Opening

Pam’s Pictorama Post: As most of our readers know, I work for a well known performing arts organization and you may remember that last year I missed our opening weekend, pushed late into November to avoid inevitably Covid related early fall issues. My mom landed in the hospital and needing to be with her trumped even our long-awaited post pandemic opening. So for me, although I attended concerts later in the season last year, this was my first opening weekend since the fall of 2019. While it lacked the heavy emotion of last year, last night was more than suitably festive and, despite masks still dotting our landscape, came close to feeling like at least the return to a new normal. There was a real joy in the room.

For me it also marked the launching of many colleagues who joined the organization recently and wonderful to see them each fully assume their new roles. (I have written some about the interview process and the overall state of the office here and here.) Like the slow forward movement of a mighty ship, the gears slowly turned and it was something close to full speed ahead by the end of the evening. For my folks the weeks and months of getting to know the organization and about our supporters was like the musicians and their hours or practice and rehearsal.

Birthday cake for mom earlier this week. I started the week working from New Jersey so I could be there for a small, but festive birthday celebration. Being able to work from there periodically is a post-pandemic blessing.

An evening like this is marked with a certain expected stress and mishap as is the nature of our business. Tickets gone missing (and a supply chain issue with ticket stock having made us crazy), introductions needing to be organized and executed, catering issues. (Last night a vegan sandwich made with beets appeared – which oddly looked remarkably like corn beef. They were enormous – and well, made with beets. Ultimately we had them quartered which made them more approachable and in the end they were surprisingly good.)

I was endlessly pleased to see my folks embrace their new roles, talking with guests, moving the reception along seamlessly. Our fundraising work bounces back and forth between the administrative and in person, a delicate dance really between the two. It is a a miracle when it all meshes into a successful evening like last night and fascinating to see the new people embrace their roles, each in a different and singular way. The trained singer who came to us to be back in this milieu taking obvious pleasure in the music and in meeting the musicians, the talented and personable young man who has taken a flyer on working for an arts organization for a totally different experience finding his voice. Our events manager fully in charge and in his glory after a few spring trail runs.

Mixed in of course remains a core group of hard working and great long-standing colleagues who have stayed through it all and helped introduce the new people to their roles while continuing to keep things afloat, as we have for months and really years now. It was a moment to glimpse the future and how a new team will work together and for all the bumpy starts see how the road ahead will shape up. It is just the start of the season, but I return with a new sense of swing to my step.

San Gennaro

Pam’s Pictorama Post: Occasionally I get the odd idea in my head for a mini-adventure and this weekend I decided to revisit my youth and talked Kim into hitting up the San Gennaro festival in Little Italy. This idea first scratched at the back of my brain when Kim and I were in Chinatown and Little Italy a few weeks ago as banners were already going up for it.

Then yesterday morning I was reading the local version of The Patch (does everyone have this ultra local newsletter? I am amazed by some of the things I find out reading it), which cheerfully informed me that the festival had commenced and would end its run this weekend.

I missed the Fireman’s Fair just blocks from my mom’s house this summer by a few days. I have written about that (here) and again, I haven’t been to it in many decades, but thought we might time a visit right and go but no, it didn’t work. So I guess I had a yen for that sort of thing – cotton candy, candied apples and the smell of fried dough against a background of rides and games of skill and chance. Kim was game so off we went.

For those of you who don’t know, the San Gennaro festival is an annual tribute to the aforementioned saint. This tradition in Manhattan’s Little Italy dates back to 1926 when immigrants from Naples congregating on Mulberry Street brought the festival to this country. Neapolitan’s had long looked to the saint for protection from natural disasters including eruptions from Mt. Vesuvius and he is the principal patron saint of that city. (For the record San Gennaro was martyred back in 305 AD and his miracle is the liquefaction of his blood after his death.)

The official statue incarnation of San Gennaro, surrounded by dollar tributes.

We missed the Mayor and former Astronaut Micheal Massimino in the kick off Grand Procession where the statue of the Saint is brought out for a walk around the grounds as well, complete with (unidentified) relic of the saint. Evidently the stands are also each blessed as the festival opens. All that happens on September 19 which is the day San Gennaro was killed and the beginning of the festivities.

