In a bid to keep my 89-year-old mother busy and out of mischief, I've had her going through all the old family memorabilia she brought with her when we moved my parents to the Dallas area eight years ago. It's not an easy job. Her lousy vision forces her to take it slow, and she's had to spend a small fortune in batteries for her lighted magnifier. The downside to this project is that everything she can't bear to throw out --- which is pretty much everything --- eventually makes its way to me.
It took me a long time to stop making excuses and put my own photos and whatnot into some semblance of order. My next project, again, when I run out of excuses, is to tackle the bins of kiddie-related memorabilia I've collected. Now that I've taken on my mom's stuff, I'm not sure I have enough years left to get the detritus of my life properly organized before I am called home to glory. I only hope that doesn't involve more paper.
I've skimmed through things, and the piles appear to contain every kind of written, printed or processed paper known to man --- except papyrus --- and I half expect to run across that any day. In one pile, I found my grandfather's army discharge papers from 1919, so it wouldn't surprise me to find lurking at the bottom some ancient ancestor's grocery list written in hieroglyphics.
One interesting find was an old menu from the Pump Room, circa 1957. This was the place to see and be seen in Chicago. My dad took my mother there for dinner one night, and she smuggled her menu home for a souvenir. It's an imposing 10" x 14", containing seven pages of menu items, including liquor and wine offerings, and two smaller inserts listing seasonal specialties.
The Pump Room's guest list reads like the Who's Who of Hollywood, and if you were an A-lister you had the privilege of being seated in Booth One. This special booth came with its very own phone and designated line. Imagine! Being able to make a phone call from a restaurant. Whodathunkit? It is said that whenever Frank Sinatra wished to dine at the Pump Room, it wasn't enough that he be seated in Booth One. Sinatra would call ahead to inquire how many patrons were dining, and offer to pick up their dinner tabs --- provided they leave ASAP --- so he and his Rat Pack cronies could have the whole place to themselves. Who knows, maybe Sammy Davis, Jr. himself sneezed on this very menu.
The menu is done in both script and print, with the letter 's' being used in two different ways: as a long 's' and also as a terminal 's'. The long 's' dates back to the Middle Ages, and resembles the letter 'f', even down to having a tiny crossbar, and is used in the middle of a word. The terminal 's' is appended to the end, and looks just like a regular 's'. Mom recalled my dad saying the menu was "printed with a lisp" and he wasn't far wrong. Reading it exactly the way it looks would make one sound like Sylvester J. Pussycat. Here are a few of the pages:
The first page of the menu lists various cocktails, including something called "Our Famous Bath Cure --- $1.75 --- one limit". Curious, I Googled the drink and was only able to find a couple of recipes. It's basically a pre-cursor to the Long Island Iced Tea (yum!), which means it's several kinds of liquor and probably explains why the restaurant limited the concoction to one per customer. When I tried to search for an image of the drink, Google gave me a picture of --- and I am not making this up --- Justin Bieber in the bathtub. Not nice, Google, not nice.
Piffed off at Google,
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