Saturday, November 23, 2002

100th Birthday: The Algonquin Hotel

The home away from home for Heywood Broun, Dorothy Parker, James Thurber, Franklin P. Adams, Edna Ferber, Robert Benchley, George S. Kaufman, Alexander Woolcott, and maybe even Sheridan Whiteside is 100 years old this week. The Algonquin is still there in midtown Manhattan, well-maintained and keeping it's early 20th century ambience. Was it Robert Benchley who was the first to point out that men will not stop to ask directions? His essay explaining how he came to live in New York might be the origin. Benchley decided to go for a short drive one Sunday in Ohio, got lost and wouldn’t stop to ask directions. When he arrived in New York he couldn’t go any further – the Atlantic Ocean was in the way – so he took rooms and stayed. He often wondered how the old homestead in Ohio was doing.

And depressed and depressing as she could be, I still love Dorothy Parker.

This is one of the reasons:

One Perfect Rose

A single flow’r he sent me, since we met.
Ah, tenderly his messenger he chose;
Deep-hearted, pure, with scented dew still wet—
One perfect rose.

I knew the language of the floweret;
“My fragile leaves,” it said, “his heart enclose.”
Love long has taken for his amulet
One perfect rose.

Why is it no one ever sent me yet
One perfect limousine, do you suppose?
Ah no, it’s always just my luck to get
One perfect rose.