Instead, we tucked ourselves into the hoards of people, early enough in the evening so no one had tipped over into overt and inevitable drunkenness from the impossible large and refillable plastic vessels of sugary well booze for sale. These days the air was also thick with the smell of pot mixing with a lot of more traditional cigar smoke. That combined with the smells mentioned above and a lot of roasting meat contributed to a carnival atmosphere.

Looks like it goes on forever from here but the entire festival is about ten blocks.

My expectations, based on the last time I attended which must have been back several decades (maybe as many as three) were kept fairly low. Kim hadn’t been since his days at Pratt, once on the year Connie Francis was celebrated. He didn’t see her, but they played her records (a selection of her international songs he remembers) and after a quick Google search it turns out that she also attended again in 1982 and yet another time in 2012. She’s clearly a fan of the festival. While we heard a band playing the theme from the Godfather at one point, music was not very much in evidence this year, recorded or live.

There was a smattering of rides with long lines of anxious small children.

I will say I was disappointed by the quality of the prize offerings for the games. No goldfish which is a good thing I am sure, but really uninspired stuffed toys. Usually I can pick out a sort of best of or favorite, but these were definitely bottom shelf. Of course I am a more discerning collector of toys now as well. Just as well as I do not think Kim or I had the skill to achieve in this arena. We did see one guy really having at the bottle knockdown stand. It is beer bottles these days and some were getting smashed.

The best selection of prizes I saw.

I did get a candied apple – one of my goals for the evening. They were much less prevalent than I would have thought, but I found a stand. (There turned out to be two places you could acquire them; sadly they are less popular than they once were.) Kim bought it for me and it was a traditional one with coconut pressed into the candied part. Yum! After breaking into it, and always the challenging part of the candied apple and the most hazardous to dental work. This makes me think in all fairness to my teeth I may not have many more candied apples in my future and will focus on cotton candy in the future perhaps. Kim seemed quietly mystified by my passion and took one adventurous nibble.

A blurry view of my half eaten candied apple.

A young man selling frozen ices from a cooler asked where I had gotten it (clearly a fellow candied apple fan) and I pointed him in the right direction, only up half a block from where we were in the slow moving crowd. He told his female partner to watch the ices and he’d be back in half a block’s time which made me laugh. I like a fellow partner in candied apple crime.

Dinner at the first joint we found outside of the festivals boundaries!

We ended the evening by circling back up and around to Kenmare Square where we perched at the edges of their outdoor dining space and ate a real dinner instead of standing in long lines for plates of fried food, meat or pizza at the festival. It was a satisfying end to the evening’s adventure.

From the Tiny Acorn…

Pam’s Pictorama Post: I saw these earrings the other day and my father immediately popped into my mind and I bought them. They come to me via an endlessly elegant purveyor of vintage clothing and jewelry in Great Britain who is known to me as @WillowHilson on Instagram.

It is with some great and ongoing sadness that I accept I am unlikely to ever have the chance to admire her windows in person and walk into her shop in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. Actually I should be relieved because if she was a short subway ride away I would spend an absolute fortune on clothing, let alone jewelry and handbags. As it is, even online only the inability to try things on keeps me in check on clothing – that and the fact that she seems to turn up many items that run about a size smaller than I anticipate needing. However, once in awhile I give in and purchase an item or two from her photos. A lovely clutch came in this shipment too.

A recent window view of Willow’s shop. These photos of her window come out weekly along with a video of the process of creating them.

When my dad was young he had a small film company he called Acorn Films. I remember asking (in that way kids have), Acorn Films? In response he said, From the tiny acorn grows the mighty oak! It was the first time I heard that and it stayed with me and I have been known to quote it. The quote seems to be English in origin and go aways back.

The earrings in question.

As I run these days, I have started seeing acorns underfoot, especially where I run in Jersey, although Central Park and Carl Schurz have provided a few too. I think of dad every time I see them as well. I assume the local wildlife is happily consuming the bounty – squirrels nibbling away, storing them for winter. I don’t know what else might eat them, chip monks perhaps? My mom has a large colony of those guys. I see the acorns in the streets and on the sidewalks so I assume those are not ones that oaks will ultimately grow from.

