829 Southdrive

829 Southdrive

A New Jersey state of mind

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Connection Between Food and Sailing

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?


  1. I have sailed on the Wanamaker Course. I have been to Philadelphia too. I never knew there was a connection. This is the best post ever about not-Mexican restaurants and Ford Pintos. How do you do it?

  2. I love the A-Cat photo, but I was hoping for an oyster recipe. Hmm, I think you've inspired me to do a connection between drinking and sailing.

  3. Baydog, you're strumming my pain with your keyboard, singing my life with your words.

    Wanamakers at Christmas, Kelly's on Mole St, Trenton Oyster Crackers.

    I got to wondering about some of this and did some googling.

    Not only is Kelly's gone, but so is that stretch of Mole Street, but the founding family carries on here. Have you been there?

    And it's amazing how little there is online about the younger Wanamaker - one of the wealthiest Americans of his time. Apparently, unlike his father, he avoided the limelight and seemed to donate money to things that interested him rather than participate himself.

    Another more famous 'Wanamaker Trophy' he endowed was the one awarded for the PGA golf tournament - he apparently helped found the PGA at a time when pro golfers were regarded something like pool hustlers. He also funded the Melrose Games track and field event - named for his estate near Jenkintown.

    He owned a huge steam yacht, but I see no mention of him sailing. He had a summer home in Atlantic City, and his son - apparently not well-suited to the business world - had the moniker of 'Captain'.

    I wonder if his son was the sailor and if dad just pitched in a small sliver of the family fortune to help a fledgling sailing program at the Island Heights YC, which, in 1922, was only seven years old.

  4. Jenkintown. We must have been on the other side of the tracks. The trains were flattening silver dollars for them, but we were the ones living on Noble Road.

  5. Other side of the tracks, indeed.

    Now I see there are both Wanamaker and Rodman roads adjoining the tracks near Noble station.

    And the area known as 'Melrose Park' is about two miles away. I never associated that name with the Melrose Games when I lived nearby as a kid.

  6. Ironically, the closest department store to Noble station was Strawbridge's.

  7. Where were you? You where getting a ride in Horse-Face Montoro's Ford Pinto! Out of the Clarion Bona Vista II trailer park. We could not afford PBR (It was 7 cents over the budget) but we had Blatz and Shaefer 21.20. Who needs a A-Cat, B-Cat or even a Hep Cat Daddy-O,when you are cruising in a Ford P.O.S. Pinto! Captained by Horse-Face Montoro!

  8. Also, For you Jenkintown boys who amongst you has drank beer at Buckets? or has even ventured to the. Hole in the Wall?

  9. Another fine Post Dave. Let's set a Sizzle date. Running out of excuses for not going sailing