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Multi-Genre By Elizabeth Weldon AP/H American Studies Period 1/2


February 29, 1990 Dear Diary, I am very gloomy to report that last week my grandfather passed away. He lived a full life of 98 years and he was suffering a great deal from old age, so I am glad that he is in a better place, however I still miss him. My grandfather was a very cheery and present man. He was a joy to talk to because he was very attentive. He was never wishing he was somewhere else and he was never thinking about something else. It felt good to be with such a person. So my grandfather made a countless number of friends throughout his life, especially because he owned a very popular hotel in Boston called the Boston Comfort Inn. There wasn’t a single guest that stayed at his hotel once; they always came back for a least a second stay. He claimed that it was the magnificent city the hotel resided in that brought his guests back but my family and I knew that it was my grandfather that made them return. It is because of this knowledge that the fate of this grand hotel is unknown to me. I fear that without my cheery grandfather strolling around the hotel to greet guests and strike up conversations with anyone who was willing, the hotel will lose its popularity and eventually be forgotten. My grandfather and I were very close and I consider his hotel to be where I truly grew up, not my house. I spent all my free time as a child following him around, watching him work and converse with the guests. He always used to take me to lunch at the diner a few blocks from the hotel. We would both get a double cheeseburger, fries and a chocolate milkshake. We liked to dip our fries into our milkshakes and Cindy, our waitress, thought this was disgusting. Her grossed out expression always made us laugh. My grandfather told me that I had the same appreciation for the hotel that he did and when I was 10 years old he told me that one day, this grand hotel we both adored would be all mine. He used to always tell me that I was lucky to be growing up at the time that I am because if I was a 10 year old girl in the 1900s, I would not be having this conversation about owning the hotel one day. I didn’t understand what he meant by this, and I didn’t ask. All I cared about was one day get to stroll through the hotel just like I had watched my grandfather do, and make the guests as comfortable and happy as possible. So my grandfather kept his promise he made with me and when he passed away, his will indicated that I was to inherit the hotel. So tomorrow I am flying to Boston to reunite with this fabulous place of my childhood and prepare to become the owner. Something in particular makes me very excited to go back to the hotel. He left me a letter explaining that the hotel is mine and he gave me instructions on how he wants it to be run, but at the end of the letter he told me something very surprising. He said that I don’t know everything about the hotel and that there is an extra floor to the hotel that I don’t know about. I had always thought that there were four floors but in the letter he explained to me that there were actually five floors. He said that this fifth floor has only two rooms on it, but they are very extravagant and special. He concluded the letter by saying that in order to fully understand the hotel, I need to go to this fifth floor and explore each room. He said that I will not only discover a more important meaning to the hotel and those who stay there, but also I will discover more about myself. I am very curious about these rooms and what I am going to find in each one. I plan on taking two days to explore and each day I will search through one room. I will report back every night in my diary with what I found. Sincerely, Maggie


Day One


Community

September 3, 1901

The Boston Times WEDDING ANNOUNCEMENTS AUGUST WEDDING Mr. and Mrs. James Hartman of Philadelphia, P.A., announce the marriage of their daughter, Abigail Christine Hartman, to William Michael Walsh, son of Rosemary and Edmund Walsh of Cambridge, M.A. The groom graduated from Dartmouth College with a bachelor of arts degree and a master of science degree in economics. He is employed as a professor in economics at Harvard University. The couple met in Boston, Massachusetts and were married in August at the Aletheia Church with a reception at the Boston Comfort Inn following the ceremony. They plan to live in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Mr. and Mrs. William Walsh


July 9, 1901 Dear Diary, Today was a beautiful day. I woke up to sunshine peeking through my window and I felt very refreshed from a excellent night of sleep. I was in a excited mood the moment I sat up because of the day I had ahead of me: absolutely nothing! I had no idea what I was going to do today and that itself was what excited me! I felt butterflies in the pit of my belly as my mind danced with countless ideas of how to spend this beautiful day. I dressed and ate quickly so I could rush out the door to feel the rays of sun beat down on me as a cool breeze rushed across my skin. I walked to town to see my friends who were gathered outside the store and then I ate lunch underneath a large tree and spent time there just letting my mind get lost in thought and imagination. Then, to make the day even better, William, my fiancé, joined me at the tree and we spent the rest of the day together. When it grew dark, William walked me home and bid me goodnight with a kiss on the cheek. It was a perfect end to my perfect day! August 20, 1901 Dear Diary, William and I got married a few days ago and the wedding was splendid. It was a small wedding with only our close friends and relatives in attendance. Everyone had a marvelous time at the reception following the ceremony which was at my favorite hotel, the Boston Comfort Inn. After the party, the guests all said their goodbyes and left and my husband and I stayed the night at the hotel. It was my husbands wedding gift to me because I loved the hotel so much! However, it’s only been a few days since our wedding and I’m already noticing a change between William and I. I have found that in order to avoid his anger, I must keep him informed with my daily plans and activities. My day is very routine and orderly. Furthermore, William frequently corrects my behavior or tells me what I can or cannot do. “He is very careful and loving, and hardly lets me stir without special direction” (Gilman 768). Nevertheless, William and I are very much in love and I couldn’t enjoy being a wife more. December 16, 1901 Dear Diary, This journal of mine has become one of my few places to hide from William. It sickens me to put it in that manner but I have no other way to explain it. Life is bland and routine. That is not the life I saw myself living just a few months ago. In the summer I envisioned William and I living a happy life together of love and friendship. I scold myself for saying this, but my marriage has thrown me into a life of quiet slavery. I love William, but I also love freedom. And “what could love, the unsolved mystery, count for in the face of this possession of self-assertion which [I]… recognized as the strongest impulse of [my] being!” (Chopin 785). Oh, how I miss the days of waking up with the anticipation of the day’s surprises. Now, all I look forward to when I wake up is getting to fall back asleep again and escape into my own world in my dreams.


