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Posted on Friday, July 03, 2009 - 7:49 pm:   

Wow! These vignettes brought tears to my eyes. As a youngster in the Kensington section of Philadelphia in the early 50's, I often stood entranced as an elegantly coifed woman in a booth just inside the revolving doors at the H&H on Allegheny Avenue would smoothly scoop her hand into a huge bucket of nickels and magically drop exactly twenty nickels into the curved depression on the marble counter. Occasionally a man would pause to count, but invariably walk on, having determined that she had given him exactly twenty nickels, just as without hesitation, she expertly and without counting, scooped twenty more nickels for the next customer.
I don't recall ever having a whole dollar for those nickels, but often would drink free ice water with lemon and sugar until a paying customer arrived to requisition the table. Rarely did an H&H employee call attention to my petit thievery.
Posted on Thursday, February 19, 2009 - 11:01 pm:   

When I was twelve years old in 1959 I helped a good friend, Jay Milder a renowned abstract expressionist artist, then in his mid twenties move into his new studio loft in Manhattan. We had lunch at the Horn & Hardart Automat with another artist friend of Jay�s; an older, kind, but disheveled looking man wearing a fishing hat who introduced himself to me as Norman. Norman and I chatted through lunch. When we finished and were walking out the door, Jay turned to me and said do you know who that was that you were just talking to? I said no, he told me he was Norman. And Jay replied, yes he is Norman; Norman Rockwell.
Posted on Thursday, February 19, 2009 - 10:58 pm:   

When I was twelve years old in 1959 I helped a good friend, Jay Milder a renowned abstract expressionist artist, then in his mid twenties move into his new studio loft in Manhattan. We had lunch at the Horn & Hardart Automat with another artist friend of Jay�s; an older, kind, but disheveled looking man wearing a fishing hat who introduced himself to me as Norman. Norman and I chatted through lunch. When we finished and were walking out the door, Jay turned to me and said do you know who that was that you were just talking to? I said no, he told me he was Norman. And Jay replied, yes he is Norman; Norman Rockwell.
Chris DeSantis
Posted on Friday, December 26, 2008 - 10:52 pm:   

How I miss the Horn and Hardart. Even as a kid I could afford a piece of apple pie and a cup of coffee, which nobody could tell me I couldn't have. I loved watching the lazy susans rotate, only to return freshly-stocked. New York of the 50's will always exist in my memories.
Phil McGrath
Posted on Friday, October 24, 2008 - 2:50 pm:   

I was a newspaper boy for the the Brooklyn Eagle and always had a pocketful of change. Me and my fellow newsies would always overindulge ourselves at the H and H at Times Square.It brings back many fond memories to think of it. The chicken pot pie was my favorite!I always followed it up with a nice piece of pie.
Betty J. Green
Posted on Thursday, July 17, 2008 - 6:07 pm:   

When my friend and I visited Philadelphia for the first time in 1953, there were three things on our list of things to experience: Bandstand, a ride on a subway and eating at the Automat. We were fortunate to do all three!
Posted on Tuesday, July 01, 2008 - 10:00 am:   

Ahhh, the memories. I remember going to the Horn and Hardart's on Market Street in Philly as a little girl with a sweet German lady named Anna McKee who was like a Grandma to me. I remember the excitment of putting the coins in the slot and getting to pick a dessert of my choice. I believe there was an upstairs and downstairs and remember being facinated by the "dumb waiter" that would carry the dirty dishes up and down. I also remember the shiny brass banister (in my mind, I believed it was made of gold and I would pretend I was a princess coming down the steps) Those were magical days long gone. I wish our children and grandchildren could experience the "good ole days" too.
Posted on Thursday, April 03, 2008 - 8:27 pm:   

I lived in the Frankford secton of Philly. There was a Horn & Hardarts on Frankford Ave. near the Margaret Street elevated train (the "El") stop. Across the street was the bakery. I would give just about anything to walk into a Horn & Hardart again.
mike boccio
Posted on Wednesday, February 06, 2008 - 11:53 pm:   

I used to eat at H&H with my dad. He was a NYC cabbie that commuted from Deer Park Li daily. He would take me to work with him on the weekends and school vac. He loved the place esp the coffee. We would get to park right out front in the taxi stand. I was the 1970's we hung there.
Bob-Union, NJ
Posted on Thursday, October 04, 2007 - 11:41 am:   

What a treat as H&H was always & to discover this site exists. Am in the process of sharing with internet friends who live far & wide about my experiences when visiting NYC as a youth and our frequent Sunday outings. On one occassion our family, dressed up as was the norm, sat enjoying a meal. I couldn't resist playing with the lazy-susan in the center of the table. After spinning it too hard the mustard & catsup splashed all over my Mom's fine dress. This was added to my list of things not to do when growing up! When time permits I will revisit this site. Thanks.
Posted on Sunday, August 12, 2007 - 9:57 am:   

So does anyone have that recipe for the fabulous roadapple stuffing they served with the roast turkey?
Joan Decker
Posted on Monday, March 12, 2007 - 3:18 pm:   

A big treat in the 1950s was to make that trip to NYC from the Bronx. My mother took me to Radio City Music Hall. Afterwards we would stop off at Horn and Hardart's. I can still see those little glass doors, the unique experience of putting money into a slot, lifting the door and getting the food you selected. An occasional hand replacing the food. Empty slots...that gave me an opportunity to see someone's legs on the other side. I can taste the chicken pot pie as I write this. My folks did not have alot of money...H&H made "eating out" affordable. Thank you - Horn and Hardart for the wonderful memories.
Betty Durgin Martin
Posted on Wednesday, March 07, 2007 - 7:36 pm:   

