Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Interview with Henry Jablonski, Part 2

Here's some more of the interview I did with Henry Jablonski.  This picks up where Part 1 leaves off.  

Eve: So how did you come to work at Dubrow’s? you said you started off in high school?

Henry: Oh, my father, for many years,  many years ago earlier, one of those pictures I think is 1940,  I’m there as a young boy, my father is there, my father worked in cafeterias, for many years.

Eve: What did your father do?  What was his name?

Henry:  Same name as mine, Henry. I was junior.  He was a counterman. Those days, you know cafeterias,  well I’ll explain cafeterias to you,  you think of food stores today,  they have a pretty bad reputation, everybody thinks cafeterias have bad food or what have you,  but the days of Dubrow’s and other cafeterias,  you gotta remember, it’s like home cooking, you can’t get food like that today, only in banquets or maybe a fancy hotel someplace,  like Dubrow’s, both Dubrow’s had all the carving stations,  all kinds of meat, pastrami, corned beef,  what do you call it, round cow,  it was carved right in front of you,  put it on your plate, the girl down the line would ask you what vegetables you want, It was a real meal, a home cooked meal, so to speak. Today, you don’t have that.  All the meals you get today are fast food,  all packaged and everything else, in those days, everything was more or less made fresh, the potatoes were peeled fresh, even the orange juice, we used to squeese oranges, we didn’t have Tropicana and things like that.  But the only trouble was, all these stores, cost, in those days, when labor was reasonable, you could afford it, we had a baker, a chef,  a butcher, besides your ordinary, uh,  people that work in these stores. 

On Eastern Parkway, it was so popular on a Sunday,  we had to let people, people waiting outside, when one of them came out, we had, uh, we had a doorman to let people in and out for awhile. It was a heyday.

Eve: Do you remember why Eastern Parkway closed?

Henry:  The neighborhood changed, after the war, a lot of people were there,  for instance, a lot of people you wouldn’t know but you know, doctors, actors,  businesspeople,  like Sam Levinson, but these people started moving out to Long Island after the way,  all these towns sprouted up, people moving away, getting away from the crowded tenements I guess,  moved out to these reasonable houses, out to the island,  the neighborhood changed.  It changed, and new people started moving in, and it was Central America or colored people moving in, I remember one time someone came up to George and George said,  “what can I do?  I can’t do anything about it.”  The neighborhood changed.  Eastern Parkway, you wouldn’t know it, but in those days, it was, they had trees and benches,  people used to sit there and read and talk, and talk and read,  no fear of being mugged or anything.  And in the end, neighborhoods change.  A little while ago, a couple years, I don’t know how many years, I heard they had abandoned cars on the street,  benches were broken up, and it deteriorated, so business went down.  That was Eastern Parkway,  for King’s Highway, it was also a business area, it was nice, but then they opened a big shopping center down further in Brooklyn,  and the business went that way.

Eve: What do you remember most about the experience about working there?

Henry: Well, what can I say, I remember in its heyday, when that part of Brooklyn was very nice,  then over the years I see it deteriorating in front of me,  first one store, then the other store, it was very depressing, after a while. But the country changes, so that’s the way it is today. 

Eve: Now, you mentioned that you actually served in the military as well? What years was that?

Henry: Yeah, the Air Force. ‘40 to ‘46.

Eve: What do you remember about the food at Dubrow’s, since it was all about the food?

Henry: The food was good.  All homemade, you can always remember the meats were all, the dairy, we used to make this rice pudding, the kugels,  things like that, it was made fresh,  You can’t find it any place today, I’ve looked for it. Or danish,  that’s another thing. We used to make danishes, with butter and everything else,  people used to know what time the danishes were ready and come out to buy it.  Today you buy danishes, boxed to serve, they don’t taste the same.  People today don’t realize what food used to taste like.  Fresh foods. Cause everything has changed so much. 

Eve: I’ve been very impressed by how many people remember very specific foods from Dubrow’s…

Henry: Another thing we used to do, when it came to Thanksgiving, we had Thanksgiving of couse, and at Eastern Parkway, we used to take orders at Thanksgiving, for dinner, not like today, in those days, “what time for you want your dinner?” 3 o’clock, 2 o’clock, it didn’t matter, anyway we’d have turkeys, made fresh about that time and all the vegetables are hot and fresh and the pie was just freshly baked, so when you took it out and took it home, it would, you would leave it right in the box, took it right home, so the person didn’t even have to heat it, and today, you go to Boston Market or some place, and they’re made ahead of time, it’s not the same.  Food’s not made the same way anymore.

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