Sunday, August 30, 2009

Moon Palace

When I started going out with Helen, in my last year of college, she made me go to strange places I had not visited. Like the Moon Palace. It wasn't far at all, on Broadway between 111th and 112th Streets. It had a huge neon sign giving its name. MOON PALACE. It was a Chinese Restaurant.

Chinese. Totally foreign food to me. It wasn't meat and potatoes. It wasn't a burger and fries. It wasn't even the diner food we were getting on weeknights in the Hewitt cafeteria at Barnard. It was Chinese.

We had to eat someplace on the weekends. I think it took a few rounds of "oh come on" and the suggestion of her just going off without me, see you later. I didn't want that to happen. Every hour together counted. You know how that gets.

I didn't like weird food. This has changed. Well all right, I still have my limits. But at that time, if I didn't already like it, I was practically in fear of eating it. It was that bad. Anyway, see what love does to you. I went there with her. Over and over.

The first time in, I actually had the Broiled Hamburger Steak off the American Dishes section of the menu. It came with vegetables, and had a taste I could not identify. Not bad, but different from what I would expect of a hamburger. I probably whined about it. I don't know how people put up with me.

Anyway I won't whine to you here, OK? Within just a few years, I had about a dozen favorites. I eased into them by us ordering one dish I knew I liked plus one other that Helen picked. If I liked the other one, it could be the one I liked next time.


As you can see, I have a Moon Palace menu. It's on loan from the Seventh Floor Watson Collection. Someone at work took one away long ago, and it's one of the curios we have hanging on the wall.

What could we get?

Sometimes we got the Cantonese Family Dinner for Two. This involved something I know from old books and movies, but which I have never actually seen on any other menu. For the two main dishes, we chose one from column A and one from column B! Actually, they were called groups, but they were in two columns.

The reason was that the dishes in Group A were more expensive. If you were willing to have the less meaty things in Group B you got a price break.

I remember the Won Ton Soup (not bad) and the Egg Roll (never a favorite but I ate it). The ice cream dessert was a scoop of good ice cream with the fortune cookie stuck in the top.

Sometimes we skipped the Family Dinner option and explored the two hundred five numbered choices on the inner pages. The menu calls the dishes Peking and Shanghai style. It had none of the dishes inspired by Hunan and Szechuan food that would become popular in American Chinese restaurants. But there were good things that I haven't been able to find anywhere else.

See that Wine Chicken there. It was chopped pieces of chicken, bones in, looking very white, and marinated in spirits. It's also known as drunk chicken. Notice it's a cold dish. Later I would have wine chicken served hot with vegetables, which is fine but a whole different experience.

Double Fried Pork with Hot Sauce. It's actually twice cooked, being a roast pork that is then further sauteed in a wok with some vegetables. The Moon Palace version had an especially good roast pork. It was the Chinese kind that slices into two-inch ovals with red rims, and it was pleasingly dry, in contrast to the sauce it was in.

Helen likes Moo Sou Pork (usually spelled Moo Shu nowadays). I was never a big fan of that one but we had it sometimes.

Look at those two Chinese Sausage dishes. I don't think we ever had them but I would get one now and see what it is.

I think I joked to Helen repeatedly about Pork with Fish Flavor. If you want fish flavor, why not have fish? And I would point out that there was no Fish with Pork Flavor available.

I don't remember having any of these, but they look great, except maybe the Gingko Nuts with Chicken. I've been told that the nut does not smell anything like the gingko fruit, which smells like vomit, but even so.

Paper Wrapped Chicken sounds interesting. Chicken with Pork in 2 Styles sounds like each meat is cooked the same two ways, and I wonder what they were.

Steak Kow should really be Steak Kew, but I like it as Kow. Chinese menus have to be typeset by people who can read the Chinese characters, and those people are sometimes a little weak on English. This menu is pretty good though. There's no Chicken with Finger, or Beef with Black Leper.

I love the English typeface they used. It has a Deco look.

Some of the good ones are hard to figure from the menu. See Veg w Vermicelli. Any idea what you get? On this menu, the word vegetable referred to one specific vegetable, bok choy, a green leafy vegetable from China. And the word vermicelli meant a thin cellophane rice noodle. These were cooked together in a clear sauce. It was a really pleasing dish with a very light flavor. Helen and I liked having it alongside one of the meaty dishes.

Here's another good one hiding under a simple name. Noodle with Aromatic Beef (In Soup). So, just Beef Noodle Soup? I chose to order this myself even though neither of us had ever had it. It was amazing.

The stock was a beef broth flavored with star anise, the flavoring used for licorice candy. The bowl was generously filled with egg noodles shaped like spaghetti. Placed on top were medallion slices of a Chinese beef, still a little cool, because they were not cooked in the soup. As a result the beef was not soft and overcooked, and the contrast in temperature and in texture was wonderful. The beef was tender, but cooked brown all the way through, slow cooked maybe, and it was a quality cut, not the gristly stuff you sometimes get in Chinese restaurants. This immediately became my favorite Moon Palace dish. And I've never seen it anywhere since.

Half of the last page was devoted to some things Helen and I could not read. I've heard of a tradition in American Chinese restaurants that certain dishes are meant only for Chinese (or Chinese American) customers. That's probably what we've got here. But I think I see a lot of numerals here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 10. And two of the sections seem to be identical. I don't know how this describes menu items. There are perhaps things I am not meant to know.


Words of wisdom from Sir John Timbs's 1856 opus, Things Not Generally Known, as to the chances of the sun being inhabited:

Sir John Herschel concludes that the sun is a planet abundantly stored with inhabitants ; his inference being drawn from the following arguments :

"On the tops of mountains of a sufficient height, at an altitude where clouds can very seldom reach to shelter them from the direct rays of the sun, we always find regions of ice and snow. Now, if the solar rays themselves conveyed all the heat we find on this globe, it ought to be hottest where least interrupted. Again, our aeronauts all confirm the coldness of the upper regions of the atmosphere."

That makes sense, right? This is John Herschel, a well respected scientist important in the development of astronomy, meteorology, and photography, not some nut. I mention this to show what can happen even to smart people. Now I will proceed.

Age of the Moon Palace.

The Palace was huge by Manhattan standards. It looked old and worn, in a comfortable way that appealed to me. I think there were booths along the side walls and tables in the middle. Helen and I assumed it had been there for decades.

