Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Story of my Stork Club Ash Tray

The Stork Club was a nightclub in New York City from 1929 to 1965. After 1934, it was located at 3 East 53rd Street, just east of Fifth Avenue. The building was demolished in 1966 and the site is now the location of Paley Park. It would have been a perfect place for an advertising executive in the heyday of the ad profession. I was working in New York in the 1980's. My office was just a short walk from this location. I always knew, even before the popular Mad Men series, that I missed that time in America when night clubs and martini lunches were pretty routine, smoking was commonplace indoors and entertainment included a meal out with cocktails.

“You know Dave, I really would like to own an ash tray from the Stork Club.” I remember remarking while visiting with my college chum one weekend afternoon day. He lived with his wife and dog (a boxer) on Avenue A in lower Manhattan. It was around 1988 I think.

Dave looked at me with amusement and gestured for me to follow him. It was a warm Spring or Summer day. Dave always knew the city better than me. He grew up in NYC. He was adventurous when it came to living in up-and-coming neighborhoods. I followed him to a shop that sold restaurant d├ęcor items, the bric-a-brac that often hang from walls and ceilings to enhance a theme, add charm or visual interest. To my surprise, in the window amidst a variety of serving trays, dishes, coffee pots and vintage posters and signage was a Stork Club Ash Tray.

It cost me $30, but I simply had to have it. Today, it is still a prize possession. It’s a nod to a simpler time, post WWII when my father started his business (1951) and raised a family with children born in 1944, 1952, 1955, 1956, 1958 and 1959. I love that ash tray. (I don’t smoke cigarettes but am fond of a good cigar from time to time.) The Stork Club ash tray is also a reminder of a time in my own life when I could casually identify something I wanted and a good friend could lead me right to it. Almost like magic.  

Isn’t that remarkable? That ash tray in the store window was already at least 20+ years old. And another 25+ years have passed since. It is still a symbol for me and one of my very favorite things. Thanks Dave! (You cheap bastard. You could have bought it for me. Ha. Ha. Ha. Still, that purchase, when we were young men, making our way in the world, is one of the best investments I’ve ever made.) It brings a smile, fond memories and a kind of respect for an entire generation that came before us. Happy New Year 2012.

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