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Best Summer Job Ever

In 1966, when the end of school rolled around it was time to get my first summer job. We lived on Bee Street so the first natural place to apply was the newly opened Holiday Inn on East Main Street at the exit of the recently completed Route I-91 and the Merritt Parkway. It turned out to be the only place I applied because in a few days I received a phone call telling me to show up for work. When I did, I was told to report to the banquet manager with whom I’d be working.

When I introduced myself to him he was surprised that I was not the person he thought I’d be. He had hired John Swanson because he had a terrible employee by that name who worked for him at another inn, and he couldn’t wait to tell this kid he was fired before he even started. I suppose he could have fired me anyway, but he decided to give me a chance, and we ended up working together for two years.

My main duties were as a busboy, and when there was a function to be held in one of the banquet rooms I was to help the manager set up the tables and linens. On some days I also acted as bellhop, taking room service orders up to guests’ rooms and helping with their luggage.

As a teenager in the 60s I was enthusiastically following the musical revolution which was taking place. I especially loved the British Invasion bands whose music had taken over our transistor radios and stereo turntables, but there were a lot of American bands I listened to as well. What an exciting time it was! And it soon became even more exciting for me.

The Oakdale Musical Theatre was bringing in any and all the touring bands they could get, and quite frequently during the summer there were concerts at the Oakdale which I could not afford to attend. However, those bands had to stay somewhere before they moved on to their next show, and I soon discovered that many of them would be staying right there at the Holiday Inn where I worked. Over the course of that summer I met Paul Revere and the Raiders, The Turtles, The Byrds, Chad and Jeremy, The Dave Clark Five (although they actually stayed at the Yale Motor Inn), and Jerry Lewis. I guess I might have met more bands if my work schedule had been different, but I was thrilled to meet the ones I did.

Some of my recollections of the band members were that Mark Lindsay of Paul Revere and the Raiders seemed amazingly tall (maybe it was the boots), Chris Hillman and David Crosby of The Byrds were friendly and good tippers (they each tipped me a dollar for their room service orders which was a lot to me back then), Jeremy Clyde of Chad and Jeremy had strikingly blue eyes (I’m not gay, that’s just my most vivid recollection), The Turtles were all in great spirits (what was that herbal odor?), and Jerry Lewis was quite rude to the fans who were waiting for him when he came out of the elevator on the way to his limo for the evening’s show. I didn’t realize until a couple years ago that I had met another notable character in rock history. Chip Monck, who was The Turtles’ road manager, was the guy who announced the bands at Woodstock a few years later. The DC5 were without a doubt the friendliest and most cordial to their teenage fans when friends and I visited them at the Yale Motor Inn. I still have an autographed album of theirs.

There was certainly a lot more involved in that job than meeting celebrities, but none of it was more memorable, and without having met the few I did, I don’t think I’d classify my stint at the Holiday Inn as the Best Summer Job Ever. But for me it was.