THE FOUR SEASONS RESTAURANT — HAVEN OF EXCELLENCE — R.I.P.

4 Seasons Motif Restaurant Manhattan

The Four Seasons Motif outside the restaurant

Once there was a bastion of excellence, in Manhattan, called The Four Seasons.

Pool Room Four Seasons Restaurant

The Pool Room, The Four Seasons Restaurant

People think it was all about the food.  And, to a high degree, it was.  In that faraway year of 1959, when I moved to Manhattan, here was regionality and seasonality, and therefore savor and freshness and beauty such that no other cuisine could equal.  Not even Caravelle and Cote Basque.  Nowhere.

Metal Rain by Day 4 Seasons

Metal Rain Inside the Four Seasons, by day

Now, The Four Seasons is no more.  Several farewell nights took place, and many articles have appeared.  Nothing conveys the exquisite uniqueness that was our constant experience in every family meal at the hands of Four Seasons staff, from owners, through maitre d’, through waiters, and those invisible magnificent chefs.  All hands created that museum masquerading as restaurant, appropriately the jewel in the crown of the Seagram Building.

Palm Room Four Seasons Restaurant Manhattan

Palms and Tranquility, The Four Seasons Restaurant

The farewell articles go on and on about power lunches and billionaires and of course the movers and shakers of Manhattan.  The focus on guests splashing in what, –to us–, had always been, that sacred reflecting pool.  Seeing that pool room in vivid memory, I realize that its astounding simplicity and tranquility generated the air of haven in the middle of Manhattan’s notorious bustle.  Entering, it was as though a shawl of silence lightly descended upon our shoulders.

4 Seasons Modern Bench Manhattan Restaurant

Four Seasons Art

It cannot be true that all the superb art was reflected in that barely rippling water — yet that is how its multiplied beauty appears in retrospect.  Seeking images on the internet, nothing satisfies.   I am SURE there were Picasso tapestries hanging on stairway walls.  They appear nowhere today.  As Four Seasons appears nowhere today.  Progress and mercantilism dominate this century.  So are we deprived of this sanctuary whose aura to echoes the interiors of Chartres, Ste. Chapelle, the mosic-rich glittering basilicas in Ravenna on sunny days.

Night Scene Four Seasons Restaurant, Manhattan

Night Scene, The Pool Room, Four Seasons Restaurant

A major aspect of family meals at Four Seasons was the silken warmth of everyone’s welcome.  Come with Diane and Catherine, Werner and me, on a scintillating early autumn Saturday.  Settle in at a capacious table, carefully far enough from others so that privacy is maintained.  Hear the girls gently order their beverages; as Werner, their Swiss father, discussed wines with the sommelier.  Watch the girls’ tall gleaming glasses arrive with one waiter, as towering menus are settled silently into our hands.  See Catherine, –the younger but taller, with her long blonde Swiss hair–, open that menu and knock over her Coke.  Empathize with the horror on that young girl’s face..

4 Seasons Final Menu

Four Seasons Menu

See a brigade of waiters and busboys dash to our table.  Watch as though each had been Blackstone, the Magician.  Whisk!  off with the stained cloth and whatever had been so artfully arranged upon it.  Whoosh, floated the impeccable new one, like linens for an altar.

Hear the empathy in the voice of the headwaiter as he soothed our chagrined daughter:  “That’s nothing!,” he’s exclaiming.  “At night, we have grown-ups who catch their menus on fire!”

4 Seasons Plate with specialties Manhattan

Four Seasons Sampling

Laugh with all of us, and see Catherine’s shame erased.  Understand that this gentility was the hallmark of that restaurant.  We were not movers and shakers.  We were suburbanites, –upon whom I knew, as twice-former Manhattan resident–, that town looks askance.  We even dared to bring young girls, who happened to adore rituals and would eat anything (well, except petite friture in Villefranche, Provence, because, “Daddy, they have eyes!”

4 Seasons China

Four Seasons China

Werner knew, and we would come to know, that the poliltesse that suffused The Four Seasons was in the best European traditions, –as in Claridge’s of London, the Plaza Athenee and the Ritz of Paris.  But we weren’t in Europe — we were in America.  And for those few savory scintillating Four Seasons hours, we were experiencing the best of our country.  As with those legendary hotels and their sublime restaurants, what we took place at table rivaled beauty and majesty and tradition we had spent all morning absorbing in the world’s most important museums.

Metal Rain Four Seasons Restaurant Manhattan

Metal Rain by Night, Four Seasons Restaurant

The Four Seasons was not a museum.  It was alive, and its excellence could be counted on, time after time after time, no matter the origins of our guests

WAS alive.