No. The New York Times, January 26, 1991, in describing the last day of operation, says that the Moon Palace had been open for 26 years, which makes it 1964 or 1965. It was less than ten years old when we started eating there— which seems impossible to me, from the way it looked. The writer does call it "a cavernous relic of an earlier culinary age", but that's twenty years down the road.

The solution is found on a Picaso photo album that by chance shows a place called New Asia Chop Suey at the same location. The caption says explicitly that the restaurant "became the Moon Palace". So I think what happened is that the Moon Palace took over an existing Chinese restaurant and kept most of the furniture and decor. That's why it looked so old to us.

Authenticity of the Moon Palace.

When I started thinking about this piece, I was going to say what an old fashioned Chinese restaurant the Moon Palace was. The Column A and Column B thing was stuck in my mind. They weren't modern ; they weren't with the trends ; it was an older generation's idea of how to present Chinese food to Americans. Additionally the staff had that Chinese accent, which some people cruelly mock for comic effect, in which they add "ee" to the ends of some words. I've known plenty of Chinese Americans and even people from China, and none of them ever do that. I wonder where it comes from.

The Moon Palace was reviewed by Craig Claiborne in the New York Times number for April 21, 1967, when it was about two years old. He says:

At its best, the food at the Moon Palace ranks with the best to be had at any Chinese restaurant in Manhattan. A dish of shredded chicken with abalone and another of pork shreds with soft bean curd were enjoyed recently with uncommon relish, and they will long be remembered. Both the boiled and fried dumplings are first-rate.

The problem here, as it is in many Chinese restaurants, is to persuade the management that you have an authentic appetite for food leagues removed from chow mein and chop suey. This is a large, unpretentious restaurant near Columbia University, and it seems vastly popular with the students thereof.

That's pretty good! You don't see the word thereof used enough these days. But we do need to take care with the word relish when writing about food.

Fifteen years later, a Times reporter wrote about a dinner at the Palace:

It began with cold appetizers such as hot and sour cabbage and aromatic duck, washed down with Moatai, a fiery 106-proof Chinese rice brandy. Shaoxing, hot rice wine, was served with the main courses, which included quail's eggs in a nest of greens, pork chops rolled in mashed cooked rice and steamed, and shrimp with sizzling rice. A spectacular soup was served halfway through the meal— as it is in China— made with giant carp's heads and laced with large flat transparent noodles. [...] The soup was followed by crispy duck with scallions, fried squirrel fish, and chicken cooked with squid in a rich black bean sauce.

That's not what Helen and I ordered. And I don't see carp's head soup on the menu, at least not in English.

Why the Moon Palace closed.

The story we got from somebody was that the Moon Palace had opened shortly after World War II, and that forty-odd years later, the owners and staff had grown old together and all retired at the same time. That's a nice story.

The Times article from 1991 (vide infra) says however,

The Moon Palace closed for the usual reasons: volume fell off, the rent escalated, and prices couldn't go too high and still be competitive. Dinner for two, with appetizers, main courses and drinks, was less than $30. After two years of litigation with the landlord over a rent increase, the restaurant decided to close.

That's just sad. However the article does mention "the employees, many of whom worked at the Moon Palace for decades", adding that the cook, Larry Pan, had worked all 26 years.

That price, by the way, is three times what my menu says.

Classified ad from the Times, 1971.

The Moon Palace lives in our hearts.

A few years out of college, Helen made me eat another strange food. Pizza. I should tell you that one sometime. We were away on a trip and I was ready to try something exotic. Wow. Some people get their thrills doing whitewater rafting or parachute jumping. But see what I do!

Next time: Twin Towers.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


A staff member of a foundation that had given a grant to the library was surprised that she needed to pay for a library card. Margie was polite but wouldn't budge on this point, and the visitor left. The next person had a valid referral card, and Margie started doing the brief paperwork to get her a reading card. She talked to me as she wrote out the card for our files.

"If they want to get something then it's not a gift", she said to me. "We'll arrange access for them like we do for anybody, irregardless of the gift."

I know she had used the word on purpose for my benefit. But what the hell. "Regardless", I said.


"Regardless, not irregardless."

Margie put the little visitor card carefully into the typewriter, so that the blanks in it would line up with the strike area. "Oh. Didn't hear you there. No, irregardless."

"Irregardless is almost a double negative. It would mean the same as regardful, if that's a word."

Type type. "And that's what I mean. I regard the gift. But it doesn't get them anything."

"You regard it?"

"Regardful of the grant, irregardless of it, giving it my regards, they don't get anything for it."

"No, if you regard it, that means you honor it."

"Sign here and you're all set." And to me: "I give it honor. It doesn't get them a library card."

The visitor signed the card and asked, "Are you two married?"

I had the answer to that one. "I am, but she's not."

I know I gave you that punch line before, but come on, it's good. We've jumped ahead three years from the last college story, and I'm onto my second fulltime job after college. The two staff members of the Library Information Office, Margie and me, handled two main functions: visitor privileges, and clearing students to register after they paid for lost books or overdue fines. Margie, the office head, did mostly the former and I did mostly the latter, but we were fully cross trained.

Margie: tall, blonde, chiselled features, blue eyes, got it? No, probably not ; probably you haven't accounted for the down to business attitude. Margie told me a boy she once babysat for liked to say "I'm tough! I eat rocks!"— and maybe she did too. I liked her. She was so self-confident. She knew herself. She was a few years older than me, but not much.

Being newly married might have had to do with it, but I don't remember being ga-ga over Margie's looks, and instead we settled into a very comfortable work friendship. She was actually a nut. The girl liked to talk. I never knew which stories about Sioux City, South Dakota, I should believe. And did she really work on screenplays with Fred Williamson? She made me want to believe it all... regardless.

Some weird things happened when she was not there and I was doing the visitor privileges side.

One day the nice little old man came in. He had on a good suit and tie. He told me he had an appointment with the Rare Books librarian. I asked him to have a seat and I called up to Rare Books and gave his name. They seemed exceedingly eager that I treat him kindly, and one of them would come down for him, but they needed a few minutes.

No one else was there, so we started talking. He told me he was a hundred and two years old and that he'd lived in the city all his life. With my interest in New York history I was eager to hear him go on. One of us mentioned the Brooklyn Bridge, and he said he would tell me something. When he was a young man, he was walking across the bridge and stopped and sat at a bench next to a woman in black, and they got to talking. She told him she was a Civil War widow. Civil War. He would have been a young man in the 1890s. That's not crazy. So, that's three degrees, me to a civil war soldier, if two brief encounters qualify.

