Imaynam Hotel Wrinkelpi achka qellqapakuq runakunata warmaraq kachkaptin reqsipakusqamanta borther Robert willawachkanchik. Mamitansi Arthur Millerpa tayta mamanwan amigansi kasqa, hinaspa paykuna willasqaku imaynam Marylin Moneroe kasqanmanta. Kusa!
When I was a child my parents often went on vacation to the Hotel Winkler, a kosher hotel, in Long Beach, N.Y. I remember the hotel quite vividly. The young, sexy blonde woman kissing her dark haired dashing new husband on the dance floor. The subtle way they aged over the next few years. I remember the lean, wild-bearded psychiatrist who ran along the beach each morning, who told me the psyche was like a piece of cloth that he would help unravel and then help knit back together.
I also met a former ballplayer from the Pittsburgh Pirates team that lost the World Series to the legendary 1927 New York Yankee team. I was surprised how small and old he looked. I remember Mrs. Winkler who owned the hotel and her son, a former boxer with a flattened nose, who loved playing cards. And there was Al Kelly the great double talk artist. And the older women who talked so enthusiastically about playing Mah-jongg with “the girls”. I myself not fully satisfied with my own reaction of humorous young sophisticated disdain towards such old women talking about each other as the girls. I had even then some vague sense of their courage in seizing some measure of pleasure from the world.
I also played baseball in the backyard of the hotel; my father who never played baseball in his life, shocking me once as he hit hard line drives from the most awkward stance you could imagine. I think he was trying to impress a young woman he was friendly with. Oh God, these small memories just flood me.
Arthur Miller’s parents were also at the hotel. His father was a big, dignified man with thick white hair. Marilyn Monroe was rumored to be coming to the hotel. I remember the head bellhop a short wiry man with a face older than a kid’s dissolving at the possibility of her coming. I was surprised that this most unflappable hero of mine, who seemed like the most sophisticated person in the world, could so easily melt into butter. It confused me. I still have that even to this day. My friends are all the center of my universe. When I think of artists, musicians, writers, dancers, for example, I always think of them first.
Most well known people, outside of those I might know personally, are kind of vague shadows that I am barely conscious of. If in any way their happiness is dependent on me knowing who they are they got problems.
Now in the case of Marilyn Monroe, since she was the daughter-in-law of the people I was sitting at the dinner table with every evening, she loomed real large. Well I guess to be honest she loomed large no matter what. But still this most intimate connection heightened things significantly.
Anyway I remember Arthur’s parents talking about Marilyn. They loved her. They told us that she took being Jewish seriously, she wanted to learn how to cook Jewish food (she had already learned how to make matzoh balls) and that she would be more worried if the swarm of reporters and fans stopped following her than if they continued to dog her every step.
My mother told me the other day that Arthur’s mother took her aside one day and told her that she should stop worrying about me being edgy and high strung. She said that both her children had been that way when they were young and they turned out fine. Herman Wouk’s mother was also a visitor at the hotel and she would complain that all anyone asked her about is Herman and that her other son was just as wonderful.
One of the bellhops, a student at Brooklyn College, loved Rilke. He showed me black bound books of his own poetry. I wonder where he is now.