The four men knew each other well, then one fell away.
|THE DAILY VIEW
They called them, “The Presidents.” Three Georges and a Fred. They are all well known in this little town. George Hamilton was one. Not the actor. He was bone thin with tattoos that ran up and down needle-marked arms. He lived in a back room in a church basement on Gossling. Then there was George Adams. He lived in a half-way house over on Broad Street. They say he always wore clean clothes. According to the other Georges, he could tell a million dirty jokes, “and some of them were funny.” And then there was George Jefferson. He taught himself the violin, and played for loose change down in the metro in the early days. And finally, there was Fred Washington who lived with his mother and knew the Georges well. He said he was glad he wasn’t a George. He used to say, “Can you imagine going through life as George Washington?”
Freddy Washington? Yes sir, I knew Freddy. He still lived with his mother at that time. The rest of us were pretty much on the street. We called him George cuz it riled him up. My name really is George, but they call me Adams. I mean, we was all named George, but went by our last names. Otherwise, what, Jefferson comes up to me and asks, “Hey George, where’s George,” and I say, “George? I think he’s with George.” I mean, buddy? That dog don’t hunt…
Yeah, no, we went by our last names. It was me, Hamilton, and Adams. Oh boy, that was a long time ago. We were not in the best of shape back then but we were trying, you know? Hamilton was coming off H, and me and Adams had been hitting the pipe pretty good every chance we got. I shudder just to remember those days. But we got though it. Hamilton was living under the church and running out to Windex car windshields in the street. You should of seen him! He looked real, real skinny, like a strong wind could blow him away. He worked hard though, cleaning those windshields even though the drivers of the cars would give him hell for doing it. They usually gave him a buck or something for his troubles anyway. I think his tattoos scared them. But, no sir, I haven’t seen Fred Washington for a long, long time now.
We called him “George” because it pissed him off. Which is pretty funny if you think about it—our names really were George. It was kind of a club. We all went by our last names. There was me—I’m Hamilton, and then Adams, and also Jefferson. The three of us got along great, but that fucking George followed us everywhere! And my tattoos didn’t scare nobody! Fucking Jefferson always said that my tattoos scared people. The guy gets out of County after three years on a B and E and suddenly knows how to play the violin. He use to play for quarters down in the subway. I think he spent most of his earnings buying new strings. Fucking guy was always saying how he broke another string. “I broke another string! I broke another damn string!” I first met Adams in a halfway house. His mother showed up every day with groceries and new clothes for him. And I didn’t Windex any car windows. I had a fucking Windex bottle I filled with soap and water. Do you know how much a bottle of fucking Windex cost in those days? I worked for a living and they paid me because I cleaned their windows good. Nobody bought me any new shirts! And my tattoos never scared nobody. As far as Fred Washington goes, I haven’t seen the man in quite some time. I don’t remember much about him. We used to call him George cause he hated it. I remember he lived with his mom.
THE DAILY VIEW
And so life went on for these four men. The town knew them as the Presidents. By the time Mr. Jefferson became a celebrity and started playing solo concerts at the Fairview they were mostly off drugs. George Adams became his promoter and sold shirts with the name Jefferson in big flashy letters on them. The shirts sold well and Adams one day opened his first clothing store in the center of town. He did well in the store and a year later opened a second one. Mr. Hamilton became known for his window washing ability and was hired by first Adams to wash his store windows and then most of the other shop owners put him to work. A year later he had three men working for him and a thriving business called Supper Delux Window Washers. Fred Washington dropped out of sight around that time. We ask that any information on him be relayed to the Lancaster Police Department or The Daily View.