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Chewing over the past three years of Penn restaurants ... and more.
Most of the mail this month had to do with our April feature, "Of Dirty Drugs and White Dogs." People wrote in to tell us how much they liked the piece, to share their own memories of University-area restaurants, and (of course) to let us know what we left out and what we got wrong. -- Ed.
WHOLE WHEAT PIZZA WAS "PROUSTIAN MARKER"
Surely any history, no matter how brief, of the food scene at Penn in the last 25 years must not imply that the principal (let alone only) role played by the Christian Association at 36th and Locust was the opening there, in 1983, of the Palladium ["Of Dirty Drugs and White Dogs," April]. Au contraire.
No one can have spent time on the Penn campus throughout the 1970s (and probably going back to the late sixties) without knowing that the place to eat was in the basement of the CA, where two staples of that era's "cuisine" were dished out in vast quantities: whole wheat pizza and veggies and rice.
I never cared for the anemic-looking veggies glop and the unprocessed rice (all too obviously one of those early versions of PC "healthy" and "natural" food that would become something of a plague during the next decade and a half everywhere in this country), but the whole wheat pizza, despite being tainted by the same ideology was, in fact, real pizza, or as close as one could get to it in the center of the campus, and it was served in huge square (square!) pieces out of giant square pans and the preposterously thick and heavy crust made it filling, if not actually "satisfying" by absolute aesthetic standards, even then. In any case, it was the Penn food, it was what made the CA the CA, with all its grunge and half-baked counter-culturalness, and I suspect millions of pieces of this (at something like $1.00) were sold over the years. And it certainly is the Proustian marker, for a generation and then some, of Penn students, both grad and undergrad (and at least some faculty, I would think) of the rather mixed bag that was Penn.
MARIA ROSA MENOCAL
EATERY LIVES ON IN COLLECTIVE MEMORY
I enjoyed your recent article about food at Penn. Glad to hear that LaTerrasse is being resurrected! It has been missed. However, a major campus institution has been overlooked: The Eatery!
Located in the basement of the Christian Association building, the Eatery was home to many a student. Its cheap nutritious eats, ambiance (in its own grungy way), interesting conversations, and eccentric characters (it was the best place to people-watch) made it a favorite hangout. The Eatery was offbeat, and inspiring, maybe even poetic. It represented at least a decade of successful collective management, cooperative spirit, and a non-profit enterprise.
CREPE-COOKING STINT LAUNCHES CULINARY CAREER
I just had to write to add one more culinary memory of an undergraduateculinary experience at Penn. Back in the early 1970s, my late roommate (Bruce Barber, C'72) and I earned some extra dough by cooking on our dorm stovetop the ratatouille, boeuf bourguignon, chicken Normandy, etc. used as fillings for the crepes offered by an enterprising Penn law student, Mary McBride, back in the seventies on her crepe truck, parked on Locust Walk.
Little did I know then that this part-time "chef" stint would launch me on a culinary career which continues to this day -- I now teach others at a community college here in LA what they need to know to become professional chefs and bakers.
Incidentally, with my interest in food piqued, I also wrote a column, "Consuming Passions" in 34th Street Magazine, on food, and spent many a weekend evening "acting sophisticated" dining at La Terrasse with the money scraped together from my crepe-cooking stints.
SMOKE'S WAS OLD IN 1951
Enjoyed the article "Of Dirty Drugs and White Dogs" in the April issue covering 30 years of eating at Penn. However, I would like to "pick a nit." The article stated that Smokey Joe's "has been at the University at one site or another since 1951." I was one of the G.I. Bill vets at Penn just after World War II and Smokey Joe's was old then! The tables were hung with old table tops too full of carvings to be used anymore. (It was a tradition to carve names, etc. on table tops as long as there was space.) The dates of these went waaay back. Long before 1951! Somehow, many of us survived the food and cherish the memories!
ROBERT D. COUGHLIN
State College, Pa.
WHERE WAS THE DIRTY DRUG LOCATED?
On page 28 of the April issue ["Of Dirty Drugs and White Dogs"], there is a picture of an eating establishment showing its sign as "Cy's Penn Luncheonette." The caption above the picture states that this place was also known as "The Dirty Drug."
