MAPS | USGS bonanza online, courtesy of U.N.H.

WestchesterA detail from the 1891 U.S. Geological Survey map of the Harlem, NY-NJ Quadrangle that shows southern Westchester County.

As you may have guessed from various posts over the two years I’ve been operating, I love maps.

The affinity for cartography is a trait inherited from my mother, who is obsessed with atlases, maps and where things are, were and will be. Given that most of her life — save for stints in Europe and Jamaica in the 1960s and 1970s — has been spent in Morris County, New Jersey, it seems fitting that she hung a giant school-room map of the county in our den about 10 years ago. Also in her collection is a soil map of Sullivan County, New York, where we own a home; a vintage Sullivan topo that includes our pond there; and a 1921 road map of New Jersey.

Topos are always fun — don’t you want to know the elevation of Amherst, N.Y.? I do. I was delighted by the recent discovery of a massive online archive of U.S. Geological Survey topos. The maps, housed by the University of New Hampshire’s Dimond Library Documents Department, cover all of New York and New England.

Here’s a little gallery of historic topos of places that interest me:

CORRESPONDENCE| Letter, bill from 1926 Lake Placid News publisher

LetterThis letter, written in 1926, is a lovely little piece of Adirondack journalism history.

In 1925, when George Lattimer of Newark, N.J. bought the Lake Placid News, the “Mirror of the Heart of the Adirondacks” was 20 years old and boasted as many as 12 broadsheet pages each Friday. Lattimer, who had worked as a reporter on the paper after graduating from Colgate in 1912, took the helm from Daniel Winters, founding editor and publisher, on July 1. Lattimer’s wife, the former Grace Chatfield, was a Lake Placid native.

I recently came into this letter, addressed to Town of St. Armand Supervisor Sidney W. Barnard, who operated a general store in Bloomingdale for years, and accompanying bill for the printing of Barnard’s annual report. Dated April 13, 1926, it is evidently an early communication between Lattimer and Barnard. Lattimer refers to Winters and wonders if he’s charging Barnard too much. There a couple of other interesting items on the letter:

• The paper’s flag, seen at the top of the sheet, was in use until at least 1973 and was revived in the 1996 redesign and has survived several design updates since.

• I love the slogan on the left hand side of the letterhead: “A High Grade Medium at the Highest Altitude in New York State.

• In his closing paragraph , Lattimer expresses his hope that Barnard has recovered from a recent illness. He writes, “Hope that you have entirely recovered from your recent illness. If the powers that govern such things get rid of the snow and ice I’ll come over to see you one of these so-called spring days.”

Here’s the bill, which employs a variant of the paper’s slogan under Lattimer and charges Barnard $.07 a line for 352 lines of agate type, totalling $24.64. Barnard is also charged $.50 for 10 copies of the $.05 cent News. The bill is notarized by a Mary C. Moynihan.

Take a look:


ART| John Held, Jr. illustrations define the Jazz Age

Held1The cover of the Dec. 17, 1925 number of Life is graced with a John Held Jr. illustration of an athletic flapper.

I first became aware of the illustrative genius of John Held Jr. while researching a paper on “The Great Gatsby” in 1995 or 1996. His images of twiggy, angular young women gave life to the image of the Flapper, those charming, hard-drinking, hard-smoking and liberated women of the glorious Jazz Age.

Born Jan. 10, 1889 in Salt Lake City Utah, Held sold his first illustration to Life at age 15. At 16, he joined the staff of the Salt Lake Tribune as a sports cartoonist and by 1912, he had come east to the capital of American culture, New York. After the interruption of World War I, Held began successfully placing his work in a range of magazines, but his covers for Life, depicting the glories, foibles and evolving mores of the decade. Held’s subjects drink, they smoke, they play sports, drive cars and generally carouse. Simply put, they are icons of 20th-century illustration and graphic design.

When not drawing illustrations, Held occupied himself with woodcuts, creating cartoons for The New Yorker, which was edited by Harold Ross, an old pal from Salt Lake City.

After the crash, Held returned to newspaper work. Two strips, “Margie” and “Rah Rah Rosalie” had brief broadsheet runs in the early 1930s. Though his work is identified almost exclusively with the 1920s, he continued to work as an illustrator until his death in 1958.

FIND| ‘The Lake Placid Country: Trampers’ Guide,’ 1922

MapA detail of a map from “The Lake Placid Country: Trampers’ Guide.”

