Nelson Clyde's Is It Just Me: Matchbook collectors respond

Published on Saturday, 11 February 2017 23:44 - Written by NELSON CLYDE, Is It Just Me?

Thanks for the responses from our matchbook collectors:

I was a collector. I have matchbooks from Vegas back in the early ‘70s such as Juliet Prowse in Mame playing at the International casino. Also, Splash at the Riviera and Cabaret.

I would sell my collection.


Yes, my favorite is the Norfolk Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya. Many famous guests have stayed at this historic hotel, including Ernest Hemingway and Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt used the hotel as his base of operations when he launched his safari in 1909, which was sponsored by The Museum of Natural History.

On a personal note, it also represents the realization of a lifelong dream of mine. As a child, I watched movies, such as Tarzan, Sheena of the Jungle and King Solomon’s Mines. These movies planted a seed in my mind that, of all of the places on earth, Africa was my “bucket list” destination.

Every matchbook has a story but this one has a very special and personal meaning.

Attached are two photos: One is of the item from The Norfolk Hotel and the other is a collection of matchbooks from Kenya, including The Mount Kenya Safari Club. This elegant retreat was started in 1959 by the actor, William Holden, to entertain his hunting friends. Later, he became more interested in conservation and preservation of the wildlife instead of hunting.

Thank you for your interest.


When I think about matchbooks I’ve had from places long gone now, such as Laurent restaurant in New York City, it brings my travels back to life. Laurent was a most memorable place, complete with an original Salvador Dali in the bar.

My grandfather’s friend, Jack Fallon, met me there as a courtesy during a Big Apple visit and showed me how his bartender prepared his Martini with a piece of orange peel, rendered by the fire of a lighter prior to being plopped into the drink. He wand the bartender were clearly in a relationship, the type Cary Grant described in his famous line on the tarmac in North by Northwest.

Laurent had house accounts for their regulars, and I can recall my grandfather sending many friends there with requests for their bills to be charged to his account. It was O.G. as my children say.

Another such place was in Boston called Locke-Ober. It was so old there was a gallery upstairs for ladies to repose while gentlemen did their thing downstairs. If you think about it, the upstairs arrangement was probably perfect for the ladies to get terribly hot and to breathe cigar and pipe smoke.


The food, however, was really good, and by the time I got there, they let women in the part downstairs. Nowadays, smoking is likely prohibited, too. Not everyone is pining for the good old days, or maybe they’re too young to know the difference or improvements.

What one reveals about their appetites or travels from the matchbooks they own may be a sign of good taste and good times. Here’s hoping your matchbook memories have left a good taste on your palate.