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Chapter 1 takes place between February and September 1933, and introduces young Woody Hazelbaker as a junior member of a Wall Street law firm in trouble thanks to the Depression. When Woody Hazelbaker got there at the end of the 1920s, he thought it grand, even after the breadlines that followed the Stock Market Crash in October a€?29: New York was Americaa€™s greatest and most bustling city, its port the gateway to the world.
Owney Madden was no scientific genius like Professor Moriarty, but he handled things the same way.
In Chapter 2, during the autumn of 1933, Woodya€™s deepening involvement with Owney Madden jars his cultural preconceptions loose when he visits the flagship of Maddena€™s nightclubs, the Cotton Club in Harlem. Club DeLuxe opened in 1920 at 142nd and Lenox Avenue, but Owney Madden bought it three years later and turned it into the Cotton Club, offering not only booze but the best jazz to be had, launching meteoric careers for Fletcher Henderson, Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, and others. Bleecka€™s had opened as a speakeasy in the mid a€™20s, and though ruled with an iron hand by its irascible owner Jack Bleeck, it was instantly and permanently adopted by the newspapera€™s editors and reporters.
Bleecka€™s saloon was a few paces from the Herald Tribunea€™s back door, a stonea€™s throw from Seventh Avenue.
Nevertheless Walker and Beebe become important resources about New York social life for Woody, their perspectives stretching from the 1920s into the a€™40s.
Prohibition ends December 5th, 1933, just about when Harvard Club librarian Earle Walbridge a€” later a€?The Sussex Vampire,a€? BSI, and at his death in 1962 the only man whoa€™d attended every BSI dinner back to its a€?first formal meetinga€? in June a€™34 a€” takes Woody to Christ Cellaa€™s speakeasy on East 45th Street, where he meets Christopher Morley and some of his friends just as the nascent Baker Street Irregulars are about to burst out into the open. In Chapter 3, over the winter, Woody is incurably bitten by the Sherlock Holmes bug, but his work for Owney Madden is not done. New York Police Commissioner Grover Whalen estimated in 1929 that there were 32,000 illegal speakeasies in the city. It will take all of $5.00 to pay for a dinner for two at Christ Cellaa€™s little hideaway restaurant in the basement of a brownstone front at 144 East Forty-fifth Street, just a block from Grand Central Palace. Cella, sleek, brown-eyed and chunky, is a born innkeeper, though he gives mural painting as his profession.
But in the early 1930s it was a speakeasy, where around a table in the kitchen Chris Morley and his Three-Hour Lunch Club friends met to drink, laugh and talk, gestating The Baker Street Irregulars. He sat back and sipped the drink that Chris brought him, watching the room through half-closed eyes. The crew Woody met that day were about to bring the BSI out into the open, once Repeal took effect.
In Chapter 4, stretching from spring to autumn, 1934, a chance meeting with Lucius Beebe at Bleecka€™s propels Woody into a more cosmopolitan circle at the Plaza Hotela€™s Mena€™s Bar. It still exists a€” known now as the Oak Room: a€?by far the hotela€™s most significantly historic space, virtually unchanged since the day the Plaza opened for business, Oct.
It was then known as the Mena€™s Bar, an all-male enclave said to be the favorite room of the hotela€™s architect, Henry J.
For the next 70 years, it was patronized by some of the most celebrated folk of the 20th century. Alsop was younger than me, short and pudgy with a pale face and dark-rimmed glasses beneath thin brown hair. When the National Organization for Women decided to challenge the men-only policies at restaurants and clubs, it chose the Oak Room, which refused to serve women at lunch on weekdays, as a test case, knowing the kind of upscale publicity it would lend to the cause.
The Mena€™s Bar Oak Room is sadly the only venue this chapter that still exists (with a close escape a few years ago when the Plazaa€™s barbarian redeveloper intended to gut it). If Ia€™d seen the place empty I might have wondered what the fuss was about, but it was busy when we arrived. Shake well with ice cubes and dash of orange bitters, twist of lemon peel and just a touch of sugar.
Owner John Perona and maA®tre da€™ Frank Carino made El Morocco, once a speakeasy, the place to go and be seen for all manner of celebrities, including Broadway and Hollywood stars. People kept stopping by to speak to Beebe, hoping to find themselves in his column the next day. I must have snickered, because he went on reprovingly: a€?Believe it or not, fortunes and careers are made by sitting at the right table.
Beebe basked, and started to reply, when suddenly behind me a silvery voice spoke out of the blue. In Chapter 5, December 1934 through the next several months, Woody attends the first Baker Street Irregulars dinner at Christ Cellaa€™s and solidifies his position in Chris Morleya€™s BSI. Suddenly, with an explosive burst so nobody would miss his entrance, Alexander Woollcott arrived.
Chapter 6 stretches from the spring of 1935 to New Yeara€™s Eve in 1936, more than a year and a half of political turbulence in America, and in Woodya€™s life as well. Woody attends the a€™36 annual dinner at Christ Cellaa€™s a€” neither he nor anyone else there realizing that it will be the last for four years. In the early 1930s the New Schoola€™s snazzy new Greenwich Village building, with an informal left-wing faculty and ties to outfits like the John Reed Clubs, was just the place for a Wall Street lawyer to validate his anti-Wall Street feelings, as long as he could duck. Chris Morley looked down the table at me, elbows propped up on it and chin resting on tented hands. After taking Diana to see After the Thin Man on New Yeara€™s Eve, he finds himself finally, truly, completely alone with Diana a€” and this time all escape cut off. And Diana snatched the paper from me, dropped it on top of the others, and pushed the entire stack off onto the floor. The consolation of BSI seems to be denied: there is no Annual Dinner in 1937 (nor will be in 1938 either). Pratt stood only 5'3", had thin receding red hair, and wore round-rimmed eyeglasses with tinted lenses. In 1937 even Irregulars have foreign dangers on their minds, and not just those convening at the Mena€™s Bar Sundays for martinis and chicken soup. The British Empire may no longer be able to regard itself, as it reasonably could until 1914, as the leading power of the world; since we let opportunity slip through our fingers in the early twenties, it may be doubted if the world has had any leading power, which may be one of the things that is the matter with it.
