In the early days, etc etc

LAFAYETTE MINERAL WATER WORKS –  BENJAMIN LABKOWSKY (and subsequently his daughter, GUSSIE NEWEL), ran a seltzer business from the basement of his house at 73-29 67th Drive.


The bottle itself shows 6770 Morton Avenue (which became 79th Street) and subsequently became Feinnes Dry Goods Store.


Max Kucine actually lived in Brooklyn; however he was well know by Middle Villagers because he had a route delivering Seltzer to Middle Village.   The bottle itself shows that it was registered in 1928.

Dear Spencer,

My grandfather,Max Kucine,had a truck that delivered seltzer,soda and syrups to many homes in Middle Village , Queens . I believe he serviced the community from the 1940’s to 1960’s. He had three sons: Sydney, Mervyn and Milton. Milton was my father. After Max retired his sons continued the business ,but one by one they entered other fields. I believe that the bottles were refilled at a factory on Flushing Avenue in Brooklyn. He taught me how to mix the perfect egg cream. He would pour two fingers of syrup,three fingers of milk and stir with a long salty pretzel.He would then spritz the seltzer in causing a delicious chocolaty froth to form. He would give me the pretzel to  lick clean and eat and then he would give me the egg cream to drink. It is one of my fondest childhood memories. Max came from Czechoslovakia, his wife,my Grandmother , Charlotte, came from Hungary and was an amazing cook. To this day my mother Miriam, makes the most delicious Mandel Bread from her original recipe. My brothers and I often inhale huge amounts of this treat whenever we visit with our Mother.

I hope this is what you were looking for.

                                                            Sincerely,   Harold Kucine

As an aside, in the Brooklyn Eagle Newspaper dated January 17, 1951, in a column titled “Trademark Notice,”  listed was Max Kucine, Kucine Bottling Works.

Harold Kucine  – Wednesday, July 01, 2015 8:56 AM

Dear Spencer,

Zandra and I want to thank you again for your thoughtfulness, generosity and kindness. As we drove away yesterday we were caught up in the spirit of a gentlemen who genuinely garnered pleasure by doing good deeds for others.

Many of us talk about the joy of giving, but, rarely interact with the recipients of our gifts. Your cheerfulness and ability to cast aside your own tribulations was something that humbled both of us. We are eternally in your debt less for the lovely bottles,but more for your life lesson. Thank you so much.

With appreciation,

Harold and Zandra Kucine

Spencer Wulwick – Thursday, July 02, 2015 11:18 AM

Zandra and Harold –

WOW!  I am rarely at a loss for words, but your incredibly flattering email kind of put me in that position.

What I do want you to know is how much I appreciate it.  I have read it dozens of times and am certain there is a “grin” on my face, when I do.  I’ve also shared it with a couple of my close friends.

Thanks so much for YOUR thoughtfulness – which makes me wonder just which one of us has received the greater gift.

I do hope you will enjoy the bottles and that they will help you create your own memories.  Best wishes!


Although the person in the following video, Walter Backermann, is not from Middle Village, he is a seltzer man – as was his father before him and – and his grandfather before him – in New York City and he provides an interesting perspective on the business. I can tell that many of the family situations (especially related to his grandfather) that he described are undoubtedly equally applicable to “our” Mr. Labkowsky and his daughter, Gussie. Just click on the arrow if you would like to view the video.

For Walter Backerman, seltzer is more than a drink. It’s the embodiment of his family. As a third generation seltzer man, he follows the same route as his grandfather. But after 90 years of business, Walter may be the last seltzer man. See the project at

– Dec 6, 2013 I still have one of those old seltzer bottles out in my garage. Can’t part with it !

Spencer Wulwick – Dec 6, 2013 The “seltzer man” has them available and I just bought 3 of them. I should be getting them in a few days and can’t wait. I will be bringing them to the reunion with me. It seems there were at least 2 other families, in Middle Village, that were in the business. As soon as I get the bottles, I’ll be doing further research to get more information about them. Is the one you have Labkowsky’s (Lafayette Mineral Water Works) ? Also, just curious – did you watch the video? – One last word – I have now gifted each of the soda bottles to a direct descendant of each family member –  Spencer

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