Valentine's manual of old New York

(New York. :  Valentine's Manual, inc.,  1923.)



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  Page 133  


were brewed than in any other single spot in this country.
On those two maroon-colored plush benches, set trian¬
gular, could be seen in those days as the caller passed in
for a "ball," ex-presidents, governors, and ex-governors
—and regularly the famous boss, Tom Piatt. No less
than nine presidents of this country are known to have
sat in the "Amen Corner." The gents' grill at the old
Fifth Avenue was famous and packed every day at the
lunch hour, and it was the custom almost without excep¬
tion for the guest to pass into the bar just for a nip of
some sort. "Jim Gray" was the dean of the Fifth Avenue
staff, having been twenty-six years behind the bar, and
when the great hotel finally closed he went over to the
Albemarle, where I had the honor of working with him.
Jim was a man of great character, thoroughly honest in
the days when bartenders could steal a fortune—the old
Fifth Avenue, by the way, never saw a cash register up
to the day it closed its doors—and very well known and
very popular with a long line of great men, for great men,
or nearly all great men, drank in those days. Level¬
headed, and sturdy in character as "Jim" was, he had yet
one peculiar hobby, and that was—vests. He loved
flashy patterns which he wore behind the bar, to the great
amusement and delight of his patrons, who were all on
to his little hobby—and catered to it. Any of his old
friends who would chance on a particularly loud pattern
would buy it and present it to Jim. Another friend, Jim
Bell, the most famous tailor of his day, would as regu¬
larly make it up for him. So Jim shone forth gloriously
in vest after vest for a number of years—and he never
once offended the feelings of his patrons. They were,
indeed, part of the joke. The Astor House, away down¬
town, the oldest hotel but one in  New York,  had a

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