When the crisis that ended with the abdication of Edward VIII had been quickly and smoothly settled the English indulged in a good deal of excusable self-congratulation. Americans are not particularly proud of their countrya€™s isolation from world politics, but do not see what else can be done about it at the moment. People who try to describe the Czechoslovak Republic in its nineteenth year seem driven to metaphor. Diana has her own response: use her family money to fund groups opposed to Nazi aggression. Everyone did after Benny Goodman took the Paramount Theater by storm, people clamoring for tickets nearly rioting in Sixth Avenue.
The first time I heard them do a€?Moonglowa€? it was three in the morning, Diana and me listening to the sweet haunting music through a dreamlike haze of smoke and alcohol.
Bleecka€™s had opened as a speakeasy in the mid a€™20s, and thoughA  ruled with an iron hand by its irascible owner Jack Bleeck, it was instantly and permanently adopted by the newspapera€™s editors and reporters.
A A A  Cella, sleek, brown-eyed and chunky, is a born innkeeper, though he gives mural painting as his profession. A A A  He sat back and sipped the drink that Chris brought him, watching the room through half-closed eyes.
Few chapters in these chronological volumes have pleased me as much as the one in his volume about The Trained Cormorants of Los Angeles by Donald Hardenbrook (a€?Huret, the Boulevard Assassin,a€? BSI).
New York in the years after World War II was the richest, liveliest, most glittering city in the world. Although a good deal of the talent went into television and Madison Avenue, two burgeoning phenomena despaired over by postwar New York intellectuals, theater was particularly right now, with plays like Death of a Salesman and A Streetcar Named Desire. It is seven oa€™clock and I re-examine an ex-speakeasy in East 53rd Street, with dinner in mind. Judging from personal comments, as well as from published writings, a number of aficionados share the prevailing apprehension over the appalling possibilities latent in the atomic bomb, which the world must now face though it is no better prepared than it was for the Giant Rat of Sumatra. All agree, I am sure, that this is a work worthy of the talents of these two men, which otherwise may some day have to be devoted to preparing a monograph upon a€?The Distinction Between the Ashes of One Hundred and Forty Cities.a€? It is my earnest hope that this proposal will win the approval of, and be supported by, every true believer and true man. Because Alger Hiss seemed so much an exemplar of the New Deal a€” Eleanor Roosevelt and other icons rallied to his support a€” the case was fiercely argued be-tween FDRa€™s critics and adherents.
Those who were for Hiss or against him felt their own pride and past political judgment to be at stake. The President a€?condemned the investigation as a a€?red herring,a€™a€? his daughter Marg-aret recalled in her memoir Harry S.
Undaunted, a€?Give a€?em hell Harrya€? launched a whistle-stop campaign across America against the a€?do-nothinga€? GOP Congress, surprising everyone, especially Vincent Starretta€™s Chicago Tribune by winning the election.
For every crisis at home or abroad, there seemed to be another just for the Baker Street Irregulars. Morley, approaching sixty, was finding himself less inspired as a writer than in the past, and opportunities fewer than they had been. Despite well over four million bucks in prizes to keep people listening to radio in 1948, about a quarter of the country was watching television. Television also brought the world into American living-rooms in news shows like a€?The Camel News Caravana€? with John Cameron Swayze. War movies and Westerns still lit up movie screens, comedy sparkled in Born Yesterday and Harvey, and drama kept its grip in All the Kinga€™s Men and Sunset Boulevard, but detective fare had changed. Baker Street Irregulars had their own taste in these things, of course; in fact, one whoa€™d presented too much realism about crime and violence at the 1947 BSI dinner was a€?blacklisteda€? in 1948. This is the fifth volume of the BSI Archival History, covering mid-1947 through 1950, or more or less precisely the Irregular events of fifty years ago. Yet it was recent enough that many young men embarking upon Baker Street Irregularity at the time are amongst us today, and providing a growing volume of personal recollections to the history. Perhaps the most wondrous of all for me have been the memories of Miriam Alex-ander, Edgar W. Many others besides Miss Alexander have been of great help where this volume is concerned, and I hope I overlook no one in thanking them very sincerely here: Hy Adler, Marvin Aronson, Michael Baldyga, Ray Betzner, Peter Blau, Monika Bolino, Vinnie Brosnan, Robert Clyne, Saul Cohen, Catherine Cooke, Ralph Earle, George Fletcher, Richard Foster, Ted Friedman, Andrew Fusco, David Galerstein, Robert S. Also greatly appreciated for their resources, drawn upon by me and others men-tioned above, are the Library of Congress, the Harry S. Special recognition is due to Jeff Decker, Don Hardenbrook, and Philip Shreffler, and to the late Bliss Austin and the late Robert G.
Once again at my elbow throughout this effort have been Ronald De Waala€™s World Bibliography of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Just back, 2 days ago, from wonderful trip; which will take a long time to digest, longer still to enunciate. I got yr letter and appeal for help just before leaving Londres, I was too throng with doings to make any prompt comment.
Morleya€™s view was alarmingly different: Scionists along with Apocryphals and Riff-Raff should all be swept into the category of Impossibles, and once the Impossibles were eliminated, whatever remained (however improbable) would be the BSI.