In the city they mostly appear a bit stunted and the ones I picked up today are green. I read that the acorns are falling earlier this year which is why many are green, immature. Evidently the heavy rains we had recently probably caused this, although I gather that it can also happen if a tree happens to grow in an inadequate setting. I figure squirrels here in Manhattan are consuming them, but I have a hard time imagining that the rats or mice bother with them, however who knows what a resourceful rodent might munch?

My father was not a man prone to optimism so in retrospect it was an interestingly hopeful thing to name his nascent company. The acorn is a symbol of unlimited potential, that from a modest beginning something larger might grow. For me it is a sign of renewal, like the pomegranate, and of course autumn.

Small acorns in abundance and various states this morning on my run in Carl Schurz Park.

I don’t know too much about the specifics of his film company. I think he had some space over in the west 40’s, but maybe a tad higher or lower. I have the dimmest of memories of him pointing to a building once and saying it was up there indicating a corner window. I was told he paid for his equipment and to live the rest of the year by filming races at Monmouth Park in the summer for ABC locals news. I don’t know if there were ever any other colleagues or partners.

In his possession when he folded the company was film he had shot for a documentary on drug addiction which he never finished. Family life and a bustling job as a full-time news cameraman for the national and international bureaus of ABC took the place of this more creative work.

There is also a story my mother tells, not my father as I remember, of him interviewing and filming Anias Nin who famously refused to be photographed after a certain age due to an excess of vanity. (This stunned and even fascinated me as a child – I had never conceived of such a thing.)

Their agreement was that Nin would view the footage and if she didn’t like it he would destroy it – which he was ultimately forced to do. I’m not sure how dad met her – or wiled his way enough into her good graces to be given the chance. Meanwhile, evidently, mom was have a great time hanging out with Daisy Alden during those interviews and also occasionally in the kitchen during fancy parties dad was filming. I imagine my mom, much like me, occasionally shaking her head and saying, you need to understand, I’m just a girl from Jersey.

For now, I will sport my acorn earrings this fall always keeping in mind that we are never entirely sure which of the seeds we plant will take root and grow.

An Ode to the Everything

Pam’s Pictorama Post: I don’t know why, maybe because it is fall, but I have everything bagels on my mind. As far as I can tell, among bagel eaters, there are those of us who will always grab the everything first and those who are frankly horrified by their existence. I guess there are folks between, not sure though.

For anyone who somehow does not know, an everything bagel is one that is covered in a baked in layer of salt, poppy and sesame seeds, garlic and onion. Yum.

As I reflect on it, my memory is that my family emerged into bagel awareness slowly. After all, our WASP town in suburban New Jersey wasn’t exactly a bagel producing mecca. I do remember there being a Jewish bakery, Friedman’s, where we would pick up loaves of rye and black bread every weekend, but they were not bagel makers. (Marble cakes like the ones my father’s mother favored they had, my father’s black and white cookies which you can read about here were also procured there as were my sister’s mocha iced birthday cakes.)

Mocha cake, Loren’s favorite. Was never too easy to find.

At some moment, which I can no longer pinpoint, bagels became weekend fare in NJ too. My father, who grew up on bagels here in Manhattan, was however among those who could not abide everything bagels. I must have discovered them when I moved to Manhattan myself after college and transplanted the preference to my NJ visits. Dad, who would generally pick up a dozen bagels when picking me up at the train station in NJ, would have mine put in a separate bag – so as not to infect the other bagels.

Bagel Bob’s – a much loved Yorkville destination.

While I try to limit my bagel intake in order to maintain my waistline, I still manage a consistent diet of them, if in toasted bits over time rather than a whole one gobbled. Here in New York my affection bounces between Bagel Bob’s on York Avenue (who saw us admirably through the pandemic without pause) and Tal on 86th Street. There are other worthy entries in the neighborhood, but those are the closest and best.

In New Jersey, one of my mother’s care givers supplies the house with some that are very credible entires too. Winsome has registered my everything preference and buys extra for me to take back to New York with me after my regular visits to mom. There is a gentle irony in the migration of bagels from New Jersey to Manhattan, but it is a lovely thought and I appreciate the gesture so much.

Trader Joe’s version of Everything Bagel seasoning.

