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Memoir Writing


Each month this page features a creative writing piece submitted by participants of the Adult Services Department's Memoir Writing Group. Stories and opinions of individuals are not necessarily those of the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia.

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Bagels and Bialys 

by Jane Rosenthal

The trolley chugged up the hill on Franklin Avenue in Brooklyn when I was growing up. Whenever passengers pulled the cords next to the rows of wooden seats, the driver stopped the trolley with brakes screeching. On Fridays, I rode the trolley to pick up bagels and bialys from the bakery for Sunday morning breakfast. I can still smell the aroma of freshly baked bagels when I close my eyes and remember the bins of sesame, onion, garlic, and cinnamon bagels stacked in trays hot from the ovens.
I used to dash up the street carrying a dozen bagels and bialys in brown paper bags to visit the appetizer store and buy cream cheese and lox to go with it. I barely made it home because I was so tempted to stop and have a bagel on the way. My mother liked the bialys, flat round rolls with golden brown onion flakes nestled in the center. My favorite ones were the cinnamon raisin bagels that I spread with a heaping tablespoon of cream cheese dotted with slivers of Nova Scotia lox.

It was a ritual on Sundays that we would all have breakfast together around our small kitchen table on Washington Avenue right across from the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. If there was a baseball game on Sunday or Saturday my sister and I would go up to the rooftop of our apartment house where we had a clear view of second and third place and root for the Dodgers. When I went to college many years later my mother and father would ship me a dozen bagels but my roommates from upstate New York had never seen a bagel and didn’t l know how to eat them. “Do you bake them?” I was asked.

“No, I said. They would taste like hard rocks. You can eat them cold or warm them up in a toaster.”

To this day I enjoy toasting bagels with all the condiments on the side, especially lox and cream cheese. Bagel shops are everywhere in Northern Virginia and have become part of the mainstream culture. The Franklin Avenue trolley I used to ride is now on exhibit at the Trolley Museum in Baltimore, MD as buses and trains took over the routes. Yet in San Francisco, people can still ride the trolley to get to Fisherman’s Wharf from Union Street.




Creative Writing Archive

"To Give Up or Not"  Authored by Marcel Drimer

"The Start of Something Big"  Authored by Sarah Babazadeh

"When Jennie Came to America" Authored by Rita Fishbein

"The German Soldier Who Had To Die" Authored by Joan Da Silva Sacks

"A Family Heirloom" Authored by Jane Gomperts Rosenthal

"A Unique Wedding July 2013" Authored by Tanya Bodzin

"Counting the Votes" Authored by Judith Halpern

"Pick's Glasses" Authored by Carol Backman

"Coming to America" Authored by Dave Sitrin

"Tales to Retell" Authored by Geraldine (Gerry) Schehr

"Three Poems" Authored by Caroyn Bonilla


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