As a kid, I remember that whenever a trip to the deli or bakery was necessary, it was my dad who did the shopping. I have no idea why it was his job.
We would go to the Star Delicatessen or “Dave & Julie’s,” as it was affectionately known. In those days, the North End had several delis, as did South Providence and, of course, so did the East Side. Nearby every deli were the Jewish bakeries. Vu den? You had to put deli meat on Jewish bread or rolls. You needed bagels for your cream cheese, lox and other delicacies.
I imagine every family had its deli of choice. My dad went to Dave & Julie’s. My bubbe went to Davis. So I had the advantage of going to both places, if I was invited to make the trip.
Now, as an adult, I would really like to revisit those delis. You can only imagine how large they are remembered in my mind as a child. Recently, I asked Mr. Davis some questions about the old store on Constitution Hill. He set me straight.
I thought there were pickle barrels in the center of the store. He said there were not. But when I asked if there was sawdust on the floor and if the meat was on one side and the dairy on the other, he said that, yes, I remembered correctly. The best part of talking to Mr. Davis is that he remembers my bubbe, my aunts and uncles and my cousins, and he tells me little stories about them. I enjoy being connected to them through his memories. Just last week, I asked him if he remembered Sparklet strawberries in the blue-and-white box. He looked at me and said that was a long time ago. Every now and then I remark how sad I am that there is no longer a deli meat called “rolled beef.”
My memories of Dave & Julie’s end as a young adult. As a child, I remember standing next to my dad as he ordered various items and kibitzed with either Dave or Julie. All the time I would be eyeing the chocolate-covered halvah or the jelly candy. Sometimes, I turned to look at the soda in an open container filled with water which had been ice earlier in the day.
I also remember that joyous feeling I had when my dad said I could have a soda or piece of candy. This did not happen every time, which is why it was always special.
Imagine!! The soda cost 5 cents and the candy 3 cents!!! Ah, memories!
MAY-RONNY ZEIDMAN is the executive director or the Sandra Bornstein Holocaust Education Center.