JACKIE: We want to Talk about New York surprises — for both of us. I still don’t know how all our family and friends kept the NY trip a secret from David, but they did, and I think he was thrilled.
DAVID: Surprises are for birthdays, anniversaries — almost expected. But when they come out of the blue (Jet Blue), well folks, that is a surprise! My adorable wife (who is always a surprise) knocked my socks off by hi-Jackie-ing me on a flight to New York for two jam-packed, superbly planned weeks: special dinners, wine tastings, seeing friends and many Broadway shows that I was dying to see. More after she gets a word in edgewise…
JACKIE: At my 60th High School Reunion, a dear old friend offered me his apartment at The Phillips Club for two weeks. This perfect arrangement, just across the street from Lincoln Center, was a welcome blessing. As we walked in, Loretta Swit was coming out the revolving door. She lives at the Phillips when in NY, so it was possible for some quality time. During our stay, we enjoyed the bar menu at The Four Seasons, and a splendid lunch at Le Cirque made possible by amazing Internet deals.
DAVID: Hey, it was my surprise, so: Hooray for the Fourth of July fireworks viewed from Larry Storch’s apartment, where we met lovely Celeste Holm. And yippee for house seats to the breathtaking War Horse, Anything Goes, The Normal Heart, Priscilla Queen of the Desert and All’s Well That Ends Well in Central Park.
JACKIE: Then it was my turn for a surprise — a very special dinner at a very big deal, timeless restaurant.
The 21 Club
DAVID: In the glory days of television, when every other program was not a reality show or CSI — but was instead Gunsmoke, Dick Van Dyke, Doris Day, Star Trek and an array of musical variety shows, with great stars like Danny Kaye, Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, Dean Martin — programmers were as different as the programs. There were teams consisting of professionals from ad agencies, sponsors and networks who worked with the writers, producers and stars to develop the best possible shows. I was lucky enough to be part of the team as a program supervisor with Procter & Gamble. We gathered at two major places to plan our annual strategy: in Los Angeles at the Bel Air Bar and in New York at The 21 Club, which is still alive, well, and flourishing. My surprise for JJ was a visit to this scene of my youth.
JACKIE: We sat under the fabled toys hanging from the ceiling and ordered rose champagne. I indulged with the famous 21 Caesar salad, chilled jumbo asparagus and perfect “Speakeasy” steak tartare. My fella gorged on a dozen assorted oysters followed by a huge picture perfect filet mignon with wild mushrooms on the side. The gorgeous desserts – “21” yums! The service was impeccable and the atmosphere, something to write home about —
DAVID: — which is what we’re doing. Back in the 1930s, the restaurant that once was a speakeasy attracted the affluent horsey set, including one Jay Van Urk, a top breeder who put his personal stamp on his favorite restaurant by donating the colorful figure of a jockey. It was soon joined by jockeys of other breeders. They became the distinctive symbol of “21” and have decorated the entrance ever since.
JACKIE: The toys that cover the ceiling of the Bar Room have become another major attraction. Donated by sports heroes, heads of major industries (and one by President John F. Kennedy: a model of the PT-109), they include replicas of American products, symbols of our culture and lifestyle. The Bar Room is also a Sports Hall of Fame with the helmets, bats, rackets and skates — stuff of stars like Jack Nicklaus, Chris Evert, Willie Mays and other heroes.
DAVID: All in all, the 21 Club is the perfect Manhattan place to see and to be seen. All while enjoying a sense of times gone by, along with cuisine that rivals the best of today.
JACKIE: Great fun to soak up a little history while mopping up your plate.
We’ll Travel …