Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Christopher Morley in the Twenty-first Century

I have on hand a copy of Christopher Morley's collection of essays,  Plum Pudding. There is a particular pleasure to reading the the urbane Mr. Morley with an iPad in hand. When he writes (the book was published in 1921, remenber) that as a lunch-place the American Hotel was worth adding to the private list of those in which the Three Hours for Lunch Club was serenely happy -- "Consider corned beef hash, with fried egg, excellent, for 25 cents" -- one immediately googles the hotel's name and city... Only to discover that it was destroyed in a three-alarm fire in 1981. Many of the guests and tenants, the article states, took refuge in the Clam Broth House.

Which turns out to have been a cultural landmark of Hoboken since the dawn of the Twentieth Century, when it was a bar and restaurant for dock workers. The floor was covered with sawdust and discarded clam shells, and there was an enormous coffee urn at the bar dispensing free clam broth. The beer was served ice cold.

All of the above was nostalgically recalled in the comments section under an article about how the Clam Broth House had been rehabbed, sold, and reopened as a Biggie's Clam Bar. The writer also reminisced that through the 1970s, a holdover of Victorian standards, women were allowed in the restaurant but not in the bar.

Some people can get nostalgic about ANYthing.


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