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.
http://www.cafepress.com/Jerseygrown
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......