Advertisement

Archive for Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Readers share memories of Eldridge

May 11, 2005

Advertisement

A hotel that's been around for 80 years -- and longer than that, if you count its three previous lodging incarnations in downtown Lawrence -- should have a few stories to tell.

More than a dozen visitors to www.ljworld.com took us up on our request to share their memories of the Eldridge. Their tales included actual encounters with Eddie Vedder and possible encounters with a ghost; pleasant wedding accommodations and stays that never materialized, because of a reservation mix-up; and even a little potty payment avoidance.

Check out some of these stories gleaned from the contributed trips down memory lane:

Jack Livingston and his wife have been staying at the Eldridge for four years now, ever since their daughter entered Kansas University as a freshman. When the Livingstons showed up with family to visit, they couldn't resist stopping on the fifth floor to check out reports of a "presence" -- aka "ghosts from time to time."

After looking around the floor, they all piled back into the elevator for the ride back down.

Livingston's 8-year-old grandson, Nathan, proclaimed the coast clear: "I didn't see any ghosts!"

But as he spoke, the elevator door started to close -- only to fly back open quickly.

"Nathan found a place on top of my feet," Livingston reported. "I don't think we quit laughing for hours."

Marsha Goff, a local volunteer and writer, recalls hanging around the hotel with her friends as a junior high school student. They used to watch fish swim in the pond in the lobby, and ride the elevator up and down to pass the time.

The stalls in the ladies' rest room were of particular interest: Two of them cost a dime to "unlock the door and use the facility," Goff reports.

"We thought paying to use the potty was pretty cool," she says. "Some of my friends, but never I (heh-heh) crawled under the door instead of paying. Want to know how laid-back the hotel management was in the '50s? No one ever objected to our hanging around the hotel."

Eric Gruber used to like dropping by the Jayhawker -- the "small, quaint" bar without a TV and a boom box for a radio.

"Its ambiance harkened back to the late 1800s to the early part of the 20th century," the Lawrence resident says. "From what I've seen of the reconstruction so far, all these great highlights are gone. Truly this is the end of an era. Sorry to see you go, classic Jayhawker!"

Mitch and Shannon Young launched their marriage at the Eldridge back on June 29, 2003, after celebrating with friends and family at Liberty Hall. They got onto the elevator soon after 1 a.m.





Do you have memories of The Eldridge Hotel or comments on its new makeover?Add your own

Let Mitch take it from here:

"We were laughing and talking about the night once we got on the elevator. We push our floor button, and up we go. The elevator doors open, and there was a woman there getting on. We go ahead and get off and start heading toward the slant door in the corner; we get to the door still talking about the evening, and it was cracked. We figured it was left open by whomever was in there last from the wedding party.

"I start stripping to finally get out of the tuxedo, and I start helping my wife get out of her dress. It was hot in there so I cranked down the thermostat, and the TV was left on. After a few minutes and almost down to our underwear, we look around the corner, and see a man and his son sleeping away.

"Of course, we got off on the wrong floor, and oddly enough the door was cracked open. We picked up our clothes in our hands, left and headed for the elevator hoping nobody was between us and our room the next floor up."

Mitch, a manager for Lawrence Parks and Recreation, reports that he and Shannon remain "happily married and still in Lawrence."

John Augusto doesn't have fond memories of his wedding day, as least as it relates to the Eldridge.

Augusto and his wife were married 10 years ago, and were to stay the night at the Eldridge -- just as his wife's mother had done. Augusto's mother-in-law earlier had reserved the honeymoon suite for the newlyweds, and had paid cash for the room.

Once Augusto and wife arrived after the reception, there was no record of a reservation. The night auditor apparently had given away the room to another guest, thinking that the room wasn't wanted.

Augusto and his new wife ended up going home to sleep, and the next day contacted the hotel owner -- who reported being disappointed in his staff, and offered the couple a free weekend on the Plaza in Kansas City, Mo., and a free weekend at the Eldridge, including meals.

