Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Another New York Memory...1957

Once again "Jeopardy" has tweaked my memory. The final question was in reference to a picture that hangs in a NY City hotel. The contestants saw this picture and were asked to name the Hotel.

I was struggling to get the answer when the bell rang and Alex said “It's the same hotel that hosted the famous Round Table” and I knew immediately that it had to be the Algonquin.

It also transported me back to a summer day in 1957 when I was living in NY City. I had always been interested in anything to do with writing (I graduated from Boston University in 1954 with a degree in Journalism) and was fascinated with the stories I read about the famous luncheons at the Algonquin that were attended daily by a group of celebrated writers, critics and actors. 

The group dubbed themselves “The Vicious Circle” (also the name of the picture, above, by Natalie Ascencios) and they met each day at the Algonquin for 10 years starting in 1919. They would try to outdo each other with witty remarks and practical jokes so you can imagine what a challenge it would be to be part of that group.

On the day that I found myself in front of the Algonquin I decided to make it a memorable event. I geared up my courage and, hoping I looked like I knew where I was going, I strolled right past the doorman and took a seat in the elaborate lobby. It wasn't long before the manager appeared and asked “if there was someway that he could help Madam (me !)” I put on my most indulgent smile and thanked him for his concern but advised him that my “date” should be arriving soon.  

After about an hour of people watching and just plain loving the atmosphere I made a big show of looking at my watch and rising in disgust. Obviously my friend had stood me up and, hoping I'd fooled the manager, I stormed out. He may have been fooled but the big wink that the doorman gave me as I left made it pretty obvious that he wasn't !


Blogger Marie Smith said...

Great story, Ginnie! Such an interesting experience for a young woman. I love the ending. Like in one of those classic movies.

5:30 PM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

What a character you are!

3:49 AM  
Blogger Arkansas Patti said...

That did take nerve and glad you got to put that notch on your belt. It would have been great to have had an ear at that Viscous Circle.

6:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clever you. Dorothy Parker was a favorite of my Mom. And E.B. White (Charlotte's Web) and his garden writer wife, whom I've also read and enjoyed, were my favorites, although I may have mixed up the Whites with the staff of the New Yorker magazine their employer.

Despite her lack of a college degree, my Mom wanted to be a writer, and eventually, this Mom of mine landed a job with the local paper as a 'stringer'. Great fun for her to see her name in print. She also wrote pulp fiction for tawdry magazines, however, my tyrannical father put an end to her aspirations, as husbands often did in her generation. She died depressed at age 55. I rep when I think about what women experienced then.

Wasn't James MacArthur part of the Algonqin group?

Your memory bubble spurred by Jeopardy has spurred my own memory bubble. I wish I could heave obtained my education earlier than I did, and Mom could have had the joy you experienced. Time flies, does't it?

12:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The doorman probably wasn't fooled because you didn't give him a big tip.

7:40 AM  
Blogger possum said...

Oh Good for YOU! I might have been that brave in my youth, but I doubt it. I did get to meet some famous people in my day, but it always 'just happened' and I did not get to plot it out to do it. LOL! Like running into Kathryn Hepburn in Damascus, literally. She spoke and I just stood there with my mouth open and no sound coming out. I mean, duh!
(And now I see the pictures of places I have been and they are a pile of rubble.)
But I bet you would have struck up a conversation with her!

5:22 AM  
Blogger Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Another fun recollection from your storied past, Ginnie. The Algonquin must have been quite the spot with all the litter folks who gathered there and what a pity you didn't run into any of them while waiting for your "date."

7:15 PM  
Blogger joared said...

Interesting way to see celebrities and very resourceful way of doing so. Must have been heady time to be in NYC.

8:52 PM  

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