I read this article called A New Home Marked with Tears and Ceremony after my father tipped me off that my old Temple in Union, NJ was finally closing its doors. My old Temple with dwindling attendance is merging with one in Springfield and my old Rabbi who supervised my Bar Mitzvah, Rabbi Meyer Korbman is likely retiring. While the Star Ledger listed off a few key events in the Temple's history it neglected an important record. I as a 13 year old boy held the record for the most bagels and lox eaten at one sitting - the record was 7!! (you didn't actually think I didn't have a story did you?)
You see, newly Bar Mitzvahed boys were given free admission into the Temple's Men's Club and after Sunday service (it was a Conservative Temple so I went Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays until I started running Track), there was a smoked fish breakfast. You know the kind that featured assorted bagels, cream cheese, lox, herring, onions, tomatoes, and etc. So, the breakfast was included with your dues. Back then I was (kind of still am) a tremendous eater and because I was very active in sports I weighed next to nothing. To put it in perspective, 2 years later I ran track, played baseball, and trained to be a summer lifeguard. So I was skinny and could eat like a horse.
One Sunday after services, one of the members wanted to see how much I could eat. It all started when I was making my first bagel (onion bagel, lox, cream cheese on one side, butter on the other, tomato, and onion) and he didn't think I put enough cream cheese on it. So he said to me "put some cream cheese on that", so I did but that started a contest. He wanted to see how many I could eat. After the final count, I put away 7 bagels of cream cheese, butter, tomato, onion, and lox and washed it down with like a half a gallon of OJ. I walked out without a problem and went on with my day.
That night as payback my father received a call. It was the President of the Men's Club and he uttered the now famous words in the Frenchman Family. "Mr. Frenchman. I'm sorry to tell you this, but your son eats too much. Instead of a free membership into the Men's Club, we have to charge you full Men's Club dues. I'm really sorry but he eats too much." HA!
It's sad when a part of your childhood goes away, but then again I left Union a long time ago. I still eat bagels and lox every Sunday and sadly the most I can put away on an average Sunday is 2, but they are still made the same way and I always "put some cream cheese on that bagel."