Memories Of Working At The Roseboro As A Young Girl

Mary Ann Larkin, President of the Sharon Springs Historical Society, recently shared what it was like working at the Roseboro as a young girl. howland-house

Here is her recollection:

“I worked at the Roseboro during the summer of 1961 as a bus girl. My pay check from the Wasserman’s was $13.25 a week. As a bus girl, I not only removed the dirty dishes from the tables, but I also served different items like beverages and special side orders of food and so on.

We had to be to work at 6:30 AM and work until 9:00 PM. (No child labor laws in those days!) During that time, we had a short break after breakfast. We then served lunch, took another short break only to have to return by 3:30 PM to serve afternoon tea and then begin set up for dinner. We did this 7 days a week from July 1st to Labor Day. The local school students who played in the band were allowed to leave early on the night of the Band Concerts on the Imperial bath house steps for the weekly concert.

Louis Wasserman, son of Harry Wasserman, was our boss! I mean that in the true sense of the word. He was very polite to us, but if he wanted us to do something his way, he had a tone in his voice that told us “don’t mess up!” I would go home night after night still hearing him hollering to all of us who worked in the dining room, “Wipe the knives, wipe the knives!” The knives at the Roseboro were not made of stainless steel. Oh no, they were made of wooden handles and dark metal of some kind. If you cut anything with the blade, like a grapefruit and if you didn’t wipe the knife, the next person who used it ended up with black all over everything. So much for trying to service the guests in a timely fashion! You only forgot to “wipe the knife a few times” before you realized Louis was watching you, so you might as well “wipe the knife” the right way!

Another of my duties was to deliver trays of food for room service. Some guests preferred to eat breakfast in their room. We were not allowed to walk through the prayer room where the men were praying. We had to go out the main dining room door, walk down the long porch around to the front door and go into the lobby to take the elevator to deliver the room service trays. We usually had to wait for the elevator, so the breakfast wasn’t very warm when the guests received it.

When we had some time between our shifts, we would hang out in the laundry room with the ladies who cleaned the 140 guest rooms and changed the bedding after the guests had left. The Wasserman’s owned the linens for the hotel and did not send them out to be cleaned. The maids didn’t have much time between cleaning and doing the laundry, but they were great at working while talking with us. The maids came to the Roseboro every year from the hotel in Florida that the Wasserman’s owned there. This way they had year around work.

By Labor Day, I was ready to do “school shopping” because I had earned money at the Hotel. Now, you may think that $13.25 per week wasn’t much money. Thanks to the guests, their tips gave me enough money to buy school supplies, some new clothes and put money in a savings account to someday buy a car.

I have to admit I learned a work ethic that I carried with me from then on. In 1989, I started a career in real estate and low and behold one of the first listings I was fortunate to obtain was the Roseboro Hotel. Nate Wasserman contacted me and asked me to list the hotel for $60,000.00.

The price included all the buildings and also the “servant’s” quarters and the vacant lot across the street. I’m not sure now how many showings I had, but it wasn’t more than three or four over a few years. Later, there was a death in the Wasserman family and the estate pulled the listing off the market until a settlement could be reached.

Years passed and then Dawn Belloise and Dennis Giacomo purchased the hotel from the Wasserman Estate. By that time, it had started to deteriorate. Most of you know that history. Dennis gave me the opportunity to list the hotel for a short time but because he was so emotionally attached to all the hard work he did, it was hard for him to accept a buyer’s offer when one was presented. I always loved showing the Roseboro to potential buyers. I felt like a tour guide. I would tell people what the rooms, hallways, bathrooms, etc. looked like when I worked there so they could imagine the luxury and overlook the deterioration and peeling plaster.

I believe there is much more to come with the Roseboro as Ron Ketelsen’s dreams, ideas, renovations and events come alive before our eyes. We’ve already had a preview of the hotel over the holidays and we are looking forward to what he has in store for the Roseboro and this community. I personally want to thank Ron Ketelsen for purchasing the Roseboro Hotel and wish him the very best as he embarks on this exciting journey.

On behalf of the Sharon Historical Society, we thank Ron for taking on the project of renovating this “Masterpiece” in our Community.”

Sharon Historical Society
Mary Ann Larkin, President