Another one was when Dustin Hoffman came by. His wife at the time was the daughter of one of our librarians, and he came in needing directions to his father in law. Once again I thought it might be good to let him sit and make a call. I should provide you with a good anecdote here, but I can't remember either of us saying anything interesting in the couple of minutes we had together. My character at that time could probably have been played by Dustin Hoffman as The Graduate. "Duh."

Part of my job of clearing registrations had to do with the Controller's office. I got into a nice phone-call relationship with a man called Al over there. For a long time I never met him in person, even though he worked only a few buildings away, across the street from campus. This kind of unseen relationship has happened to me quite a few times in the email world, but this was back in paper and telephone days.

Al was older than me, I could detect, and he had some rank and respect he could use when the situation called for it. He taught me something by example about taking care of customers. His job was not about tuition payments, but only other kinds of "receivables" like library fines. Sometimes there would be confusion that crossed the bureaucratic lines, like charging a student's library and tuition payments to the wrong buckets. It could get into a place where the offices involved could easily fall into pointing fingers at each other instead of helping the customer. Al would not let this happen. He'd say, "I'll take a walk", and that meant he was going to go find the right people and get everything settled. He told me a few times that this wasn't really part of his job, but it was the right thing to do. I liked the concept, and I liked him for doing it. Once in a while, to this day, I sometimes see a bureaucratic mess getting started that I think I can straighten out, even if it goes beyond my official responsibilities. I'll even say, "I'll take a walk", because I found it works out a little better if I go see the people.

But one day Al needed some papers right away, so instead of sending them by campus mail, I said I would take a walk and hand-deliver them. I was going to see him in real life! He told me how to get to his office. I should go in the front door of the building, and downstairs. "At the end of the hall is a door marked NO ADMITTANCE. Go in there and turn right..." Craziest directions I ever heard. And when I went in and turned right, none of the office staff in there seemed concerned in any way about me coming in through that door. Oh yeah, he was a business-suit older guy that I ordinarily wouldn't have paid much attention to, to look at him, but see, I knew him, so it was great to see him.

I cleared registrations by hand-signing papers that the student would bring to the bursar. Get this: they had to pay at the bursar, walk halfway across campus for me to check that the payment receipt matched how much we thought they owed, and then they got to walk right back with my signature on the form to get cleared! I was never sure if the walking was intended to be part of the penalty, or if it was just the best we could do back when everything was done with paper forms.

Believe me, I learned to sign my name fast. This was how I developed my lifetime signature. The bursar's office agreed it could be just my initial and last name, which helped, and the cashiers became very familiar with my particular scribble, since around registration time they saw it over a hundred times a day (no joke).

One day a kid came in to us with the papers and said the bursar wouldn't accept the signature as real. I looked at it. It was something like my signature. I told him it didn't look right to me either, and I wanted to check whether he was clear. He sighed and said he'd already been through this and the signature was real. It was at this point that I told him that what he had there was a forgery of my signature. Now that was awkward. He turned fairly red. He didn't owe all that much either. It was just stupidity. I think he paid and we let it go.

Margie taught me something about processing paperwork. We sometimes had stacks of things to work on, and there were always a few people who at their request were special cases or exceptions. To me, special cases meant you do them first. That's what the people who request such things think they're going to get.

But no, Margie told me to do the normal ones first, because they were routine and we could run through them quickly. We would make ninety-five percent of the people happy by getting their paperwork out the door fast. Maybe that's obvious to you but I hadn't really thought about it. So we would always pull out special cases, or even papers that were too hard to read, and zip through the rest and send them off, and then sit there with the special cases and figure out what to do with them. Let that be a lesson to you.

I would not like to say that we sometimes mocked how people thought for no good reason that the usual rules did not apply to them, because you might think we were cruel. If you think we read off to each other unintentionally amusing answers to routine questions on the application form, to boost our spirits at the end of a weary day, and even considered taping a few of the best ones to the closet wall where only we would see them, you'd think we were not professional. So I will not give you any such ideas. No.

I was in LIO only for a year and few months. Then I moved on, to a promotion to a higher level job supervising the staff at the main circulation desk. Margie left too, a little later, to I don't know where. I'm sure she's knocking them dead someplace. When I first got to that office, I thought it was the most work I had ever had to do, but we had our laughs. It was good.

Before it was the Library Information Office, when I was in college, the room, near the front door of the building, had frosted glass on the doors hiding what was inside, and the gold lettering HEAD PROCESSING on the glass. We told new students that it was for people who studied too hard in the library and needed counselling. Yes, we did.

Photos: Spring flowers at my house, March 2008.

Next time: Moon Palace.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Botanical Garden II

Last time I told you how I learned about the unique greenhouse-like station house at the Third Avenue El terminal at Bronx Park. But there are actually three things that make the terminal unique. The other two are its location and its lower level.

Let me set the scene with a quick historical review. The Third Avenue El was one of the four elevated railways built in Manhattan in a burst of activity from 1878 to 1880. As opened in 1878 by the New York Elevated Railroad, it ran from South Ferry to the end of Third Avenue at 129th Street. Rapid transit was promoted by civic groups and real estate developers because it made possible the expansion of the city beyond the range of commuting by slow street vehicles. A decade later, the same coalition of interests promoted an elevated railway in the Annexed District, later known as the Bronx. The first section, including a terminal at 129th Street and Third Avenue and a Harlem River bridge at the head of Second Avenue, was opened in 1886. Built mainly over Third Avenue, the Suburban Rapid Transit line ran through the neighborhoods already growing around stations on the New York and Harlem Railroad that paralleled it just a few blocks to the west. Compared to the Harlem Line, the elevated railway had more frequent service and a lower fare, but it was a slower ride. As for convenience, passengers going to the business district in Manhattan by either route needed to change trains, at Grand Central or at 129th Street, until through service began operating in 1893 from the Suburban line into the Third Avenue El (Manhattan). The Suburban was extended as far north as Tremont Avenue (177th Street) by 1891 but construction then stalled.

The extension to Bronx Park that we are concerned with happened at the start of the twentieth century, just as the City began construction of subway lines and the transit interests began consolidating companies. The Manhattan Railway, operating the four Manhattan els since 1879 and the Suburban since 1891, constructed the extension just before and after its acquisition by the Interborough Rapid Transit system. The first section up to the end of Third Avenue at Fordham Road (Pelham Avenue at the time) was pretty straightforward, just a continuation of the same type of elevated structure, and was opened to traffic in July 1901. It brought the el to a major east-west road, to St John's College (called Fordham University from 1907), and to the Harlem Line's Fordham station.

