THE UNITED SERVICE CLUB
Was formerly styled the Bengal Military Club, the members of which were limited to the I.C.S. and military services. As time, however, moved on and things changed they found that this particular form of exclusiveness was rather an expensive luxury, and very wisely threw open wide the heavenly portals and admitted within their celestial and sacred precincts members of other government services, save and except those of the Bengal pilots. Why the club ever made this invidious distinction, of course I cannot say, but at a later period, recognising possibly the injustice of their action, they rescinded their prohibition, and now the pilots sit in the seats of the mighty amongst the members of the other services. The club house, as many people will recollect, originally stood on the site of Chowringhee Mansions. It was quite an ordinary looking dwelling enclosed by a brick-wall skirting Chowringhee Road, and the building extended for some little distance down Kyd Street. In addition to the club house itself, there were several other houses in Park Street attached to it, and I think where the Masonic Lodge has now its habitation was once their property. Before the war the members in the cold weather used to give an “At Home” once a week which was looked upon as one of the society functions of Calcutta. It took the form of a garden party on the lawn from about 5 o’clock to 7 o’clock, and a band was always in attendance to brighten and enliven the proceedings.
[Illustration: Photo by Johnston & Hoffmann McLeod & Co.’s new premises, Dalhousie Square, West]
[Illustration: Alliance Bank of Simla.]
THE SAILORS’ HOME
When I first came to Calcutta was situated in Bow Bazar Street on the site of the Police Office at the corner of Chitpore Road which has been recently vacated. The place became in the course of time a crying scandal, as it was infested all about with native grogshops in which they sold to the sailors most villainous, poisonous decoctions under various designations; also by a very low class of boarding houses run by a thieving set of low-caste American crimps who used to fleece and swindle poor Jack out of all his hard-earned money. They would give him board and lodging of a sort, with bad liquor, and when he had secured a ship they would often ply him with drink the day before he sailed after having first secured his advance note and have him conveyed on board in a more or less helpless condition. The next day when he came to his senses he would find himself in the forecastle of some strange ship in unfamiliar surroundings half-way down the river without a rupee in his pocket and very often with little more than the clothes he stood up in. The Government at last stepped in and ordered the home to be transferred to its present position, but for some reason or other it took four years to accomplish. Jack is now very comfortably off and well taken care of, and away from the temptations that formerly assailed him; besides this he is entirely free from any attempts to swindle him, as the authorities are always prepared to cash his advance notes for a small fee. This change has proved to be the greatest boon that could have been conferred on the sailors coming to Calcutta.