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I miss those words coming from a high volume mouth of a deli owner in Lower Manhattan.

In my younger days working as an apprentice ironworker on 7 World Trade Center, I use to get the guys’ order for coffee and spend an hour in the local coffee shop directly across the street from where the Twin Towers once proudly stood. (I still can’t believe those buildings are no longer there)

Each morning, Monday through Friday at around 8:15 I would place my order (amounting close to $100) and the owner would comp my breakfast. (One hand washes the other, right?)

Deli Owner: “Steve, what are you havin’?” he’d ask with a smile on his face, in an Eastern Europe accent.

Me: Toasted bagel with cream cheese and a juice.”

Deli Owner: “TOASTED BAGEL WITH A SMEAR!” He would scream out without batting an eye.

This morning while munching on a plain toasted bagel with cream cheese and sipping some O.J., I thought back to the days of ordering a buttered roll and a light & sweet coffee at Pynn’s deli.

That was the norm for most.

I don’t recall ever getting a bagel though.

Even when you had to hop on the ‘F’ Train into Manhattan you always carried that small brown paper bag, newspaper tucked under your arm as you made your way underground.  Once seated, you pulled out the items one at a time while you sat back on the lovely IND.

The fellow commuters who skipped breakfast that morning, already seated across from you, had a tendency to stare.

One day in the early 80’s a bagel shop opened up where L&J Bakery use to be and the avenue finally had bagels.

I don’t recall the guy’s name who opened it up but a few years later it was ‘under new ownership’

Louie (from St. Rose of Lima) to this day is the proud owner of a very successful bagel shop, Terrace Bagels. Whenever I am in town I always make it a priority to have a seat in the cafe portion of the bagel shop and enjoy my bagel and newspaper. (Does Rocco still work the counter?)

Salted bagel, Cinnamon Raisin, Poppy and Sesame all have been my favorite at one time or another. I still can’t get the courage to ask for an ‘everything’ bagel.

What I notice lately in a lot of places is that they don’t put the cream cheese on the bagel for you. No, they ask you if you would like it and if you happen to say yes, (they go ahead and charge you an extra .45) they reach into a fridge and pull out a small cup of cold cream cheese.

Oh, by the way, the knives are over there – the Barista boldly points out as they direct you half-way across the cafe.

Back in the day before bagels, we would get a buttered roll and pint of O.J.

Where did we consume this nutritious breakfast? On the park bench, boys or girls schoolyard or we sat on the front hood of a car parked on the avenue.

Other times we’d squat on Jimmy Cullen’s stoop at 175 Windsor discussing the Knicks, Mets or even Yankees.

The newspaper, bagel/roll and coffee or juice – I miss those days…

-SF

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