Behind the Scenes:
Toots Shor

This "snapshot" was written by Audrey in her book,  Love, Alice.

   Toots Shor's restaurant on West 52nd Street was both convenient and convivial to Mr. Gleason.  He liked the host, the patrons, the atmosphere and the liquid refreshments.  Toots' famous line was, "A bum who ain't drunk by midnight ain't trying," and some of the great names in sports, entertainment, business and politics used to spend hard hours trying. 

Love Alice -- 
My Life as a Honeymooner
is available online for $14.95 plus shipping and handling. Click here.

   Jackie's friendship with Toots smut have begun at the old "Club 18."  Toots had started as a bouncer, did well and opened one of the most popular restaurants in New York known for hearty food, steaks, chops, huge slabs of roast beef, etc.  Before Jackie struck it rich, he used to patronize Toots' because Toots would carry him on the cuff.
   Toots said to me, "How do you like that bum?" (Toots' favorite term of endearment used only for those he loved.)  "He'd come in here with his friends, dead broke, order everything in the house and when the check came, he'd sign with a big flourish, leaving a large tip for the waiter and captain, and I'd have to give them the tip!  At one time he was into me for over $10,000.  I gotta hand it to him, thought,when he got into the big money, he came by and handed me the cash, saying, "Here's what I'm sure I owe you."
   I used to go to Toots' a lot.  One night he told me a couple had come in from Omaha and complained to him bitterly about their steaks.  They said, "We have much better steaks than this in Omaha."  Toots, ever the genial host, said, "So what , when you're through eating, you're still in Omaha!"
   Possibly inspired by the ranks of New York professional athletes sharing the festive board one night, Jackie suggested that Toots and he have a race around the block for double or nothing on the bill.  A race between two men of such girth that the tying of their shoes required planning and stamina, had the patrons loud in their comments, none of which will be repeated here.  Jackie had only one stipulation.  If they both ran the same direction, a copy might take out the two of them, thinking he had felons fleeing the scene.
    Jackie would run west on 52nd, north on 56th Avenue, east on 53rd, south on 5th, and west on 52nd to the restaurant.  Toots would do the same course in reverse.  There is no record of any bets being laid by the gambling crowd at the bar, as the "sprinters" took their marks and then hurled themselves down the sidewalks.  Pedestrians leapt for cover rarely having seen fat, middle-aged men charging down the street either running from or to cardiac arrest.
   Glider Gleason flagged a taxi on 6th, sank into the back seat as they covered 53rd and pulled up halfway down the block at 5th. Five bucks for one-block ride was aces with the hackie. Swifty Shor panted to his own door only to find Jackie toasting him with his own Scotch.
   When Toots finally could breathe again and the blood returned to his brain, he recalled that he had not passed or been passed by Jackie at any time in the race.   Toots never used foul language but he came close that night.  Jackie paid.   He never said whether it was doubled or not.