A good Sunday yesterday!

I stayed in bed late watching Meet the Press. Then it was off to the Pier House for lunch/brunch.
I bought the Sunday papers on the way in.

The weather is glorious here in Key West. I sat at a table at the Beach Bar. This gave me the opportunity to enjoy the weather and view. The view, of course, consisted of the beach and the bikini clad beauties thereon.

I had had a craving for ham and eggs all week. So ham and eggs it was!

Last night it was dinner at the Yacht Club with Lisa and the family. Corey’s mom Karen is in for the week and she was with us also.

Robert and Ally have become good dinner companions. I remember when we first took them out to dinner. What a disaster! But they have learned.

I told Robert to bring his deck of cards. The grandkids are into card playing. Crazy 8s the game is called.

After dinner the 3 of us headed to an adjoining room to play. I do not know Crazy 8s. Robert 4 and Ally 3 were to teach me. Ally did most of the teaching. “You shuffle first.” I shuffled. “Now give us each 5 cards.” I did. “Put the deck in the middle of the table.” I did. “Turn a card over.” I did again as directed.

A real pro, this child Ally!

However that was the end of the lesson. No one explained to me how to actually play the game. I was picking up and throwing down wrong while they both gleefully destroyed me 2 games in a row!

The other night at the Chart Room Marty had a bag of pretzels. The long ones. He had brought them from home with him.

The pretzels got us to talking about days of old. A thing older people are prone to do. Nothing wrong with it. We have a lifetime of experiences to draw on!

It reminded me of my days at Rockaway Beach in New York City.

My mother’s side of the family lived in New York. We were always visiting.

One summer the family took a place for 2 weeks in Far Rockaway.

You have to understand, rich we were not! So a “place” was quite rudimentary and basic. Even simpler than that!

We rented in a building about a block from the beach. It was a long 2 story wood structure. Rented rooms only. About a dozen to each floor.

My mother rented a room on the second floor. It was a simple small bedroom containing a double bed, dresser and small desk. No air conditioning, of course. Too soon. And only a shade on the one window. No curtains. No closet.

My aunt had a similar room.

My mother and I slept in one. My aunt in the other. My father would visit us on the weekends. My uncle and 2 cousins would visit my aunt on the weekends. And everyone slept in these 2 rooms.

The bathrooms were at the end of the hall on each floor. One for men and one for women. They consisted of a toilet and small sink. And the bathrooms were nothing more than small closets. No showers or bathtubs.

Sundays were big! We were an Italian family so pasta was the meal of the day! Except we called it macaroni back then!

My mother and aunt would boil water on a small hot stove, which they had brought with them, in one of the bedrooms. They would make the sauce from scratch. The pasta was generally rigatoni or ziti. Ziti today are popularly known as penne. Mozzarella would be melted on top of the macaroni when it was done.

And then we would all sit in that small room and enjoy Sunday dinner!

The pretzels now come into play.

There was a typical New York candy store nearby. New York City candy stores sold ice cream, soda, newspapers, cigarettes and, yes, pretzels. The long one’s like Marty brought to the Chart Room. They cost a penny a piece in those days. I used to buy one a day.

Rockaway and the candy store was where I was introduced to chocolate egg creams. Two cents. Oh, so good!

A chocolate egg cream was egg in name only! It contained no eggs! A glass was given a shot of chocolate syrup. About a 1/2 inch. And then a bit of milk. Another 1/2 inch. Then seltzer water to fill the glass! Stirred and served. Tasted like a chocolate ice cream soda without ice cream!

I had not thought of a chocolate egg cream for many a year till Marty and I started chatting about Rockaway and pretzels. Turns out Marty had similar experiences at Manhattan Beach. Manhattan Beach is across the water from Rockaway. Marty grew up in Manhattan Beach. Except that his drink was a black and white. A chocolate ice cream soda with chocolate ice cream.

The next time I experienced a chocolate egg cream was about 35 years later when my oldest daughter Beth was getting married.

It was our first wedding. My wife had spent a year planning it. It was the week before the wedding. Tensions were running high in the house. I tend to be a bit anal and was no help. I was going crazy with the seating list for the dinner. Seating for such an event is a hard thing to do! You want evey one to have a good time. You must be sure not to seat 2 long time enemies at the same table. And so on.

Beth and my wife decided I was too much of a hindrance. They said go! Leave for a week and come back in time for the rehearsal dinner!

I was that bad!

So I went!

I decided to fly down to Naples. A new Ritz Carlton had just opened. It was reputed to have the finest art collection in its lobby. Since I was both painter and collector at the time, I decided to visit to the new Ritz Carlton.

The art exhibit sucked! I had better in my home!

However, the hotel itself was just beautiful!

Off the beach area in the basement of the building, the Ritz had an old time candy and soda store. The long counter with stool thing.

I visited. And guess what they were selling?

Chocolate egg creams!

I spent the week drinking them! The same taste and flavor. The same size. In fact, everything was the same except for the cost. Now $7! Thirty five years earlier in Far Rockaway, 2 cents!

And you have been subjected to all this because Marty brought long pretzel sticks to the Chart Room!

Be good to some one today!

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