Many places where the BSI met in its Golden Age are gone: Christ Cellaa€™s speakeasy on East 45th Street, the Murray Hill Hotel on Park Avenue a couple of blocks below Grand Central Station, and Cavanagha€™s in Chelsea. The membership in Edgar Smith's day, as now, were men who played sports: court tennis, racquets, squash, polo, etc. First floor contains the reception area and, off to the left, the Club's very spacious lounge including a cigar stand in the corridor outside. The antechamber, a small square room, opens up via folding doors into another one of comparable size, which separately is the anteroom for a second, narrower private dining room. A A A  It is seven oa€™clock and I re-examine an ex-speakeasy in East 53rd Street, with dinner in mind. A A A  Judging from personal comments, as well as from published writings, a number of aficionados share the prevailing apprehension over the appalling possibilities latent in the atomic bomb, which the world must now face though it is no better prepared than it was for the Giant Rat of Sumatra.
A A A  Because Alger Hiss seemed so much an exemplar of the New Deal a€” Eleanor Roosevelt and other icons rallied to his support a€” the case was fiercely argued be-tween FDRa€™s critics and adherents. A A A  Morley, approaching sixty, was finding himself less inspired as a writer than in the past, and opportunities fewer than they had been. A A A  Despite well over four million bucks in prizes to keep people listening to radio in 1948, about a quarter of the country was watching television. A A A  War movies and Westerns still lit up movie screens, comedy sparkled in Born Yesterday and Harvey, and drama kept its grip in All the Kinga€™s Men and Sunset Boulevard, but detective fare had changed. A A A  Baker Street Irregulars had their own taste in these things, of course; in fact, one whoa€™d presented too much realism about crime and violence at the 1947 BSI dinner was a€?blacklisteda€? in 1948. A A A  Yet it was recent enough that many young men embarking upon Baker Street Irregularity at the time are amongst us today, and providing a growing volume of personal recollections to the history. A A A  Perhaps the most wondrous of all for me have been the memories of Miriam Alex-ander, Edgar W. A A A  Many others besides Miss Alexander have been of great help where this volume is concerned, and I hope I overlook no one in thanking them very sincerely here: Hy Adler, Marvin Aronson, Michael Baldyga, Ray Betzner, Peter Blau, Monika Bolino, Vinnie Brosnan, Robert Clyne, Saul Cohen, Catherine Cooke, Ralph Earle, George Fletcher, Richard Foster, Ted Friedman, Andrew Fusco, David Galerstein, Robert S. A A A  Once again at my elbow throughout this effort have been Ronald De Waala€™s World Bibliography of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. A A A  Just back, 2 days ago, from wonderful trip; which will take a long time to digest, longer still to enunciate. A A A  I got yr letter and appeal for help just before leaving Londres, I was too throng with doings to make any prompt comment.
A A A  Morleya€™s view was alarmingly different: Scionists along with Apocryphals and Riff-Raff should all be swept into the category of Impossibles, and once the Impossibles were eliminated, whatever remained (however improbable) would be the BSI.
He gets a chance (and despite trepidations, takes it) to hang on by undertaking work for a clandestine client, the kind his firm would never accept in good times: bootlegger Owney Madden, and his No.
What I knew about them came from Walter Winchell in the Mirror and movies like Little Caesar. Owney Madden was in the bootlegging business and everything else that went with it, including his chief aide and enforcer Big Frenchy DeMange.
Black entertainers performing for strictly white audiences reflects the eraa€™s racial segregation, but the Cluba€™s showcasing of brilliant talent helps make jazz a national treasure. Beside the entrance was a tarnished brass plaque saying a€?Artists and Writersa€? a€” the admission policy? It finally comes to an end a year after it started, with Madden retiring from the rackets in New York and departing for a new life elsewhere. Lexington Avenue could still be followed south to 45th Street; and on 45th Street Chris Cellini should still be entertaining his friends unless a tidal wave had removed him catastrophically from the trade he loved . The kitchen was the supplement to the one small dining room that the place boasteda€”it was the sanctum sanctorum, a rendezvous that was more like a club than anything else, where those who were privileged to enter found a boisterous hospitality undreamed of in the starched expensive restaurants, where the diners are merely so many intruders, to be fed at a price and bowed stiffly out again. The flash of jest and repartee, the crescendo of discussion and the ring of laughter, came to his ears like the echo of an unforgettable song. On the far side, back to the wall, was a burly man with a broad hearty face, thick brown hair, and lively eyes full of mischief.
1, 1907,a€? wrote the Times five years ago (a€?What Would Eloise Say?a€? by Curtis Gathje, Jan. One day in February 1969, Betty Friedan and several other women swept past the Oak Rooma€™s maA®tre da€™ and sat down at a table.
The Biltmore Hotel is gone, turned into office space despite protected-landmark status at the time.
I froze, then scuttled out sideways like a crab, and turned to face the most stunning girl Ia€™d ever seen.


At Decembera€™s BSI dinner, he observes a Worlda€™s Champ and a Fabulous Monster, both of whom he will meet again, but more importantly he makes a new friend for life in Basil Davenport.
Everybody knew his face from magazines and high piping voice from the radio a€” and some people hated both.
Woollcott and Morley might be rival bookmen, but Chris didna€™t look half as annoyed as Bob.
