As Easter approaches, I am reminded of my days as a little girl in Ozone Park awaiting wearing a lovely new dress, shiny patent leather shoes, a wide-brimmed hat and the arrival of the Easter bunny with lots of chocolate and jelly beans. We wore the pretty dress and hat for church and the sweets would be there in the basket when we got home. There were some other connections to the taste of Easter with the Italian pastries that included grain pie and sweet bread with colored hard-boiled eggs nestled in the middle. These are the images and memories of many children growing up in the 1950`s. There is, however, one memory that might be a little unique to my family.
Grain Pie, Source: michelescicolone.com
One of my father`s brother, John, Uncle Johnny to us, was an avid hunter, often bringing bear steaks, deer sausages and quail that he would bring back from the trips upstate. Uncle Johnny was a fabulous chef as well, much to his wife`s enjoyment, leaving her the task of taking care of their three children. He was also a generous and caring father so it was not surprising that he would purchase several small bunnies right after the winter was ending. He would set up a few cages in the backyard of his home in Ozone Park, under the porch. My younger cousin Frances took on the task of feeding the new pets with my sister and I helping to feed the rapidly growing bunnies. We gave them cute little names, like Cottontail or Flopsy. They got big quickly with the lettuce, carrots and other greens we fed them every day. Uncle Johnny started this tradition when Frances was little and continued it for years. And while we kept feeding the cute little bunnies and watched them grow into fat rabbits, we never questioned Uncle Johnny when every good Friday, year after year, after year, the rabbits would mysteriously get out of their locked cages. It seemed like a strange co-incidence that this would happen every year, but we never gave it a second thought.
One year, when Frances, my sister and myself were a little more than upset on Easter Sunday, as we ate out dinner of a tasty tomato and meat sauce with pasta. We questioned how strange it was that the rabbits always got out at the same time. Uncle Johnny smiled his warm smile that seemed a little sinister and then he asked us how we were enjoying dinner. We agreed it was delicious and then he began to laugh, as did his wife, my father and my mother. Even Frances`s older brother and sister chuckled as well. It took us a few minutes to put the pieces together as Uncle Johnny described the yearly event in detail, leaving out the final part that we suddenly realized what it was with utter horror.
Uncle Johnny was a hunter and a wonderful cook and every Easter he put his talents to great use with a delicious result. And three little girls were unwitting participants in his yearly plan. So if you know someone who buys little bunnies and fattens them up just before they disappear, check what is served before you eat.
Our friend Sean is helping us with the house, working on various construction projects. While gutting the bungalow, he found several relics from days long gone. Knowing I would want these, he saved them. (Thanks Sean.)
There was life in our bungalow before it fell into disrepair. I’m imagining the families that moved in and out – working, trying to make ends meet, having fun, enjoying the beach, maybe getting married and having kids or maybe getting separated or maybe a single old Irish grump who loved Turkish cigarettes lived there? I wish I knew who these people were but they only left these clues behind…
They read The Daily News. These papers from 1927 were found in-between the walls – I’m guessing as an insulator? Seems like a huge fire hazard to me…
They ate Nabisco Sugar Wafers and had a preference for vanilla. This is a good one, I love the graphic design. I did some research and our box seems to match a box from 1909.
I found a few boxes online, the latest version I found was from 1930. They didn’t change the package much, primarily just the color. Imagine 2o years with the same package design – that would never happen today! The interesting thing is our bungalow was built somewhere between 1920-1930, The box pre-dates it’s dwelling unless this design continued to the 1920′s but wasn’t recorded online… Oh the mystery!
They had good taste in art. Above are two cool painting with even cooler frames. I see these and try to picture what this apartment looked like back in the 1930s, who kept this house, where did they get the paintings and why did they like them? Or maybe they didn’t, maybe it was a gift and they felt obligated to hang it up! Thinking about the lives that have passed through our bungalow gives me a strange, excited feeling.
They had a gorgeous staircase. This staircase was uncovered and found in almost perfect condition. It was hidden behind a plaster wall. We think the bungalow in earlier days was a one family. It seems that it was converted into two apartment later on, by covering this staircase and making a second entrance.
They liked Turkish Cigarettes. According to the Googleverse, this was a popular specialty brand in the early 1900′s. The design is incredible, check out a cleaner version of our box and details about the artist here.
And the Murad ads are spectaular too – Women rides turtle to catch a floating Murad box is a particularly good one.
Via Weird Universe
Here’s a collection of other fantastical Murad Cigarettes ads, I can’t get enough of this stuff.
She cooked. This one hits home. A Women (most likely) cooked for her family here, which is exactly what I will be doing almost in the same spot, for many years to come.
Photo via Last Dragon Pizza Facebook
Since reading on DNAinfo about the underground pizzeria Last Dragon, we’ve been dying to try it out.
Last Dragon Pizza is the creation of Nicole Russell, 41, a super-fan of the cult classic film who slings her pies like blue arrows at her home in Arverne.
A few weeks ago Susanne and I made arrangements to pre-order for a Wednesday night pick-up. After much back and forth, we agreed to order The Glo!!! It would be smart to try the “nuts and bolts” pizza first, we thought. The Glo!!! is a standard cheese/sauce pie (pepperoni optional).
Wednesday night, it’s ten to eight. We’re sitting in the car at an undisclosed location – staring at the clock. It felt like we were part of some SVU covert sting operation. We were hungry and the anticipation was building… almost time. THEN, out of know where, Ms. Nicole Russell appears, all smiles and bubbly, holding the box. The exchange goes down. “Thank you so much for your support,” Ms. Russell says, followed by “Hey, lets do a selfie!!” And the social media frenzy began.
I’ve never had so much fun picking up a pie before. We rushed home, we couldn’t wait to eat. Rendezvous successful.
The low-down on The Glo!!!… The 14 inch pie can feed one hungry person or be split by two moderately hungry individuals. The sauce is on the sweet side. The cheese to sauce ratio is on point. This is a big thing for me, it must be close to equal. The homemade dough is the best part. The crust is soft, big and thick. Right away I thought, “this is out-of-the-oven fresh”. While eating, I was thinking a side of sauce for dipping the crust would be a great option.
In contrast to the fluffy outer crust, the pizza center is thin. Thick crust with a thin center is a unique combo; I haven’t had anything like it. Ms. Russell makes a quality pie, The Glo!! is legit. My goal is to taste (and write about) all 7 specialty pies by summers end.
Order via the website Last Dragon Pizza or call 917-780-2570
Facebook, Twitter (@LastDragonPizza)
Stop by and say hello this Sunday at Gottscheer Hall. We’re selling house plants in recycled cans. There are some great vendors this spring, check’m out.