I was thinking about the Automat the other day and decided to google "Horn and Hardart Automat" and up popped this site. As a child in the 1950's a big treat for my sister and me was a trip to Dad's office at New York Life in NYC and a visit to the nearby Automat. I was always fascinated with the Automat. I'll always remember trying to peak through the little doors and see the people working in the back. I always thought we weren't supposed to see them and I was somehow doing the forbidden. It fascinated me to see them quickly replace a piece of pie in an empty space. I would hold my nickles in my hand and study everything very carefully before finally making my selection. What a thrill to put the money in and open the door!! Some years later there was a Horn and Hardart retail store at Garden State Plaza in Paramus, NJ. After shopping my mother would always stop there and pick something out for dinner before heading home.
Kathy Chiappetta
Posted on Wednesday, February 28, 2007 - 5:59 pm:   

I grew up in Darien, CT and often took the train to NYC with my grandmother. I wanted to eat at the Automat and she wanted to eat at either Childs or Schrafts. As she was the senior of our group of two, she won. When I was old enough to go into NYC by myself (late 50's), I always went the the Automat. When I was 14, I worked in my Father's office at 101 Park Ave (the Architects Building-demolished in 1982 or 83). I would quickly eat a chicken pot pie at the Automat, then go to the Library. The next day, I'd have a piece of coconut cream pie. I'm so happy the Automat at 104th St and Broadway has been designated a Landmark!!
Posted on Sunday, February 11, 2007 - 8:34 pm:   

Philip Fischetti
Posted on Tuesday, January 30, 2007 - 7:35 pm:   

As a kid growing up in Bklyn(canarsie) was the best time of my life.During world war two,myself and a buddy would go to the New York paramount, and see Frank Sinatra,or other Stars for 55 cents.You also got to see a movie with the stage show.After the show we would go to Horn & hardarts, and get whatever food we could for the money we had left between us.
This was in the 40s. There will never be another place to eat like those great automats.I can't remember the people making change ever make a mistake.If i tried to throw out tokens like those women did At H&H i'd be in trouble.
Later,when i worked at 49st & b'way in the subway
for the TA as token seller,(RR Clerk) i would have lunch at H&H in the area.
Who said things are better today.Give me the old days.We have not gone forward,we went backwards.
Thanks for letting me get my two cens in.
brad schwartz
Posted on Saturday, January 27, 2007 - 8:35 pm:   

Does anyone have the H&H tapioca pudding recipe?
Angela Dorio
Posted on Friday, January 26, 2007 - 1:03 pm:   

I was born in New York and my mom worked for the company when I was a little girl. I was amazed at how people got their food. It was a landmark for New York City and one that will be cherished by all who ate there.Angela Dorio
a non a mus
Posted on Wednesday, November 01, 2006 - 11:35 am:   

I grew up in the automats, I thought that was the only place food came from. My grandfarther was a regional manager. My dad look so much like his father that as soon as we walked in people came out to greet us. Boy was I disappointed when I grew up and went to other resturants - no one came out from the back to greet me!
Roger Gardner
Posted on Monday, October 30, 2006 - 7:12 pm:   

I have just discovered this interesting site, and have read all of the postings. I especially enjoyed Myra Smith's sensitive and poignant "Mummering with the aunts". It was really touching. And to Frank Y. -- I also used to eat at the H&H at 54th and City Line with my parents in the 40s and 50s and I can still taste the Salisbury steak. Thanks for the memories.
Jean Blake - Kansas City, MO
Posted on Tuesday, October 10, 2006 - 11:22 am:   

Tuesday, October 10, 1006, 10:00 am:

My sister Eloise and I are writing about our memories growing up in Camden, N.J. As little girls in the 1930s we remember walking up Kaighn Ave. toward Broadway to the Automat Horn & Hardart. My favorite was fried eggplant, baked beans and fried potatoes. Eloise always ordered the chicken pot pie. On Sundays we would go to the H&H bakery for lemon meringue pie and tapioca pudding to take home for Sunday dinner.
Posted on Saturday, September 23, 2006 - 12:09 am:   

H&H opened a coffee shop on 188th Street and the LIE, Fresh Meadows, in the early 60's. The deep dish apple pie was to die for. Does this stir a memory or two? Of course, there was nothing like the H&H of my childhood.
David Ross
Posted on Saturday, September 09, 2006 - 12:45 am:   

It was so sad to return to NYC in the late 70's and find all the wonderful automats gone (those I used to visit in the early 60's). One thing unique to me after moving to NYC area from the Midwest, was that H&H had three free spigots at the "water stations", built into one or more of the center colums or along one wall � one for tap water, one for hot water, and, the surprise: one that was carbonated water! Also there was ice available too. I got hooked on drinking soda water over ice instead of plain water. Sometimes I'd have iced tea, and use the lemon wedge and a sprinkle of sugar to make a custom soda.
I never saw a free soda tap anywhere else, ever!
Posted on Monday, July 31, 2006 - 6:26 am:   

From: Icono Clast
Date: Sun, Jul 23 1995

PW}the "king" of cafeterias . . .
PW)Horn & Hardhart Automats in New York City.

From the time I was in grammar school, there were three things in Manhattan I absolutely had to visit:
The Metropolitan Museum of Natural History
The Subway
The Automat

There's a story attached to each, and Coney Island, too.

So I went to the Automat for a cuppa coffee. Saw a sign that said coffee, figgerd out how to do it and inserted a nickel.
Holding a cup under the double spigot, out poured the coffee from _one_ of the spigots but from the other spewed a white liquid. I didn't want _that_ so I tried to maneuver the cup so that only the coffee would go into it much to the amusement of the people standing behind me.
"You want to go where it says `black coffee'" they chided.

For those of you who have never visited the primitive and backward East, they have something they call "regular" coffee that isn't at all. They do things backward from us. We add to coffee. There, they subtract from coffee. So in a coffee shop, for example, if you order coffee you get coffee with white stuff added. If you order black coffee, you get coffee without the white stuff _but_ it tastes like syrup. In order to get a cuppa coffee, you have to order plain coffee without white stuff or syrup.
I've had many an amusing experience with coffee in that part of exotica.
Jim Diegnan
Posted on Monday, July 24, 2006 - 12:42 pm:   

I met my wife on a blind date on December 15, 1956. We were on an outing where we took a young boy named Johnny, who resided at Saint John's orphanage outside Philadelphia, for a visit to Santa and then after toyland it was off to H&H for lunch before the movie classic, King Kong.

