Tag Archive | food

Sam Singer and the Sunday Schleps


[schlep: Yiddish word meaning to carry, tote or steal]

Sam Singer worked hard every day from early in the morning to prepare food for the luncheonette until closing time on many days. However, in that day and age, Sunday was a “blue” day and most stores were closed. That was their family day.

Marcia in front of the Store

Marcia in front of the Store

Sunday was also Chinese dinner at various places they liked. One special place was “The Dragon Seed” which was a little more upscale than other local joints and Sam was friendly with the owner. This required a car trip even though it wasn’t all that far from our home. The food was delicious though even if a little more pricey than other places. It was always a treat when Sam would tell the family that’s where they were going.

 Sometimes, they went to an Italian place. Another favorite was La Bilbaina, a Spanish restaurant in Manhattan. This was definitely a car trip and it was up a flight of stairs. They loved the authentic food and after dinner looked in the gift shop window down below it. Martha would often order a dish that had a green sauce that was ripe with garlic and they would all laugh and tease her on the way home about her terrible breath!

There was also, at one time, a huge Swedish Smorgasbord that was in a hotel in Manhattan and they went there sometimes also where it was impossible not to find something for everyone.

Mr. Peanut

Mr. Peanut

They especially loved the Sundays when they would go to Times Square and just walk around looking at the sights. It was a thrill when they saw Mr. Peanut, a guy in the peanut suit and cane who walked around greeting people. They loved looking at all the schlock shops that lined the street and Sam bought Marcia these little realistic mice holding a piece of corn. She had a number of them over the years and still has one left in her miniature collection.



East Side

East Side

Another special trek was when they went to the East Side which is an area in lower Manhattan where Jewish vendors had small shops or vendor carts full of wholesale goods of every kind imaginable! It was a fascinating place and they bought things there if they needed them. Marcia’s enjoyed it because Sam would get her a bag of red pistachios. By the time she was finished eating them, her fingers and mouth would be bright red from the food coloring. She still loves them and they remind her of this special time, but she opts for the plain ones now. Much less mess!

Marcia at Chisolm Park

Marcia at Chisolm Park

It’s likely that Martha was the one who suggested many of these outings, but Sam had no problem shlepping everyone to them. They often went to Chisolm Park in Queens which was near the water because there were rocks between the path and the water and Jeff and Marcia would walk on them trying not to slip and fall. There was a hill leading down to the path with places you could slide down. Many of the trees were huge with many low branches that Marcia was able to climb up on them! Jeff, being the monkey he was, could climb to the very top of the trees. They would also get Button Candy from a little shack at the park. It’s hard to say why they were so much fun to eat, but they were. They also liked those little wax bottles that had colored sugary water inside. Shops also used to have chocolate candy cigarettes! They wouldn’t fly today.

They had their choice of beaches too. Rockaway Beach in Brooklyn was small, but close and they often went there in the summer. Sometimes, they would take the car out to Jones Beach which was out on Long Island. It was a huge beach and it seemed the water was a mile from the parking lot. They all had to schlep the blankets, chairs, umbrella and coolers with food all that way! Still, it was a fun  time.

Sam and Marcia a Whitestone Pool

Sam and Marcia a Whitestone Pool

Another popular place for fun in the sun was Whitestone Pool. They had a large pool for adults, two tiny pools for babies and one medium sized pool for in between kids. They would arrive early because they loved to get a spot underneath a shade tree that faced that medium pool and that was the one Marcia swam in because she wasn’t big enough for the big pool where Lynn and Jeff would go. Sometimes, Jeff would play with Marcia in the big pool so she could go down one of the slides they had and he would catch her. There was also a small playground they could play in. Other areas had picnic tables and grills for those who wanted to do that. They would get lockers and could change clothes in the locker room so they wouldn’t have to be wet on the drive home. They spent many glorious Sundays there and enjoyed it immensely.

