RETURN TO USA
In 1982, Irene and I returned to the American shores where I picked up on my musical career playing trumpet for Skitch Henderson, Ray Anthony, Sammy Davis, Jr., Natalie Cole, Broadway shows, etc. We had sold our home on Castle Drive in Adlington, Lancashire, UK and we left the proceeds in Barclays Bank so that we could access it from the American side of the Atlantic. Unfortunately, the pound began to tumble in the international exchange rate against the dollar.
<Recording Studio><Purchase Penn St, LI><Johnny Mathis-Catskills-Move-Muthig Rd.><Cole St.-Woolworths>
1970’s New Beginnings
1980’s: Get Established (Again) Skitch Henderson, Ray Anthony, Broadway, Catskills
1990’s And Again (The Griffin House)
2000’s (The Meadows)
2010’s Start Over Again
I suffered a serious, career ending injury when I plummeted from a stage while performing for then NYS Governor, Mario Cuomo sustaining serious and permanent injury to my cervical and lumbar spine. I had always intended to record some of my favorite trumpet solos and styles, but the dynamics of playing the trumpet are such that along with the prognosis and warnings from several top Park Avenue spinal surgeons, and the reality that I could no longer hold or finger the instrument, then to continue playing the trumpet was out of the question. Although a serious road bump, and actually serving to change New York State Worker’s Compensation law, Irene and I put our hospitality skills to good use when in 1990 we opened a Bed & Breakfast Inn, in Jeffersonville, NY. There in 2006 we received the accolades of our peers and were honored by New York State Hospitality and Tourism Association as New York State’s “Bed & Breakfast Of Distinction”.
I served as the founding President of The Jeffersonville Chamber of Commerce for five years, and as such I was instrumental in initiating many ground breaking innovations for the community that I served. Among these was an incubator project and Main Street Alliance program, being one of only three communities in all of New York to be selected. Also, a “Jeffersonville Jamboree” which continues to attract visitors from near and far. I served on the board of the Sullivan County Advisory Committee as a head hunter. I served as a director on the boards of Sullivan County Tourism, Delaware Valley Arts Alliance and New York State Hospitality & Tourism where I was nominated for “Tourism Executive of the Year-2006.”
Our success in the hospitality industry prompted us to expand our horizons and so, in June of 2000, we purchased a resort hotel on 86 acres called, The Meadows. With facilities catering to over 300 people, we featured many performing artists and catered to many events, conventions, weddings, etc.
Unfortunately, all was subsequently lost through a hostile bankruptcy and takeover by a fundamentalist religious corporation (Kollel Mateh Efraim, LLC) which Hasidic-Jewish congregation fraudulently occupied our resort property, The Meadows. Once deeply ensconced, these squatters declared bankruptcy and remained on our property for four years under the guise of a bankruptcy stay. We, of necessity, paid the mortgage, taxes, insurance and other carrying costs. Finally, we were able to evict these very unwelcomed interlopers; however the damage had been done…the property had suffered extreme and malicious vandalism of a biased nature. We were rendered depleted of all resources necessary for recovery from such a protracted campaign of hate, fraud and abuse. The fruits of all of our hard work and the results of forty-four years together were completely depleted and ultimately lost. Our resort hotel along with our prized and awarded “Griffin House” were both foreclosed upon.
I spent most of Sean’s early years either in the armed forces or living in Europe so unfortunately I missed out on a lot of the fun!! Oh yes…I kept up with the stories and it was page after page out of my own book. So much so, that my brother Jerry, (Sean’s father) would repeatedly refer to me as “Sean” and Sean as “Paul.” (Usually prompted by our lamenting our own early years and punctuated with a few of his perfect martini’s.)
I recall a time when Irene and I had just returned from “the other side” and we were invited for dinner at Jerry and Diane’s home in Ridgefield, CT. It was memorable! We were told that it was to be a very special recipe simply referred to as: “Peasant Stew.” Now, I’m not real fond of beans, and I gathered that Sean wasn’t overly excited either. However, I ate my “humble pie” with the appropriate amount of humility, while observing the family harmony. Sean complained vociferously, and a lengthy exchange ensued between Sean and his mother. Leslie took her cue and busied herself in the kitchen while Irene and I began to actually focus on, and express our newly found appreciation for “Peasant Stew.”
Finally, as I came up for air, (big mistake!) Diane’s attention turned from Sean and settled upon me! ME? Of all of the things that I had done so far, which didn’t she like the most? Sean’s focus followed his mother’s…and with a smile that I found discomforting. It was a familiar smile…one that I had seen before…but where? Ah Ha! That was the same smile that I had used on Sean’s father, my brother Jerry, when as children, I knew that our parent’s wrath was about to move away from me and onto him. There we were, Sean and I looking at each other…getting a measure of each other. But Sean had the advantage…he knew that he was off the hook. Diane gave us just long enough to take stock of each other and then she broke the silence as she said to me: “What’s it like meeting yourself?” I looked back at Sean who was still smiling, and then quizzically to my brother Jerry for help and understanding. He simply looked back at me with a knowing smile and a nod that said: “Gotcha!” I wondered then, how often Sean had heard the words: “You’re just like your uncle Paul?” Sorry Sean!