The event was sponsered by the Junior Class at Villanova University and was a tradition at Villanova for almost 30 years.

The blind date ended that day, but my date and I are now married for 48+ years, and have 7 children of our own and 16 grandchildren. It was in writing a note for my Date's 70th birthday bash, that i re-visited H&H.


From Concord, MASS. 01742
janet zimmerman nilsen
Posted on Sunday, March 19, 2006 - 5:57 pm:   

What Memories!!! My father(a widower) took my sister and I to the automat at 42nd St in NYC many nights in the middle to late 1950's.He worked up the the Daily News bldg.One night we even met "Officer Joe Bolton" there.Being 8 yrs old and my sister 9 we thought he was a real policeman!. I remember the macaroni and cheese and also the vanilla bean ice cream.I remember asking my dad "what are those" black things" in my ice cream!!It was always a treat to go there.Thanks for the memories.
Andrew J. Betancourt
Posted on Wednesday, February 08, 2006 - 3:14 am:   

What a delight to find this website. My father came from Cuba in 1927 via the ferry to Key West and headed to New York where he knew some other Cuban fellows. The depression was on its way and my father got a job in Horn and Hardart busing tables. He later moved to Philadelphia and worked there in H&H until the start of the war when he moved to Cramp Shipyard in Camden.
As a child I remember the Horn and Hardart hour with Stan Lee Broza on the radio and then later on t.v. As a high school and later college student I would stop in from time to time for the vegetable plate, 3 vegetables and a roll and butter for 50 cents. This was on my way in PHiladelphia to 15th and Chestnut where I worked after school in First Pennsylvania Bank. Every time I return to Philadelphia from San Francisco, I think back of the H&H at Kensington and Allegheny and the ones on Market Street. So many old time institutions are moving out of existence in Philadelphia. We remember them with fond memories of a time when life was slower but where would we be today without the wonderful institution of the internet which helps us share these memories worldwide. Thank goodness Pat's Steaks in still with us.
Posted on Sunday, November 27, 2005 - 12:52 am:   

Does anyone know if any of the Horn and Hardart shows were recorded and if they are available for purchase? My girlfriends grandmother was on the show and we think a great gift would be finding her performances.
Ted Brass
Posted on Monday, September 12, 2005 - 3:14 pm:   

Can someone tell me if they recall a H&H in Brooklyn that was down a set of stairs from street level? I seem to remember it being around Bond & Livingston. I can still taste the baked beans, Coconut custard pie and coffee dispensed from the Lion or Dolphin heads!
Posted on Friday, August 12, 2005 - 1:26 am:   

Does anyone here remember the horn and hardardt ( i think) that had the trains running along the counter delivering the food? Thats all I remember but I am not sure where it was. Was that the 42nd st location..Thanks everyone..
Posted on Friday, June 03, 2005 - 12:42 am:   

Life moves too fast! They took away my H&H plate before I could finish! Oh, then the tore the Automat down.

Now, here we are together again, sharing the nickels, enjoying the pie! So here's my memory of New York City's E. 42nd Street Horn & Hardart: html

May we all meet in heaven, to eat again at the Automat...
Posted on Saturday, October 16, 2004 - 11:22 pm:   

My memories of the Automats will never fade!!!! My Grandfather worked as a watchman at the commissary where all the food was made! it was in the area of New York City that was known as Hells Kitchen! He would bring home some of the food! It was wonderful! Baked beans,cheesecake, lemon pie etc. I still have a toothpick holder from the automat. I also have a baking pan, which is made of stainless steel and very heavy!! My grandfather would take me at Christmas time to the shows that were sponsored by Horn and Hardhardt. I saw many great entertainers. one of them were the Nicholas Brothers, great tap dancers!! What fond memories!!!
Joseph A M
Posted on Wednesday, October 06, 2004 - 8:03 pm:   

When you visit Tokyo, Japan, stop at the basement Beer Hall near Sunshine City to see the closest thing to the Yellow Atmosphere of H & H. The walls and columns are covered with yellow ceramic tiles from floor to ceiling. The beer and food are great and the singing is very loud.
Posted on Sunday, October 03, 2004 - 11:08 pm:   

In the late 1980's I went to the automat at 42nd and 3rd in NYC - it probably closed down not soon after that? If anyone knows when it did close please post here. I was waiting for a coach bus to take me out to Long Island and popped in there. Sat down had a bite and enjoyed Frank Sinatra playing in the background! What a wonderful memory of something, while not so long ago, seems like ancient history with the passing of many of these places. I dont think people will have the same memories of sitting in a starbucks these days now will they?!!!
Posted on Saturday, July 31, 2004 - 10:47 pm:   

I spent a wonderful evening listening to a friend tell about his childhood visits to the Automat, Radio City Music Hall and other New York favorites. It made me want to visit all these places.
I am firmly convinced that an Automat, at least ONE, should be added to some lucky block in New York City, for the memories. Or lets all bug Woody Allen to put one in a future movie.
Cheers from Mom
Agnes Gates
Posted on Tuesday, July 13, 2004 - 11:28 am:   

Many memories of the Automat. Lived on SI and would go to Manhattan to shop and we always stopped at the Automat. When I took singing lessons on Sat. mornings, my Dad took me for lunch before heading home. First place I had Lemon Meringue Pie (the best). Also couldn't resist the chocolate milk with ice. Wonderful memories
Lee, Bucks County, PA
Posted on Friday, May 07, 2004 - 3:09 pm:   

When I was growing up in the 1960s, our family often ate out at our local H&H restaurant in Cheltenham, PA, just across from Philadelphia. It was one of the newer ones, built in the late 1950s to serve the postwar suburban construction boom. The location also had a retail store where my mother frequently shopped. We always enjoyed H&H food, whether take-out or restaurant. The high standards of quality control described in the book were very evident in the everyday service. We always knew we'd get a good meal at H&H.

