Saturday, February 5, 2011

45 RPM - More than a Record

I don't know about you, but these round discs ruled my life from 1962-to the early 70's. I had my small phonograph with the flip top and a bunch of records from my older brothers, mostly doo-wop and pre-Beatles. Then in 1964 I asked my Mom to take me to buy a record at the local store in my home town of Newark, New Jersey called "Melody Records". I was in vinyl heaven surrounded by bright colors, records, albums, posters, all while listening to the greatest sounds of the day. I recall the feeling of wanting just to stay in the store and hang out. Everything was so clean and neat and as you went up to the counter, there were 100 slots against the wall for the top 100 songs of the week. They were numbered and in the position each particular song held that week. Mike Zigarelli, the owner, would get the song you wanted and play about 30 seconds on his turntable to make sure it didn't skip. He would always be whistling while the song played. I always felt Mike was our local Dick Clark who always had a cool hip way about him. Watching the record play was the most exciting thing I ever saw and each label looked cooler than the next. But the best by far was the Capital Label "pictured above" with the red and yellow hurricane design that sort of hypnotized me. The experience was much more than just going to the store to buy a record. The smallest of details were larger than life for a young boy enamored with Pop Music. Somewhere in the late 60's, I graduated to a cooler phonograph which was the grooviest thing I think I have ever gotten. It was a portable record player that you carried around like a suitcase. The 45rpm slid into a small opening and the record automatically played while you were carrying it..... and it didn't skip even if you were rough and were swinging your arms. When the song was done, you simply ejected the record. I remember when I got older visiting their other stores in Passaic and Union, but the Newark store on Bloomfield Ave and Broadway, which was really close to my house, will be forever imprinted in my mind.

The Hypnotic Capital Label

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Brookdale Soda......The Return....Sort of

Where do I begin?
Many years ago back in my hometown of Newark NJ, one of the main staples that was in my home and everyone elses for that matter was, Brookdale Soda. It didn't hurt that my 3 older brothers all worked for the soda company at one time or another. It was much more than a soda for all us who happened to be from the Northern New Jersey area. I can still see the blue truck pulling up to my house on Garside and Taylor St. All the soda was exposed and angled down on a slant. Our delivery man and probably 90% of the greater Newark area was Gus Raimo, a great man who I can still see in my mind carrying those heavy crates on his shoulder.
Of course it was always a treat to go to the places that carried the soda, and a number of grocery and liquor stores in every town would always have a full supply. The special treat for all the kids of that generation was when we got to go to the main warehouse located in Bloomfield, then in Clifton, or any of the local depots. For many, Brookdale is a memory from long ago since it's been out of business since 1988. But for me, I have never forgotten it. I tell no lie when I say that I think about it every single day and I have for the 23 years it's been out of business.
Back in 2001, I had a restaurant/ice cream parlor in Montclair which was completely retro designed. In my display window there was always a case of Brookdale Soda, some filled, some empty. I even had a bottle blown up to 6 feet tall. During the holidays at dinner time, I put a full bottle of the soda on the table just for a special effect, because I believe the table looks better with a Brookdale bottle on it. One day, the owner Joe Pieretti walks into the Soda Pop Shop and tells me who he is and I proceeded to bow to him...
So last year my partner and I decided to create a Vintage New Jersey Merchandise business where we look back on things that don't exist any more, be it places, things, foods, drinks and anything that was a part of growing up in New Jersey during the best years of our lives. One of the first things I thought of was Brookdale soda. So I contacted Joe and told him of our idea. He gave me the go ahead to resurrect the logo with some minor changes, but keep it just like we all remember.
We started selling in the summer of 2010 in local flea markets and street fairs and we have gotten a great response from everyone we meet including many stories and we have acquired many more bottles found in cellars. We decided to take the idea of selling this, back to where it all started some 80 years ago in the Brookdale Section of Bloomfield. Shop Rite has shown interest in our merchandise and after we have our initial launching, we are hoping that we can distribute our vintage line throughout the state.
We have just come out with a new design based on individualizing the various flavors, so each shirt will be it's own flavor. We have begun with 7 to start and the rest will follow. Available flavored shirts at the moment are: Grape, Kola, Fruit Punch, Old Fashioned Birch Beer, Orange, Lemon-Lime and Cherry Cherry Pit.
Here's the address to our CafePress store where you can get anything we have designed so far and we're always adding more.
Hey you never know and it's not completely out of the realm of possibility, but in the not too distant future, Brookdale Soda might be available in glass bottles again......

Monday, May 25, 2009

Retro Ring Dings and Yodels

Here we have my favorite childhood snack of all time.. I know they're still available today but they don't taste the same for a variety of reasons from our changing taste buds, to the preservatives they put in today's products.
If your old enough to remember, the Ring Ding Box came wrapped in gold paper and inside they were individually wrapped in gold foil. The Yodel box was wrapped in white paper and they were individually wrapped in silver foil. I distinctly remember laying out the foil and ironing it smooth with my fingers or a utensil. These 2 cakes were the best... There was also another that I can't find a picture of and it was called "The Ring Ding Jr.". It was always packaged by itself, much large and flatter. Drakes's Cake best product of all time!!!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Columnist James Brady dies

New York Columnist James Brady, author of "Parade" magazine's celebrity profile column "In Step With" died on Monday January 26th. He was 80 years old. He had a long career in journalism and even was the entertainment correspondant on WCBS Channel 2 in New York for years. 1928-2009

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Bob May "Lost in Space Robot" dies

Bob May, who was the man inside the robot suit on "Lost is Space" has died at the age of 69. He died Sunday January 18 of congestive heart failure. He was an actor, stuntman who appeared in movies, TV, and even the vaudeville stage. He got the job on Lost in Space only because they were looking for someone who fill into the robot suit and he was on the studio lot that day. Bob was the grandson of Chic Johnson, of Olsen and Johnson comedy team fame "Hellzapoppin" He did not provide the famous "Warning Warning" line from the show. 1939-2009

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ricardo Montalban dies at 88

Ricardo Montalban, Mexican born actor for more than 60 years died Wednesday January 14 in Los Angeles. He was 88 years old. No cause of death was given. He began his career in MGM musicals with Esther Williams back in 1946. But the world will always remember him as Mr. Roarke, who was in charge of an island resort where visitors were able to fulfill their lifelong dreams in "Fantasy Island". It ran from 1978-1984 1920-2009

Patrick McGoohan dies at 80

Actor Patrick McGoohan who starring in the 1960's cult classic "The Prisoner" has died in Los Angeles. He was 80 years old. McGoohan won two Emmy's for his work on Columbo and in the 1995 Mel Gibson film "Braveheart". But he was best known as the title character #6 in the British TV series in which he played a spy held captive in a small village trying to escape. 1928-2009