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         Almost all of my classmates at the Freehold Hudson Street grammar school had at least one member of his or her family employed by the rug mill. That was the order of things in those days. Freehold was a blue-collar town and the rug mill gave it the color. That situation applied to the Broad Street grammar school and St. Rosa Lima Catholic School as well. I believe, with a degree of certainty, it did not apply to the family members of those kids attending the black (There were no African Americans in those days) school over by the town dump. It certainly didn’t apply to the few Jewish kids at those schools (St. Rosa Lima and the black school excluded).


         All of the above schools ended with the eight grade, resulting in an in-gathering of all grade school graduates at the local high school. Most of the entering class of high school freshmen knew exactly where their destinies lay from the very first day of school. Those kids who had relatives and parents employed at the local rug mill knew they would get a job there, marry and raise children who would grow up to work in the rug mill, marry and raise children who would grow up to work in the rug mill. This formula applied to the Hudson Street School, the Broad Street School and St. Rosa Lima. It didn’t work for the black school kids from over by the town dump and it didn’t work for the few Jewish kids who were always, thoughtfully reminded that they were Jewish and different by their gentile friends and parents. The black kids couldn’t get a job at the rug mill (Unless they swept floors) and the Jewish kids (who didn’t sweep floors) were headed off to college and, ultimately graduate school.


         There was a rhythm that was imbedded into Freehold’s internal workings. It was, historically, a colonial town where the battle of Monmouth was fought during the Revolutionary War. It was and is the county seat of Monmouth County with an impressive courthouse. It was, but is no longer, a segregated town. It was still segregated during my growing up years (but that is another [important] story.). The rug mill was the main rhythm with a special beat that would go on forever.


         The story of Freehold is the story of too many towns and cities across the United States. There came a time when the beat with its steady rhythm stopped!


         Nothing is forever! (I didn’t invent that expression.) The rug mill certainly wasn’t forever. I do think there were those who had been employed, were employed and expected to be employed were under the delusion that A & M Karagheusian, Inc. (better known as the rug mill) was destined for immortality. If that term did not apply to the rug mill, it mattered little to those that depended upon it for their living.


         The dream lasted for sixty years, ending in 1964. That was just about fifty years ago. Like most dreams they evolved from a fairytale of distorted images that had little to do with local reality. Sixty years of that kind of reality morphed into two empty factory buildings.


         This pre-dated the coming of the robots (More about that in related articles). Plain economics was the killer. The rug mill died the old fashioned way and the locals mourned.

There were other victims who didn’t work in the rug mill. One of those was a close friend who became a lawyer and came back to town where he opened a law office above a store. He had a short career that ended when he put a bullet in his head. Was there any connection there to the rug mill tragedy? Who can say?


         Today, if rug mills still exist, they certainly need very few people. Robots properly programmed can do the job. We are moving into a robot world where humans may soon become superfluous…unless….? 

See a story I wrote in August 1986 titled THE REPLACEMENT.  




 © robert 2014