If you’ve spent any time in Pinecrest, it’s hard not to notice Alan Pasternak. The 75- year old loves to stand outside in traffic and play with bubbles. That is, of course, if the weather is nice and his wife lets him out of the house.
For 20 years, Alan has had more than just a passing fascination with bubbles. It all started when he was in Seattle many years ago and his wife insisted on buying a bubblemaking device for her grandkids.
“I probably ended up getting more joy from that purchase than the kids,” Alan recalls.
Shortly after returning from Seattle, Alan decided to make his own improved bubble wand and share his bubble-making joy with young and old alike.
“I watch people’s faces when they see my bubbles and chase after them,” he says. “It’s a wonderful feeling.”
Given Alan’s earlier 40-year career as an IRS employee, I’m glad he’s found his passion. In 1995, while still working with the Internal Revenue Service, he took his creation to the Beaux Arts Festival and sold “a whole bunch” just by making bubbles near the gate.
“I was so excited, I came home thinking I could quit my job and just make bubble wands,” he says.
But, after trying to sell his creations at a few more fairs proved less fruitful, he realized it was not to be.
“Some places are just more fun and conducive to what I do, I guess,” he says.
The fun and personal connections Pasternak made with his bubble blowing was just too intoxicating. By 1999, he had refined his wand design and retired from his IRS career. Now, he could head outside to the park or to a venue and blow bubbles any day of the week. He quickly became a fixture at Evelyn Greer Park, IHOP and the Suniland Shopping Center. At each place, he would just set his bucket on the ground, drop his wand into the soap and effortlessly paint long bubblescapes into his happy world.
Today, Pasternak continues to demonstrate and sell his handmade $7 Magic Bubble Wand, a device of PVC and fabric that makes bubbles and smiles fast and easy. As for product quality?
“They’re guaranteed for life,” Pasternak says with a grin, “That’s my lifetime!”
If he’s not outside selling his wands, Pasternak is reading a book, playing bridge or making more wands
“I do them in batches. I cut the PVC, cut the acetate gimp, cut the PVC slide and then sit down to assemble. When concentrating, I can make 30 in an hour.”
Known as the Bubbleman, after talking with Pasternak for a while you realize he is more like the Bubba Gump of Bubbles. If it’s bubbles or bubble-related, he’s a fan.
Exactly what makes the best soap mix? Alan says P&G soaps only. Perfect length of fabric wand? He’s got it down cold.
“It needs to make the right size bubbles, not tangle easily and be short enough that kids don’t have it drag on the ground when they use it.”
Alan has perfected his device over the years and it is clear that without this pastime, his life (and ours) would be a lot less fulfilling. He’s a student of human interaction and gentle in his demeanor.
“Sometimes a car goes by and a bubble bursts on their windshield. They get mad and ask me to leave. I just smile and oblige. I want to make them happy and I’ll come back to the same spot again later. No problem.”
When Alan sees someone unhappy, he’s the first to see what he can do. He really thrives on the joy, not the $7. And although he’s not raking it in, selling 1,500 wands a year is a pretty good accomplishment.
If you want to support Pasternak’s passion, he sells the wands on eBay and at his website www.bellsouthpwp2.net/a/s/aspaster. Of course, the best place to buy is direct from the man himself at a street corner in Pinecrest near you.
HAL’S HOMEOWNER HELP
When considering interior home renovations for re-sale value, think neutrals. Painting walls with whites, creams and grays invite others to picture their belongings in your home. The same holds true for flooring, window treatments and tile. Lighter hues also make rooms feel bigger and more inviting.
Hal Feldman is a Realtor with RE/MAX Advance Realty. On Sundays from 10 a.m.-Noon he is outside Wagons West in the Suniland Shopping Center to talk real estate and answer questions. Stop by, say hello and ask him about the value of your home.