Cay died in 1969, Cays Tea-Room continued to operate according to Cays rules
for nearly twenty years after her death. When Cay opened her Tea Room shortly
before the second World War reputable Tea Room owners only employed the best
readers, so no-one began to work immediately after their interview –not even
me, not even in 1979. Whether you read Astrology charts, Numbers (Numerology),
Playing Cards, the Crystal Ball, Palms, or Tarot your interview consisted of
reading for the boss and your starting date depended upon how soon one of your
predictions came true. THEN AND ONLY THEN were you able to begin a three to six
months probationary period. The first month was the longest because the boss
monitored your readings by steering their fussiest and most difficult clients
YOUR way. As long as those clients were satisfied with your reading,(and woe to
you if they weren’t!) you could
relax--but only a little. Your place wasn’t assured until you began to build a
solid word-of-mouth clientele of your own! Then, as now the true merit of any
reader depended upon the readers skill.
virtually every large city, small town and hamlet contains at least one, if not
several shops that offer books for self-enlightenment and personal readings
from Astrology to Aura-Photography to Crystal Balls to Palmistry, Playing
Cards, I-Ching, Runes, and Tarot. Naturally, each proprietor believes their
shop to be the best and their readers – the most accurate. The more prosperous
shop-owners often spend hundreds of dollars on various advertisements, in
addition to hosting and attending seminars both in and out of the state or
country where they live. Psychic Fairs that offer customers the opportunity to
have as many “mini” readings from as many readers as they can afford in one day
(and often leave folks looking like a child who ate to many goodies at a
carnival) have also become a popular means of
boosting business for local readers and shop-owners alike. For those who want
even more there are telephone psychic services that provide readings
twenty-four hours a day as well as “free” astrology and electronic Tarot
Readings on-line, and all across the country (if not the world) Readers from
everywhere jostle one another hoping to be featured in a newspaper, or on a
radio talk-show or T.V. program. Over the last 30 years “reading” seems to have
become more of an industry than an art, and this isn’t the first time.
roughly 1850 to through the early1900’s self-styled readers began coming out of
the woodwork all over America from home and abroad claiming to read anything
from the bumps on your head (phrenology) to coffee-grinds and tea-leaves
(tasseography) and everything in between – including those who claimed they
could contact the dead via séances. All in all readings and séances became SO
popular, that just like today, it seemed that ANYONE who claimed they could
read the future was making money doing so.
the beginning of the twentieth century so many people began to complain of
being cheated by false readers that town-fathers all across America began
resurrecting, erecting and enforcing laws against everything they deemed “fortune-telling.”
only exceptions to these rules were traveling carnivals and circuses most of
whom employed at least one reader (for entertainment purposes only) who might
or might not be the genuine article and might or might not be back again next
year when the carnival returned.
In Europe (especially in England) Tearooms, which featured a variety of teas, sandwiches and desserts had been in vogue since the latter half of the 19th century. Although they initially served customers of both sexes, by the dawn of the twentieth century European Tearooms were becoming more popular as a gathering place for women, whether to refresh themselves while shopping or to simply meet, chat and relax.
the twentieth century opened here in America, and the laws against conducting
professional readings became more of an impediment between reliable readers (which, by the way do NOT grow on
trees) and their patrons, it just so happened, that Tearooms were also becoming
fashionable here to. Since changing the law wasn’t any easier back in those
days than it is now, your better readers also began opening Tearooms of their
own – with their clients best wishes and sometimes even a little financial
in the mid 1930’s as Cay was
preparing to open her Tearoom, without a relative or a good friend who had a “knack”
for prognostication (forecasting the future) to receive a reliable reading, one still had to go
on the Q.T. since the law still frowned upon conducting a professional reading for cash payment.
HERE'S WHAT THEY DID. A reputable reader would lease, rent or purchase a small storefront with a kitchen facility and dining capacity in a respectable section of a big city’s main business and shopping district. (Location! Location! Location!) For instance, Cays Tearoom, on 4th and Prospect in downtown Cleveland Ohio was situated above a prominent jewelry store (Sol Bergmans) which was surrounded by numerous office buildings and just up the street from the Old Arcade (a once popular business and shopping mall) and yet within walking distance of (Halles, Higbees and the May Company) three major department stores, as well as the Central Market.
Tearooms hours of operation also coincided with the opening and closing times
of their particular shopping and business
district. As I recall, on Monday thru Wednesday Cays Tearoom opened at 11 am
and closed at 6 pm. On Thursdays however, Cays opened at 9 am because by that
time, the market was open for business and the market ladies (having been hard
at work since 6:30 or 7 a.m.) had arranged their stalls and were ready to let
their husband or another assistant greet the first customers while they took a
break! On Thursdays Cays also
stayed open till 8 p.m. to accommodate market ladies who couldn’t get away
earlier in the day as well as secretaries and bank clerks who for whatever
reason tended to work longer hours that day. On Fridays Cays was open from 9
a.m. to 6 p.m. and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m on Saturdays. Naturally on Sundays,
virtually every business including Cays was closed.
Tearoom proprietors were free to advertise, Cays, became known as a
Tearoom/Lunchroom. Its’ spacious, yet quiet atmosphere offered ladies a welcome
refuge whether from inclement weather, cranky co-workers, crabby bosses or the
latest family fiascoes. Though wholesome, Cays menu was almost nondescript.
