Thursday, July 07, 2011

2 scoops!

When I was a kid, Italian ices were sold by the scoop—with a 2 scoop minimum (and most often the maximum too!) There were ice vendors with hand push carts (there still are in my neighborhood) and pizza parlors always had ices, too. 10 cents bought an little paper cup heaped with ice. The ice chests—most often—had 6 flavors—Lemon, orange, cherry and chocolate were given—EVERY ONE had those flavors. The other 2 flavors? Raspberry (blue raspberry most often) and Rainbow (red (cherry); white (lemon); and blue (raspberry); was always popular, but sometimes there were other flavors, grape, or the exotic pineapple (or the more exotic mango) some times a neon green lime would be in the mix.

Ices were the taste of summer—and every once in a while—there was an indulgent 3rd scoop (another nickel!)

I lived in a distinctly Irish neighborhood (Our Lady of Mercy parish)--our priests were born in Ireland (some) and spoke with brogues (I never realize how many of the adults in my childhood did) or were first generation Irish Americans. For the first 10 years we lived in the Bronx we lived on 187th street.

3 very short blocks west-- 187th Street (google zip 10458) changed character—5 blocks west—was Arthur Avenue. And there is hardly a person in the US who doesn't know Arthur Avenue was the MAIN Street of the Bronx's little Italy. It's been featured in movies from the Godfather to A Bronx Tale. For me, it was just the neighborhood a few blocks west.

Oh, yeah, the bus route in A Bronx Tale? That bus route was on 187th Street—going past the lovely Mount St Carmel church—where many of the priest were Italian or first generation Italian Americans-- my last visit to the area—some 5 years ago--There were still many people on the street (from young children to grandmothers) still speaking Italian--(though, there is also now a mix of Spanish speaking families, too)

As a child, Arther Avenue was a different world. We mostly shopped on Fordham Road—a major thoroughfare with many stores—Alexanders was one of the anchor stores on the corner of Fordham and the Grand Concourse and Boulevard. But there was a Kresge's, and a Woolworths, and many chain stores. (Models) All very modern. And we bought most of our groceries at the local A & P. My dad worked for the A & P and Friday night (pay day) he would bring home heavy goods—like laundry detergent and bleach—and the 10lb bag of potatoes—but my mother still went once a week with what is now called a granny cart (a folding grocery cart) for most of the weeks shopping.

But Arthur Avenue was nothing like that. On Arthur Avenue, there was a indoor Market with small stalls and a staggering array of (to me--) exotic good—cheeses (Oh so aromatic!) and sausages, and spices—And fabrics—that's were my mother most often headed.

Most of the stores—and on Arthur Avenue, there were such different stores-- had good spilling out onto outdoor displays, too. There were pasta shops that sold fresh pasta, and ravioli, shops too. There were butchers, (we had butchers, too) and also pork stores—that sold everything from suckling pigs to a thousand kinds of sausage!

There were deli's that sold all sorts of imported food—and other stuff—that nowday is considered gourmet—but was common in these markets—duck eggs and goose eggs, and tiny little quail eggs too. With heaps of dried fruits, and barrels of olives--dozens of different kinds, and gallon cans of olive oil, too.

Outside the fishmongers, there were tables and chairs, and frequently, old men slurping down live oysters. There was a live poultry market too. (I could watch the prepping of chickens—from from live bird to dressed meat in about 3 minutes for hours if left to my own devices.--which I rarely was.)

South on Arthur Avenue—there was a small garment factory-and we walked there late every summer to pick up our school uniforms. Further south—there were 2 big hospitals--one Catholic one, one Jewish one—You've seen the second if you saw the movie Awakenings. And there was also the Bronx main office of the Board of Health—I remember first going there for a small pox inoculation –my second one (in 1960 this was required if you were traveling out side of US—I got my 3rd booster there 10 years later before heading off to a 8 week ($5 a day!) tour of Europe. Between these 2 visits—I was there again—To get working papers; a BoH employee would first check the city records for your birth certificate—and check to see that you where of age (15!)

Well—that's a nice walk down memory lane! Right now, my Italian ice socks are at 2 scoops—a heaping scoop of white lemon ice, and a second scoop of pineapple. Next, orange..

And my view--and yes, you are right jellydonut, it is a wonderful view—I frequently joke I bought a great view and they threw the 2 bedroom apartment in for free—is now obscured—by (still incomplete) scaffolding and black nylon safety cloth! Soon the lattice like railing will be removed, the surface of the terrace re-finished, and new railing will be installed. I am sure, once completed it will be lovely--but now? Yuck!

This is looking almost north-the tall building behind the stairs is the one seen (in darkness) in the left photo (the 'whiter' structures in background are a the top level of a multi-tiered parking garage, and second multi tiered garage (and new shopping center. )

The eagle-eyed will see I-495 (the Long Island Expressway) in the upper left, and in the far background, upper Manhattan.


JelliDonut said...

Thanks for the lovely walk down memory lane. I really enjoyed this--you should write a book!

Karen said...

Is that the rooftop parking lot to the BB&B? Formerly Alexanders? I'm showing MY age knowing that it was Alexanders!

Unknown said...

The very one! Notice (if you blow up photo) it has a bridge to a new shopping mall--Century 21, Kohls, Costco, toys R us and a bunch of other stores. Twice as big, and twice the parking. (and twice the congestion--but that progress for you.)