In the 1920s, the Santa Monica beachfront looked very different than it does today. For one, there were multiple piers in the early 1900s (one of which we wrote about in another LAPL menu exploration). Between 1915 and 1930, a number of beach clubs were also established, most of which have since been demolished (although The Beach Club, established in 1923, still exists, and others, such as the Casa del Mar, became hotels or apartment buildings).
One of these beach clubs was the Deauville Club, which was established in 1927 and demolished in the mid-'60s after a fire. The club sat right next to the still-standing Santa Monica Pier -- in some 1950s films of Muscle Beach you can see the club in the background.
The menu we're looking at today is exciting because of the history of the Deauville Club and the Santa Monica beachfront, but also because of the person this menu celebrates: Irvin S. Cobb.
When I came across this menu in the archive, I knew from the cartoon exterior that this must have something to do with Cobb, a man I grew familiar with through an old cocktail book he wrote that came into my possession, and which I wrote about here on Squid Ink a few months back. Cobb was a writer and humorist, who did some movie acting and hosted the 6th Academy Awards in 1935.
This menu celebrated Cobb's 63rd birthday, on June 23, 1939. The menu itself is full of food puns, like Roast Chicken and dressing a la "a bird in the hand" and ice cream a la "chocolate hyena" (whatever that means). But perhaps even better is the flowery language used to describe Cobb himself:
Born in Paducah, Kentucky, on June 23, 1876, "at the inconvenient hour of 5:15," to quote his own words. At 17 he took up writing as a reporter on the Paducah Daily News, and he says that he has been "stumbling along" that line ever since. The net result of his stumbling to date is something in the neighborhood of 400 short stories, a goodly batch of best-selling novels and innumerable contributions to the screen and radio as both actor and writer.
Folks, tonight you are vis-a-vis with the world's greatest humorist!
See below for the interior of the menu, as well as an old postcard depicting the scene outside the Deauville Club in its heyday.
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