Even now, I'm not sure if it was a hotel or a bar or a rooming house or a brothel. All I know for sure is that it was a looming building that stood on the far end of Main Street, right next to the train tracks. In my sweet and innocent hometown, the Pink Hotel was the tallest, chunkiest and most disreputable place in town.
And it was covered in pink aluminum siding.
Somehow, its pinkness scared me even more. Like a wolf in sheep's clothing, that pretty color seemed so gentle and safe. But I could sense the danger lurking inside those rosy walls, and my childish instincts warned me that their prettiness was a trap.
Although I had no opportunities to wander around town by myself, I clearly remember my mother warning me to stay away from the Pink Hotel. I also recall asking her why it was so dangerous, and she told me there were bad men inside. Mmm yes, I remember seeing them inside the open doorway, in a dimly lit room with glasses clinking and cigarette smoke wafting out in to the sunshine. It all seemed so sinister to my tender little heart.
Years went by. I became a little less frightened of the world; the terror of Pink Hotel faded but did not completely disappear. While I was away at college, a few of my friends occasionally stopped in there for a drink, a fact which both amused and troubled me. The stigma lingered on.
At some point when I was busy living my life in another state, something radical happened: the Pink Hotel got a makeover. Whatever seedy businesses had been conducting themselves there picked up and moved away, and someone got the brilliant idea to tear off that pink siding and restore the original facade of the building.
So when I was back in my hometown last week, I went to visit the Pink Hotel and see how the old girl is doing these days. Look what I found.
Isn't she adorable?
Those pale red bricks and architectural details are charming, and harken back to the building's original life as a hotel for visitors to my little hometown, back in the late 1800s.
This is a much better look for the Pink Hotel. She doesn't scare me any more.
And she cleaned up her act on the inside, as well. Since the aluminum siding was stripped away, she has been used for apartments, office space, and other respectable purposes. But I'm told that she's been sold again. The Pink Hotel is about to become a microbrewery and beer garden.
Which brings the whole story round to the beginning again, and puts a smile on my face. I guess the old Pink Hotel is just a bit of a party girl, and will not be denied her wild times.
Next time I'm in town, I'll check her out again. And if the renovations are complete, I might just walk right up to that forbidden door, step inside to the shadowy interior, and order myself a microbrew.
And when I do, I'll know for sure that I am over my fear of the Pink Hotel.