Saturday, March 8, 2014

Basement Potatoes

Aside from the master jukebox, there were many other things in the basement of New Victory Hot Dog. Freezers, of course, and canisters of syrupy soda waiting to be pumped through the fountain. The stairs leading down were wooden and old. I felt insecure upon them, as they led to a cold, unfinished basement, half obscured and most possibly the home of nameless things.
    One of our small tasks when we would visit was to chop french fries. We would toss whole unreeled potatoes into a small rough metal pot with a rotating floor and bumpy walls. A hose led some water into it, and as the potatoes tumbled about, their impact with the rough interior would scrap the peels off. We would open a door in the side of the pot and these freshly peeled wet potatoes would fall into a bucket of water, where they would await the guillotine. Each spud would be placed on bladed criss-cross mesh and a long metal arm would be pulled, pushing the potato through the mesh blade. Fingers of fries would splay apart and drop into another bucket underneath. It was a wet affair.
     We would haul these buckets with some difficulty up the rickety stairs and place them right behind the counter where they would be led to the corner for frying. Our task complete, we would sit on the spinning stools and either have some Dad's Oatmeal Cookies or a May West and flip through the songs offered on the small jukeboxes placed at intervals along the counter.