By: John E. Fiorentino
Years ago, when I was just a kid -- and believe me it was YEARS ago -- me and my “buds” would on occasion go up to the local Pharmacy and order a soda. In those days, you could get a fresh soda fountain Coke for about 25 cents.
We would all pool our money, carefully making sure that no one was left out. If we didn’t have enough, then we didn’t go. We never left any of our friends behind because they didn’t have any change to contribute. (Notice I said “change” rarely did we ever have any paper money)
If anyone among us actually had a “dollar” bill we all assumed someone in the family had passed away and left them something in their will, or it was their birthday. Believe me; either of these two possibilities was extremely rare.
Anyway, after we had all consumed our “Cokes” we often found that we had 10 or 20c left over. That of course meant that we just may be able to buy a bag or two of potato chips that we could all share.
Jimmy, one of my friends who lived “across the tracks” in the “black” neighborhood in the seashore town of Asbury Park, New Jersey where I grew up was very fond of putting some ketchup on his potato chips. I tried it a few times, and it was readily apparent that Jimmy was a lot smarter than most people thought he was. Oh yeah, nothing like some “Wise” potato chips with ketchup on em……..mmm….mmm good!
Of course the ketchup idea usually presented us with a dilemma. “Where would we get the ketchup?” I mean, unless you wanted to walk all the way home to your house and get some, you weren’t gonna have any “ketchup on those chips.”
Being a rather industrious (if not broke) group, we would usually nominate someone to go back into the Pharmacy and scout around the soda fountain to see if anyone had left any packets of ketchup after consuming their hamburgers, or maybe it was their pork roll and cheese sandwiches, or “French fries.” More often than not, we were successful. Occasionally, we came up empty handed. This of course called for some drastic action.
Now it was up to our industrious “nominee” to find an unsuspecting waitress and say something like…….“my dad just ordered a hamburger to go and didn’t get any ketchup with it, can I get some?” I can’t remember a time this didn’t work!
After we managed to pull off this “scam” we all hungrily consumed our chips and ketchup. Most of us usually managing to get some on our clothes, or leave the tell tale red stain on our upper lips or chins.
It’s usually in the summertime that I reminisce about these kinds of things. Why? Quite frankly, I really don’t know. All of this took place years ago, in a different world, now seemingly very far away.
Is it important that I remember such things? Yeah, I think it is. Even though most of us were “poor” we frankly didn’t know it. Nobody bothered to tell us just what kind of a predicament we were in. Nor, would we have truly understood it, if someone had. The fact is we were “happy.” I know all of us were certainly much happier than we are today. Funny thing is, I could drown my chips in ketchup now, but gettin that “happy” back just doesn’t seem that easy.
Hey, “You want some ketchup on those chips?”
Copyright 2012 - J.E. Fiorentino -- All Rights Reserved