Saturday, November 21, 2009

Drawing on back of lunch menu - the 1789 Restaurant - Nov. 20, 1967

On October 28, just last month, actually it was Wednesday, October 28 and it was exactly at 1:47 PM that I received this strange Email with the drawing you see here, in an attachment.  I was going to post it yesterday, but I forgot.  It would have been exactly 42 years to the day that I drew this in a pub called The 1789 ( 1789, for The beginning of The French Revolution ).  The 1789 is a classy restaurant establishment located just outside the campus of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. . . The restaurant was upstairs and in the cellar with a separate entrance was a neat place called " The Tombs " . . It was actually a rathskeller tavern with old sand blasted brick walls and boasted an old, old mahogany carved wood bar and happened to serve the greatest hamburgers, pizza and sandwiches in D.C. . . I remember they used to sell some great imported White Horse Ale in green bottles, which I don't see any more. Anyway,  this is how this drawing happened . . I had an assignment to try to draw up some sketches of old bar scenes with the actual detail of the wood carving bar tap appointments showing and capturing the ambience of an old speakeasy . . I went to the library and did some research and then I heard about this tavern, " The Tombs " which I heard was as old as back from the speakeasy days and that is exactly what I wanted . . the sketches I was working on were typical scenes showing the festive atmosphere  of the crowd and capturing the gayety of the party in a spontaneous moment, . . it was a great assignment.  If I was successful, I would have the chance to be the chief scenic set designer for the murals and backdrops for this new Broadway play. And some investors who were in the planning stages for this musical " THE BOOTLEGGER", based on the life of Al Capone, were setting up a meeting in three weeks. A friend of mine was one of the investors and was pulling for me.  I was to show at this meeting, a half-dozen loose sketches in color about 20x30 with a few in detail, along with a couple blueprints schematics with cross-section diagrams for the carpenters and cabinetmen to build from . . this just down my alley, since I had extensive experience from my float building days . . if they were impressed, I would have gone to New York, period. ( ONE OF THOSE " COULDA-SHOULDA-WOULDA DEALS )

I started going to The Tombs at about 1 PM on Saturdays as I figured it would be kind of quiet, maybe a few tourists here and there.  

The plan was to draw up a bunch of sketches on site then take them back to my studio and make finish renderings for the presentation till I had my half-dozen or so to show.

I remember the first drawing was a nice perspective shot of the bar with people partying . .  with the old-fashioned carved wood tap handles here and there. I noticed as usual, people like to watch . .  like it's a circus or a vaudville act  . . I really don't like to do this but this was too big of an opportunity to forget or to ignore.  As I completed the first sketch, a tourist sitting next to me sad 'Wow', I like it, are you selling them ?' . . I thought for a moment and said to myself what the hell, I can always do another one . . so I think she gave me ten bucks and I drew another one . . the same identical thing happened . .and happened again with another bar patron, and again and again . .  soon people were buying me drinks, AND buying my sketches ! THAT is when I switched to the imported white Horse Ale ( I'd been drinking some cheap domestic brew up till that point ).  That first Saturday was a flop as far as having any productivity to show for it . . I returned the following Saturday at the same time, by then I was becoming a celebrity in the place and was doing mostly caricatures and portarits and meeting a lot of people.  I DO remember drawing this guy, I thought he had interesting pork chops, and it made the job kind of easy.

On the Email it states:  " Was sorting through the clutter in my deceased mother-in-law's home and came across this sketch.  It is on the back of the lunch menu from the 1789 restaurant ( Cheeseburger $1.05, lobster roll $ 1.35 )  Based on the date I'm guessing you were acquainted with my brother-in-law Dan Devine who was attending Georgetown University around that time.  Thought I'd send it along for your enjoyment. Regards, Scott Alan Stewart. 

 I had to post this . .being a sentimental soul, I remember precisely that day at the Tombs . . .

To finish the story, I was having such a good time at The Tombs, I threw the Set-Designer rough drawings in the trash . . and I kept going back and back and back . . you know how that goes . . I kept saying tomorrow and tomorrow never came.  I NEVER GOT OUT OF THERE ONCE BEFORE CLOSING TIME.

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