When our family visited downtown Philadelphia, we would visit an H&H cafeteria or Automat. There was a large one located in the ground floor of Reading Terminal (a major commuter train station), but others all throughout downtown Philadelphia.

When I started working downtown in the late 1970s, I would have lunch at the H&H restaurant in the ground floor of Three Penn Center Plaza or at the cafeteria at 19th & Chestnut. By that time, many locations had closed.

Sadly, by the late 1970s, the Philadelphia H&H chain had hit hard times. The Three Penn Center restaurant closed. Despite being very busy, its lease expired and the new rent would be too high. Other locations became timeworn, for example, the air conditioning wouldn't be working and it would be hot and stuffy inside.

There was another Philadelphia restaurant chain, Linton's, that suffered the same fate. However, I understand the Linton's company survived and went into institutional food service (i.e. company cafeterias, nursing home meals.)

At one of the NYC museum talks, several people in the audience asked if there was any to resurrect the chain. I share that sentiment. It's too bad the economics aren't there.

My family and I retain warm feelings for the H&H of the good days. It was a long Philadelphia tradition of dependable quality, and we liked that. We liked the menu offerings.

I am grateful to the authors for writing and publishing their book and giving their talks at the NYC Museum.
Posted on Friday, April 23, 2004 - 4:39 pm:   

I remember being very young (5 or so, maybe younger) and my grandmother taking me to the AUtomat-- it was such a treat! I would collect nickels just for using there-- the beet salad, the cucumber salad-- and of course the danish AND macaroni salad. Yum. Any chance the authors would dare make a trip to San Francisco for those of us who live here?
Posted on Tuesday, March 30, 2004 - 10:41 am:   

some things in life you never forget. one of those things for me was the coolness of the marble change counter at the automat. my father always let me collect the nickles he received when he would change dollar bills. it could be the hottest day in august and yet the touch of that marble was like a bit of artic blast to my fingers.
i loved everything about the automat and hold its memories in a very special place.
Nancy Mullen
Posted on Sunday, October 12, 2003 - 9:14 pm:   

My father used to work for AAA (American Automobile Association) in Philadelphia. He actually worked three jobs there; one as a cartographer, one as a restaurant and hotel reviewer for their travel books and one as a limousine driver. He was given the assignment of picking up the new Miss America from Atlantic City and treating her to a day in Philadelphia. When asked what she would like to do in the city, she said most emphatically that she wanted to go to the Automat as she had never seen one. So my father took her there and purchased several dollars worth of nickels for her. He said she spent about two hours just putting nickels in the slots, taking the food out and giving it away to patrons in the restaurant and what a wonderful time she had doing it and what a wonderful time he had watching the reaction of the people. He never did tell me which Miss America it was.
Kathryn Korneth Kull
Posted on Tuesday, September 23, 2003 - 5:12 pm:   

The best macaroni & cheese in the city. Still no one can beat it. My dad use to take me there all the time - I must have been the little girl who drank the most milk. I just loved watching it come out of the lions mouth. Oh yes, I can't forget their fantastic baked beans. Everything was delicious. Sure do miss it.
Posted on Wednesday, July 30, 2003 - 1:13 pm:   

I remember eating a wonderful piece of the hot apple pie right before I left for my bar mitzvah lessons- What a memory
vince iuliano
Posted on Thursday, July 03, 2003 - 9:12 am:   

My mom Rita had always told me how much she loved the Automat when she was growing up on Coney Island Avenue, so of course i HAD to try it on my first solo trip to the city.
It was (I've since learned) the last of the Automats in existence in Manhattan, and destined to be closed soon after my visit. So I only went that one time. But I'm glad I did, and it certainly lived up to all the legendary hype.
The food, in 1977,was fantastic. Corn bread and meatloaf and green beans and soup and meringue pie and a large Coke. I think the entire meal cost about 3 dollars (if that much) and I was stuffed. I had thought that these cheap prices, and the icy wind outside, would bring in many indigents but there were surprisingly few. The seats were comfortable, not spaced on top of each other but arranged to let you eat in peace; you could ,if you chose, listen to conversations at the next table or eat alone with your thoughts. The place was nice and warm, and the thrill of choosing your food from little glass cubby holes brought back a bit of what it must have been like 'back in the day'. There was quite a large assortment to choose from, and all of it quite tasty.

I heard the authors on a recent FOOD TALK radio show with Arthur Schwartz, and everyone seems to have a nice nostalgic glow when it comes to Horn and Hardart. The authors contended that opening such a place these days would NOT be economically feasible, which is a very great loss.
I have a hunch that if more people who loved the automat were now computer savvy, this would be a busier website. Keep up the great work!
And please keep those recipes and pictures coming!
Great site! I loved the site, and the place!

(for some more recipes, the Reader could also check out Arthur's website

Myra Smith
Posted on Friday, May 23, 2003 - 3:13 pm:   


Aunt Rose's eager smile beamed up at me from her crouched position at my feet. "Stockings!" she exclaimed, as if I had been waiting for this moment for every second of my seven and one-half years. Aunt Shirley popped in at just that moment to tell Rose she had found something warmer than women's seamed nylon stockings with which to keep the frost from my small toes. Shirley proffered a pair of obscenely ugly men's socks, thus dashing a momentary shared dream of impending womanhood. With the early morning temperature being sub-zero, it was important on this particular New Year's Day morning that my two brothers and I be appropriately bundled up against the cold.