It was a fun time going occasionally to Aunt Adele’s place for a cookout. She was a beautiful, special person and everyone loved Adele. She had a huge bell collection and took up the guitar and played us songs and sang. They also played games at the Singer get-togethers. It was always fun. The kids loved when their cousin Alvin joined the festivities because he was a ‘little person’ who was their size! He was only about 3 ft, 6 in. tall, but a grownup and would smoke cigars. He too was a smart and special person who they all enjoyed being around.

The Danbury Fair in Connecticut was an annual event they attended for many years. We have a lot of photos from that time. Marcia recalls one year in particular. She was only about five years old and that year they were selling blow up dinosaurs and she wanted one badly. However, her parents told her no. She was disappointed. As they were walking around, she saw a person coming at her dangling a cigarette in his hand and didn’t see her. The cigarette touched Marcia in the neck and she screamed! It hurt terribly, and she told her parents what happened in between sobs. They searched for a first aid station, but it took a long time to finally find it. They put something on the burn, but it was too late. Marcia still has a circular scar there. For some reason, no one else seems to remember this incident and Martha said the scar came from a bout with swollen glands. Sorry, Mom, but it looks just like a cigarette burn. The upshot was that since they felt so sorry for her ordeal, they bought her a green blow-up stegosaurus! She kept it a long time until the rubber became rotten.

Howe Caverns

Howe Caverns

One year in the 1950’s, they all took a trip upstate to visit the Howe Caverns and the Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Fame. It was a long drive in their Studebaker with no air conditioning. Once they were out of New York City, they saw nothing but cow farms. Cows after cows. They had never seen so many dairy farms!

Marcia can remember the dark caverns and Sam holding her on his shoulders at one point so she could see. There was a small river of water that ran through the cavern and small boats they rode on. Marcia was too young to remember much more than that.

Baseball Hall of Fame

Baseball Hall of Fame

Sam went into the baseball museum, but Martha, Jeff and Marcia waited outside and they watched a group of roosters peck the ground.  Jeff tried to annoy them and probably succeeded.

They also had their yearly trips South to visit Martha’s relatives. Often, Sam couldn’t leave work except for one week, so the others would go by train and spend a few weeks. Then Sam would drive down by himself to stay the last week.

When the World’s Fair came to Flushing, New York in 1964, it was just a short subway ride from Elmhurst. Sam bought a large packet of tickets so everyone could go over and over. Some of Martha’s family made the trip north during this time so they could experience this wonderful entertaining extravaganza. Nothing like this would ever be near Smithfield, NC. Marcia, 13 years old at the time, often went with her friends. They all went to the best pavilions time after time. It was a once in a life time event for everyone.

Swedish Good Luck Horses

Swedish Good Luck Horses

At the fair, which had an international section, there was a Swedish pavilion. Marcia was so excited when she discovered they sold the famous orange, wooden good luck horses there and there was a basketful of the tiny, tiny ones she loved. She already had a few and they were among her prized possessions. One time long before the fair, Martha took Marcia to a Swedish store in Manhattan and bought her the biggest horse they had! It was 8 inches tall while her tiny one was 1 ¼” tall. They became her favorite toys.

Martha also joined Marcia’s class on field trips and they went a few times to the Brooklyn Museum and lo and behold, they sold those Swedish horses! Marcia was so excited to be able to add a few more to her collection each time they went.

In her later years, Marcia found more Swedish horses on the internet being sold on Ebay! Not only were they different sizes, they were different colors: blue, green, yellow and pink. She went a little crazy over this fantastic find and now her collection of horses numbers 22 which includes one soft, stuffed one. The smallest is 1” tall, but the biggest is still the one that Martha bought for her.

Joe King autograph

Joe King autograph

Another time Martha took Marcia to the Hammer Galleries in Manhattan when the internationally known artist, Joe King, known as Vinciata, was going to be there. Joe King was a native of Winston-Salem, NC which made him all the more special. His paintings of people include the Queen of England and he was quite famous. They all met and he graciously gave Marcia his autograph which is very special to her and is in her scrapbook.

