Monday, October 28, 2013


As a believer in lost causes and dying forms, I do wonder what fate awaits the picture postcard.  I used to love sending and receiving them, but now I wonder how much longer you’ll even be able to find them. There was apparently a time when any self-respecting restaurant, and even many a humble diner, would have postcards printed up as a way of spreading the word about themselves.

And in fact one or two still do – I picked up the one above in a pretty decent Spanish restaurant in Manhattan, but it kind of lacks style - and in any case nobody ever thinks you’re going to send them through the post.  In the age of the tweet and Instagram, who can be bothered to find a stamp and a mail box? 

So, on my travels in New York I was delighted to pick up, in a bookshop actually (another dying form), a couple of rather wonderful old postcards.  The one above for the Horn and Hardart Automat, a place that still has a mythical status as far as I’m concerned.  And this one below for Sloppy Louie’s Restaurant.

When I bought it I’d have said I’d never heard of Sloppy Louie’s, but then I remembered, or realized, that it (and its owner Louis Marino) features in Joseph Mitchell’s Up In The Old Hotel, which In fact I read fairly recently.  Ah memory …

I’m not sure that I’m exactly a postcard collector, but I do pick up interesting ones when I see them; the more curious the better, naturally.  But few old postcards are quite as curious as this one I picked up in Kingston, New York, advertising a current program called “Ales For Alzheimer’s.”  

I’m sure it’s a good and well-meaning cause, and if you wouldn’t necessarily think that drinking beer was the most obvious way of fighting Alzheimer’s, at least, unlike the elephant on the card, booze may be a way of forgetting rather than remembering your troubles. Cheers indeed.

So naturally I started thinking about other charitable options: champagne for shingles, cocktails of colon cancer, rickeys for rickets, cider for cystitis, negronis for necrosis … I could go on.  I won’t go on.

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