Thursday, December 4, 2014

Saying Goodbye to De Robertis-Part Two: Snapshots of Parting, Such A Sweet Sorrow

The front door...

... worn from 106 years of people staring in at all the cookies and staring out waiting for friends and family and business associates and lovers to arrive....

Not sure what world series it was made for, but that cake waited a long, long time to be eaten until...

... it was way past edible.  That's the way it goes when some De Robertis are Mets fans and some are the other guys'.


The Mariner was on jury duty so he got home before too late and the day was called early enough for me to leave work in time and Doug was actually free and join us after he made dinner for Shawn and in the middle of stuffing our faces with cannoli ...

... there was Maureen who was getting semolina cookies and she called Kosky and just as we had for years and years and years and years and years we forgot everything except the joy of being with friends.




Kosky and I decided one day that we would meet a couple of mornings a week away from our internet connections or any place we wrote that had an internet connection because rather than writing, we kept checking our email or facebook or gawker or....

I know! I said.  Let's go to De Robertis! They don't have internet!

Great, said Kosky.  Meet you there Wednesday.  On Tuesday, I walked by and there was a sign:  De Robertis has WIFI. 

We met there anyway.

How long are you going to stay open this week? I asked them.

Until everything is gone.

John De Robertis

I remember the booths.
I used to sleep in the first one.  We'd get here early and my father would make me wash the dishes by hand, not a machine, and help out and then after I'd take a nap in the first booth.

What do you do other than this?
Nothing.  I've been doing this 60, 80 hours a week.

[We somehow end up talking about cooking]

I hate cooking.
Really?  You want a personal chef?
Do you like cooking?
I went to culinary school.

Taking flight...

John: Everybody has been coming in to say goodbye.  Ninety-year olds coming in with their walkers and canes, yeah everybody has been coming in.  It's been really ....

[An entire family with a billion kids come in.  "I just saw the sign you're closing!  Thank you.  Thank you for everything you've done for the community...."]


Michael:  I'm 69 years old.   I've been working here since I was nine.

He says nothing much after that.


Upon reflection....

...of all the pictures taken over all the years in that mirror... 
...this is the one most filled with love and the best chocolate mousse tart in the world.

The 100th anniversary cake knife

Signed by Dana, John and Michael De Robertis


Michael, Dana, Michael, and cousin Anthony Abramo 
(whose mother's maiden name was 
Lanza as in the restaurant next door)
 Hey, you all look like a strip of paint chips, I tell them.

Their faces, like their mirrors I watched myself age in, reflect back...

...the faces of their parents, their aunts and uncles and grandparents and great-uncles and great-great... the faces that greeted me long ago and for years after... the woman who was then just the daughter and then the mother and then the grandmother, telling me on Thanksgiving Day decades ago that she was going back and forth from upstairs to stir the 'gravy' - the sauce for the pasta. 

Even knowing the old adage that heartbreak is just the heart breaking open into bigger.... 

 .. still, that first moment, that first moment, stepping out, snapping pictures furiously as if it would make time stop and sweets stay longer, finally turning back onto the street and beginning the brief walk home, in that first moment the heart breaks.

And it becomes impossible not to weep.

Related Posts:

Saying Goodbye to De Robertis-Part One: "Life Is Uncertain - Eat Dessert First"

Sunday Memories: Play Ball

Sunday Memories: Lets Go Mets Or Something...

Sunday Memories: Hot Lunch

Part Five: Home Work

First In The Eyes Of God, Then In The Eyes Of New York And Now By The Law Of The Land!!!