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Opening Doors


oe Puhy, Sr. is an American-born advertising Executive Creative

Director. During a 35-year period, he has lived and worked in 19

to be put up at a hotel in a different Arrondissement. This was

different countries on four different continents. He has created

not, necessarily, to enlarge his key collection, but to gain a better

advertising for many of the largest advertising accounts on Earth.

knowledge of all the neighborhoods in Paris.

The very first time he left the office to direct a photography shoot,

After commuting to Paris for eight months, Joe finally got French

Joe noticed that the photographer with whom he was working

papers. He and Lynne moved into a house on the outskirts of Paris.

had three hotel keys hanging on a pegboard in his studio. The

From there, Joe traveled often to Nice, using Nice as his base for

photographer was planning to return the hotel keys. Joe looked at

scouting advertising-shoot locations. These frequent trips to Nice

those keys, and thought it would be fun to collect the room key from

and the surrounding areas further bolstered his collection of cool

every hotel in which he stayed. So, at the beginning of his career,

and unique hotel keys

that’s exactly what he started doing.

How it All Began...

American hotels. Each week, when Joe commuted to Paris, he asked

Because the American photographers with whom he had worked

In his early days Joe worked in Detroit, Michigan, on automotive

back in the States were experts at lighting, photographing, and

accounts. He worked on the car catalogs that were given out at car

re-touching photographs of automobiles, Joe brought those people

dealerships. That work meant Joe traveled a lot, worked very hard, and

to Europe on the assignments he directed. His European clients

learned very quickly. He collected room keys from across America.

were amazed and excited by the results Joe and the American

He also became an expert in directing the lighting and photographing

photographers could achieve in photographing their automobiles.

of automobiles. In the mid-70s, the advertising agency he worked

After five years, when Joe returned to the States to work in New York

for needed such an expert in Europe, and asked Joe if he would be

City, it was his American clients turn to be amazed and excited.

interested in working and living in Germany or Paris.

That’s because Joe hired European TV commercial directors who

“I can leave tomorrow morning,” Joe replied.

were doing a kind of television advertising that American clients had never seen before. These commercial directors included people like

Joe could only say that because he knew that his wife Lynne would also

Howard Guard, Nick Lewin, and Lester Bookbinder. They were, in the

have a great enthusiasm for living in Europe. The advertising agency

world of TV commercials, the equivalent of the French New Wave in

confirmed that enthusiasm by talking to Lynne. Almost immediately

movie-making. Again Joe’s work won many awards.

afterwards, she and Joe were off to Europe for five years.

All this time and during all his travels, Joe continued to collect hotel

For the first eight months, they lived in Germany. After two

room keys. At first, he merely threw the keys he collected into a

months, however, Joe’s clients decided that all their work should

drawer. Later, however, he made a huge wooden box in which to

be done out of Paris. Joe could not immediately get papers to

hang the keys. The box looked like a hotel letter box. Each of Joe’s

live in France. For the next six months he therefore commuted to

collected room keys hung in its own little compartment within this

Paris. He lived in Paris hotels during the week and returned to

huge larger box which Joe displayed in his office.

Germany on the weekends.

Joe’s collection grew year by year, until at some point in his career

It was during those six months that his hotel-key collection grew

hotel keys became obsolete. They were replaced by the card keys

by leaps and bounds. The collection also became much “cooler,”

that almost all hotels use today. By the time this happened, however,

because Joe was now collecting unique European hotels keys.

Joe had collected some 135 hotel room keys. This book shows 80 of

These keys stood out from the plastic key fobs handed out by most

these keys, and tells stories about them. We hope you enjoy it.

I t was his first night in Europe. After a day of


European streets, small European taxi cabs, and dinner in a small European restaurant, he opened the door to his hotel room. The opening door barely cleared the small bed. The small dresser was only 18 inches from the bed. He had to sit on the bed to open the drawers. In the entire hotel room, there was not enough room to swing a cat, if one had been so inclined. The next morning, he moved into another hotel. During World War II, the city of Frankfurt am Main (“Frankfurt on the Main River�) was almost entirely leveled by Allied blanket bombing. Its once-famous medieval city center was totally obliterated. Frankfurt’s post-war reconstruction most often took place in terms of a simple compact modern style. It created small cramped hotel rooms like the one in which he stayed during his first night in Europe. It also created storefront restaurants consisting only of a window and counter;today you can buy a bratwurst and a beer, and eat your lunch while strolling down the street.

