Annie Rachele Lanzillotto
My name is Annie Rachele Lanzillotto and I grew up in the Bronx,
playing on the stoops, sidewalks, and streets. I remember chewing Bazooka bubblegum my whole childhood. I would ride down to the candy store on my banana seat bicycle and for a couple of pennies buy pieces of Bazooka bubblegum. A penny a piece in 1968 on Zerega Avenue in Carly's Candy Store. Bazooka filled my mouth. As my jaw worked the gum, my teeth jammed together. When you opened the Bazooka gum there was a little white powder that came off then that pink color the pink of the Spaldeen--but inside your mouth. And the inside of the wrapper had a comic strip: Bazooka Joe. We saved these comics to mail in for prizes; rings and trinkets.
Even when the sweetness went away there was something about how hard it was to chew it first and then it would mix with your saliva and of course blowing bubbles blowing bubbles. You could see your breath fill the bubble just after you caught the ball. Chewing increased our focus. A mouthful of bubblegum.
As I grew up and became a competitive ballplayer, the Bazooka stayed with me. Through high school and into college, on Division 1 softball teams, I chewed Bazooka. The brim of the baseball hat pulled low on my forehead, and blowing big pink bubbles -- were tools for focusing on the ball. Back to that old adage --- the law of the jungle--if you're eating you're not being eaten. Chewing, kept me ready for the ball coming at me. Chewing gave me courage and tenacity. I fought hard to not let the ball get by me.