We were going to see the Mummer's Parade, which we'd only previously seen on an eight-inch, black-and-white television picture tube. Aunt Rose was more excited than anyone, as usual. Having children around allowed her to let her natural childlike gaiety run free and unrestrained. Unlike her younger sister, whose hardship did not allow for warm clothing for her children or enthusiasm for life in general, Rose didn't miss many opportunities for cheerful diversion. The Aunts chattered back and forth incessantly, mostly in English and occasionally in guarded Yiddish, while they carefully wrapped us against the cold. Fattened by layer upon layer of oddly-mismatched clothing, we looked like miniature immigrants fleeing the homeland.

We were herded onto a bus and a trolley and then marched against an icy wind for an eternity through the city streets before we arrived at the Broad Street parade route in downtown Philadelphia. Our eyes were streaming and our noses running as the Aunts negotiated a good vantage point for our observance of the festivities. My younger brother and I spent most of the remainder of our time outdoors stamping our feet and cupping our hands over our mouths and noses in a futile attempt to warm up just a little.

The parade presumably ensued; we were much too short to see over the heads of the other attendees, and the Aunts were much too frail to pick us up for this purpose. We heard the clattering string-band music and caught an intermittent glimpse of brightly colored feathered headdresses and glittering, sequined costumes before the Aunts decided it was time for a warmup and refreshments.

We were taken to Horn & Hardart's Automat, address long since forgotten. The heat in the Automat was wonderfully stifling, and I began to suspect, as the Aunts helped us remove our layers of clothing, that we would actually live to tell our parents about our New Year's Day adventure. We were each given a dollar and directed to the coin-changing booth. The lady in the booth hit a bar and twenty nickels cascaded into a shallow brass receptacle. My hands were too small to hold twenty nickels, so Aunt Rose held some for me. She then showed me how to push the nickels into the coin slots on the beverage dispenser, how to place the cup in just the right position under the spout and how to pull down the ornate brass handle to fill the cup. I got cocoa--dark, fragrant and impossibly hot--and sat down at a marble-topped table with my brothers. We warmed up considerably and made our way to the bank of little brass and glass doors which, when plied with enough nickels, opened on rotating plate dispensers. I selected macaroni and cheese and apple pie, and Aunt Rose said I could keep the remaining nickels.

We emerged some time later, rewrapped and revitalized. There were sequins glittering in the street and the severe, stone-cold immenseness of the city was ridiculed by thousands of drifting, twirling colored feathers . I had never been happier in my life.
Cookie Anderson, Milwaukee, WI
Posted on Friday, April 18, 2003 - 11:55 pm:   

In 1965, three friends and I newly graduated from college decided to drive to New York city...just like that. We didn't tell our folks as they would all say a resounding "no". I remember driving around and having my head out the window staring up at the cloud touching buildings. Amazing. Being from Wisconsin I believe the tallest building we had at the time was about 15 stories so you can imagine how thrilled we were. We saw the usual stuff: Statue of Liberty, a few museums, Rockefeller Center where we ate lunch (very expensive), Grenwich Village which I think I just misspelled, Central Park and of course we found Horn and Hardart's where we could eat cheaply and without having to strain our meager budget. It was so fun having all those choices!!! I can't remember what I ate but I remember all the choices, all the slots, all the windows, all the people who kept streaming in and out. How fun to hear about it once again on Wisconsin Public Radio and be reminded of adventure. It's sad to think the automats are long gone and only a memory. It was such a wonderful idea. Long live good ideas!
Board Editor
Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2003 - 12:51 pm:   

The Messages below were all sent in from November 2002 through February 2003. We moved them to this message board format in February 2003. The messages are complete, as they were, just listed with a date in February as opposed to their original dates.
Russ B. - Reno, NV
Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2003 - 12:08 pm:   

My family would go to NYC from Boston about three times a year for a Broadway show, shopping, a double-decker bus ride or to take a Checker cab and we'd always stop to eat at the Automat. The change kiosk is where we would exchange dollar bills for nickels. The cashier had a handful of coins and would snap exactly five nickels from her fingers into a depression in the marble counter. If you gave her a dollar bill, she'd snap four sets of five nickels in just seconds (which I thought was just amazing) then we went to the little glass windows for food.

I always had a slice of lemon meringue pie with a delicious, fluffy white meringue that was slightly burnt on top. The coffee was dispensed from a lion's head spout in the wall when a lever was pulled, and just the right amount of coffee came out to fill one cup for one nickel.
I wanted to have milk with my piece of pie, but the milk was dispensed only by the attendant in an opening beside the row of little glass doors. I asked for a "bottle of milk" (which was how the milk was packaged and delivered at home) but I got a tall glass of cold milk. At the table, I took a sip of the milk and told my Dad that it tasted sour. He took a sip and identified it as "buttermilk" - the attendant understood me to say "buttermilk" for "a bottle of milk" in my Boston accent, and of course, it is sour! We had a good laugh over it on the way home. I have never ordered buttermilk again.

The Horn and Hardart Automat we went to was right downtown, maybe in Times Square or near NBC where we went to see radio and television shows with free tickets. Very exciting city with wonderful recollections of The Automat, and I understand that just one restaurant remains open as an historical site. Now if I could only find a remaining White Tower hamburger place, my reminiscing of the 1940's and 1950's will be complete.

Thanks for the online opportunity to contribute my thoughts. I'm looking forward to reviewing the book. Best wishes for a successful publication!!
Brooke A. -Chandler, AZ
Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2003 - 12:09 pm:   

I grew up in Brooklyn, New York in the 1940s. Our big treat was when we�d go into Manhattan to see a show, visit a museum or see a movie. Those were nice but the BIG treat was our traditional visit to the Automat.

My dad always let me get the change. I would approach the marble change booth, which seemed SO tall to the very little girl I was. No matter how much money I gave the lady in the booth, in one swoop she always gave the exact right change! How did she do that? It wasn�t as if she took time to actually count! It seemed like the best kind of magic to me.

