Journal of a 77 Year Old Gay Man Coming In For the Final Landing

Into The New Year 2019

Ron and Pat at Alfred's Coffee House

 

Here we go folks, another new year. Little did I know I would live this long. A long time ago, when I was just a young man departing from the Army (1963), I thought I would be lucky if I lived until the next century.  And here I am, nineteen years into the 21st century. I am now an official Old Man. And you know what folks? This life isn’t all that bad.  Oh sure, I have my aches and pains.  I worry about if I can keep up with my insurance payments that keep increasing every year.  I’m working now part-time but there will probably come a time in the future that I won’t be working.  Right now we have a two income household with Bill’s Social Security monthly payments but Bill is ninety years old. That household income source will probably end in the next ten years. That is a concern to me folks, I would have to “cut back.” But all that is in the future. I concentrate on the now.

Next month I depart for California for a two week stay with my Canadian Best Friend Pat F. We will spend a week in West Hollywood and another week in Palm Springs. Best time of my life folks. Four times a year Pat and I get together for a trip; twice a year in my old hometown of Philadelphia and once year in Pat’s hometown of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

I’ve had more health issues in the past five years that I’ve had in my previous seventy years. There will probably come a time when a health issue will ground me. But for now folks?  I’m enjoying life to the fullest.

 

Happy New Year 2019

A video wish for all of you who read this blog for a happy, healthy and prosperous new year!

Why I Work at a Hotel

Hampton Inn Team 1This is my 20th year working as a hotel front desk clerk.

I didn’t plan a career in the hospitality industry. When I graduated from high school I decided to join the Army and get that three year obligation out of the way.

After my discharge from the Army in January of 1963 I moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The reason I moved to Pittsburgh instead of my hometown of Downingtown at the other end of the state of Pennsylvania was that I wanted to come out as gay. A friend of mine from the service, Sal DeRosa, had ended his enlistment in the Air Force. We were both stationed at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland.

When I moved to Pittsburgh I needed a job. I got a job through an employment agency with the Pittsburgh Hilton Hotel in the Golden Triangle.  My job was as a night auditor.  My pay was $250 a month, payable on the 15th and 31st each month.

The night auditor job was easy. I went into work at 11 PM and we left when we settled our restaurants.  There were five of us, all guys. Don Meanor was the supervisor.  I also worked with Fred Hunt and two other guys whose names I cannot remember. Fred had just left the Army too a few months before me.  We weren’t stationed together though.

The Pittsburgh Hilton had five restaurants. Each of us got the stack of waitress checks that we had to check the math and then enter the totals on the old fashion green bar columnar pads. This was in 1963, when Lotus and Excel were just a twinkle in some programming geek’s eye.

I only worked at the Pittsburgh Hilton Hotel for three months.  I was lonely and freaked out by the gay scene in Pittsburgh, a rich subject for many future blog postings.

I quit my job, having never seen the front desk of the Pittsburgh Hilton hotel. We worked in the bowels of the basement.

Returning to my hometown of Downingtown I got a job as an accounts payable clerk at Lipsett Steel Products, Inc of Coatesville, PA. My pay was $80 a week. A much better pay than I was making at the Pittsburgh Hilton Hotel.

I worked at Lipsett Steel Products for two years until I quit to move in with my present partner/husband Bill Kelly. I had secured a job at Girard Bank in Philadelphia, PA through my friend Ron Hampton.  Sal and Ron were my best friends at Fort Meade.

The next twenty-two years I worked at Girard Bank which was taken over by Mellon Bank of Pittsburgh in 1982. In 1986, during a downsizing, I lost my job at Mellon Bank. I was fortunate in that I secured another job immediately with Fidelity Bank of Philadelphia, right up Broad Street from Mellon Bank.

The next seven years I worked at Fidelity Bank which was take over by First Fidelity Bank of Newark, New Jersey.

