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This blog makes liberal use of AB's journals, letters, travel notes, and other sources.

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Thursday, 7 November 2013

Dining in N.Y.

Tuesday, November 7th., Park Hill, New York.

Dinner last night given by the Dutch Treat Club at Kean's Chop House. Over 100. Wallace Irwin gave a good skit on "How to live in New York on 48 hours a day." In a few words I said I would thank him in print.

Wallace Irwin (1875 – 1959) was an American writer. Over the course of his long career, Irwin wrote humorous sketches, light verse, screenplays, short stories, novels, nautical lays, aphorisms, journalism, political satire, lyrics for Broadway musicals, and the libretto for an opera. With his The Julius Caesar Murder Case (1935), he created a subgenre within detective fiction, the mystery novel set in antiquity.

The Dutch Treat Club was founded in 1905 by Thomas Masson, an editor of Life, the humour magazine, and Robert Sterling Yard, a reporter with the New York Sun. They wanted a New York City club for creative people. The original 11 members consisted of  4 writers, 4 illustrators, 2 editors and a publisher. The lunch was 'dutch' - everybody paid his own bill. From this beginning grew an institution with over 300 members, including some of the most creative minds in America.

I walked down 34th St. to Waterside offices of Italian lines, saw Duca degli Abruzzi half ready to go. A lot of people on board and a line of 3rd class passengers waiting outside shed for admittance. Nothing but Italian spoken all around me. This swift transition from 5th Avenue is very picturesque. 

Declension of streets sets in immediately after Broadway. 6th Avenue is atrociously paved. After 7th the declension is frank. 10th and 11th are appalling, atrocious, and some of the sidewalks staggering - unworthy of the suburbs of a small provincial town. Trains allowed to shunt over 10th and 11th Avenues. Extraordinary.

This was election day. I saw the sinister but genial fellows bearing openly the insignia of Tammany. Don't please think that Tammany is a disease that happens to have attacked N.Y. It is as much an expression of N.Y. character as the barber's (remember my shave this morning at the Waldorf), the pavements, the fineness, the interest in education etc. etc.

Tammany Hall, also known as the Society of St. Tammany, the Sons of St. Tammany, or the Columbian Order, was a New York City political organization founded in 1786. It was the Democratic Party political machine that played a major role in controlling New York City and New York State politics and helping immigrants, most notably the Irish, rise up in American politics from the 1790s to the 1960s. The Society expanded its political control by earning the loyalty of the city's ever-expanding immigrant community, which functioned as a base of political capital. The Tammany Hall ward boss or ward heeler – "wards" were the city's smallest political units from 1686 to 1938 – served as the local vote gatherer and provider of patronage. 

Thorough badness of barbers.

Dinner at Sherrys. R. H. Davis, Franklin Adams, Doran and I.

Davis told how he interviewed Li Hung Chang for W. R. Hearst. Davis entered Chang's suite at the Waldorf "with my shoes in my hand". He interviewed him through an interpreter. At the end Davis said: "I asked his excellency if he spoke English, he answered in English 'No'. Asked if he was rich, he said "600,000,000 dollars today; nothing tomorrow. All I have is at the mercy of the State." He was very curious about rich men in America. Later he sent for Davis as a private man and spoke to him in English. He asked if Davis was married and Davis said he wasn't because he couldn't afford to be. He then said: "Get money. Get a wife. Get a home. Get children."

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