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Past Perfect: Stroll Down Memory Lane With a T-Shirt to Match

November 26, 2008 By:
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Got (malted) milk?

Now you do. But you don't need a milk moustache to milk the celebrity that comes with it.

Among the many memories reminted by the JExpo Collection (jexposhop.com), "an exclusive shop filled with uniquely Jewish themes," is a retro shirt that fills memories to a T: Do Dewey's Malted Milk Stores make you thirsty for the past? Welcome to the present -- and a perfect Chanukah present: a shirt that brings you back to the good old days when a "2 cents plain" was plainly the other drink of choice.

Those were the days, my friend, who thought they'd ever end ... Well, they don't have to, as the new site cites oldies but goodies, with a good amount of panache and "nosh-stalgia."

And if you thought drinking Champ Cherry made you the champ of Cherry Street, stick out your chest with a Levis' T.

Or just recall the days of stickball -- Jay, Ian and I do, from the streets of Logan, although Jay couldn't hit a pimple-ball worth a damn -- with one sporting "All Time Stickball King."

Shtickl pickle? Speaking of Logan -- where double-parking on 11th Street was always worth the risk for a high-hat at the White Palace -- the JExpo Collection also bespeaks the good times for those who always think of Wynnefield as a winner (Bar Mitzvahs at the Wynne? Natch!) and still haven't gotten over their days at Overbrook High.

After all, where else but across the street at Lorenzo's could you get the ultimate water ice?

But the shop isn't just a tease of Ts -- there's so much more: "Juda Kitsch," featuring such stars as a ceramic latke platter and a schvitz sports towel (not to be used together unless making latkes is a real toil for you), along with your own mug when your pisk says you're a "Hebrew Hottie," as well as such signs of the times as "Stop Futzing Around" and "Oy Fricken Vey" for those who do it their vey.

They're all keepers -- including the something-for-nothing "Keep It Up and You'll Get Bopkis," a sign that somehow goes well with gamblers (and their poker-punims) who buy into the "No Limit Texas Dreidel."

Just what are Jewish Exponent readers buying? Fred Lavner has some insight -- because it's all within sight of what he wants to bring readers.

Joint Venture

He's president/CEO of NB2 Online, which has joined with the newspaper in offering a schlepping bag of kibitz and bits of the past -- including the opportunity to "make it special," creating your own bit of instant nostalgia. (How about a hat with a picture of your mother dragging you by the ear to shop for a suit at Marshall and Porter? Or have that old Mighty Mo you've been saving in the freezer thawed out and retrofitted for a flag emblem to recall those days when you were oh-so-cool at your own booth at the Hot Shoppes?)

And for those who ran around the reservoir in Strawberry Mansion, maybe a banner that you could proudly wave at Stokely School reunions, that says, "I Was a Proud Patient of Dr. Jack Weinstein"?

Memories ... more than even Barbra Streisand could butter up to: "Every day I get dozens of phone calls from people telling me about having their Bar Mitzvah luncheons catered by Mrs. Gertrude Dash, about having their first date at Barson's, or Moe's Candy Shop on 60th Street," says Lavner, "about seeing the SPHAS and then dancing to Gil Fitch's big band at the old Broadwood Hotel, about dairy dinners at the Ambassador or Colonial, about the swimmies in South Philly, about parlor parties, even about being a member of a secret kid's club called the Deveraux Street Indians."

Not that you can please everyone. Complaints, he's had a few, regales Lavner of such questions and carps as "Where's Lee's Hoagies?" to which, Lavner answers with a sense of existentialism: "There are 18 of them in the Delaware Valley."

But you could go around in Oxford Circles trying to please everyone. Yet, Lavner insists, it's a merry-go-round he's happy to hop onto with future offerings.

And for those who just want to relax and don't give a schvitz about working out, there are always those memories of the rough-and-tumble rubdowns at the old Camac.

Yeah, the store has those shirts, too.

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