Kitchen Table Memories
When I was 16, somewhere around 1971, I lived in Fort Lauderdale and had an Italian boyfriend from Brooklyn who was incredibly exotic. He was thin as a rail, had a two-foot wide Afro, wore tight, low-cut t-shirts and elephant bell-bottoms with custom-made multi-colored platform wingtips.
My short-haired, tank-top and flip-flop wearing school chums hated him but he was too weird to beat up and who knew if he has a switchblade in that Afro or not.
He once took me home to Brooklyn to meet his 12 (or maybe it was 13) brothers and sisters and all of their names ended in “y” or “ie”: Charlie, Butchie, Dottie, Jimmmie, Margie, etc.
Everything about them was exotic also but one thing that stood out was a nightly ritual practiced like a religion. Each evening at 6 or 7pm we gathered at one of the sisters’ or brothers’ homes in the kitchen around a cheap, beat-up Formica table surrounded by mix-and-match chairs. A steaming pot of Chock-full-of-Nuts coffee was put on a potholder and white, string-wrapped boxes of pastries were put out.
Other family members dropped by and stories were told all night long. My family does not, and never did, “visit” unless someone got married or died. We still don’t. We forget birthdays with amazing consistency and regularly promise to remember the next time. I see my brother once a decade and when we part we cry and make more promises to see each other more. But we don’t.
The feeling of closeness I felt around those tables comes back to me every time I see someone carrying a white box tied up with bakery string and it makes me ever grateful that I finally moved to Brooklyn.
The shot of College Bakery was taken right before it closed suddenly a few years ago. DiSalvo and Court Street are still open.
Please share your stories about bakeries with us and visit our 718 Brooklyn Store to see photos.