My traditional food selection was a scrumptious hot-dog resting in an oval plate of the most delectable beans. Yes, that was my traditional selection, but I would never actually make that selection until I carefully looked over everything the Automat had to offer. While there were many wonderful choices, the hot-dog always won my heart, or my coins to be more specific! My father was extremely fond of the custard pie. Once after I�d grown up and had a job, just to surprise him, I bought him a whole coconut custard pie. An entire pie, just for him. He loved it and he did share. Now that I think of it, that may have been the last time we had that pie. Shortly afterward I left New York to move out west. What a disappointment that Horn and Hardart hadn�t any Automats in Phoenix.
Harold J. Diamond - Hastings-on-Hudson, NY
Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2003 - 12:16 pm:   

My Aunt, Ann Diamond (now Sobel) was chosen as Frank Hardart's secretary in 1918. Mr. Hardart interviewed her himself. My Aunt is now over 100 years old and living in Florida. My father, Stanley Diamond was an Automat manager from about 1925 to about 1955. My mother, Jeannette Diamond (then LaBarbera) was a nickel thrower at about 1925. They met at the Automat. I worked there during high school at the steam table and filling the coin machines with food.

My father built a house in western Massachusetts, using lots of found materials. When H&H discarded damaged food trays made of formica and resembling a wood grain, he used them to panel a room in the house.
Daniel Z. - Great Neck, NY
Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2003 - 12:17 pm:   

The Automat in downtown Brooklyn, NY, running from Fulton Street thru to Willoughby St. My father who was in his office 7 days a week would always have breakfast in the Automat right across the street from him. However, he started early, and for about 30-40 years was ALWAYS their first customer. He opened the restaurant up because in the 40's and 50's not too many people would have breakfast at either 6:AM or 6:30AM, (I forget the exact time) every day, including Christmas, New Years, and all other holidays. On Sundays when I visited him at the office I could go there for lunch. What a treat.
Josephine B. - Fort Lee, NJ
Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2003 - 12:18 pm:   

I grew up in Philadelphia and as a little girl, my sister, Florence and I would go to the Automat at 8th and Market street where we had the most delicious foods. I remember the hot chicken pies with luscious crusts, and baked beans/ hot apple pie with that superb vanilla sauce -- oh -- those were the days. My sister, Bertha would also join us. It was our very favorite spot and we just loved the coffee.

I am now a grandmother, and too bad my grandchildren will never know the joys of the Automat and that great era. I do recall the Automat in Times Square, New York. Miss the good old days with all the magic and goodness. Thank you. Josephine
Pat C. - Woodside, NY
Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2003 - 12:19 pm:   

One of my fondest memories growing up in Brooklyn, NY in the late 50's and early 60's, was the occasional treat of going to the Automat "Downtown" (as the Fulton Street area in Brooklyn was referred to back then).

Perhaps it was a reward for being well behaved while mom shopped at Abraham & Strauss (remember the white gloved elevator operators?), or Martin's (one of my mom's favorite stores). It could have also been after a matinee at the Lowes Metropolitan movie theater.

Being six or seven at the time and having three older siblings, I just couldn't wait for it to be my turn to plug in those nickels! Once, while mom stood close by, I was allowed to plug in the nickels for the coffee. Ever so carely I place the cup and saucer under the lion's head spout, waiting for the coffee to fill the cup (how did it know when the cup was filled I wondered).

One time one of my sisters was tasked with getting the change. Perhaps it was her eagerness to examined the goodies in the window boxes that made her hand over the change (without looking) to a stranger.

All those gleaming window boxes with such a variety of goodies, savory and sweet. I had to inspect them all, but always, always, chose the macaroni and cheese. The brown oval dish filled with creamy macaroni and cheese with just the right amount of tomato mixed in and ever so lightly browned on top.

To this day, I have one of those brown oval dishes. How it was acquired, I do not know, but it a treasure to me.
Audrey B. - New York City, NY
Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2003 - 12:19 pm:   

The best Saturdays I spent was going to the Academy of Music for a movie and then to the automat for dinner. To this day I still feel they had the best mac and cheese and baked beans. I wish they were still open so I could take my grandkids and let them experience the fun we always has at the AUTOMAT.
Chris Enright S. - Marlborough, MA
Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2003 - 12:20 pm:   

My aunt (the author's grandmother), Marie Enright Hardart, never forgot her humble origins. She would often visit her Enright parents and siblings back in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, bearing Horn & Hardart pies and other goodies for everyone back home. Marie "really WAS a delightful person, no doubt about it, she was the star of the [Enright] family," said her sister-in-law, Anne Enright Gustin in a 1986 taped interview. Just like her husband, Gus, she never lost sight of those less fortunate.
Dorothy M. - Newtown, PA
Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2003 - 12:20 pm:   

I just finished reading your book, which my husband gave me for Christmas, and I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed it.

My 90 year old Aunt is here for the Holidays and she also enjoyed looking at the pictures and reminiscing. My Aunt frequented the Horn and Hardart's in Philadelphia. She also used to go to the one near 46th St. and Broadway in New York City, when she had to travel up there. I sometimes went to the one in the Reading Terminal, but mostly the one in Willow Grove, where I lived from 1960-1972. There is a Horn and Hardart's Coffee and take out shop opening here in Newtown, Bucks County, PA soon.

When I was little, I looked forward to putting money in the slot, lifting up the window, and taking out a sandwhich or dessert. I thought that was the greatest thing in the world. Who wanted to each lunch in Wanamaker's Crystal Tea Room when you had the Automat? By the way, my Aunt, who was a dance teacher, took some of her students to the Horn and Hardart Childrens Hour auditions and some of them made it on the air. My mother also took me, as I was a singer. I was told to come back the next week, but since my Father died when I was 4 and Mother had to work that day, she was unable to take me back.

