Rooftop Games & “Three Men in a Boat”

The summer of 1903 saw Edith becoming quite the New Yorker and nothing speaks more loudly to that experience than hi-jinks on a rooftop patio. Edith Vail Ross, Miss Schirmer and fellow boarders Mr. Voight and Miss Clarke made an early evening escape to the roof and where they made the most of their close proximity to the top floor of the “flanking” neighboring hotel. They spent over an hour in the early evening entertaining themselves with easy window peeping (yes, Edith is 24 years old!).

Finally tiring they adjourned to the apartment below and indulged in a easy summer meal of Limburger Cheese (ranked in this current decade as one of the top 5 smelliest cheeses of all time) with Rye Bread, dill pickles, soft pretzels and beer. The entertainment that summer evening was reading aloud to one another from Jerome K. Jerome’s successful book Three Men in a Boat.

Three Men in a Boat, by Jerome K. Jerome, originally published 1889 and since adapted for stage, television and film.

Three Men in a Boat, by Jerome K. Jerome, originally published 1889 and since adapted for stage, television and film.

This novel is about three work-weary men getting away from it all by making a journey along the river Thames between the cities of Kingston and Oxford. It had originally been intended as a true travel guide, however, the comedic blunders, stories and antics of the three travelers and one dog is where the writing really shines. This very successful book has since been adapted for the stage, television and film. It is a real treat to envision young Edith, her friends and fellow boarders, reading to one another passages in their best-effort English accents and laughing into the late summer night.

This clip below of “Three Men in a Boat” gives a modern enactment of the storyline and was filmed to commemorate the anniversary of the publish date of Jerome’s book. At both the beginning & end of the youtube clip you will find some vintage film from the late 1890’s which sets the original story so well.

In this clip below you can see some of the stage songs & frivolities in this 2012 Trailer from a British theater company production of “Three Men in a Boat“:

So what is next but to set up an evening of beer, pretzels, Limburger Cheese and rye bread with a copy of “Three Men in a Boat” in 2013, a tidy 110 years after Edith did so. Who is ready to join me!?

About Guenevere Crum

Guenevere Crum is an artist and a great granddaughter of Edith and Paul Eisler. She has been actively sleuthing her Eisler - Vail Ross heritage since 1999.
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