Mory's comes back

Matthew Klein

Matthew Klein

Mustard-crusted Atlantic salmon. View full image

The athlete

Whether you’re an Old Blue or a twenty-first-century Yalie, you have preconceived notions about Mory’s. The trilling Whiffenpoofs, the engraved tabletops, the drinking cups that look like horse-show trophies. And the photos. I’d always heard that the club’s walls were lined with photos of all the captains of Yale varsity sports, through the decades, each wearing the “Y” sweater and posing on The Fence.

Quaint images, but until this September, I’d never seen any of this. I had never been there.

In my era, dining at Mory’s would have been unthinkable. For starters, women weren’t allowed to join until 1972. More significantly, most Yalies I knew had no use for a pricey, private gentleman’s club, absorbed as we were with coeducation’s first growing pains, Black Panther rallies on the Green, and protests against the Vietnam War. Trendy cuisine was granola and vegetarian chili (ladled out free to all comers in many courtyards in May 1970); regulation attire was bell-bottom jeans. I never saw a man under 30 wearing a tie, save a few hardy souls of the Political Union’s Conservative Party.

Did all this ferment mean we disdained Yale traditions? Not at all. But we definitely disdained Mory’s. Mory’s, to me, stood for something stale and phony—a cartoon Yale.

Times have changed. I’m an Old Blue. I love history, I love traditions, I enjoy good food. So it seemed like a fine idea to try the new Mory’s.

Aside from the appetizers (“seared” tuna came lightly toasted; Caesar salad dripped dressing), the food was fine. The entrées, an ample lasagna and artfully presented sea scallop ravioli, were tasty.

Ah, about those historic photos: they abounded. But I saw no orderly historic array of captains, marching for Eli, an array that would have included yours truly, short legs dangling off The Fence, field hockey stick in hand, circa 1972. I couldn’t complain about being left out, since there was no comprehensive collection. Perhaps it never existed. I can’t say, since I never bothered to look before now.

I did see a corridor, leading to the Temple Bar, on whose blank walls was taped a piece of paper with the words “VARSITY CAPTAINS, 150” and an arrow pointing down the hall. Maybe that’s where the dreamed-of photos will go. I’ll have to go back some day and see for myself.

Lawrie Mifflin ’73 is a senior editor at the New York Times and was a member of the first Yale class of women admitted as freshmen.

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