For the last stretch to Bedford Park, the company originally wanted to cut over to Webster Avenue at Fordham Road and run over Webster to a final station at 201st Street. The city's Rapid Transit Commission approved this and other elevated extensions in March 1898, but the company rejected the franchises in May because of conditions placed on them. However, by 1899 the company was secretly planning to build to Fordham using the original Suburban Rapid Transit franchise, which also provided for continuation north from there on private property. In January 1900 the state's Board of Railroad Commissioners ordered the extension built, and a week later the Manhattan Railway officially announced that they would build to "the Bronx Park at Bedford Park Station". Construction was underway in June.

However, only the section to Fordham seems to have been put under construction, and as of its opening in July 1901, the continuation to Bronx Park was not even started. A letter to the New York Times back on January 8, 1900, warned that company officials were talking only of extending to Fordham and asked whether it was because of "a niggardly unwillingness to purchase the strip of land which is required for the section northeast of Fordham station". I haven't been able to determine whether that was the sticking point, or whether the company were still trying behind the scenes to get an acceptable franchise via Webster Avenue, but according to an article I'll be citing shortly, the strip of land was acquired "early in 1902".

As constructed, the elevated railway crossed Fordham Road and into the strip of land, private property acquired from St John's College, following along the east side of the Harlem Line. The steel viaduct continued to the end even though there was no street underneath. The end of the line was in a strange landlocked location not directly adjacent to any street. Webster Avenue lay on the other side of the New York Central's Harlem Line, and Southern Boulevard lay even closer but could be reached only if the City's Parks Department would provide a footpath in Bronx Park land.

If this was the Manhattan Railway's second choice, it was not a bad one. The station would serve the neighborhood of Bedford Park, across Webster Avenue, whose residents had campaigned hard for the extension. It would also be an off-peak traffic generator provided Bronx Park access could be arranged. The New York Botanical Garden was just being built and laid out at this time on lands very close to the terminal site. Parts of the large greenhouse now known as the Enid Haupt Conservatory opened in 1900. And lastly the private property also provided much-needed space for terminal facilities, with a wider four-track viaduct and possible use of the land below the viaduct.

Here's an aerial view that we saw in part I, and a satellite view from Google Maps annotated to show the locations.

Land boundaries of 1902 are shown for park land (green), St John's College (maroon), and the Manhattan Railway (blue). The tracks, platform, station house, and walkways are shown in black. The City built an apartment block for senior citizens in the 1980s in former park land.

Joe Cunningham (see part I) reports in A History of the New York Subway System, 1976, that the station opened on May 21, 1902. At that time it seems to have had access only to Webster Avenue. Notice that the elevated railway terminal and the footbridge to Webster Avenue did not encroach on park land. Only the path to the Botanical Garden was inside the park.

The photograph below, taken by Bernard Linder on June 17, 1951, shows the station and the footbridge over the Harlem Line. From the Bulletin of the New York Division, Electric Railroaders' Association, for August 2009.

The Journal of The New York Botanical Garden for March, 1903 had an article on the elevated railway terminal, accompanied by a photograph. Immediately below is the postcard we saw in part I, and under it is the photograph from the Journal.

The point of view of the Journal photograph is almost identical with the postcard, but it was taken at an earlier date. We get a better look at the walkway and the station building with the shrubbery not yet in place. The grounds in the foreground are in a more raw state, and the lamps have not yet been mounted at the start of the walkway to the station.

From the article:


Early in 1902 the Manhattan Railway Company arranged to extend its elevated railroad from Fordham northward to the southwestern corner of the Garden, having purchased from St John's College a strip of land bordering the right-of-way of the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad Company.

The Manhattan Railway Company requested of the Board of Managers of the Garden the privilege of an entrance to the Garden at this point, and after a careful study the following agreement was entered into on April 29, 1902:

The Garden will upon request of the Company forthwith construct a platform designed to afford access to the grounds of the Garden in Bronx Park from the terminal station of the Company adjoining the grounds of the Garden at Bronx Park, said platform to extend from said station along the southerly portion of the Bronx Park about three hundred feet ; and will connect the easterly end of said platform with a path leading to other paths to all parts of the Garden, for use when the Garden is opened to the public.

The approach and viaduct called for in this agreement were constructed during the summer and were opened for use in the autumn. ... The approach from the Garden is of rubble masonry, built of crystalline dolomite quarried from a ledge of this rock which was exposed in grading east of the public conservatories ; this approach is 130 feet long, providing a path 15 feet in width, and it opens against the traffic road of the Garden, leading directly to a path to the public conservatories, which intersects other paths leading to all parts of the Garden. The viaduct connecting this approach with the terminal Bronx Park Station is about 200 feet in length, built on brick piers and has an ornamental iron work cornice and parapet on each side ; the walk, both of the approach and viaduct, is of concrete.

The total cost of the approach and viaduct was $15,426.72, which amount was paid over to the Garden by the railway company, in accordance with the terms of the agreement.

I was hoping to read that an architect involved with the Garden's greenhouses worked on the elevated railway headhouse, but nothing at all is said about the design of the station house. At any event the dates don't line up: the terminal was open on May 21, but the contract with the Garden was dated less than a month earlier, April 29. It's possible the elevated station was still unfinished when it opened, and got its greenhouse roof later in 1902, but my guess is that it was designed that way from the start in faith that access to the Garden would be worked out.

Besides the path to Bronx Park, something else was not completed even as late as February 3, 1903, when a New York Times article blames the "non-completion of the Bronx Park station" for a delay in implementing increased train service until Monday, February 9. The elevated railways were operated by steam locomotives until a massive conversion program to electrical operation was undertaken in 1902 and 1903. Electric operation on the Third Avenue (Bronx) elevated line began July 1, 1902, about three months after Third Avenue (Manhattan), but a mixture of steam and electric trains ran for a time. The schedule changes in February 1903 probably represent the new faster running times made possible once the last steam trains had been withdrawn.

Above are track plans for 1903, left, and 1920, right. 1903 is by H T Raudenbush for Electric Railroads, a publication of the Electric Railroaders' Association. 1920 is by Alan Paul Kahn for The Tracks of New York / number 3 / Manhattan and Bronx Elevated Railroads, Electric Railroaders' Association, 1977.

