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Summer of 1961 at East 42nd Street between Church and Snyder – Flatbush

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By Bruce Friedman

The doorbell rang and I ran down the stairs skipping two steps at a time, then jumped to the landing, yelling: “It’s for me!” My father waited for me at the bottom of the stairs: “How many times do I have to tell you. You don’t have to come down like a herd a herd of elephants. Now go back and come down one step at a time like a person.”

With all the commotion, Jake was already in the kitchen checking the contents of our refrigerator. ‘The Little Tank’ had squatters rights. My friend wore a form fit ‘T’ shirt, garrison belt with custom buckle, jeans and sported a solid gold ID bracelet, a braided gold necklace, wafer-thin watch and a pinkie ring. Jake was a symphony of gold and black.

He looked at me and said: “Don’t get me wrong, I like your mother but there’s never anything to eat in this house!” But he was wrong, we had plenty of food, only it needed preparation. For example the Raspberry Jello. But according to Jake, “If it’s in the box it doesn’t count.” Fortunately it was in the refrigerator. Jake dipped his finger and pronounced: “Liquids don’t count!” Next he spotted a bottle of No-Cal. But he said that No-Cal didn’t qualify as soda, especially if it was warm. But it was my fault, I forgot to fill the ice cube trays.

“We’ve got Swiss Cheese, baloney and deli mustard.” Jake demanded, “Do you have a roll? Or do you want me to wrap it around my finger?” Next he waved his arm and parted the Red Sea, moving the salad dressing and ketchup to uncover a loan can of tuna. I was vindicated but it wouldn’t last. He explained that tuna without mayo, carrots and celery is not tuna.

But at that very moment, he demanded ‘Where’s the salami? I know you have salami, you always have it.” “Not the salami! That belongs to my father.”

Then Jake spotted the chocolate donuts. I grabbed his wrist, ‘Are you trying to get me hung?” He could have anything he wanted except the chocolate donuts, the Breyer’s Chocolate ice cream or the salami. They belonged to my father! Don’t get me wrong, my father was a generous man as long as you didn’t want what he had.