Yes, the old Carlton was a novel waiting to be written, a patchwork of the down and outers, and masterpiece painting bidding it's time before someone splashed it on a canvas. It was composed like a symphony written by an angry, slightly insane, well, totally insane, composer with disharmonious chords, and a mishmash of polyphonic melodies intertwining, trying to meet, but never quite meeting. In other words, it was a mess.It was a sea of human misery, life stories dashed to pieces on the protruding boulders and cliffs of life. Dreams scattered in the winds of alcohol, drugs, disease, and mental illness. It was a fun place to work.
The cast of actors that were there when I began working there read like a combination of Alfred Hitchcock novels, The Twilight Zone, and Chevy Chase movies , all rolled into one. Here are the people and a brief description . Please remember this was in the early seventies before we became so politically correct, so I might use phrases that we no longer deem acceptable.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the cast starring in the "Pitts Carlton" Please save your applause until all of the cast has been introduced.
Wheel Chair Joe--It was hard to tell how big Joe really was because Joe had no legs. I am not familiar with all of Joe's story, and do not know how he lost his legs, but he seemed to be a pretty decent guy when he was not drunk. Joe served as our elevator operator. The Carlton had one of those old fashioned elevators that had to be operated by a human. Remember those? When a guest wished to go up, the operator had to ride with them, push the "go button" and then stop the ride exactly on the correct floor. This was no small task, and it required full attention or else the car might stop three feet short of the floor, or it might stop two feet above the floor. Either way, it was a tough first step for those passenger who do not land on exact spot of their floor. The old cage would moan and groan like a woman giving birth as it tried to rise to it's delivery.
One thing stood out about Joe over and above the lack of legs and the fact that he was wheel chaired bound. Joe had biceps the size of cannon balls.
Next, in the supporting cast was Top-Coat Tommy.Tommy was a senior man with a wispy white hair, a charming personality, and a contagious smile laced with a melancholy look that perhaps spoke of a genteel upbringing from long, long, ago. Tommy also had a love of sweets, especially fudge, and he always had on a top-coat.What he had on underneath the coat, I had no idea, and I was not sure that I wanted to know! Tommy's boyish charm could vanish like a quick flash flood when he dove into the bottle.
Please meet now Captain Bill. For the first few months that I was at the Carlton, I thought that Bill was the only "normal" person there. Bill was our maintenance man, and he was fresh out of Saigon University after several tours of our warring partner of the sixties and seventies. Bill, as his name implies h I had risen the ranks of captain, and he seemed bright, if not a little too egotistical. Keep in mind that I thought Bill was normal. At least that was what I thought at the time. Boy, was i in for surprise. Captain Bill would teach me a lesson later on that would change the entire course of my what profession that I would go in to.
Next, a Rose by any other name-Ah yes, Rose. Rose was the manger of Chuck's hotel, and worked the morning shift. Rose was a chain smoking, coffee guzzling woman who thought that if some cheap cologne smelled good, then the whole bottle sloshed over her middle-aged body must smell even better. So, now combining a whole bottle of cheap cologne, the constant smell of stale smoke, and coffee breath, well, you did not want to stand to close to Rose.
Next, welcome to the show, Indian Mike. Once again, I ask for your political tolerance with the name. That is what he answered to at the Carlton. I never knew his real name. He was actually an Eskimo and worked as a longshoreman at the Tacoma docks. He was always polite to me, and was a man of few words. It was his "niece" that I some serious questions about. For you see, Indian Mike lived in a one bed room with a young Eskimo woman youthful enough to be his daughter. She was introduced to me as his niece. I never saw her sober,and I never again saw her after the initial meeting with clothes on. OK, I realize that my last statement needs some explaining, which I will gladly do in another chapter.
On the 4th floor lived a burly black man, probably in his early sixties. This gentleman was known as Tiger Joe.Tiger got his nickname by virtue of the fact that he was once the 10th ranked Light Heavyweight Boxer in the world. Tiger paid his rent on time, and pretty remained aloof from the other hotel patrons. The only times that I would see him was when he came home from work, or when he left with the beautiful blond lady that shared his room. I never got close to her, either because, well, you know, you did not want to risk the ire of someone named Tiger, right?
The desk staff was comprised of some interesting folks, too. First,meet Bobby, the one who trained me on the desk duties of the Carlton. Bobby was a good looking young man with very polite manners. Well, I digress, I thought Bobby was a young man. But, more on that later, too.
Finally, for today, since my hands are growing weary, and my mind is strained from remembering names from so many years ago,let me introduce, the man who made this play all possible-yes, the man who directed the play, cast the characters, and played ringmaster to the circus that played on a daily basis at the Pits Carlton, and that man is none other than,now you can applaud loudly, ladies and gentlemen please give a Blog welcome to Uncle Chuck and his funny farm zoo.
next-a lesson to change my life.