Recently I noticed everything bagel hummus (the above sprinkled in a light layer on top of the container) which gets my seal of approval – but even better, little jars of “everything” which can then be sprinkled on everything from hard boiled eggs to sandwiches. Not surprisingly, I am a fan and at this moment there are no fewer than three jars in various states of consumption.

Fall Again

Pam’s Pictorama Post: Like most of us, mid-September flips the back-to-school switch in my brain, honed by decades of school shopping (hard new shoes for feet that had grown) and the purchase of lunch boxes, notebooks, pads and Ticonderoga pencils to be sharpened. When very small, clothes came from my grandfather’s store or the Sears catalogue. Later there was a mall where over time I would shop for my clothes on my own, with my sister or friends.

As a tot if shoes were to be acquired they were purchased from a store called Sid’s in the next town over. (There is an excellent Italian market where Sid’s used to be. I stop there occasionally when in Jersey to buy soup for my mom or maybe a prepared dish or two. However, I always remember Sid’s too.) While they may not have sold children’s shoes exclusively (that sort of exclusivity was not as prevalent in 1960’s and ’70’s New Jersey suburbs and there were fewer speciality shops) they seemed to have a lock on the local market for children and sent us away with balloons, coloring books and Buster Brown type trinkets annually.

Kislin’s in the 1980’s but more or less how I remember the facade. This was the annual sidewalk sale in Red Bank I believe.

Sneakers, however, might also come from a store called Kislens one town over in Red Bank. Kislens would not only supply sneakers (of course a much more basic model of Keds and a vastly limited array than we are dazzled by now), but it was also the purveyor of gym clothes, uniforms, boots and any and all athletic related items and necessities. (I wonder, did every town have one of these?)

Kislin’s was close to a century old when it closed around ’05 and one could find items from prior decades peeping out from top shelves and cabinets, layered under and around more contemporary items. My memory is of wooden cabinets, fixtures and shelves that likely went back to the store’s origin. Even in my childhood, the floors creaked heavily when trod on. It felt like you could never truly get to the know all of Kislin’s hidden secrets, but whatever sporting needs, nascent or advanced, camping or scouts, Kislins would magically produce the necessary items when requested – they weren’t much on devoting space to display. When you embarked on an outdoor activity or sport, a trip to Kislin’s may have been on the agenda. All of the Speedo bathing suits of my youth were purchased there in a no fuss, no muss sort of way until well into my teenage years.

A rather excellent bit of chalk drawing recorded on the first part of my run last weekend.

Meanwhile, speaking of sports, last weekend enjoying the first lovely cool morning for running in a number of weeks I was feeling great until I fell just as I was reaching mile 8 on a run that would have been my first approach on 9 miles. A bit bloody, but luckily not badly hurt (nothing broken and a thank you to the runner who helped me up and the gentleman drinking ice coffee on a bench who even gave me ice for my hand), I ran home and still recorded 8.8 miles. However, it has kept me sidelined this week while my knee fully recuperates, as well as my hands, one of which took the brunt of the fall. Therefore, I found myself walking to work on Wednesday, through Central Park when I had my back-to-school moment. The light was pure September and the trees are just starting to consider embarking on their winter waning.

End of my walk to work Wednesday in Central Park. Anyone know what these flowers are? I thought jasmine but they didn’t smell like it.

Unlike my childhood incarnation, instead of sporting a new outfit to celebrate a post-Labor Day turning over of a new leaf, I had pulled on a pair of pre-pandemic pair of trousers getting their first outing in several years. They were fine except the running has moved muscle around and things from the Before Time are pulling in some places with new muscle (calves!) and evaporated from others (thighs!). In the end this may be what ultimately empties my closet of these frozen in time clothes at last.

September light in the Park.

When I got to the office my colleagues all seemed to be in a similar fall frame of mind embracing the new season, but a bit confused. We are all still struggling with the hybrid routine, days in the office together, others at home. Every meeting starts with a technology hiccup as we work the bugs out of new conferences software. (Move the camera please, and Can you hear me? I can hear you.) From home earlier in the week I realized one conference room has a zone where everyone sounds like they are Charlie Brown’s teacher, or vaguely underwater, made worse of course by wearing masks. (Can you all move to the other side of the table please?)

