Melvin J. Bolar's Profile in The Record
Melvin Bolar's was profiled in the May 1, 2009 issue ofThe Record and included below.WHO HE IS: Heavy Cleaner for Custodial Services
YEARS AT COLUMBIA: 43
WHAT HE DOES: As a custodian in Low Library, Bolar works to maintain cleanliness in the building. Each day, he undertakes a variety of tasks ranging from cleaning entire offices to emptying garbage cans and recycle bins.
A GOOD DAY ON THE JOB: "I don't like when it's too slow-it drags, and I get bored ... I'll be trying to find something to do. I guess I like it when it's busy, when it's jumpin' like a 10-cent movie."
BEFORE COLUMBIA: Originally a cotton farmer from Alabama, Bolar came to New York City in 1961. "There was no work in the South at that time," he remembers. "Things were changing, and people were leaving the farms, going to big cities and factories." Bolar had two jobs before he came to Columbia in 1966; at his last job as a packer and deliverer for a garment company, one of the other packers notified him that Columbia was hiring and suggested that he apply for a job. "I came up here and I got the job right away ... and I started on March 14, 1966," Bolar recalls. He worked on the night shift in Uris Hall for 21 years and then moved to his current position in Low Library.
MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT: Bolar was once witness to an incident of streaking-running around naked-which had been a fad among Columbia's students for several years. "I was coming to work one night, and this girl had taken off all of her clothes and was standing right on Low Library's steps." Two young men, also without clothing, flanked her, and according to Bolar there were five or six hundred more people on the steps behind the instigating trio. "I forget the year," Bolar admits, "but it was happening all over campus."
BEST PART OF THE JOB: The imminent end of a hectic workday. Those times "when I'm getting ready to go home, and I'm rushing and maybe have another office to do" brings closure to his busy days. Bolar has also enjoyed the health and the support he has received from Columbia, saying they contributed to his ability to recover from various ailments and medical emergencies. "I've had a lot of operations," he notes, "I had a lot of health difficulties, but I overcame all of them. I'm hangin' tough."
IN HIS SPARE TIME: Bolar enjoys nights on the town, taking in movies or Broadway shows and dining and dancing at Swing 46, the New York Supper Club and B.B. King Blues Club and Grill. He is also a sports fan and is elated when he gets the chance to attend Yankees and Knicks games.
FAN CLUB: "For almost any of us who work in Low Library, we've seen first hand that Melvin is an essential part of what makes this place tick," said David M. Stone, executive vice president of communications, who sees Melvin nearly every day. "He's an admired and valued member of the Columbia community."