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The Vertical City   By: (1889-1968)

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By that same architectural gesture of grief which caused Jehan at Agra to erect the Taj Mahal in memory of a dead wife and a cold hearthstone, so the Bon Ton hotel, even to the pillars with red freckled monoliths and peacock backed lobby chairs, making the analogy rather absurdly complete, reared its fourteen stories of "elegantly furnished suites, all the comforts and none of the discomforts of home."

A mausoleum to the hearth. And as true to form as any that ever mourned the dynastic bones of an Augustus or a Hadrian.

An Indiana limestone and Vermont marble tomb to Hestia.

All ye who enter here, at sixty dollars a week and up, leave behind the lingo of the fireside chair, parsley bed, servant problem, cretonne shoe bags, hose nozzle, striped awnings, attic trunks, bird houses, ice cream salt, spare room matting, bungalow aprons, mayonnaise receipt, fruit jars, spring painting, summer covers, fall cleaning, winter apples.

The mosaic tablet of the family hotel is nailed to the room side of each door and its commandments read something like this:

One ring: Bell Boy.

Two rings: Chambermaid.

Three rings: Valet.

Under no conditions are guests permitted to use electric irons in rooms.

Cooking in rooms not permitted.

No dogs allowed.

Management not responsible for loss or theft of jewels. Same can be deposited for safe keeping in the safe at office.


Our famous two dollar Table d'Hôte dinner is served in the Red Dining Room from six thirty to eight. Music.

It is doubtful if in all its hothouse garden of women the Hotel Bon Ton boasted a broken finger nail or that little brash place along the forefinger that tattles so of potato peeling or asparagus scraping.

The fourteenth story manicure, steam bath, and beauty parlors saw to all that. In spite of long bridge table, lobby divan, and table d'hôte séances, "tea" where the coffee was served with whipped cream and the tarts built in four tiers and mortared in mocha filling, the Bon Ton hotel was scarcely more than an average of fourteen pounds overweight.

Forty's silhouette, except for that cruel and irrefutable place where the throat will wattle, was almost interchangeable with eighteen's. Indeed, Bon Ton grandmothers with backs and French heels that were twenty years younger than their throats and bunions, vied with twenty's profile.

Whistler's kind of mother, full of sweet years that were richer because she had dwelt in them, but whose eyelids were a little weary, had no place there.

Mrs. Gronauer, who occupied an outside, southern exposure suite of five rooms and three baths, jazzed on the same cabaret floor with her granddaughters.

Many the Bon Ton afternoon devoted entirely to the possible lack of length of the new season's skirts or the intricacies of the new filet lace patterns.

Fads for the latest personal accoutrements gripped the Bon Ton in seasonal epidemics.

The permanent wave swept it like a tidal one.

In one winter of afternoons enough colored silk sweaters were knitted in the lobby alone to supply an orphan asylum, but didn't.

The beaded bag, cunningly contrived, needleful by needleful, from little strands of colored glass caviar, glittered its hour.

Filet lace came then, sheerly, whole yokes of it for crêpe de Chine nightgowns and dainty scalloped edges for camisoles.

Mrs. Samstag made six of the nightgowns that winter three for herself and three for her daughter. Peach blowy pink ones with lace yokes that were scarcely more to the skin than the print of a wave edge running up sand, and then little frills of pink satin ribbon, caught up here and there with the most delightful and unconvincing little blue satin rosebuds... Continue reading book >>

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