Restaurant Experiences of "Uncle Hank"
. . a Yankee farmer from "way down East," where they grow
them long and lean, and as shrewd as it is possible for humanity
to be. He often remarked that "He'd be jiggered ef he didn't
git his money's worth, every time he let loose a nickel."
Fleming's description of the fictional
Exposition visitor, "Uncle Hank" 1
passages below, describe "Uncle Hank's" varied experiences with
the food found at the Pan-American Exposition. (Click on each image to
see a larger version of the page.) Readers will find that Fleming's character
serves as a lens through which to study human nature as well as
turn-of-the-century perceptions and prejudices.
Hank at the Pabst Restaurant
across the way was "Pabst's," and our hero [Uncle Hank]
lost no time in making his way there, as he was a bit thirsty,
as he had heard of the famous beverage dispensed there. After
carefully depositing his carpet bag and unbrella under the table,
and putting his big foot on top to insure safety, he was approached
by a waiter who, with a sweep of a towel, wiped up the remnants
of the last customer's repast; and after waiting some time, he
was approached by a phlegmatic German waiter.
let me have a glass of beer, I'm all-fired dry."
beer?" ejaculated the waiter.
lager beer's good enough for me," replied Uncle Hank, and
the waiter departed with a grin and a guffaw; presently he returned
with the foaming glass.
a motley assemblage was here congregated. There were Turks, Mexicans,
Indians, Filipinos, Japs, and apparently representatives from
all the Midway shows in the vicinity, and their voices mingled
in a perfect babel of confusion. A more cosmopolitan congregation
it would be hard to find, and everybody drank beer.
ther reason they all drink beer, is because yer git it for a nickel,"
remarked Uncle Hank, and the Yankee continued his sightseeing
hank Stops for a Bite at Alt Nürnberg
visiting in turn "Bostock's Wild Animals" and Chiquita,
the dwarf-who, he remarked, looked as though she had been "picked
before she was ripe "he then wandered into "Alt Nurnberg,"
and spent quite a time in rambling through its old German architecture.
here's where I give myself a Dutch treat," he remarked, as
he seated himself at a table and ordered a "dish like that
gentleman's got," point-ing to a plate of wurst and sour
kraut just placed before a prosperous-looking German.
sie wurst ?" inquired the waiter.
gimme the best, and be quick!"
Nürnberg: German Food and Slow Service
Nurnburg was usually the Mecca of the hungry habitues
of the Midway. Imported frankfurters, sauerkraut, patrician
Rhein wines, as well as plebeian lager beer, in fact,
everything in the German food and drink line, were to
be obtained here, if you had patience in abundance;
for it is a peculiarity of German waiters to make you
wait. The hungrier you are the longer they make you wait.
is the mother of impatience and anger."
angry altercations have taken place in consequence of
this dilatory habit on the part of the phlegmatic German
!" exclaimed an irate patron. "Where's that
steak I ordered an hour ago?"
on the fire, sir."
say, waiter !" another would cry out. "where's
on the ice, sir."
so it would go from one table to an-other, the same cry
of hungry impatience. As one highly indignant patron remarked:
"The diners were the waiters in a German restaurant."
Hank Tries Mexican Food
and critically examining the peculiar architecture of the adobe
houses and the odd garb of the Mexican dudes and peons, as well
as the beautiful senoritas, he was attracted to the restaurant,
as he was rather hungry, and the hot tamales and other highly
spiced food smelled appetizing. A pretty little Mexican maiden
brought him a "bill of fare," but as the dishes were
of Mexican manufacture, Uncle Hank was for a moment non-plused;
his native wit, however, soon came to his relief. In glancing
over the list of edibles, he discovered the word beans; that was
enough for him, so pointing his finger at the word he told the
waitress to bring him some. In a few moments a steaming dish was
placed before him, but it bore no resemblance to his favorite
viandhowever he concluded to "go it," but the
first mouthful caused him to open wide his capacious mouth and
emit a yell that caused a salvo of laughter from the other diners
in the restaurant. The dish he had ordered was concocted by stewing
a large Mexican bean with a profusion of red pepper and other
hot and spicy ingredients, and unless one is accustomed to such
food is very apt to prove surprising at the first trial, and this
proved to be the case with Uncle Hank; however, when the accommodating
waitress brought him a fragrant cup of cocoa, he managed to assuage
Uncle Hank Goes to Dinner at a Bailey's Restaurant
old codger," said the old soldier. "You are not so far
wrong after all, and the energetic home patriot can do much. Have
one with me ?"
a dozen," cried Uncle Hank; "it is the first time in
this exposishun anyone has asked me ter be social without ther
price. Yer air the soldier arter my own notion, an' yer kin eat
my roastin' pertaters enny time ye call ter my hum."
arms and marched to a Bailey eating place, where girls wait on
you in a hurried way, as if they wanted to get home early to do
some knitting or see some beau. The old soldier said politely,
as they sat down: "We do not want a course dinner, my friend,
but a good old-fashioned home dinner. How does that strike you?"
I aint hankerin fur koarse grub; I kin git thet enny day ter hum.