I'm sorry to tell you that the Penn Luncheonette was not known as the Dirty Drug. That "distinguished" name belonged to the drug store that was across the street from the luncheonette. This drug store, complete with pharmacist, also had a large eating area. (I hesitate to use the word "dining" as, believe me, no one actually "dined" at the Dirty Drug even though some of us did eat there at noon from time to time!)
I enjoyed the article on the evolution of dining because it truly led me through an amazing evolution!
PATRICIA SELIG GORMAN
El Paso, Tex.
There seems to be a generational disagreement here. Alumni from the sixties and seventies insist that the two places were one and the same. Perhaps the answer lies below. -- Ed.
PASSING ON THE "DISTINGUISHED" NAME
The mention of the Penn Luncheonette -- and picture -- caught my eye because back in the fifties that eatery was called the Penn Lunch and across 34th Street on Woodland Ave. sat the Dirty Drug -- where one bought cigarettes and magazines and toiletries and such. I do not know in what year Woodland Ave. was grassed over, but perhaps the Dirty Drug died then, and non-purists gave the nickname to the Penn Lunch.The Penn Lunch did do a great grilled cheese sandwich -- I often had one for breakfast.
JOAN BERGUIDO STAPLES
FINE EATING NEGLECTED
How can you run an article on early "basic grunge" eating places at Penn without mentioning Sol Fine's Emporium? It was a wonderful hole-in-the- ground on 36th Street across from Smokey Joe's, with three long tables and a small counter. Sol served insults along with pretty good food and enjoyed smart-mouth ripostes from the students.
I was a waiter in Sol's before he moved to a bigger space at 37th and Woodland, and I graduated to waiter, hamburger chef, and bartender at Smoke's. Your piece was truly incomplete by failing to include Sol Fine, one of the memorable characters on the Penn campus in the forties and fifties.
WILLIAM H. BREEDEN
SANSOM STREET BLT (BEFORE LATERRASSE)
The article on campus dining brought back memories of some very good eating, none of it, however, at either of the two Pagano's or the Dirty Drug (though the latter had a very fine jukebox.) For many years before my sometime classmate and fellow anthropology major Elliott Cook, C'66, founded his high-toned eatery [LaTerrasse] across Sansom from the law school dorm that very same building had housed a simply wonderful hoagy place heavily patronized by law students and girls (as we were then known) from the Women's Residence Hall (the present Hill House.)
In a sunny shop whose name I no longer remember, but that I can still vividly picture, a tall, thin man -- who looked, oddly enough, a lot like Hoagy Carmichael -- put together the most wonderful sandwiches. My mouth waters even now as I think of his bottled peppers. On many, many a Saturday morning, WHR residents who had slept through the breakfast included in our pre-paid meal plan made their way thither (we knew it simply as "the Hoagy") for a succulent brunch-on-a-bun. (Incidently, this was one of the few meals that we could eat in jeans, as skirts were required at all times in all campus academic buildings and dining rooms.)
BERYL LIEFF BENDERLY
LT'S LASTED LONGER
Just a quick correction in respect to your fine article "Of Dirty Drugs and White Dogs." LaTerrasse closed in May 1988 or shortly thereafter, not in 1986. I remember fondly my Commencement Day lunch at LaTerrasse in May 1988, and I also recall that LaTerrasse was the final stop (at least for me and a few others) of Walnut Walk that year. I was very disappointed later that summer to find LT's shuttered.
Your report of the association of the late Marian Anderson with the University ["Gazetteer," April] is incomplete in failing to point out that in 1938 the Men's Glee Club not only performed the Brahms Alto Rhapsody with Ms. Anderson and the Philadelphia Orchestra but also recorded it on a Victor Red Seal Record with the same orchestra and that same gorgeous voice. We were captivated not only by her voice but her great dignity and charm -- an experience many of us will never forget.
ROBERT K. MOXON
C'40, M'43, GM'48.