IS no more.

So I must mourn this loss.

America is the less for this finale.

My words are so feeble.  I need Will to give me lines such as “Take and cut [it] out in little stars, and all the world shall be in love with night!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Untold Story — Triggered by Memorial Day

Memorial Day — remembering….

Sometimes, it’s just too much.  I am expected to keep on working, hiking, writing poems and blogs, taking pictures, that this should be antidote enough.

It is not.

Part of me warns, do not send this post.

Another part knows that there are others for whom Holidays are ordeals.  Shared Holidays.  Holidays never to be shared again.

Even something so simple as a picnics, let alone a chance encounter with one of my daughters’ friends, brings up memories not to be borne, memories never to be re-lived, let alone expanded.

Loss of the highest magnitude is my fate, since the 1980’s.

It is said that the worst loss is the death of one’s children.  There is something worse. – when they are taken from you.  When, still alive, you do not exist to your children.

There isn’t a hike or a kayak or a trip anywhere on the planet that counters agony of this magnitude.

One of my daughter’s Princeton classmates brought about this tragedy.  He, evidently, has recovered from it, and is restored to his family.  Mine have heroically tried many routes to healing, and I honor them for it.  But the brainwashing that severed them from the entire family remains indelible.

It happened because my girls cared about community service from the time they were very young.  I worked at what was then called “The Old Folks Home.”  Nobody calls it that any longer.  I went there one day a week, to serve their patients.

My daughters’ two sets of grandparents were not with them in summertime — two settled into their native Switzerland, seeking various cures at baths that went back to the Romans.  The others lived far away The girls wanted grandparents.  So I took them with me every Wednesday.  We didn’t have the concept of ‘virtual’, then.  But this is what they sought.

Grown-up volunteers wore ghastly uniforms, a hideous hue, meaning nothing to wearer nor viewer.  My girls wore bright dresses I had sewed.  Both girls had that long Swiss luminous hair.

Barely anyone touched the patients.  Board members would come and go, ducking right down to the Board Room, without going near a resident.

My girls skipped down the hall carrying the welcome mail, scurrying eagerly into each room, knowing everyone’s name.  They went right up to each person, engaging no matter how gruff some of them could be.

The old people loved to see and touch the vivid dresses, stroke the blonde hair.  I see now, the girls were life, were the future, grandchildren whom these people could not see, let alone touch.

We’d been warned not to try to talk to certain ones, let alone try get them to complete their menus (lunch and dinner). The eager girls could get through, even to the deaf, the stubborn and the blind.  Each did know exactly what to eat, and the girls merrily marked it down, skipping triumphantly back to the front desk, bearing their trophies.

Relationships were built and they strengthened weekly.  Everyone was crushed if I came without the girls that particular Wednesday.

We’d bring our guitars sometimes, and play simple, old-fashioned songs for them in the different sunrooms.  They could sing right along.  Some had forgotten almost everything, but not the words to those songs. They also liked “Puff the Magic Dragon”, and “Michael, Row the Boat Ashore,” though those had not been part of their own young memories.

At Christmastime, we would bring the girls’ friends along, because those friends had witnessed the girls’ enthusiasm for this service.  I think it was two different weekends, each year.  One to decorate the trees with all the people sitting around in each sunroom.  And one to sit by the lit trees and sing carols.  One of those other children told me years later, “Mrs. Edelmann, of all the things we did with your family, doing the trees and singing the songs are my favorite memories.”

One woman patient was from Germany, so she sounded like the girls’ Swiss grandmother,  A very strong connection was made with her, and with her o, so faithful, very proper and dignified husband, Dr. X.

One day the girls came scurrying back to me, for they made rounds alone by this time — those patients belonged to them.  “Mommy, Mommy, something’s wrong with Mrs. X!,” they cried.  “Come with us!”  I asked, as we hurried back to the room, “How do you know?”  “She keeps saying ‘schmerzen, schmerzen” they chorused.     I murmured, “O, Honeys, that means pain.”

We could see that she was suffering, so much that all English had fled.  We had his phone number, I don’t remember why.  We called and told Dr. X and he came right over.  Whatever that crisis was, passed.  However, Mrs. X was not with us much longer.  A few months after her death, we had a dear hand-written note from her husband, thanking us for caring so much about his wife, inviting us to a formal tea in his lovely, almost archaic, Princeton home.

