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.)
Last spring, I was selected as The Pfister Hotel’s sixth Pfister Narrator. Prior to me, local writers Stacie Williams, Julie Ferris, Ed Makowski, Dasha Kelly and Jenna Kashou held the post.
The role of the narrator is to spend time in the hotel, talking to guests about what brings them to the hotel and documenting their stories via The Pfister’s blog. But it included much more than that, too.
Over the past 10 months, I have heard some amazing stories, including one about a couple who decided to wed at the age of 90 and two women who blew me away with their heartbreaking honesty and their shoe collection.
In November, the six-month narratorship was extended for a full year. Although this is a lot to take on because of my unwavering commitments to my family and OnMilwaukee.com, I was honored and thrilled to keep going.
And I just wasn't ready to let go.
One of the most rewarding aspects of the job has been working with and becoming friends with the artist-in-residence, Stephanie Barenz. From the moment I saw her beautiful work – laden with Milwaukee imagery, particularly the clock tower which I can see from my yard – I knew we had a connection.
Stephanie and I have collaborated in many ways during the year. I have learned so much about visual storytelling through Stephanie and also caught a bad case of wanderlust from all of her paintings and tales from faraway places. (I do have a trip to Indianapolis on deck for this year, but that's not quite remedy-enough for the road trip blues.)
Stephanie and I also created a collection of greeting cards and hosted a storytelling event that had nine Milwaukee artists compete with stories about art. Anja Sieger won this event.
I wrote companion copy for most of the paintings she has completed this year and The Pfister has funded a book of her paintings and my writings. She painted my "life story" as a thank you for the writing, and the piece completely blows me away. I have lost sleep wondering where I will hang this in my house – it doesn't seem I have a wall that will do it justice.
As I watch Stephanie finish up her last painting, and my favorite Lobby Bar bartender moved on, I sense it is almost time for me go, too. I have six weeks left, but I am already feeling nostalgia. I have visualized myself removing "Pfister Narrator" from my Facebook profile and actually teared up. (Geez, somebody knock me over the head with my laptop, mmmkay? Oh wait, it's a Macbook Air, too light. Shoot.)
But aside from my friendship with Stephanie and so many other Pfister employees, the greatest gift from this role has been realizing how much I love Milwaukee history.
I have always considered myself more of a pop culture enthusiast with a mild interest in history, but within the past year, I have felt closer to and hungrier for the past than ever. I always knew I had that gene in there somewhere, my father had a doctorate in American history, but it took a gaggle of decades for it to fester, I guess.
I’m certainly not about to rival Milwaukee historian John Gurda, or my coworker Bobby Tanzilo for that matter, but I am on this path now, too, thanks to spending so much time in the opulent, historic Pfister Hotel.
On, Milwaukee – past, present and future.
1 comment about this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Molly Snyder
Published Oct. 1, 2014
In 1937, Alfred Woelbing began making Carmex by hand, pouring the lip balm into the familiar yellow-capped jars in his Milwaukee kitchen. Today the company is based in Franklin and owned by Woelbing's grandson who says, despite rumors, the product is not addictive.
Published Oct. 1, 2014
Here is a list of items I've eaten that were not food.
Published Sept. 30, 2014
The BMO Harris Bradley Center reopened Turner Hall Restaurant in 2012 and it closed to the public this summer. Now, new food and tavern licenses have been applied for.
Published Sept. 28, 2014
It's possible that Sharon McGuire was the first female garbage collector in the city of Milwaukee, but she was definitely one of the very first few.
Published Sept. 27, 2014
Malört, a 70-proof, wormwood-flavored alcohol, has been described as having notes of gasoline, poison, earwax, rotten grapefruit and decaying flesh. Some say the aftertaste is more repulsive than the initial flavor. But not everyone hates the stuff.
Published Sept. 27, 2014
Becky and Scott Berger opened frozen custard shop Yo Mama! in Wauwatosa during the summer of 2011. In June 2014, the Bergers - along with Peg Zanella - opened The Party Room, 7505 Harwood Ave., in the space that was formerly B Green.
Published Sept. 25, 2014
Dennis Erb has always been fascinated by fierce weather conditions, so when he opened his Cudahy-based brew pub he named it Tornado Brewing Co., 3506 E. Layton Ave.
Published Sept. 24, 2014
On Friday, Sept. 26 there will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Café India Bar and Grill at 2201 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. in Bay View.
Published Sept. 23, 2014
10 years in the making, "Hamlet ADD" will debut at the Milwaukee Film Festival. The feature-length film - created by Milwaukee's Andrew Swant and Bobby Ciraldo of "What What (In the Butt)" fame - includes many Milwaukee locations and people, including Mark Borchardt from "American Movie," Dustin "Screech" Diamond and Mark Metcalf from "Seinfeld."
Published Sept. 21, 2014
The ditching of commercial shampoo has become popular enough to gain the moniker "no poo." Could you do it? We found Milwaukeeans who did and and others who simply cannot.