“The Commander Hotel” 2008
oil on canvas (12” x 24”)
The long-gone, original Commander Hotel at 14th St. & Boardwalk was the scene of the first and last time I had to wear starched crinolines underneath my organdy dress while vacationing in Ocean City, MD. One day at the age of five I decided to leave our family’s apartment which we rented for half a season that summer. I wanted to join my grandmother at her elegant retreat on the boardwalk. There we took an afternoon nap prior to dining in the formal restaurant. In the days before air-conditioning we relied on sea breezes to cool us. The guests’ rooms had a latching louvered door for privacy so that air could flow freely throughout the hotel. The two foot gap at the bottom allowed me to eavesdrop on the activity in the hallway while pretending to nap before eating dinner in my best Sunday dress. Nana loved to live properly in public and so later we dined sitting up straight while using the correct flatware. After dinner we sat on the porch and rocked in the wicker chairs while watching all the families "walk the boards." The next morning I was glad to return to the chaotic apartment where I could wear my bathing suit and matching beach jacket as I had my lunch at the kitchen table. More than likely I was barefoot as well.