Once upon a time, not too long ago really, New York was a mecca of industry, shipping and manufacturing. Just look at the panoramic openings of old movies and you’ll see docks and smoke stacks framing the islands of this fair city. Heck, if you’re from here all you have to do is think a little and there they are. But alas, they are gone. The factories have morphed into luxury condos that none of those blue collar folk could ever afford or storage warehouses. The only clues left that there were bustling piers are what remains of the pylons that peek out of the water at low tide. It’s a sad state of affairs, if you ask me, as many an honest family made an honest living at these places for a couple hundred years or so but alas, that is another story and not the one I am planning to tell here.
This essay is about a joint called the Terminal Lunch. I found a picture of it on NYPL, where I find most of my old pics and was quite excited because I knew exactly where this was. I went straight to my usual resources and found… nothing. Oh. Fine. Here’s the deal: According to a 1917 issue of the Engineering News Record, Vol. 78, page 285 back in 1917 some dude named Alonzo B. Pouch bought three piers in Staten Island for shipping, receiving, etc. and I am guessing that the establishment Terminal Lunch came from that since according to a map from 1917, there was nothing there – note it says VAC and RUINS . Whether or not some local took advantage of the new industry to make some money from the freshly deposited dock workers and factory gals that would be visiting the neighborhood, or if it was Pouch himself who had the place built so he could get some of that weekly paycheck back from his employees, I could not say. But in any case, there it was and they sold Reid’s Ice Cream too, which was made in Brooklyn and Manhattan and had a warehouse in Long Island until about 1950.
Now, one of the reasons I couldn’t find anything special about Terminal Lunch was because that was pretty much the name for any number of cafes, diners, coffee counters or other eateries that were located near a transportation terminal be it bus or train in any part of the country. Pouch Terminal was located right next to the Clifton Ave Station of the SIRT. It was like calling a restaurant “Joe’s” or “Mike’s” or calling a cafe on Main Street “The Main Street Cafe”. You get the picture. And no, I could fund nothing on O.A.K Cigars and I promise I tried.
But, I did find a recipe for something called The Terminal Lunch. It was in the 1915 issue of The International Confectioner on page 37. Hmmm, now I had a challenge. See, I’m always goin’ on about how I wish I lived in the old-timey times. The question is, could I? Could I really? Aside from no decent bathrooms and other modern conveniences that I truly appreciate, I would have to eat the food that was popular back then. Is that something I could do? I’ve read recipes from the old days and have never had the balls to make any of them. I should do this. Why? Honestly it’s really just because for some reason I bought coffee syrup and have never had a reason to use it and this recipe calls for it. Yep, that’s pretty much it – I don’t want to throw out something I bought on a whim and haven’t used.
The recipe goes like this: “Into a mixing glass draw one ounce of chocolate and one ounce of coffee syrup; into this break an egg; add 2 ounces cream a little ice and 2 teaspoonfull of malted milk. Shake thoroughly and fill with carbonated water then pour into a clean 12-ounce glass.” So, I arranged my mise en place (I got all my stuff out) and here it is. Yes, I’m using half and half because I have no other use for cream so I’m not gonna buy it because it will just go bad. As for the malted milk, the closest thing I could think of that would work was the Ovaltine. As for the ice part, it didn’t specify crushed or cubed so I’m using cubed as a way to agitate everything before I pour in the seltzer.
Alright, here we go…ya know what?
It’s pretty good! It’s kinda like an egg cream, only an egg cream doesn’t have any eggs in it. Hmmm… maybe I could live back in the old days. But then again, I don’t know what this is gonna do to me come sunrise.