One of his dislikes was Alexander Woollcott, whose presence at the December 7, 1934, annual dinner Leavitt always insisted was uninvited, unwanted, and obnoxious. Woody can use one: his regained professional calm is jolted the self-possessed young heiress he met at El Morocco has daddy switch his legal work to Woody. The still young phenomenon of radio carries not only FDRa€™s reassuring Fireside Chats into American homes, but also the demagoguery of former Louisiana Governor, now Senator, Huey a€?Kingfisha€? Long, and the maverick priest Father Charles Coughlin. Not only cana€™t he get started with Diana, he doesna€™t even seem to have her attention when theya€™re together a€” and is silly enough to look for answers in the movies, as if life were one big screwball comedy. For some it was Shirley Temple, for others Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald, for more than you could count Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
Diana is beautiful and wealthy, but comes with a father-in-law whose politics Woody can barely abide. But Woody and some others, instead of shrugging, organize occasional Irregular three-hour lunches of their own. But into those sessions now is injected an isolationist note even Anglophiles like Elmer and Woody cana€™t ignore, from Chris Morleya€™s brother Felix, a€?the Second Garrideb,a€? editor of the Washington Post sharply critical of FDR and his policies. Elmer Davis gives up fiction to write serious foreign policy articles for Harpera€™s Magazine, about the dangers in store for an indifferent and unprepared America. Not only had they disposed of a troublesome situation with less fuss than almost any other nation would have made over ita€”the reaction abroad, they told one another, had demonstrated that all men of good will realized that the stability of England was vitally essential to the stability of a somewhat unsteady world. You still meet Europeans who ask you why America does not come into the League and help to do something about world peace; but most of them, after recent collapses of the system of collective security, know why, and only wish that they could do as we do. President BenA?s, in his radio broadcast last Christmas Eve, said that a€?Czechoslovakia stands like a lighthouse high on a cliff with the waves crashing around ita€”a democracy that has the mission to keep the flag of peace, freedom, and toleration flying in Central Europe.a€? The propaganda German radio stations and newspapers have been pouring out for months sees the country as a a€?sally port of Bolshevism,a€? And K. Harris of Detroit (a€?The Creeping Man,a€? BSI), who entered the BSI in the 1940s and left us many priceless memories and insights along with companionship in his later years.
He was invested as long ago as 1955, and was an old man when he wrote for me about his boyhood devotion to Sherlock Holmes, and his learning about the BSI and founding a scion society with another youngster, Robert Pattrick (a€?The Politician, the Lighthouse, and the Trained Cormorant,a€? 1954). Undamaged by the war, capital of financial power unmatched in history, a cultural mecca for America and Europe, New York was now both O. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born here, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size and its turbulence as natural and inevitable.
Lee Strasberga€™s Actora€™s Studio was training newcomers like Marlon Brando, Paul Newman, and Joanne Woodward. A thin crowd, a summer-night buzz of fans interrupted by an occasional drink being shaken at the small bar. The old sense of immunity, of being protected from Old World strife by two great oceans, was gone. I therefore offer a suggestion which, if adopted, should deliver us from the Valley of Fear into which we hav been thrust by this fantastic Oppenheimer creation. Labor discontent was sharp, prices were high, there was a great deal of civil rights ferment, and a new Red Scare got underway as the Cold War broke out.
His poise was perfect, and his credentials impeccable: Johns Hopkins, Harvard Law, clerking for Oliver Wendell Holmes before entering government in the early a€?30s. Many Democrats and old New Dealers felt that Hiss was a gallant protagonist of the younger liberal crowd that went to Washington in the New Deala€™s first crusade. The Democrats were almost desperate to have Dwight Eisenhower, the most popular man in America, but when he disavowed any political intentions, they re-nominated Truman and steeled themselves for sure defeat in a€™48. He had done a lot of radio in past years, on the a€?Transatlantic Quiza€? and a€?Information, Please,a€? but both shows came to an end in these years.
International Business Machines, Inc., demonstrated a computer about the size of a tugboat, and at MIT, a member of The Speckled Band of Boston, Norbert Wiener, coined a prophetic new term, Cyber-netics. The greatest crisis the BSI faced, however, was not changing taste on the publica€™s part, nor from the outside at all. It was a time when many of the great early figures in Baker Street Irregularity were beginning to anticipate the culmination of their careers in letters, the professions, or (in Edgar W.
This effort was triggered by the death of Bliss Austin, a€?The Engineera€™s Thumba€? (a posthumous contributor to this volume) in 1989, when we realized how much we had lost in institutional memory.
Smitha€™s secretary at General Motors at the time, and the original secretary-treasurer of the Baker Street Irregulars, Inc. Harris, for their original contributions to this volume, and to Bill Vande Water for his invaluable assistance with both the illustrations and many little nagging items of research. There would be some kind of dinner; the question now was how large, and who was to be included. What is exceptional about the Solid Core as defined by Smith below is not who is there, but who isna€™t. In that day, no women were allowed inside the club; now wives of members are now permitted to attend certain social functions with their husbands at the club.
The second floor has a spacious dining room overlooking Park Avenue, a large, magnificent, very masculine bar, a billiard room holding about six tables, and a library which is one of the best (maybe the best) sports libraries in the world. The anterooms and the smaller dining room are painted hunt green with chair rails painted white or, in the case of the smaller dining room, stained. Member of Hudson Dusters gang, convicted twice of safecracking with 13 arrests total, including one for murder.
And as winter approaches Woody makes a third discovery that will change his life for good, this time at the Harvard Club library: Vincent Starretta€™s brand-new and magically evocative book, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. Ellingtona€™s a€?Cotton Club Stompa€? captured the beat and drive as well as the venue and era. Astora€™s Horse (1935) are available today; The Night Club Era especially evokes the New York popular culture in which the BSI gestated and was being born in the early a€™Thirties.
Woody has weathered the Depressiona€™s worst year and learned a lot a€” but the ending of his clandestine association with Owney and Frenchy DeMange leaves him feeling blue.
One was opened in a brownstone at 144 East 45th Street in 1926 by an Italian immigrant named Christopher Cella, whose boyhood friend Mike Fischetti was on the NYPDa€™s a€?Italian Squad,a€? one of the toughest cops in town. Although there were no familiar faces seated round the big communal table, the Saint felt the reawakening of an old happiness as he stepped into the brightly lighted room, with the smell of tobacco and wine and steaming vegetables and the clatter of plates and pans.
