Titans of Industry

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January 26, 2014 by jamesessj

Chic Stonefellow

Born in Romania in 1896, came to the United States by way of an oversized catapult. Was adopted by a gypsy family who could not conceive. (They had no trouble producing children, they simply had poor imaginations.) Raised Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and Agnostic. Went to Harvard on a shot put scholarship. Excelled at glee club and blaming others. Met his future wife at a party celebrating the dean’s thirty years’ successful inebriation. Married in 1918. First child born six months later. Employed at First National Bank of Rutherford, New York, as an armed guard. His legs were allowed to moonlight. While at the bank he learned everything there was to know about Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian columns, though he would never again need this knowledge. Was taken under the wing of Wagner Hammerschmidt, a vice president at the bank who suffered from severe birth defects, including wings. Hammerschmidt taught Stonefellow the ins and outs of high finance, and also how to land in a crosswind. In 1925 Stonefellow ascended to the chairmanship of the bank, the youngest executive in the history of First National. His tenure was marked by chalk on a granite pillar, by his secretary. When the market crashed in 1929 he jumped from a twelfth-story window but, thanks to Hammerschmidt’s tutelage, landed safely in a crosswind. He was left penniless, but then he’d always preferred to carry bills anyway. He rebuilt his fortune by investing in war bonds before the war had even begun. In 1942 he ran against FDR, whom he viewed as one of the greatest presidents the country had ever had, but kind of a dick, until someone reminded him that Roosevelt had won reelection in 1940 and wouldn’t be running again till 1944. Stonefellow retired from public life after the war, though he was not yet fifty years old. Regretting much of his youth, he stole away several of Germany’s top scientists to develop for him a time machine, so that he could go back to 1908 and have that second serving of pudding. The scientists informed him time travel was not possible, but not before he had paid off their car loans and back rent. The rest of his life was spent in the lonely pursuit of a good back rub. He succumbed to triple pneumonia (he had a previously undetected third lung) in 1962.

Ion Geldersleev

Born in Hoboken, nonetheless insisted he was an immigrant, since his mother’s uterus was “another country.” Instantly recognized as a superior child, thanks to his facility with ten different languages, even if no one knew what any of them were. Took over leadership of his family in a bloody coup that left his brother with a purple nurple. Began to squander the family fortune on baseball cards, not for their inherent value, but for the sticks of gum. Discovered that if the pack of cards was old enough, the gum would have solidified into the hardest substance known to man. Geldersleev parlayed the discovery into a multimillion-dollar windfall, though he had hoped merely for enough to afford an upper plate. Through the early twentieth century “Geldersleev’s gum” was used for everything from hard hats to battleship rivets, but with the coming of war in 1914, gum production was diverted almost entirely to munitions. Geldersleev, a devoutly moral man, was deeply troubled by this, though he kept cashing the checks. In 1916 an Austrian housewife accidentally determined that Geldersleev’s gum could be softened with a little WD-40, a finding that nearly turned the tide for good against the Allies. After the war Geldersleev was a strong advocate of Woodrow Wilson’s League of Nations, mistakenly believing it to deal with fantasy football, and never got over the disappointment of its transformation into the United Nations, which he mistakenly believed to be an organization devoted to world peace. He died, alone and unloved except by his wife and three children, in 1951.

