Monday, February 21, 2005

Philosophizing at Dubrow's

This lovely description of Dubrow's comes from Lisa Kennedy's article in the Village Voice, which you can read here. She is quoting Brooklyn native Bernard Glassman's experience of Dubrow's:

"Truth be told, that first day's search for boxes for shelter and cans for income had the playful exuberance of Carole Lombard tracking down "a forgotten man" for her upper-class scavenger hunt in My Man Godfrey. But Glassman is candid about the romantic origins of the Street Retreat. "I remember explicitly sitting in Dubrow's, a cafeteria in Brooklyn, eating," he says one afternoon. "And at the next table was a bunch of bums - Bowery-type bums - and they were discussing philosophy, and I was amazed. Their discussion made me feel that there was some kind of knowledge on the streets that was more profound than the kind of knowledge I was getting. I can still picture them - it was a long time ago."

Like father, like son

How funny...I just found a reference to Dubrow's online in an interview with Dennis Prager a couple days ago, and tonight I found a reference to Dubrow's in an excerpt from Chapter XV of the memoirs of Max (Mac) Prager, Dennis Prager's father:

"One Thursday morning in the beginning of August 1940 while taking inventory at Kay Cloak &Suit Co., something snapped in my mind and told me that it was time to propose marriage to the young lady who was my best friend for four years. Since I was one block from Pearl Dress Co., I suggested that we meet for lunch which was not unusual when I was working near Hilda. She met me outside her building and we went for lunch at Dubrow's Cafeteria at the comer of her street. While sitting at a table and eating, I, in a not too romantic setting, said in a matter of fact manner that the time for marriage has arrived. I was not surprised at Hilda’s reaction which was not one of shock since after seeing each other every day for four years, marriage at some point in time was expected. At this point, I must admit that neither of our parents ever inquired as to when we were getting married."

Friday, February 18, 2005

Dubrow's drew people of all political persuasions

I found this excerpt about Dubrow's in an article by Luke Ford about the conservative talk show host Dennis Prager:

"In late 1963, bored with school, Dennis embarked on an intense exploration of Manhattan's cultural attractions. One day he bought a $1 ticket to hear Alexander Schneider and his chamber group play Handel's Concerti Grossi at Carnegie Hall. Prager fell in love with classical music. The next day he spent two weeks lunch money and allowance ($32) to buy concert tickets at Carnegie.

For the rest of high school, Dennis spent two-to-three evenings a week in Manhattan, attending plays, concerts and book stores. He usually ate his dinner (tuna fish salad plate, apple pie and coffee for $1.50) at Dubrow's Cafeteria by the subway station on King Highway."

Thursday, February 17, 2005

A story

This comes from my great aunt Marian Rossman. She recalls that Dubrow's was the kind of place everybody knew. "You would put down your $.10 for a cup of coffee and sit there all day." She also said that the Miami Dubrows was often written up in the paper, and she would collect the articles and send them the Sylvia, Irving Kaplan's wife and her sister-in-law. So those articles are probably somewhere in my grandparents' house right now...I'll be doing a little rummaging when I go down there this year for Passover.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005


Well, already this blog has become the first item that comes up when you Google "Dubrow's Cafeteria." This is the epitome of success in the 21st century and the internet age.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

A mystery

I need help on this one. I found this obituary in the online version of the Montclair Times, a New Jersey paper:

Leo Martin

Wednesday, May 10, 2000

Leo Martin, 83, of Montclair died on Tuesday, May 2, in the Kessler Care Center at St. Cloud in West Orange. Born in Poland, Mr. Martin came to the United States in 1928. He had lived in Montclair since 1951. Mr. Martin attended Northeastern University in Boston.

Prior to owning The Marlboro Inn in Montclair (1976-1979), Mr. Martin had owned the Claremont Diner in Verona, Arthur Maisel's in Atlantic City, Dubrow's Cafeteria, both in New York City and Brooklyn, and the Saxony Cafeteria in Newark.

Mr. Martin's wife, Teresa, predeceased him in March. He is survived by three daughters, Barbara Cogan, Linda Festa, and Patricia Roelke; seven grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

Now, I checked with my mother, the unofficial family historian. As far as we know, there is no Leo Martin in our family, and no one named Leo Martin ever "owned" Dubrow's. Perhaps he was a manager? Or is he some long lost family member? We do have one of those, actually. But he's been found now.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Poetic tribute

I think this is an amazing poem, and I love that it references Dubrow's, but what's interesting is that I don't remember there being any waitresses there.

By Jason Shinder

Originally published in Every Room We Ever Slept In, Sheep Meadow Press, 1993
Reprinted in Night Out: Poems about Hotels, Motels, Restaurants, and Bars, 1997

There is a table in the back where she opens
her mouth to red lipstick, lets her eyes down
for a touch of blue mascara, and rests

her bunioned feet. Six more hours
before she can sip Coca Cola and sleep
in front of her father’s new Magnavox 14 inch Black & White,

Milton Berle running across the screen.
She touched Mr. Berle’s hand once in 1948
when he raised his right arm for her

and a roast beef sandwich. The world shrieked,
rang in promise. She knows it was then the twitching began
in her left eye. Esther is still

waiting tables at Dubrow’s. Sadie still hanging coats
at Sutter’s. Sunday, she’s got her cousin Lenny’s
green Chevrolet. The tall kitchen doors swing back

and forth, parting the hair on her forehead.
She can taste the salt at the back of her throat
thinking of the man

who will lean into her one night. Not the girl
smiling, balancing three bowls of soup on her left arm,
but a woman who could claim all beauty hers,

not to keep it, but to hold it long enough to change.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Poetic tribute

This comes from my cousin David, too:
"As I might speak of e. e. cummings enormous room or Swann's Madeline
you speak of Dubrow's Cafeteria and Mallomars."

It's from the poem "You Could Live If They Let You" by Wallace Markfield, but I can't find a copy of the full poem. I'm hoping David will send it to me, but if anyone else has a some of Markfield's poetry lying around, send it this way. He sounds like a poet i'd like to check out.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

First contacts

I emailed three people who made reference to Dubrow's, and have heard back from all three of them! I've sent letters out to twelve of my relatives asking for any stories or photos to include, and I've heard from four of them already via email. (Six of them are relatives without email, so they will take some time). I'm very excited about the momentum that is gaining already.

This comes from an email from Sam Person, who wrote an interesting personal essay that mentioned Dubrow's:

"First, you refer to a Dubrow's on "East" Parkway. The street was EASTERN Parkway, and frankly, I do not recall a Dubrow's there. On this I might be wrong. Also, the one location in Brooklyn you do not identify was, I believe, on Flatbush Avenue near Church Avenue. Again, however, check my facts. The painting of Dubrow's on your blog is great. Have prints ever been made that you are aware of, and if so, where might I find one?"

Here's the link for Ivan Koota's artwork. He is a self-taught artist from Brooklyn and I am not sure if his paintings have been made into prints.