A digression in Proust's The Prisoner on street-vendors' cries brought to mind a cry I haven't heard — or thought of — for years:
Southern-fried Elvis pretzels,Or to add the proper emphasis:
They are fresh out of the oven.
SOUTHern fried ELVIS PRETzels,The Elvis pretzel man was a familiar figure during my years as an undergrad and grad student at Fordham University in the Bronx, New York. He could be found on a short dead-end section of Belmont Avenue, a street that separated the gated campus from the classroom building Faculty Memorial Hall. The pretzel man stood in the middle of the street, which saw virtually no traffic aside from garbage trucks and an occasional university vehicle. In warm weather the pretzel man wore an apron, the kind that proprietors of newsstands wore. In the cold, a shiny ski jacket ("pewter green," I'd call it, if there is such a color). The pretzel man was rather short and fairly broad, with a huge head of hair (more or less the color of his ski jacket). A laundry basket held the pretzels, which, if memory serves, sold for 50¢. Were they really fresh out of the oven? And if so, where was the oven? I have no idea, but the pretzels were indeed warm. They were also salty and chewy. A complete food, sort of, at least to tide one over between classes. I must have eaten dozens.
They are FRESH OUT of the OVen.
This little stretch of Belmont Avenue saw at least one other commercial venture during my time at Fordham: a coffeestand, where one could get something more drinkable than what the machines in FMH dispensed. The coffeestand had a short lifespan: its proprietor was almost certainly selling more than caffeine.
April 26, 2012: Found online: a November 9, 1978 Fordham Ram article about Elvis Lamanna, the Elvis pretzel man, complete with grainy photo.
[The Elvis pretzel man bears no relation to the Elvis impersonator Elvis Pretzel.]
More Bronx takes
Nick DeMaio and the Eldorado