Not enough.

"My three kids will not spend their wedding night at the Eldridge Hotel," Augusto says.

Rod and Amy Finney, of Seattle, fondly recall the day they married -- July 12, 1992 -- in the courtyard outside the Eldridge.

But Amy Finney recalls her childhood, as a resident of Old West Lawrence.

"Once we reached the corner ... we would wave at the elderly lady inside the soda fountain, which was located in the front northern corner," Amy Finney says. "She was always friendly and made the best sodas!"

Mike Roberts' e-mail said it all: "I got to meet Eddie Vedder (of Pearl Jam) at the Mike Watt show a few years back at the Eldridge. He insisted it was about Mike and not him -- just helping a friend do his gig. A magic, star-struck moment."

Raymond K. Hucke liked the Eldridge so much he made it his home.

Hucke says he lived in building in 1979-81, when it was an apartment building. He was a KU student at the time, and apparently didn't have much trouble sleeping.

"I lived at the Eldridge House on the second floor my final two years," he says. "That building was so solid you could not hear much traffic and not a sound from the bar in the basement. ... It was fun and comfortable living."

Additional reader stories



Dear Editor,

While attending law school at KU in the mid-1980's, I was in a bar in the Eldridge Hotel with my future brother in law Jon Bigler, a former KU yell leader. While we were there, Greg Dreiling, the 7' tall former KU basketball center, came in with his family. Jon and Greg started chatting, and somehow the talk got around to the stunts Jon and the other yell leaders did while leading cheers for Greg. The next thing we knew, Greg had picked Jon up and lifted him over his head, and Jon went into a handstand, feet straight up in the air, right in the middle of the hotel bar.

Jon's feet must have been fourteen or fifteen feet in the air! They held the perfect handstand for several seconds, then somehow Jon came down, all without serious injury. That unrehearsed move must surely be the most acrobatic feat ever accomplished in the Eldridge.

Jeffry L. Jack





When I was a student at Lawrence Junior High School, then located on three corners of 9th and Kentucky, my friends and I often visited the Eldridge after school to watch the huge fish swim in the pond in the elegant lobby. We also rode the elevator AND used the stalls in the ladies' restroom ... one or two of which cost visitors a dime to unlock the door and access the facility. Naturally, we thought paying to use of the potty was pretty cool. Some of my friends, but never I (heh-heh), crawled under the door instead of paying. Want to know how laid back the hotel management was in the '50s? No one ever objected to our hanging around the hotel.

Marsha Goff





What I liked most about The Jayhawker, part of The Eldridge Hotel, was that it was small, quaint, and didn't have a t.v. It had a boom box for a radio. It's ambiance harkened back to the late 1800s to the early part of the 20th century.

From what I've seen of the construction so far, all these great highlights are gone.

Truly this is the end of an era. Sorry to see you go, classic Jayhawker!

Eric Gruber,

Lawrence, KS





Working at the Eldridge has been the best college job ever. I've met Justice Thomas, Beck Hansen, Danny Glover, RFK Jr., and countless wonderful, unfamous guests who were visiting the University or playing at the Leid or Liberty Hall. This new revival of the hotel may be the only thing that makes me feel sad I'm graduating and moving on to find degree-fulfilling work.

Here is a picture of the front desk that I remember working for my 4 years as a student in Lawrence. The new one looks much different

James Boyd





I grew up in Old West Lawrence and have many fond memories of the Eldridge Hotel. We lived at 7th and Ohio and all the "girls" in the neighborhood would walk straight up 7th street and then down Massachusetts Street almost everyday in the summer. Once we reached the corner of 7th and Mass. we would wave at the elderly lady inside the Soda Fountain which was located in the front northern corner. She was always friendly and made the best sodas!

