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Pan-American Exposition of 1901

Restaurant Experiences of "Uncle Hank"


Thumbnail image - Cover of Around the Pan with Uncle Hank. Fleming's Around the Pan With Uncle Hank. Source: Thomas Fleming. Around the Pan with Uncle Hank: His Trip Through the Pan-American Exposition. New York: The Nut Shell Publishing Co., 1901, p. 28. Courtesy of Stephanie Huthmacher.

"...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."

--Thomas Fleming's description of the fictional
Exposition visitor, "Uncle Hank" 1

The 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.



Uncle Hank at the Pabst Restaurant—

thumbnail image - Around the Pan with Uncle Hank, p.37
Uncle Hank at the Pabst Restaurant—(Around the Pan, p. 37). Source: Fleming, Thomas. Around the Pan with Uncle Hank: His Trip Through the Pan-American Exposition. New York: The Nut Shell Publ. Co., 1901, p. 37. Courtesy of Stephanie Huthmacher.

[p. 37-38]

…Right 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.

"Waiter, let me have a glass of beer, I'm all-fired dry."

"Ein beer?" ejaculated the waiter.

"Naw, 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.

And what 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.

"I guess ther reason they all drink beer, is because yer git it for a nickel," remarked Uncle Hank, and the Yankee continued his sightseeing trip. …


Uncle hank Stops for a Bite at Alt Nürnberg—

[pp. 40-41]

…After 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.

"An' 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.

"Haben sie wurst ?" inquired the waiter.

"Naw, gimme the best, and be quick!" …

Thumbnail image - Around the Pan with Uncle Hank, p.40
Uncle hank Stops for a Bite at Alt Nürnberg—(Around the Pan, p. 40). Source: Fleming, Thomas. Around the Pan with Uncle Hank: His Trip Through the Pan-American Exposition. New York: The Nut Shell Publ. Co., 1901, p. 40. Courtesy of Stephanie Huthmacher.
Thumbnail image - Around the Pan with Uncle Hank, p.41 Uncle hank Stops for a Bite at Alt Nürnberg—(Around the Pan, p. 41). Source: Fleming, Thomas. Around the Pan with Uncle Hank: His Trip Through the Pan-American Exposition. New York: The Nut Shell Publ. Co., 1901, p. 41. Courtesy of Stephanie Huthmacher.


Alt Nürnberg: German Food and Slow Service—

[pp. 128, 131]

…Alt 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.

"Hunger is the mother of impatience and anger."
—ZIMMERMAN.

Many angry altercations have taken place in consequence of this dilatory habit on the part of the phlegmatic German waiters.

"Waiter!" exclaimed an irate patron. "Where's that steak I ordered an hour ago?"

"It's on the fire, sir."

"I say, waiter!" another would cry out. "where's that champagne?"

"It's on the ice, sir."

And 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."


Thumbnail image - Around the Pan - p. 128.
Alt Nürnberg: German Food and Slow Service—(Around the Pan, p. 128). Source: Fleming, Thomas. Around the Pan with Uncle Hank: His Trip Through the Pan-American Exposition. New York: The Nut Shell Publ. Co., 1901, p. 128. Courtesy of Stephanie Huthmacher.
Thumbnail image - Around the Pan - p. 131.
Alt Nürnberg: German Food and Slow Service—(Around the Pan, p. 131). Source: Fleming, Thomas. Around the Pan with Uncle Hank: His Trip Through the Pan-American Exposition. New York: The Nut Shell Publ. Co., 1901, p. 131. Courtesy of Stephanie Huthmacher.


Uncle Hank Tries Mexican Food—

[pp. 28-29]

… 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 viand—however 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 his hunger. …


Thumbnail image - Around the Pan with Uncle Hank, p.28
Uncle Hank Tries Mexican Food—(Around the Pan, p. 28). Source: Fleming, Thomas. Around the Pan with Uncle Hank: His Trip Through the Pan-American Exposition. New York: The Nut Shell Publ. Co., 1901, p. 28. Courtesy of Stephanie Huthmacher.
thumbnail image - Around the Pan with Uncle Hank, p.29
Uncle Hank Tries Mexican Food—(Around the Pan, p. 29). Source: Fleming, Thomas. Around the Pan with Uncle Hank: His Trip Through the Pan-American Exposition. New York: The Nut Shell Publ. Co., 1901, p. 29. Courtesy of Stephanie Huthmacher.


