The Working Waterfront

It took a village to run the motel

Compelling evidence that Mom was right

Phil Crossman
Posted 2021-08-04
Last Modified 2021-08-04

My mother was possessed of a resolute conviction that people were good. Certainly, in spite of mounting evidence to the contrary, she felt my three younger brothers and I were clear examples—kind, compliant youngsters who behaved themselves and did for others at every opportunity.

In spite of our best efforts, her faith in us was unshakable and, after we had grown and left home and by the time she and my father built and opened the Tidewater Motel, her confidence in the universal goodness of us and of all mankind was undiminished and she brought that brimming optimism to her new role as innkeeper.

My mother never failed to wade into such circumstances carrying her naiveté like a banner…

And so it was that when an older man and his ravishing young companion, having tucked themselves away in a nice waterfront accommodation for several nights, left behind a tiny scrap of silk which, upon close inspection, revealed itself to be a negligee, my mother wrapped it up, explained the circumstances in a nice personal note and sent it to his home address.

We have a lot of repeat business. This fellow, however, has not been among them.

My folks ran the Tidewater for 20 years or so. My mother never failed to wade into such circumstances carrying her naiveté like a banner and her belief in the essential goodness of everyone remained unwavering. In fact, I’ve come to discover she was right and nearly everyone who has stayed with us during the 20 years we have owned it has been a delight.

While my wife and I were on a road trip years ago, we stopped at a restaurant, the Half Moon Café, in Clairmont, N.H. Hours later, nearly to Connecticut, we realized we’d left our mobile phone (back then we shared one) back at the Half Moon where the staff were enjoying their new responsibilities as innkeepers.
It seems our phone rung just after we’d left, rung from beneath a newspaper we’d left on the table. It rung because a sign on the front desk at the Tidewater Motel back on Vinalhaven island alerted new or prospective guests that we were off-island for a few days and invited them to call our mobile number for information or to secure a room.

It was a lovely day on Vinalhaven island, as is usually the case, and within the two or three hours we’d been gone from the restaurant, several folks had called asking for lodging. The restaurant staff were wonderfully helpful, assuring the first caller that once we realized we’d left our phone we’d certainly be in touch and asking that they call back shortly.

The second call was from first-time island visitors looking for a room for the night. As it happened, Craig, a repairman who’d been coming to the island and to the Tidewater for years, arrived in the lobby at the same time to pick up a room key we’d left for him. He quickly and correctly assessed the situation, politely interrupted the call, explained to the couple and to the Half Moon staff that such things were not at all unusual at the Tidewater and offered to help the couple find a nice waterfront room.

He also promised to come in from work every now and then and to call the Half Moon on those occasions, suggesting that between them they could stay on top of things until the owners came to their senses. Craig then showed the couple to a nice waterfront accommodation; the Half Moon kept taking reservations and between them they kept things running smoothly, more so, some might say than… well, never mind.

Phil Crossman lives on Vinalhaven where he serves on the select board.