by Horace Sutton
This is an article from the Oct. 1, 1956 issue
The territory of Brooklyn, which is sort of Texas without erl, occupies, to tell the bald truth, the southwest outpost of Long Island, or that bulge of it where the island comes to moor like a giant ship in the harbor of New York.
Linked to Manhattan by eight subway lines, three bridges, one automobile tunnel and a state law, Brooklyn is still separatist enough to think of what lies across the East River as a place called New York, a haven for swells, spenders and the New York Giants. In the secret mind of its citizens it has probably long ago seceded from New York and, were it to do so officially, it would be the third largest city in the U.S. Among its three million citizens, packed 35,000 to the square mile, are more Italians than in Florence, more Jews than in Tel Aviv and very nearly as many Russians as live in Smolensk or Sevastopol.
What brings together this Canarsie cosmography is the common humbleness of beginnings, the common oppressiveness of the highfalutin air that emanates from the lands that adjoin to the west, a common defiant pride in the community and a common emotional identification with the Brooklyn Dodgers, that compleat athletic symbol of the underdog, who last year—if you go by the way such things are measured—played the game of baseball better than anyone else in the world.
For the visitors who stand ready to breach the moat of the East River in case the Dodgers cop the pennant once more, not only are tickets printed, but the beds are turned down and the larders are full. Aliens will find Brooklyn throbbing around its village green, that tree-lined, bench-bordered, pigeon-cruised alleyway that gives on Borough Hall, a town meeting place whose stone steps are decorated with a pair of signs that say, as any Brooklynite can tell you, "No lertering."
A place to loiter before gametime would be Gage and Tollner's, an aged eatery two blocks away which will, on Brooklyn Series game days, open for lunch at 10:30 in the morning. As always, it will serve its standard menu, which offers oysters 22 different ways—from "Baltimore broil" to "crumb fry,"—and littlenecks and cherry stones, 28 ways—from "Boston stew" to "shell roast." "Belly broils," lightly dipped in batter and broiled over anthracite, are an oldtimer's specialty. Waiters wear stars, bars and eagles for longevity, the walls are done in old mirrors and velveteen, and every evening in November you can dine by gaslight glowing from the original fixtures.
The public eats at Joe's, a vast armory of potted palms, ceiling fans, white tiled walls and coat trees, first opened in 1909 by Joe Balzerini, a former bootblack from the Bowery. Joe's is now a scant hundred feet from the Dodger home office and the staff eats there daily. When secret deals are cooking and luncheon guests must be screened from public view, waiters and busboys bring the mountain to O'Malley.
Tucked under the Williamsburg Bridge is a Spartan establishment known as Peter Luger's, which serves ounce-and-a-half drinks, inch-and-three-quarter steaks and two-inch chops. Peter Luger, who started the place in 1887, offered his customers no tablecloths, no menu and no smile, but he became known nonetheless as the Beethoven of Beef and his death in 1941 evoked editorials in New York City newspapers. The third generation runs the house just the same, which is to say you pay according to the weight of the steak, and all you can get at dinner besides meat is french fried potatoes, sliced tomatoes and onions the size of a 16-pound shot.
Brooklyn's largest hotel, the St. George, has added so many rooms between 1884, when it opened, and 1929, when it built its tower section, that it is now the second largest hotel in the country. Ladies and gents can still live on separate floors (at $3.50 the night or $16 a week, including use of the pool), but the hotel is also patronized by bankers and brokers who can, without ever coming up for air, take the subway from an office building entrance in Wall Street and emerge without intermediate stop in five minutes flat in the St. George lobby.
The Dodger headquarters, should the Series return to Flatbush, will be in the smaller, family-type Hotel Bossert, the seasonal home for Clem Labine and Don Bessent. For the occasion the Bossert has a new manager, Se√±or Don Leonard V. Ross, lately the manager of the Wellington, perhaps the most exclusive hotel in Madrid.
