THE ROSEBORO (by Sandra Manko)
It was very interesting if nothing else. We had a good time which is a good thing because we certainly didn’t get rich.
We worked an average of 10 hours a day, 7 days a week, and the 1st summer my paycheck was $8.50. That’s not $8.50 an hour – that’s $8.50 a week. I was a bus girl. The waitresses got paid a few dollars more. By 1957, I got paid $19.00/week – that was with 2 years prior experience. When Dawne Belloise & Dennis Giacomo were renovating the Roseboro, they found this little booklet from 1957 stuck somewhere in a wall and it showed our wages. Joyce Farro worked as a waitress and she got $19.00/week. Barbara Whitbeck got paid $18.00/week.
The Wassermans felt they didn’t have to pay us much because we would make our money in tips. That may have been true in previous years, but this was the period of time when the Roseboro, although still very classy, was on the decline. The wealthier clientele were staying at the more modern hotels – like the Park View, Columbia, and the Adler where there was a pool and sauna.
The Roseboro attracted less wealthy people – what’s that word I’m searching for – oh yes – it’s frugal. The Wasserman’s were frugal and many of their clientele were frugal. Some of the guests tipped us $1.00 a week for serving 3 meals a day plus “tea time” in the afternoon. But we said “Thank you” very graciously like their $1.00 was a big deal. $1.00 isn’t much in today’s standards and it wasn’t much in the 1950s either.
However, we had our own way of beating the system. The only meal we were allowed to eat there was breakfast and we were only allowed to have oatmeal – no orange juice, no strudel, and no eggs. We would be in trouble if they caught us eating those pricier items. One of the waitresses, Joyce Farro, would order a soft-boiled egg for one of the guests, and then put it in a cup of hot water. By the time we were done serving breakfast, the egg would be hard boiled. The strudel was delicious, but we had to sneak a piece of that. That was definitely off limits.
We weren’t allowed in the front lobby or front porches. We had to enter from the side door or back of the building and were only allowed in the dining room.
The guests were nice people but sometimes picky about the food. They would declare that the orange juice wasn’t fresh. They would say – take this back and get me “fresh squeezed darling, fresh”. So, we would go to the icehouse out back and put an orange seed in the same glass of juice and then they would be happy because they thought it was “fresh”.
The dishwasher at this time was an old man named Steve. He probably wasn’t all that old but to a 14 year old, everyone is old. Steve lived there for the summer and had a room in one of the buildings out back – the same as the maids. The Wasserman’s didn’t hire local people to clean the rooms. They owned the Indian Creek Hotel in Florida and they brought those cleaning women with them when they returned each year. The maids lived in the building out back and were nice to us but stayed to themselves.
However, I regress. Steve the dishwasher was an alcoholic. He wasn’t too bad to get along with if he was sober but that wasn’t too often.
One of the waitresses, Katie Hayes, loved to antagonize Steve. When we were clearing tables, she would take dirty tableware out to the dish washing room and say, “Hey Steve, here’s some dirty dishes for you.” That’s all it would take and Steve would start throwing things – usually at us.
We were required to wear crisp white uniforms and aprons. No slacks, no casual clothes. We were dressed to perfection.
There was an elevator boy – I can’t remember his name but I remember he was cute and wore a uniform with a hat. Probably Barb (Whitbeck) Cousineau remembers his name because she thought he was cute, too!
The Wassermans played the same music every night while the guests were coming in to dinner. Many of you would recognize the melody as the theme tune for the film, “The Bridge On the River Kwai”. We had to line up and stand at attention at the back of the room and watch as the guests marched in.
The music they played was the “Colonel Bogey March” probably one of the most familiar marches at the time. However, we had our own version. We softly sang “Bullshit, it makes the grass grow green. Bullshit, it does the same damm thing. Bullshit, oh yes it’s bullshit. Both will grow grass the greenest you’ve seen.”