It was the same as it had always beena€”the same humorous camaraderie presided over and kept vigorously alive by Chrisa€™s own unchanging geniality.
Its German Renaissance design features walls of sable-dyed English oak, frescoes of Bavarian castles, faux wine casks carved into the woodwork and a grape-laden chandelier topped by a barmaid hoisting a stein. Cohan, the Broadway hyphenate, a composer-playwright-actor-producer-theater owner, and the only person ever awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor for a song, the rousing World War I anthem, a€?Over There.a€? Cohan made the Oak Room his pre-theater headquarters, his preferred table being a booth in its northwest corner.
There was an air of privilege about him even in the way he held his drink and his cigarette.
The waitersa€™ response was to remove the table, leaving the women sitting awkwardly in a circle. Banquettes along the walls, and backs and seats of chairs, were in the blue zebra print identifying El Morocco in newspaper pictures. At a podium outside the arch, the maA®tre da€™ greeted us and led us inside, where Beebe was perched on a stool watching a bartender perform with a cocktail shaker. On his favor and discretion hang feuds, romances, careers, ambitions, the very foundations of the most bitterly jealous and competitive social hierarchy of our generation. She looked at me with indignation, rubbing the top of one gold-sandaled foot against the back of her other ankle. His acquaintance with Elmer Davis moves beyond the BSI into other realms, and Woody comes to understand what Morley had told him: they do all have Sherlock Holmes in common, but the BSI is primarily about friendship.
But a September 9, 1938, letter from Elmer Davis to Vincent Starrett gives a different impression: an older friend of Morleya€™s than Leavitt, Davis took up merrily with Woollcott that night.
While Elmer Davis worries about a native despot poised for the a€™36 elections, Woodya€™s worries are closer to home. For me, it was one romantic comedy of William Powella€™s after another until my mind turned to mush. Yet Ambrose Converse is also his most important client now, as if Jimmy Stewart had gone to work for old buzzard Potter in Ita€™s a Wonderful Life. The big stories were the Prince of Walesa€™ abdication, Italy invading Ethiopia, and FDRa€™s new term.
Four columns were marching on the city with a a€?fifth columna€? inside it waiting to strike like a snake. To Basil Davenport, Peter Greig, Earle Walbridge, and Dave Randall are added two more, one a kinsprit already, the other someone who will become important to Woody as the world drifts closer to war. Wiry and muscular, with a neatly clipped mustache, he resembled a wary bird whoa€™d bite off any finger poked in his direction. I believe that every democratic nation in Europe today would get out of Europe and stay out if it could; out of the neighborhood of Germany . But for them both, 1937 is their newlywed year a€” out on the town, taking in the movies, seeking out the coolest jive joints with the hottest jazz, and going dancing with the Age of Swing in full blast. One night I overheard a callow youth say something to his girl about a€?shaming the old folks off the floor,a€? and realized in dismay that he meant me. He said he could play drunk because he practiced drunk, and he sure could play, but we were watching self-destruction right before our eyes. We went on that way into 1938, celebrating our first anniversary without even a BSI dinner to break the mood.
It was he who defined the spirit of the Murray Hill Hotel and Cavanagha€™s eras of the BSIa€™s annual dinners as a€?disputation, confrontation, and dialectical hullabalooa€? a€” explaining how the BSI lost it when growing numbers forced a move into large banquet halls at the Regency Hotel, 24 Fifth Avenue, the Union League Club, and now the Yale Club of New York, to the loss of all Irregulars. Second, there is the New York of the commuter the city that is de-voured by locusts each day and spat out each night.
It is dark in here (the proprietor sees no reason for boosting his light bill just because the liquor laws have changed). New engines of destruction could span them in hours, bombs could incinerate entire cities in a single blast, and the wartime alliance had broken down.
I propose that control of the bomb be entrusted to the Brothers Holmes: Mycroft to be responsible for the complex and delicate questions of policy and diplomacy, and Sherlock for all investigations into illicit production and for the removal of any would-be Moriarty who may seek to reduce our planet to the size of an asteroid in order to study its dynamics. He was the epitome of the bright young men called to Washington by FDRa€™s New Deal, and he made a far better impression on even the New Deal-haters on the House Committee than the slovenly Chambers did.
They feared, as the others hoped, that a verdict against Hiss would be a verdict against the New Deal. He was opposed not only by Republican Tom Dewey, but by Progressive Party breakaway candidate Henry Wallace and Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond as well.
The Kremlin said the secret of the atom bomb had a€?long ceased to exist,a€? and proved it in 1949, three years ahead of American predictions a€” convincing Truman to proceed with a vastly more destructive hydrogen bomb. But the crises persisted, and a€?a good deal of the rest of the way, in his first year, it was poison ivy.a€? Still, the Marshall Plan was proceeding, and in May 1949 the Soviets abandoned their blockade of Berlin. Douglas MacArthur took command with one of the great coups in history, his amphibious landing behind enemy lines at Inchon.
The market for his kind of writing was drying up, and his work as a Book of the Month Club judge was becoming his main source of income. Few office buildings hummed more than the General Motors Building at 1775 Broadway, where the Overseas Division of the worlda€™s largest corporation was rebuilding operations in Europe, South America, and the Far East. Stars like Jack Benny and Burns & Allen moved their radio shows to television, and it revived careers for other veterans of vaudeville, like Milton Berle. The Polaroid camera went on the market, frozen concentrate orange juice was introduced, 45rpm and LP records began to replace a€?78s, and the transistor was demonstrated. The form took on tones of realism and pessimism in film noir like Out of the Past, starring newcomer Robert Mitchum as a new kind of cool in private eyes, and in brutal depictions of urban police work like The Naked City and The Asphalt Jungle. Far more dangerous than Adrian Conan Doylea€™s glower of disapproval was the one directed at the BSI by its own founder and moving spirit. Even-tually he would succeed in steering the sodality past most if not all of the Irregular crisess.