When I was the editor of the Lake Placid News, we ran a series of feature stories on historic hikes — walks along forgotten trails around the northern Adirondacks. One of my writer’s key guides to this series was “The Lake Placid Country: Trampers’ Guide.” I recently acquired a copy of this little piece of Adirondack history.

Trampers GuideAt left, the cover of “Trampers’ Guide.”

Published in 1922 by the Adirondack Camp and Trail Club, an offshoot of the Lake Placid Club, the guide was assembled by T. Morris Longstreth, a prolific travel writer whose work includes a long list of books on the Adirondacks, among them the great “Mac of Placid.” “Trampers’ Guide,” features 60 hikes of various difficulty in and around Lake Placid and the surrounding High Peaks. Longstreth’s writing is terrific in its simplicity and accuracy. Many of these hikes could be similarly described today. The book also includes a few automobile drives, a suggested canoe route around Placid Lake and a wonderful introductory passage that includes this gem:

“Lake Placid has an exhaustless wealth to offer. It is a wild Eden with a little arboretum of knowledge in the center; or rather, it is a nucleus of civilization set within a beautiful wilderness dedicated to adventure.”

The greatest treasure of the “Trampers’ Guide,” though, are the wonderful maps that are appended to its pages. My copy has four, though it have had included more when it was published. The best map, which details trails around the village and Mirror and Placid Lake, is attached to the book’s cover as an endpiece. The others detail the Ausable Lakes in St. Hubert’s, the Heart Lake area and the roads and highways around Lake Placid.

Does anyone know more about Longstreth? Neither the Times’ nor the Lake Placid News’ archives yielded an obituary. Does anyone have any other maps from this guidebook?

Take a look at these maps:




FIND| Your grandparents got strange too

KeggerSome of the revelers on view at Keggers of Yore.

You remember My Parents Were Awesome, right? Well if you got a chuckle looking at all those beehive hairdos and David Cassidy impersonators, you should thoroughly enjoy Keggers of Yore, which is basically MPWA soaked in a giant vat of Seagram’s V.O. and yellowed by the smoke of thousands of Pall Malls. Wow.

Rest assured that all those wild nights in college — those times when you agreed to that last Jaeger shot as the pink glow of dawn crept over the horizon — were largely based on your genes. So pour yourself a glass of Cold Duck and enjoy.

And thanks to Clarke for passing this find along.

Kegger2Images courtesy of Keggers of Yore.

COCKTAILS | The Pegu Club, a classic gin drink from the east

PeguThe Pegu Club Cocktail, a traditional gin cocktail whose recipe was invented at a British officers’ club in colonial Myanmar.

During my recent research on the Old Cuban, the champagne-mojito cocktail served at Bemelman’s Bar, I came across the Pegu Club Cocktail.

Audrey Saunders, who invented the Old Cuban for the Carlyle, named her SoHo joint for this very swell gin number. The drink and the club for which it’s named are legends in cocktail lore. The Pegu Club was an outfit for British officers serving in Burma from the late 1800s until the 1930s or later. Its signature cocktail was this gin drink that draws its strength from the combined and intimidating forces of orange liqueur and lime juice.

As Esquire reported some time ago, the recipe for the Pegu Club Cocktail was first disseminated in 1927 and was further popularized by master mixologist Harry Craddock in 1930.

No matter its storied history, this thing is a minor miracle. It’s really that good and, given the relative similarity of orange liqueurs, it can be produced from the ingredients available in most home bars.

Take a drink and let be a Pegu Club.

• 2 ounces London dry gin
• 3/4 ounce orange curacao
• 3/4 ounce lime juice
• dash Angostura bitters
• dash orange bitters
• Lime twist or wedge

Combine all of the above save the garnish wedge or twist in a cocktail shaker and shake until your fingers feel as though they might fall off. Serve in a cocktail glass and garnish. Word to the wise: Lime twists are minor miracles and require a better-than-average citrus peeler. Be patient and pull slowly down the length of a healthy lime. After you’ve extracted that perfect, dark green peel, twist it around a glass stirrer for an extra flourish.


CLIP| Opening of the Crown Point Bridge, 1929

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DESIGN| Wall-mounted corkscrew/bottle opener is all-American affair

StarrFriends and loyal readers Maxwell Eaton III and Kristin Sadue found this beauty at the Hotel Congress in Tucson, Ariz.

