Saturday, April 13, 2013

A Moment in Time

San Francisco, 

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 operated the venerable Old Poodle Dog in San Francisco. Camille and Eugenie can be seen at the middle of the long table, just behind the pretty cake. While the couple appears to be happy, some of guests look as if something is bothering them. Of course, it was entirely possible that the underlying anxiety that I perceived was 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 realized what may have been on their minds that day, for the photograph marked a pivotal moment in the history of American restaurants.