Hello, Dolly!

Last night, we did dinner and a show. We had dinner at Mission Taco, followed by dessert across Euclid at Jeni’s. The show that kicks off this year’s Broadway at the Fox series is Hello, Dolly! It was with some trepidation that I first learned that this revival was on the season’s schedule. This Fox series recycles or revives too many old shows for my taste, but experiencing it turned me completely around. It was a delight to see. Dolly is a matchmaker, but she is also a widow and has gotten tired of the job and now seeks a match of her own. She sets her sights on one Horace Vandergelder of Yonkers, New York. Under the guise of fixing him up with a wife, she maneuvers him for her own purposes. The time is 1885, at the height of the gilded age. Most action occurs in NYC.

On the way into the theater, we witnessed a little drama. A white man approached two black women, but his intentions were strictly honorable. He informed them that they had left one of their car windows open. Though at first startled by the encounter, the women thanked him for his kindness. Charity like this is always a joy to witness and fills my mind with thoughts of paying it forward. In Dolly, there’s an emphasis on money. Vandergelder is a rich man, worth half-a-million dollars or twelve-million in today’s currency. It is for his money, not his love that women are chasing him. A side plot of the show involves his two clerks, who with his absence, also escape to NYC, where they are left to count their nickels and dimes, all the while searching for love. By coincidence, I had earlier heard a radio interview of the Smithsonian’s new beer curator. She was asked if she could pick any era, at what time she would most like to be living in, to drink beer. She chose 1885.

Somehow in my mind thoughts of time travel appeared. I enjoy travel and time travel would be the most novel of forms. With travel though, it is always much more fun to travel in comfort and comfort requires money. Suspending disbelief it is easy to imagine get rich schemes involving time travel. Buying Apple at $22 a share comes to mind. Paying it forward is easy, but how do you pay it backward? You can’t exactly expect to be able to send a bank draft back to 1885. Carrying hard currency of the day would be required. There’s the rub. Those penny pinching clerks of Vandergelder were pinching contemporary coins. Nowadays, an 1885 Liberty seated dime has an average numismatic value of $315. You could use your knowledge of future events to make money, but what kind of fun is a working vacation? I know, gold! Today, gold is selling for $1,500 an ounce. In 1885 it went for $18. Better than coins, but an expensive vacation still. Maybe, I’ll just stay home. I’d only mess up the future anyway.

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