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Circling the Square

By Anthony Hiss

Milton E. Cohen, the Square's latest entrepreneur, is a short-order cook and also what J. B. Priestly would call an Antiant. Antiants, you know, are men dedicated to the fight against the man-produced society, and Milty is a batallion in himself. For he believes that cheap sandwiches can be good and can command the interest of both counter-man and consumer. Milty's own phrase is "I don't make sandwiches, I build 'em"--and that's a pretty stirring battle cry to my ears.

Milty began his local construction operations some two weeks ago when he moved into a clean and comfortable new shop at 35 Boylston Street. At present he is able to fashion 85 different sandwiches, not one of which costs over 55 cents. His boast is his "Famous Mountain High Original Sandwich Creations," one of which -- the 50 cent Roast Beef Dream -- traces its High Originality to the minds of Elsie and Henry Baumann.

Elsie is a bit of a problem, of course. Both Milty and one of his assistants got their starts by working with the Baumanns. Milty was a colleague of theirs at Jack and Marion's, moved on with them when they founded their own shop. And Milty is anxious not to bite the hands that set him on his feet. "I wouldn't want to take business from them," he says, and adds quickly. "But then I couldn't. Elsie is Elsie."

But to continue. The rest of Milty's specialties are unique in the area: item, the Fresser's Special (55 cents) of corned beef, pastrami and salami on a roll; item, a 50 cent Yagdwurst (which means Polish pressed ham sandwich; item, and one in which Milty takes particular pride, the only French fried onion rings in Harvard (25 cents).

There's also, on the "Menu of Foreign Intrigue," Polish Kilbasi, (50 cents). Caviar and Devilled Egg (50 cents), and what is billed as an "Authentic Chop Suey Roll" (55 cents) -- a dish which Milty ought to know it itself about as "Authentic" as Dr. Fred Schwarz's Christian Crusade. And this is not to mention, of course, the Kishke (15 cents) or the "Break-the-House Breakfast Special," which offers orange juice, three eggs, three strips of bacon or ham, home fries, toast and two cups of coffee for 99 cents. Or the free bowls of pickles and potato chips on every table. Or even the Chicken-in-a in-a-Basket (85 cents).

"Anyone," Milty thinks, "who loves and treasures his food will come to us." So far, this hasn't proved strictly correct. Charlie's Snack Bar, a neighboring establishment at 37 Boylston Street, seems to treasure its own food, but to be less than fond of Milty's. Charlie's has, in fact, welcomed Milty to the Square with a large sign embroidered with short punchy statements that seem to want to pretend they form some sort of crude syllogism. "Your Health Comes First," they proclaim. "Cheap Food Is Not Good. You Can't Save Money From Your Stomach." This last sounds pretty ominous all right, until you remember, luckily, that it doesn't really mean anything.

Charlie aside, Milty's first two weeks seem to have been pleasant ones. Business is increasing ("Volume is our middle name" says one sign in the shop)--especially as people begin to discover Milty's ace in the hole: a $6 meal ticket for $5. Milty looks to the future, i.e. the Fall, with considerable calm. "We think you'll like us," he says in an unruffled manner. I think you and every other Antiant will too

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