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Welcome to Palmer’s Hotel for Children!

The Palmers lived in a 20-plus room, white-framed house at the edge of Valparaiso, Indiana. Its three-story structure stood at the top of a long, hilly lane surrounded by tall, sturdy shade trees. (Perfect for climbing, by the way.) At least three dormers rose from both the front and back sides of the roof.

 

Seven days a week, the place became “Palmer’s Hotel for Children.” And, it served as a fun and safe place to “visit” for young people between 3 months and 13 years of age.

 

The “Palmer’s Hotel” had every amenity that a child could possibly wish for:

 

  1. Huge, grassy back yard with lots of room to roam.
  2. Dogs, cats, rabbits, ducks, geese, chickens, goat, lamb, ponies.
  3. Swing sets and Jungle Jims.
  4. Roomy, enclosed tree house with two sturdy ladders, with deep and generous steps.
  5. Basketball hoops, small softball diamond, badmitten net, crochet sets.
  6. Moveable play house.
  7. Vegetable garden and strawberry patch.
  8. Fruit trees and berry bushes: apple, peach, apricot; blueberry, blackberry, raspberry.
  9. Grape arbor.
  10. Two large plastic wading pools and long garden hose for hot days of summer.
  11. Small wagons, carts, tricycles, 2-wheel bikes.
  12. Two sandboxes.
  13. Games and more games.
  14. Boys and girls toy chests and stuffed animal baskets.

 

Oh, did I mention food? Sandwiches (your choice of filling and bread-spread); veggie sticks, homemade cookies, juices.

 

Of course, “Palmer’s” best amenity was Mr. and Mrs. Palmer. The adopted grandparents that every child would dream up for himself or herself.

 

The biggest treat was staying over night. My sister and I got to do that only four or five times. Usually, while our parents attended a special Saturday evening function, in the community or in Chicago.

What was so great about a sleep-over?

 

Saturday nights were party time at the Palmer’s Hotel for Children.

 

  1. Walt Disney movies, board games, card games, floor games.
  2. Huge bowls of freshly-popped corn setting on every table.
  3. Choices of fruit juices and Kool Aid flavors.
  4. Home-made Kool-Aid Popsicles.
  5. Ice cream and cake or cookies to celebrate a child guest’s birthday.
  6. Cozy-like, dorm-style sleeping space – including a doll or teddy bear if you needed one.
  7. Pals – other guests – to play with.
  8. Lots of arts and crafts supplies to make things to take home.

 

One Saturday afternoon, Mr. Palmer wanted to talk with my dad when he dropped off my sister and me. Mr. Palmer asked Dad to come by at a later date, and give him an estimate on painting the exterior of that huge house.

 

My dad offered to volunteer a paint crew to do the job. The terms: Mr. Palmer would purchase the main paint supplies. And, Mr. and Mrs. Palmer would feed the crew some lunch on paint day.

 

The date was scheduled. I got to go along and “carry water” to the men. We all ate lunch at the picnic tables where we children ate our snacks when we were “visiting.”

 

Silently, I promised that, once I could drive, I’d go by The Palmer’s Hotel and volunteer to help out with their young guests. (I did several times.)

 

Silently, I promised that, when grown up, I’d go by and volunteer my adult skills to help out once in a while. (I did once.)

 

Eventually, I entered the IBPAT apprenticeship program, and began my painting career. I promised that I’d go by and volunteer my painting skills and crew to repaint the Palmer’s Hotel for Children.

 

It was that great of a place. Mr. and Mrs. Palmer were that great of a couple. Final Note: By the time I started painting for a contractor, Mr. and Mrs. Palmer had closed down their hotel for children. And, they had retired.

 

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All grown up now? Who can you help that enriched your life as a child?

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Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob” today.
Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

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