One evening, after a long night of chasing “debutants” at some black-tie holiday ball at The Plaza Hotel and, subsequently, blowing all of our cash at The Oak Bar on Beefeater Gibsons, we came to the loaded question of the evening. Here we were, young and tuxedo clad, at one in the morning, with only five dollars and a subway token left in our pockets. Home was clearly not an option, but we really couldn’t afford anything else. What were we to do?
The Subway Inn.
Located directly across from the Bloomingdale’s loading dock, it’s a hard drinking bar where men went to get drunk fast. If your drink had more than two ingredients, you weren’t getting it. A beer and a shot joint, five dollars for both, including tip. What could be better?
Late night slinky cocktail dress wearing Upper East Side types coming home from the evening mixing with the forgotten local derelicts who would still be there at eight o’clock in the morning when they reopened. The early morning bar, the home of failure; the late night bar, home to the love lost and on break department store employees. The Subway Inn did not discriminate.
For many years there was an office for rent directly above The Subway Inn. My friends and I always imagined what it was like. I always thought that if I was ever to become a private detective it would be the perfect location. Seedy, soot covered, and across the street from the back end of Bloomingdale’s. Every cliché from every Raymond Chandler novel ever written. Sam Spade 101. Especially, the high class broads just fresh from their shopping binge next door, who was looking to put a tail on their rich husband, who was seeing some floozy on the side, all while she, with the seamed stockings and stilettos, was the one bilking him with some sweet real estate scam, just so that she could skip town after doing away with the only person who could identify her as the murderer. Well, that’s what I thought anyway. The business cards would be worth it alone.
The Subway Inn is still there with it’s signature neon, but most of the regular drunks have passed away and the current owners have made an attempt to modernize, High-Definition television sets, more neon beer signs, a renovated bathroom, and an internet jukebox. Progress and prices have gone up at the cost of comfort and character.
Though the floor remains the same, the smell of failure hanging in the air is gone, along with forty years of cheap cigar smoke and nicotine stains; and, the office above has been rented.