The Archival His-tories began as an omnium gatherum of the published accounts and previously un-published correspondence by the early Fathers of the Church, but have become with this installment a record of the memories of living Irregulars as well.
Some anonymous heroes of the Hampshire, England, county library system were kind enough to seek a needle in the haystack for this volume, and found it. Some future historian of the BSIa€™s most recent decades will certainly find himself handicapped, compared to me, for lack of a Whoa€™s Who & Whata€™s What picking up where Bill Rabe left off in the 1960s. Smitha€™s Irregular secretaries at General Motors Overseas Operations in New York, working for him from the end of 1946 until early 1949. I find quite a mass of sherlockian correspondence, which I will pass on to you from time to time.
In his letter of November 13th, Smith had spoken of five categories of those who had attended the previous three dinners. Smith, the scion-society circuit rider, was determined to save The Five Orange Pips, plus the central figures in scion societies close enough to New York to attend the dinner each year. Missing are New Yorkers (or so close to town as to be) like Bliss Austin, Basil Davenport, Peter Greig, Richard Hoffman, and Earle Walbridge.
The BSI met there from 1948 through 1951 after the Murray Hill was torn down, it being Edgar W. When the law made it impossible for any club at which any business events took place to exclude women, the Racquet Club stopped permitting business meetings over lunch and dinner to be held there, rather than change its membership policy. The walls of the anteroom and the smaller dining room have framed sporting prints hanging on them, coaching, hunting, racing and similar scenes.
For the green and rather innocent Woody, Madden, DeMange, and the work prove quite an education.
Then decades later, in Francis Ford Coppolaa€™s 1984 movie The Cotton Club, its life and times were recreated superbly, with Bob Hoskins and Fred Gwynne playing Owney Madden and Frenchy DeMange. A chorus line of nearly naked colored girls ran out onto the stage and went into a routine never seen south of Central Park. Its big room, mahogany, brass and mirrors with a forty-foot bar, served as clubhouse for Trib reporters and editors. Tables are covered with clean white cotton cloths and the waiters wear long white linen aprons that flap about their ankles. It took him back at one leap to the ambrosial nights of drinking and endless argument, when all philosophies had been probed and all the worlda€™s problems settled, that he had known in that homely place. Why were there not more places like that in the world, he began to wondera€”places where a host was more than a shop-keeper, and men threw off their cares and talked and laughed openly together, without fear or suspicion, expanding cleanly and fruitfully in the glow of wine and fellowship? It drove me across town to East 39th, the wet streets dark and nearly deserted at that hour. Offering a fine view of all comings and goings, it became known as the Cohan Corner, where the great man was courted by theatrical types looking for work. A man at a nearby booth offered breadsticks, which were declined, and the group decamped to form a picket line in front of the hotel.


But the movie Woody saw there that night has lasted: The Thin Man, starring William Powell and Myrna Loy. Ita€™s comical that the Nobel Committee gives its Peace Prize to do-gooders like Jane Addams. Ia€™d struggled through it in high school; they talked about Horace as if he were a mutual friend. So Woody dwells uncomfortably in a higher social and economic stratum of an increasingly disturbing world, as he takes stock of it when they return from their honeymoon. Fierce debate had started over his court-packing scheme, to circumvent the Supreme Courta€™s a€?nine old mena€? striking down one New Deal program after another. Frank of the Czechoslovak parliament, a German belonging to the half-Hitlerized Sudetendeutsche Partei, has said that the state must be a€?either a bridge between Germany and the southeast or a barricade against Germany.a€? .
But when I walked into a jive joint with Diana, nobody took me for a rootietoot, let alone a lawyer. He had an about-town column in the Herald Tribune called a€?This New York.a€? It wasna€™t Woody Hazelbakera€™s New York.
I had never met him in person, and he had perhaps never attended a BSI dinner in New York, as he had been confined to a wheelchair for many years.
Each day a hundred passenger trains came and went, a dozen ocean liners docked and sailed, a growing fleet of airlines landed and took off. Third, there is the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something.
How dark, how pleasing; and how miraculously beautiful the murals showing Italian lake scenes a€” probably executed by a cousin of the owner.
In August 1947, before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, a Time Magazine editor named Whittaker Chambers identified himself as a member of the Communist Party underground in the 1930s, and named a number of former and current U.S. Whatever Hiss or his lawyers might say later, the House Committee thus succeeded, before he ever came to trial, in making a large and very mixed public identify Hiss with what was characteristic of the New Deal. America did something it never had before, commit itself to the security of nations across the sea, by ratifying the North Atlantic Treaty.
By 1948 he was coming into Manhattan from home only once a week or so, even less as the a€?Forties wore on.
Smitha€™s responsibilities were for institutional relationships, public af-fairs, and analysis of world economic trends. TheArmy, experimenting with V-2 rockets in the New Mexico desert, was sending them higher and higher into the stratosphere. The FBI released its first a€?Ten Most Wanteda€? list in 1950, and Senator Estes Keefauvera€™s organized-crime hearings on television mad millions aware of the reality in a way they had never been before.
Adrian could frustrate its plans, but Christopher Morley, if he wished, could turn it once more into a small circle of just his own cronies, meeting far from the worlda€™s gaze in the back room of some modern-day speakeasy a€” especially if the faltering Baker Street Journal failed, and was no longer there to connect a parent body with adherents elsewhere.