Uncle Hank Goes to Dinner at a Bailey's Restaurant

[pp.171-173]

"Shake, 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 ?"

"B'gum, 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."

They locked 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?"

"Naterally, 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."

The officer 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."

Uncle Hank gazed at the card and seemed puzzled. The waitress asked: "Do you wish vermicelli soup?"

"Wurmerceller 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

The waitress laughed and whispered to a passing companion: "This old Ruben is nutty."

"Try mock turtle soup, Uncle Hank," said the officer, who was enjoying the situation.

"No 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."

"I am 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 and said:

"Now, 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."

The girl laughed immoderately, and the retired officer smiled and dipped both fingers into the bowl. He then wiped them carefully with a napkin.

"Sakes 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!"

"Sir, I'll give you to understand that I do not drink in the accepted term of the word," sternly said the officer.

"Wal, 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."

Fleming, Thomas. Around the Pan with Uncle Hank: His Trip Through the Pan-American Exposition. New York: The Nut Shell Publ. Co., 1901, p. 171
Uncle Hank Goes to Dinner at a Bailey's Restaurant—(Around the Pan, p. 171). Source: Fleming, Thomas. Around the Pan with Uncle Hank: His Trip Through the Pan-American Exposition. New York: The Nut Shell Publ. Co., 1901, p. 171. Courtesy of Stephanie Huthmacher.
Fleming, Thomas. Around the Pan with Uncle Hank: His Trip Through the Pan-American Exposition. New York: The Nut Shell Publ. Co., 1901, p. 172
Uncle Hank Goes to Dinner at a Bailey's Restaurant—(Around the Pan, p. 172). Source: Fleming, Thomas. Around the Pan with Uncle Hank: His Trip Through the Pan-American Exposition. New York: The Nut Shell Publ. Co., 1901, p. 172. Courtesy of Stephanie Huthmacher.
Fleming, Thomas. Around the Pan with Uncle Hank: His Trip Through the Pan-American Exposition. New York: The Nut Shell Publ. Co., 1901, p. 173
Uncle Hank Goes to Dinner at a Bailey's Restaurant—(Around the Pan, p. 173). Source: Fleming, Thomas. Around the Pan with Uncle Hank: His Trip Through the Pan-American Exposition. New York: The Nut Shell Publ. Co., 1901, p. 173. Courtesy of Stephanie Huthmacher.


Uncle Hank and High Prices—

[pp.72-73]

…The 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 hand.

"Man 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.

Thumbnail images - Around the Pan, p. 72.
High Prices —(Around the Pan, p. 72). Source: Fleming, Thomas. Around the Pan with Uncle Hank: His Trip Through the Pan-American Exposition. New York: The Nut Shell Publ. Co., 1901, p. 72. Courtesy of Stephanie Huthmacher.
Thumbnail image - Around the Pan, p. 73.
"High Prices" —(Around the Pan, p. 73). Source: Fleming, Thomas. Around the Pan with Uncle Hank: His Trip Through the Pan-American Exposition. New York: The Nut Shell Publ. Co., 1901, p. 73. Courtesy of Stephanie Huthmacher.

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 Fair.

…The Bailey Catering Company controlled the principal restaurant concessions, and it was into one of their establishments our friend found himself at noon.

"What d'yer charge fer coffee ?" inquired he of a pert little waitress.

"Ten cents," was the reply.

"Fer a cup?

"Yes."

"Wal, jest bring me a cup ov coffee."

And when the waitress walked off to fill the order he reached down to his ever faithful carpet bag and extracted therefrom a large apple pie.

"Ten 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 Co., 1901.