Bellhop, Nevele Hotel, Ellenville, N.Y. 1956-60 (summers) - Ron Singer

(Part two of four poems entitled 'Colleagues')

The paper route paid for my saxophone.
(My parents sprang for the violin.)
The route also forestalled college loans.

But my dad did the math (niggling of him)
and, declaring I needed a “real” job,
pulled strings at a hotel, den of sin.

My roommate was Freddy, the barber,
toothless old man and Playboy addict.
If my mother only knew, bless her!

Freddy’s son was a hipster named Gil,
also no teeth. There were twelve of us,
working in fours: three eight-hour shifts.

My protector was the giant, Les,
who could hoist four cases at a time
--four packed, full-sized suitcases, that is.

“How tall is that guy?” The joke was prime.
“About six-five, or -six, Mo’ or Les.”
Les stooped, from shame, or from a curved spine.

Unflappably affable, the best-
natured bellhop, the kindest by far,
unlike us other jokers and pests,

Les consoled me once, loading a car,
A fur I had dropped lay in the dust.
“No problem,” he winked, “they’re in the bar.”

I can hardly leave the Nevele
without mentioning some of its ghosts:
glass washers, gardeners, and now that he’s toast,
sporting a loud vest, the waddling Em-Cee.