April 1st of 1994 I quit my banking job at First Fidelity Bank. I had a job opportunity with Sun Bank of Atlanta Georgia. I was going to drastically change my life. Unfortunately, after interviewing for the job at Sun Bank, I was turned down. My friend and former co-worker Ellen Powell had arranged the interview for me. Later I was told I was asking for too much money.

That summer I was unemployed. I eventually got a job as a gardener on a businesswoman’s estate at $8.45 an hour. Not a huge amount of money nor a livable wage but I was bringing some money in while I was living off of my savings and 401K.

Then fate stepped in and a job opportunity opened up at Downingtown National Bank. They were looking for a trust operations supervisor. That was exactly the job I had for twenty-two years at Girard Bank then Mellon Bank. I interviewed for the job and got it.

For the next four years I worked at Downingtown National Bank. I loved my job. Things were going on fine until there was a change in management.  I lost my job. I will not go into the details at this time (it is a long and ugly story). I was again unemployed.

I applied for unemployment. After being first turned down I eventually was granted unemployment benefits. After collecting unemployment for three weeks, I became bored. I saw an ad for a night auditor at a nearby Hampton Inn. I applied for the job, knowing it was an easy job, I was hired. Much to my surprise I found out that the night auditor position had changed drastically from my first night auditor job in 1963. I wasn’t adding up restaurant checks. The Hampton Inn didn’t have in-house restaurants. I would have to stay the whole eight hours. From 11 pm at night until 7 am in the morning. I was the weekend night auditor.  It was rough working all night into the morning. I was paid $9.00 an hour, an extra dollar an hour because I had experience.

After several months a job opportunity opened at another Downingtown bank, the First Financial Bank. I began working both jobs, part-time, for the next four years. I would begin work at the bank at 8 am in the morning.  I would leave an hour early, 4 pm to work at the hotel from 4 pm to 11 pm at night.  The bank let me leave an hour early and the hotel let be arrive an hour later.  I worked almost every day in the week, weekends included, for the next four years.

Then I had a disagreement with the assistant manager of the Hampton Inn and I quit my job. For a short while I worked at the nearby Marriott Residence Inn, Then I decided to move lock stock and barrel to Delaware. I could no longer afford to pay Pennsylvania taxes. I moved to Delaware because my best friend from my Army days, Bob McCamley lived in Sussex County, Delaware and I wanted to escape the high taxes of Pennsylvania. I could only afford to live in Pennsylvania since I lost my high paying bank jobs because my Mother was giving me and my brothers $10,000 a year. She could no longer give me and my brothers that annual tax free gift distribution.

For the first three months of living in Delaware I became bored again so I went looking for another part-time job. Of course a hotel job made sense. I applied at a dozen hotels in the Rehoboth Beach/Lewes area. None would even interview me.  I suspect they wanted young girls working the front desk, not an old geezer like me. Dejected, the last hotel I applied  was the hotel where I am working now, The owner of the hotel happened to be sitting at the manager’s desk.  He interviewed me right away. Two days later the manager called and told me I was hired. That was April 2007. I’ve been working at this hotel ever since.

I’ve often been asked how long I will work at the hotel.  My answer is always the same, I will work until I can no longer function as a competent front desk clerk/agent.

I’m working tonight. I love the interaction with the guests. I love providing a good experience for them and most of the guests appreciate my efforts. It’s a win win situation for all of us.

Someday when I leave hotel work I will write about my experiences as a hotel front desk clerk. I don’t write about those experiences now because of confidentiality and I don’t want to embarrass any of the guests. But folks, I have stories to tell. Oh do I ever. Someday, maybe.

 

Update December 2018

Ron Tipton at WorkHello folks. I’m back again. I began this blog with all good intentions of keeping it up to date but life keeps interfering. That’s my lame excuse. That and the fact that I keep another blog posting through blogspot that I keep up to date almost daily.

Pardon me while I ramble a bit here but I feel a need to explain my current situation.

I turned seventy-seven years old this year. I am now officially an old man. There is no way out of it. Never in my life did I think I would reach this grand old age. Never did I think I would outlive so many of my old friend and former co-workers but I have.  But my time is coming, I can feel it.