The Suburban Rapid Transit was built as two tracks with an island platform between the tracks at each station, as shown at 183rd Street and Fordham Road in the 1903 plan. The structure was modified in 1915 to have three continuous tracks, with side platforms at most stations, to allow for express trains in the main rush hour direction. As shown in the 1920 plan, 183rd Street was a local stop and Fordham Road was an express stop.

The 1920 plan also shows the Webster Avenue extension that was approved in 1913 and opened in 1920. This was practically the routing the Manhattan Railway had requested to begin with back in 1898, except that now it had to be grafted onto the constructed route. It was not possible to continue straight on from the Bronx Park station, not only because of the greenhouse station house blocking the way, but mainly because the city would not allow an elevated line in park land. The first elevated railway had been allowed to run through Battery Park in the 1870s, but fighting the encroachment became a perennial political issue even as late as 1900. No further occupation of park land could ever be allowed. The extension had to branch off south of the Bronx Park terminal.

Keeping the Bronx Park terminal open as a stub off the new main line was useful for operational reasons. Ridership was lower north of Fordham Road, so it made sense to turn back half the trains (or more) at Bronx Park. And on the extension, north of Gun Hill Road the Third Avenue trains had to merge with subway trains, so not all the el service could operate there anyway.

And of course, the terminal had something else in that the company wanted to keep: the lower level. You thought I forgot, right?

As Myron Levitsky wrote (part I), under this portion of the elevated railway there was "a kind of scrub parkland". At the Bronx Park terminal, the Manhattan Railway economically used the available space under the el structure for a storage yard.

Joe Cunningham mentioned how trains got down there: a car elevator. This is a singularly inefficient way to move trains up and down, compared to even a single track ramp, so you know something strange was going on.

The lower level was used to store something that people today would never expect, something that was taken out of storage each spring and put back each fall, like you'd put things away in the attic.

Open cars. They had rows of bench seats running all the way across, and half-doors for safety, but otherwise they were open along the sides. They also had curtains that could be pulled down in case of rain. One demonstration car arrived in January 1902, and the main order of 35 more arrived from May to July 1902.

The photograph below of the first open car was taken early in 1902 at the 99th Street Yard in Manhattan. Staff, like the gentleman standing on the left, stood on the little end platform and worked the doors with the big levers you can see on the ends. The striped curtains are just visible below the roof line.

From The Tracks of New York / number 3 / Manhattan and Bronx Elevated Railroads, Electric Railroaders' Association, 1977. I date the photo to early 1902 for two reasons. First, the first car was only briefly numbered 142 as we see here, and then renumbered 1219 to group it with the other open cars, 1220 to 1254. Second, the old car partially seen on the far left dates to the opening of the Third Avenue El in 1878, and all of its type were retired at the end of steam service in 1903. I know the location by comparison to other photos of 99th Street Yard that show the tower and the curving track in front of it.

On June 1 the New York Times reported passengers on the few cars in service as saying "it is too good to be true". The usual "faultfinders" expressed their doubts:

The passages for entrance are somewhat narrow, and it was at first feared that some people, particularly women with voluminous skirts, would have some trouble in stepping on and off the cars. ... Some humorous incidents occur, in the cases of men or women who dozed in the cars, and before they knew it they found themselves hatless. ... There was a fear that during rush hours, the gate being low, people would not hesitate to jump off while the train was still in motion.

From Cunningham and De Hart, A History of the New York Subway System, 1976. This is another photo from early 1902, showing the first car when it was still numbered 142.

If you've been comparing dates you will notice that the open cars arrived while electrification was underway and just after the Bronx Park terminal was completed. They ran only on the Third Avenue Line, and usually on locals to Bronx Park, their home base.

They must have been exciting. You'd be riding high over city streets with the wind in your face and all the sounds and smells coming right at you. Imagine the thrill of seeing that open drop to the street below, if you rode on the outer side of the viaduct. Imagine crossing the Harlem River bridge. If you rode on the track side, imagine sticking your arm way out and having it yanked off by a passing train!

About two weeks ago, I wrote in draft, "Little is known about the lower yard at Bronx Park". But I've learned a lot in two weeks.

Here are two views from trains looking north toward Bronx Park terminal. The elevator is within pipe railings, right in front of the tower. The first one is by Bernard Linder, June 17, 1951 ; you can see the greenhouse station roof in the distance. In the second one, from Charlie's Third Avenue El page, you can see a train on the Webster Avenue extension on the left.

Here is a view looking south, again by Bernard Linder on June 17, 1951.

In his book New York Subways / An illustrated history of New York City's transit cars, Gene Sansone writes,
In the off-season the trailers were stored in sheds under the small yard directly under the Bronx Park spur. ... Since these storage tracks were never electrified, a Forney steam engine was used to shunt the cars.
The open cars were trailers, which means they had no electric motors and had to be run with other cars that did. The Manhattan Railway usually ran trains of three motor cars and two trailers, so the open cars would be found one or two per train, and never as the end cars.

The Manhattan Railway had about 350 surplus steam locomotives once electrification was complete in 1903. The Forney design was a tank engine that could be operated in either direction. A handful of the engines were not sold, but were kept for non-passenger duties, among which apparently was the seasonal move of open cars in and out of storage.

Charlie writes,
The car elevator at the Botanical Garden Terminal was used to lower and raise the open cars, which were stored in the brick storage building under the walkway at the north end of the terminal. There was also a transfer table which positioned the cars in front of the doors of storage building.
Most amazingly, Charlie even came up with a picture of an open car in the lower level, from some printed source, possibly the only such photo in existence. It's hard to make out details, but I think the car is on the transfer table, which is a section of track that moves sideways to position a car from the incoming track to one of the parallel tracks it will be stored on. Here:

Gene Sansone writes,
These cars proved to be very popular. An additional order for sixty trailer cars was planned but changed or cancelled at the last moment. The Manhattan open cars were last used in regular passenger service during the summer of 1917.
The car roster records that most of them were sold in 1918, but for some reason eight were retained. Five were converted to flat cars in 1925 and three just scrapped... in 1938!

Charlie wrote in a comment on part I, about the elevator:
I actually got to ride it down and back up once.
This surprised me a lot. I don't know what the lower level was used for once the open cars were mostly sold off in 1918, but the elevator still worked until some date near the end.