Thanks for the great book and I will recommend it to my friends and relatives.
Angelo V. - Middle Village, NY
Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2003 - 12:21 pm:   

If it's possible to miss something without ever having experienced it, I truly miss the Automat. I never had the good fortune of eating at a Horn and Hardat Automat. By the time I started exploring the many wonders of New York, the last Automat had closed. But as a child growing up in Brooklyn I learned of the Automat through a Bugs Bunny cartoon. I clearly remember Elmer Fudd chasing Bugs around when suddenly Bugs stops before a bank of windows, deposits some coins, and pulls out a slice of pie. As Elmer rounds the corner Bugs slams him in the face with the pie. Having an apparent change of heart Bugs apologizes and begins to clean Elmer up. Suddenly, Bugs recalls that Elmer had wanted cherry pie. He then lifts a window, pulls out a slice of cherry pie, and slams it into Elmer's face. This is my dearest memory of the Horn and Hardat Automat. I know it can't compare to actually eating there, but I cherish it nonetheless. I look forward to visiting the exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York, reading the book, and perhaps meeting Ms. Hardart.
Peggy H. - Allentown, PA
Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2003 - 12:22 pm:   

I grew up in the Bronx during the 1950's and on Saturdays my friend and I would take the subway downtown in the morning to Columbus Circle and then walk thru Central Park to Wohlman Ice Skating Rink to go skating. Afterward, armed with as much as $1.00 sometimes, we would head to the automat on 57th Street for lunch. What a delight! So many wonderful choices and such a great experience - where else could a kid have so many choices for so little. I have yet to find anywhere else in the world a Prune & Apricot Pie (at the retail shops you could get a whole or a half pie to take home)or mashed turnips & creamed spinach as good. They were the best - when I reminisce or think of comfort food, I always dream of Horn & Hardart. I would give anything for an orange pettit four.
Nick C. - Philadelphia, PA
Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2003 - 12:23 pm:   

I loved the Baked Beans which I would mix in some Mustard from the Condiment Lazy Susan! My other favorites were the following, Beef Pot Pie, Salisbury Steak, Chopped Sirloin Steak, the big Fish Cakes. I was just given your book for Xmas which I am enjoying immensely, but I sure wish you had included those recipes also! ARE THEY AVAILABLE ANYWHERE!!"

Editor note: As you know there are recipes in the book and we are always on the lookout for additional ones. (Perhaps we'll compile them in another book?) As yet we have not found the one for Salisbury Steak.
Trina R. - Plainview, NY
Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2003 - 12:23 pm:   

When I went to see the exhibit in the Museum of the City of New York, it brought back such wonderful memories of my childhood.

When I was a young girl my mother took me to see a doctor in the city. Boy, did I hate going. She would bribe me to go. Guess what the bribe was? Lunch in the Horn and Hardart automat. I still remember the lunch I always had. Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes, creamed spinach and a wonderful slice of coconut custard pie. It was wonderful.

When I came home from the exhibit today I was telling my aunt about it and she reminded me that as a child she took me there too. At that time it was safe for her to leave me at the table while she went to get the lunch. She remarked how I hated being left alone but I certainly enjoyed lunch. Her fondest memory was the whole wheat muffin. How lucky for all of us to have those wonderful memories.
Richard - Staten Island, NY
Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2003 - 12:24 pm:   

My memories of the Automat are very clear to me. My name is Richard and a native New Yorker. As a child I remember my family taking me the Lionel Train Showroom located at 15 East 26th Street and the Gilbert Hall of Science on fifth Avenue. After visiting these two places Dad and Mom both took my sister and myself to the Automat. I remember the clerk dispensing change to the patrons, fish dispensing hot cocoa and coffee. My overall favorite was beef pot pie with a roll.
Gary J. H. - Amston, CT
Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2003 - 12:24 pm:   

I grew up in a small town in eastern Connecticut. In 1962 my parents took us to the big city: New York. We saw the Empire State Building, rode a Staten Island Ferry, and ate at an Automat. We didn't have much money, so I guess my parents thought that an Automat would be inexpensive...and good. I remember the baked beans and the thrill of putting nickels into the door slots. We marveled at the variety of food selections. We wondered in awe at how they could keep the food hot in the little compartments. Large hands immediately refilled the empty slots. These are memories I'll never forget!
Frank Y.- Higganum, CT
Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2003 - 12:25 pm:   

Growing up in Phila. in the 50's and 60's, who could forget the thrill of hearing mom and dad say, "lets go to H&H tonite"? Downtown, 54th and City Line, and Landsdown PA are the locations that come to mind. The Salisbury steak and Chopped steak are still my benchmarks for those foods, as are the Pot of Baked Beans (with the delicious little piece of bacon on top), the "Club Roll" ( how can a mere piece of bread be a signature item for a resturant?) and the essence of simple salad, the "heart of lettuce, with russian dressing. I'd give a dozen Applebee's for 1 H&H, to be eatin good in the neighborhood......
J.M.L.- Rhinebeck, NY
Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2003 - 12:25 pm:   

Francis Bourdon and his wife Catherine were dear friends of our family.
In the 1940's they owned a summer home in Rocky Point, Long Island and invited me and a friend to spend our summers with them. Francis commuted on week ends and each friday, he brought huge bouquets of gladiolli to his wife. Very little was asked of my friend and I and we spent the endless summer on the beach instead of on the tar streets of NYC.