Pictorama readers and IG followers might remember that Kim and I purchased this in Chinatown over vacation, a new lucky waving cat for the office.

Several new folks joined the team in the weeks before Labor Day and they are still learning the ropes including which conference room is which – all are named for Jazz legends which adds a bit of complexity as we thoughtlessly toss out Jellyroll or Lady Day (the one with the sound issue) confidently and they just look at us befuddled. Computers remain a mash up of desktop, personal laptops, iPads and whatnot as new equipment has been delayed in being rolled out. Sometimes whole meetings happen with our colleagues of site represented only by my phone in the middle of the table, eating battery which I will forget until it is dead later in the day.

As for me, I can’t seem to stay on schedule in person and as meetings run long I blow through others or end meetings early because my timing is wrong. I try to make sure that those who are joining on camera are included, as well as being present for those in the office. Breakfast, lunch and dinner meetings take me out of the office, exacerbating the timing issues. It is exhausting. Eventually, I come home, work a bit more and collapse each night. Fall is here.

Scent

Pam’s Pictorama Post: Some Pictorama readers know that I was among the folks who lost my sense of smell when I got Covid a few months back. It slowly returned, patchy at first, as did my coordinating sense of taste which had disappeared with it. Over time I could suddenly smell the river again during my run and found that I wasn’t just guessing when I salted the soup I was making as I habitually taste tested it.

As foretold, as it returned I found that smell in particular, was a bit more messy than taste. Some smells seemed to break apart somehow. Perfumes in particular would sock my nose with overwhelming notes of alcohol or something chemical after an initial whiff of something more pleasant. I favored strong musky scents briefly, probably because they were strongest for my limited ability. I routinely sniffed the kitchen herbs as I cooked. Whiffs of dill, oregano, basil, but also spice like cumin, coriander, red pepper, ginger and mace daily.

Citrus was the last scent to come back, as well as taste. (Frustratingly though the taste of summer corn and tomatoes also lagged!) I made a practice of smelling citrus in all forms whenever I could and testing different kinds. It remained flatly unavailable to me.

As it happens the perfume I have worn for many years is a citrus scent that crosses grapefruit with something like an etrog. If you are unfamiliar with etrogs, they are a lumpy looking lemon-esque citrus fruit which is perhaps best known for being part of the observance of the Jewish autumn holiday Sukkot. While not familiar with them or the holiday first hand, I am told that my perfume is reminiscent of it with a strong lemony citrus note.

An etrog.

Somehow during the course of the pandemic I ignored the fact that I was almost out of perfume (sitting home didn’t require much) and even more notably, I missed the fact that it was suddenly hard to find and purchase. So, I have been looking around and sampling citrus smells.

I tried a pricey Tom Ford which I liked until I actually put it on me. There is something very disconcerting about not smelling like yourself and scents, those I could in fact smell over time, had an odd way of changing with my body chemistry. I frequently thought I liked something and wanted to take a shower an hour later to thoroughly get it off me.

Love the blue bottle, but this was more of an orange scent than I was looking for.

I revisited a few scents from when I was younger and was amazed at how much I disliked them, while finding them hauntingly familiar. Jasmine is one and while I still love to smell the actual plant I disliked every perfume version I tried. I wore Chanel for a period in my 20’s and early 30’s and I find it overwhelming now, although their Chance eau Fraiche was a citrus contender, but again there was something sort of heavy about it over time.

Another one from my youth – this one is also orange scented so maybe I was moving toward citrus already.

My grandmother wore a carnation oriented Chanel I believe, a pleasantly spiky scent that I have not been able to replicate, at least on me. (My very no nonsense mother tells a story of one day many years ago when I was still very little. She was taking the garbage out and suddenly she was surrounded by my grandmother’s scent. It was my father’s mother with whom she was close and she said she found it very comforting.) My sister wore Chanel too, No. 19 I think, but I don’t associate it with her. My mother has never worn perfume, but my father would bring it back for me and Loren from duty-free work related flights.

A very close entry.

I find something I think I like but then I find myself asking, do I want to smell like this all the time after an hour or so. Kim was brought into a judgement call occasionally. He had a really bad reaction to one of the early musky scents I tried. The good news was that over time I was able to smell much better again.

My beloved Green Tea is back!

