Fond Recollections

Yes Virginia, there really was a Garden of Eden!  It existed right here in Deep River and was called the Staff Hotel.  There was no angry God, rather a benevolent manager named Jack Carruthers.  No snake (that I knew of.).  But there were about seventy Adams and twice as many Eves, separated only by a desk in the lobby that was guarded by kindly Archangels, also known as desk clerks. (One of these, incidentally, was Charlie Meeker, father of hockey great Howie Meeker.)  Another way to bridge the gap was via “Lovers’ Leap”, a 2nd floor connection between the women’s wing and the men’s wing.

  There was a constant, overwhelming opportunity to eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. The inmates of this “Garden” came from all over the world.  There were chemists, engineers, physicists, biologists, mathematicians, electronic and electrical experts, technicians, machinists, medical doctors, nurses, librarians, teachers, and more.  Whatever your interests or whatever you wanted to know or do there would be someone with whom you could commune.  And not surprisingly, there were lots of people to organize whatever needed organizing – parties, dances, sailing, skiing, crafts, you name it.

  Within minutes of my arrival on a Sunday in October 1952, I was welcomed by Jim Hammerton, chairman of the Staff House Club and a sometime Royal Navy electronics type.  Very early in the conversation, he said that there would be a Roman party the next Saturday night.  Wanting to meet people, I offered to help Jim in any way I could.  “Good,” he said, “Meet me in the hotel storeroom Saturday afternoon.  We need to carry a bunch of mattresses up the hill to the cafeteria for use as lounges and some floor mats for use as chariots in the chariot races Saturday night.”  At the appointed time I showed up and Jim was there.  After a few minutes I asked, “Where are the others?”  He said, “It’s just you and me, Iain; there are no others!”

  This story has a happy ending. Not only did Jim and I become long-lasting friends, but my “horse” that Saturday night was George Irwin, another keen skier who became one of my best friends at the Hotel.  Of course we went to the Roman party dressed in hotel bed sheets; the homemade punch was superb; the ladies were beautiful!  Best of all, this was merely the first of a series of memorable Staff House Parties, some of which I remember more than others.

  Iain Crocker

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