Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Gus' Pretzels

This here blog is a one man operation. It's just me. I've got no editor, research department or fact checkers. I'd imagine this is coming as no surprise to you, esteemed reader, but since there is no one here to draw lines through my sentences I'm saying it anyway. Sometimes while working on a post I do some actual research, a lot of the time I don't. But I promise that nothing I say is an outright fabrication. Even this...

My buddy Tony's dad beat up Gus from Gus' Pretzels.

Gus Jr. to be precise. Apparently he said something inappropriate to, or about, Tony's mom. I wasn't there so I don't know the details, but I'd like to think that once Gus Jr's teeth were sore and nose bloody, it was all water under the bridge for Tony's folks. They're the kind of people for whom past fisticuffs with the proprietor of a pretzel shop is hardly a reason to stop enjoying his cheap and salty wares. Why let one hiccup ruin a good thing? Gus makes a stellar pretzel.

I've previously mentioned my Mom's struggle to feed my siblings and I only scratch-made food when we were young. She was successful for many years. But time has a way of wearing down all things, even good intentions. Children go to school, and while they're there parents of their classmates bring in cupcakes on birthdays. Hawaiian Punch is served in mouth wash cups with a graham cracker for snack. On the last day of October it is made sufficiently clear that raisins are not the same thing as candy.

My first encounter with Gus' Pretzels was in the backseat of my Mom's station wagon. She was driving my sister, brother and I home from a dentist appointment early in my grade school years. Half a block south of the intersection of Jamieson and Fyler she pulled the car up to the center median and gave a scruffy looking man a few dollars for a bag of pretzels shaped like cartoon cigars. She gave one to each of us, a spontaneous reward for our courageous behaviour at the dentist. That pretzel, if slightly stale, was delicious even to a mouth tasting faintly of blood and fluoride.

That first roadside pretzel was a turning point, a pragmatic change of strategy. Mom's first admission that she wouldn't be able to keep the world at bay forever. The new plan was to grant us limited access to some acceptable foodstuffs from the world outside her kitchen, if only to keep Mountain Dew and nacho cheez at arms length for a few more years. By the time I was in middle school my dear mother started buying frozen Gus' Pretzels at the grocery store for after school snacks.

Truthfully, when it comes to pretzels, I'm not to picky. If its a twist or stick of salted bread I'll eat it with a smile on my face. Add a puddle of mustard and mug of cold beer and you're nearing perfection. But Gus' hold a special place in my heart. What's not to like about stand alone pretzel shop? Especially one that been around since 1920. The economy has taken its share of spills since 1920. It makes you wonder how Gus' has survived, especially considering that its 2011 and a pretzel stick still only cost 55 cents.

Location. Location. Location.