AJAX: An occasional request to empty the ice-box pan would also be an artful echo of domesticity.
SOCRATES: Of course the success of the scheme would depend greatly on finding the right person for matron. If she were to strew a few hairpins about and perhaps misplace a latch key now and then——
AJAX: Socrates, you have hit upon a great idea. But you ought to extend the membership of the club to include young men not yet married. Think what an admirable training school for husbands it would make!
SOCRATES: My dear fellow, let us not discuss it any further. It makes me too homesick. I am going back to my lonely apartment to write a letter to dear Xanthippe.
Did you ever hear of Finn Square? No? Very well, then, we shall have to inflict upon you some paragraphs from our unpublished work: “A Scenic Guidebook to the Sixth Avenue L.” The itinerary is a frugal one: you do not have to take the L, but walk along under it.
Streets where an L runs have a fascination of their own. They have a shadowy gloom, speckled and striped with the sunlight that slips through the trestles. West Broadway, which along most of its length is straddled by the L, is a channel of odd humours. Its real name, you know, is South Fifth Avenue; but the Avenue got so snobbish it insisted on its humbler brother changing its name. Let us take it from Spring Street southward.
Ribbons, purple, red, and green, were the first thing to catch our eye. Not the ribbons of the milliner, however, but the carbon tapes of the typewriter, big cans of them being loaded on a junk wagon. “Purple Ribbons” we have often thought, would be a neat title for a volume of verses written on a typewriter. What happens to the used ribbons of modern poets? Mr. Hilaire Belloc, or Mr. Chesterton, for instance. Give me but what these ribbons type and all the rest is merely tripe, as Edmund Waller might have said. Near the ribbons we saw a paper-box factory, where a number of high-spirited young women were busy at their machines. A broad strip of thick green paint was laid across the lower half of the windows so that these immured damsels might not waste their employers’ time in watching goings on along the pavement.
Broome and Watts streets diverge from West Broadway in a V. At the corner of Watts is one of West Broadway’s many saloons, which by courageous readjustments still manage to play their useful part. What used to be called the “Business Men’s Lunch” now has a tendency to name itself “Luncheonette” or “Milk Bar.” But the old decorations remain. In this one you will see the electric fixtures wrapped in heavy lead foil, the kind of sheeting that is used in packages of tea. At the corner of Grand Street is the Sapphire Cafe, and what could be a more appealing name than that? “Delicious Chocolate with Whipped Cream,” says a sign outside