We were getting used to Richard Nixon as President. So far, not so good! There were still protests everywhere and in spite of Nixon’s attempts to make good his promise to bring us together it wasn’t working! Supposedly Henry Kissinger would be a wise adviser to the president but a short time after he joined the administration the US expanded the Vietnam conflict by bombing Cambodia! More disruptive demonstrations!
On a Friday I met Gary Van Kirk and we went downtown to investigate the fabric stores on Orchard Street. We went to lunch at Ratner’s delicatessen on Delancey Street which had been in operation since 1905. It was famous for its good Jewish food and rude Jewish waiters! It had become a sort of running joke — the rudeness of the waiters.
I was also fascinated by the customers. I still found it amazing that New York, while not really vast in area, had such different looking groups of people. It really did make the city seem to be very cosmopolitan! The Lower East Side seemed like it might be in a different country and it added to the fun of going downtown.
The following Monday I met Bob Olton and Kevin McDonnell at Martell’s on Third Avenue on the Upper East Side, a virtual world away from Ratner’s. They worked in advertising as writers and tried hard to avoid the cliche of being called “an advertising writer.”
That evening we met up again to continue our conversation over dinner at The Gay Vienna on East 86th Street, Yorkville while being serenaded by their resident Austrian zither player. Yet another world.
And then, another trip downtown to a newly popular hangout, St. Adrian & Company in the old Broadway Central Hotel on Lower Broadway, which was becoming an alternative to Max’s Kansas City.
The Broadway Central Hotel had an illustrious history dating from the middle 19th Century. Tonight there was a little celebration there for Howard Blechman’s birthday.
During its heyday in the Gilded Age it was a grand luxury hotel but it had deteriorated into a welfare residence. The Mercer Arts Center Complex with six theaters was built inside it with entrances on Mercer Street.
In 1973, the facade of the hotel collapsed onto Broadway killing four people and the hotel was subsequently demolished. If it had collapsed later it would have endangered the Mercer Arts theater goers.
Howard’s friend, Stephen Guglielmi was related to Rudolph Valentinowhose real name was Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Pierre (his mother was french) Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina d’Antonguella.
At least we can’t say that we brought the house down! That would happen four years later!
It wasn’t our fault; we had nothing to do with it!