Leo's Deli

  by Jack Rothstein

          Leo’s Deli was located on the west side of 43rd street next door to the Sunnyside Jewish Center where I spent several years attending Hebrew school with other members of the tribe…a minority of bookish little minnows in a sea of Irish predator sharks…the ones I speak of small brained beer guzzling freaks of nature…the churches they confessed their sins in are now mosques…go figure…

 

          Leo was a German Lutheran…your stereotypical bund-meeting-participant kind of guy…he hated us Jewish kids… planted his deli next door to the Jewish community center on the south side of Queens Boulevard…sold hero sandwiches…mostly bread with few slices of meat handled by his grubby little hands…served up to us kids with little attempt to hide his prejudice…his hateful sarcasm a less-than-subtle jab to the heart…

 

          Late one evening after a few beers drunk on a bench at the park around the corner… my good friend Alan Messer…murdered in cold blood in the Saint Marks Hotel East Village attempting to score a bag of dope in 1972…on that beer drinking night with his buddies… in an explosion of rage… my friend Alan kicked in the front window of Leo’s delicatessen…the toilet paper rolls on display crashing to the sidewalk atop the broken shards of glass…we all laughed… applauded the righteous deed … then booked the scene to scarf down a few belly bombers from the classic burger joint that is always there…the one constant of woeful Sunnyside.

Jack Rothstein, a native New Yorker, spent his formative years in Sunnyside Queens. He attended PS 199, JHS 125 and graduated from Long Island City High School in 1968. He earned a BS degree from NYU.   Jack spends his retirement in the Philippines with his lovely wife and 5 year old daughter.