April 29, 2021

Hello, I was trying to figure out how to start the story. It’s, you know, a seltzer story. It’s a sweet, street smart story, of seltzer-on-the-side in Brooklyn. Once upon a time won’t work, and a kingdom far, far, away…no. I know, not too long ago, it was definitely after the dinosaurs and we had cars and electricity, but we still had seltzer and milk delivered. And it was the first day of summer, and we wanted to celebrate. So, we played all the games we could think of, we did jump rope and hopscotch, and we finally discovered in the backyard an old Spalding ball. We said, “All right, let’s play stickball.” So, we grabbed the stick from the yard, and we got our ball, and we went out in the street and played. Well, the Spalding was in pretty crummy shape from…it busted not too long after that.

It was the late afternoon, there were six of us cousins sitting on the stoop a little sad, a little bored, definitely hot and tired, and we couldn’t figure out what else to do. And lo and behold, because I’m the smartest of the six cousins, I noticed ta-da…the seltzer man. He wasn’t wearing a cape, he just had his cap, but it was a glorious sight. As he tried to straddle and step through us on the step, he delivered bottles of seltzer. This was a time when my Nanny, my tiny grandmother, used to have milk delivered in glass bottles, and we would get seltzer, and a special treat was Fox’s Best Chocolate Syrup. The three great ingredients for egg creams. We thought, “All right, celebrate, the party begins.” So, we run in the house, and we ask our moms who are finishing up talking with my Nanny in the kitchen, “Ooh, you scream, I scream, we all want some egg creams.” I said, “Please, please, please,” and they all said in unison, “No, you will ruin your appetite.” What a letdown.

And then they swooped out of the house with their purses, and Nanny went too, and they went shopping. And my Zia Guiseppia [SP], who has no children and was up on the third-floor managed brownstone, was in charge of watching six cousins. It was no easy task, I tell you, but she thought if she would just squeeze us on the couch in the living room and turn on the TV, it would be the best babysitter ever. And then she ran click-click-click first floor, click-click-click second floor, click-click-click third floor, and opened her door and then closed it. And the second after she closed it, we all looked at each other, “Ohh,” you know, it’s like the angel and the devil on each side trying to figure out what we should do? So, back in the day we didn’t have too many channels on the TV, and get this, you had to get up and turn the channel. We said forget that, and within seconds, I’m sure it was seconds, we ran into the hallway where the seltzer bottles are. They have squirt handles, how beautiful is that? So, we reasoned, “Well, we’ll just squirt each other once or twice, there’ll still be seltzer in the bottle, who’s going to know?” But squirting seltzer bottles is like having one potato chip, you can’t do it. So, before you know it, we were spraying each other back and forth, and back and forth, we had a grand time. Before you know it, half of the seltzer was gone. The hallway looked like we were hanging out in the old Navy Yard, there was seltzer on the stairs, and seltzer on the banister, and seltzer dripping from the walls.

Just then we heard another door open and close, boom, and we thought, “Oh, this is it. We’re busted, we’re going to be pushing up those daisies before you know it.” And lo and behold, it was my Zio Daniello, my uncle Danny. He took off his cap, saw what lay before him, he looked at us, we looked at him, he looked at us again, and I swear I thought I saw a twinkle in his eye. And before you knew it, he grabbed one of the seltzer bottles and he was no amateur, let me tell you, he was a pro, he probably won a gold medal in the Olympics for this event. He hit us between the eyes, sprayed in the ear, and that just annoying spot in the back of your neck so it drips down. We were having so much fun Zio Daniello didn’t hear it, but us kids did because we had street smarts. We heard the door slam upstairs and that click-click-click third, going down the third flight of stairs. Even before she met, the start of the second stairs, all of us scrambled. Badda-bing, Badda-boom, we were out in the yard. We figured, “Oh, this is a good thing, hang out in the sun, just act cool, let our clothes dry.” And we left poor Uncle Danny, Zio Daniello, in the hallway with the stream of seltzer everywhere, and the seltzer bottles were empty.

We heard the loudest scream in the world when the clicking stopped of the heels. We heard, “Danny, what are you doing?” We thought, “Oh no, we shouldn’t have left him there, will he survive?” And as little kids, we just peeked around the corner from the back door, and what did we see? Uncle Danny’s just grinned. He didn’t say anything, he had the best brightest little grin on his face. Here’s a grown man thinking, “I’m gonna charm my way out of this, I’m just going to grin and look cute.” And he has done that to the day he has died, and it’s always saved him. Then he just whistled away down the hallway into the kitchen to get something to drink, because obviously, he couldn’t have egg creams, and poor Zia Giuseppia had to mop up the mess.

And you know what? Today, I have egg creams I can make for you, I have some chocolate syrup, Mama always makes me get Fox’s Best Chocolate Syrup, we have seltzer, and we have milk. You want to come over for some egg creams? I would love you to do that. And this is this, and that is that. The end. A great seltzer-on-the-side summer celebration.