I believe it was the Fall of 1957 when our older brothers – the twins – took Lewis (Doug) and I on a wonderful sports-fan weekend to Syracuse, New York. I would’ve been thirteen years old at the time.
As I recall, we left Pittsburgh on a Friday morning and checked into a ‘real’ hotel late that afternoon. Up until that day, I had never even stayed at a motel. There are two things I remember most about that hotel.
First was the door to the room. I have no idea what the door was called. I’d call it a ‘valet’ door. It was extremely thick because it was basically a small closet that fit inside the door. That ‘closet’ could be opened from either side. If a guest at the hotel had a suit or shirts to be cleaned or laundered, he or she would place the garments in the door and turn a lever causing a signal to be exposed on the outside of the door.
During the night, hotel employees would pass through the halls looking for the signals. When one was spotted, they would open the door, remove the garments, and take them to the hotel’s laundry. They would later return and put the clean garments back in the door.
I hope I explained that well enough, because it is something that is no longer seen… even in the fanciest hotels. A guest can still have garments cleaned, but other methods for pick-up and delivery are used.
The other thing I recall about that hotel was my breakfast. I had never eaten breakfast at a restaurant and had no idea what to order. So I asked for oatmeal.
The hot cereal was served in an oval shaped stainless steal bowl with a lid. I was then given real cream to put on my hot cereal. I knew what cream was because I always tried to be the first to get to the freshly delivered milk on cold winter mornings. I sometimes won!
Besides the hotel, the weekend was filled with firsts for me. On Friday night, we went to see the Cincinnati Royals play the Syracuse Nationals in a National Basketball Association game.
The two players that stood out in my mind that night were Sihugo Green who had played his college ball at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, and Larry Costello who was probably the last professional basketball player who made a living off the two-hand set shot.
On Saturday we went to watch the University of Pittsburgh play the University of Syracuse in a football game.
While that was the basic premise for the trip, I remember little of that game. Jim Brown may have played against Pitt, but my memory is a total blank when it comes to that game. Perhaps all the excitement had finally got up with me and I was in la-la land.
In any case, it was a wonderful trip and once again indicates what wonderful brothers I have.