Chapter 4: The Fraunces Tavern

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Margaret and Manfred strolled about Wall Street, meandering through the streets as he narrated the history of Manhattan, or Mannahatta, from the Lenapes to modern times. They made a curious pair, a tall, slender gentleman in a suit that fit him so exquisitely it must have cost more than Margaret made in a month, and a small Asian woman in sneakers wearing an outfit that was almost nice enough not to be from TJ Maxx.

He did most of the talking, she listened, her eyes following his pointing hand to curious historical sites and oddities hidden amidst the massive modern edifices. Oddly, they spoke very little of the current situation, the blackout seemed too taboo, or disturbing to discuss.

As they passed the White Horse Tavern, Manfred noted that not only was it the second oldest Pub in New York City, but Dylan Thomas and Jack Kerouac had drunk there. Then they came to Broad Street, where people were milling about, beverages in hand, music playing, a fair amount of dancing, and an above-average amount of PDA.

"Well," said Manfred, "we're here." Pointing to the pub sign on the two-story brick building.

"The Fraunces Tavern Museum," Margaret read the sign. "You're taking me to a museum?"

"The tavern part," smiled Manfred. "We've had enough history for one night, although Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr attended a meeting here a week before their duel," which rolled off his tongue as if he were the guide for the Wall Street Insider Tour.

They made their way to the entrance of The 18th century-era pub and it was a madhouse. Not to be deterred, Manfred cut a straight line to the backroom, and Margaret held on for dear life.

"Davey!" Manfred yelled.

"Manny!" A gravely deep voice thundered back. David Ross, or Davey to long-standing patrons, was The Fraunces's Manager. "Over here, take this one!" pointing at a table occupied by a group of young, Wall Street bankers working too hard to impress a couple of very disinterested women. "You all go to the bar and get the girls a drink on me," Davey ordered as he pushed them aside and began clearing the table.

"What the fuck dude?!" One slurred at Davey.

"Your drinking and eating for free, that's what the fuck," He lifted the drunk banker up and gave him a shove towards the bar. The women used it as an opportunity to escape.

When Davey heard the blackout would at least last through the night, he ordered his kitchen to cook everything they had and serve it up to the New Yorkers stranded on Manhattan for the night, or just hanging around for a once-in-a-lifetime party. "Better it is eaten than wasted," he said

"Manny?" Margaret questioned as they approached the table.

"Only Davey can get away with that, so don't even think about it." Manfred tried to glare at her for effect.

"I don't know, it's a little less provincial than Manfred Julian Marlborough."
Manfred didn't hear or more likely chose to ignore her.

"How are you, my friend?" bellowed Davey, a very tall human being whose shoulders were so broad he needed to duck and turn sideways to get through the kitchen door. He spread his arms wide and put his arms around Manfred - it was like an eagle wrapping its wings around its fledgling.

"And who is this?!" Davey took a step towards Margaret and she instinctively stepped back and almost tripped over a stool.

"Don't be scared of Uncle Davey," he said with a deep chuckle as he reached down and gave her a hug, lifting her off the ground. She could feel his full, bristly beard against her face as his sweat seeped through her shirt to her skin. When he finally put her down, she looked at Manfred with wide eyes.

"Davey, this is Margaret," Manfred said as if showing her off at auction.

"Alright, Margaret, I'm going to take care of you tonight." With that, Davey forced his way through the crowd to the bar.

Margaret just looked at Manfred and mouthed, "Wow!"

"Davey is cut from a different cloth, but that is what makes him such a great entrepreneur. He's taken this 18th-century landmark and turned it into one of Wall Street's best restaurants."

"And museum!" Margaret added with emphasis. "And you seem to be kind of a history buff."

"I just like to know about the places and spaces I live in," he said with a smile.

Davey returned and slammed a scotch in front of Manfred and placed a martini in front of Margaret.

Margaret tilted her head in wonder, not recalling Manfred ordering drinks.

"You just looked like the martini type," said Davey. "Am I right?"

"Yes," Margaret smiled. "But five olives, not three. And a glass of water."

"I should have known!" howled Davey, who cut his path back to the bar.

"Ok, so he's full of shit," Manfred leaned in. "I may have mentioned our little conversation in Iraq last time I was here."

Margaret blushed.

"I didn't take you for the shy type," Manfred responded, wanting to make sure she knew he noticed.

"Well, I guess it's just nice to be talked about." Margaret's internal voice asked where the hell that came from. "So what is the story of this place?" Margaret asked to change the subject. "I love the old wood floors."

Manfred told her the full history, all the way back to when Stephanus Van Cortlandt bought the lot in 1686, and like Iraq, they fell into pleasant, timeless conversation.

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