After dinner, I spent some time trying to get to know my nephew, as he was immersed in his computer games. I asked him which he liked the most, and he quickly found a cartridge, but then said, “it’s broke.” We continued to get acquainted and I quickly came to realize that if Sean and I were kindred spirits, then I was the one who was being honored. He had all of the wild eyed enthusiasm and joie de vie that I remembered so well from my own youth. He was going to march to the beat of a different drummer and that was just fine!
Later that evening, as Irene and I were preparing to leave, I sneaked back to Sean’s computer and grabbed the broken game cartridge. I took it home and re-soldered a few of the loose circuits and then mailed it back to him with love from his “Uncle” Paul.
My nephew, Sean and his beautiful wife Staci were murdered by a mentally deranged employee at their place of business, Boulder Stoves & Flooring in Boulder, CO
This is not where we had envisioned ourselves in our senior years. We worked hard, played by all of the rules, and certainly had every good reason to believe that at this stage in our lives, all of yesterday’s “trials” would be manifested in today’s “tribulations.” Many times this train was forced off the tracks with frivolous legal motions, or switched into some remote “adjournment” siding. However, we maintained a strong faith and believed in our judicial system’s ability to “drill down” to the truth and the law. More importantly, our friends and our family have been our strength with their unwavering support and stabilizing counsel. They bolster our spirits and sustain our faith in mankind.
These are troubling times for each of us and hopefully what we are witnessing is a purging of the greed and corruption that has insidiously crept into our society. Seeing “the glass as half full” I’m confident that the good and decent people of America will ultimately prevail and that we will soon restore the fundamental principles that made our nation great among all nations!”
And so…It was with great reluctance and deep regret that after nearly twenty years of welcoming Family, Friends and Guests to The Griffin House Bed & Breakfast, the time had come for us to close the doors and bid adieu to another era in our lives lamenting, “we’re proud of “our creation;” of the far reaching contributions that it has afforded the community at large and of the recognition and the awards that we have received. Most of all, we’re grateful for the experience of meeting, greeting and serving you; it has been our very special privilege and we will miss you all.”
Some of our fondest memories are associated with the conversations that took place around the breakfast table. The coffee flask was always a particular source for wonderment. When guests would struggle to get at the life giving liquid residing inside, we would comfort them by saying, “that’s alright, it takes a neuro-surgeon to open it.” And then one morning came the inevitable retort, “I am a neuro-surgeon, and I can’t get the damn thing open!”
Or…once, as Irene was washing up at the sink after the morning’s uniquely cerebral discussions, and the phone rang. The voice on the other end asks if we have hot water. Confused and believing that it must be a hoax or somebody looking for a room, she answered, “sure! of course we do. Where are you?” The voice on the other end responded, “I’m in the shower in the Griffin Room…could you send some up?” She turned off the water at the sink and asked, “how’s that?” He answered, “Great! Thanks!”
Then there was the gentleman in the Lancastrian bathroom who ran out of toilet paper. He looked around and saw that there was a fresh roll on the ledge of the transom window behind him. Unfortunately, in his attempt to retrieve it, he dropped it and in the process of bending over to pick it up, he burned his bare buttocks on the exposed steam pipe, which immediately and violently propelled him, headfirst into the wall.
There came a telephone call at 3:00am from a frantic mother in Nantucket whose sixteen year old daughter had been reported missing from a camp that was thirty miles distant from us. Although we didn’t know the mother or daughter, we assured her that we would immediately get out of bed and drive the roads in search of her daughter. The roads were dark and the deer were active as we pressed on through the night. Arriving in Hancock we located our quarry standing on a corner.<>
We glow with pride when former guests and community members alike would recall for us the very special benefits, fundraisers, and dinner concerts where Irene miraculously prepared six course dinners for forty people, and then followed with her own one woman show. Once the last dinner guest had departed, and the in-house guests were safely tucked away in their rooms, we would begin the cleanup of all of the china and silverware from forty diners…moving the catering furniture to the carriage house, and returning with the main house furniture, and finally setting and making preparations for breakfast. Exhausted, we would fall into bed around 3:00am only to awake again at 5:30am for the early risers.
We reminisce about the major role that we have played in some of the happiest occasions in the lives of our guests. Many an engagement ring mysteriously found its way from within a special dessert and onto an accepting finger, and we remain in awe as we were honored to have been selected for countless Weddings, Anniversaries, Birthdays and Christenings. Our own lives have been all the more enriched by the mutual joy that we have all shared.
These amazing memories evoke a deep sigh and a contented smile. Thank you, one and all!