Thursday, March 4, 2010

Ratner's 1970

Chopped eggs and mushrooms with an individual box of anchovies. A cream cheese and jelly sandwich. Stewed prunes with cream for dessert. All washed down with a glass of sour milk.

This is a meal you could have had at Ratner's on Second Avenue in July of 1970--that's the date on this menu sent in by reader Jack Womack. However, it might not have been the most tranquil, worry-free meal you had. To wit, here are some headlines and sub-headlines from the Times' coverage of (mostly) the Lower East Side and East Village in July of 1970.



-the body of a 75-year-old woman, her hands tied with wire, was found dead yesterday in her ransacked co-op apartment at 500 Grand Street on the Lower East Side.

-after a hot, airless day on Avenue C on the Lower East Side where the smells from the outdoor vegetable stands mingle with the stench of garbage, about 200 restless youths shattered the windows of George Seligman's drugstore.

-Policemen called to stop the looting of a drugstore in the East Village last night were forced to fire eight shots into the air to disperse a threatening crowd of Puerto Ricans.



-Will an eight-foot-high wire fence keep people from dumping garbage into vacant slum lots?

-a wave of bombings in New York had reached "gigantic" proportions.

-Three fires within two hours broke out last night at Callagy Hall, the city's children's shelter in the East Village.



-City Continues to Be Mecca for Artists; Artists Find City Is a Costly Mecca

-Do you have a right not to be stored in a computer, where you can be called up for instant investigation by any bureaucrat or law officer who considers you a 'person of interest'? If you haven't thought about that, it's high time you did.

24 comments:

Mykola Dementiuk said...

No matter the danger and poverty it still was Home, Sweet Home. I loved the dark nights, the deserted streets, you never knew from where a knife was coming at you. One night on a desolate 8th Street between B & C, with buildings all abandoned and forgotten but where I played with my friends many times, a knife was pulled on me but he was disgusted I only had a quarter. Could have been dead at that moment but he shook his head and let me walk away. I've never been back but I hear it's very expensive to live there now. In that case, keep it. Not for me.

Melanie said...

I loved this place.

Michele Hush said...

I'll never forget the waiters who would tell you what you were having. I lived on 9th near 2nd in those days. You'd go there late at night and say, "I'd like a bagel and a cup of coffee." And the waiter would say, "You want the soup." Or, "You want the brisket." Hilarious. But oh, the cheese cake. Mmmmm.

Billy said...

"City Continues to Be Mecca for Artists; Artists Find City Is a Costly Mecca"

The more things change...

BrooksNYC said...

I was in college in 1970, paying $125 a month for a tenement apartment on East Sixth Street. The area was rougher and edgier, but light years more interesting than it is now, and anyway, I was too young and self-involved to worry about crime.

Had my first-ever cheese blintzes and kasha varnishkes at Ratner's! Looking at those menu prices now, I'm shocked that life was ever so affordable. Then, as now, I had very little money, but it was always enough.

Karate Boogaloo said...

...the more they stay the same. My thought exactly! You beat me to the punch. I LOVE the menu Jeremiah...thanks.

Stephanie said...

I like that sandwiches on bagels were cheaper than on bread. Certainly, the reverse is more common today.

Anonymous said...

"I loved the dark nights, the deserted streets, you never knew from where a knife was coming at you"

lol, wtf

Beyond parody.

Johnny said...

What in tarnation is "chopped vegetarian liver"????

Anonymous said...

You can make a surprisingly passable vegetarian chopped liver out of lentils, walnuts, onions and eggs. It's uncanny, really.

Anonymous said...

My dad (a 4th generation les-er) swears that Ratner's was once deeper into the lower east side than the east village location, what is now the Met supermarket (2nd ave between 6th and 7th), anyone know if they switched locations once or twice before shutting down?

c.o. moed said...

Yes! It was on Delancy Street - That was the one we knew but couldn't afford except the couple of times relatives came and picked up the check. Those were pricey latkes there! However, the waiters were exactly like 2nd Avenue. I think when they were trying to survive, one of the kids made the back into an after hours? Lanksys? but now it's a bank or a store.

Goggla said...

Ah, all that free public entertainment! Sounds like no one was ever bored...

Grand St. said...

Guessing that's the lunch menu, since there's no entree section. I still miss something called the Vegetable Cutlet, which came in a mushroom gravy, that was served at the Delancey St. location (and could be found, like the soups, in your grocer's freezer for a time).

Jeremiah - did you read the full text of those Times pieces from 1970? Curious about the "wave of bombings"...

Barbara Hanson said...

People, people. No love for the world's best onion rolls?

Grand St. said...

Barbara is right on the money.
A basket of those goodies hit the table when you sat down. Worth the price of admission on their own.

shemichaels said...

No, no, the onion rolls only came AFTER you ordered. Otherwise, you might stuff your pockets & say you were no longer hungry & walk away.
However, the soup (ahhhhhh, the soup!) & the onion rolls (another basket, please: to hide in my purse): that was a meal. The Ratners were cousins who parted ways, hence the two locations with slightly different menus.
Also, you can make great vegetarian chicken liver with fried onions, chopped string beans (use a food processor) & hard-boiled eggs. Even nicer with walnuts. All ground up.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe that last headline "you have the right to not be stored in a computer" !! i wish! i would love the opportunity to not be stored in a computer. un-f**ucking believable.... we're all stored there now. sigh. as cher sings, "if i could turn back time..."

-stef

Jeremiah Moss said...

i threw in that computer one because it was so great and Orwellian, yet now it's our everyday reality.

Anonymous said...

Jack Womack! Small universe indeed. I forwarded the link to various including Agberg...

-- Andrew Porter

Tomm said...

In the early 1970s I was poor and lived in a walkup at the corner of 9th and C that had once been known as "the crystal palace," from its (long vanished) lobby decoration, not drugs. Ratner's on 2nd had wonderful pastry, and for something like a buck you cd get a bowl of potato soup, pack it full of free rolls, and come away filled. Liked it much more than the better-known place on Delancy
run by a cousin, and was dismayed when it closed. The last time I visited the neighborhood, my old corner was thriving, but it was a different world. And, from the comments, now neither Ratner's survives. And neither do most of the "dairy restaurants" that once filled the island, but at least vegetarian chopped liver survives at B&H Dairy on First Ave., nearly adjacent to the Gem Spa, an occasional Beat hangout at the corner of St. Marks. I usually make a pilgrimage when I'm in town, squeeze onto a stool at the counter, and remember "the old days" when I lamented that I'd missed "the old days" already vanishing, like Rattner's. And all the time I never realized the time I was living in then would soon enough become "the old days" for some future generation generating their own nostalgia, scarcely realizing the fundamental truth of the old joke that "nostalgia isn't what it was."

Marjorie said...

I am filled with sadness... I used to teach around the corner from Ratner's, but that is not why I am sad.

Places close, people pass away... and I long to talk to Jack Kerouac. Like that could ever happen.

janet said...

I will set you all straight. Ratner's on 2nd Avenue was owned by my grandfather Harry L. Harmatz and Ratner's on Delancy St was owned by his brother Jacob Harmatz. When they died, the children took it over.

srl said...

i lived diagnally across the street from ratners. second &east 5th. i left for L.A. june 1970. i missed that summer, but then again i rarely stayed in new york summers. i also left everything in that apt & never returned to the EV. my mother had to go to pickup the furniture. i remember every day i ate @ B&H, sometimes ratners. you cant get food that that anymore. that was real food.