Writing a column each week is harder work than you think. Just spelling correctly is tiresome.

More importantly, any columnist, on a local or national level, needs the touch of the reader. That’s called “material.”

In this past year of darkness, the silence has been painful. But now, the whispers are louder, even when muted by fancy masks. Folks want to talk, out loud, top of their voices, and I need to hear some of that.

So where do I go to get it?

Then — eureka! — the new Lockwood Hotel sprang open and suddenly it dawned on me. There’s an opera going on in the streets, and writers like me want to hear the chorus. How do we do that? Stick with me.

In my theater days in New York, parts were scarce, and the rent-paying jobs were all in hotels, and always at the front desk.

I worked the Plaza, Waldorf Astoria, Essex House, the Gotham and New Yorker. I’m not kidding. I was really good at that, and I looked fabulous in a blue blazer. Why so many hotels?

An actor in those days went away to summer stock each year, and upon returning, would need a winter job. Voila! Back to hotels.

Lucky for me, the late Tommy Doherty, hotel union boss, would set me up in a new job. The Waldorf was the best; they kept me for three years.

You see where I’m going with this? I’m fully qualified to step right in at the gorgeous Lockwood Hotel right now in soon-to-be-beautiful downtown Waterville.

I’d like to be a front desk clerk again, but I’m a bit grey at the temples to do that.

Then I remembered my friend “Mattie” Delany, the famous Irish doorman at the Waldorf, who has passed onto the big hotel in the sky.

There he’d stand from supper to 10, a majestic figure he was, the pride of the Irish, a red-nosed, white-haired deity in a navy blue greatcoat with double rows of brass buttons, always clutching his dear mother’s rosary in one hand and a small silver whistle in the other.

J.P. Devine recalls that his friend “Mattie” Delany, the famous Irish doorman at the Waldorf hotel, would stand in a navy blue greatcoat with double rows of brass buttons, always clutching his dear mother’s rosary in one hand and a small silver whistle in the other. Photo courtesy of J.P. Devine

Irish? Of course. The Irish, you see, love costumes and uniforms, that’s why they all became firefighters, cops and priests.

I don’t have a ladder and hose, or a gun, and I’m too shaky to handle the blessed wafer, so I’m thinking of applying for part-time doorman. What better job to hear the chorus?

With Mattie as my model, I have the uniform, a dark blue greatcoat, a hat and one of my mother’s pearl rosaries.

Everything, but the silver whistle.

This morning, as I was cleaning out a bowl of junk on my dresser, there it was — as if by magic — a tiny silver whistle just like Mattie’s.

We all need a tiny miracle or two to get through this terrible year, don’t you think? Well, I’ve got mine.

Welcome to the Lockwood Hotel, folks. The boy will take your luggage.

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer. 

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