Jack House

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

6:00 pm to 9:00 pm

With summer in full swing, the Jack House and Garden serve up a buffet of music, sport, and ice cream. Ice cream first. Several all-American locales claim the distinction of inventing the ice cream sundae, but the Platt & Colt Pharmacy in Ithaca, New York, published the first known ad for one, a “CHERRY SUNDAY” on 5 April 1892. Most sundae creation myths suggest the name comes from the day it was first invented or regularly served; some, bizarrely, posit anti-soda Sunday blue laws as the impetus behind the sodaless ice cream and syrup confection.Ice cream sundaes are first mentioned in the California press on a slow news day in a series of Los Angeles Herald interviews with “prominent irrigationists”—or soda fountain operators—in July 1902, with the subtitle “Carrie Nation Would Be Proud.” (Carrie Nation was a temperance campaigner wont to break up gin joints with a hatchet.) One M. J. McCamert waxed on gender similarities and distinctions with the investigative reporter: “On days when the mercury strains toward the top of the tube, mankind—both masculine and feminine—patronizes the soda fountain, thinking that by filling up on effervescent cold drinks, they can get some of the torridity out of their blood. … Gentlemen seem to prefer Boston flip and champagne freezes, and the ladies dote on ice cream sodas, ice cream Sunday, fruits with whipped cream, and crushed fruit drinks.”The “sundae” spelling turns up in the nineteen-tens, and puns immediately ensue. From the Houston Post: “Papa, I want an ice cream sundae.” “All right, dear, remind me of it again; this is only Tuesday.”Popular legend dates the ice cream cone to the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, when an ice cream seller ran out of glass cups next to a waffle maker. In fact there are references to rolling waffles to serve ices through most of the nineteenth century, and manufactured biscuit cups were patented in the United States in 1902. Two Middle Easterners, Ernest Hamwi and Abe Doumar—both vendors at the St. Louis fair—claimed to have originated ice cream cones by putting ice cream in rolled up zalabia, a delicacy from the Levant. Both went into the business, Doumar opening ice cream stands and Hamwi a cone company. Hamwi’s is the story above, first written down by him in 1928. Such confirmation as it has is from the neighboring ice cream vendor, Charles Menches, who said putting ice cream in Hamwi’s zalabia was actually his own idea.The Jack Garden croquet set will be up for those who seek decorous exercise. Photographs from the 1890s of the Jacks hosting a croquet party for a score of extravagantly dressed young women (and two grim chaperones) exist in our collection. The modern game of croquet is documented to England in 1856, but since the seventeenth century the English had been playing something called pall-mall (pronounced “pell-mell”), from French pallemaille, from Italian pallamaglio (palla for ball and maglio for mallet). The Mall in London, the lawn that leads to Buckingham Palace, is a shortening of pall-mall, which was played there. From it derives the malls of America and the modern sport of shopping.For those with more energy, we will be offering beginner lessons in the historic sport of fencing—foil, epee, and saber—whose origins go back to practice for battle and duels. The first emphasis on fencing for health and sport goes back to eighteenth-century London. The fencing mask was invented around 1800, ushering out the one-eyed fencing master. The first fencing tournament did not occur till 1880, but fencing was included in the first Olympics in 1896 and has been an Olympic sport ever since. Croquet made it into the 1900 Paris Olympics. All ten players represented France, bringing home seven medals among them. Croquet has been barred from the Olympics since then. (We provide the equipment for the fencing lessons; you provide comfortable shoes.)Local musician and historian Donn Clarius will present patriotic music in the parlor on the 1864 Jack Steinway, focusing on songs from America’s entry into World War I on this its hundredth anniversary. The Wavebreakers—Wendy Stockton and Tom Bringle—will be playing folk music. Maybe you can have too much ice cream, but you can’t have too much live music in the middle of summer.

Croquet players in the Jack Garden circa 1895
Croquet players in the Jack Garden circa 2016
Jack Garden circa 1895
Jack Garden circa 2016
Croquet players in the Jack Garden circa 1895
Croquet players in the Jack Garden circa 1895
Croquet players in the Jack Garden circa 2016
Croquet players in the Jack Garden circa 2016
Jack Garden circa 1895
Jack Garden circa 1895
Jack Garden circa 2016
Jack Garden circa 2016