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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, Nov. 28, 2014

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The American Club in Kohler: the kind of place I never saw until I was a grown-up.
The American Club in Kohler: the kind of place I never saw until I was a grown-up.

Were you a hotel kid?

Check in early and stay late during OnMilwaukee.com's "Hotel Week" sponsored by VISIT Milwaukee. The next seven days will be packed with stories about historic area hotels, reviews, famous guests, food and drink, overnights with kids and more. Find out what it's like to be a tourist in this town. (Chocolate on your pillow not included.)

Growing up in the Tanzilo household was perfect practice for being in a working band.

We never flew – always drove – when we’d visit family in North Carolina or Milwaukee. And we never stayed in hotels. Once in a while, we’d stay in a motel, but even that was pretty rare. More often we pitched a tent or slept anywhere there was space at the home of the folks we visited.

That was fine. I know that despite working hard, my parents had to be careful with money. We were a working class family and I’m proud of that. And, like I said, it was perfect practice for the years I’d spend riding around the Midwest in a van on the way to gigs, crashing on floors along the way.

Picking up my grandparents at the airport was an amazing adventure ... as if I was growing up in the 1930s, not the '70s.

I can remember my first flight. I was going back to New York City to visit for the first time since I’d moved here a couple years before. I was probably 18 or 19. It was winter and the slippery touch-down set me on track to forever dislike the landing process.

What I can’t really remember is the first time I stayed in a hotel, but I suspect it was at a Hyatt, either in New York City or Chicago, and I can assure you I was already an adult.

Even now that I’ve stayed in hotels in America, Canada, England, France and Italy, I still feel a bit like an outsider – like the kind of person who doesn’t stay in hotels.

When I stay at a place like The Peninsula Chicago or The American Club in Kohler, I half expect a knock on the door and an eviction notice for being an imposter.

My kids are getting a much different experience. Sure, we sleep in a spare bedroom or whatever when we visit family, but we also stay in hotels of all shapes and sizes and star-ratings, from former Italian castles to luxury Chicago digs to waterpark properties around the state.

They enjoy them all, and I can relate. Like them, I’m excited to be there – a kid in a candy store – spending a day or two or three away from the pressures, just lounging around and enjoying life and the amenities that seem better than home.

Were you a hotel kid? Share your memories using the Talkback feature below.

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