Mr. Ross's instructions are that food and drink are on the Dodgers during Series time. Says he, "If there is bread and there is circus everybody is happy." The Dodgers will supply the circus, and Don Leonard will bring on the bread. He is, to be sure, a Ma√Ætre Rotisseur in the Confr√®rie de la Chaine des Rotisseurs, a gastronomic order begun in 1248. Whether this means truffles on the pastrami up on Brooklyn Heights, nobody knows yet. As Truman Capote, that aging Wunderkind, said upon moving to the neighborhood recently, "After all, Brooklyn's only a $1.75 cab ride to Pavilion."
by Rod Van Every
Up by Vliet Street, the legend handed from der Vater to der Kinder down is that Indian tribes paddling into Mee-lee-waug-ee for an early world series of lacrosse were met at the beach by natives bearing a wonderful concoction called Gem√ºtlichkeit.
Since then "Mee-lee-waug-ee," a dirty Winnebago word meaning stinking river (the Association of Commerce denies it) has become Mahn-a-waukee, a Potawatomi word meaning "gathering place by the river"; finally, "Milwaukee," a compromise meaning "beer."
Visitors to the World Series of hardball are likely to have Gem√ºtlichkeit but not "Milwaukee" flung at them from many directions. The stuff really is just "good fellowship; the state of being good-natured, easygoing, cheerful, cordial."
The man in the next seat at the stadium will dispense it when he buys the beers, shares his bratwurst or offers a ride downtown after the game (if he's real smart, he'll take West St. Paul Avenue, much the fastest route).
One should not, however, be carried away by this. Let a stranger make a nasty crack about the weakest of the Braves and he'll have to pull his teeth out of some good burgher's knuckles. The liberty of making nasty cracks is reserved for known fellow sufferers.
Likewise, it is well to take care in the romping. The strait-laced city fathers have loaded the books with ordinances, one of which (although never known to have been enforced) even prevents ogling. And the Milwaukee police department has a national reputation for efficiency and honesty.
The down-slipped "Milwaukee goiter," while attributed by the unknowing to immersion in the city's favorite product, actually has received a strong assist from a native love of eating. This municipal indulgence is reflected in fine restaurants: Mader's and Karl Ratzsch's for sauerbraten: Eugene's Juneau and the Cape Cod for sea food; La Joy's and Old Canton for oriental dishes; George Diamond's, Frenchy's and Lammi's for steaks or sundry. Outlying, for atmosphere, are the Chalet on the Lake, Saxony, Black Steer, Martinique and Wulff's Island.
Should distress develop, there is in town, October 8 through 12, the national convention of the American Dietetic Association. They and others have jammed up hotel facilities in fine fashion. But no one will go bedless, with or without reservations. The A. of C.'s housing bureau will shoehorn everyone in somewhere, and motel rates will not go up; the state law says so.
Within 10 minutes of the Braves' playing field there are several fancy motels. If worst comes to worst, Chicago is only 80 minutes away by train.
As baseball-mad as the city undoubtedly will be if the Braves do take the pennant, the game isn't the only participant sport in Milwaukee. There are in America's 13th largest city, for instance, 2,166 taverns. Divided into a population of 722,000, this provides one saloon for every 334 persons, a nice ratio. Very often all 334 may be found in their saloon.
Other sports for the finding: 2,213 pinball machines, none offering monetary rewards; recorded concerts by the Milwaukee Music Appreciation club, October 4; Bullfight at the Coronet Theater; the Wisconsin Square Dance Jamboree, October 7; 2,590 jukeboxes; Risé Stevens and the Milwaukee Pops orchestra, October 11; an exhibition of international art at the Milwaukee Art Institute, October 10; 984 bowling alleys (after all, Milwaukee is national headquarters for the American Bowling Congress).
The perch fishing is great off the government pier. The deer and bear season are open for bow and arrow hunters, and metropolitan Milwaukee has wild, foot-loose deer. There is no conservation law that says the hunter may not twang an arrow into a deer in downtown Milwaukee. The disorderly conduct ordinance, however, is encompassing.
