Sunday, February 08, 2015

Birthday Tea

66 this year.  Amazing.  But sad if I think I might only have 20 years left on this earth.

This was also the weekend for the Women's Association (Lorain County Historical) Hickories Tea so it wasn't much of a birthday.  How I love working with these amazing woman.  I probably write about this every February but I cannot help myself.

This year's theme was Bullets, Broads, and Bathtub Gin...so you know the era.  The program handed out contained a lot of information to read but there was also a presentation that preceded the high tea.
















 This exquisite piece rested on the box piano and was on display throughout the weekend. So wish this belonged to me.

THE BULLETS

Dutch Schultz, born Arthur Flegenheimer, took over the wholesale trade in beer in New York.  His wars with Jack "Legs" Diamond and Vincent "Mad Dog" Coll spilled much blood in the city at the end of the decade.  Within the next 7 years all 3 men would be dead, killed by their enemies' family, friends or paid assassins.

Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel was just an apprentice mobster in the 20s, but in later years he  worked his way nearly to the top.  He had Las Vegas marked out as his spot u ntiil an unfriendly but quite accurate bulled marked Bugsy's spot.

Owney Madden came to NYC from Liverpool, England, and ruled the theft-ridden West Side docks.  He rang up 44 arrests but served no jail time until Little Patsy Doyle got killed shortly after  Doyle had put 5 bullets in Madden during a dancehall quarrel.  After serving his time in Sing Sing, Madden became a principal player in the "big Seven" or the "sundicate" that controlled all vice, gambling and crime in the East. He 'retired' to Hot Springs, Arkansas at the age of 40.


  This is the Moose at the midpoint landings.  The moose this weekend was sporting Arthur Garford's own hat!

BATHTUB GIN
In NYC Police Commissioner Whalen's men counted the speakeasies and come up with 32.000 just in the city and that was thought to be a low number.  One of the "speaks" sported an exterior that looked like a synagogue; others were set up as a restaurant or tea rooms. All you needed to know to get the hard stuff was the rigth word or maybe the right wink.  A Treasury Department report showed that between 1920 an 1928 the  Government had fired 706 prohibition agents and prosecuted 257 others for taking bribes.

Robert manned the bathtub gin speak easy.  Here he is putting the finishing touches on the bathtub gin.  He's adding Juniper berries to the 'tub' which is why (we learned) gin has a pine taste to it.

 I think he really enjoyed himself this year.  The ladies all swooned after they left him and I could hear the comments.  Such a handsome man up in the speakeasy is a rare treat.  In order to get a shot glass of gin (sparkling Apple Cider), they had to give him the password that their luncheon servers would tell them if they asked.  It was NOODLE JUICE which was a 20s slang term for 'tea'.

THE BROADS
Here is just one table setting.  Each place had a string of beads for ladies to wear, draped over the bishop's hat folded napkins. 

Mary Louise Cecilia "Texas"  Guinan, a garish blonde with a brassy voice, had a name for the customers who frequented her nightclubs in NYC.   She greeted them all with "Hello, Sucker!"  She originated the slogan "Never give a sucker an even break."  She owed her fame to her brushes with the 18th Amendment -- she was arrested numerous times - but she didn't care.  Miss Guiana made a pretty good living out of her troubles--up to $4000 a week.
  Me playing nonstop Scott Joplin.

Helen Morgan ran a few nightclubs in NYC but she added music to go with the happy juice.  She was known for her torch songs, especially "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man" from Showboat. Her clubs illustrated the pattern that persisted around the country: speakeasies that featured women torch singers and piano players.  In this decade the night-life public was no longer predominately male. Women wanted their fun too, their share of "whoopee."

I just have to repeat...I so enjoy working with these broads!

The woman on the right in the above picture is Earleen Helman.  She is amazing! And I am blessed to have gotten to be friends with  her.  She bakes like a professional  bakery.  Every piece is exactly the same in size. The texture is amazing. Shares her recipes but shares so much than that. On top of that, she made her own dress for the weekend.  Apparently she just had this piece of fabric lying around, bought for her granddaughter who, of course, only wants black everything.  So she decided to sew up this snazzy outfit. She looked so lovely and yet spent most of her time in the basement, making up the sandwiches and staying where it was sane.  She does sit for one of the 4 high teas with friends.  Where she gets all this energy is beyond me.  But I so wish to be like her.  
She even made desserts for the Downstairs servers and I've asked for one of those recipes that I don't think I have yet.  There were these very small cookies, perhaps the size of a quarter.  Lemon in flavor with just a brush of a lemon icing on top.  Easy to pop in your mouth and continue on serving.

SLANG OF THE ROARING 20s


 

1 comment:

Lin Floyd said...

how fun, you'll still be swinging at 66...I turn 75 this year-slowing down some but not stopped yet! lol....

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