As the founder of Columbia Pictures reportedly said to William Located at 8221 Sunset Boulevard,

Holden and Glenn Ford, “If you are going to get in


in Hollywood, California, USA, the Chateau Marmont Hotel opened in 1929 as an apartment building. The high rental rates and the Depression damaged its bottom line so severely, however, that in 1931 it became a hotel. The Chateau Marmont

do it at the Chateau Marmont.” Following that advice, Jim Morrison is reported to have hurt his back while dangling from a drain pipe, Led Zeppelin rode their motorcycles through the lobby one evening, and John Belushi suffered

was constructed to be earthquake proof and has survived five major

an accidental death in one of the hotel’s bungalows.

earthquakes without sustaining any significant structural damage. Nine cottages adjacent to the hotel were acquired by it during the 1940s. The legends about the Chateau Marmont are legion. It’s the place, for example, where Elizabeth Taylor leased a penthouse for Montgomery Clift to recover after he was almost killed in an auto accident near her home.

While he was there, though, nothing significant happened.

His m

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os than th r e h t o ts tauran s e r ne n i ace yed. O a t s took pl e h which n i s l hote spent a imas t e s h u t j uedu L t d R , a a 1 h t a e d e , t he L o c at e ough h h t , Franc n n n e o v e n v e ig g, e , in Av g, and n te s i 8 40 0 0 evenin t u o non da c s ig v A n e o p ti t he otel Hotel d’Euro ay loca h s t he n d a y l r w e u t v I o . s a lo 15-h e 1580 of ng in i ck to th y a a b quess t s , s n a he Mar i t w f a o p e e S h f n ho m friend ueen o Avigno though Q rron, a ie e P h t e d am d e hoste er, Gravezon. Mad c n n n i o , turne d d or f par te’s a n e o u B that ha n ave oleon in of Nap y h ot e l n the w l o a a luxur v d o e t i d in d e n e lk nsio y, the the ma n the m he wa i centur g h t n i 9 1 n e ve th kes of ers 1799. During lovely e b a m g y the li e n b i d m d e e t n r n e e sp s frequ hat he Mill, W otel wa h . S tuar t n n o h n d o J g n i , a s ( f Av Dicken s first id of i harles h C town o g en As tr n i e t u s Q a d t an s li ine. Victor Hugo, ever, i d or D a w w o t r h e , Salva , s ly t t s s n e e o c m f d More re ottle o visitors Spain. b r a l equent l fr o e r d e 00 t he asso w day at and Pic last!) 2 at e s t o ost-m

50s. R e the 19 r t in th during nonsta ig v A e ’Europ htly. H ot e l d ros nig u E 5 7 of 1 o r ho o d neighb

Located at 2115 South 4th Avenue, in Yuma, Arizona, USA, the Tropicana Motel sits low-slung and one-story under the Arizona sun, surrounding its own swimming pool. The Tropicana Motel still offers such amenities as kitchenettes, refrigeration, shuffleboard, a heated pool, telephones, free TV, and family units. A traveler who stayed across the

This is no country for old men. He shot

street, however, recently reported upon the desolation which has befallen the motel. “Sad to say, but now the Tropicana is a dump. The sign is still there, but the place just looks horrible.”

several commercials in Arizona with a TV commercial director who was a 55-year-old ex-Marine. Still in good shape, still buff — and still sporting a buzz-cut — the director went out into the desert after dark one night to test the night-life of Yuma. Next morning, the director came to work with a black eye and puffy black-and-blue face. He would not talk about what happened, nor the cowboys he had met the night before.

I t was his first hotel in Paris. Getting there was half the fun. The taxi driver took him down the roadway right next to the Seine. They passed a 35-foot-tall version of the Statue of Liberty, given to the French by the Paris American community in 1889. Liberty looks southwest, across the Atlantic and to New York City. Once inside the hotel, the


Tower stood across the street outside his window, lighting

up like a white-light Christmas Tree for 10 minutes every hour, all night long. Located at 149 Avenue de Suffren 75015, Paris, France, the Hotel Bailli deSuffren Paris Tour Eiffel sits between Invalides and the Eiffel Tower.The hotel takes its name from France’sVice-Admiral Pierre-Andres de Suffren. Suffren rose in prominence to become the bailli of the Malta’s order. He served under the royal navy of Saint Tropez. The hotel has 25 rooms, two apartments for three or four guests, and one suite.


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When he bought his


--- a hand-built two-seat sports car dressed in

British Racing Green --- he vowed it would be a union for life. Every Autumn he stored it away; every Spring he brought it out. While he worked in Europe, the two became separated, but he made plans to have the Morgan shipped over. When it arrived, he spent an entire night in a Stuttgart hotel, filling out paperwork. The next morning, he climbed into his beloved Morgan...and it was springtime again. Stuttgart, Germany, is widely thought to be the starting point for the world’s automobile industry. It was here the Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz invented the four-wheel automobile which they started manufacturing in 1887. Stuttgart is therefore known as “The Cradle of the automobile.” Stuttgart’s coat of arms features a black horse on its hind legs prancing on a yellow background. A version of this prancing horse adorns the company logos of both Ferrari and Porsche.

Key's book  
Key's book  

Story of Joe Puhy's travels