Sam and Martha later on went on a number of cruises, but the first one was in 1967, when Marcia was sixteen. She, along with Sam, Martha and her brother Jeff, took an Israeli cruise ship from New York up the coast and down the St. Lawrence River to Montreal where the Montreal Expo was being held. The ship docked right there so they only had to walk a short way to attend the events. They had a fantastic time not only on the ship and at the Expo, but they also toured the City of Montreal, Canada.

Expo 1967

Expo 1967

As the kids got older and were doing their own ‘thing’, these Sunday trips stopped. However, they still attended Mets games at times and Sunday was always Chinese food day. Even after Marcia moved to North Carolina where her parents had also moved, they found Chinese restaurants to eat at although they were, sadly, not quite as good as they were used to. In New York, Marcia always ate the roast pork appetizer with white rice, Won Ton Soup and sometimes egg rolls. The Chinese places in North Carolina did not have this style pork so eventually she learned to eat other dishes and enjoyed them.

Another special memory is their New Year’s Eve tradition. Martha always fixed dinner rather early in the evening, usually around 5:00 p.m.  So late in the evening on New Year’s Eve, everyone was going to stay up late to see the ball drop and they would get hungry, especially Sam. That late at night, the only thing open was Chinese take-out and maybe pizza, but he didn’t eat pizza, to take-out it was. They didn’t get a full meal, but soup, fried rice and egg rolls were no doubt a staple for a late snack. It became a tradition after doing it for so many years.

Marcia introduced this tradition to her husband Phil and he too became a big fan of Chinese cuisine. His family had never eaten it! Now, even after all these years, they have Chinese at least once a week and always on New Year’s Eve.

There are many languages of love and not all of them are verbal. Case in point, Sam never told his kids he loved them, but he showed them love every day he got up early to go to work at the Store. No one ever asked him if he liked it. He did it because he had a family to care of. He showed his love every time he took them places so they would have a good time. Was he often really too tired for this? Probably. They all saw how exhausted he would be after a long day at the Store. Still, he made the effort and they had a full and happy childhood and no one ever questioned his love. He showed it every day. All they had to do was see it. Perhaps at the time, they didn’t, but now it is so obvious. They can only hope that he knew how much they loved him also.


My Weight Loss Journey Part #4 Reached My Goal!

Yesterday, the scale finally said what I wanted it to! I made my final goal after many, many months. Now the hard work really begins: keeping it this way. Actually, now that I’ve acclamated to a different way of eating and more consistent exercise, I find I don’t mind it at all and even look forward to both! See, you CAN change your habits. So, I took photos of me in a bathing suit and my old, fattest jeans I wore at one time so you can truly see the difference. I hope that this inspires you to try to achieve whatever your goals might be. There’s no secret, but it takes 110% of Determination. It’s really a mind thing more than a physical thing. Good luck on any of your endeavors and please feel free to discuss with me.

Bathing Suit

Bathing Suit

Marcia in fat pants

Marcia in fat pants

Marcia in fat pants

My Weight Loss Journey Part #3 – Confessions of a Chocoholic

MY WEIGHT LOSS JOURNEY Part #3 – Confessions of a Chocoholic

“You’re pre-diabetic. You’ll have to give up chocolate,” my doctor told me one day.

“What? Give up chocolate! Not in this lifetime, honey!” were my unspoken thoughts. Nosiree! Sure, I’ll cut out the French Fries and even the Coke. And I’ll eschew white rice, potatoes and other starchy carbs. But chocolate? I don’t think so!

I left her office feeling despondent over this news and wondered how I would be able to deal with this. Then, like so many people, I decided that there was no way. Besides, I’ve read that dark chocolate has health benefits! It is also on the Good Fat list and is considered a MUFA (mono-something or other, but basically good fat). There’s my answer. I’ll just eat that! And so I have, in tiny amounts, of course.

