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Syndic Literary Journal

Hellman Remembers the Deli

Written & Narrated by CharlesRammelkamp


Hellman Remembers the Deli

Even though I arrived early

for the book-signing at Barnes and Noble

I still had to stand forever in line

to get Levinson’s autograph in his new novel,

while the doddering yentas in front of me

yammered their memories at him.


But, I remembered, dutifully waiting my turn,

they’d made the best shrimp salad sandwiches

at the deli across from the diner

Barry based his movie and book on,

Mandell and Ballow’s Deli 

in the Hilltop Shopping Center –

so much better than that diner!


Those sandwiches melted in your mouth,

thick and creamy,

with that soft crunchiness

you get with fresh shrimp,

curled like cashews in the dense sauce,

on thick beds of wheat or rye.


When I got my license,

my mother let me drive over

to get us a couple ninety-cent sandwiches;

it felt as if she were treating me

to an afternoon at a whorehouse:

such an extravagance; self-indulgent

pleasures to make you feel sinful —

not that eating shellfish

made us feel any more guilty

than the bacon we had for breakfast

Saturday mornings.


When I asked Barry about the deli,

dutifully waiting my turn in line,

he said he always went to the Hilltop Diner

because you went to Mandell and Ballow’s

only if you had a date.


Compiled/Published by LeRoy Chatfield
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