|Holiday Inn Airport 1964-7|
|Guests I met||Roger Miller, We Five, Herman's Hermits, Phil Specter, Ronettes, Serendipity Singers (twice), Brothers Four (twice), New Christy Minstrels, Al Hirt, Four Lads, Lefty Frizell, Louise Harrison Caldwell, Mamas and Papas and Animals|
|Rolling Stones||Before they were famous they toured the States and they stayed in HIA all over the country. They toured for 3 weeks in June and
stayed in Mpls for four days. The Stones performed at Excelsior Amusement Park, and were not well received. I have a few stories.
Since they weren't famous, no one knew them and they had no where to go. They stayed in the motel and were at the pool getting sun
most of the time. There many stories about these guys with long hair and one couldn't tell if they were a boy or girl. Absolutely true.
One day Brian Jones wanted shampoo which could be bought at the front desk with other sundries (before the days of vending machines).
And it took a long to time to obtain as no one couldn't understand what he was saying. |
Well, on the day of their concert they ordered hamburgers and I was on duty to carry it up to the room. Mick and one other (don't recall) were in the room getting dressed and the manager was rushing in and out between the rooms getting them to speed up. So amidst all this I show up and Mick tells me to put the tray down at a certain spot. And I do it tips, spilling orange juice all over the burgers. So I go to the kitchen and explain that I need the order done again only to be told by the redneck cook that he ain't doing it for them queers. And that is how I ended making new burgers for the myself. It was a year later before I would realize who they were.
From someone's blog: "One of their stops that year was in Excelsior, Minnesota at the Excelsior Fair. They played in a small teen club called Danceland on the grounds of the Excelsior Amusement Park on the shores of Lake Minnetonka. That night they were the opening act for the one hit wonder, The Castaways, of "Liar Liar" fame. The Castaways consisted of five Minnesota kids who had gone to local high schools around the Minneapolis suburban area. The Stones took the stage at their appointed time and were promptly booed off the stage by the unruly mob of teens gathered to see the local heros, The Castaways."
|Beatles||So close, but.... I was the one who took the message off of the teletype. It said that the Beatles were staying at Holiday Inns and requested rooms for the night before they were to play at Metropolitan Stadium (HIA right next to stadium and next to the airport so we were a perfect choice. I was in heaven. But the manager was having visions of the place being overrun by teenage girls and press, so he told me to reply that we were full and unable to make the reservation. It turned out that they ended up in a motel in downtown Minneapolis. That didn't stop hundreds of girls arriving at the motel based on rumors or pure speculation that the Beatles would be there. article|
|Beatles II||George's sister, Louise Harrison Caldwell, stayed for a couple weeks in 1965, while she was on local radio station WDGY chatting and answering listeners' questions. I spoke to her a few times. Seemed to be pleasant professional business woman. article|
|CDC vs WWF||Picked up two guys who were going to Control Data (down the road from HIA). They had too much to drink on the flight and were trying to convince me that they were a wrestling tag team. All the way to their room.|
|Don't Look Ethel||Dick was a overweight slob of a cook. Dark black stuble and totally unkemp. One night after everyone had gone home or to bed, he decided he was going to have a swim (outdoor pool), So he stripped down to boxers adn still wearing his boots strolled out into the night. A sight I will never forget, as much as I try.|
|Drowning||I was a bellman when a fellow was pulled from the pool. I wouldn't have known what to do but luckily, Chuck (cook) did. He forced a pen to hold done the tongue and did the mouth to mouth. Ambulance took the guy and his wife to Methodist hopsital. Hours later the manager told me to bring them back. Well, I knew where the hospital was but not how to get to it from Hightway 100. So I wasted time driving back and forth un til I finally made it. The two of them were only in the swim suit and freezing. I was so embarassed to have not brought along something, even towels. Couldn't think of anything to say either. They were obviously upset that it had taken me so long. Half an hour dive and it took me more than an hour.|
|Wally||Walter Becek was a millionaire. He had pads of $1 bills (you know glued together on one edge) specially made and he would peel off up five of them at a time as a tip. Even though we were not supposed to do so, the manager had me act as his personal chauffeur and bring him to a night club in South St Paul. One time I delivered three meals to his room and in it with him were two elderly ladies. I thought it strnage that they didn't eat in the diningroom, as guest rooms didn't have a table. He would stay at least once a year. And each time he had five newly tailored sports jackets (don't think he wore suits per se) delivered. Wear it once, throw it away type of guy. He was a loud character, too. Wanted everyone to know that he was RICH.|
|Pemberton||Bald headed, rimmed glasses, a black mustache and a squeky voice. He was brought on board as Catering Manager and he over stepped his bounds becoming the "kitchen Nazi" always on the outlook for wastages. As in, staff taking things like the odd Coke or ice cream after hours without paying. He came from Wisconsin and lived in the basement, so he was always there. No one liked him and we made life so difficult for him that he quit after a short while. We never had another CM.|
|Catheter or Bust||An elderly (70s) Mr Johnson was on the Northwest Airlines Board (and others) and stayed at the Inn whenever he flew in for a meeting. One time he need to pee and couldn't, so I was told to bring him to Methodist. Luckily, I now knew the wya as he was in great pain. Well, the receptionist wouldn't admit him until he filled out forms and could be judged able to pay. He just wanted a catheter put in immediately and he'd pay afterwards. No, forms first. Was a great lesson for me. Here was a powerful, rich man being leveled to begging by a clerk wanting to follow rules. So much for ER service.|
|Producer||Another rich dude was from California where he made films. He had his own jet and that was the only time I ever drove to that area of the airports complex. I am certain that he flew the plane himself.|
