Since publishing this piece I have had reproductions made as gifts, and framed the original. It’s lovely.
The time was August, 1932. The place was Monte Carlo. This little gem is a menu from an eatery patronized by Helen and her fellow ballerinas, the “American Beauties.” Though the cover is a print, the interior meal selections were meticulously penned in an ultraviolet flourish.
Helen collected a dozen or so such menus on her year-long excursion; pocketed from bistro’s, pubs, and cafe’s across Europe. It is hard to say if management frowned upon this custom, or offered menus willingly for advertising purposes. Regardless, the simple beauty of the artwork and flowing cursive recalls a commitment to elegance and style long since abandoned.
Gail Chumbley is the author of River of January, a non-fiction memoir.