Service always mattered to my girls, though they were so young at this point.  In school, they took on official roles.  In all schools, and sports, they shone.  They cared about the community and its creatures, one, at seven dictating a letter to the editor of the Packet about deer in our town.  The other learned sign language in school, used it to reach autistic children at what was then New Jersey Neuropsychiatric Institute every week.  She later taught French with sign language to a student at a nearby New England college.  Service always mattered.

The Princeton classmate took advantage of their need to make the world a better place.  He ‘fed’ them to his guru.  It has been decades since I, myself, have touched their shining hair, let alone hugged either daughter.

Memorial Day is the least of the family Holidays, in terms of painful memories.  But it’s one more when we’re not together, when I can’t call them up and remember our backyard festivities in the Braeburn years.

Don’t let anyone insist you can get over loss.  No.  It grows.  It leaps.  It sabotages you when least expected.

Their guru taught all his captives that families are diabolic.  What he meant by his lie was, all families who disapproved of the cult.

Bereaved parents have all my sympathy, always:  No matter how or when they lose their dear ones, it’s always too soon.

Can you imagine that I envy other parents the funerals, even the flowers, gravesites where they may make pilgrimage?

When you’ve lost your children, every day is Memorial Day.

You don’t know how you are going to go on.

But you do.

Lawrenceville Fire Company, Perennial Gift to the Community

As NJWILDBEAUTY readers know, I have recently moved to Lawrenceville, to a peaceful community called Society Hill, tucked up and away from the tiny town, and named for the Society of Friends.  As in Quakers, who filled this region and served it well, back even before our Revolution.

On voting days, I can walk to our polls, in the Lawrenceville Fire Company’s building .  Station 23 it is, and 23 is the number of my house.  Good omen.  203 was my number at Canal Pointe, and 2003 all my high school years on Northwood Boulevard in Royal Oak Michigan.

It’s always festive when I vote in my new place, because it takes place among these true friends, those who protect our community by day and by night, who polish up their phenomenal trucks and other vehicles, and stand them, gleaming, outside as we arrive to cast our ballots.

I wasn’t even well on the most recent voting day.  I thought I might not even be able to utilize that phenomenal rite, for which our Founding Fathers, often deliberating here and near here, pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.

Feeble as I felt, mid-morning I asked myself, for some reason, “well who are you, what defines you?”

One answer turned out to be that I write a blog about New Jersey and nature.  So I did that, that morning.

And what else am I, who else am I?

An American who votes.

So I went down to The Lawrenceville Fire Company and chose, among others, Bonnie Watson Coleman, whose splendid brother, Jay, is our vice president at D&R Greenway Land Trust, saving nature in New Jersey.

Who else am I?

A photographer.

So while I was down at the fire station, I took pictures.  Below is the Fire Company’s own picture.  I urge you to think of them now, at Christmastime.  Think how they leap into the fray, whenever flames appear — and how they advise us about such things as fire extinguishers and generously watering the Christmas tree. Think and get out your checkbook, and write them a thank you check.

Meanwhile, I think their vehicles look like Christmas.  Enjoy!

Lawrenceville Antique Fire EngineLawrenceville Fire Company
Mercer County Station 23
Address: 64 Phillips Ave, 08648
Phone: (609) 896-0972
“Protecting the North Since 1915”

Welcoming Doorway, Lawrenceville Fire Company

Welcoming Doorway, Lawrenceville Fire Company

A safe and honorable place to bring tattered flags

A safe and honorable place to bring tattered flags

We've come a long way with firefighting equipment

We’ve come a long way with firefighting equipment

Water rescue equipment

Water rescue equipment

Insignia of Honor

Insignia of Honor

Brush 23

Brush 23

The latest and the greatest...

The latest and the greatest…

How It Used To Be

How It Used To Be

Honorable Uniform, Ever at the Ready

Honorable Uniform, Ever at the Ready

Lawrencevillie Station 23

Lawrencevillie Station 23

Pride and Joy of the Crew

Pride and Joy of the Crew

Ready for Anything

Ready for Anything

RESCUE

RESCUE

Tools of the Trade

Tools of the Trade

Badge of Heroism

Badge of Heroism  re 9/11

The Power and The Glory

The Power and The Glory

God is in the Details

God is in the Details

This Simple Plaque Tells Their Story

Lawrenceville Fire Department 010

The first time I voted here, the department was called to a fire.  Here we all were, voting away, and there came the men, calmly hurrying, dashing into those uniforms we came to revere over and over during 9/11, climbing on to the polished trucks that had been all out on the sidewalk for us to admire.  Silently, surely, they whooshed away.

I asked, “Do you do this every time we vote?”

Smiles all around.

That day and this healing day, of capturing their luminous equipment, I felt so very proud to be American.