Behind the Gateway Lodge in Land ‘O Lakes, Wisconsin.
The Gateway was quite the swanky place back when it was built in the 1930’s. Heavy timbers, a massive fireplace in the main lobby, trophy heads all over the walls–the quintessential hunting lodge in Wisconsin’s north woods. The dining room was huge, with high timbered ceilings and room for a band at one end, the bar dark with leather-upholstered booths. A long list of B-level celebrities stayed there over the years and their autographed black and white photos line the walls. (Trophy heads of a different sort, I think.)
I worked here as a waitress, summers and holidays, from the time I was 16 until I was 21. The Gateway was already in steep decline from its glory days but it was still an adventure and an education for me.
Like Kellerman’s from Dirty Dancing, there was an alternate universe at the resort where the help existed, especially the summer help.
In the kitchen, wait staff quickly learned to fear the chef–a cruel and moody ass. His assistant had a serious speech impediment, so often you could only smile and nod and hope that you had somehow not agreed to bear his love child. Do not piss off Sylvia, the salad dominatrix, or your life could be a living hell.
I will spare you the rest of the stories: how to stack a tray and carry it above your shoulder on one hand, how to smile at rude and boozy patrons, fold napkins into boats and chip candle wax out of the table lights. It was both an adventure and an education.
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Taking a week or so off for adventures of other sorts: a houseboat trip on the Mississippi is next on the Wabi Sabi agenda. Packing all my camera gear for this one.
And meclizine. Lots of meclizine. It is only just now occurring to me that I am not a big on-the-water kind of gal.