DAY ONE: ROOM ONE

March 1, 1990

Dear Diary, Today I explored my first room. I walked in to a very clean, orderly suite with the bed tucked in perfectly and everything from clothes to books was organized neatly in its proper place. The cleanliness of the room had such an effect on me that I even felt the urge to take off my shoes before walking into the room any further. I first noticed the newspaper on the table. I scanned through it and realized that the article was a wedding announcement. The couple had their wedding reception at my grandfather’s hotel! I placed the newspaper back on the table just as I had found it so I wouldn’t disrupt the room’s organization. I walked over to the bedside table and opened up the top drawer. Inside was a thin black book filled with neat handwriting: a journal. I was intrigued by the newspaper article, so I flipped through the book until I found the time of the wedding. I read through what seemed like a month’s worth of diary entries. It was amazing to me how vivid the change in this woman’s life was in just her summary of her days. I pinpointed three diary entries in particular that summed up her transformation perfectly: July 9, 1901, August 20, 1901 and December 16, 1901. These diary entries were before the wedding, just after the wedding and then a few months after the wedding. Over the course of these months, she went from being a happy, free-spirited young lady to a bland, confined woman. My finding made me think a lot about how different things are today. Marriage today is a lot more equal. Women aren’t being held back by their marriage. For Abigail, her marriage enslaved her. She couldn’t make any choice without the approval of her husband. I guess a different way to put their marriage was like a parent-child relationship. I am amazed that women like Abigail were willing to live like this! I have a greater appreciation for the equality of today and a greater respect for the women of the past who put up with being treated so unfairly. Sincerely, Maggie


Day Two


March 2, 1990 Dear Diary, Today was the second day of room exploring. I entered the room and the first thing I noticed was how dark it was. The blinds were shut tight, the drapes covered up any chance of light escaping through the window, and there were no other sources of light such as a lamp or a candle. I stumbled through the dark room to the window and pulled apart the drapes so light could fill the room. This suite was very different from the one I explored yesterday. It had all the same furniture and everything about the room was set up the same… but the room was simply dull. I felt as if I had broke into a used suite before the maids got a chance to tidy up. The bed wasn’t made, there were clothes and towels on the floor, and the previous guests’ belongings were scattered along the tables and shelves. There was a sheet of paper crumpled up under the table and so I picked it up and opened it. It was a doctor’s note to a patient named Lillian Brown explaining his diagnostic and recommendations for healing. Lillian was told to stay in bed all day and only get up to use the bathroom! She would be better off just made into a vegetable so she wouldn’t have to suffer through all the boredom. His idea of a cure seems to be a little extreme. He makes it seem like if she were to breathe too much she would over-exert herself and get even more sick. When I went through the bedside table drawer, I found a little notebook filled with beautiful paintings of flowers. The paintings were bright and cheery; complete opposite to the room they were hidden in. I felt bad for Lillian. She had to hide her beautiful paintings from everyone because of her “disease”. The paintings were like an escape for her. They were the only brightness in her dark world. This room has given me a greater sense of strength. Back in the 1900s, women were fragile and sickly, but today we can be recognized as strong and healthy, independent people. It would have been miserable to have been cooped up in bed my whole life, constantly being told that I was sick and needed bed rest. I admire these women for being tough and enduring these pointless remedies. It is thanks to women like them they we don’t have to go through all of that today. Sincerely, Maggie


Maggie’s Letter To Her Grandfather (to put on his gravestone)


October 13, 1990 Dear Grandfather, I wanted to start off by saying that I miss you dearly. Things around the hotel will never be the never without you. I am slowly getting the hang of running the Boston Comfort Inn. Maybe one day I will be as much of a legend around the hotel as you! I explored both rooms just like you had asked and months after that experience I am still thinking about it all and just taking it in. Thank you for sharing those rooms with me. I have a greater appreciation for women and of myself. I never realized how much hardship women used to have to bare. I cannot imagine how much strength and will power it took to take all the discrimination and just brush it off. I now understood what you meant when you told me how lucky I am to be a woman now instead of a woman in the early 1900s. I wouldn’t have the opportunity to own this amazing hotel. I would be pushed down and held back every single day simply because of my gender. My husband would coop me up in our house all day and keep a constant strict watch on me. I would be diagnosed with a nervous disease and be forced to stay in bed all day and to even give up my own children because of my condition. I still visit these rooms every now and then to remind myself of my gender’s struggle and just how far we’ve come. Thank you again for sharing these rooms with me. Love Always, Maggie


The Hidden Rooms