By Guest Author: Greg W. Prince
How is it we crave what we haven’t tasted in 40 years? How is it I’ll be doing anything and suddenly be overcome by a desire for a grilled cheese sandwich from the Beach Burger in Long Beach?
A quick Googling shows Beach Burger is still up and running on the South Shore of Nassau County, or at least it’s there again. It changed names at least once during my youth. I would assume it changed hands a few times. Since I don’t live that far away, I could conceivably drag myself over there and seek that grilled cheese sandwich, but I can’t imagine it would be the same.
Besides, I can only imagine eating it across the street. And I can’t imagine doing that.
My experience with the Beach Burger grilled cheese sandwich that intermittently returns to my subconscious did not take place at the Beach Burger proper. It happened on the other side of the city’s main thoroughfare, known alternately as Park Street (commonly) or Park Avenue (officially and a little fancily). It happened at Franco Fanelli. That wasn’t a pizza parlor, to use the term no one uses anymore. It was, if you will, a clip joint.
Specifically, they clipped hair there — my mother’s hair. Franco Fanelli was a beauty salon…more often referred to as a beauty parlor (whatever happened to parlors, anyway?). Going to the beauty parlor was a big deal to my mother, big enough so that when she had an appointment and had to schlep her seven-year-old son, the sense of occasion was extended by ordering in lunch. It wasn’t just my mother doing that. They did it for all the ladies.
All my life going to barber shops it never occurred to me eat around falling follicles. But that’s what they did at Franco Fanelli. I suppose it was as much a social outing as a hair care event.
Me, I’m sitting off to the side somewhere. It’s a terrible place for a seven-year-old. There’s gabbing and industrial-strength hair dryers blasting away and enough hair spray in the air to make Love Canal seem pristine by comparison. When you entered Long Beach, you were greeted by a billboard that welcomed you to America’s Healthiest City.