ADVERTISEMENT FOR THE WALDORF ASTORIA HOTEL, Langston Hughes

THE POET BY DAY

Langston Huges (1902-1967), American Poet, Writer, and Social Activist Langston Hughes (1902-1967), American Poet, Writer, and Social Activist

Even as I sorted through books one day – including cookbooks – in preparation for a garage sale to be held before moving into disabled-senior housing, a new cookbook enters. A gift from my son, it’s Oscar Tschirky’s (1886-1950) recipe collection. Oscar Tschirky was the famous maître d’hôtel at the Waldorf-Astoria, which has some special meaning for me. Occasionally my mom liked to go to the café there for blueberry pancakes. It was as close as she could get to being an elegant respectable lady as the world defines such. The book reminds me of her and the poem that follows.

Langston Hughes wrote the poem after walking past the Waldorf during the Great Depression. I’ve read that it was originally published in New Masses magazine, a long defunct American Marxist publication that was the literary organ of the cultural left during and after the Depression.

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