The bright lights of the Cream City (the name refers to the color of a stone once quarried in Milwaukee, not to cows) never have been fitted with more than 25-watt bulbs, and the arrival of the Braves did not improve the night life. Mama's budget covers occasional seats in the upper grandstand and the family room of the corner saloon but not in a fancy nightclub. The fare: Robin Nelson's Jamboree on Ice (cube) in the Empire Room of the Schroeder Hotel (in Milwaukee one always pronounces it Shrader, not Shroder); the Dave Kennedy jazz quartet at Kodric's; Milton Raymond's band at Fazio's on Fifth; the Frank de Miles quartet at the Holiday House; the Bill Stark trio in the Blackamoor Room of the Wisconsin Hotel.
It is, of course, ridiculous to consider a going-home gift that does not smack of Gem√ºtlichkeit. It is equally ridiculous to believe that a gift-size pony of beer can be transported comfortably, except internally. There remain only two possibilities: sharp Wisconsin Cheddar which the Wisconsin Cheese Mart, 1036 North Third Street, will mail, or the truly fine German sausages of Usinger's, next door.
On the return home, too, the cosmopolite should be equipped to drop a real shocker: Milwaukee is not a German town at all; German foreign-born make up only 2½% of the population. It's just that there is so much Gem√ºtlichkeit.
by Harry Mayo
As a sports town Cincinnati has few rivals—in the daytime. Follow the old Central Parkway down from the suburbs past the courthouse and over the Rhine and you're in a red-hot roost of burghers who, even when the snow is on the stoops and the latch snug on the barroom door, will talk about zem dear old Redlegs right up to bedtime at 9 o'clock.
Alliteratively, Cincinnati has been called solid. Even so, the city of trim family businesses and precision-tool shops has earned its reputation. In its early days it moved with a caution that its late-comer rivals, Chicago and Cleveland, abhorred. But when the Depression struck, it was Cincinnati that suffered least. And now again, as pennant fever hits, it may be Cincinnati that suffers less than either Brooklyn or Milwaukee should its surprising. Redlegs come up short of wins at season's end. It is the flashier, more exuberant types—people who would cross the Ohio River into Kentucky for an evening of gambling and nightclub entertainment—who are cut deepest by tragedy. Solid Cincinnati will wait and, as in 1952 when the city remembered an old name—Porkopolis—and celebrated the 100th anniversary of the hot dog, only to discover it was invented in Frankfurt, Germany, it will be satisfied that it had the right idea anyway.
Indeed, should the Redlegs win the pennant this year, the city may be similarly embarrassed. There are 4,700 rooms in good hotels, and for months 2,500 of them have been guaranteed to a convention of the United Mine Workers. Hotels are not accepting any reservations at all. The Netherland-Hilton, which traditionally houses visiting ball clubs, has said with undue calmness that it has accommodations for two teams. Sportswriters are likewise assured of a place of rest, but the nonworking crowd will have to take its chances.
The variety of choice is, however, excellent. In addition to the Netherland-Hilton, there are the Terrace-Hilton, the Sheraton-Gibson and the Sinton, all within a block or two of Fountain and Government squares. Whether a visitor stays there or not, a visit to the Terrace-Hilton on Sixth and Vine is a must. An ultramodern 20-story plant, it is capped by a glass turret, beneath which is located the Gourmet Restaurant, with a reputation for the finest French cuisine in town. The Maisonette on Walnut Street will argue the point, but nobody will question that both are expensive.
For entertainment after dark, the visitor who is not given to curling up with a good book has no choice but to leave town—for Kentucky. The main attraction is Johnny Ray at the Beverly Hills, just three miles south of Cincinnati. In Covington, where the gambling is not nearly as wide open as it once was but is still available if you can find the right people, there are still a number of good eating places on the Dixie Highway.
But if the Redlegs are in the Series few visitors will require more entertainment than that provided at Crosley Field. Best bet to get there is to take a cab at 50¢ per person. At Crosley even a Yankee fan can enjoy himself with solid Cincinnati.