Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Seltzer Truck

It's a rare thrill to spot the Island Beverage seltzer truck. In NY Press, Joshua Bernstein described the sight, "as if a wormhole had opened, allowing the past to intersect with the present." With its wooden cases of rattling siphon bottles strapped to the sides, it looks and sounds like a lost member of a gypsy caravan.

Recently, it turned up at 9th St. and 4th Ave. in Park Slope.

In this case, the gypsy is Ronny Beberman, described by Corey Kilgannon in the Times as driver of "the last real seltzer truck in New York, a wooden-slatted affair with crooked racks and side doors that are stuck open--the easier to strap the worn wooden cases to the side."

The other, well-known New York seltzer man, Walter Backerman, used to drive a similar truck. He updated to a step van some time ago, and recently opted for an even newer model.

These old trucks can be perilous. Beberman fell off his earlier this year while reaching for a case of cream soda at the top, and was out of commission for some time, sending his Brooklyn customers into fits brought on by seltzer deprivation. After five days in the hospital and some time recuperating at home, Ronny got back on the horse last month and resumed his route. It's good to see him back in business.

Ride along with Ronny on NY1


gabriel said...

"I sent my mom a link to this entry, and she wrote: 'I just had a chance to look over that Seltzer piece. What memories. I don't know if you know this but I had an uncle Shya, who was a seltzer man in Brooklyn...he had that wooded slotted truck. . . . When they delivered seltzer to our house in Brooklyn (West 8th street) they would open the front door to the building and they would slide that wooden seltzer box of (6 or 12 not sure) down our tiled hallway. I could hear the noise now...the box of seltzer got real close to our front door, it stopped short and you would hear the seltzer bottles clank together. Music to my ears.'"

Jeremiah Moss said...

gabriel, thanks to you--and your mom--for sharing the great memory. the sound of seltzer bottles jingling together is music for sure.

gabriel said...

Jeremiah -- glad to contribute! Just received this follow-on email from my mom as well: "I just told Gram [i.e., Grandma Flossie, who still lives on Surf Avenue] about the article and she told me her seltzer mans name was Moish when she lived in Williamsburg." (Flossie's parents used to have a little corner drugstore in Williamsburg, last name Winopol. Wish I could find a picture. Some day, I'm sure I will...)

Truck Rental said...

Wow, I really didn't expect to see this kind of old a unique truck in NYC, and specially - running and kicking! isn't it just a a marketing campaign or something...?

Sara K. said...

Just spotted this very truck this week, on Dekalb Ave near LIU. It's still going strong, it seems!