Saturday, November 11, 2006

Greenbriar Story

While watching one of my favorite shows recently, specifically Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood, one of the stories was particularly interesting. It was the Dorothy Draper the Designer story.

In the Dorothy Draper story, they mentioned that she had redesigned the Greenbriar Hotel in good 'ole WV. That brought back some interesting fun memories for me because The Greenbriar is where my husband and I spent the first part of our honeymoon.

We were only 18 and 21 years old when we got married and basically had minimal travel/hotel experience between us. We were given a three night honeymoon at the Greenbriar as a wedding present from my parents. We arrived late and the valet directed us to a cottage that was separate from the main part of the hotel. (In hindsight, this was probably a very good thing because it was not as lavishly decorated and was not as “busy” as the rest of the hotel. The cottage had a very nice sitting room with a fireplace and front porch. The cottage type setting worked pretty well for us.)

When we walked into this little cottage, the first thing the husband said after he looked around was, “I’m going to kill your father!” This was said because there was not a double bed in the room but TWIN BEDS! He was less than pleased that he had twin beds on his HONEYMOON! (In my Dad’s defense, we later learned that he had no idea that all the cottages only had twin beds. The husband still talks about how his father-in-law “really got me on my honeymoon.”)

Well, being the young, industrious, honeymoon couple that we were, we moved the beds together. It really did become quite humorous that for two nights, we would move the twin beds together, and then every morning when we came back to our room after the maid had cleaned up, the twin beds would be separated again. This provided a good deal of conversation between my husband and I. Finally, on the third night, the maid actually made the beds together and we had a good laugh about that when we saw them together!

Anyway, I digress…The show about Dorothy Draper was pretty interesting because she was the “Martha Stewart” of her time. She had a well known decorating style and was pretty original, both for her time then and even by today’s standards. They mentioned in the show that the Greenbriar recently had a “Dorothy Draper weekend.” I thought this was interesting, but I really enjoyed noticing that almost all the members at the lecture were the “well to do, draped in jewelry, even white glove wearing, older set.” (There were not many men at that lecture that I could see.)

When they were showing the pictures of the interior of the Greenbriar that are so lavishly decorated, it reminded me that my first impression when my husband and I walked into the main lobby was: “We are definitely out of our league here!” We were just so very young when we got married and pretty darned naïve.

There are two memories from our stay at the Greenbriar, (other that the twin bed situation) that were also memorable:

The first goes along with how naïve my husband and I both were. They have a fabulous, lavish dining room (decorated by Dorothy Draper, I might add) at the Greenbriar, with a world renowned chef school.
The first night that we dined in the dining room, we were given a complimentary bottle of wine. Now, neither one of us are drinkers and therefore, we had never had the experience of the ritual of wine tasting. We were just barely legal to drink.
The waiter prepared the bottle of wine with great ceremony, even down to the classic white towel over the arm move. He showed the vintage to the husband and of course we just stared at him. He continued to proceed through the ritual and handed the husband the small sip to taste for approval. My husband just looked at him, without a clue, and the waiter calmly leaned down and whispered in his ear, ever so unobtrusively, and said, “You need to taste it and nod if it meets your approval.” That was the quickest taste and nod you ever want to see. The husband could have been tasting vinegar, but that nod was coming, regardless! We do laugh about that now, but at the time, we just didn’t have a clue. I think we gave that waiter a few good laughs during that dinner!

The second funny incident was when we were taking a horse drawn carriage ride around the grounds. There happened to be this older lady and her husband riding with us. She was dripping in jewels and designer clothing and was looking a little snobbishly at my very plain dress. ( I thought I looked beautiful in that dress, even if it was homemade. Don’t judge me harshly because I had no clue ...I was young, in love, and on my honeymoon, so I didn't really care what I was wearing!)

Anyway, being the gregarious, outgoing people that we are, we engaged this couple in small talk. (I don’t think they were all that enthusiastic about our conversation, but since it was a confined space and they really couldn’t get away, they had little choice but to respond.) The husband and I had been discussing what would be appropriate to wear to the “high tea” that is a daily tradition at the Greenbriar. I leaned over to the lady and admitted that I had never been to a high tea before. Showing no pride, I flat out asked what might be appropriate dress for high tea and what do they actually do at high tea? She got this opened mouthed, embarrassed look on her face and quietly said in a mumble that she wasn’t sure because she has never been to high tea either. I was pretty surprised by this because she certainly had been coming off as the well cultured, “I’m much more cultured than you” kind of person. The subject was quickly dropped, but I can still remember thinking that the lady wasn’t too happy that we “exposed her”, so to speak. We never made it to the “high tea” during our stay, which was just as well, because I don’t think the husband is the “high tea” type!

Anyway, the husband and I have talked about scheduling a stay at the Greenbriar again. We have never been back since the honeymoon. We drive by it everytime we drive home to WV to visit the family.

If we ever do make it back, I know I will appreciate the whole experience and the decorating much more now that I know a little bit about the Dorothy Draper history.

One thing is for sure, the second half of our honeymoon was worlds away from the Greenbriar and the Dorothy Draper decorating experience...we went camping!


Grumpy Ump said...

So that's where you got all this crazy decorating ideas, keep up with Dorothy and Martha. I thought Dorothy went to OZ , but wait wasn't there a Ruby shoe or something...

Now for the rest of the story. The seven course meal was a shocker, since we who came from WVA only know the 3 course meal all served on one plate, and a one course meal, hotdogs.

But i also digress, di dshe tell you about the fishing story, NO. We went fishing on the second part.. We used the most expensive fishing rig found. These were the feather light Abercrome and Finch ultimate, they were terrifc, impossible to get tangled. Well, I was enjoying the casting and looked around and, yep.. tangled to the max.. "Ok dear, let me help you fix that." I took her rig and was working on it when she said "Dear!... Dear!". I looked around, she picked up my rig and yep it was a gonner now too.. We packed it in and went to the cabin, OH can we go wanlk in the woods? she asks, Well sure we can do that..( what harm can she do there ). Well, She heard a rustle in the leaves. OH! it is a snake! I did not see a snake.. it was probably a chipmonk or something.. but anyway.. I can't go any farther until i have a stick to beat off the snakes.. ok I get a stick.. we go walking, about 100 yards into the woods, "OK I'm done walking in the woods." no tell me folks, when was the last time someone got bit by a snake walking in the woods? few and far between. Snakes avoid human contact, they are long gone before you even hear the rustle of leaves..

And most of you know the rest of the 32 uear old story.

neva said...

I absolutely love that you have different memories of the honeymoon. I watch this tv commercial now where the young husband is supposed to put in the code so the house is protected from the bad burglars and the wife yells down "It's our anniversary" for the code and the young husband dutifully thinks about it and then puts in some numbers and promptly sets off the alarm......that is where we all are at some point.....hard to believe we have managed 32 and 30 years without driving our husbands over the edge....ok ok at least not out of the door....over the edge we reached a while back

Bobby said...

If you go back to the Greenbriar, will you get twin beds?

Becky said...

I think it's funny how at the Greenbriar anything public is all green and pink and pretty...but once you head to your guestroom there's paint peeling off the walls and 1950s bathrooms...or at least that's how I remember it from my youth.
By the way, the ice skating rink and the bowling alley rock! Also, afternoon croquet on the greens made you feel very well to do...but that tea just wasn't very good (you didn't miss anything but stale biscuits and mint tea)
But what does a 10 year old know?

The Professor said...

This was great! I loved the bit about the wine tasting. Of course, my wife and I were a little less cultured in our honeymoon--we went to Disney World and EPCOT Center! Oh, and had a great time, too! :)