I was on the verge of settling for a perfume by Diptyque (citrus but woody), when I tried looking for my Bulgari scent one more time and there it was! My beloved Au the Vert (Green Tea) unisex spray is available once again.

Dragon Flying

Pam’s Pictorama Post: This pin was waiting for me when I got back from my Denver trip. It traveled here from Great Britain and an Instagram seller I have purchased from before, @lucyameliasvintage. As it happens my prior purchase was also celluloid – an elephant box for Kim and a butterfly which I wrote about in a post that can be found here. It makes me assume that the British knew something about celluloid we did not in the US – or they were just more careful with theirs.

I have written a few times before about the subtle mania for insect related jewelry that seemed to overtake me during the pandemic, a product of online shopping and perhaps being too confined. These acquisitions have ranged from a silver bracelet with spiders in webs to a few tiny insects, and as well as these sort of glorious plastic winged critters. This spring I got to live a fantasy of pinning several to a jacket lapel at once. A small tableau of bugs.

Deitch Studio Collection.

This latest acquisition is both a tad cheesy and a bit delicate, but I like it. The body is a light metal, painted a shiny green, appropriately bug-eyed, and the long delicate celluloid wings, pin underneath. I will have to wear it before coat season because he should not be smushed under a coat or bag shoulder strap. He is a fair tribute to the dragonfly, but that is an insect whose iridescent beauty is almost impossible to capture and jewelers from Tiffany to whoever made my plastic pins have been inspired to try.

Celluloid butterfly, Pams-Pictorama.com collection.

Frankly, I am not especially kindly in my feelings toward real insects. A waterbug showed up in the kitchen a few weeks ago and not unlike a cartoon if I could have found a chair to climb on, Olive Oil style, I would have. Instead, despite being on the phone with my mother, I yelled while the cats looked on, amused but doing nothing except an occasional soft “pudding paw” swat while it ran to safety under the fridge.

Spotted Lanternfly via the NYT.

Those of you in New York may know about the Spotted Lanternfly which has landed on our shores to munch all of our trees. The New York Times had a cover page story asking us to stomp on them whenever we see them. Oddly, about a day later I was on an all day staff retreat in borrowed but palatial office digs when a yell went up at the far end of the table. My colleagues were standing around pointing – at a Lanterfly of all things. Much to her credit, our CMO popped off her sandal and whacked the guy! Bam!

Meanwhile, I also had chance to step on one leaving my office the other day. Sadly, they are quite beautiful really. It should be noted that they do not go easily and I felt badly, not to mention that this is obviously an ineffectual campaign all said and done. Shortly after the original article the Times published a follow up – some folks expressing sympathy for the Spotted Lanternfly with its appealing design and hiding them from would be assassins. Will I commit to insect killer or savior? Clearly more to come on this, but I am already sure that Lanternflys would make a very nice pin design.

Westward Bound

Pam’s Pictorama Post: I am starting this post while on a plane to Denver. Some Pictorama followers know I sent an advance post yesterday, written last week. Today I am using my plane leisure time to share a missive for tomorrow. (I don’t want anyone to have to face Sunday morning without a Pictorama post!)

Those of you who do the full Monty and follow me on social media know that it was a tough week. Our beloved Blackie spent five days in kitty ICU for a diabetic episode which appears to have been brought in by an underlying infection – maybe a UTI or pancreatitis. He was, in the words of one friend, a VERY sick kitty.

I am pleased to report that with the amazing work of the vets at the Animal Medical Center he pulled through and we were able to bring him home last night.

Vet’s office when visiting Blackie the other night. He kept looking for a way to make a break for it.

He roamed our 600 square feet with wide eyed awe. He gave me head butts and purrs as the familiarity enveloped him and he relaxed into it. Blackie was one happy cat! Kim gave him a bowl of tuna and he tucked in for his first real meal in days although he was only able to consume about a third of a can.

After couch time with us he retired to bed with Kim and spent the entire night tucked and purring, between us (moving to occasionally perch on top of one of us) much as he had nine years ago on the day we got him. After a day of his hiding in a scary new place I woke to find a tiny kitten Blackie sound asleep between us in the middle of the night. Last night his little engine went purr all night, rising occasional and then falling to a reassuring rumble.

Blackie from several months ago.

