Okay I’m going to tell a little story about Joe’s, a sandwich, the tethers of our lives and how one of them was broken.
1993-94 I was working at the Wal-Mart store in Fishkill, NY. I was originally placed on nights and then went to days. I was a comic book fan as well and went to a local store on my lunch hour. I’d go pick up my books for the week or go to check out the store, look at the figures, see the different things that are there. I used to go with my partner in crime Mike. One day very early on, we walked next door to a deli. A small little deli, very old world Italian, it was called Joe’s Italian Meats and Deli. I tried a sandwich there at the time it was called the Italian Stallion, it was their own take on the Italian sub, including hot pepper relish and just a variety of pure italian heaven.
So that was actually the beginning of a love affair that has lasted over 20 years.
What occurred was, I went there and I enjoyed the food. It was a place that was an oasis in the memory of a work experience that I loved and I found myself continuing to gravitate towards Joe’s if I was in the area. Over the years, and I said 20 some years, I had brought my parents who loved Joe’s, meals when I could. My father loved a meatball sub and my mother loved a chicken parm and was always able to share this and always found a way or a reason to look to Joe’s to bring some enjoyment in life. It’s funny because it was always one of those staples that was there. This business had been in the Fishkill area for years. It moved from one facility to another, from the old Ames and Jamesway Shopping Plaza to a nice upscale shopping plaza on a good ole Route 9. Over the years I became a taker on their sandwich program, buy ten sandwiches get the eleventh one free. I always, always enjoyed the food. Fresh quality, interesting environment, picked up unique stuff, I would bring people there contractors for work, it became somewhat of a staple of mine. It’s like Norm going to Cheers.
This past Saturday I was out running errands about an hour from my house and on the way home I said you know what, I haven’t eaten lunch yet, I’m going to stop at Joe’s, what the heck. So I did. I came in, went up to the deli counter, not really noticing at first that the shelves are looking decidedly bare. Now granted, they had a lot of shelf space so my first inking or thought is, consolidation.
Well, the gentleman places my order and in the process of placing my order I, as I mentioned I’m having an Italian Stallion, he said I’m not entirely sure if we’ll have that ham for your sandwich. Do you mind if we add some pepperoni and salami to make up for it? I’m like, okay, it’s Saturday and you guys are running out of ham, okay, not a problem. He just said that they were downsizing. I was wearing my Marvel Comics Dead Pool shirt and he kept calling me Dead Pool, referring to it, it was a little Dr. Seuss take on Cat in the Hat for Dead Pool. Anyway, we struck up a little conversation and I’m noticing that someone else, a little old lady came up to the counter, again, a little old Italian style deli, and said you don’t have a lot of this, you know, what’s going on? The woman told her, we’re closing, today is our last day. The gasp in the place was audible. Literally, there were four or five people from separate bunches that all looked at once, just like myself, as if seeing seeing a nuclear blast in the distance, and said, oh my god, Joe’s is closing.
One of the owners was there, I had a chance to talk to him briefly, I’d been obviously in there for years and, unfortunately, in the last week to week and a half, they had made a business decision, and had to close the doors very quickly. While I pass no judgement on the reasons why, I’m sad. I’m saddened to know that, indeed, this little comfort location, this staple in my life has just been plucked out. Now there’s a wound there where Joe’s Italian Marketplace and my Italian Stallion resided.
I ate the sandwich. I went out to the car and I ate it. I savored every bite. My point is as I’m looking at this, it’s not just about Joe’s Italian Marketplace and sandwich, it’s about those tethers of our life that we hold so close to us. Take advantage of them while they’re there. You never know when you have an opportunity when that tether may leave. It could be a person and I know we could talk of a variety of different things about death, change, life, but it could be something as simple as that local deli on the corner where you would get your cup of coffee and your bagel. It might be a fresh bagel that they make or they pick up fresh bagels from a local bakery but just that little something extra that they do. Maybe it’s a smile. Maybe they write a smile on your wax paper. It’s amazing the small things in our life that make such an impact and really give such an imprint on all of us.
As we sit here and are spinning around on this ball of dirt it’s a miracle that everything has occurred in exactly the way that it has, I’m blessed to know that I had a chance to eat at Joe’s Deli, had an Italian Stallion and it brought a smile to my face.
Very sad to see Joe’s go, rest in peace. I know that when I make it to the other side, I’ve got an Italian Stallion waiting for me.