It was also the time when I and my own generation of Irregu-lars were being born or starting elementary school. McDiarmid, Glen Miranker, Bjarne Nielsen, Daniel Posnansky, Susan Rice, Tony Ring, Edgar Rosenberger, Albert and Julia Rosenblatt, Steven Rothman, Peter Ruber, Henry Shalet, Jack Siegel, Paul Singleton, Bruce Southworth, John Soutter, James de Stefano, Enola Stewart, Thomas L.
For anyone wishing to be a benefactor of the race, here is fertile ground for a most welcome contribution. She was the first secretary-treasurer of the Baker Street Irregulars, Inc., and a shareholder in it. From the letter below, four of the categories appear to have been Solid Core, Scionists, Apocryphals, and Riff-Raff. Morley tended to disdain Scionists, without bothering to attend their meetings a€” I have many examples of his shrugging off invitations to scion society meetings, but not one, I think, of his accepting an invitation a€” and he was prepared to discard even luminous personalities like James Montgomery while retaining dubious eccentrics from his Grillparzer days like Charlie Goodman. The room itself is a fairly large one, perhaps 20 x 30 feet, all paneled in walnut with very fine woodworking, inset scalloped shelves on the left, and a green marble fireplace on the right at you look in from the anteroom toward where the head table was. McDiarmid, Glen Miranker, Bjarne Nielsen, DanielA  Posnansky, Susan Rice, Tony Ring, Edgar Rosenberger, Albert and Julia Rosenblatt, Steven Rothman, Peter Ruber, Henry Shalet, Jack Siegel, Paul Singleton, Bruce Southworth, John Soutter, James de Stefano, Enola Stewart, Thomas L. But his agents are numerous and splendidly organized.a€? Same with Madden, and I discovered a separate and different world beneath the surface. Formed alliance with Tammany Hall chieftain Jimmy Hines, went into bootlegging including many speakeasies and night clubs.
Kidnapped and held for ransom by a€?Mad Doga€? Coll in 1931 (an unwise career move on the lattera€™s part). It was nearly empty at eleven in the morning, but even busy I couldna€™t have missed Walker halfway down the bar, next to an arresting sight: another man dressed, at that hour of the day, in white tie and tails. I carried the briefcases when we got there, and Owneya€™s driver lugged the rest up to my apartment. After his death in 1942, a bronze plaque was installed to commemorate his tenure; it still hangs there today.
As the evening wore on and more and more people arrived, additional tables and chairs were brought out and placed on the dance floor until it almost disappeared. When I finally got a word in edgewise and asked what the hell, Basil shrugged off a€?two perfectly useless degreesa€? in classics from Yale and Oxford. Bradford, another Thin Man imitation, had come out while Diana was in Europe, but when she got back I took her to My Man Godfrey at Radio City. Enlarging the Court had peoplea€™s backs up, while others felt the Court was so pre-Depression in make-up, it might as well be the Dark Ages. It was the New York of El Morocco by night, people with plenty of money despite the Depression, Broadway openings instead of bank closings, charity scavenger hunts instead of breadlines, uninterrupted self-indulgence instead of the dole.
Yet dipping into his memories to write this chapter made him decide to come to the next one, and we laid plans to sit together at it.
Theaters were full, restaurants were busy, couples spooned in Central Park, and a dozen newspapers vied for attention.
Of these three tremendous cities the greatest is the last a€” the city of final destination, the city that is a goal.
He arranged for a private confrontation between the two men at the Commodore Hotel in New York. Truman responded with an a€?airlifta€? to supply the Western half of the city, something experts said was impossible. Ben Abram-sona€™s crises imperiled the Baker Street Journal, which, despite its brilliant beginning, died before the decade was over. A trip to England in 1947 brought home to him how much his place as a man of letters had slipped in America.
These years saw the 100,000,000th American car roll off the assembly line, and General Motors was the industry leader by far. The long dry statistical treatise became a bestseller, was sniggered over on the airwaves daily, and inspired a rash of popular songs. Whelan, the BSIa€™s chairman, facilitated the preparation and publication of this volume in invaluable ways. She contributed a a€?First Meeting with Sherlock Holmesa€? article to the January 1948 BSJ, which described going to work for Edgar W. In the old days of simplicity, no one wailed when we went some 4 yrs without a Stated Occasion. But Smith appears to have been prepared to do so, at least on this occasion, to preserve an out-of-town Scionist presence. It was, as Old Irregular Bob Harris put it in chapter three of Irregular Crises of the Late a€?Forties, St. Helping to make up for the lost income are rents from the bank and the American Express office which occupy space at the Park Avenue corners of the Club. Owney Madden grew up in the part of New York called Hella€™s Kitchen, and had been in the rackets since he was a kid, starting with one of its Irish gangs, The Gophers. He held a drink in one hand, a cigar in the other, and on the surface of the bar rested a silk top hat. I hung up my hat and coat, opened the briefcase Owney had given me and gazed at the money again, then stashed it in the back of my closet.
Then as I started thinking of him as a pudgy intellectual, he said something to Gene Tunney across the table about their boxing a few rounds at the Yale Club before coming to Cellaa€™s. He and drummer Gene Krupa were from his band, but the others were colored musicians, cool Teddy Wilson on piano and excited Lionel Hampton on vibes, the first mixed group wea€™d seen.
And only when I arrived in New York that next January did I learn that Don had died a few days before.
In the a€?American Centurya€? Henry Luce had proclaimed, New York was its rightful capital.
It is this third city that accounts for New Yorka€™s high-strung disposition, its poetical deportment, its dedication to the arts, and its incomparable achievements. One of them was Alger Hiss, a former State Department official now president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in New York. Hiss challenged Chambers to repeat his allegations outside the privilege of a Congressional hearing. It was a pro-longed trauma for America, and the outcome licensed, if illicitly, the exploitation of fear embarked upon the following month by a whisky-soaked Senator from Wisconsin named Joe McCarthy.
