Marty – the Seltzer Man
Produced and reported by Gail Pellett
Aired on: NPR - All Things Considered     Date: 1979


Marty's truck art; photo by Yenta Laureate

It is difficult now to think about the answering machine as a revolutionary new device, but back in 1979 it was still a novelty and people used it in creative ways.  This piece which is about an old world tradition – the seltzer delivery man – is also about the creative use of the answering machine, an innovative new technology.    Marty, the Seltzer Man, drives from Manhattan to an old Jewish enclave in Brooklyn each morning to have his beautiful, fluted seltzer bottles filled with pressurized water.  He then delivers his cases all over Manhattan seven days a week.  We hear about the business, about Marty’s former life as an art director in an advertising company and a bit about the background of seltzer making and taking.  While it was once used mostly by Jewish families, it has become increasingly popular as gourmet waters hit the market.  But the real fun here is the adventurous messages Marty’s clients leave on his answering machine — a very new world, high tech phenomenon in 1979.

3 Responses to “Marty – the Seltzer Man”

  1. Paula C. Nolin says:

    I hope this site is still active. I was just thinking about Marty the other day. It has been about 30 years since his days of delivering seltzer to my apt on 25 Minetta Lane, NYC. I think about him from time to time as I have a framed poster of him (drawn not a foto) of him and his ‘friends’ in his apt. He had 1 key to my 4 locks (I unlocked 3 on his delivery days) and he gave me the poster saying that, since he entered my house, I should also enter his. And when I gave him the key he told me he was honest in all ways but emotional. I have really fond memories of Marty and loved the old time selter bottles. Over the years I have moved to Boston and then to Richmond, VA and I still have Marty’s poster hanging proudly in my home….the poster, by the way, has some ‘roaches’ drawn in….a NOT so fond memory but for those of us living in NYC, it was a common occurrence and no apt was totally free of them whether you lived downtown, uptown, west or east side, penthouse or 6th floor walkup. I miss Marty but grateful that i have his poster…many fine memories. Thanks Marty!

  2. Jerry Kessler says:

    Yes, I also have fond memories of Marty the SeltzerMan. He also came to my home in Gramacy Park on 22nd St. Great memories of making Egg Creams with Fox’s u bet chocolate syrup. I hope that he is still around and doing something. 3 cheers to Marty the Seltzerman!

  3. […] 21s-Century Seltzer Man: A young Brooklynite with a vintage business.[link] Marty – the Seltzer Man – NPR, 1979 […]

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