info 09.19.03

Fading Into History

'Does anyone still wear a hat?' was the famously rueful question boomed to the balcony by Elaine Stritch in Sondheim's 1970 musical "Company". Since then…

Yes, Western Union will still send a telegram — it's $14.99 and just the thing for a friend's Broadway opening, a PhD earned, or a new baby. The whole transaction can be done online, which seems fairly incongruous, at or by calling 800.325.6000.

On Ebay, there are some interesting historical telegrams for auction. There's a Titanic survivor's telegram, sent from the Carpathia, that's going (at last check) for $1,295. That auction ends this afternoon. But there are other telegrams that are much more affordable, such as one from Audrey Hepburn to George Cukor currently at $30.

On Saturday, October 4, there will be a music memorabilia show at 155 W. 72nd [Amst/Col] 212.579.0689, from 10am-2pm. They'll be selling thousands of LPs, 45s, 78s (if you're under 30, ask someone what a 78 is), sheet music, photos, posters, and books. More info at the website

Department Stores
There's an interesting article on the decline of department stores by Adam Gopnik in this week's New Yorker. You can also read it at If you missed Mr. Gopnik's piece in MUG on the demise of coffee shops, find it here.

Bra Store
Though it's called the Barbara Gee Danskin Center, 2282 Bway [82nd] 212.769.2923, never mind the Danskin part. This is among the last of a dying breed: bra specialists of the follow-you-into-the-dressing-room ilk, where the ladies won't let you buy it if it doesn't fit perfectly.

Independent Bookstores
Even though the ranks of small bookstores thin every year, there are still some shining examples in the city, among them Three Lives, 154 W. 10th [Waverly] 212.741.2069 and the Corner Bookstore, 1313 Mad [93rd] 212.831.3554. To use a phrase that has faded into history, they appreciate your custom.

Once as much a staple as bagels, bialys have somehow ended up on the endangered list. Mimi Sheraton wrote a book on the topic, published last year, called The Bialy Eaters: The Story of a Bread and a Lost World ($12.95, Broadway Books). If Three Lives or the Corner Bookstore don't have it in stock, let them order it for you.

And finally, back to hats. J. J. Hat Center, 310 5th [31st] 212.239.4368, has been in business for almost 90 years. There are thousands of choices, including Stetson, Borsalino, collapsible top hats, boaters, and many style of caps.

Forgotten New York,, is a wonderful website that chronicles the city's hidden past. One of MUG's favorite sites.

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