I’m not steady on my feet.  My body aches from encroaching arthritis. I have an extra heartbeat which I really notice when I over exert myself walking or other forms of physical activity.  I need a daily afternoon nap or else I just wear down.

The one good thing I have in my life now, besides my long term relationship with Bill Kelly, my partner and now husband of fifty-four years, is my Canadian friend Pat F. I met Pat through the Internet (he saw my photo on the Internet and looked me up) and we’ve been good friends ever since. We travel together four times a year. He is the man I’ve been looking for all my life. Then who is Bill you might ask? When I got together with Bill fifty-four years ago I told him then he wasn’t The One. He has always understood that. But I will never leave Bill, I love him too. But Pat and I have so much more in common. I am convinced we are from the same amoeba from a previous life.

Well, I don’t want to wear out my welcome after this long absence but I did want to see if I can make a go out of this blog and keep it more current than I have promised in the past.

To anyone who happens to come by this lonely blog, I wish you all a wonderful Christmas and a very happy and healthy new year!

Interview With Mom #3

Ronnie Tipton baby

Me on a blanket – I have regressed to this same hairline now

Before Margaret moved in, Mom had her kerosene stove removed because Pop didn’t pay the bill. Pop didn’t pay the rent so they were about to get evicted. They then moved to Towerville. Margaret and the kids moved down the street to a rental property on the Old King’s Highway, PA Route 340. This is where I used to spend a week or two in the summertime when I was older. Margaret’s house didn’t have electricity or indoor plumbing either. I still remember the quietness of the night with the ticking grandfather clock.

We lived in Towerville a couple years. Pop got a job at Capital Bakery in Coatesville, PA. Pop had about six dogs in the back but no food for us kids. Mad had to call the SPCA to take care of the dogs so they wouldn’t starve Mom had to call her father (Grandpop) to give her some money to feed us kids. He gave her $5.00 so she could buy milk for us.

Pop was away on a truck trip. Pop was a cross country truck drive and was away for weeks at a time. He had failed his physical for the draft and instead contributed to the war effort cross country truck driving. During this time Mom found out he was “running around” with other women.

During this time, Grandmother (Mrs. Tipton, Pop’s mother who was a widow) was living with them. She took turns living with one of her different eleven sons she had with my paternal grandfather who died of a heart attack at age 54 in 1939.  Grandmother, who had diabetes, would sneak peanuts in to eat which she shouldn’t have because she was diabetic. She did this one too many times and slipped into a sugar coma. She came out of that coma and her doctor changed her insulin injections from three times day to once a day. Mom said she “didn’t last too long on this insulin and went into insulin shock.”  She died same night that it was announced on the radio that President Roosevelt had died. They were listening to the radio on the kitchen table.

 

Hester Tipton

My grandmother Hester Lewis Tipton (I don’t remember her)

My grandmother died a few months before the end of the war.  She died thinking that her son John had died in the war. After the war was over it was discovered that John was a prisoner of war held by the Germans.  He was a paratrooper captured in Belgium and imprisoned in a castle in Austria. He escaped twice and was recaptured twice. My youngest brother was named after John, who our family thought died in the war. When Uncle John came home he got married and his first born was a son who he named, you got it “John.”  This is why we have three “John Tipton’s” in our family. Unfortunately, Uncle John died young.  He was 39 years old when he accidentally set himself on fire where he worked at the Gindy Trailer Manufacturing Company in Downingtown, PA.  I was a pallbearer along with my two brothers at our Uncle John’s funeral. Both my brothers and I were in the Army at that time and we wore our uniforms to the service. This was the first funeral I ever attended. This was also the first time I ever saw a dead person (didn’t look like him, his hair was combed the wrong way). This was also the first time I was ever in a Catholic Church. Uncle John had converted to Catholicism when he married his wife, Aunt Peggy, who was Catholic.

