Movies, Nostalgia, and The Main

Welcome to the summer of nostalgia.  From What Ever Happened to Pudding Pops, to Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris, it seems we all want to rehash the past. 

Even the superb Super 8 transports viewers back in time. Those of us who grew up in the 70s and 80s can identify with Joe, the kid who felt his Dad didn't understand him. We all knew a kid like Alice, who lived in a dirty dilapidated house on the edge of town, with scary parents who yelled a lot and smelled like booze. And we all had a friend like Riley who lived in a house full of wild children and friendly but resigned parents. Kids like Riley owned hundreds of toys and games, but you could never play with them because there were so many missing pieces. Riley-kid houses all shared that unforgettable odor of burned oatmeal, creamed tuna, and wet diapers. And that kid with the braces who liked to start fires?  I remember him as well.

Is it the advancing age of our boomer siblings causing this collective sigh as we look back to supposedly simpler times?  Or is it the wincing Gen-Xers who are finally operating with the understanding that we, too, might have to purchase a pair of reading glasses in the near future? Yet, romanticizing history is not a new phenomenon.

Personally, my go-to moment on the historical time table is freshman year in college when I worked at St. Anthony Main's Pizzeria.  We wore orange t-shirts with the American Pie logo and by quiting time there was a line of grease across my stomach where I pushed against the prep board. I always smelled like olive oil. 

Staff was allowed one pizza slice for every 4 hours worked, and we could trade with the other vendors.  One slice could get you a full meal from Dino's, a small dish of fried rice from Thieves Market, or a burger from Prince Street Bar.  Haagan Daz wasn't allowed to trade; they operated under a boss with uptight rules. Early on Sunday mornings one of the Haagan Daz staff might sneak out an illicit vanilla cone in exchange for an extra-cheese but that was rare, and you had to know someone important.  We called them the ice cream mafia.

Pizzeria's owner, Mike, beamed with pride the day the case of Torani flavored syrups arrived.  We had never seen anything like it: guava, hazelnut, orgeat?! Exotic flavors with intoxicating possibilities. Italian Cream Sodas were new in town, and we were the only show. We charged nearly $3 per small cup, almost as much as a slice.

We could drink all the soda pop we wanted, and I survived each 8 hour shift on buckets of diet cola. But it was understood that no one was allowed to drink the Italian Cream sodas. Which of course meant that on slow days we'd experiment in the back of the shop.  How would passion fruit taste with a splash of orange? With or without cream?  How about adding 7-Up instead of soda water? My favorite combination was cherry and orgeat.

Some props from the past are worth reviving. Did you notice the hair clip Rachel McAdams wore in several scenes of Midnight in Paris?  This weekend you'll find me sporting a banana clip and sipping an Italian Cream Soda. 

St. Anthony Main's American Pie Pizzeria Italian Cream Soda
1 jigger flavored syrup
1/2 jigger heavy cream
8 - 10 ounces soda water

In a large drinking glass stir together syrup and cream; add ice. While gently stirring, pour soda into glass.


L said…
Growing up in a big family it was hard to imagine what having your own bedroom yet alone your own bed would be like that you didn't have to share. I learned at a young age pecking order and needing to make "dibs" on a certain seat in the car, so I didn't end up in the back of the station wagon looking out the back window. My mom still cooks for an army even when it's two people she's cooking for. Thanks for the memories dear friend.

PS love the new photo. :)
patrice said…
L - you and I belonged to the few BIG families that had clean, organized homes! As for pecking orders and cars - I always ended up on "the bump" wedged between two sisters, or in the hatch with the dogs. :)

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