I was reading an article recently where the author, after being shown around the Hotel Granvia Kyoto by a smiling, bowing Japanese lady was momentarily disconcerted when she concluded her tour by holding up a sign “People with tattoos, and other unsuitable hotel guests, will not be allowed in the pool”. The author suggested it was intended to discourage members of the feared Yakuza though I would have thought a mere sign wouldn’t be much of a deterrent to those guys…..
Back in 18th century New York, the Delmonico*** family were also concerned about running a respectable establishment. No man was permitted to eat alone with a woman in the private rooms, all of which had to have their doors left open and be regularly visited by the staff to ensure that nothing improper was taking place.
Delmonico’s was also famous for its cotillion dinners, limited to 100 subscribers at a time. Mrs Pierre Lorillard Ronalds hosted one of these where guests were required to dress in extravagant costumes. She arrived representing “Music”; her gown was embroidered with the score of an Italian ballet and on her head she flaunted a tiara composed of musical notes grouped around a harp, from jets in which flickered flames that were fed by a gas cylinder concealed by false hair. The reporters next day also drew attention to her scarlet boots encircled by tiny tinkling bells which were identical with those worn by women of easy virtue in Water Street. This upset the conservative Delmonicos greatly.
But one man appeared to be exempt to their moral strictures. Colonel D’Alton Mann, was the editor of a notorious weekly magazine, Town Topics, that filled its columns with society scandals. Rumour had it that the most salacious tidbits never made it into the magazine because when the copy had been set up in print, the Colonel would make straight for Delmonico’s with the galley proofs and seat himself at a reserved table near the entrance where he could observe his quarry’s arrival at once.
While waiting, he usually ate 6 mutton chops served with liver, kidneys and baked yams, and well irrigated by a bottle of the best champagne. To the amusement of those in his vicinity, he often made appreciative “woof woof” noises.
When the person whom the Colonel was seeking came in, accompanied by his wife or some other guest, the Colonel would tip a page to say he was wanted urgently on the bar telephone. There the Colonel would be already installed with two glasses and another bottle of champagne. “Just the fellow I want to see!” he would exclaim. “I was leaving for lunch when this proof turned up from the composing room. It’s about you, would you cast your eye over it for accuracy?”
Dismayed by what he read, the other would readily agree to ‘lend’ the Colonel £500 in return for which he would be given the galley proof and assured the story would never be published. D’Alton always kept his word and some people even regarded it as a sort of compliment to be considered of sufficient importance to merit his attention.
*** excerpt from Foie Gras and Trumpets by Charles Neilsen Gattey