Tag Archives: Monticello

Ring Jells Addiction Started in The Catskills

21 Apr

Sometimes I read a note on Facebook that just touches my soul.  It happened now.  Someone posted about meeting a woman shopping for Passover food in a grocery store.  She was crying while holding a box of Joyva Ring Jells in her hands.   It seemed her mother passed away, and this would be the first seder without her.  Her mother loved Ring Jells, and the sight of this box made her cry.


This box is now empty.  But I enjoyed every one.

That should be my children one day.  I love Ring Jells.  While I cook my seder meals and prepare for the long hours ahead, I eat these throughout the day, to me, they are the most delicious chocolate covered sweets.   I am basically addicted to them. The taste of raspberry and chocolate together delights me. Thank goodness I only find them during the holidays.

My addiction started when I was 16 years old working behind the deli and cheese counter at the Daitch Shopwell in Monticello, Sullivan County New York.   It is here that I served the women and men who spent their summers relaxing, cutting their cheese selections and their deli orders.   I worked at this supermarket for three summers, earning spending money and preparing for the costs of college.

But it is also where I learned to love Joyva Ring Jells.  We sold them in the dairy section of the deli, along with all the cheese.  We had a large display of them. Hundreds of ring jells for sale by the pound.  I loved them.  I have to admit it, I would snack on them.  Not eating tons.  But at least two or three each shift I worked.   Eventually the manager told me to stop.  And buy some.  So I did.  I would weigh out 3-5, pay for them, and keep them behind the counter with me.  Snacking as needed.  When the weekends were busy with crazy customers, I really did need them to get me through the day.


Marshmallow twists live in my freezer.

I did not realize they were a special Passover treat.  In our house, my Mom was a Joyva Marshmallow twist fancier.  She would buy them at Pesach and keep them in the freezer all year to snack on.  Did you ever eat frozen marshmallow twists?  At first you have to be careful not to hurt your teeth, but after a bit they melt just a little and are delicious.  I admit I still have some in my freezer from last year.   Usually you had to get just plain white ones.  However, sometimes we could find the ones with pink insides!

After I learned about jell rings, I had to have those as well.  My sister and I favored them over the Marshmallow twists, which I think made Mom happy.  She would share them with everyone, but now had more for herself.

The ring jells, on the other hand, were the perfect snack.  I would take two  or three at a time, stick them on my fingers,  and get ready to eat.  We do crazy things when we were younger.

When I left the east coast for the middle of the country, I had an issue.  I could not find them in Kansas. But when my parents were alive and visiting, they would bring boxes of Ring Jells and Marshmallow twists with them. So we never suffered during the Pesach holiday.   They also brought Bartons candies, another treat that was nowhere to be found in Kansas City. Eventually these treats came out west, and  I could get them on my own.

Ring Jells are comfort food for my sister and me.  I am going to visit her the end of the week.  I sent her the following text message on the Thursday before Pesach: “So I purchased one box of raspberry jelly rings to bring to you. And one for my home. Cause I have to have some.  But I had three today and I feel better.”

She wrote back: “I bought two boxes for when you are here! LOL”

My response: “LOL I will leave mine at home.  We do not need three.  Great minds think alike.”

A number of years ago we went through a difficult time. We lost our parents and aunt in less than a year.  Five months later, erev Pesach, my sister’s husband also passed. It was a horrible time.   I did not know how we would survive that holiday.  But I have to say, our friends knew of our need and ring jell addiction.  Friends filled the house.

I don’t know how many of them went shopping. But in days we had boxes upon boxes of ring jells.  In the evenings, when most everyone had left, my sister and I ate ring jells and talked.   It was a Pesach that tried our souls.  And I hate to be trite, but the ring jells gave us a small amount of comfort in our first Pesach without these beloved family members.  (And a mighty thank you to all who purchased them for us.  I don’t know if I ever told you how important they were in this horrible time.)

Special foods bring memories and joy.  For me Joyva jell rings helped me through preparing seders and difficult times. They bind me with my sister.   I could see my children crying over them when I leave this world.  But I don’t think they will buy or eat them.  This addiction will probably end with me.

A zissel Pesach to all.