We’ve all seen the classic Coca-Cola bottle openers. In college, we attached one to our bar. Manufactured for the last 80 years or so by Brown Manufacturing, Starr bottle openers are American classics.

What we all haven’t seen is the combination bottle/opener and corkscrew our good friends Maxwell Eaton III and Kristin Sadue recently encountered at the Hotel Congress in Tucson, Ariz. Neither Max nor I have been able to find the combination Starr model for sale online. In the video below, which features Brown Manufacturing president and CEO David Brim, there’s a bit of B-roll that includes a few other examples of these fine pieces of American craftsmanship.

You can, however, purchase a standard Starr bottle opener at Patented on April 21, 1925, the Starr was invented by Thomas C. Hamilton of Boston. Raymond Brown, a Coca-Cola bottler in Newport News, Va., stumbled upon the patent later in the 1920s and began production. Today, Brown Manufacturing is located in Decatur, Ga., where Starrs are still produced.

Starr Bottle Openers
From $4.95

COCKTAILS | The Jack Rose and Antoine’s Smile both delight

The SmileJerseywoman that she was, my grandmother had an abiding affection for Jack Rose cocktails. Coming of age during prohibition in the 1920s, the first liquor she might have tasted could have been “Jersey lightning,” or unaged applejack.

With this in mind, I’d been meaning to pick up a bottle of either applejack or calvados for the better part of a year. Two weeks ago, on a liquor run to Stew Leonard’s, I came across Laird’s and struck. The Laird family has been devoted to apples and their distillation since 1698, when William Laird first distilled applejack in Monmouth, N.J. In 1780, the Lairds became the first licensed distillery in America and today, they continue their family tradition at Scobeyville, N.J., a hamlet in Monmouth County’s Colts Neck Township.

With Laird’s added to the bar, we whipped up some Jack Roses with Charles Schumann’s recipe, which calls for a blend of apple jack, lime juice and grenadine. They were swell. Last night, we tried a variant, Antoine’s Smile, a specialty at Antoine’s, the New Orleans institution.

I’ve never been to Antoine’s — call me a Galatoire’s or Arnaud’s man — but that doesn’t mean I don’t respect the place or its bar. After all, it’s the oldest family-run restaurant in the country. The Smile is allegedly the creation of Antoine Alcatoire, who founded the venerable restaurant on Rue St. Louis in the 1840. The Smile substitutes the Rose’s lemon juice with lime and yields a much subtler and frankly, more sophisticated result.

Still, we strongly recommend both.

2 1/2 ounces applejack
3/4 ounces lemon juice
1 teaspoon powdered sugar
Dashes grenadine

Mix all ingredients over cracked ice, shake thoroughly and serve into a cocktail glass. Garnish, if you like, with a slice of MacIntosh or Empire.

For the Smile, substitute the lemon juice with lime juice and drop the sugar.

ART| Matisse, Rothko, Warhol, Lichtenstein Magritte and Miró

Lichtenstein“Girl with a Ball,” Roy Lichentstein, 1961.

What to do on a gray Sunday in New York with your visiting in-laws? You plan to check out the American Folk Art museum, arrive on 53rd Street and pass its doors. Your father in-law, on the board of a Buffalo museum, sees that MoMA is next door. Set aside the next three hours, take a deep breath and prepare to rub elbows with thousands of other people who are just as enthusiastic as your wife’s old man about 20th century art.

If I had to chose one museum to visit for the rest of my life, it’d be the Metropolitan Museum. Its survey of the world’s art is complete and is basically unparalleled in this country. MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art, is just as complete — but only if you dig its core subject matter. I’ve long had a deep affection for the Hudson River School and for the American luminaries of the late 19th century — Homer, Sargent, Hassam, Remington, Whistler, Eakins, et. al. The Met’s American wing feels like home. Still, I was amazed with how much great material is on permanent display at MoMA.

From Mark Rothko’s 1949 “No. 3/No. 13,” echoes of which we see in a piece in Bert Cooper’s office on “Mad Men,” to Warhol’s iconic “Soup Cans” of 1962, a whole slew of MoMA’s collection really struck me during this recent visit. Here are a few of my favorites:

The Museum of Modern Art

11 West 53 Street
New York, NY 10019
(212) 708-9400

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