its same old clanking sounds from the Fifties that I still remembered, and we stopped at Buddy the Hun’s floor.

With my Dad leading the way, we found a small office tucked away around the corner from the elevator that said, enigmatically: “Fine Jewelry for Sale, by Appointment Only”.  The place was dark.  And quiet, too.

I thought to myself that this tiny shop, hidden away in an old building on the 7th floor was only open by appointment?  I guess Buddy the Hun must know a lot of people who need jewelry.  People with money.  I also thought to myself it must be nice to have a private cliental like he did, and not to have to wait around all day for customers to buy something, like I did.

My Dad rang the bell and I heard some footsteps moving toward the door.  Then I saw some fluorescent lights blink on in the dark store, and then the door opened.

Buddy the Hun stood before us.  He and my Dad greeted each other warmly, embracing and saying:

“Hey, Izzy!” 

“Hey, Buddy!”

Like two guys who knew each other forever, which they did.  Then Buddy turned to me, more formally, as my Dad then introduced me to his old pal and Buddy’s newest customer.  We shook hands, firmly, like men do when they first meet, a firm handshake being an indication of character.  One of my Dad’s many lessons. A limp handshake communicated many things, none of them good.

Buddy was of medium height, about five foot eight, stocky build, clean shaven, and was sixty-five years old, same as my Dad.  His black and silver hair was receding and there were deep indentations on both sides of his mouth, beginning just below his eyes.  They were not smile lines.  Buddy the Hun was a very serious man.

We all walked into his cramped office and he told us to wait a minute while he did something.  Then he came back and asked me how much I wanted to spend on Joy’s ring.  I told him.  He nodded, and he went to his safe, which was this enormous black steel monolith sitting in a small dimly lit area behind him like something  transported from Stone Henge.  He returned with a single black tray with many vertical  glassine envelopes in it, evidently all filled with diamonds and apparently arranged by size.  The black tray was about ten inches by about twelve inches in size.  I was mesmerized by this whole situation.

Buddy pulled out one envelope which he said was in my price range, and asked me to hold out my hand.  I did that.  He then opened the top of the glassine envelope and very carefully poured a shimmering pyramid of diamonds into my cupped palm.  A unique experience for me.  I stared at them for a while, the glittering and uncountable mass of diamonds making little rainbows on my hand, as the light filtered through them.

I was transfixed by this sight.

Then Buddy, evidently busy, and perhaps a bit impatient, spoke to me in a matter-of-fact voice:

“Pick one.” 

I woke up from my trance, arbitrarily picked one stone out the mass of them and handed it to Buddy.

Buddy the Hun.

He smiled.


Publishing News! 

Bob Katzman’s two new true Chicago books are now for sale, from him!
Vol. One: A Savage Heart  and Vol. Two: Fighting Words

Gritty, violent, friendship, classic American entrepreneurship love, death, heartbreak and the real dirt about surviving in a completely corrupt major city under the Chicago Machine. More history and about one man’s life than a person may imagine.

Please visit my new website: https://www.dontgoquietlypress.com
If a person doesn’t want to use PayPaI, I also have a PO Box & I ship anywhere in America.

Send me a money order with your return and contact info.
I will get your books to you within ten days.
Here’s complete information on how to buy my books:

Vol 1: A Savage Heart and Vol. 2: Fighting Words
My books weigh almost 2 pounds each, with about 525 pages each and there are a total together of 79 stories and story/poems.

Robert M. Katzman
Don’t Go Quietly Press
PO Box 44287
Racine, Wis. 53404-9998                                                                                                                    (262)752-3333, 8AM–7PM

Books cost $24.95 each, plus shipping

For: (1)$3.95; (2)$5.95; (3)$7.95; (4)$8.95 (5)$9.95;(6) $10.95

(7) $11.95; (8) $12.95; (9)$13.95 (10)$15.95 (15)$19.95

I am also for hire if anyone wants me to read my work and answer questions in the Chicago/Milwaukee area. Schools should call me for quantity discounts for 30 or more books. Also: businesses, bookstores, private organizations or churches and so on.

My Fighting Words Publishing Co. four original books, published between 2004 and 2007 are now out-of-print. I still have some left and will periodically offer them for sale on my new website.

 Twitter handle: bob_katzman



Comment by Don Larson

July 30, 2010 @ 9:13 am

That’s a cool way to buy a ring. The human aspect of a special occasion with Dad as part of the processes is a great moment in life.


Comment by anna Kong

July 30, 2010 @ 5:44 pm

Can’t wait to read the next installation of this story. Your skillful writing style always draws me into the story. Your writings always tug at my heart strings. When I read your books, I always felt sad when I came to the last page because I didn’t want my reading experience to end. Keep on writing.

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