The Great Shoe Catastrophe

18 Mar

Spending the summers in the Catskills was so important to my brother, sister and I, that once we became of age to work, we looked for jobs in and around Kauneonga Lake.  We wanted to be able to spend the weeks in the Catskills and not have to join the long line of cars that went to and from the City every Friday and Sunday night/Monday morning.

For two years, when my brother was 16 and 17, his job was at a shoe store in Monticello.   It started as National Shoe Store, but then was changed to the Triangle Shoe Store. He worked five days a week.  Sometimes he worked during the week, but many times on the weekends, because that is when all the tourists were up.  For this job he had to be dressed appropriately.  No jeans and tee-shirts  and sneakers for him, instead he was in nice pants, a collared, button-down shirt and dress shoes.  This attire lead to what I call the GREAT SHOE CATASTROPHE.

It started as an abnormal day to begin with for us.  Not only was my Dad in the City working, but my Mom had left the day before to spend time alone with Dad at our home in North Bergen, New Jersey.  I think they had a meeting and a social event they had to attend.  My Mom decided she would take some items back to our house.

At this point, we were no longer staying on the grounds of my grandparent’s bungalow colony.  Instead we had a bungalow on the same property as their year-round home about 1/2mile from the colony.  Both houses sat on several acres of land.  It was peaceful and beautiful.


A peaceful Catskills morning on our property.

But not so peaceful on this morning.

My brother was getting ready for work, when he realized he had no shoes.  My Mom had taken his good shoes with her to New Jersey to get the repaired or resoled or something. But she did not only take the damaged shoes, she took both pairs of shoes. All my brother had to wear was a pair of sneakers.

He went bonkers.  He was yelling, he was screaming. “How could she take my shoes! Both pair.!”  I have to be honest, I was laughing.  That is what a younger sister does, when an older brother is annoyed.

But then he lifted up a kitchen chair.  I don’t think he meant to do anything really wrong.  But first the chair hit the ceiling then crashed into the floor.  A t this point, my sister and I decided it was prudent to leave the bungalow and get my grandmother.  Which we did: we ran to get her, screaming all the way.

She quickly went back to the bungalow to see what was happening.  And then came back to the house, laughing.  With a big smile on face, she turned to my grandfather and said, ”Go back there.  Look at yourself.”

We stayed with Grandma, while Grandpa walked back to the bungalow and my crazed brother.  I was not witness to what was said. But it became family lore.

My brother raved and ranted about my Mom taking both pair of shoes and leaving him with only sneakers. And he had to wear nice shoes for work.  And why would she do that to him?  (This was before the age of cell phones, so he could not even call her.)

My grandfather laughed.  “Shmenrick ,”  he said.  “You work in a shoe store.  Buy another pair of shoes.” And he gave my brother money for shoes.

I am laughing as I remember the story.  My brother, for a long time, did not think it was so funny.  But later…the words,  “You work in a shoe store, buy yourself shoes, “ became amusing even to him.

When my Mom returned, she felt terrible.  She realized when she got to Jersey that she had both pairs of his shoes.  She had not meant to do that. But it was done.  However, she was not happy with the hole in the ceiling or the broken chair.

That chair matched her kitchen set.  And there were only four of them.  She wanted it fixed.  So it was put in the corner of the screened-in porch.  We all knew not to sit in it.  Eventually my Dad was going to fix that darn chair.  But he did not get around to it right away.  It sort of just sat there in the corner for most of the summer.

Several weeks later, we had lots of company one weekend.  We were all eating breakfast on the porch.  Along came my cousin to join in for the food and conversation.  But there were no empty chairs at the table. In the corner was a chair that looked fine.  So he went over to sit on it.  (Yes that broken chair.)

We all yelled at the same exact moment,  “NO DON’T SIT THERE!!!!!”

Too late.

He was down and out. The chair splintered into hundreds of pieces beneath him and scattered everywhere.

He had a horrified look on his face.  And said,  “Did I do that?”

None of us could respond because we were laughing … there was nothing else to do. The chair was a goner.  My cousin was fine, just startled.  We tried to explain what happened.

The great shoe catastrophe had taken one more victim.  But the outcome was important: my brother never lost his temper like that again.