Daily Prompt: New England Dreamin’

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Yesterday, the WordPress Daily Prompt encouraged bloggers to describe the strangest place they have ever found themselves posting to their blogs.

As a creature of habit, I prefer writing my blog posts from the comfort of the living room sofa, laptop dangling precariously off the TV tray on which it is balanced.  However, due to our travels up and down the state of California, I have composed numerous posts from our laptops in motel rooms.

What I find particularly challenging is writing blog posts on my iPhone.  I have done so on several occasions, late at night at Motel 6 in Buttonwillow, Kern County.  Now, Motel 6 generally (but not always) charges for wi-fi, so we typically skip the laptop and make due with our phones.  My fat fingers dance across the tiny keyboard display, stopping every third or fourth word to correct an error.  The backspace key is my best friend.  Even so, when I get back to a computer I usually notice more than one typo that makes me want to scream.  And I won’t dwell on the times I have mysteriously lost an iPhone post in progress, nor will I refer to some of the words that have come out of my mouth on such occasions.

Far more interesting than the mundane locales from which I have blogged are the places from which I would like to blog someday.  I am not engaging in fantasies about exotic destinations here.  In fact, I am reminiscing about places that I enjoyed on the other side of the country in the days before the Internet.

It’s October, and inevitably my thoughts return to the riotous red and yellow leaves that set the trees afire in New England and upstate New York.  I am just learning to use Twitter, and if I did not have time for a complete blog post, I imagine I would tweet something like this:


It is apple season, and right now I am munching on a Gala, one of California’s finest.  And while I enjoy the wonderful Fujis, Pink Ladies and Galas out here, it’s not the same as picking out a bushel of Macintosh, Delicious, Cortland or Rome Beauty apples from Dressel Farms on Route 208 in New Paltz, New York.  If I were there, I’d blog about the giant pumpkins out front, the Indian corn grown on site and, if the cider press is operating, the season’s first sweet taste of liquid heaven.  After I got home, I’d be sure to mention the wonderful scent throughout the house when Mom was stirring a pot of applesauce on the stove and had a pie in the oven.


I’d ooh and aah at the bucks, does and fawns that walk out of the thickets and stand wide-eyed along the grassy edges of the Palisades Interstate Parkway.  Then I’d blog my outrage when every other car heading south from Bear Mountain Circle has a dead deer tied to its roof.


Along with everyone else, I’d gripe about the leaf-peeping tourists slowing down traffic with their gawking.  Of course I’d forget to mention all the money that they are pumping into the local economy and how many businesses couldn’t survive without them.


I’d definitely blog from Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts, describing the candle dippers, the blacksmiths, the printers and the butter-churning maids.  My post would probably make fun of the 18th century costumes and the little kids running amok with ice cream sticky hands.  And I’d be sure to post a photo of the cows and turkeys.


I would do my best to blog from the Emily Dickinson House in Amherst, Fitzwilly’s restaurant in Northampton, the covered bridge over the Ashuelot River in Swanzey, New Hampshire and the shops in downtown Brattleboro, Vermont.  And just for old time’s sake, I’d have to finish up my time travels by writing a funny post about a round of Glowgolf at Holyoke Mall.



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I’m originally from New York City, where there are people who still talk about the Brooklyn Dodgers.

The Brooklyn Dodgers were a major league baseball team that went all the way back to the nineteenth century, played at Ebbets Field in Flatbush and moved to Los Angeles in the 1950s, two years before I was born. New Yorkers who remember are still bitter.

Even as a ghost of the past, the Brooklyn Dodgers remain an icon of that borough, as much as the Cyclone roller coaster and Nathan’s hot dogs in Coney Island.

My parents are from the Bronx, and when I was six years old, we moved to the suburbs. So I’ve only visited Brooklyn a few times.

My first Brooklyn experience was at the age of ten or eleven, when my sisters and I rode there in the back seat of my father’s metallic blue Dodge Coronet. They were there to interview a woman who had applied to be a live-in maid in our home. My parents had busy professional lives and the three of us were a handful. We had a spare bedroom downstairs, near the garage, which we referred to as the “creep room.”

My parents never could bring themselves to hire a “creep.”

As an adult, I had a wild hair one day and decided to embark on the solo adventure of driving to the New York Aquarium in South Brooklyn. This involved about two hours of driving to Manhattan, then down the West Side Highway, through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel and all the way around the great western curve of the borough on the Belt Parkway. The killer whale was amazing.