The Red Scare swallowed up one of Irregularitya€™s most eloquent voices, and death took some of its finest contributors. When the Colophon surveyed subscribers in 1949 as to which ten contemporary American writers would be thought great in fifty years, Morley was not among them. These were glory years for GM, which announced for 1949 the largest annual profit ever made by an American company a€” despite people griping that postwar cars were too long to park, too big for garages, and too much money.
As Americansa€™ love affair with the car on the road deepened, drive-in movie theaters began to multiply like rabbits a€” a€?passion pits with pix,a€? Variety called them in 1949. Palomar observatory began peering farther out into the universe than astronomers ever had before.
Smith and wondering about his sanity the first time she took dictation from him, since all his letters that day were to Irregulars. Smith strove to include both Solid Core and Scionists in the reconstitution of the annual dinner, and was prepared to take Januarya€™s down in size even further, to a proposed invitation list of 31 aiming at a dinner of only 25. His list of scion society representatives is a sound, even daring one, for he surely knew that it was Allen Robertson who, at the 1947 dinner, had sent Morley into this tizzy in the first place.
Jamesa€™s Street but not really Baker Street: the most elegant of all BSI dinner venues, then or since. He had to eat; and in all the world there are no steaks like the steaks Chris Cellini broils over an open fire with his own hands.
Author: History of the New York Times, 1921, Times Have Changed, 1923, Ia€™ll Show You the Town, 1924, Friends of Mr. I loosened my tie, poured myself a stiff drink, and sat down beside a window a€” sat there a long time, the untasted drink in my hand, listening to it rain. Anyone whoa€™d box Gene Tunney for funa€” I gave up, and went and got another drink myself.
Powell was a stockbroker down on his luck, plucked out of a hobo jungle to butler for the nuttiest family on Fifth Avenue. Young people, out of the service, or at the outset of their careers, were flooding into New York seeking the fresh, new world awaiting them. From the next booth drifts the conversation of radio executives; from the green salad comes the little taste of garlic. Chambers promptly did so, on a€?Meet the Pressa€? live on the new medium of television, as several million people watched. They werena€™t all wet, either; the a€™49 Cadillac Fleetwood was nearly nineteen feet long, and cost $4,779, a good deal more than most American families earned in a year. Science-fiction seemed less far-fetched now, what with the scientific marvels, and reports of flying saucers. In 1998 she became a valuable source of information about Smith, Christopher Morley, and other members of the BSI, the BSI, Inc., and the Original Series BSJ a€” enriching the Late a€™Forties volume of the BSI History, where she is pictured on vacation in 1947 on p.
One can nitpick Smitha€™s list of Scionists, and say a few things like why not Laurence Dodge from Boston, but not many. The following are my notes from a tour of it on Wednesday, October 9, 1996, by its then president, John D.
Staff New York Herald Tribune since 1929; writer, syndicated column a€?This New Yorka€? since 1933.
1919; professional boxer, 1919-1928, World Heavyweight Champ, 1926-28, a€?Fighter of the Year,a€? 1928, retired undefeated that year. The Times called Lombarda€™s Irene a€?a one-track mind with grass growing over its rails,a€? but that was a damn sight better than her mean sister Cornelia. And whether it is a farmer arriving from Italy to set up a small grocery store in a slum, or a young girl arriving from a small town in Mississippi to escape the indignity of being observed by her neighbors, or a boy arriving from the Corn Belt with a manuscript in his suitcase and a pain in his heart, it makes no difference: each embraces New York with the intense excitement of first love, each absorbs New York with the fresh eyes of an adventurer, each generates heat and light to dwarf the Consolidated Edison Company. Behind me (eighteen inches again) a young intel-lectual is trying to persuade a girl to come live with him and be his love. Each time the Gasogene-cum-Tantalus and Buttons-cum-Commissionaire had a new idea, they en-countered the Conan Doyle Estatea€™s hostility a€” to the BSI, to the BSI, Inc.a€™s modest ambitions, to a new edition of the Canon edited for the Limited Editions Club, even to its traditional American publisher. 1949 saw the first great GM a€?Motoramaa€? at the Waldorf-Astoria, an automotive extravaganza in which Smith was immersed. Television shows like a€?Space Patrola€? were popular, and new names like Ray Bradbury and Robert Heinlein wrote for new magazines like BSI Anthony Bouchera€™s Fantasy & Science Fiction. Member Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, Wine & Food Society of America, Republican. In Asia, Indian independence led to partition, horrifying bloodshed, and the Mahatma Ghandia€™s assassination. Were we embarking on World War III?a€? The decade closed with prospects in Asia gloomy, U.S. A combination of intellectual companionship and sexuality is what they have to offer each other, he feels. Smith as a self-made man of tremendous energy and ability, and a€” despite all the time spent on Sherlock Holmes at the office a€” an outstanding GM man: a€?an amazing intellect,a€? she said, who a€?loved to write, loved words, loved people, and was always learning. Founded, with Cleon Throckmorton, Hoboken Theatrical Co., 1928, producing revivals of a€?After Dark,a€? a€?The Black Crook,a€? etc. He was marvelous to work for because besides being so erudite he was also witty and charming, with a keen sense of humor. Then he has to go to the mena€™s room and she has to go to the ladiesa€™ room, and when they return, the argument has lost its tone. Guggenheim Fellow, League of Nations, Geneva, 1928-29, dir., Geneva office, League of Nations Assoc. And the fan takes over again, and the heat and the relaxed air and the memory of so many good little dinners in so many good little illegal places, with the theme of love, the sound of ventilation, the brief medicinal illusion of gin.



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