He came home with an alarming number of medications and devices however. I feel awful that I had to leave it all to Kim at 5:30 am when the car service arrived today take me to the airport. It was very hard to leave them this morning and I have checked in with Kim several times. Poor Mr. Blackie has a long way to go, but we’re hoping for the best.

Nonetheless, off to La Guardia I went for an early flight to Denver. I agreed to be here at this conference for work months ago and little did I know how hard it would be. But I am pleased that with some of La Guardia’s terminals finally complete at least I no longer waded through puddles, endless broken paths and construction. A cheerful Indian man was my driver and he kept me from getting weepy about leaving home.

Sunset and incoming storm tonight in Denver.

The hotel is an enormous family resort with a Princess/Pirate theme going on. I landed in a heap only to find not only was my room not ready (I was early and had expected that), but the final night of my stay was mysteriously missing. Discouraging. I called Kim and then parked in various locales to take care of some work calls – I was minus wifi and was frustrated at not being able to post my Pictorama until late.

The resort is on a desert plot of land with not much visible in any direction – a little like landing on the moon. I walked outside briefly to get the lay of the land for a run tomorrow and was disappointed that it was pretty much concrete all around. Someone mentioned trails across the street so we’ll see. More to come, but now a nap!

Mr. Softee Summer

Pam’s Pictorama Post: By the time you read this I will be heading to Denver for a conference having left at the crack of dawn. However, I leave this summery post in my place. Today’s ice cream post is a bookend of sorts to last week’s running in the heat. One advantage of running through the summer is it allows for the consumption of a certain amount of ice cream.

Long time Pictorama readers (and well, anyone who knows me) are aware that I have a serious soft spot for ice cream. In my world ice cream has no calories and if ice cream is available it should be eaten. Therefore, I generally do not keep it in the house, although this seems to have only a marginal impact on my consumption.

Ryan’s homemade ice cream. Hard to beat!

My taste preferences are eclective – I am not an ice cream snob in the least – however, if you say salted caramel my ears will perk up. But I like a soft serve cone, a bowl of strawberry from a local creamery or something more exotic at a restaurant making their own all equally.

I appear to have inherited my love of ice cream from my father and his affection for it was documented in a very popular post which can be found here. Dad was always up for a trip to the local Dairy Queen and usually had a container or two tucked into the freezer, especially in his advancing years. He went from being a plain chocolate guy to having a distinct preference for exotic flavors with bits of candy bar or cookie. I started as a vanilla girl and now like, well, more or less all of it.

The New Jersey version of my habit is largely centered around trips to Ryan’s whose homemade ice cream I only discovered several years ago. Their strawberry is epic and when the peaches ripen the peach is just heaven. Although if time does not permit a trip out to Ryan’s I might talk my friend Suzanne into a much closer trip to Carvel. When dad was alive Father’s Day and his birthday were often celebrated with a Carvel, Fudgie the Whale of a Cake. Jolly blue icing bits in the one I remember and yummy chocolate crumbly bits.

Fudgie the Whale. I remember some of the piping as blue though…

For many years there was a Carvel near me here in Manhattan, on the corner of 85th and First Avenue, although sadly there is a Starbucks there now. I would stop in for the occasional cone, but they were too far from the office to grab a party cake there. (I did used to bring ice cream to the office at the Met sometimes, but needed to buy it closer – ice cream sandwiches did surprisingly well for delivery, re-freezing and consumption. I would also occasionally grab one or two other people and go across the street where a Mr. Softee is resident for the summer and buy dripping ice cream treats for whoever was knocking around the office on a summer afternoon.)

Mr. Softee on the corner of 86th and Lex.

Unlike people who might find the Mr. Softee tune (generally Pop Goes the Weasel) or tinkling bells annoying, it fills me only with joy. Having grown up in a wealthy suburb it was unusual for him to make his way to us and we generally drove to the Dairy Queen for ice cream, but I hear it not infrequently in the city.

Lots of interesting options although I seem to be pretty stuck on my usual these days. I used to occasionally like the ice cream bars with a coating of chocolate and nutty bits and a chocolate core.