Tuna, Chicken, Egg Salad and cheese (toasted or plain) sandwiches were available
year round, but in the winter months you could also order a steaming bowl of
Chili, Chicken or Vegetable Soup. Dessert consisted of a small bowl of jell-o
or a small plate containing several unremarkable cookies. Naturally, each
luncheon was accompanied by a refreshing cup of tea, whose leaves could clearly
be seen resting at the bottom of the cup. If you preferred cream or sugar with
your tea, upon completing your meal, one more cup of plain tea would be
Yet even with its’ commonplace menu and despite its’ close proximity to any number of more fashionable restaurants, Cays Tearoom was always busy. In fact some clients had standing reservations, say for example, 1 p.m. on the 2nd Tuesday of every third month.
Cay WAS still reading, and without breaking any laws. How? Well, the reading
was included in price of your luncheon. After your meal either Cay or your
server merely offered a “complimentary” reading - which you were free to accept
HERE'S HOW IT WORKED. Most Q.T. Tearoom proprietors had earned their good reputation and
loyal following by beginning as a reader in another Tearoom. Although most
Tearooms had a “leading reader”— one whose accuracy consistently attracted the
highest number of clients, in some Tearooms the readers status changed
week-by-week-- very much like attending two psychic fairs on two separate
weekends and discovering that “Simone” has suddenly become a better reader than
“Becky” was last weekend.
Tearoom proprietors who lacked a lead reader were always ready to promise a “better
deal” to the lead reader from a rival Tearoom, those proprietors who were
fortunate enough to have a lead-reader often went to great lengths to keep that
reader satisfied, particularly since more than one lead reader sometimes left
their employer to open their own Q.T. Tearoom.
its heyday (before my time) Cays sometimes employed as many as eight and
sometimes ten readers. Each reader set their own schedule, according to their
lifestyle. Some readers preferred to work only two days a week, while others
might work four or five days. Some readers preferred working in the late
morning and early afternoon, while others were more comfortable working early
afternoons and evenings. Each reader had their own specialty, but Cay was the
only one who read the Crystal Ball.
HERE'S WHY IT WORKED.
word-of-mouth always has been (and still is) the best form of marketing, every
reputable reader who opened their own Tearoom was busy from day one. Like Cay,
each Tearoom proprietor whose business was founded on their reputation for
delivering a quality reading, brooked no nonsense from their employees, such as
spells and curses. You see, their reputation was on-the-line with every reading
given by their employees. So the proprietors vigilance meant that each customer
could be certain of obtaining a quality reading.
fact, when I began reading in 1979 (about forty years after Cays opened) it
wasn’t uncommon for a client to remark that having a reading at Cays Tearoom whenever
they came downtown was a family tradition that began with their grandmother, or
a favorite Aunt.
You'd be amazed at how many “ old-time readings” passed into family
legends and are still being repeated today. Upon their daughter or
granddaughter “coming of age” it wasn’t unusual for a regular client to
introduce the young lady to their favorite reader, very much like inheriting a
family heirloom. Back then a
number of the Tearooms clients also came from families who (for whatever
reason) considered readings to be “taboo” yet, still believed in “feminine”
intuition—as long as it came from their mom, or grandma or Aunt Sally! One can
only imagine what the families response would have been if they knew the secret
behind mom, or grandma or Aunt Sallys revered intuition!
THOSE OLD TIME READERS CAME FROM:
Everywhere all across the
country – literally. You see, when Cays Tearoom opened the country was just
working its way out of the Great Depression and into WWII. By the time I came along (in 1950) Cays
Tearoom was well established. Being a regular visitor I was familiar with all
Cays readers, but because I was so young at the time what I remember best was
sitting on Cays lap when she wasn’t busy and sitting amidst all her plants on
huge window-seat watching the people and traffic below, while she was. In 1979, however, each Thursday I had
the pleasure of working with Jeannie who not only remembered me, but ( at age
seventy-three ) was the last of the Cays old-time readers. As a young girl,
Jeannie, had been a very popular circus entertainer -- a bare-back rider!
Although Jeannie never married, upon becoming too old to ride she remained with
the circus performing other tasks, until 1954 when both her sister and mother
became ill causing Jeannie returned home to Ohio and begin her career as a
straight-card reader (which meant she read regular playing cards) for Cays
Tearoom. Over the years, although Jeannie had seen readers come and go -- she
still had a loyal following of clients who wouldn’t have dreamed of consulting
another reader! Every Tuesday I worked with the late, great Eleanor Mannochio,
to whose memory I dedicated my book Tarot Dynamics. With her glossy red hair,
tinkling laugh and ready smile Eleanor, was truly a beautiful person—inside and
out. By 1979, Eleanor had been reading the Tarot at Cays Tearoom for almost
five years and although the Tarot was Eleanors’ first love she was also an
amazingly accurate astrologer. No on would have guessed that Eleanor --who
travelled to and from work at the Tearoom via public transportation, was also a
suburban housewife, and loving mother of two teenage sons! Although she passed
away in 1981, I’ll never forget her kindness to a “new” reader or the good
times we shared, and the classy, not crass example she set.