AUTHOR SHOULD HAVE LEARNED
NOT TO DO UNTO OTHERS
The March 1997 issue included a mostly well-written story by David Bradley in which he described how he was able to maintain his religious faith when, as an eight-year-old boy, his schoolmates used racial taunts against him and he was forced, against his will, to physically defend himself ["Passion Play at Mt. Pisgah"]. I was extremely offended, however, by his use of the word minyan (last word on page 26) to describe the group of white trash that assaulted him. This word refers to a quorum of Jews gathered for prayer.
Bradley's implication that Jews are somehow responsible for the bigotry of his schoolmates, especially when the story has no Jewish characters, betrays the same kind of bigotry he claims to have suffered from himself. If he wishes, on page 28, to make the theological point that the Old Testament depicts mainly a series of violent Jews performing violent acts on behalf of a violent God, while a New Testament had to be issued to humanity to convey the idea of a peaceful and loving God, he is merely repeating an erroneous old point that his religious brethren have been pushing for 1900 years. However, if he truly learned a religious lesson from the degradation described in the story, he should have learned not to do unto others what he would not have them do unto him.
SHELDON R. WAXMAN
UNCONVINCING REBUTTAL ON COLLEGE COSTS
Judith Rodin's attempt to rebut the recent magazine articles concerning college costs is noteworthy for its failure to respond to the key criticisms ["From College Hall," April]. There is no attempt to justify the geometric increase in college costs, the excessive capital spending, or the failure of many universities, including Penn, to use most undergraduates as nothing more than another funding source. To obtain a decent undergraduate education at Penn, it appears that it is still necessary for the undergraduate to scratch for every opportunity to avoid large lectures and classes taught by teaching assistants.
The recent spate of articles show that Penn and other large universities have not changed at all in this regard over the past 20 years. The contrast between the quality of graduate and undergraduate education remains striking. Unless parents who are paying the excessive freight raise these issues, nothing will change.
Dr. Rodin also attempts to justify the costs of an undergraduate education with an analysis based on financial return and greater future income for the student. This shows only that the undergraduate is buying a diploma, not the resources of the university behind the diploma.
GARY M. BERNE
FAMILIES BETRAYED BY FALSE ACCUSATIONS
After reading Richard Kluft's "A Truce in the Memory Wars?"["Off The Shelf," April] I feel that it is indeed welcome news if Jennifer J. Freyd is addressing recovered memory therapy with "remarkable objectivity". As psychiatrist Kluft frequently lectures and writes about multiple personality disorder and associated child abuse, I welcome his objectivity also.
It is one thing to hypothesize. It is quite another matter when psychotherapy patients accuse relatives of violent criminal behavior on the basis of nothing more than unproved theory or anecdote. I agree with Dr. Kluft that, "betrayal violates the basic tenor of human relationships." I hope he agrees that betrayal of one's loving, falsely accused family is also tragic.
For years, pleas have been made for recovered memory therapy to be put on hold until the practice has been proved safe and effective. The pleas went unheeded. Now, in the Midwest, multiple patients are filing multiple lawsuits against their therapists for inducing false memories of abuse and multiple personality disorder. They are winning multimillion dollar awards.
I trust that scientific inquiry, logic, civility, and healthy skepticism are still valued at my alma mater.
St. Louis, Mo.
LOOKING FORWARD TO PENN
As a daughter of a Penn alumnus, and a student admitted into the College's class of 2001, I'd like to thank the editors of and contributors to the Gazette for creating a publication which has allowed me to learn so much about my future alma mater. I have been able, through your magazine, to look back into Penn's past, to meet Penn's students, teachers, mentors, saviors, and friends, and to glance into Penn's future. I thank the Gazette for the opportunity to enjoy pleasures usually reserved for the conquering graduate, or at least to see others enjoy such successes. I can now look forward to freshman orientation with my nervousness somewhat diluted. I know now that there will be people at the gate, ready to welcome me into their established family.
The April book review described the False Memory Syndrome Foundation as "an organization that has sought to publicize and support the stance that most
recovered memories of childhood mistreatment are confabulations -- that is, 'false memories.'" According to the Foundation's executive director, Dr. Pamela Freyd, the actual position of the Foundation is that "some memories are true, some a mixture of fact and fantasy and some are false -- whether they are continuous or remembered after having been forgotten."
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Copyright 1997 The Pennsylvania Gazette Last modified 6/17/97