The Bronx Park station was closed on November 14, 1951. A coalition of political leaders and real estate investors had begun to chip away at the Third Avenue El to promote new building along the line in Manhattan, even though the long-promised Second Avenue Subway to replace it was nowhere in sight. The South Ferry branch closed in December 1950, leaving just the branch to City Hall as the southern terminal. Three months later night and weekend service was eliminated south of 149th Street. The number of trains was gradually reduced. It was a slow process intended to drive away riders and justify further cuts until the line was closed. By November 1951 there was no longer any need to maintain a terminal at Bronx Park. Routing all the remaining trains onto the Webster Avenue extension was simpler and provided minimal service there. All service south of 149th Street was ended in 1955, leaving only the Bronx portion of the el. This last section was in turn closed in 1973.

Roger Wines, Professor Emeritus of History, Fordham University, remembers the station:
Having grown up on els and subways, I thought it was a gem, in its country setting. My first year at Fordham College I used to take the train to it once in a while, when coming uptown or downtown on the 3rd Ave El. The train marked "Botanical Garden" would pull in. There was usually another train waiting at the other platform or alongside ready to go back downtown The station had a small glass dome, which echoed the theme of the Garden greenhouses. It gave you a wonderful light airy feeling, very UN-subway. A stone causeway took you to terra firma, the Garden or the back gate of Fordham. I always thought of it as the real Fordham University station.
I went to the site on August 12, 2009. Nothing remains. There is a short section of stone wall near the Harlem Line that might be the base of the footbridge to Webster Avenue, and some cut stones at the edge of the Fordham Prep campus that might be from the Botanical Garden walkway. The elevated property has gone back to Fordham University and has been encroached on by buildings over the past half century. Here are some of the stones near the station site:

You should look at Charlie's web pages about the elevated railways. There are more images at under Early Transit.

If you like Bernard Linder's photos and the history of subway and elevated lines, you might want to join the New York Division of the Electric Railroaders' Association and get their monthly Bulletin.

Next time: Information.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Botanical Garden I

In November 2007 a reader of my Abandoned Stations page, Myron Levitsky, wrote me by email:
Do you know about the Botanical Garden station of the Third Avenue El that once existed? It was at the end of a spur that branched off north of the Fordham Road station on land that has now been cut off from the rest of the Botanical Garden and is a part of Fordham University. The head-house of the station was patterned after the glass greenhouse in the Botanical Garden. I have been wondering if any photos exist of the station. I have never seen one. Have you?

What? The head-house of the station was patterned after the glass greenhouse! No, I didn't know that. I was therefore sure I had never seen a picture of it. That would have stuck in my mind.

I've been intrigued by the history of the New York transit system for forty years, and I have to admit that by now it takes a lot to surprise me. But an elevated railway station in the form of a greenhouse? OK, that got me. I had to see a picture.

I knew exactly where the station once was. When I attended Fordham Prep (see Huge Hall) my friend Michael told me about it. We walked up to the edge of the campus near the Garden, and we could see the walkway that had led from the road to the station, although the station itself was gone.

Most of the Third Avenue El in the Bronx was still running at that time. If you rode north from Fordham Road station, it was pretty easy to see where the original route had once diverged to the right. Below, here's a great view from the front window of a train, June 6, 1954. It still looked pretty much like this when I saw it.

Photo by Frank Pfulher, © 2007. From

I asked Mr Levitsky to tell what he remembered of it, and he wrote:
There was a path that ran down through the Botanical Gardens on a gentle incline from the still existing greenhouse to the station — the path ended in an open deck that looked over the New York Central tracks. Some years ago, I went up to the Botanical Gardens, looking for the path down to the station. It's still there, but it ends about 200 yards short of where the station used to be in a high metal fence and a wide paved road lined with parked cars on both sides. The other side of the road seems to be a part of the Fordham University campus. There appears to be nothing left of the Botanical Gardens station.

The station itself was a glass-enclosed pavilion about forty feet square, with a glass mansard roof and an ornamental clerestory on top. The entrance to the station was on the north side, off the deck. Inside, there was a change booth and a row of the old horizontal wooden turnstiles that made a very characteristic clunking noise every time a passenger went through. On a hot summer day, an aroma of tar and creosote hung over the whole scene — creosote from the train tracks and tar from the stuff the Botanical Gardens used to pave its paths.

I remember the turnstiles. They were in the el stations to the end. Here's a picture of one at the Fordham Road station, taken just after the line closed in 1973. You dropped a token into a box on the right side, which was gone by the time this photo was taken, and that released a mechanism that unlocked the turnstile. As you entered, the turnstile made a quarter turn and locked again with a big clunk.

From American Memory, Library of Congress

But back to the greenhouse station.

My friend Michael, a lifelong resident of the Bronx, was as interested as I was in finding a picture of it, and the search was on. Before long at all I got the first hit, a postcard being sold on Ebay. Michael bought it, and here it is. This is the "
path that ran down through the Botanical Gardens on a gentle incline".

That's not the Botanical Garden greenhouse on the right: it's the station house! We've got the garden itself behind us, and we're looking across Southern Boulevard (much narrower than it is today) at the path leading to the station, which is partially visible in the far background.

Below is an enlargement of the station house, with a little digital processing to try to bring out detail. The postcard is grainy. It looks like there is a porch around the building, "
a glass-enclosed pavilion about forty feet square, with a glass mansard roof and an ornamental clerestory on top".

Below is an enlargement of the left side, showing some details of the outer end of station. You can see one elevated car in the center, with more of the train obscured by shrubbery to the right. To the left is a one-story structure with windows ending in a two-story tower.

A bit of email talk on what we see there:
Me— What do you think of the white building to the left of the train? The buildings on Webster Ave seem to be in a haze, so this white building is closer, on the el. My guess is it's crew quarters, since this is a terminal, and the little 2-story portion is a control tower for the switches at the approach. The train seems to be immediately in front of the white building, indicating that it's between the tracks.

Michael— I think so. Woodlawn Road used to have something like it at the south end, I think, that's now gone ; and Broadway/VC Park has a structure built over the tracks that might replace something formerly at track level.

Joe Cunningham— You are absolutely correct — that building is identical to those constructed by the IRT/Manhattan Company for crew quarters, dispatcher's offices, material storerooms, etc. Similar structures were found throughout the system at East 180, 177 West Farms, Pelham Bay, Willetts Point, etc. They were a generic design adapted to various uses. The signal tower was, I believe, manual "Armstrong" type until the end, as was that at South Ferry. It would likely also have controlled the lead to the car elevator which would have been within the 500' range of mechanical or "pipe" thrown switches.

