A RECENT FOURTH OF JULY “MIRACLE”
[As the summer is winding down, I want to share with you one of my favorite July memories, from 2006. I got to tell it on my show that summer, and write about it for my Beverly Hills People column, but, for those of you who missed it, or just can‘t remember, I decided to recount it here. And I figure this is the appropriate time to re-tell this story, because yesterday I bashed two popular New York snack joints, and this takes place at my favorite one!]
I hadn’t spent a summer in Brooklyn since I was a teen-ager, (I spend parts of the other three seasons there,) so when I wound-up there for 4th of July, I didn’t know for sure, but I was pretty certain that none of my New York friends were fun enough to celebrate. I love them, and they’re fun at other times, but not this holiday.
On the other hand, my mother’s friends, Sylvia and Luis Reichman, were good enough to take us to brunch, which is always the way to start off a holiday.
Everyone told me that the big thing to do in NY on the 4th is go shopping, which sounded strange, but when in Rome… So I tried, but Kings Highway, a big shopping district, was a ghost town. What were my friends thinking?!
On my earlier Spring trip, I had discovered the best ice cream in the world at the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, under the Brooklyn Bridge, which is my favorite structure, by the way. Always fascinating. I begged my mother to go there with me, but even my own mother deserted me. This day was making me want a twin even more than I already do!
So, I ventured to the Bridge on my own that evening, figuring everyone would be in Coney Island (the other side of Brooklyn) for the fireworks. Two minutes into the trip, I realized I was starving and felt weak, and couldn’t get to the fabulous ice cream fast enough.
When I got to the area, it was a zoo. Turns out, all of Brooklyn (and Jersey, Philly, etc.) gathers there because there’s a giant deck where you can watch the Macy’s fireworks! Who knew?!!!
All the cops were unusually nice, and by some miracle, I got to park right in front of the River Café, which is adjacent to the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, which is on the deck. I couldn’t believe it! (And neither can the Nervous Nellies of New York, who say you can’t park anywhere, anytime.)
It was 8:55PM, and I ran around to the front of the ice cream bungalow, thinking I’d grab a cone in time to watch the show. Then the reality–there was a line of about sixty people! And to make it worse for me, everyone seemed to have friends or family with them, which made me a tad lonely, although I knew I didn’t need another person to help me eat or see.
I talked a little to the guy behind me, Jorge, though we didn’t even do names at the time. His girlfriend, Sophia, showed up and said she thought they had just vanilla left. I said, “Oh no! I have to have Peaches and Cream!” And went on for five minutes about how delicious it is.
I finally got to the door at 9:25PM, just as they were about to close it, and the fireworks started. Everyone around me crushed into the place, but I made the executive decision that, although I was starving, craving the ice cream, and COULD make it through the door, the fireworks were more important because how often am I going to get to see the Macy’s ones in person? And so close-up?
So, I very reluctantly dropped off the line and stood on the top step of the stoop to watch. The girl next to me, Faith, said she was desperate for ice cream and that she was the first to get shut out. I was telling her my journey there, and that I had to give up the ice cream I had dreamed of since April, when I saw her look behind my back and gasp.
So, I turned around and saw a cup coming toward me and heard someone say “Peaches and Cream.” It was Jorge, who had gotten inside and surprised me with it!!! I couldn’t believe it! I thanked him profusely and tried to re-imburse him, but he just walked into the night. A truly kind, generous stranger! I said, “A Fourth of July miracle,” and started crying, (as I’m doing now even writing about it.)
Faith said, “Don’t cry, you’ll get me started, too.” I said she must share my good fortune. At first, she protested, knowing how much I wanted the ice cream, but I insisted. I knew how much she wanted it, too.
So, we got an extra spoon and happily chowed down. Sharing it made it taste that much better. And I’m a firm believer in paying it forward.
And one of the managers, named Lahsen, came out, and gave us cards for a discount on our next visit. And he lived up to it, and more, when I returned two days later with my mother. He gave me a taste of the ice cream as it was being made, before it’s frozen. I don’t even love vanilla ice cream, but that is the best substance I’ve ever tasted!
Later that week, I was perusing a Reader’s Digest of my mother’s. It said New York is the most polite city in the world. I would not have believed it if it weren’t for my true Fourth of July Miracle.
Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory at Fulton Ferry Landing Pier