The Automat and Camelot

Camelot (film)

Camelot (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the road trips my family took when we arrived on the East Coast was to New York City. Big City, Bright Lights. We saw Camelot on Broadway and we ate at an automat. Two firsts for me. Broadway shows have become a way of life, although intermittent at best, I am fortunate to have seen my fair share. ” The 1960 musical Camelot by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, was the version I saw on Broadway, it was probably in 1962.
I was infatuated with both Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy and John F. Kennedy as were millions of other Americans. As you may be aware “Camelot” is sometimes used to refer admiringly to the presidency of John F. Kennedy, as his term was said to have promise for the future, many people were inspired by Kennedy’s speeches, vision, and policies. At the time, Kennedy’s assassination had been compared to the fall of King Arthur. The lines “Don’t let it be forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment, that was known as Camelot,” from the musical Camelot, were quoted by his widow Jacqueline as being from his favorite song in the score. “There’ll be great Presidents again,” she added,”but there’ll never be another Camelot again … it will never be that way again. After I had this, my first experience, in New York City we went home to Maryland and my step-father went to Vietnam. In November 1963 my mother and other three siblings were among the thousands of on lookers as The riderless horse took the Presidents body to Arlington Memorial Cemetery. The sustenance provided me during this time from the song Camelot with those touching words”Don’t let it be forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment, that was known as Camelot,” were truly soul food for my family and I as we mourned with the Nation and the rest of the world. Food as defined in the dictionary is a noun and can mean any of the five descriptions listed below but Point number 5 is the one that I have meant to discuss with you since the beginning of this blog and now I shall. Anything serving as consumption or use as in food for thought. The memories I have of the Broadway play and in particular the song “Camelot” are what sustained me. I had to eat to fuel my body but it has not been the food which I ate or the beverages I drank to gain sustenance, but the food that grieving together, listening to music together and spending time together gave to me. This is always what comes to mind when someone says “soul food”.
Food -a noun
1.any nourishing substance that is eaten, drunk, or otherwise taken into the body to sustain life, provide energy, promote growth, etc.
2.more or less solid nourishment, as distinguished from liquids.
3.a particular kind of solid nourishment: a breakfast food for example.
4.whatever supplies nourishment to organisms: plant food.
5.anything serving for consumption or use: food for thought.
Now for the Automat. Originally, the machines took only nickels.[1] In the original format, a cashier would sit in a change booth in the center of the restaurant, behind a wide marble counter with five to eight rounded depressions in it. The diner would insert the required number of coins in a machine and then lift a window, which was hinged at the top, to remove the meal, which was generally wrapped in waxed paper. The machines were filled from the kitchen behind.The automat was brought to New York City in 1912 and gradually became part of popular culture in northern industrial cities. Horn & Hardart was the most prominent automat chain. The automats were popular with a variety of patrons, including Walter Winchell, Irving Berlin and other celebrities of the era. The New York automats were popular place for tourists. I remember having a piece of apple pie à la mode. It didn’t compared with Mom’s Apple pie but it was a thrill inserting the coin and opening the door.


One thought on “The Automat and Camelot

  1. Great post! I remember Camelot and I remember Horn and Hardart…there was some tasty stuff behind those little glass windows. The mac & cheese was divine =)

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