It was Christmas Eve, 1897, and Joey Lunardi had invited us all up for a party on his airship, but he was anxious, because he wanted the party to end so he could make it in time for midnight mass. The plan was to land in Central Park’s airstrip at 11 o’clock and we’d all get in electric taxis to the church. Best laid plans of mice and airmen, often go a-gley – in this case, the turning point was when the flamingos went missing at 10:35.
Claire LeMaire, star of stage, screen and Edison cylinders, had just won the diamond prize for guessing the most mystery dishes at the buffet. And Joey, he didn’t do anything small – it was a flawless 10-carat rock, hanging from a pretty hefty gold chain. Claire was waving the thing under the nose of her “patron”, Eddie the Rat, taunting him. “How come you never get me anything this nice, Eddie?” she said, while casting a flirtatious glance at Joey.
Eddie was turning red – only a dozen of us at this party, because let’s face it, an airship is still limited capacity, especially when you are filling it up with buffets and Christmas trees and a fake ice pond, but still, at least ten of us who are not that impressed with Eddie – when he said, “What are you talking about, honey? I got you dem flamingos, didn’t I?” And we all turned to the fake ice pond, where the flamingos had been delicately Continue reading