On July 12, 1992, my husband and I were married in the courtyard on the Eldridge Hotel. The ceremony was performed in the gazebo and seating was all around the fish pond. The entrance to the courtyard had a beautiful white lattice arbor and everything was beautiful. Some of my husband's relatives stayed at the hotel and expressed their delight at the wonderful antiques and the bed and breakfast style rooms. My husband and I had the suited which was excellent as well.

The Eldridge Hotel has held many memories for us and when we come this summer we will make time to come and see the changes!

Sincerely,

Rod and Amy Finney

Seattle, WA





I have many memories of the Eldridge...after all, it was the only place my parents stayed when they came to visit me in college. But here is my favorite. My parents were coming up to visit me for my 21st birthday. My Dad came up early for business. When he got in town, I came over to the Eldridge to visit him. When I arrived there was a giant wrapped box in the room. Meanwhile, my mom calls from the car as she is driving into town. But something in her voice told me there was a surprise riding in the car with her. My mother doesn't keep secrets very well. Anyway...she finally arrived. She came up to the room. I continued to grow suspicious...because I sensed she was hiding something. Later, someone at the door knocked. Thinking it was room service, I answered. And standing there was my sister. She flew all the way from California for my birthday. And you may wander what was in the big box. My sister was suppose to jump out of it as a surprise...but my mom's voice gave it way. Though, we did get a picture of her in the box for fun. The Eldridge staff made it all possible. They were the ones that found the giant box and wrapped it..all to make a 21st birthday a bit more special.

Kate Blatherwick Pickert





I lived at the Eldrige House on the second floor my final two years as a college student at KU 1979-81. That building was so solid you could not hear much traffic and not a sound from the bar in the basement. I remember the steam heat being so effective I never had to worry about how cold it was, once I got home. I could get a "continental" breakfast with the other residents in the morning if I woke up early enough and wasn't racing off to class. Late nights, with some of the other students living there, we would gather in the lounge with the television to watch Nightline or occasionally Saturday Night Live. It was a great location on the weekends. I could stroll down Massachusetts - that was ususally very quiet on our end of Mass. Street. The north end of Mass Street was much quieter then in regards to resturants and night lilfe than what I've seen when I've visited more recently. Back then, I would have to walk toward 9th Street to eat at some of the other resturants. Occasionally I enjoyed the resturant downstairs but couldn't afford it very often. It was fun and comfortable living in the building and there was so much history of the town attached. Best wishes and success for the new owners.

Raymond K. Hucke





On June 29th, 2003 we rented a corner hotel room to stay in after our wedding over at the Liberty Hall. We also used the room to get ready in some many people were in and out.

After about 1 a.m., my new bride and I walked across the street and pushed the elevator button, we were both exhausted and only had a few drinks. We were laughing and talking about the night once we

got on the elevator. We push our floor button, and up we go. The elevator doors opens, and there was a woman there getting on, we go ahead and get off and start heading toward the slant door in the corner, we get to the door still talking about the evening, and it was cracked, we figured it was left open by whomever was in there last from the wedding party. I start stripping to FINALLY get out

of the tuxedo, and I start helping my wife get out of her dress. It was hot in there so I cranked down the thermostat, and the TV was left on. After a few minutes and almost down to our underwear, we look around the corner, and see a man and his son sleeping away. Of course we got off on the wrong floor, and oddly enough the door was cracked open. We picked up our closes in our hands, left and headed for the elevator hoping nobody was between us and our room next floor up.

That is our story!!!!!!!!!!!

Mitch & Shannon Young, happily married and still in Lawrence.





Four years ago yesterday, I was invited to a wedding reception at Liberty Hall. I had plans to share a room at the Eldridge Hotel with a few other friends who were also attending the reception. Single at the time, I had no plans on taking a date to the event, until a chance run in with the girl who ultimately became my wife. I made a snap-decision to invite her to the reception knowing full well we would get along fine with mutual friends who would be there.

