There was enough local knowledge of the hotel's history to keep many entertained. There was no shortage of 'artifacts' from the 'old days.' The old lower-level recreation room was essentially a storage room, with a ping-pong table set up, with a dusty juke box - an impressive artifact. It was the early model with the records individually mounted in a 'robotic' retractable metal hoop. That relic seemed to want to tell a story of its own. No one knew for sure, but there were a few tales of a "men's bar" in the basement level; speculated to date to prohibition days. Around 1945, the check-in desk had been moved, with a room added in its place, composing a small cocktail lounge.
The old "manager's office," on the main floor (first room to the left; walking down the main hallway), was a storage room by then, with a couch and an old console style radio and phonograph. The sides of the console had vertical swing-open door panels, to hold the 78 RPM records.
Naturally, many talked of the luxuries which had gone by, such as the enclosed swimming pool, which had been torn down, with the pool backfilled with dirt – now a garden. I don't think anyone dated to the days of the pool; they just knew the history. The area where the golf course was located, was overgrown with willows.
The storage rooms in the basement contained a fabulous amount of recreational gear, such as tennis rackets, baseball gear, hockey skates, skis and poles, etc. There was even a huge volume of Christmas decorations.
Alaska was always a haven for the outlaws and the desperate; Curry collected its share of those, usually for periods of a year or two. Anchorage was prosperous enough, one didn't really need to come to Curry to succeed. For a few, it was just a relatively simple and quiet place. Curry seemed to draw the rather typical compulsive railroad workers, for whatever their motive may have been. They worked according to a seniority system.
From the perspective of a child between the ages of 6 – 8 years old, Curry was a life observation station, with the typical childhood hassles of school and summer mosquitoes. Speaking of bugs, I guess I should add that the hotel was overrun with classic cockroaches.
When we first got to Curry, the stairs from the lobby to the second level had two unfinished plywood doors blocking the way, at the tenth step. The demand for the hotel rooms was that low. Later the doors were taken down – a whole new child's world was opened unto me. I didn't have a tricycle to ride up and down the hallways, but my feet, otherwise, made the hotel a bloodless version of the child's adventure portrayed in "The Shining." On one occasion, I invited my buddy, Tommy Brooks up for a real "class" pillow fight. Great fun! We didn't get 'busted,' until after the fact. All we got was a brief lecture – and the expected warning. I stood the lecture, passing it on to Tommy.
I used to spend a fair amount of time wandering through the hotel, as though there was some lost treasure to be found. Just a lot of boring empty rooms. Still, I'd re-visit them, on occasion, just in case something had changed.
The rooms had the classic "skeleton keys," with a high percentage of the rooms still locked. The keys were still in their boxes, at the front desk, but there was no temptation to search ALL of the rooms.
For novelty, I swiped the key to my own room – but after discovering that it worked, I returned it to its place. There seemed to be something alien, about locking your own room. Curry wasn't a place of thieves.
The hotel had a married-couple apartment, almost behind the lobby fireplace. It was three of the original rooms, made into a living room and a back bedroom, with its own bathroom – with a bathtub! Naturally, that was my parents' apartment. It had a skimpy kitchenette, and an Army field phone, which never worked. Across the hall from the apartment, were three 'regular' hotel rooms, occupied by my sisters and myself. A set of double glass fire doors separated the rest of the long hallway, leading to the old annex portion. Additional rooms had been built, on either side of the hallway.
My room was next to the fire-doors, on the south side. My sister, Karen, had the room next to mine, toward the lobby.
Initially, my sister Julie stayed in my parents apartment, in a crib. After about two months, she became the entertaining and daring escape artist and got her own room, across the hall, next to the old manager's office.
The hotel was an interesting landmark of its "time." Few rooms had a bathroom, versus the common bathrooms, down the hall. The demographics of Alaska dictated that the women's bath rooms were half the size of the men's bath rooms. The rooms had a chest of drawers, nothing resembling a closet.
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