Brothers Reunite

All nine of them were huddling around the wide velvet couches like a football team reviewing the game-winning play.  Then, they broke up to line up like soldiers in front of the fireplace and posed for a picture. One slight problem, the gentleman who volunteered to take the picture didn’t realize the camera wasn’t on, so I quickly intervened.

After they saw that I knew how to work one, they all began handing me their own cameras. It was clear that this was a momentous occasion and they all wanted their own copy of the picture to prove that this reunion, with wives in tow,  actually did happen.

There was a chemical engineer, social worker, nurse, art professor and more among them. They were a sacred brotherhood, bound together for life by the glorious memories of college. University life has a way of creating fast friends and memories that last a lifetime. All of them attended Washington University together in the 60’s and haven’t seen each other since.

Doug was the ringleader, who had decided to convene the team for a long-overdue reunion.They all lived together the same dormitory – “Terry Hall, it was called. And then we moved into apartments together and we even had our own home brewing operation,”  Doug joyfully recalled. His fondest memory was watching the University of Washington win the Rose Bowl in 1961 “They played against Wisconsin and they just walloped them! It was unheard of because Minnesota and Wisconsin, they were all much better teams.”

After college, the group scattered to Wisconsin (no one in Milwaukee though), California and Minnesota. Some stayed in the Washington. “So how did you all end up here at the Pfister?” I inquired. John, who now lives in East Troy, recommended  that everyone meet and stay at The Pfister. “We thought Milwaukee in March might be nice and I thought these guys would really enjoy the Pfister.”

“I learned it had all this history and art – and it went through renvoations, it’s a very Inspirational building.”

“We gasped when we walked in the room. It’s like we’re young again, it’s like going back in time.”

People were chiming in with their own views of the Pfister experience.

They were rushing off to dinner at Karl Ratzsch’s, another Milwaukee landmark. They were clearly making their own University of Washington history right here in the Pfister lobby.

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Lindsay the Magnificent Bride

“We were staying at the Pfister when it  happened.” That phrase could apply to a million different situations. Lindsay was at the Pfister for the Magnificent Bride show earlier this month, where I captured her story.

Shaun and Lindsay met at UW-Milwaukee. He – a studious PhD candidate in psychology and she – a curious lab assistant. The courtship started with a roller derby and the engagement started with a derby of a whole different kind – a bet on a Kentucky Derby race horse. Shaun was watching the derby at Maxie’s Southern Comfort when he entered his name in a raffle and won an overnight stay at the Pfister. So, he and Lindsay decided to stay at the Pfister for their one-year anniversary.

When the weekend arrived, they enjoyed dinner at the Mason Street Grill and then set out to re-create their first date at a Brew City Bruisers roller derby bout. Lindsay boldly asked Shaun out after noticing him in class. Immediately on their first date, he warned her: “You know, we can’t really date because I am your teacher’s assistant.” By the end of the night, Shaun had changed his tune. “You know, it’d be stupid if we didn’t date. Let’s talk to our professor and see if we can’t work something out,” he suggested.

Shaun and Lindsay
Shaun and Lindsay

One year later, back at the reenactment, Shaun and Lindsay sat trackside at the bout and she noticed that he was acting a little odd. “He didn’t want to converse with or hang out with any of our friends that were there, but I did’t really think anything of it.” Of course, he was just focused and didn’t want anyone or anything to deter him from his plan.

He watches her as she’s recounting the details and smiles sweetly. She’s vivacious an verbose, telling the story with the same excitement of the first time.

After the bout, they returned to the hotel to change into nice clothes to go up stairs to Blu. As Lindsay was putting the finishing touches on her look, her back was turned to Shaun and he said, “Before we go downstairs, there is something I’d like to ask you,” and he immediately got down on one knee. With her back still turned and after about a minute of dead silence, Lindsay turned around to see that the Shaun had been waiting on his knee with the ring in hand.

“That minute seemed to last forever,” confessed Shaun.

Although they had talked about marriage, Lindsay had no idea that the proposal was coming.  He had consciously stopped conversations about marriage so he could surprise her. The string of serendipity continued…

“So then we go up to Blu and there happened to be fireworks in honor of Chinese New Year!” proclaimed Lindsay. They ordered a set of chocolate-covered strawberries (Lindsay’s favorite) and the waitress came out with Congratulations written on the plate, though she had no idea that they had just gotten engaged. “It was so crazy, by pure coincidence she used this plate that was just laying around back there.”

Shaun and Lindsay are planning on tying the knot in May 2014 after graduation. “The Pfister has been a significant presence in our journey,” she said and after all this good luck, they fully intend to include the Pfister in the wedding plans.

 

Lindsay and Shaun at Blu post-engagement
Lindsay and Shaun at Blu post-engagement

 

Inspirational Women, Inspiring Change

No matter who you are or where you came from, you probably had some help along the way. At the Women Inspired to Lead event last week at the Pfister, I spoke to several role models of all ages who’ve enjoyed the support of strong women to help them get to where they are now.