The Armstrong switch controls Joe described were thrown mechanically with no power assist. The switchman, in the tower, would engage his full body weight on a long floor-mounted lever to move the series of metal rods that ran inside protective pipes all the way to the tracks where they moved the switch points.

The photograph at right was taken by Bernard Linder on June 17, 1951 in the switch tower and proves that the Armstrong levers were still there five months before the terminal closed. From the Bulletin of the New York Division, Electric Railroaders' Association, for August 2009.

The car elevator Joe mentioned is something I'll come back to.

Michael found and bought another card a week later that gives us the reverse view. Now we can see that the path runs on a masonry structure leading to the garden. This is what we would have seen from the elevated station house or platform. The huge greenhouse in the Botanical Garden is of course still there today and is now known as the Enid Haupt Conservatory.

A map will clarify where this is. At the end of Third Avenue, at Fordham Road, the elevated railway continued into a private right of way along the east side of the New York Central Railroad which brought it to the Bronx Park terminal station at the Botanical Garden. The later extension of the el started from the junction north of Fordham Road that we already saw in a photograph, crossing over the New York Central and continuing over Webster Avenue.

From the "World's Fair Edition" (1939) of Geographia's Complete Street Guide to New York / Manhattan and the Bronx

Mr Levitsky described it this way:
The spur to the Botanical gardens separated itself from the main tracks of the Third Avenue El just north of the Fordham Road Station in a flat junction. The main line of the El made a sweeping curve to the left over the tracks of the New York Central Harlem Division, then went north to Williamsbridge where it made a right turn onto Gun Hill Road, crossing the New York Central tracks again and joined the Lexington Avenue subway that went up White Plains Road. The Botanical Gardens spur ran up along the east side of the New York Central tracks on an elevated structure, although there was no street under it , only a kind of scrub parkland that was probably a part of the Botanical Gardens [actually Fordham University —Joe B]. The station itself was a two track affair with an island platform between the two tracks and outside platforms, so that the trains could open their doors on both sides.

We found an aerial view on the web. It's on Digital Metro New York. The photograph came from the Bronx Chamber of Commerce, and it's a work print marked up to show how another print should be cropped for publication or presentation.

First, here's most of the view. North is to the right. The lower half of the image, below the blue line, is the Botanical Garden, with the huge conservatory on the left. In the upper half of the image, the Third Avenue El on Webster Avenue forms a strong left-right line, and in the space above can be seen Mount Saint Ursula (mentioned in Huge Hall) on the left and the Mosholu Parkway on the right.

Now here's an enlargement of a section on the left side. The dome of the station house shows as white. You can see the path we saw in the postcards, curving up from Southern Boulevard and then running straight over the masonry structure to the station. This view shows that besides the path to the Garden, there was also a footbridge over the New York Central tracks to Webster Avenue.

See the freight cars on the New York Central? Mr Levitsky recalled:
I used to annoy my father by making him wait while I looked for the trains along the tracks below, but since we usually went to the Botanical Gardens on Sunday, there was often a long wait between trains. There was a small freight yard on the other side of the NYC tracks about 8-10 tracks wide with a small interlocking tower at the north end of the yard — just south of the present Botanical Gardens station of Metro North — that controlled a set of crossovers and access to the yard. There was also an icehouse in the yard complex — I don't know if it made ice for refrigerator cars or for domestic use — at the time, most apartments did not have refrigerators and used iceboxes. All this is now gone.
Michael added:
I remember the old pathway over to the site of the former station. It lasted until the Rose Hill apartment building was built in the 1980s. There had been garages, used by the Botanical Gardens, I think, under it.

At the end overlooking the railroad, it had wrought iron railings on the north and west side, but just a pipe railing on the south, where I assumed the el station was. Note that the passage to Webster is offset south of the passage to the park ; hence the original wrought iron at the end of the walk from the Gardens.

It looks as if the Gardens weren't fenced off from Southern Blvd at the time.

I also remember the small freight yard clearly. I think there was a stone cutting business there, that got loads on flat cars. You can still see traces of rusty rail in the weeds along side the Harlem Line there. Behind the boxcars on the left you can see what appears to the the structure for the overhead crane at the stonecutters that I remembered.

The first brick building east of Webster and south of the passage is the old NY Central substation, which is still standing.

Below is one more aerial view, a detail of a large image of Fordham University made in about 1930.

You can see the domed station, and the walkways to the Garden (right) and Webster Avenue (left). Below it, we can see the island platform between two tracks, with trains on both tracks, and a third track on the left with no platform. The junction with the Webster Avenue extension is near the bottom.

The white rectangle just below the station platform is the site of the car elevator.

Next time: Botanical Garden II / The Secret of the Lower Level.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Demon Alcohol

I came to college not a drinking man.

We were handed cups of beer at college events starting at Orientation. The legal age in New York was 18 then, so we all qualified. I don't remember any checking of ID, and although there's a lot I don't remember, I think there was a tacit understanding that if you were in college you were 18. I was really 18 anyway.

Beer! I just didn't like the taste of it, but I'd take a cup and try to act my age, so to speak, and then not go for more.

To this day I don't like the kind of bland mass market American beer they were serving. I'd rather an ale or bitter, or stout. I didn't know there was better stuff. Maybe at that time I would not have liked any kind of beer.

Back then I didn't like anything bitter, which is what I like now in an ale. I see this in my college-student daughter now. She won't even try broccoli rabe, something I was turned on to just a couple of years ago by my friend George. Ooh is that bitter. But it's great.

When I wonder about things I could have done differently in college, one of them is to have friends who went to bars. Think of the trouble I could have got into. Think of the trouble I could have avoided, too. Imagine if we'd been able to have a few pints and talk about our hopes and dreams, and how crazy life is. My life was like one of those sitcom plots where if the characters had just been straight with each other, the story would be resolved in a minute and a half. But who says what they're really thinking?

I just tried to write an alternate college story but it's awful. I couldn't just let it go at having a couple of beers with friends and feeling nice together, like I would do now.

No, I got dramatic, and wrote an outline for a Lifetime movie instead. You might as well see it.

When we got off work at eleven I'd say to Mary, no more studying tonight: let us go to the bar. Or I'd say it to Lisa. Or I'd call Rachel. Or I'd talk to that cute girl over there in the reading room who I caught looking at me a couple of times. Nah. It's got to be Mary. She's the most fun to write.

