When I still lived in NYC on Sheridan Square, my then friend Laurie Steinberg took me out for my 30th birthday bash. It was one of the last fun times I had before moving to LA. It remains an extraordinary Trads in Contempo Life Experience.
It began at McSorley's Old Ale House which admitted its first female customer only in 1970 as a result of a law suit which mandated that public places could not restrict people due to gender. We had the blue plate special: saltine crackers, limburger cheese and raw onion slices to complement (!) the home brewed ale.
We next ventured by cab to the Russian Turkish Bath on east 10th St. A brownstone by birth, it had seen better days, weeks, months and years. This joint was built in the late 19th century as a result of a New York State law that all cities were required to have a public bath.
The entry had a speakeasy feel, with a hairy arm thrust from some dark place through the bars of a ticket kiosk. Thursdays were the only days for women, so we were admitted. In 1977 the locker room, a bank of old metal cabinets next to a long bench shared a room with a really wretched coffee shop counter with brisket sitting out next to a deli case. This solidified my notion that we were out of time and place, more like an independent "art" film in black/white.
The bathhouse itself was a white tiled steamy place, a great location for a mob murder, I accurately felt, as the place had a checkered past. The steam room had a long bench and a few tubs, as well as a few wands of leafy branches lying about. My memory still holds that there was a design of a red rose in the wall tiles near a small "tub". No pix to share from my experience, but here are a few from the web. (There was no www, much less a computer, then, nor the notion of a "health club".)