Ambria – Chapter 14 – Atlantic City – Part 2

I know what’s going to happen over the next two days. I’m ready, and I hope it goes well and our chemistry continues in a brief domestic space. I am going to her place. I’ve never been there before. I don’t know what to suspect. But I can handle it. It’s a couple of days in Atlantic City with a beautiful young woman. How bad is my life?

I’m munching my sandwich in the Jeep and the trip is rolling along. It’s late, but I don’t care.

“I need a drink after this day.”

“Sounds like a plan, Ambria.”

We finally pull into the parking lot of the Ritz Carlton Residences in AC. This place is glorious. Such history. The summer heat has been upon us in the city for the last week, but as I roll down the window, I catch the vivid fragrance of the sweet sea air. The seashore has been part of my being since childhood, and even though I have just rolled into the dying sin city of the east coast, I smile and breathe deeply. I had forgotten as hot as the city gets it’s always cooler at the shore. That’s part of the reason people come to the seashore. The cool breeze is wonderful.

It’s glorious.

I’m alive.

We park and unload her Jeep. We’re like every other tourist at this moment. Tired, and hauling our gear up to our room. I’m happy to be here. She’s relieved we’re finally here after a long day for both of us. Ambria, says hello to the staff as we make our way to the elevator.

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company announced its intention to build a hotel in Atlantic City in 1911. The Ritz-Carlton was designed by New York architect Charles D. Wetmore and constructed by the Thompson-Starrett CompanyOpened on June 21, 1921, it was erected at a cost of $6,250,000 (almost $70 million in 2010 dollars), less than the original $8 million projected. Located at the end of Iowa Avenue, the building has 131 feet of Boardwalk frontageis 222 ft (68 m) tall, and has 18 stories.

At the building’s dedication, hotel president Richard Harris stated “We are out to do business with the average American citizen without regard to race, religion or politics”. But the Ritz-Carlton soon became a haunt for the well-off, the hotel exuding wealth and status. Many features were state-of-the-art or unique among hotels at the time. They included fresh and salt-water faucets for both hot and cold water in each room, an on-site artesian well for spring water, pantries on each landing to speed room service, and elevators with walls of rubber and floors of cork so that bathers’ could bypass the lobby.

The hotel’s restaurants were the Ritz, the Trellis Room, and the Ritz Grill, an outdoor dining terrace overlooking the ocean, and a merry-go-round shaped bar. The Maude Earl Room, a writing room adjoining the parlor, housed rare and antique art.

During the Depression in 1937 the owners defaulted on the mortgage and the Ritz Carlton was reorganized under bankruptcy. The hotel was one of many in the city to be used as military barracks for soldiers in training and recuperation during World War II. After the war it was sold to Schine Hotels in the 1940s and then to Sheraton Hotels in 1959, becoming The Sheraton Ritz-CarltonThe Ritz was converted to an apartment hotel in June 1969. In 1978, an investor group purchased the building intending to convert it to a hotel and casino. However, unfavorable publicity linking it to the Abscam investigation ended that plan. Senator Harrison A. Williams (D-N.J.) told an undercover FBI agent that he could help save the investors $30 million by allowing them to renovate the existing property, rather than building a new one. Williams’ wife was a paid consultant and shareholder in Hardwicke Companies, the majority investor in the project, and Williams expected to receive a $1 million finder’s fee for helping arrange financing for the project. Williams was later convicted on unrelated charges. In 1982, approximately $25 million was spent converting it to 322 residences and six commercial suites, of which some are full-time residences and others are vacation homes. At the same time, the newly re-established Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company paid the building’s owners to abandon use of the Ritz-Carlton name, to avoid confusion with their hotels. The building has operated since then as The Ritz Condominiums.

We get to the room and it’s perfect. A classic seashore efficiency. I think if Lorelei didn’t live with me in Rittenhouse, if I could find a place like this, I’d do it. I walk through the door, and the air conditioning is already on. To my left is a big row of closets. Plenty of storage. To my right is a sweet little kitchenette. Refrigerator, microwave mounted to the cabinetry, a stove, sink, cutlery drawers and lower cabinets for whatever else. There’s a cream-colored convertible sofa. The queen-sized bed is off to my right against the wall beyond the kitchenette.