Mary and I would go to the Marlin and down an infinite series of ales and shots, and nuzzle each other's necks, and stagger back to one of our places to do things you can hardly do at all when you're that drunk. We'd act obnoxiously to everybody around us. After a few times people would sigh when they see us coming.

Then we'd start going off to bars earlier on days neither of us worked late. Eventually we'd lose our library jobs for not showing up, and struggle to keep a C average, and then break up a year later arguing over our impossible differences. Differences like whether it's a shot and an ale, or an ale and a shot. The only dream we'd fulfill would be getting to bars in time for happy hour.

Mary would go back to her home state, and spend her days sewing blimp skins at the Goodyear works in Akron and her nights having drinks with the girls from work. I would never see her again. I would never have met Helen and we'd never have had our daughter. Feeling somehow the unbearable loss of something that never was, one day I'd jump off a steel truss bridge in the darkness on the edge of town but be pulled to shore by Clarence, who would start reviewing this version of my life with me and then go jump off himself.

I would never write a blog.

Don't steal this idea. I will write a Treatment and send it to Hollywood.

Where did that come from? Demon alcohol? I don't know.

It's always from childhood, right, doctor? My parents used to have relatives and friends over and have mixed drinks, with no bad craziness happening. My dad finished the basement of our house and built in a bar. The room had knotty pine panelling. It was a Mad Men set. This was all off-stage though. We could play down there during the day, but if people were coming over, we kids were tucked in our bedrooms while the mysterious adult world went on below. My parents did not have wine with dinner, or sit around drinking beer in front of the television. I don't know what kind of Irish American this was. Ambulances did not call at our house. So I'm really not seeing any origin there.

I ended the last college story, Dinosaur, as I was about to enter senior year. I'll continue that sometime. But I'll say one thing about it now. Where I lived then, we had a much more congenial dorm environment than before, and I enjoyed the group of friends we formed. Sometimes one of the regulars would have a jug of cheap burgundy. I didn't like the sour taste of that much either, but I certainly drank my plastic glass of it along with everyone else. I think most of us were making faces at the taste, and rightfully so. For just a few dollars more we could have had much nicer wine, but who knew? As far as we knew, this is what people drank. It must be an acquired taste. Yeah, that's it. Well, no. Cheap wine is... feh.

So I left college thinking that I just didn't like alcoholic drinks. I rarely had any for quite a while. I would only drink at some kind of event where people were having some.

For years afterwards, Helen and I would have beer or wine once in a while. And one bottle of rum around Christmas, to mix with egg nog over the course of a couple of weeks. Alcohol was an extra expense at a time when we didn't have much money. Well, also, we'd have a beer or a glass of wine at dinner with Helen's parents, and sometimes my dad and I would have rum and cokes when we visited my parents in their retirement house in the eighties. Nothing interesting here.

I can think of two times where I got really drunk. That's what you want to hear about, right? I knew it. Maybe you think that's sad, that there's only two times, both of them long ago, and that I can remember them. Maybe you can outdo me with stories where you woke up not remembering what the hell happened the night before, maybe with some surprising person sleeping next to you. I'm afraid these aren't that exciting. You don't want me making things up, do you? Why I would never. Put it this way, maybe there were more, and I don't even remember the next day, so I can't write about them. Can you prove it didn't happen?

The first one was a going-away party for somebody I worked with. I don't remember who. This was just a few years out of college. About a dozen of us went to a place on Broadway called Forlini's, down to the basement room. We had beer after beer after beer, talking away to each other the whole time. The event had a good feeling to it. We were sitting there pouring beers from the pitcher, and who was counting? Eventually I needed to visit the bathroom, and I remember practically feeling my way, touching walls and tables for balance. I was very dizzy. I had to carefully think through the familiar routine of urinating in order to perform the steps correctly. I think I did all right.

Back at the table, one of the girls next to me recommended having some protein in order to continue. This was a new idea to me that I have kept in mind ever since. It was good to have someone there who knew what she was doing. When the waitress came by most of us ordered hamburgers or something. Much later when we called it a night, I was able to find my way home three blocks away to where Helen was waiting patiently for her nut of a husband to get back. Some others had to go much farther. I don't remember the next morning but I know who I woke up with.

The second one was with Helen. When she was in graduate school one of her friends held a tequila party. Her friend's apartment was just down the block from where we lived.

This might have been the same party where some of them brought homemade food. Whenever that was, I want to mention that a grad student from northern Italy made a dish of pasta with cream sauce and peas, which was very good. She explained the Italian plan of putting just a small amount of sauce over pasta, in contrast to the American style of drowning it in tomato sauce. I have remembered that, and I like it better the Italian way. Now back to the party story.

Tequila! It is probably significant that in all the years since, I have never felt like purchasing the product. It's so bad. We compared the taste to kerosene, although I think none of us had ever tried kerosene. It's not like when I say something tastes like chalk, and I flash to a childhood memory of actually tasting chalk. And pencils, and erasers. Remember those yellowish gummy erasers that were a little crumbly? They tasted kind of good in a weird way. I wonder what they were made of. The texture was almost like a block of Parmesan cheese, which really does taste much better than eraser. Oops. Focus.

We all drank so much tequila that night. I mean we just kept filling glasses. I cannot possibly tell you how much we consumed. Maybe someone should have died. Tequila is typically around 80 proof, 40 per cent alcohol. I think we were drinking it straight up. We made some attempt to put salt on the glass, but that made it taste even worse. It did not stop us. We dozen or so finished the generous number of bottles that had been provided, and someone went out and got more. One of us was tossing lime slices out the window to 113th Street, but it wasn't me.

Our hostess eventually announced that the party was over and we should all go home. She had no memory of this later and was horrified that she had told us this. But my recollection is that we were waiting like sheep for some signal to stop, and that when she let us know it was time, we all just stood up together, thanked her for her party, and left. No problem. I think she did us a kindness.

Helen and I went home thinking that we would pay dearly the next morning. But no. We woke up bright and early and felt great. That is a bad lesson for the young folks. I have no idea how our bodies managed to bounce back so easily. We were young folks then. We could repeat the experiment and see how we fare now, but no, you know what, not all possible facts need to be known. I'm good.

That's about it. No lives were wrecked in the creation of this story.

If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to be a horrible warning.

— Catherine Aird (via Joey Comeau, A Softer World)

Next time: Botanical Garden.