On the Scoop: Zippers


Time march­es on, but some things stand still, and that’s why I recent­ly went down to Green­horn, to vis­it Gal­liger’s Zip­per Repair, where Hank Gal­liger has been work­ing for the last 64 years. Despite being a neigh­bor­hood land­mark, not a sin­gle news sto­ry about it exists, curi­ous­ly enough. I’m going to get to the bot­tom of its rich his­to­ry, untold until now. I’m going to get the scoop.

“Who’s there?” Gal­liger sly­ly yells from the back room as I enter. The game of cat and mouse has begun. Inside are zip­pers of all dif­fer­ent lengths and sizes; cop­per, bronze, alu­minum, I assume are the mate­ri­als used in the man­u­fac­tur­ing. “Oh, yeah, I guess I’ve worked here since right after the war, I came back. My father had owned it. How can I help you?”

The only help I want­ed was the only kind he was­n’t offer­ing: the scoop. He was still play­ing coy, act­ing as if I were a reg­u­lar cus­tomer. I explained whom I was and for wan­tance I had come: to get the scoop. “Sure, look around, I’ll be in the back if you need any­thing,” he explained, try­ing to brush me off from get­ting the scoop.
The zip­per was the first tru­ly mod­ern fas­ten­ing device. The first Amer­i­can zip­pers appeared toward the end of the Amer­i­can Indus­tri­al Rev­o­lu­tion. At the same time, employ­ers were look­ing ways to lim­it employ­ee break time (but­tons take longer than zip­pers in bath­rooms), and the new machines allowed for rapid pro­duc­tion (no longer were chil­dren’s tiny hands being caught while mak­ing the incred­i­bly sharp met­al teeth). Zip­pers rep­re­sent our mod­ern need to always be zip­ping around, thus why they are called zip­pers. But some­one had already scooped this info. Time for me to get back to scooping.

Inside Gal­liger’s, I’ve decid­ed the game is over. “Zip­pers have stayed the same pret­ty much since they began. Maybe the teeth are duller now because of plas­tic.” He was start­ing to lose his cer­tain­ty. It was now time for me to zip to the bot­tom of the won­der­ful­ly rich sto­ries behind this place.

“In the 70s, the neigh­bor­hood was get­ting real bad, but no one both­ered us because we’d been here for­ev­er and were nice to every­one. When there were riots or bur­glar­ies, peo­ple decid­ed to leave us alone.” But his eyes were telling a dif­fer­ent sto­ry, shift­ing focus to the watch on his wrist.

“No, it was­n’t my father’s. My wife got it for me. I don’t know where.”

The scope of this gem was final­ly com­ing into view. The train had final­ly come. Des­ti­na­tion: the scoop.

“Look, I don’t know why you’re here.” Scoop?

I was get­ting to the bot­tom of things. I begged him to go off the record, but he did not stray from his story. 

“Have a nice day. Sor­ry I could­n’t be more help­ful.” Sure you are, Galliger.

I made my way next door to Franklin’s But­tons & Dots, to talk to the pro­pri­etor Gre­go­ry Franklin. I was sure he would know some­thing about the rich his­to­ry of dress fastening.

“What are you say­ing about zip­pers? Look, do you want to buy some­thing?” I ain’t buy­ing, friend, only scoop­ing. It was then that I heard the muf­fling under­neath the floorboards. 

I inquired as to what it was. “Look, guy, get out of here. You don’t want none of this.” I pulled up the floor to see a thir­teen year old girl, dirty, tied up. What a scoop! ♦