Growing up on Gelston Avenue

Growing up on Brooklyn’s Gelston Avenue, we learned a thing or two about values, like loyalty and responsibility. Under the watchful eyes of our immigrant grandmas, we enjoyed the kind of come-home-when-the-streetlights-come-on freedom that led to all-day street stickball games and adventures in the park. When we made friends, we kept them. That’s what I love about my brother Ronnie and my friendship with the Sahadi brothers. Bobby and Charlie Sahadi developed the same work hard/play hard ethic their great uncle Abrahim Sahadi, and their father Wade Sahadi had when they first opened the now-famous Sahadi’s, a specialty foods store. We all learned from our grandparents, most of whom came from another country and made it through some really hard times. They stressed that success was always possible with a lot of work, and that education was essential. Charlie and Bobby grew up and took over Sahadi’s, and built it into a major on-line and brick and mortar business. But, they never forgot their friends and, when Ronnie needed a job, Charlie hired him. Later, Ronnie became a Lutheran pastor and established a thriving ministry in Seattle, but he never lost touch with his Brooklyn friends. I’m happy to say my friendship with the Sahadi family continues today. Even though I’ve built my own business here in Wisconsin, where I’ve lived for most of my adult life, I can taste a hummus, or an imported olive from Sahadis and it takes me right back to Brooklyn. I think of another native New Yorker, Paul Simon, and his beautiful song “Old Friends” when I think about my childhood growing up in Brooklyn. Time it was And what a time it was It was . . . A time of innocence A time of confidences This year, I plan to include a few treats from Sahadi’s in my Easter celebration. As we celebrate the new life we enjoy through Jesus’ resurrection, I… | Read More »