The professional window shopper is a vagabond at heart — a loiterer by nature. Here is one gazing in a photographer’s window to discover someone he knows. These two are not professionals though but a spring couple looking in furniture windows for nest material. And sailors wandering about, nothing but kiddies, lonesome looking and no doubt wishing we were at War again and hospitable once more.
Here is a “Pershing Market” and a “Grant Market,” beside it. There’s a lot of that in San Francisco. Is there an “Imperial Doughnut?” Up goes a “Supreme Doughnut” next door. It’s the spirit of “I’ll go you one better every time.” It’s the spirit of Market street.
This is not to hurt the feelings of anyone, for some people are very sensitive about cafeterias. They are cafeteria wise, they have a cafeteria class consciousness. Such people are to be admired. They have accurate minds which enable them to choose a well-balanced meal at minimum cost. Lacking that sort of mind, I do not get on well in cafeterias. As sure as I equip myself with a tray and silver in a napkin and become one of the long procession, I lose all sense of proportion, and come out at the end with two desserts, or a preponderance of starches or with too much bread for my butter, and a surprising bill.
Those who are cafeteria wise can choose a good meal for 28 cents or 33 cents at the most. They don’t take food just because it looks delicious. They “yield not to temptation.” They have a plan and stick to it. Wise and strong-minded, they shuffle their way bravely to the end. It is said that in time they acquire a cafeteria shuffle which one can detect even on the street. But I don’t believe it’s so.
Other sections of the country have cafeterias and in some parts of the South, especially in Louisville, they are run quite extensively. But it is in the West, especially in California, that they have attained a dignity and even lavishness that makes them the surprise and delight of the tourist. Irvin Cobb says that this is the cafeteria belt of which Los Angeles is the buckle.
We have music in our cafeterias. We have flowers on the tables. People don’t just eat in them, they dine. They take their guests there. Our cafeterias have galleries with rocking chairs and stationery. They have distinctive architecture. We take visitors to see them. We brag about them, and when we wish to be especially smart we pronounce them caffa-tuh-ree-ah.
Personally, I am proud of our cafeterias, but I do not get on in them. I enter hungry. I look sideways to see what other folks are eating. I decide to have corned beef and cabbage and peach short cake and nothing else. Then in the line I have the hurried feeling of people back of me, and that I ought to make quick decisions. Everyone ought to eat salad, so I take a salad. Then some roast beef looks good so I take that, and the girl asks