There is an easy chair to my left which looks really comfy, and is parked in front of a 36″ flat screen TV. By the window is a little table with two chairs. I open the blinds and from her window I have a lovely northern view of the boardwalk and the Atlantic Ocean.

This place is absolutely perfect.

“What made you choose a place in AC?”

“Well we both know that Atlantic City is struggling right now so I got this place for a song and this is a town that enjoys adult fun and I don’t like kids.”

“Good call.”

I start mixing the cocktails. This place is great. I make myself a vodka club, and she says make her a screwdriver.

“Do you want a single or a double and do you want straight up or rocks?”

“Use my crazy flavored vodka and just put the OJ in for color”

Ok. Baby wants to get her drunk on.

That happens and we have a wonderful time. I think about how the first time I kissed Ambria. When We really kissed passionately outside the Ranstead Room.

That girlfriend kiss.

Ambria told me that night that she was a giver and a pleaser. She’s a nurse, I get it. I told her I wanted to give to her first and I did that after a few drinks that first night. I’m assuming her squeals of delight were a positive review.

 

 

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Wildwood Daze – Summer of 1977 – El Morro Motel

It had been the worst year of my young life. I was 14 going on 15 years old. But Junior High at Fels was finally over and I was at the shore for the summer in Wildwood. I was basically what my father called a Prisoner of Love. That meant limited time out. You don’t get rewarded with a bunch of fun and free time after having such a shitty school year. I think if some of the bullying laws were in place back then like they are now maybe I wouldn’t have had such a horrible time in school.

When a child is being abused at school and at home you just can’t concentrate in school. I was a smart kid, but I hated my life and didn’t want to apply myself like my more compliant and solid sister Janice.

My father was going to keep me busy all summer doing chores around the house. First of which was to scrub all of the rust off of all of the bicycles. The salt air oxidizes all things metal at the shore. It was going to be a horrible arduous task.

I was walking down 10th street one day with my friend Dominic. We were probably coming from our favorite arcade, Botto’s. We were nearly to the corner of 10th and Ocean ave. It was a warm day in June. That corner property was the El Morro Motel. It was a cute classic seashore motel. (That’s the best pic I could find of it, but that’s the genuine article)

On the door to the office was a Help Wanted sign for a poolboy. I went in and applied. I had never had a job before and didn’t even know how to go about it. But I went in and spoke to the owner. He told me to fill out a little application, and come back with signed working papers. I think you need that if you’re under the age of 18. (Maybe 16?)

My skin was clearing up in the summer sun and sea. My top braces had been taken off, and I didn’t need to wear my glasses all of the time. So I was emerging from puberty as an okay looking boy. I felt a little more human.

I go home and tell my parents. My mom said we’d go to the local city hall and get the necessary forms. But when my father found out he was overjoyed. That’s all it took. This was the beginning of my teenage years getting better. No more prison time, I was treated better, and especially no rust scrubbing job for me. This was actually the turning point for me as a young man.

I got the job and started that Monday morning at 7am.  I made $40 a week. But for a 14-year-old kid in 1977, that was serious money. I was living on $5 a week allowance from my mom and doing fine. Comic books were 20 cents back then so for a buck you could get five! A slice of pizza was fifty cents and a soda was a quarter. Pinball was twenty-five cents for three games. So five bucks went a long way back then. The rest of the time we were on the beach playing. That was summer back then.

I go in and the owner is there to show me how to do the job. I thought I’d be skimming the pool and what not, I had no idea what a job was but I actually had a somewhat complex job description. Pool Boy sounds like a nothing job but here is what I did all morning at the El Morro Motel.

