Old, New York
By Lou Pastina
It was a rainy, dreary night but we decided to use a gift certificate we got to visit one of the new “speakeasies” that have popped up across Manhattan. This one was called Bathtub Gin on 9th Avenue by 19th Street in Chelsea. We had to make a reservation and went on a Wednesday night when they had a jazz band. The concept behind these new establishments is to take you back in time and immerse patrons in a feeling of yesteryear.
We arrived early, thinking that we would eat, and then decide if we liked the music, stay longer. Apparently, that is frowned upon, and the staff weren’t happy. In their defense, they try to manage the number of people, and don’t allow people to just walk in. They accommodated us and we were welcomed in through the nondescript doorway into a very cool bar scene with an old-fashioned clawed bathtub sitting in the middle of the room. The room was filled with people younger than the mermaid and I, and I am sure none of them had ever actually seen a bathtub like that. But I had grown up with one, so it was not a big deal for me. Years ago, a friend had commented to my mother that it was so nice that we had gotten an antique bathtub. I didn’t want to tell her, but it came with the house, and it wasn’t an antique, it was our bathtub!! This was when I realized that the oldest thing in the bar was me!
There were tin ceilings, which again was how my apartment in Greenpoint was constructed, and a reminder of what was considered old. The cocktail menu was very hip and included mostly gin drinks. The mermaid and I, being out of place, ordered scotches. There is a food menu but mostly appetizer type bites, and I have to say, they were delicious. Our reservation was for 8:30 p.m., and we thought that meant that was when the band would play. We were expecting a roaring ‘20s jazz band, but what we got was a 1980s three-piece band with a singer. They were good, a little loud (yes, I know The Graytrippers are loud too!), and although they were set up and ready to go at 8:30 p.m., the singer didn’t arrive till 9 p.m., so that’s when they started. I would go back, absolutely. But I would not go in the rain. And I would check the music out beforehand. Other nights, they have burlesque, disco, live jazz, and live music nights. So, choose wisely!
This past week, Rockaway lost the lovely Julie Flanagan. She was on her way to her 101st birthday when she passed. Julie was an amazing person, always optimistic, devoted to her faith in God and family. She was born in Manhattan in 1922. In 1920, the number of horses in the United States peaked at 25 million. That means that when she was born, there were probably as many horses in Manhattan as there were cars. That’s hard to imagine. And there were probably real speakeasies in Manhattan. The first stoplight didn’t appear until 1922. Homes only began to get electricity 30 years before. The changes she saw in her lifetime were incredible. She left behind a beautiful family and has joined a beautiful family on the other side. Godspeed Mrs. Flanagan.