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What's on the Menu?

Saluting S.S. President Johnson

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As you might have noticed, the transcription queue has been fairly text-heavy lately. The Hotels Commodore, Astor, Mc Alpin, and Pierre are well-represented, and the sheer number of dishes on each of their menus can quickly fatigue one's fingers.

But every so often, amidst the towering hotels, something different pops up. Recently, the lovely menus of the S.S. President Johnson have been floating up to the surface, whisking us away from midtown Manhattan to the larger world of Japanese cherry blossoms, California redwood forests, and the Taj Mahal.

The S.S. President Johnson was christened in 1928, but has a much longer history as the Manchuria. The Manchuria was first a passenger liner and then served as a transport ship for the Navy during World War I. Between the Wars, the Manchuria was renamed the S.S. President Johnson and began its travels around the world with Dollar Steamship Lines. These menus are from those travels.

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Old menus from Little Italy restaurants.

Ms. Federman: I have been unable to find copies of old menus from restaurants in Manhattan's Little Italy. I have searched your menu collection, collections from other libraries, communicated with a curator at the Tenement Museum, and have been on Ebay. No luck. Do you have any suggestions? Steve Freidus 212-580-4085

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