The event was a benefit for PEARLS for Teen Girls, a leadership development organization for African-American and Latina girls ages 10-19. Among the 400 guests, there was a panel of diverse women leaders who shared their personal stories of inspiration.

Tawanna Jackson stood out among the crowd. She is affectionately known as the Harriet Tubman of PEARLS. She  joined the group as it was taking root photoin Milwaukee in 2002, when she was a freshman in high school. Since then, she’s worked as a team facilitator and is now the youngest member of the Board of the Directors. Tawanna, 25 years old, is an HR coordinator at US Bank. She was polished, personable and poised in a coral shift dress belted at the waist, blazer and a leopard print scarf neatly tied at her neck. I was even more impressed when she spoke.

Tawanna barely stopped to take a breath once she started extolling all the virtues of PEARLS. “I wouldn’t be where I am without PEARLS. Wherever I am, I am always a part of this organization and I am always representing,” she boasted. “It’s taught me to give back to my community too.” She continued and smiled as she recalled her experience. “I learned how to love myself. I was never a misfit, I was always focused, but PEARLS helped me to stay on that track. I understood how to carry myself as a young lady and be a role model for other young ladies.”

I ran into more smiling faces – PEARLS girls, you could just tell. They were  greeting guests at the elevators. Hydia Harris, 17, attends MC2 High School, Shante McKay, 17, goes to Riverside and Jazzlin Jones, 18, is a senior at Hope Christian School. They are all team facilitators who work with younger members of the PEARLS program and serve as role models to the middle school students. Bubbly and attentive, they were eager to answer any question. Through PEARLS, Jazzlin had the opportunity to go on a college tour and begin planning her future. Shante enjoyed the “Making Proud Choices” curriculum that teaches young women about healthy relationships and Hydia attributes her academic success to the “Strive to Achieve” program. All of these young women personified the mission of PEARLS and were excellent spokespeople for what can be achieved through opportunity, guidance and hard work.

Now on to a role model of a different caliber. Margaret HenningsenExecutive Director of the Women’s Fund of Greater Milwaukee, was a panelist and has been involved in PEARLS since it started. She and PEARLS Executive Director Danae Davis have mentored each other over the years. Margaret knows a thing or two about women and girls. She is the oldest of 10 children in her family, with five sisters who now all have daughters. “It’s been my passion to make sure women and girls are treated equally,” she said.  As the owner of the now closed Legacy Bank, Margaret most enjoyed teaching a class to PEARLS girls about managing finances.  She too has a role model: “My grandmother instilled in me to get out there and do things.”  But surprisingly, she doesn’t consider herself one.  “I am really honored to have been selected, but I never really thought of myself as someone who inspires,” she admits.

I stepped aside as the crowd flooded into the ballroom. It quickly became apparent that whether they knew it or not, all of these women affected the life of another. And this culture of community, of enabling success, is exactly what made me proud to be among that crowd.

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Hydia, Shante and Jazzlin

The Art of Storytelling with Ex Fabula

No professionals needed – just enthusiastic amateurs. That’s my kind of club. ExFabula has been organizing live storytelling events in Milwaukee since 2009. Founding member Megan McGee takes pride in helping people discover that they have a story to tell and showing them how to do it. There is only one rule – all five-minute stories must be true. And, each event has a theme that storytellers must stick to. “The themes aren’t a way to restrict people, they should just be starting off point,” explains Megan. “Eventually everyone connects with something.”

Andrew Larsen got involved last fall and has been telling stories at several of the monthly events. He clears his throat and his baritone voice booms sarcastically, “I like the hearing the sound of my own voice.”  By day, Andrew is a history teacher at Marquette and a passionate advocate for the art of storytelling. “History is really just a collection of stories,” he says, and he often uses storytelling to engage his students. “It’s fun telling stories,” he confesses, “Its is how people used to entertain each other years ago before technology. American culture has taught people to be really passive. Live storytelling allows the audience to take an active role in their entertainment.”

Andrew Larsen and Megan McGee
Andrew Larsen and Megan McGee

I met Andrew and Megan in the Pfister lobby to talk about their upcoming event and was able to coerce Andrew into sharing a story.  (See below) “There are a few key elements to a good story,” he explains, “The delivery certainly matters and it helps if its relatable.” Andrew’s poise, confidence and articulation definitely shine through when the spotlight is on him.

At each event the are scheduled storytellers and people who volunteer that night.  Funny stories always go over well,  but are not the only effective ones. “The story I liked the most was actually serious, it was about a very challenging conversation with my father,” admits Andrew.