We got along famously over the course of the night. After the reception a group of us went back over to the Eldridge to spend some time together in one of the second floor suites. As the group ascended the stairs, I slowed my future wife on the landing between the first and second floors. It was there we shared our first kiss.

Fast forward to the day after Christmas, 2002. I knew she was the girl I wanted to spend the rest of my life with and was determined to ask her to marry me. I decided the perfect place to ask her was the same place we had shared our first kiss.

A plan was hatched between family and friends to set the scene for the popping-of-the-question. In our stockings the day before, we both received a gift certificate to stores on Mass Street. I convinced her we needed to head down to Lawrence to spend the certificates "on all the great sales they have the day after Christmas!" Without her knowledge, I had sent family down to check in to the hotel and strategically place twelve dozen roses and twenty some odd candles in the same second floor suite from years before. The plan was to drop the room key off at the Bay Leaf with a family friend working there and when I made my purchase with my gift certificate it would be dropped into the bag. From there, I had to convince my soon-to-be-fiance to get to the Eldridge. I feigned having to go to the bathroom knowing the lobby bathrooms at the hotel were the closest. She took the bait.

While she waited for me "in the bathroom," I raced upstairs to take a look at the room. It looked like a fantasy suite off The Bachelor with roses springing up from every possible location. I frantically began lighting candles, twenty four in all. Once the finishing touches had been placed on the room, I went back downstairs to ask the most important question I would ever ask in my life.

When I got back to the lobby I found a very disinterested girl who politely asked if we could go home yet. I replied no, and took her by the hand and walked her up the stairs, the same stairs we had walked up almost two years ago. At the landing, I reached my shaking hand into my coat pocket and pulled out the ring box. I fumbled my way through my prepared statement of intention and then went to a knee and asked for her hand in marriage. Her response was shocked, thrilled and elated all at the same time; and the answer was yes.

I led her up to the room where we called just about everyone we knew to give them the good news. While we were there, the first flakes of snow for the year began to fall. I will never forget the view out the window of the hotel as the flakes fell on a Mass Street still lit up for Christmas. These were the big, hearty flakes you only see in picture books, or as the case was, the night the girl of your dreams agrees to spend the rest of her life with you.

Eric Danielson





Here is my story about the Eldridge hotel.

My wife and I got married 10 years ago. My mother in law went to the hotel and paid cash for the "honeymoon suite" at the hotel for a wedding present.

This was significant to my wife as not only had her mother spent her wedding night at the Eldridge, but her grandmother had also spent her wedding night at the hotel. We had reservations to stay in the same room as they did.

After the wedding dance, my wife and I got into my truck and drove to the Eldridge. I parked the truck by the street and told her to wait while I picked up our key. My inlaws had surprised us with the reservation at the hotel, so we were happy to be there.

When I got to the front desk in my tuxedo, the clerk working the desk looked horrified. I gave him my ID, told him my name and asked for the key.

He says "I'm sorry sir, but you do not have a reservation". I said there must be some mistake, my mother in law came in that morning and paid for the room. I said I'll be happy to give you a credit card for other charges, but I have her receipt right here. I pulled the receipt from my coat pocket and handed it to the clerk.

At this point, he leaves the front desk and goes to the back room. Next, the a second gentleman appears. He says, " I'm sorry sir. I am the night auditor. I gave your room away tonight. I tried to call you at home, but no one was at home. Since you were not at home, I assumed that you did not need the room. Because there was no credit card or other number to call, we gave this room away.

I said, "You can't give something away that was not yours to give away. By paying for the room, we paid for the reservation."

He says, "We don't have a room for you tonight." And walks away.

So I go back into the truck and tell my wife. The lack of food in our bodies, the exhaustion from our wedding took over and we go back and demand the money be refunded. They refused to do so, but said we could call the owner and ask him in the morning.

We went home, slept for a few hours and called the owner the next day. He was throughly disappointed in the actions of his staff. He gave us a free weekend on the plaza in KC and free weekend at the Eldridge, including meals.

