Monday, June 18, 2012

Father's Day (plus one) Edition

Did you get one of those kitchy SodaStream carbonated water makers for Father’s Day? 

I didn’t. Not that I was pining for one, despite my friend Lloyd’s rave review (actually, I think Lloyd would give anything from Israel a rave review, but that’s between him and the maker). Anyway, hearing all those recent ads for SodaStream evoked memories of Brooklyn in the early 1950s.

Back then, during my pre-school days, vendors stopping by our attached row house on Avenue W were a big deal. The truck of the knife and scissors sharpener would clang its way through the neighborhood about once a month. Every two weeks or so the blue-uniformed man from Brighton Laundry arrived with clean, starched sheets, pillow cases and tablecloths wrapped in a blue paper package. Before heading back to his truck he’d tie our soiled linens in a bundle and throw it over his shoulder.  

No visitor was more welcomed to our home than the seltzer man, with six or more bottles in a wooden crate leveraged on a shoulder. Clear glass bottles, or blue glass, green glass, even the occasional red glass bottle. Inside, vacuum-packed carbonated water, with a nickel-colored metal push lever at the top to discharge soda water for wine spritzers (a standard Friday night libation), scotch and sodas and home-made egg creams made with U-Bet chocolate syrup and milk (for the uninformed, an egg cream has no egg content). 

Whether true or not, I always thought his name was Mr. Seltzer. My brother says it was Chesler, which to a toddler could easily be construed as Seltzer. Anyway, Mr. Seltzer/Chesler was a wiry man, usually unshaven, with a bent to his frame no doubt a condition from always toting heavy cases of seltzer on his shoulders. He was a genial man, usually stopping to gossip a little with my mother.

Perhaps in an economy mood, or because of something he saw on one of his trips to Israel, my father in the late 1950s or early 1960s decided to buy a re-usable water carbonator. The cylinder had a metallic outer layer, with a space at the top for a carbon dioxide canister that was screwed into the dispenser. It was a novelty he showed off a few times to friends. By the time he lost interest in it, Mr. Seltzer/Chesler had retired. From then on we bought bottled seltzer. 

Gilda sent along a link to a story about birth photography in the delivery room ( As she pointed out, we were 30 years ahead of the curve.

When Dan was born 33 years ago we were too dazzled to give much thought to taking pictures. We had gone through Lamaze classes for natural childbirth, but were really unprepared for secondary preoccupations. Three years later, however, when Ellie arrived, we were pros and ready for action. I took some great shots of Ellie’s first moments outside the womb. They’re not for the squeamish to see, but they did capture the thrill. 

For those who didn’t get Father’s Day cards, or received some mushy, sentimental card, here are two I opened. The first paid tribute to my nightly sound machine: “It’s Father’s Day. Time to ponder that immortal, philosophical question ... If a dad falls asleep in the woods, does he drive all the woodland creatures insane with his snoring?”

Gilda gave me this card: Happy Father’s Day, Honey! Today belongs to you. No, really. 364 days are plenty for me.”