Monday, July 17, 2006
He was a great fashion plate, he was rich, he was a glutton for not only food but diamonds. He wore them like a soldier wore his medals. He had diamond encrusted watches, rings, cufflinks, tie clasps, stick pins, pens and anything else he could think of.
He was a railroad equipment salesman who would hold his clients near hostage as he would eat amazing amounts of food in their company and they would eventually work out a deal to get away. Hell...It worked. He grew rich as he worked his way up the ladder of life....He started as a baggage handler! Soon he was a multi millionaire.
Eating with Diamond Jim was the experience of a life time..For off his dress was most interesting..He would be adorned with diamonds ...His watch chain was made of emeralds...83 karats worth!!!!!!!! His ring had a diamond over 25 karats...His diamond encrusted watches were valued at the time (circa 1910) at $17,500 each and he had nearly 30 of them!! he maintained around 200 suits (custom made of course) and around 50 hats.
He was not an individual ...he was an event!
He had little education and was not concerned about it..He was rich and that was about all he cared about. To quote Jim about his diamonds "them as has 'em wears 'em"
Now what this man ate is what brought him note...Of course the diamonds helped...I will list some of his meals for you...
Hominy, eggs, muffins, corn bread, flap jacks, chops, fried potatoes, beefsteak. One gallon of orange juice
2 or 3 dozen oysters or clams
Clams, oysters, boiled lobster, deviled crabs, a joint of beef, nearly a whole pie, a gallon of orange juice
Platter of seafood, lemon soda
2 dozen lynnhaven oysters, half dozen crabs, 2 bowls of green turtle soup, 6 lobsters, two canvasback ducks, 2 servings of terrapin(turtle meat), a large sirloin steak, vegetables, Pastry by the yard, 2 gallons of orange juice, 2 pounds of chocolates.
He had a dinner companion quite often, know as Lillian Russell. She was a buxom stage actress in the age when women were worshiped if they looked like a bull moose. She fit the bill, and joined Diamond Jim on many eating adventures. They even got matching bicycles.....It does not seem to be that they used them much. He was huge (Titanic in size) and he loved it. She was just there for the ride.
He often gave dinner parties to massive groups and spent money like a drunk sailor...He was having a hell of a good time...At one dinner party he invited 50 guests and the dinner went on from 4pm till 900 am the next morning! The cost for this was a whopping $45,000! There were also party favors ...For each gentleman a diamond studded pocket watch and each lady a diamond studded brooch...These little gifts cost a mere $1,200 each...He was well liked and many a man would spend the day sharing with friends that he had shared a table with the great Diamond Jim!
His dinner plan was this...He sat at the table leaving 4 inches from the table to his enormous belly................When belly met table, dinner was over.
He ate candy all the time ...once when he went to a small candy store he was surprised by how good the candy was..So he wrote out a check for $150,000 to make sure they were there for him always...He was to be repaid in candy
This lifestyle finally caught up with him...He started to suffer from diabetes and stomach problems...But he would not change his lifestyle and he died .
.....Every major restaurant in New York City went into mourning
Diamond Jim was buried in many of his diamonds...the rest and there was a lot went to auction..and much of the money made went to the John Hopkins University hospital and their special "James Brady Urological clinic" The rest to New York Hospital..Where his body was examined after death and found to have a stomach 6 times the normal size.
To put it into words the celebrated restauranteur Charles Rector said "Diamond Jim was the best twenty five customers we ever had" .