Bring out all of the cushions for the lounge chairs around the pool. Empty and clean all of the ashtrays between each one. Sweep around the pool area. Mix the cleaning agent in a bucket and scrub all of the tiles around the entire pool above the water’s surface. Skim the bugs and detritus off the surface of the water. Hook up the aqua vacuum and clean the bottom and walls of the pool under the water. Check the PH balance of the water in the pool and add chlorine as necessary. Clean the baby pool the same way you clean the big pool. Sweep up around the hotel in front of the rooms. Vacuum the Astroturf on the second floor outside the rooms. Empty and clean all of the ashtrays in front of every motel room. Sweep the walkways, and pick up any trash around the parking lot. Then come back at night around 7pm and bring in all of the cushions from the lounge chairs around the pool. Take out the trash cans every week. So basically Pool Boy means entire motel maintenance crew!

Around 11am I would finish and punch out. This was my favorite time of the day. I would smoke a cigarette. (Fuckin’ punk I was) Then I would go back home two blocks away. Best part was, my mom would still be at the beach with the girls. Janice would be working over at Russo’s Market, so she wouldn’t be home, and like I said, my mom wouldn’t be back to the house with little April and Gabrielle until noon. So there was only one thing to do.

Put the album Aerosmith “Rocks” on my dad’s stereo and crank that shit up and play air guitar and pretend I was in a rock band and chicks were screaming my name. It was glorious. Girls hated me in junior high because I basically looked and acted like a leper, but a boy can dream for a half hour alone in his house.

So things were looking up for me. As long as I got up every morning and went to work and behaved myself, I was in the black with my parents.

Life was good. But it was about to become wonderful…

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Roman – Rock and Roll Bartender

I introduced myself and gave him my card. (I’m in sales. Automatic behavior) I’m sure he didn’t give a shit.

I started hanging at Square 1682 because of Carly. (See: Carly – 2012 to Present – The Mad Baker) It was our time to commiserate and share stories and just enjoy each other’s company. But along the way you start to love the staff too. Roman was my first.

I was sitting at the bar one night waiting for Carly. I started chatting with the bartender on board. He was 30’s, dark hair, a little long, medium build and a no-nonsense kind of guy. Not a big conversationist, but an attentive barman.

I introduced myself and gave him my card. (I’m in sales. Automatic behavior) I’m sure he didn’t give a shit. I told him his lastname was unique and I only knew two girls in my life with that last name. I knew them in my senior year of high school at Wildwood High School.

I was in American lit, and there was this girl Lisa with the same unique last name as this fine bartender. I would be reading Bell for Adano and checking out her lovely shapely stockinged legs and I knew she knew I was looking at her but she knew I would never have her. I was just a guitar player in a band. But… I was a straight A student in English and American lit, because I love words.

I told him about Lisa in my American Literature class in Wildwood back in 1980, and her younger sister Maria, and he said they were his aunts! God, I’m old. But I love this amazing connection! Lisa was in my class and a delicious brunette and her sister Maria was a blonde that was in my lead guitarist’s math class. Amazing. James was totally into her too.

So this guy who lives in Jersey and comes over on the PATCO everyday to work as a bartender is connected to a very old history of mine. Instant respect.

Roman is also a musician. He works the bar, and has been doing more work in the office when it comes to ordering product for the bar. But there is more…

This is a Kimpton hotel. Every night in every Kimpton hotel in the world at 5pm they serve free wine and cider in the lobby to all of the guests. Have I been a slob and drank my face off for free at those happy hours with my friends, of course. I have brought guests and everything. No one has ever said anything to me. I have drunk oceans of free wine at the expense of the Kimpton family. They either don’t notice or have accepted me as a regular. Regardless I’ve done it but I don’t do it anymore because it’s a bit of a weasel move.

On Thursday nights Roman plays guitar live in the lobby for everybody for an hour set. It’s really good. I work at the salon on thursday nights so I have not been able to see him perform in over a year and I really miss it. He is fantastic. The guests are sitting around chatting, stuffing their heads with delicious greasy truffle popcorn and slugging wine and Roman is singing his heart out. I have shot video of him performing Elton John and sent them to Michelle (See: Michelle – 2007 to Present – A Brand New Day) so she can enjoy the power too.

Roman’s a good guy. Married. Nice pretty wife, and they just welcomed a happy baby boy into the world. So, rock n’ roll.

I love when life works!

 

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