|Light Bulbs||Being next to The Met stadium the cafe had sports decor. There were large round white lightbulbs over the counter. I painted on "stitching" to make them look like baseballs.|
|Programming||A guest was hired by Control Data to write a heart monitor program for NASA. When he heard I was doing computers at university he offered me and Tom Sullivan a job to code in FORTRAN. He would draw the schematic for us and we did the rest. Once he had the contract he move out to a bachelor's pad and that was where we would meet.|
|Marquee||The message on the large Holiday Inn sign would change frequently (almost daily). It would be used for promotions but mainly just to welcome a group. The letters were about 18" high (.5m) and were hoisted about twenty feet (6m) individually using an aluminum pole. They would hook onto a crossbar. Once in a while I would have to do it. That meant removing the existing letters and then building the new message. No big deal you might say, but try doing it at night in the middle of a Minnesota winter. 20°F below and a wind to boot.|
|Airport||As bellman one of my jobs was to bring customers back and forth to the airport. Back then it was a simple place to handle. Upper level departures, lower level arrivals. We didn't have a proper vehicle with signage as we used any Budget rental car that was available. So I would need to park and then get out of the car and yell "Holiday Inn". Most of the time it worked. But many times I would have to go into the airport itself and hope to find them. After a wait I would use the motel's phone inside and ask for permission to come back without the customer. Once in awhile I would need to fill the car at the Super America station at the airport.|
|Staff||Owner: Steve Gillette, Mgr: Gregg Johnson, David Chaika, Catering Mgr: Pemberton |
Secretary: Bobbi Head Maid: Sis Brooks Maids: Ursula (German accent - older), Nancy (hot blonde), Leah (beautiful), Sharon (naive redhead), Marcia Makousky (Homecoming Queen), Sue Thorson, Ruthie (old and funny) and Rosie.
Desk Clerks: Me, David Chaika, Lorinda Night Auditor: Merle (metal leg) and Norm
Phone Operator: Lorinda Hockstader, Judy Sausen, Sue Gillette, Gregg's sister Bellmen: me, Gary Hoffer, Mike Knapp, Larry Forsman Cooks: Manny, Chuck, Gary C, Dick Jaspers Dishwasher: Russ, Tom Makousky Waitresses: mom, Carole and Rosalie Lyng, Katie, Ruth Grant.
|From a letter||I remember the Holiday Inn at 34th and 494? They tore the building down and now it is a car park. You are right it must be the best job ever. But "job". Let me list the things I did over the years. Hired as a bellman and you know what that means - carrying bags, doing room service. I also was chauffer picking up and delivering people to the airport. A few times I also was an ambulance driver bringing people to a hospital. I was a maid. Sometimes after the maids had left work a room might need to be "done" and it would fall to me to make the beds scrub the bathroom, vacuum dust etc… When things were slow I would open and restock the vending machines. In the winter it was up to we bellman to shovel the entry way. It was the bellman's job to change the lettering on the HI sign. The letters were 12" high and we used a 20' aluminium pole to dislodge them from the sign then put up the new message. I had to do that in the winter in a snow storm once: "Welcome blah blah company" or some such thing. The job I hated the most was having to go around the pool and ask people if they would like a drink from the bar. I never had one person say "yes". HI was a family motel not like the Thunderbird where the rich stayed and drank accordingly. Rarely, when the dining room became swamped I'd be thrown in there to clear tables or into the kitchen to wash dishes. One Sunday we had Hermans Hermits coming to eat on the way to the airport and I was put in charge of security. I had to keep the throng of teenage girls in the lobby away from the restaurant. Then the boss told me to be HH's personal maitre d', so in I went and took their orders brought their drinks and supervised the waitress delivering the food. I basically was told to stay at the table for their beck and call. Was I embarrassed? All the stares from normal customers in the room at these weirdoes with long hair and accents and I was suppose to do what? No training. Just stand there for an hour! Then clear the way through the girls on the way out. The next MalleyGram will have the Rolling Stones story.
At times when the guy didn't show up I would stay and be the night man - he was a bellman but things were slow with everyone sleeping so his job was to clean the kitchen, dining rooms, toilets, meeting rooms and lounge. Each night I would go into the parking lot and write done all of the license plate numbers (see we didn't trust the guests - some crooks and some forgetful who would make up a number for the registration doc) and then cross check them against the reg docs. In case someone left in the morning without paying we'd have a better chance of tracking them done.
Eventually I was promoted to desk clerk which again is probably self-evident in its tasks. He was the guy in charge when the manager was gone. I was always in trouble because I would let rooms out at single price after being told to only put doubles in to it (a difference of $2) or in the morning at checkout a guy would say that he saw the rate on the door and he was being overcharged. I'd reduce it to what it should be. I got nasty letters from the general manager and had my pay docked accordingly. My first taste at having to be a professional liar and I failed.
Then I became the Night Auditor. He is the 11PM-7AM shift and after midnight the place was dead, so I would then set about balancing the books for the day. That meant the intake from the restaurants, bar and desk. Everything had to be right to the penny. It was pretty straight forward for a mathematician and could be done in less than two hours which usually meant four hours of free time. The night man was busy with his work, so I would usually then be paid while reading or doing my university studies.
I love meeting people so the bellman period was my favourite. I would get to know them while driving them to the motel from the airport. People going to the airport weren't very chatty. We had long-term guests and regular returning guests. Some became friends. We had the Vikings there the day before each home game. We had musicians and famous people stay. The job was so varied and never a dull moment. I have so many stories and they are scattered throughout my website, but one day I might pull them all together into one spot