Hubert Humphrey Horatio

Born in 1833 in Las Vegas, Nevada, which at the time had but one casino and thirty-seven brothels. Mother was a lady of the evening, father a complete unknown. Grew up with a chip on his shoulder, from the time he fell out of a tree and a piece of his clavicle broke through the skin. His mother had high expectations for him, but his only desire was to become “president of the universe.” At the age of eight he invented a polymer that could be molded into a person’s face, thereby allowing him to impersonate anyone else who had the same general frame. At first he could only impersonate very short men, but as he grew he began to impersonate his teachers, parents, and boys at school who had girlfriends. Later he grew too tall to impersonate anyone but Abraham Lincoln, which he did for four months in 1862 when Lincoln fired himself because the war was going so badly. Horatio had achieved part of his dream, but he was president only of the United States, not the entire universe. When President Lincoln returned to office Horatio fashioned an Allan Pinkerton mask, with which he impersonated Generals Lee, Grant, and Sherman, in addition to Jefferson Davis and John Wilkes Booth. Also did a stint as Cornelius Vanderbilt, during which he became enamored of rail travel and conceived of a “railroad to the stars,” the tracks of which would be constructed of millions of strands of spaghetti lashed together by zip ties. He envisioned a battalion of Italian grandmothers, rolling pasta around the clock. Zip ties, however, would not be invented for another hundred years, and so Horatio’s dream of reaching the stars, and thereafter becoming president of the universe, would have to wait for the coming of the Zotoans and the election of 2238, by which time he’d been dead for 317 years.

Giuseppe Deli

“Meatmaster to the Stars,” born in Sardinia in 1932 and died in Sardinia twenty-three days later. Victim of “Haley Joel Osment’s Disease,” by which a person behaves as a fully mature adult even though they have not yet reached puberty, or, in Deli’s case, achieved the ability to grasp objects. Was providing marketing advice to his father, a butcher of no repute, before they had even left the hospital. Father said if he was so smart, why didn’t he try selling ham hocks to guidos? “‘Kay, I will,” replied Deli, and within hours was managing the busiest and most profitable meat market in all of southern Europe. Word of his wares spread across the Atlantic, attracting the attention of such Hollywood stalwarts as Marlene Dietrich and Fredric March, who proclaimed Deli’s roast beef to be “the best thing I’ve ever put in my mouth, and that includes Jeanette MacDonald.” By the age of four days Deli had expanded into Arabia, Africa, and Brooklyn. His father, desolate at this upstagement, took his own life by combining sauerkraut with horseradish. Deli’s mother took the news well, remarrying within the week. Deli’s draconian managerial style soon came under harsh criticism from Italian duce Benito Mussolini, who advised him to tone it down a bit, but Deli would have none of it. He began to experiment with drugs and alcohol, experiments that were, according to his biographer Flavius Goodnik, “wildly successful.” Deli’s lifestyle was bound to catch up with him, which it did on March 17, 1932, when he was assassinated by a disgruntled employee who refused to change his diaper. Deli’s meat shops, by that time, circled the globe, like a linked sausage. He was buried in a plain brown wrapper.

Ruby Pasternak

Suspected love child of the Duke of Windsor, though nobody was sure just which one. Grew up in poverty in the deep South, meaning Antarctica. Deposited there by a tramp steamer, who told her he shouldn’t have had that extra bowl of menudo. Lived outside Vostok Station in a snow cave and was fed scraps by Russian research scientists, who nicknamed her “Ruby” for the color of her distended stomach. One day she found, among the station’s trash pile, Boris Pasternak’s famed novel Doctor Zhivago, and though she couldn’t read, identified with the photo of Omar Sharif on the cover and became convinced that, like him, she was a man. She grew a moustache and threw her dirty clothes just anywhere, instead of in the hamper. In 1965 she was spotted by a kindly polar bear who didn’t understand that polar bears are found at the North Pole, not the South. The bear pointed her north, though since they were at the South Pole any direction was north, and the bear may only have been pointing at a nearby seal that had captured its attention. Ruby gathered her meager possessions, including her snowflake collection and a doll she’d made from pencil shavings, and caught an ice floe drifting toward Argentina. She caused an international sensation and was given directorship of a major corporation. Lacking business training or expertise, she soon had the company’s stock at record highs. But she felt a hollowness inside, and not only because she possessed female, and not male, genitalia. In 1974 she met Alan Henderson, who would have no impact on her life whatsoever. But in 1975, she met Tabitha Small, owner of a large manufacturing concern, whom she would attempt to marry the next year. But after a thorough physical examination Ruby was informed that she was a woman, and could not legally marry another woman. Heartbroken, she returned to Antarctica, where she remains to this day, a frozen testament to man’s inhumanity to man, or woman’s inhumanity to woman, or something.


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the author, if he lives that long

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January 2014
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