And then, well, a bike can go faster than any man
can runand the man propels the bike."
"But no one gives a damn about it anymore,"
says Bennett unhappily. And life's just never been the
same since the old velodrome in Vailsburg, outside
Newark, met its demise while he and "Mama" were
living in Cleveland. "It was there (Vailsburg) that I
feil in love with the Sport. It burned down and Nutley
was a poor Substitute. Stale bread, not cake."
Bike-racing or not, it would seem that there's
been an awful lot of cake in Paul Bennett's life, and
not a little of it heavily frosted. Among Typophiles,
his friends are legion and, much as he disavows
compliments ("I have an ivory-handled shovel for
that kind of stufF"), Bennett is the sort of man who
likes to have people think well of him. Around the
office he always has a sweet word for his subordinates.
To the secretary on whether or not the garage will
be open past six, it's "Will you check for me, like a
lamb?" To the designer who works over-time, "Still
here, boy?" To the elevator Operator, "Thanks,
Tom," and to the doorman, "Goodnight, John."
He tries to leave his office just late enough to
miss the bumper-to-bumper traffic en route to
Jackson Heights, where he and "Mama" have lived
in a co-operative apartment house "ever since Don
was a baby."
Driving daily through Brooklyn, he ruminates a
bit on fate. "Yes, I was born here but I hardly know
the place. It's got a lot of color to it, though. Now
we're passing through the Greenpoint district, old
tenements and cold-water flats. See those ailanthus
trees? There's one growing right out of the God-
damned yard. This is where Betty Smith's tree grew
in Brooklyn, you know."
Bennett can wax graphic about Brooklyn but
becomes nostalgic over Cleveland, "a citybut with
all the pleasantries of a small town," and Santa
Barbara, "up on a hill where you look out at the
ocean. I like to lie in the sun and dig my feet in the
"New York is a wonderful city, an exciting place,
but that's about all you can say for it." The boy from
Brooklyn who never lived in Brooklyn looked out
at the Manhattan skyline and added, "It's also the
world center for typography, and that is the main
interest of my life, professionally and personally."
A feckless motorist cut in suddenly from the
inside lane. Smoothly, Paul Bennett hit the brakes.
"Bd!" he said.
Typophiles, 1951. Left to right, Frank Powersjames Hendrickson, George McKay,
Lewis White, Bennett, Philip Duschnes, O. Alfred Dickman and Fred Melcher.