Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Me and Greg and the Dog Cart

We here at the Dougloid Towers read with much dismay and sadness of the passing of Gregory Papalexis recently.

Mr. Papalexis started his business with a small G.I. loan, buying the bakery his father had started in Manhattan and in time, branched out into building the hot dog carts you see on every street corner in Manhattan.

In 1969, he acquired the Sabrett's firm, which is undoubtedly the finest hot dog obtainable at any price. I know, I know, adherents of Vienna Beef and Nathan's will cavil and obfuscate-and they are fine dogs indeed, but only when you cannot get a fix of Sabrett's.

Mr. Papalexis knew all this, enjoying the delectable canines four or five times a week-which undoubtedly contributed mightily to his long life, devotion to his wife of 63 years, and happiness. If it wasn't for this damned issue of geography I'd do the same-Sabrett's carts are few and far between in Iowa but I can and do get Sabrett's dogs mail order every time I think about it. Imagine-owning your own hot dog company, and Sabrett's at that.

When you think about the philosophy of it all, it is clear that Gregory Papalexis brought much happiness to many people, far more so than any number of soapbox preachers, hectoring high school assistant principals, angry traffic cops, draft boards, store detectives, and numberless other wet blankets and buzz killers of every type and size.

For that this modest resident of Norwood, New Jersey, deserves our everlasting thanks. When the roll is called up yonder, this will all weigh heavily in his favor. Of that there is absolutely no doubt.

What could be better than a fall afternoon in Manhattan, a park bench, and a couple of Greg's best safely nestled in their buns? It is surely a Manhattan thing, and New Yorkers can be justifiably proud of this minimalist yet complete culinary tour de force.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Tenterhooks Demystified

Every once in a while you'll see a reference to somebody being "on tenterhooks"-that is, a state of extreme uncertainty. When I saw that this morning I asked myself "What in the hell is a tenterhook, anyway?"

Well, it's a sharply hooked nail that is used to stretch wet cloth over a frame so that it dries flat. A person whose job it was to put the combination of tenterhooks and wet wool over a frame was known as a tenterer-as are the workers in the picture.

The fine folks at the Trowbridge Museum have put together a website that provides much detail on the various now forgotten trades associated with cloth making. It's well worth your time to have a look.