By The Reverend Mrs. Silence DoGood
A surprising and somewhat humbling thing happened to me several weeks ago. I had spoken with my dear friend Alice Bright Light, and we agreed to meet at the River Creek Inn at 7:00 pm. Alice is my best friend, and we regularly meet at the inn to discuss our lives, all the happenings in our little farming hamlet of Halo, PA and all other worldly gossip. We do this while we drink our delicious after dinner green chartreuse. We laugh a lot.
As I was pulling into the inn’s parking lot, an attendant stopped me. He was wearing a white Nehru jacket and a chauffer’s hat. His name “Paul” was embroided in blue under the embroided name of the inn. Very official. He told me I couldn’t enter the Inn as they were full.
“What about all the empty parking spaces?” I said.
“They’re reserved, ma’am.”
I had no choice. I drove to the side and called Alice on my cell phone. I told her what had happened and invited her to the parsonage. There we drank green tea. We laughed a lot there too.
I was curious. The inn was always open for us. My husband and I, my husband and my children and I, and Alice and I have always been welcome at the inn.
I had to find out. When one is the senior pastor of the largest church in the county, one has access to a lot of information. Some is official and some is from my network of parishioners. I used all of my resources to find out why the inn has changed.
I learned that Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Wintergrass from New York City bought the inn for their 21 year old son. Their two other children, daughters, are attending college, but their son Allan didn’t want to further his education. He graduated from The Dalton School, which is a prestigious high school in New York City, and he just wanted to work. His parents thought the inn would be good for him.
I also learned that Allan’s best friend at Dalton was the son of a famous sports agent. Even though Nathan, Allen’s best friend, was attending Yale, he and his parents were very committed to help Allan in his new venture.
So I began paying more attention to the goings on at the inn. I noticed that on weekends, there were many fancy cars in the parking lot. Rolls Royces, Bentleys, and Mercedes to mention a few. Their license plates were mostly from New York and New Jersey. Perhaps famous sports figures. In Halo we are more used to pickup trucks and SUVS. I drive a Ford pickup.
I am not a sociologist or an economist, but I do notice changes in my beautiful community which trouble me. So I thought I would try again. I decided to have lunch at the inn. I tried to pull into the parking lot, but Paul in his white Nehru jacket stopped me.
“May I help you?” he said.
“I’m coming for lunch.”
“I’m sorry; we’re full.”
“I’m the senior pastor of The First Church of God’s Love here in Halo, and I came to see Allan.”
“Oh, of course come right in.”
The inn had been totally transformed. I had been told Mrs. Winterglass was an interior designer, and it showed. She had transformed a well-loved and enjoyed inn into a cosmopolitan showplace.
Allan was very gracious for a young man. His manners and thoughtfulness were readily apparent. He explained that his goal was to transform the inn into a destination for wealthy patrons. His menu and ambiance reflected that.
I told him what had happened to me twice when I tried to go to the inn. He apologized. He explained he had given instructions to Paul to not allow people into the inn if he felt that they couldn’t afford it. Allan wanted to avoid their embarrassment.
I encouraged him to be more democratic, and he agreed.