Saturday, April 13, 2013

A Moment in Time

San Francisco, 
1920-1923


When I first saw this photograph, there was something intriguing about the scene that I couldn’t put my finger on. The inscription in the lower right-hand corner provided some information about the event—Camille and Eugenie Mailhebuau celebrated their twentieth wedding anniversary at this dinner party on February 9, 1920. Camille was a French-born restaurateur who ran the Old Poodle Dog, one of the finest eateries in San Francisco. Although the couple looks happy, seated in the middle of the long dining room table just behind the pretty cake, some of guests look as if something is bothering them. Of course, it was entirely possible that the underlying anxiety which I perceived was simply a figment of my imagination. However, when a menu surfaced a few years later, showing where the dinner had been held and who was there, I had an idea of what may have been on their minds that day, for the photograph marked a significant moment in their lives and in the history of American restaurants.