Friday, March 31, 2017

Day 46: Seven Keys to Baldpate: The Book, The Play, The Movies, the INN

The Seven Keys to Baldpate is a story that has captured the imaginations of millions and literally shaped history! 

First conceived as a novel, written by Earl Derr Biggers (also famous for creating the Charlie Chan series), The Seven Keys to Baldpate was initially published in 1913. 

The story is of an author seeking solitude to write his next book. What better place than a closed summer inn, clinging to the side of a mountain, in the dead of winter? However, surprise visitors with keys bring mystery, burglary, gunfire and could-it-be love?! 

But the book was only the beginning! 

In 1917, it inspired the naming of The Baldpate Inn in Estes Park, Colorado, as it was the perfect match to the description of the hotel in the story!  And soon our Key Collection was begun, with Biggers himself donating “The original key to Baldpate,” noting that, “All others are imitators.” 

The fascination with this story started early and continued in many formats.

The renowned American playwright George Cohan created the stage-play version, which opened in New York in October of 1913. Interesting to note, when the leading man was hurt in a horse and carriage accident, Cohan himself starred in the three opening performances of his play. 

The play has been performed several times at the Baldpate Inn’s Key-thedral Theatre. Although more recently the boards are tread by professionals, I remember fondly my stint as the slightly-crazed hermit in an all-staff production. (Type casting? Perhaps. Just because no one else was crazy enough to run barefoot along the wall behind the fireplace…)

Several adaptions of The Seven Keys to Baldpate were also made for the silver screen.  (And if they make it again, I'm sure they'll ask me to be Hermit again!)
  • In 1917, the same year the “real” Baldpate Inn opened, Paramount Studios and director Hugh Ford created the silent, subtitled movie. It was written by and starred George Cohan. The leading ladies were Anna W. Nisson, Hollywood’s first Swedish import to become a star, and Elda Furry, who soon changed her name to Hedda Hopper, who acted in several silent films before becoming a renowned Hollywood columnist.
  • Remade in 1925, Seven Keys to Baldpate was directed by Fred Newmeyer with stars Douglas McLean and Edith Roberts.
  • As one of the first talking motion pictures, it was produced in 1929, with Richard Dix, Joseph Allen, Mirian Seegar and Nella Walker in the cast.
  • In 1935, Gene Raymond starred in a Radio Pictures production
  • And, in 1947, a fifth film version was made with Phillip Terry and Jacqueline White.
Not to be missed is the radio theater version starring Jack Benny and Mary Livingston, which we often have playing in the Key Room during our season. 

As you can see, this is a story that has captured the hearts of many throughout the years. 

Stay tuned to our upcoming 2017 Theater Events to see how you can experience the mystery and intrigue of the Seven Keys for yourself! 

 Written by Liz Rodgers

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Day 45: Baldpate Inn, Our Estes Park Home

Home Sweet BPI
As a former staff member of The Baldpate Inn, I know that there are many cherished memories that are held by the staff, from every year of operation. From wildlife encounters, to adventures guests share with us, to kitchen disasters and miraculous recoveries, to meeting future spouses, the staff of Baldpate are blessed with an abundance of fun memories. 

For me, my “staffing” days started early. I was barely in grade school when the Smith family purchased the inn. Although my older brothers got to spend the whole summer at The Baldpate Inn, I was strangely not old enough, despite my best arguments to stay and hang out with all the cool cousins and new friends! I did get to spend several weekends there, when my parents were busily helping out. I recall peeling eggs in the kitchen, and always wanting to take Duke, the large resident German Shepherd, for a walk. Harold, who ran the front desk and was the kindest old man you can imagine, taught me how to make fires in the large lobby fireplace, twisting newspaper to get the fires started without fail. I still thank Harold for my skill when starting a fire. I recall “helping” Brad (see more about his story below) with his rounds of housekeeping, likely just following him around and peppering him with questions and stories. He was always kind and good-natured as I tagged along. 

Brad on a return visit to The Baldpate
I like to think that I helped out, but considering the number of garlic knots that I consumed while there, I’m not sure my contributions were of any real benefit. 

When I was finally old enough to work there for an entire season, I fondly recall working hard and playing hard, making friends with folks from all around the globe, exploring Estes Park, and enjoying hiking and climbing in the surrounding magnificent Rocky Mountains. And of course, eating well at The Baldpate Inn throughout it all!