My last time in Brooklyn was just before I moved to California, leaving New York for good. I attended an engagement party in Brighton Beach, making the long trek home in the middle of the night.

These days, I think of Brooklyn when I stop by the local Subway sandwich stop to pick up dinner on the way home from work. Subway has a sandwich called the BMT (not to be confused with a BLT, which they also sell), which is pepperoni, Genoa salami and Black Forest ham, topped with whatever veggies and dressings you want. Don’t ask me if it’s any good. I don’t eat meat.

I have to wonder how many of my fellow California and Arizona desert rats have any idea that the BMT, aside from being a sandwich, is the name of the Brooklyn subway line. Back east, the décor of every Subway sandwich shop location that I ever visited prominently featured a map of the New York subway system papered on its walls, from the IRT up in the Bronx, to the IND in Manhattan and the BMT in Brooklyn. I once remarked to my wife that the Subway in our little town lacks this New York memento. Au contraire, she responded. And sure enough, I discovered she was right. The pale yellow subway map wallpaper is so faded that I never noticed it until I stood right next to the wall and squinted. Only then was I able to make out the pale outlines of the J and Z lines to Utica Avenue and Broadway, and the D and M lines that rattle and hum all the way down to Coney Island.

When I lived in California’s Central Valley, I attended a synagogue where I occasionally heard the rabbi or his wife wax nostalgic about the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Williamsburg and Borough Park. These days, however, I don’t think about Brooklyn that much.

Last night, my wife and I were eating dinner at one of our favorite restaurants in Yuma, Arizona. We struck up a conversation with the two women at the next table, who were accompanied by a little girl who was coughing her poor head off. One of the women went out to the car to get the kid’s inhaler.

Our neighbors explained that the girl has asthma, and that they had spent the day at the ball field where the dust had aggravated her condition. The three year old’s mother explained that she had planned to name the girl Olivia, but that when she was born, at the last moment she changed her mind and named her daughter Brooklyn.

I’ve heard of other people named Brooklyn, but the whole idea of naming one’s child after a New York City borough seems kind of goofy to me. Still, I suppose Brooklyn is a better baby name than Queens or the Bronx.

As for me, if I had a daughter, I think I’d name her Staten Island.

Fishamajig and a Fribble


The Boston Business Journal reported today that Friendly’s Ice Cream is changing the recipe for its iconic Fribble, for the third time.  In most parts of the country, this ice cream drink would be known as a thick shake, or just a milkshake.  But in Massachusetts, where strange-sounding terms for everyday objects are the norm (anybody watch Southie Rules on A&E?), the Fribble is known as a frappe.  In Rhode Island, where I resided briefly, the Fribble would be called a cabinet.  I always thought the best cabinet around was Newport Creamery‘s Awful Awful (“awful big, awful good!”).  Yes, it’s a huge milkshake (although Californians think it’s a giant hamburger from The Nugget in Reno), but don’t use that word in a cafe in Providence or Narragansett (you’ll get a chocolate milk, shaken, not stirred).

Back in the day, the Fribble was made from ice milk, a commodity that today’s kids have never heard of.  Later on, Friendly’s started making it with frozen custard (as we called it in New York) or “soft serve.”  Now, Friendly’s has announced that it will be removing the soft serve machines from its restaurants, instead making the Fribble with “hard” ice cream.  Hallelujah!  The Fribble will now be available in any of Friendly’s large number of ice cream flavors.

When I was a kid in New York, Friendly’s Ice Cream was something of an institution.  No trip to Nanuet Mall (which, sadly, was demolished last year) was complete without an overstuffed Friendly’s ice cream cone, smothered in sprinkles (not “jimmies”), either chocolate or rainbow.

Later, in high school, when my family moved to Wappingers Falls, dinner at Friendly’s became a regular once-a-week event for us, either at 9 Mall in the Town of Poughkeepsie (now closed) or at the cutesy, Colonial style location on Main Street in Fishkill.  We used to joke about ordering “a Fishamajig and a Fribble,” because it sounded so funny rolling off the tongue.  The Fishamajig, for the uninitiated, is a fish filet and grilled cheese sandwich on toasted white bread.  In reality, although we ate plenty of Fishamajigs (and grilled cheese ‘n tuna sandwiches), we never once had a Fribble.  My mother always said it was “too fattening.”  We’d settle for a Coke or a root beer.

As if changing the Fribble recipe weren’t enough, now the Fishamajig is undergoing an overhaul as well.  That’s right:  Friendly’s is switching from pollock to haddock.

Nothing stays the same.