My three kids will not spend their wedding night at the Eldridge hotel.

John Augusto





I wrote the following for a class I took at the Lawrence Art Center on Writing Personal History. The event took place in Aug of 1972

ON CHOCOLATE SODAS AND DEATH

Because I had worked almost 3 years as a soda jerk(save the witty comments), I considered myself an expert on all things ice cream. So, when I heard the Eldridge Hotel had a fabulous 1940s style soda fountain run by a sweet little old lady who was probably there when it was built, I was eager to give it a try. My understanding was that the thing to order was a chocolate soda, and even though that was not one of my fountain favorites, as a master ice creamsmith I was willing to give it a try so I could judge for myself. So one warm summer day my friend Michael and I headed to the Eldridge. When we walked in it was everything I imagined--a beautiful marble counter with spinable stools, a gleaming stainless steel soda fountain and a back bar stacked high with heavy glass banana split boats, sundae dishes and tall soda glasses. We sat down and ordered our chocolate sodas. Right away I knew this blue-haired old gal knew her stuff. First a generous squirt of chocolate syrup in the bottom of the glass to which she added a blob of vanilla ice cream using a long iced tea spoon. Then, after stirring just enough to incorporate the two, she moved to the 2 chrome spigots. Here was the true test, if she pulled forward a broad stream of carbonated water would quickly fill the glass, but she knew better. She pushed the black handle back unleashing a thin but powerful stream into the chocolatey mixture. Then, carefully playing the stream around the sides of the glass, filled it making the frothy liquid come to almost the top of the glass. She then moved quickly to the ice cream bins and put 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream in each glass. A final garnish of a small squirt of chocolate syrup atop the floating ice cream and a rosette of whipped cream made the creation complete. JOY! PERFECTION! BLISS! After we finished, we walked out into the heat of 7th street feeling full of sweetness and ourselves. We had only walked a few steps when WHAM! a pigeon fell dead not more than 2 feet in front of us. "WOW" we said in unison looking at other in shock and disbelief. "What a bummer" Michael said before I could. We walked on, brought back to earth no less suddenly than that pigeon.

I write this on the day before my 62nd birthday, knowing 2 things from this experience: Death can come quickly and we need to enjoy more chocolate sodas.

pminkin





Years ago I heard about this man (I don't remember who he was) who enjoyed telling this story about the Eldridge in front of Billy

Hutson when he was owner of the hotel:
There was greasy spoon type of restaurant a couple of doors south of the Eldridge. One day a customer entered the restaurant, took a stool at the lunch counter and ordered a bowl of chili. The proprietor-cook wearing a greasy apron started to set the bowl of chili before the customer when a big cockroach scurried down the counter. The restaurant took his hand and squashed the cockroach and exclaimed, "Damn that hotel."

Elon Torrence

Topeka, Kansas






I lived at the Eldrige House on the second floor my final two years as a college student at KU 1979-81. That building was so solid you could not hear much traffic and not a sound from the bar in the basement. I remember the steam heat being so effective I never had to worry about how cold it was, once I got home. I could get a "continental" breakfast with the other residents in the morning if I woke up early enough and wasn't racing off to class. Late nights, with some of the other students living there, we would gather in the lounge with the television to watch Nightline or occasionally Saturday Night Live. It was a great location on the weekends. I could stroll down Massachusetts - that was ususally very quiet on our end of Mass. Street. The north end of Mass Street was much quieter then in regards to resturants and night lilfe than what I've seen when I've visited more recently. Back then, I would have to walk toward 9th Street to eat at some of the other resturants. Occasionally I enjoyed the resturant downstairs but couldn't afford it very often. It was fun and comfortable living in the building and there was so much history of the town attached. Best wishes and success for the new owners.

Raymond K. Hucke

Commenting has been disabled for this item.