Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Shallett's Boiler

The boiler is out in Shallett's Laundry at the beginning of Montauk Avenue. Since the place is usually full of steam and as hot as the Devil's doorstep, the old brick building isn't well insulated. Usually warm and busy, Shallett's is quiet and cold now that the boiler isn't working.

It won't be working for a week. Shallett's boiler isn't exactly new. Its parts have to be special ordered from industrial antiques dealers. The boiler needs a kind of prester valve that hasn't been manufactured for eighty years. Luckily, Mr. Shallett has connections and he located a valve in the Sloane-Stanley Tool Museum in Kent, Conn. They brought it via armored van to the machine shop on Hempstead Street where a replica is being made from brass.

Until the valve is finished, no active laundering is going on at Shallett's. The tailor is sharpening her scissors and needles. The pressers are polishing their irons and sanding off any rough edges. The head presser is offering lessons on the finer aspects of wedding gown preparation. The folders are doing finger stretching exercises and truing all the hangers. The counter ladies have taken the cash registers apart and oiled all the gears.

Business hasn't picked up at other dry cleaners in the city. Shallett's customers are loyal. The modern gentleman and gentlewoman know where to go to look thier best. They don't trust their clothes to just any new shop on the block. They trust their clothes to an establishment with a century's experience. Rather than support the competition, New London's best dressed folk are wearing wrinkled and stained tuxedos and gowns until Shallett's is back humming. The staff can't wait for the rush.

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