food 11.30.04

Salvation Army at '21'

The day was cold and damp, and either Jack Kriendler or Charlie Berns (that piece of the story has never been settled) stepped outside their "21" Club for a minute and spotted the Salvation Army Band at the corner of Fifth and 52nd. The owners invited the band in to warm up over a bowl of soup. To express their gratitude the Salvation Army members offered to play some Christmas songs for lunchtime diners, and Jack and Charlie said if you play, we'll pass a hat around the dining room. (The only hat they could find was a top hat found in the check room.) And a tradition was born.

On that day, one of the players was William Maltby. Mr. Maltby returned to "21" with the Salvation Army band for several years before he was transferred. His daughter sang there, and, in time, his granddaughter, Deborah Maltby Evans. (Now, we're up to the fourth generation — her niece and nephew.) Ms. Evans has performed for Jackie Onassis, assorted presidents (Nixon's security agents took apart the instruments before the show could go on), and both Ray and Joey Heatherton. And Sinatra performed a duet with her on O Holy Night.

Ms. Evans now acts as emcee for the performance of 10 or so Salvation Army singers and players, with whom diners sing along. In addition to the carols, "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "Dixie" were added to the program by Mrs. Douglas MacArthur, who stood on her chair during the singing, waving her white luncheon napkin over her head. Mrs. MacArthur has passed on, but the napkin waving continues in her honor. A collection is taken up, but, alas, not with a top hat. A tambourine is used instead.

Reservations for the 64th anniversary of this tradition are available at 212.582.7200. The dates are: Saturday, Dec. 4 (Lunch), Saturday, Dec. 11 (Lunch), Saturday, Dec. 18 (Lunch), Monday, December 20 (Lunch), Tuesday, December 21 (Lunch), Wednesday, December 22 (Lunch), Thursday, December 23 (Lunch and Dinner), Friday, December 24 (Lunch and Dinner).
Clearly, we should not be operating heavy machinery after a holiday. Corrections on the TV Tickets article: Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn? Cancelled last month. And the correct email address for Total Request Live is One addition: You can also see DaySide with Linda Vester, live every weekday, at 47th Street [6th/7th]. You can book tickets at 877.369.8587, online, or just show up at 11:30am.

"All of which is to say, it's a little later in this game than you might have realized. By the time of the Super Bowl, just as your election fatigue and holiday hangovers have finally faded, the West Side stadium may well be a done deal." Thus concludes Peter Keating's excellent piece in this week's NY Mag on the state of the stadium. [By the way, we're starting to miss the cheesy, breathless, kind of hopeless old NY Mag. It was so much fun to shoot spitballs at. Now, the damn thing keeps getting better every week — useful, lively, interesting, and relevant. Bah.]

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