The Colonial Theatre Tea Garden

The beauty spot of downtown Richmond was, in 1921, the Tea Garden of the brand-new Colonial Theatre. Herein, we recreate the essence of elegance, joy and hauteur that was once found in Virginia's first real picture palace. Bathtub gin is available at the top of the grand ramps.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

This is going to be a very happy post. I know this, because I'm playing a very happy little record. My Grandfather's little portable Victrola Model 50 is now blatting out "Where the Lanterns Glow." I love this song. It has no meaning whatsoever; it makes no effort for greater thought, nor does it ask the listener to contemplate his worldview.

I also love this song because it was one of Grandad's favorites too. It was "der Allerletzte" when he was seventeen, or so. Just about the time that he was given this little record player that I have now. Every time that I wind this Victrola, I wonder about the earlier D. Gibbs -- I'm pretty sure that he took this thing up to Carlin's Park, and out to Braddock Heights and Pen Mar.

In June, it gets right hot in Baltimore. You know, I was going to devote this entry to summer food, but now that I'm listening to Donald Gibbs' portable Victrola, I'm more interested in the ways that one might escape city heat.

Did you all know that the first purpose of the City's streetcar system was to get everyone to Druid Hill Park? To this day, car line #1 connects the center City with Druid Hill.

When you live in a rowhouse city, it is important to have beautiful green spaces. (See, how modern I am! "Green Spaces," indeed.)

In fact, Baltimore boasts one of the most beautiful Park plans of all American cities. We have--as I believe it is called-- The Necklace of Green around Baltimore's Crown.

That, in effect, is: Patterson Park, connected by Broadway to Clifton Park, which connects via the Alameda to 33rd Street Boulevard, to Wyman Park, to Druid Hill, then down Gwynns Falls Parkway through Leakin Park and southerly to Carroll Park. Now, that I'm thinking about taking some of my friends for a picnic lunch in one of our city's beautiful parks, I can hear my Grandfather's voice ringing clear over his own Victrola:

"Aw, sweet Jesus!!! What're you carryin' on about THAT shit for? Thought I trained you right. Ladies don't LIKE anything they have to think about too much. Fer Chrissakes get two car tickets and take her down to Bay Shore. There's a big dance hall! If you can't get em there you can't get em anywhere!"

When I left the City to go to college, my father--a very polite and proper, but very boring--gentleman, instructed me in the ways of our family's College. He was a bit annoyed by the idea, but he also handed over the banged-up hip flask that his father had taken to Williamsburg.

No one will ever accuse Donald Gibbs of propriety. He was a lot of fun, though. From what I've heard, the nice ladies -- perhaps some who weren't so nice-- of Proper Baltimore in the mid '20s would agree.

When he gave the Victrola to me, Grandad had already taught me how to dance. My father was far too dreary for such things. When my father should have been teaching me how to shave, my grandfather already had, and was busily teaching me how to take shots of rye whiskey, and to make a good Maryland julep.

Thus--no matter what happens, no matter what horrid thing might befall--in my heart, I will always hear my grandfather telling my father

"Sweet Jesus, John--shut up and have a good time won't you?"

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Certain parties who shall remain nameless, but who live in the North side of Richmond, have unfailingly reminded me that I do have a blog, and that I am supposed to be maintaining it. Oh, FINE. I have no excuse. I'm not really DOING anything right now, right?
Exactly. I'm not doing much of anything. Damnit, when you're a teacher, isn't that supposed to be one of the perks? A couple of months' worth of doing absolutely nothing?
I'm sort of doing something. I'm listening to Radio Dismuke, an online sort of thing that plays all of the '20s and '30s stuff I love. Tonight, they're evidently channeling my brainwaves, because they're playing loads of German stuff.
I'll just start with saying that this was, overall, a pretty damned good year. My kids were great. Annoying, occasionally, but that's the job of the teenager. After the horror that was last year at Parkville, my return to Parkville was the teacher equivalent of coming back stateside after a tour in the desert. I don't intend to demean our soldiers with that statement, of course--just that, Parkville was MY version of the worst that one could face on the job.
Then again: as the year faded, I fielded a couple of telephone calls from some of my old Parkville students. Take this, Evil Department Head Girl! These kids still felt that they had learned something from my class, had enjoyed it, and wanted me back. A couple of them wanted some advice on projects. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, you Cecil County trash.
*bleep* Rant concluded.
This week, our first out o' skool, has been more productive than it is usually. I am reorganizing the china and silver. I am also reorganizing the kitchen--which has never been known for its organization, in any case.
I also have a leg up on my canning for the summer. Last week, we said goodbye to one of our Math teachers. Anne has been a great addition to Carver; she arrived during my unfortunate year away. She is brilliant AND is an excellent teacher--the two do not always go hand-in-hand. So, at the send-off party, we had watermelons--well, it IS summer! I snagged all of the rinds and have made watermelon rind pickle. I can't wait until the Hanover tomatoes come into season down home. I'll never forget the time that I hauled three big brown bags of them up to Baltimore on the train. The conductor gave me a right funny look until I explained that these were HANOVER tomatoes. He was surely a Richmonder, because he laughed and said "You sure need all those you can get!" (I was polite and handed over six of them.)
Tomorrow's missions: Mulch roses, finish papering trunk room, begin painting of outside trim. Oh, fart. I'd much rather catch the matinee at the Byrd!