I really need to get that time machine up and running.
Because for starters, I need to go to the Automat. I’ve been hearing about this place since I was a kid. The last Automat in NYC was open until 1991 but by then it was a heartbreaking shadow of its former self. So even though I’ve been to that one, it doesn’t count as a true Automat experience. I want an authentic Automat experience like this:
According to my parents, and everyone else I’ve ever spoken to who was lucky enough to eat there during its better days, the Automat was great. Everything was freshly prepared and all you had to do was put a nickel in the slot, open the door of the compartment containing the dish of your choice, and enjoy. It sounds like so much fun! Plus, they were reputed to have the best baked beans, the best rice pudding, the best macaroni & cheese, the best mashed potatoes, the best creamed spinach, the best chicken pot pie, the best honey buns, the best pies, the best cakes . . . the best everything, really. And most importantly, they had the best coffee, always freshly brewed. The coffee was dispensed from spouts shaped like dolphin heads—and let’s face it, anything dispensed from a spout shaped like a dolphin head is going to taste pretty fantastic.
So I need to go back in time so that I can have a delicious lunch at the Automat. I would have such a good time looking in all the little cubbyhole windows and choosing my meal. And I want to have a cup of that world-famous coffee poured from the dolphin spout, and maybe a piece of cheesecake or coconut custard pie (for which the Automat was also noted).
But it would be a shame to eat and run, so I would probably also take in a movie matinee. That’s why I’ve chosen April 1936—because that’s when Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, starring Gary Cooper, premiered. And if you haven’t seen what Gary Cooper looked like in those days, check it out:
See what I mean? Yeah, I know, he’s smoking in this photo, but Good Lord, he’s also smokin’. Talk about a hot dead guy. I’d have me a fine time watching him on the big screen, and besides, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town happens to be a fun little movie. Of course, they could have filmed him just sitting there reading aloud from the phone book and I’d pay money to see it.
On the other hand, maybe I’d skip the movie and get back in the time machine to hunt down Gary in person. That would make for a nice afternoon too.