No matter how many years have gone by, what remains true for many of the staff anytime they visit The Baldpate Inn, is a feeling of homecoming. Former long-time staff member Brad states it well,  "I first came to Baldpate for a summer job in May 1989.  I had just graduated from college and had no idea of what I was doing next or what to expect.  I just knew I was moving to Colorado.  When I got there I was home!

And after several return summers, Brad states, “Despite all efforts to the contrary, I was growing up.  However, no matter the scope and range of my life journeys, Baldpate has always welcomed me back.  It is an anchor for me, fixed and equalized.  Anytime I walk through the front door, it’s like coming home."

Read more of Brad’s story of his experience of The Baldpate Inn. 

Former Baldpate Staff: what’s your story?
Written by Liz Rodgers

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Day 44: A Peek Behind The Swinging Doors: Life of a BPI Staff Member

Life as a staff member of The Baldpate Inn is never boring. Care to put on the shoes of a “BPI staffer?” Here we go! 

Most likely, you’ll be living at the Inn, with other employees from around the world. One wing of the hotel and several cabins are for staff quarters. Living in a close community like this is a wonderful way to develop friendships. It’s also the best commute in the world!

For most staff, the job rotates each day between various activities, so every day is different. 

Baldpate kitchen story time
One day, you may be helping with “KP,” or kitchen prep. This involves helping prepare all the delicious food that is enjoyed in the dining room. Many lessons are learned here, especially for staff who are newer to the kitchen environment! Even for folks who have residential kitchen experience, the commercial kitchen is a whole new world. The sheer bulk of food is sometimes amazing: flats of fruit, crates of vegetables, gallons of salad dressing, and enormous sheets of breads and cookies! But, the cooks are happy to teach, and guests keep enjoying them, so we keep preparing them. 

Another day, you may be waiting tables in the dining room. This is an excellent opportunity to meet and serve folks from all over the world, often educating them about Baldpate – from the menu of fresh homemade items that changes daily, to the history of the inn. It’s also a great way to earn tips, hooray!

Joys of the Baby Mangler
Another job is housekeeping. While perhaps not the most favored of the tasks, I always enjoyed the satisfaction of a job well done: a clean room awaiting guests. A surprisingly fun task is using the 6-foot-wide “mama mangler” or the smaller “baby” mangler to iron tablecloths while grooving to tunes.

Heather Dish Dog
Speaking of music… you may think that the worst job would be dishwasher, or “dish dog.” But no! If the kitchen is the heart of the Inn, the dish dog provides the soul, as they get to pick the music played in the kitchen. Fueled by your favorite tunes and a high powered washer, blasting clean plates is surprisingly satisfying.

On special events, such as weddings, the staff brings our best and works together to make the event a success and a cherished memory for our guests.

Once our work is done for the day, and on our days off, there is much to do! A restful day at The Baldpate Inn is always appealing. Or there is the draw of the outdoors – hiking, biking, horseback riding, big slide riding… the list goes on! With nearby Estes Park, and not as nearby Boulder / Fort Collins / Denver, the fun seems endless.

After a day off, it’s never a bad thing coming back to work, because no matter what you’ll be doing that day, you’ll be working with your friends, meeting great guests, all surrounded by the beauty and the history of The Baldpate Inn. Interested? Apply now!

 Written by Liz Rodgers

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Day 43: Guests Say Thank You to The Baldpate Inn

Poem penned in 1936

Over the years, The Baldpate Inn has been the recipient of many, many letters from guests who dined, stayed, or simply visited for the day, and wanted to share their gratitude. 

These letters make us smile, as it shows how positively impactful The Baldpate Inn was on each guest. 

When was the last time you wrote to a hotel staff to thank them for your lovely vacation, let alone in rhyming verse? Or invite them to dinner to meet your parents? 

It speaks volumes about the kindness, hospitality and genuine relationships that were, and remain to this day, at the heart of The Baldpate Inn. 

I love the simplicity of the address and the 1937 3-cent stamp

These days, there are just as many reasons to say “Thank you.” From an “out of this world breakfast” (I couldn’t agree more), to a spectacular wedding, it makes our day to receive these messages from appreciative guests.

Of course, these days, a letter is much more likely to come electronically, but the sentiment and message is still appreciated! 

Written by Liz Rodgers