When my brother was born in 1947, Francis agreed to be his god-father and from that day was known to all of us as "Pallini" In french godfather is Parrain, however, my brother couldnt pronounce the "r". I'm sad to say that in their later years they moved from their home in Irivington-on-Hudson, NY to a home in Virginia. Francis Bourdaon died six months after the move - I'm not certain of the year. His wife, Catherine died in 1992 in France. They are both buried in a family plot in France.
Lynn B.- New York, NY
Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2003 - 12:26 pm:   

The automat was magic to me as a little girl. The wonder of looking into all those windows, and seeing the different vibrant color foods that were new to me. Vegetables had always been boring to eat, as my mother served over cooked, canned peas, corn etc. which always looked sad and wilted. But...the automat...ahhh! they had the happiest, brightest and most delicious vegetables....sweet beets so red like little happy cheeks in the cold, and creamed spinach, so vibrant green, they were my favorite, I was hooked on them. I've never been able to duplicate those tastes.
Joanne C.- Bronx, NY
Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2003 - 12:26 pm:   

I remember visiting the Horn and Hardart near Times Square when I would visit the "city" from my hometown the Bronx! My older sister, Rose, would take me shopping and we would always have lunch at the automat. We liked the sandwiches best with a piece of pineapple cheese pie for dessert. In fact, we loved the pie so much that we would purchase it at the Horn and Hardart retail store in Parkchester, the Bronx. Years later my sis and I were always on the lookout for any pie that resembled that one. However, we were always asked if we wanted pineapple cheese cake! I would love to have that recipe. My sister passed on 2 years ago, and having a piece of that pie would bring back wonderful memories of our trips to the "city". I hope to see the exhibit at The Museum of the City of New York.
Helen B.- New York, NY
Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2003 - 12:27 pm:   

I was about 9 or 10 years old and had been shopping with my mother at S. Klein on the Square (remember that wonderful store?). We went to the Automat on East 14th Street (east of Union Square). My mother gave me a nickel (as I recall) for a glass of milk. Neither of us had ever visited an Automat previously. In what I thought was a very grown-up fashion, I put the nickel in the slot and turned the handle, expecting milk in a glass to magically appear. Of course, the milk drained down and I promptly burst into tears. I knew I could not ask my mother for another nickel; we were poor at that time. A gentleman, noting my distress, put a glass under the spigot, inserted a nickel, turned the handle, and thus I had a glass of milk, a lesson in how to use the Automat, and in human kindness.
George T.- Parsippany, NJ
Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2003 - 12:27 pm:   

From 1950 to 1966 we used to go to Sterling Optical on Fulton St. in Manhattan. We used to eat lunch at the H&H Automat on Fulton St., while Sterling made our eyeglasses in one hour. We also went to the Automat at 42nd. & 3rd. for lunch when we visited the U.N. building & Grand Central Terminal. Our favorites were macaroni & cheese with tomato, baked beans, apple pie, lemon sponge cake, pumpkin pie, chocolate cake and coffee & donut.
Sylvia T.- Woodbridge, NJ
Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2003 - 12:28 pm:   

In 1947, I visited Horn and Hardart Automat with my father, who is now deceased. He would give my sister and myself plenty of nickles and we found it so exciting to see our food come out of the little windows. Our favorite dish was the macaroni and cheese and the cherry pie or apple pie. I believe the one we visited was on 42nd Street after shopping at Macy's or seeing a movie.

On another note -- 48 years ago today, the Horn & Hardart Bakery made my wedding cake -- it was delicious.

I would love to be able to take my grandchildren to an automat one day in the future if they ever build another one. I plan to visit the museum.

Thank you for allowing me to share my memories of the automat. I am 64 years old now, but I still remember.
Irving T.- Springfield, NJ
Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2003 - 12:28 pm:   

Many years ago as a young school kid I ate my lunch there and I believe it was 15 to 20 cents a day. I took a tablespoon home one day and still have it as a momento. The time line was probably around 1940.
Pat- Herndon, VA
Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2003 - 12:29 pm:   

I remember the Horn & Hardart near Grand Central Station, right on the corner. I went to Central Commercial High School right next door, which now houses a new fancy hotel. Most of the students would congregate there for lunch before they head off to their part time jobs. We would hear the clicking and clanking of dishes and the hustling and bustling of the business crowd rushing around for a quick bite. That was always our meeting point after school to chit chat with the ole gang. Those were the good ole days!
Chris A.- South Bound Brook, NJ
Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2003 - 12:29 pm:   

My grandfather would take me to NY City for the day: usual kids stuff, the zoo, FAO Schwartz and the Automat then the trip back on the "tubes" to Jersey City. It was great getting those nickles and dimes and picking out your sandwich and watching it spin around, and wasn't it great waiting for your hot chocolate to come out of the lions head....I really wish they were still here the kids today miss so much. Again thanks for the memories.
William C.- Newark, NJ
Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2003 - 12:30 pm:   

Once a year my Father would take me to Radio City Music Hall, for the Christmas show. We would stop in the Automat for lunch and supper. It was the only place we could afford to eat. I always remember going to the change booth, giving the lady a dollar bill and she would throw a hand full of nickles in the tray, it was always correct, never short or over. It made me feel so grown up getting my own food, and turning the handle to get my father's coffee. People talk about the "good old days" this was them.
Phyllis S. O.- Toms River, NJ
Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2003 - 12:30 pm:   

I was delighted to read the article about H & H in the Star Ledger. I am retired now and it brought back so many memories for me. When I was a teenager a girlfriend and myself would cut school and take the Lackawanna R.R. to Hoboken and take the tubes into the city. We would dream about wearing all the beautiful clothes we saw in Macy's and then go to H & H for something to eat. We really never had enough money but since my parents were born in Italy I never knew what macaroni and cheese was (American style) until I ate there. It was my favorite. Even though I was raised with home made italian cookies, pies and cakes, my favorite was their lemon meringue pie. I never got my fill and if I had the money, I'm sure I would have tried everything they offered. I wish I could take my grandchildren there now so they could experience such a simple pleasure of American life gone by. Thanks for the memories.
Alda L.- Warminster, PA
Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2003 - 12:30 pm:   

I was born and raised in South Philly. Every Easter my Grandmother would take me up town and buy my Easter shoes.(most of the time at Lit Brothers) We would walk down Market Steet window shopping, somehow always ending up at Horn and Hardart's. My favorites were macaroni and cheese and for dessert coconut custard pie. Reading your book has brought so many wonderful memories back to me. I can't wait to try the recipes! I've been to the Smithsonian and have seen the old automat. What a rush, seeing the slots empty I remembered long years ago waiting for "the magic lady" to put in another slice of pie. Thanks for such a great book.

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