Soft serve ice cream is still sold in the Rumson spot where Dairy Queen (DQ) was, although it has been renamed Crazees. I have not had the pleasure of trying them. In high school I yearned for a job at Dairy Queen which seemed like the pinnacle of cool. Sadly it was a much sought after job and I lacked the connections it seemed. Instead I had to settle for working at a pizza place serving my second favorite food – and consuming large quantities of it.

Still the same barn shaped building but no longer the telltale red and white. Rumson, NJ.

However, this summer has been the summer of Mr. Softee. The extreme heat and humidity and a calorie margin of error that 7 miles of running 4-5 times a week gives me has allowed me to develop the habit of grabbing Kim on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon in search of the ice cream man. A classic vanilla wafer cone with chocolate sprinkles is just right for each of us although on the hottest days you need to eat it with a certain alacrity.

Colorful and somewhat whacky options on the side of the truck.

I understand the while Mr. Softee isn’t suffering from a lack of consumer interest, the rising prices of ice cream and condiments as well as gasoline has made it a difficult living. I can only offer each one I encounter my enthusiastic summer support.

Matching

Pam’s Pictorama Post: I had to ferret around the apartment this morning as I had no post in mind having lost a number of auctions lately. (And later today I will be scribbling advance posts to keep you all in Pictorama while I travel to Denver on business next Saturday!) However, I reached deep into the Pictorama archive and pulled out this rather wonderful little gem. It was a gift years ago from Richard Greene, match collector extraordinaire, who had us as guests for a weekend at his home when Kim agreed to do a con in Philly at his request. Richard and his wife live in a house chock-a-block full of interesting bits and pieces he shared with us and they were the very most generous hosts.

Fellow cartoonist (the sadly now late) Jay Lynch was also there for the weekend and it was the only time I ever spent more than an evening with him. I forget the exact year, but it was summer and terribly hot like it is now. The con was in an old, wooden, un-air conditioned building and I remember spending the day stationed thoughtfully in front of a fan.

Richard gave Kim a hat he still wears (if I remember he did advertising lay out for a living) when not in the old Stetson I gave him, and Richard gave me this splendid matchbook from his glorious collection.

Front. Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

Kernel Lew Mercur’s (Original) Nut Club is pretty darn interesting (and colorful!) in its own right. The back promises dinners, dancing, and laffs. Located in Miami Beach (Alton Road at Dade Blvd.) it was open all night. Cuisine by Delmonico is noted along the top fold. Mr. Mercur’s image, or what we offered as such, is on the front in top hat with a carnation and musical notes.

Verso. Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

Not surprisingly, there are few tracks on Mr. (Kernal) Mercur or the Nut Club, although I did find a reference to it in a book about the bygone hey day of eating establishments of Miami (Lost Restaurants of Miami by Seth Bramson) and it would seem that the Nut Club was among a proliferation of Jewish cafeteria style restaurants and delis that became popular in Miami at the time. Bramson notes that Mercur did indeed preside over the restaurant in a top hat.

Other restaurants of the time (1940’s?) and place included The Five O’Clock Club (acquired by Martha Reye and which made it into the 1970’s) and Bill Jordan’s Bar of Music, an eponymous piano bar. Interesting that these establishments liked to label themselves as bars and clubs rather than restaurants or cafeterias. (And Cuisine by Delmonico doesn’t much scream Jewish deli to me either.)

Full inside view. Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

For me of course it is all about the inside of this matchbook which reveals (voila!) the matches, lined up like a picket fence, emblazoned with a black Tom cat atop a fence with a favorite wheeze, Ya gotta make calls…if you want results, as the other black cat and kittens march below. Devoted and early Pictorama readers will remember a post I did devoted to a celluloid match safe with the same saying. (That post can be found here.) I used to have a postcard with the same image pinned up in my office at the Met.

Celluloid match safe. Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

Not a spot on this matchbook goes undecorated and the inside cover goes on to assure the visitor, be entertained at the funniest and screwiest place outside an asylum, yes it’s Kernel Lew Mercur’s Nut Club. Never a cover charge! It gives the exact address (1827 Alton Boulevard) and a phone number (5-9952) for reservations tucked behind the matches. At the bottom it says, We’re Never Too Busy to Say Hello! Who wouldn’t want to go and nosh a knish? But most of all, who wouldn’t pocket these matches? So glad somebody did!