I guess we'll do es ther Beeferlonians do--eat ther best thet
is going and leave the wurst fur ther stranger within the gate."
laughed and remarked: "You are right; it does look as if
the strangers were not getting all tenderloin and porterhouse,
although they pay for it. Please consult your menu and give your
order to the waitress."
gazed at the card and seemed puzzled. The waitress asked: "Do
you wish vermicelli soup?"
soup ?" he ejaculated, "nary a wurm fur me in er out
o' my soup. I've heard tell o' the wurm o' ther still, an' ther
Diet o' worms an' ther wurm thet turns, but the wurms thet sells-wal,
I guess I aint goin ter buy it, not even to git it out er my soup."
Uncle Hank's Scheme for the "Standard
Bearer" - p. 65
laughed and whispered to a passing companion: "This old Ruben
mock turtle soup, Uncle Hank," said the officer, who was
enjoying the situation.
mocker turtel soup fer me," he answered; "jest beans
an' tater soup will do. I aint eddicated ter eat frogs and mud
tertells and the like. I kin ricollect whin I went ter the city
an tuk some of ther fantum chicken soup. It jist tasted like salt,
pepper an' dish water. Wal, I was real mad, 'cause they tole me
it waz fine, and would tickull my plebeeum palater, whatever thet
may be. B'gum, arter I had swallowed thet mess I jist said as
how I would like ter know how they fixed ther thing up. Then I
waz tole thet fantum chicken soup were nothin but salt see-water,
red pepper and ther fotograff uf a chicken thrun on it jist afore
it biled. It made me bilin' mad an' blamed me ef them hash-house
peepul didn't almost bust laffing at me. Gully, but I guess I
got kind o' evun. I jist sed I would not let ther stuff pass my
lips, and yer kin kal-kerlate I kep my word."
glad that you had the nerve to refuse phantom chicken soup. We
need men of backbone these days, and you farmers must come to
the front." The retired army officer was a bon vivant,
and, seeing that the menu was Greek to Uncle Hank, ordered a regular
table d'hote dinner. The farmer did justice to it, and
the waitress who said he was "nutty" brought him a small
green glass bowl, full of water, in which he could dip his finger,
if he desired, and wipe them off. The water in the bowl had a
greenish hue, the color of the glass, and Uncle Hank drew back
young gal, yer kant git me, nary time once, tew drink thet green
rhubarb water; I hey jist hed all thet I can ackommodate. Do yer
think I'd spile my dinner with thet slippery green stuff. Not
while my nateral sinces remain."
laughed immoderately, and the retired officer smiled and dipped
both fingers into the bowl. He then wiped them carefully with
o' live! thet is ther way sich green stuff aught ter be treated,"
he gleefully exclaimed. "Ther soldiers of this yer kountry
aint afreed o' green water, nur white water, nur fire water!"
I'll give you to understand that I do not drink in the accepted
term of the word," sternly said the officer.
I'm glad ter knaw thet yer don't stimerlate tew much. But I met
a good lookin gal with a blew ribbon, an she tuk my breath away,
givin ther soldier a lammer-baskin, es she called it. 'They jist
don't drink, no, not er bit,' she cried in them high top keys
thet cum thro' th' nose, 'they jist pore!' An golly, I was thet
happy thet I sed, 'Them air th biys fer me. They take no pisen
in thers, but jist pore it out.' Thet gal giv me a look thet wasn't
sweet an says kind o' jokin like: 'Yer need a diagramme, Uncle,
uf what I'm talkin about an' a gardeen.' Ther crowd jined in the
laff and I sed: 'Yer need a husband ter hum an something ter keep
yer beezy!' Ther crowd laffed agin."
Uncle Hank and High Prices
good or bad reputation of pleasure resorts is often determined
by the good or bad meals obtainable. A pleasure trip in which
the "inner man" was satisfactorily entertained is always
pleasantly remembered, and a sight-seeing journey is doubly satisfying
if, at the end of the day's jaunt, a well-cooked repast is at
grows on what he feeds."
So well understood
was this that Napoleon, if possible, never went to battle until
his troops had had their rations, and Admiral Lord Nelson invariably
served grog before his ships went into action.
A very noticeable
feature of the crowds going into the Exposition was the almost
universal custom of carrying lunch boxes. The restaurant facilities
of the "Pan" were good, but the prices were somewhat
high, for concessions cost money, and it took money to build the
Bailey Catering Company controlled the principal restaurant concessions,
and it was into one of their establishments our friend found himself
d'yer charge fer coffee ?" inquired he of a pert little waitress.
cents," was the reply.
jest bring me a cup ov coffee."
the waitress walked off to fill the order he reached down to his
ever faithful carpet bag and extracted therefrom a large apple
Cents fer a fine pie like thet down in Buffaler agin Ten Cents
fer a skimpy little piece here. Wal, I patronizes Buffaler
every time." And he promptly proceeded to hide his Buffalo
purchase in his capacious maw.
1. Thomas Fleming. Around the Pan with Uncle Hank: His Trip Through
the Pan-American Exposition. New York: The Nut Shell Publishing
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