Photographing the lost world of Dubrow’s deli in Midwood

In the years before “Cheers” (where everybody knew your name) and New York City’s Jewish delicatessens went extinct (or became expensive tourist attractions — we’re looking at you Katz’s), there were cafeterias where you could get a cup of coffee with your blintzes or egg salad sandwich, and you could talk for hours. You know, a neighborhood place.

After graduating from Brooklyn College in 1975, Marcia Bricker Halperin began shooting the patrons of Dubrow’s, one such cafeteria deep in Midwood, not far from where she lived in Flatbush. She continued shooting for years until it closed 10 years later. Then she photographed the Dubrow’s in Manhattan’s garment district until, finally, it shuttered, too.

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Photo by Marcia Bricker Halperin

“I sensed I was photographing a vanishing world,” Marcia says. “And that’s what propelled me.”

At Dubrow’s, on Kings Highway at East 16th Street, she shot taxi drivers and Holocaust survivors; former prizefighters and vaudeville performers; cafeteria trays and slices of cheesecake ($1.45) and matzoh ball soup; men with pencil mustaches, and, as she writes in her new book, “women named Gertrude, Rose, and Lillian.”

That’s right, her new book: Nearly 50 years after she snapped her first Dubrow’s photo in Brooklyn, “Kibbitz & Nosh: When We All Met Dubrow’s Cafeteria” was published this month by Three Hills. It’s a graceful, intimate study of characters as well as an anthropological look at a restaurant that provided its customers with much more than food. It’s also a love letter to old Brooklyn.

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Photo by Marcia Bricker Halperin

Marcia found her calling teaching teach art and photography to K through 12th-grade students and those with special needs, which she did for 35 years. When I asked Marcia about the long journey her Dubrow’s photos have taken and whether she ever got frustrated, she told me this: “I had the extraordinary opportunity to take a class with Lisette Model, and she said to keep photographing — so I did. It has taken me almost 50 years to achieve some recognition.”

And that recognition is richly deserved. So let’s all raise a coffee and knish to Dubrow’s, to Brooklyn, to Marcia.

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Photo by Marcia Bricker Halperin

The post Photographing the lost world of Dubrow’s deli in Midwood appeared first on Brooklyn Magazine.

By: Bill Shapiro
Title: Photographing the lost world of Dubrow’s deli in Midwood
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Published Date: Fri, 26 May 2023 13:36:32 +0000

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