 

Uncle John Tipton

Uncle John Tipton (right) – survived the war but not civilian life

Interview With My Mother #2

Isaac Tipton, Sr. Lukens Steel ID card

My father’s employee ID card at Lukenweld

1942 – Pop got a job at Lukenweld. The family (me, Mom ad Pop) moved to Towerville, Pennsylvania. This was a double house. Sally Kitchen lived in the house next to them. This is my earlies memory. I remember someone yelling “Sally! Sally!” Many years later, when I was an adult I asked my Mother who was “Sally.” This is when she told me about the Sally who lived in the house next to their rental house.  This had to be the same “Sally” because I’ve never known another “Sally” in my life.

Mom said she thinks she lived in Compass, Pennsylvania before Towerville. She wasn’t sure.

She said it was an old hotel building that was split up into apartments. The building has electricity but no indoor toilets.

Mom said that Eugene White and his “woman” – not his wife – his “housekeeper” lived in the other side of the house.

Compass is where I fell of the roof. Mom said I had climbed out the second floor window, to the roof covering the front porch of the house. She said I slid down the roof and hit the ground. Mom was in the kitchen on the first floor and she saw me going by and dropping to the ground. She heard me crying.

Ronnie Tipton baby in crib

Me in my playpen, no more falling off roofs

Mom didn’t have a phone in the house. She ran across the road to the neighbors (they had a cow and she used to buy milk from them). Those neighbors called the doctor to check me out. He said that I would have to go to the hospital. Mom said “your insides stopped working a bit but then they started them up again.”

I didn’t have to stay overnight in the hospital. The people in the hospital said I was alright and they sent me home. (Note: here I used another one of the nine lives allotted to me on this go around).

Mom said my brother Isaac wasn’t born when I fell off the roof. Isaac was born in April of 1943 so I was about a year and a half old when I fell off the roof.

Mom’s step-mother Margaret (Hadfield) and her kids (Mary, Bobby and Ruthie) moved in while we lived in Compass because Grandpop (my Mother’s father) threw her out after he caught her with another man. The house in Compass had plenty of rooms since it was a former hotel.

To be continued. . . . . .

Betty Tipton pregnant

My mom pregnant with me – 1941

On September 15th, 2007 I sat down with my Mother at her home at 1075 Hopewell Road, Downingtown, Pennsylvania and interviewed her about my early life of which I had little or no memory. My Mother died three years after this interview. I wish I had interviewed her more often before she died but she was losing her mental capacity.

This interview begins with the date Mom got married to my father:

November 2, 1940

I got married Saturday night in Elkton, Maryland.

I went back to school the following Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

When Pop (my father) came back to pick me up for a night out (we usually went out Wednesday and Saturday nights), this time I had two dresses packed and was ready to leave home.

The last beating I got from grandpop (her father) was because I took too long to come back from the Morris (grocery) store. It was raining and I stood under cover until the rain let up. When I got home grandpop had the belt waiting. He asked me “Why did it take you so long?” He broke his belt beating me. I told Pop “I want to get away from this mess.” That night I moved in with Pop at the little house he rented on the road next to the Brandywine Creek right off of Route 322 from Downingtown.

Early 1941

We moved to a double house in Mortonville. Ed and Mable (my father’s brother and his wife) lived in the other half of the house. Mrs. Tipton, Pop’s mother, lived across the street.

We only lived in this house a few months. There was no running water in the house, no electric, no locks on the doors and an outhouse for a bathroom.

Pop got a job as an attendant at the Coatesville Veterans Hospital.

Later we moved to Cedar Knoll, in a rented house on a long dirt road on a hill. This is the house we lived in when you were born.

There was no electric or running water in this house either. We heated the house by a kerosene heater. It didn’t heat too much. There was a train track down over the hill.

Pop worked at the Veterans Hospital for about two years.

Mom said she remembers me being in the back seat of Pop’s car in a baby basket. Pop was driving down the hill and took a turn too fast and you went rolling out of the baby basket.

Cedar Knoll

Mom pregnant with me in front of their Cedar Knoll home – 1941

To be continued