The Boys Recall the Candy Store
The booth at the far right corner of the diner was reserved for the 80+boys. For the last three years they sat there for lunch spending most of the time reflecting on their kelly green years.
Events took place in this candy store that would have had Bob Hope applying for welfare, and Cecil B. DeMille’s spectaculars, unspectacular.
“I went back there last year. You wouldn’t believe what happened to our neighborhood.”
“Whatever was done had to be better than what we had.”
“It’s a completely different scene. It appears as if Hollywood planted a giant sterile set to replace the cracked sidewalks, tenements and potholes of our ghetto.”
“I don’t believe it. The area wasn’t cardboard. There were asphalt streets and tenements leaning against concrete sidewalks. How were they replaced?
“If you moved your ass and went there you would see what happened to our neighborhood.”
“My hearing aids don’t pick up the sounds of cars and horns from the road, so my wife doesn’t let me drive.”
“So, put her behind the wheel and go.”
“She has no interest in where we grew up. She came from a fancy neighborhood with private homes.”
“I lived in a private house in our neighborhood and I’m not fancy.”
“Yeah, a private house. It was the only private house in the neighborhood. It should have been condemned as soon as it was built. It wouldn’t surprise me if instead of a pull-chain toilet, you had an outhouse.”
“OK guys, forget about private houses and toilets. Were you able to locate the place on the hill where Refugee Jack had his candy store?”
“You wouldn’t believe it. There is no hill. It’s as flat as Flat Anne.”
“Flat Anne. She should have worn blouses. Her chest was as flat as my handkerchief.”
“What about Fat Anne? What became of her?”
“She married The Nose. I think he died.”
“Refugee Jack; his eyes lit up like flashbulbs when a young female came into his store.”
“I don’t blame him. Did you ever see his wife?”
“Don’t you remember the song we sung?”
Refugee Jack’s a sex maniac There’s no such thing As a piece of dreck To Jack, Jack the sex maniac.
“Then Sol Pearl’s father bought the store. That was laughs.”
Sol Pearl baptized Pearl with Strictly because “strictly” flowed from her lips like the water flows out of a hydrant. She hated the name Strictly.
She came into the store one day and Sol asked, “What’ll you have Strictly?” Her mother was about to pay for a newspaper. Upon hearing this she said,
“Sure she’s strictly; she’s strictly kosher.”
“Strictly kosher my ass,” replied Sol. “She’s strictly bullshit.”
“Were you there the day that Jake the Snake and Willie the Weasel came in with a “cashmere” overcoat?”
“What was that all about?”
“They put up the coat as wager that Jake could throw an orange further than anyone in the store. Then Monty came down with his brother’s two suits to up the ante.”
“What was the bet against those coats and suits?”
“They bet the coats and suits against fifteen dollars. We could only raise twelve, so Sol removed three bills from the cash register.
“Only in our candy store would this take place.”
“Now, this diner is our candy store. No laughs. Most of the boys are gone, just pills and memories.”
The complete story can be read in: Seabury Place, A Bronx Memoir by Daniel Wolfe