I stocked up on dark chocolate Hershey miniatures, Dark Chocolate Peanut M&Ms, Dark Chocolate chips and the always wonderful Dark Chocolate Kisses. Sure, I know there’s still sugar in them. I can read the labels. However, they don’t have any High Fructose Corn Syrup (Thank God) and I have managed to keep my ‘cheat’ down to a minimum. I’ll eat only 1 or 2 Peanut M&Ms at a time or 2 Kisses or 1 Miniature and only once (okay, maybe twice or three times a day) but it that so bad? I have still managed to lose weight and this is my one indulgence. It is a MUFA, dessert and favorite decadence all rolled into one. I savor each piece and let the chocolate melt slowly in my mouth as I savor its delicious flavor. Aah! Also, because they are not so sweet, they don’t cause me to crave more and more like milk chocolate does.

I know this because I had an occasion where I had access to a package of regular M&Ms. Ooh! What a treat, I thought as I opened the pack and told myself, “I’ll just eat a few.” I lied. I would put the pack away only to come back a short time later and repeat the process until they were all gone. Uh-oh. That was almost 300 calories I didn’t need. At least the dark chocolate doesn’t do that to me, at least not as bad. I can be content with just a tiny piece of the dark and go away happy and satisfied.

So, dark chocolate is staying on my list of things I will continue to have in spite of my doctor. She, apparently, is just not a chocoholic.

Readers: any chocoholics out there who agree with me? Or not? What one thing will you not give up in your quest to lose weight?

My Weight Loss Journey Part #2 – Pizza: Is it really worth it?

MY WEIGHT LOSS JOURNEY Part#2: Pizza – is it really worth it?

Diets don’t fail. Most of them, even stupid fad diets, will work in the short term. They restrict calories and yes, the weigh will come off. However, the hard part is keeping it off and that’s where the dieter fails and reverts back to the eating habits they had before they began the diet. Then the fat is back. I’ve been there and done that. Many times.

So, now that I have once again shed the fat I wanted to, the bigger challenge will be NOT going back to bad eating habits and not exercising. This is actually harder than losing the weight in some ways.

However, something happened that I think will help keep me on the path to healthiness: Pizza. Yeah, that Comfort Food that is a staple of many diets. I can attest that pizza was often one of our dinner choices on too many occasions. While on my weight loss journey, I only ate pizza on 2 occasions and mostly because I was somewhere where that was about the only option. Fortunately, it didn’t de-rail me from my mission. I was able to avoid it again after that. For a while. I did try making a healthier version at home, but frankly, they always sucked. It just wasn’t worth it.

The time came when my husband had reached his goal and I was very close to mine and my little Devil on my shoulder said, “Ooh! You’ve done so good. Now you can have Pizza again! You know you want some!”

Yes, I did, even when the Angel on the other shoulder said, “Oh no! You mustn’t. It’s terrible for you!”

I convinced hubby it would be OK to have Pizza and we could get one with healthy stuff on it. He agreed, although he had reservations about it. I could tell that, but chose to ignore the red flags I didn’t want to see.

We shared a medium Pizza that had a thin crust with no fat crust edges. One half had chicken, the other green pepper. Not so bad a choice, right? We did polish off the whole thing so no left overs.

On the way home, I was trying to find an equivalent in my calorie counter so I could put it down. Ouch! No matter what, the calories, fat and carbs were quite high. It was quite disheartening and I realized this was why I had stayed away from Pizza for so long to begin with. The other thing I realized was that it was laying on my stomach like the proverbial lead balloon. I also acknowledged that I didn’t enjoy it near as much as I had expected to. It seemed that the IDEA of Pizza was what I enjoyed more, not the actual food itself.

This particular week I was also doing some extensive blood sugar testing to see how certain foods affected my blood sugar 2 hours after eating instead of just in the morning. My readings were well under the 120 level that is the goal. However, after the Pizza, my blood sugar was at 161 two hours later!! Oops. Not good at all.

