A sweet excerpt from my StoryCorps interview with Arthur.
Me, Laura: Were you born in Brooklyn?
Arthur: I was born and brought up in Brooklyn.
L: And you had two siblings, right?
A: A bruth-ah and a sist-ah.
L: And you were the oldest?
A: I was the oldest. Right.
L: Your parents, now what did they do for a living?
A: My faw-thah was a bake-ah. And my muth-ah used to sell doughnuts. (Laughs) She used to have doughnuts in the window, and people would see them and come in and buy them.
L: What kind of doughnuts?
A: Oh all kinds. Jelly doughnuts, doughnuts with sprinkles on top, chocolate smeared on top and… That’s enough, isn’t it?
L: Didn’t you say something about your dad coming up with the glazed doughnut?
A: Oh yes, he invented them.
L: He really invented the plain glazed doughnut?
L: Did you like them?
A: Yes! (Laughs)
L: Did they let you eat them whenever you wanted them?
A: No. No no no no no. My muth-ah would rarely let me eat them, for two reasons. First of all, it wasn’t good for me. And second of all, it was taking money away from the general fund. (Laughs)
L: So would they wake up every morning and bake them? Or how would that work?
A: They baked them overnight.
L: Oh! They wouldn’t ever go to sleep? Or would they sleep all day and then stay up all night?
A: That’s right.
L: And your apartment was right above the shop, right?
A: Well, it depends on when. When they first opened, we were right across the street. And then, as time went on, where were we? We weren’t across the street. We weren’t above. I don’t remember where we were. And then, we were down the block at 17 Delmonico Place.
L: Is that in Williamsburg?
L: Where did you live first?
A: On McKibbon Street.
L: Near Lorimer, right?
A: Lorimer Street, yeah.
L: And your dad had trucks, too, right?
A: That was later.
L: Now, it was called Paramount Doughnuts, right?
A: No. At first it was called Jack Gewirtz’s Doughnuts. And then we became Paramount and that’s all it was. And when we went out of business, it was nothing. And when we came back, I don’t know what the name was when we came back.
L: Oh, I didn’t realize there was a time when you went out of business. Was it during the war?
A: Yes, yes. We closed after the war, I think. My muth-ah didn’t feel like working anymore, so my faw-thah just closed the shop.
L: Was that hard for people?
A: Well, it didn’t matter to me since I wasn’t doing very much. My bruth-ah worked. I didn’t work. I didn’t like it. My bruth-ah did, and they all thought that he would eventually open his own doughnut shop, but he didn’t. He went and became a teacher, too. In fact, he became a principal.
L: So did you ever think you might take over the family business?
A: Nev-ah. Nev-ah. I nev-ah did, I nev-ah wanted to.
L: Why not?
A: I was a snob. I didn’t like the whole idea. I found it disgusting. It stank.
L: Really? But doughnuts smell good! I’d think it would smell good! But you just got tired of it?
A: I think everybody did. It smelled several blocks down. (Laughs.)
L: Okay, so we better not go to Dunkin’ Donuts later then. Should we?
A: Sure, why not? I like Dunkin’ Donuts.