High Standards

In 1971 while still in high school I was working full time at Rath Meat Packing Company. It was a very good job that paid top wages but was hard work. Working eight or nine hours a night, attending high school, and dating my finance kept me busy. I learned so much from that experience and met some wonderful people. Many of the men I worked with influence me greatly, but none more the Lorenzo Davis. Lorenzo was without a doubt the coolest guy I have ever met. He was over six feet tall and had the chiseled physic of a professional athlete. Broad shoulders, barrel chest, with a slim waistline. He had a huge afro-hairdo that his safety helmet just sat stylishly cocked on the side of his fro. He had smooth silky chocolate colored skin and a smile that put everyone at ease. His personality was over the top and he loved to make you laugh. He was the complete package.

Lorenzo had the coolest walk of any man I’ve ever seen. He oozed cool as he glided through the room smiling and all the guys and winking at the ladies. He didn’t have to worry about whether he was being looked at, he knew the command he had on everyone. And he used it skillfully. He wore laundered blue jeans that were heavily starched with a crease that was never not perfect. His shirt was tucked in neatly with the top few buttons not fastened to displace the sparkling gold chain around his neck. Regardless of the work he was doing he doing his appearance was always tidy and the cologne he wore overpowered the pungent raw meat smell that permeated the packing house. He always looked like he was ready to step the dance floor rather that pushing trollies of meat into the smoke house.

I will never forget one night as I was washing molds in the smokehouse, I heard the speaker loudly playing the latest Cornelius Brothers hit. The speakers were only to be used for official announcements and only by management.  While the night foreman was running around looking for the office that was playing the music Lorenzo came strutting by where I was working wearing his patented grin. He tipped his head toward me and winked confirming it was his handy work that broke the silence of the night with Motown’s latest masterpiece. What might have seemed like a common prank was much more to me, it was a statement to the world that Lorenzo would never be tamed. His free spirit was destined for greatness.

From that moment on he was my idol. Lorenzo was friends with everyone, even the bosses looked up to him. At the domino tables, at lunch break, he had no equal. He was a good storyteller, and nobody questioned his feats. I was eighteen years old when I realized what I wanted to be in life. I wanted desperately to be Lorenzo. I didn’t have his physic or his cool afro, and I would never be that good looking, but I set my mind on being Lorenzo just the same. So, I began imitating his persona. I was always a fair actor, so I studied him and took from him what I could. I was just a white kid from the suburbs, so it wasn’t easy, yet in my mind I became Lorenzo.  I walked different. It wasn’t his masterful strut, but it was pretty good. I talked different. I didn’t try to copy the black lingo that would have never worked.

It worked! Shortly after my transformation the love of my life noticed me. The girl I had loved for years, who is currently my wife saw me in a new light. We had been friends for years and nothing more until I met Lorenzo Davis. That extra degree of cool along with some folding cash in my wallet made to eligible. I lost track of him when I left Rath in 1973. My life by then was on a solid path. I will forever be grateful for what Lorenzo taught me. You can never have too much of Lorenzo’s style cool in your life.  

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