In the end, here’s what I learned: not only were the fat, carbs and calories more than I needed, I didn’t even enjoy it that much, I felt crappy afterwards and it was definitely not good for my health. So to answer my original question: Is Pizza really worth it? My answer now is a resounding NO. Pizza was now on my “Hell No” list of foods.

If that isn’t enough to deter me in the future, I can always recall an incident that happened a long time ago. One night after devouring Pizza, I felt discomfort in my guts and they began to churn noisily. I finally had to hit the bathroom where things began to spew forth. Somehow, all the ensuing cramps must have caused my stomach to rebel and I knew the Pizza was coming back up. Yikes! I had nowhere to put it. The toilet was not an option, due to obvious reasons and my waste can was wicker so that wasn’t good either. The bathtub was the only option so all that I had eaten ended up there.

When all was purged from my system, I staggered to the bed and had to lie down to recuperate from this ordeal. My very sweet husband cleaned up the mess. Bless him.

I do believe remembering this will help me make the correct decision the next time Pizza crosses my mind as a food choice. I’ll never say I’ll never eat any again, but it will be a rare event for sure.

Readers: everyone has a favorite food they think they can’t live without (but you can). What is yours? What food is the one that you crave the most? And can you give it up if you had to?

My Weight Loss Journey Part #1


In the past 2 years, I’ve lost 50 pounds and people always ask, “How did you do it?” There’s no mystery here, no magic pill, no fad amazing diet, no secret that no one else knows – just good old plain “eat less and exercise more”. Sure, it’s old fashioned and boring, but guess what? It works.

As with many people, my weight has been up and down so many times it’s been more like a jack hammer than a yo-yo. In my youth, I was a tiny little thing and it was a big deal when I finally weighed more than 100. I used to be 5 foot and 1- ½  inches tall which is really short by any standard. Add insult to injury, I find that now I am only 5 foot and ½ inch tall. I shrunk! Hey, Gravity, that’s not fair! I can’t afford to lose that much. Oh, well. Life does that. Which only makes my weight gains even worse.

It all began when I moved from the big metropolis of New York where I grew up, to the suburban rolling hills of the Piedmont area of North Carolina. In the Big Apple, walking is a way of life and while I grew up eating large quantities of hamburgers, French Fries, Coke and ice cream, I remained a scant 104 pounds or so. I was very proud of my 24 inch waist!

Once I hit the South, I bought a car and…walking was no more. I had wheels now! My mother’s good Southern cooking and my sudden lack of exercise caused a subtle weight gain and when I was married in 1974, I was still only 110 pounds, so that wasn’t too bad.

However, cooking more substantial meals for me and my hubby soon led to both of us ballooning up. So began my seemingly constant efforts to get the weight off, which I did. Numerous times. It kept sneaking back on though, little by little.

In 1979, I had been fatter, but was finally back down to 106. Yay! Then I got pregnant and it all went to…well, you can guess. I was so hungry the whole time and I just stuffed myself silly, believing that foolish adage that you are eating for two. BS. You’re just overeating. My highest weight when pregnant was a whopping 148, but of course, it was justified and located largely in my middle and all women are beautiful when pregnant. Sure, it’s a lie, but we like to believe it anyway just so we don’t think we look like whales.

After my son was born, I was determined to lose again, so I cut back and struggled, but after the better part of a year, I managed to tip the scales at 106 again. But not for long. Over time, the fat kept coming back. Obviously, I hadn’t yet quite learned why that was happening.

