There is only a parking lot now where the Hotel Frasina once stood on the corner, just off the square, in the little town where I grew up. It was first opened in 1893 under the name The Antlers. Then, in 1946, it was purchased by Dominic Frasina. He renamed it Hotel Frasina and remodeled the elegant dining room as well as the cocktail lounge, which he called the Zebra Room. Both were frequented by people in town on business as well as by locals.
As I looked at the empty lot where it once stood, memories of the two years I spent at the Frasina came back. The two years I lived there were a pretty wild time of my life. Also, pretty unproductive time, too. In the 1970’s, I rented a room in the hotel. At that time, it was managed by a very cool, nice-looking woman named Chris. She also lived in the only apartment at the hotel. She and her friend Melodie, who was the owner’s daughter, spent a lot of time partying. Those girls were moving in hip, out-of-town circles. They were following bands like Cheap Trick before they were well known. Me and my crowd were into bands like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Bob Seger, and many other bands whose music I now call fossil rock.
The entire second floor was rented rooms, except for the apartment Chris lived in. The ground floor and the third and fourth floors were strictly off-limits to renters. The rental rooms had a bed, a rather large closet, and a good-sized bathroom with a shower. All were very sparsely furnished. There were times when Chris and Melodie would be out of town, in Chicago, or following various bands somewhere else. At those times, there were five of us renters who would leave our doors open and have parties that would last all night sometimes.
People who did not live at the hotel would come and go.
At one of these parties, there was a fire extinguisher fight that made a mess and left the fire extinguishers empty. When Chris came back from Chicago, she was pissed. She told all of us that if it happened again there would be evictions. About three weeks later my friend across the hall and I came home from a late-night drinking spree to find Chris and Melodie in the hall walking Mick, who was crawling beside them. He was naked, wearing a dog collar, attached to a leash that Melodie held. We discovered later that they had a fire extinguisher battle that evening. Mick was from England and claimed he had been a roadie for Led Zeppelin. No one believed him until the Led Zeppelin movie, The Song Remains the Same, played at our local movie theatre and they saw Mick up on the movie screen, big as life.
One day I was in my room reading. I was waiting for my girlfriend at the time, who said she might drop by. I heard a knock at the door. I opened the door and in walked Melodie. She asked me if she could bum a joint for her and Chris. She had a miniskirt on and was looking good… I told her to have a seat. I got my pot out and began rolling a couple of joints. When I looked up, she had just sat down and was crossing her legs. She didn’t have any panties on. I didn’t know if she was teasing or tempting me. I would never know. My girlfriend walked in. I gave Melodie the joints. She thanked me and left. I felt a pang of guilt because I had never cheated on my girlfriend but I had the hots for Melodie that day. I shouldn’t have, a few weeks later my girlfriend got it on with my friend across the hall. I guess she was a little hot for him.
One day I was looking out of a door in the hallway, watching for a friend’s car to come by to pick me up. Chris walked past me and knocked on a door. The couple that lived in that room were not the sharpest knives in the drawer. I overheard Chris tell him his rent was late. He told her she would get it on Friday. When the door closed, Chris walked past me and rolled her eyes. Then I heard Elmer say, “I’d like to try her on just one time.” Then I heard a very loud slap and Elmer saying, “Oh, honey!” Shortly after that, Elmer’s woman moved out. He told some of us, “I don’t care, I’m going back to my old girlfriend. She’s got a better body on her anyway.”
Some of us, during one of our parties, explored the downstairs to find the lounge still well stocked with hard liquor. We partied down there a few times before Chris discovered we were drinking free booze and using a space that was off-limits. Chris and Melodie got the idea to fix up the lounge and open it again. They did a good job and the place was nice, but the other bars in town were less expensive. After the lounge was closed again, Melodie’s mother decided to close the hotel. She had lost money on the lounge and the rental rooms were not making her enough to continue to operate.
Several years later, the building was condemned. Many years after that, Hotel Frasina was demolished. The younger people of our town, for the most part, don’t even know it ever existed. It is like many things in our lives, or in the world. They come and go. They are, then they are not. Passed, forgotten dreams.