A highly esteemed sail-blogger recently asked,
and I'm paraphrasing it, 'Is there a connection
between food and sailing?' I say yes. Well
then how, you ask? It all began in the city of
Brotherly Love. My earliest restaurant memories
were most likely from this place, Kelly's on Mole
Street. No, it wasn't a Mexican restaurant, but an
old-fashioned oyster house. My parents would
bring me and my brother downtown during the
holidays to have lunch and see the Christmas show.
I don't recall if it was lunch and then the show, or
the other way around. It doesn't matter. I
have a very selective memory of both events. I'd have
Snapper soup. I'm sure my parents had the same, but
there were all kinds of other items on the menu,
including oysters, of which both of them were fond.
I loved the soup, and I remember it being maroon in
color, with chewy pieces of turtle in it. My Dad always
got the additional sherry to pour into it, and a few years
later, I adopted that habit and opted for the sherry to
add to any given dish with which it was offered. There
was a huge glass jar with a lid that held fist-sized oyster
crackers. That I clearly remember. When we left and
went outside, I remember racks of clothes on hangers,
rolling on wheels, being pushed by men rushing around
like they had to be somewhere quickly. Garment type
district? Then as I remember, it was off to Wanamaker's,
where the Christmas (not holiday) show was to be.
My brother and I would climb all over the pedestal,
trying to get up on the eagle. The Christmas show
was an afterthought. Apparently they had a great
pipe organ and played grand tunes which my old man
would sing and whistle all the way home and for days
afterward. Whatever. I wanted to ride the Wanamaker
Eagle. This story is going somewhere. Promise.
Without getting too informative, John Wanamaker was
an extremely successful department store magnate.
His son, Rodman, singly inherited his Father's entire
fortune. Somehow or another, he got to liking sailing.
In turn, a race and trophy managed to be named after
him down Barnegat Bay, although I couldn't find the
connection after 15 or 20 minutes on the Google, which
means there most likely isn't one. But the race committee
liked the name, and the trophy is still competed for.
(My Mom told me never to end a sentence in a preposition)
Shit, I did it again.
Look at this crowd! And we wonder why people think we're
snobs when we say we're sailors!
The Rodman Wanamaker trophy in the lobby? of the
Seaside Park Yacht Club. I don't think it's snobby,
but that's because I've been around the sweaty crewmembers
of the A-Cats after the races, and heard them curse,
and seen them pop open the cold PBRs from their
styrofoam coolers in the trunks of their Ford Pintos,
moments away from exploding in rear-impact collisions.
Where was I?
Oh yeah. Here's an A-Cat, racing on the Wanamaker course,
south of the Seaside Bridge on the Barnegat Bay. Philadelphia
oyster house to sailing on Barnegat Bay. That's the food-to-
sailing connection. Hey, are you sleeping?