Just shortly after enrolling at New York University in the early 1970s, I received an extremely unusual request. A high school history teacher contacted me from my hometown in Connecticut and wanted to make a visit to the city to experience the Village in its turbulent times. I was quite taken aback, but I agreed.
One of the few incidents I recall was a visit to Mamie's Ice Cream Parlor, located at 35 West 8th Street. Apparently we were quite a motley crew of hair lengths and generations - the waiter, taking our order, asked "Can I help you, gentlemen?" adding, "and I use the term loosely." To which our older companion responded, without hesitation, "Don't use the term too loosely or I'll kick you in the shins."
How cool to have not only an adult but also a figure of authority on your side. History teachers were never the most popular figures in school, and most students felt at odds with them, groaning and resisting the requisite memorization of facts. Here, at last, a school teacher and students were all on the same team. He appeared to be a bit of a rebel, and what better time and place to exercise his rebellion?
Ice cream and gelati shops have gone through waves of popularity in New York City. There are always new incarnations with a different spin, but authentic ice cream parlors have slowly died out and are now quite scarce. So I made a visit to Forest Hills with a friend to seek out Eddie's Sweet Shop at 105-29 Metropolitan Avenue. Eddie's is one of the last remaining classic ice cream parlors in New York City. The century old shop has been in continuous operation since 1909, when it opened as Witt's Ice Cream Parlor. In the 1960s, it became Eddie's.
We arrived late in the afternoon - the place looked like it had seen a tidal wave of business. The counter staff definitely appeared to be overworked - an early heat wave had everyone out, with ice cream on the agenda for many.
Most go to Eddie's for the ambiance and a menu of all the classics - banana splits, malteds, floats, egg creams, frosteds and sundaes. And everywhere you look, in one form or another, there's cream. See the menu and more photos here.
I'm happy to report that in spite of an overworked help and regardless of a customer's politics or appearance, no rude remarks were made and there was no need to threaten a kick in the shins :)