When I hit 50 years old, I was a tub of lard at slightly over 150 pounds. I had even outstripped my pregnancy weight. Ouch! I decided to get serious and managed, once again, to limit my food and try to exercise some and sure enough, the weight slowly, but steadily came off again. I had lost interest in sewing my own clothes when I had to make tent-like blouse and huge pants with elastic waists. So when I finally got to 126, I got rid of many of my Fat Clothes. Not all, but some. I did well for quite a while, but later got a sedentary job and went back to my old bad habits – too many French Fries, pizza and Coke were probably the worst offenders, but ice cream, brownies and Dewey’s chocolate éclairs played a huge (pun intended) role in my subsequent return to tubbiness. This time, however, it was worse! I reached my previous high, but did I stop there? Oh, no! I kept going and going, like the Energizer Bunny until I found the scale crying out – TOO MUCH! My worst weight became the ungodly number of 177. (remember, I’m very short, so this is quite a lot on my small frame). Yuck! Not only was I back into my old Fat Pants, but they were becoming too tight also! My blouses were stretching across my chest and gaping at the seam. Not pretty at all. At one point, none of my jeans even came close to fitting, so I had to break down and buy a pair that were size 18 and I almost puked at the thought. Yet, I couldn’t seem to get anywhere. I had LALGIB Syndrome. I’m sure many of you are similarly afflicted. It stands for Lose a Little, Gain It Back. We’ve all been there, haven’t we? Then there’s LALGIBAM Syndrome where you And More to the end.

So, January of 2010, as always, how many of us make a New Year’s Resolution to lose weight? Many of us. Every single year. This time, I had an iPhone! I downloaded a calorie counting App – yes, there’s an App for that! This was too cool and it was so helpful. I could put in everything I ate and it would tell me the total which kept me from going over my calorie “budget” for the day. It was working like a charm and it kept me accountable for every morsel that went into my mouth.

I was doing okay, but hit some snags about the time I was down 27 pounds. One, my App quit on me and two, I was having some personal issues that were causing me a lot of stress. Both of these things derailed me from my mission. I could no longer focus on doing what I needed to do. Comfort Food was calling my name and I responded by stuffing myself with it, justifying my need every time. If I felt bad, Food was the answer. If I was upset, Food was the answer. Except it isn’t, truly. I am an Emotional Eater and while acknowledging this is helpful, it doesn’t always curb the bad habits and behaviors. So, for a while, my weight remained in the general vicinity of the 150’s. Not good, but not as bad as it had been.

So what sparked my renewed vigor to get back on the Losing Wagon? Someone took a photo of me from the back. Oh. My. God. I saw that and for some reason, it just…this was my Defining Moment. I knew then that it was time to get severely serious again. How I looked from the rear was just unacceptable to me.

September 3, 2011, I got a new App for counting calories and carbs and resolved to focus on my eating and exercise (which was previously, at best, intermittent for the most part) and I was determined to lose the fat once again.

This time was more serious too, because I had been told I was pre-diabetic and was on 4 medicines at this time: one for diabetes, one for high cholesterol, one for high triglycerides and one for high blood pressure. I hate taking medicines and felt that if I could lose the fat, I could get off of these. That was also a goal that was important to me.

To make things easier, I also bought a kitchen scale so I could weigh my portions out. This has been extremely helpful in order to track calories. Sure, it’s a pain sometimes to have to weigh or measure all my food, but then I know how much I’m eating and can be sure it’s not too much. So I just do it.

Fortunately, not too long after I began my latest plan, my husband asked me to help him lose some too. He was somewhat overweight, most of it in his belly. He also felt bad when he was eating no-no’s right in front of me while I was straining to stay away from such goodies, so he decided to join me.

Long story short, it is now April of 2012 and I am down to 126 pounds and my husband is down 32 pounds to 160. His back no longer hurts him every day too! That’s been wonderful.

Also, I am off all of those medications and unless my future tests come back horrible (which I doubt), I won’t go back on them.

I have gotten rid of ALL of my fat clothes and went on a shopping spree to buy some clothes that don’t look like I’m a little kid wearing a grown-ups’ clothes. I had a bunch of my old jeans TAKEN IN! I have also taken in a lot of other clothes. It is so nice feeling thin and good again. Also, we won’t go back to being heavy because we’ve both learned so much about eating, habits, bad foods and more that we have learned to eat differently for the better and for good.

Besides, I don’t have any more Fat Clothes to fall back on! This is a great thing!

I will be blogging more on this topic as I think of things that might be of interest.

Readers: Have you ever had a Defining Moment? Tell me about it.