Think you want try your hand at storytelling? The theme for the next ExFabula event on Tuesday, March 12  is “Green.”  The event will be at Club Giribaldi in Bayview and admission is $5 at the door. About half of the crowd are newcomers and half are regulars. Andrew plans on telling a story and assures that it’s a very supportive atmosphere. “Our audience appreciates people who are brave enough to tell their stories, Megan chimes in. “Every story inspires another.”

For more information on ExFabula or the event on March 12, click here.

See Andrew tell his story “Blind Date” that he told last month at an ExFabula event.

 

Long-Lost Sisters

Though we weren’t able to meet face-to-face during her stay, Simone Ingram shared her story with me via email. Here is her incredible story, in her own words…

One day, I logged onto Facebook and had a message in my inbox asking if I had a dad named Dennis Michael Cudmore and a brother named Jean-Paul. I couldn’t believe my eyes! I read it and re-read it a million times and didn’t know what to do.

It was my sister Ciera who found me on Facebook. I never even knew I had a sister. That evening I called my brother and asked if he was sitting down and if he had a drink in his hand. He replied yes to both so I told him the news – it looked like we had a sister in America. My sister Ciera DesJardins has a two-year-old little girl and just got engaged. We were both speechless. Ciera had been looking for us for as long as she could remember. Neither of us knew our father, she only knew about us from what her mum had told her, for which I shall be eternally grateful.

For the past three years, Ciera and I have mailed each other regularly and tried to Skype once, but we kept losing connection. I have been desperate to meet her since she first got in touch with me. This past year on my Christmas list, I put that I would like to meet my sister.  On Christmas Day, after we had opened our presents, my husband said that he had one more thing for me. I had always wanted to have a nice English afternoon tea at the Ritz and had mentioned this on numerous occasions, so when he gave me an envelope I thought, this is it, my tea at the Ritz.  I opened the envelope and could not believe what I saw, he had organized for the two of us to fly to Milwaukee for a week to meet my sister. As you can imagine the tears flowed with happiness and I just could not stop smiling.

My husband Ian had arranged everything with Ciera, she was in on it all along. Ian said that because this was to be a trip of a lifetime,  he had chosen a very lovely hotel for us to stay in. And The Pfister sure was lovely.  I had never been to America before. I’m from a small town called Barnstaple in Devon, England so to see everything supersize blew my mind away at times.

Ciera and I met at the airport. We just hugged and giggled nervously – my husband filmed it all. We spent the week together getting to know each other and finding out we have similar ways, likes and dislikes – neither of us like mushrooms or anchovies. Someone actually said we looked alike, in our smiles. We were both delighted, as I am 20 years older than Ciera – she’s only 23.

We also took a trip to Chicago, which for me was very special, as our dad lived in Chicago. The last known address I had for him was in Hinsdale, Illinois. Before I met Ciera, I always wanted to go to Chicago to see if I could find him.  Walking along looking at the sites side by side with my sister filled my heart. Knowing I was in the same city and walking the same paths he may have walked was enough. I had flesh and blood with me. In my mind and heart I confirmed I would never ever let this young girl be apart from me again. I felt warmth and love that only blood can produce.

My dad left England when I was about five. He was a top hairdresser and worked with Vidal Sassoon. My mum had always said he was a very talented hairdresser. Sadly though since he left England, I have only seen him once when I was 16. We exchanged letters on a regular basis but one day about 10 years ago, the letters stopped and we’ve heard nothing since. Ciera has never seen him, she has only spoken to him once on the phone. We are not sure if he is alive or passed on. A sad side to our story.

Everyone at the Pfister was so friendly, warm and welcoming. We felt like royals and particularly enjoyed time sat by the open fire listening to the wonderful pianists. And the breakfasts were to die for, they kept us going throughout the day. The hash browns are nothing like the ones we get, yours are much nicer. I also got my afternoon tea! We shared afternoon tea in Blu and it was a lovely – wonderful tea, beautiful food, fantastic harpist, and outstanding view, all capped off sat next to my sister, just perfect.

We had a very special week which was over too fast.  It was sad to leave Ciera, her fiancé Ross and my niece. We vowed we would both start to save so we could visit again. We had a few tears when we left, and  when I landed in England I had more again, as I felt so far away from her. I would love for Ciera to come to England so I can show her her roots and I know my brother would love to meet her too. I would also love my two girls to meet their auntie, uncle and cousin.

Ian, Ciera and Simone
Ian, Ciera and Simone

 

 

 

 

A Lesson in Networking

“I feel like I am stepping on to the Titanic,” said Carlos. “It’s so nice!” But rather than feeling like a fish out of water, as most first-generation college students might feel at a networking event at the Pfister Hotel, he embraced it.

Myladys Montanez, Clara Madrigal and Carlos Rodriguez are all part of the Abriendo Puertas (Opening Doors) program for Latino students in college. I met them during a Conexiones networking event for Hispanic Professionals of Greater Milwaukee (HPGM). This new program is a collaboration between HPGM and the United Community Center that helps students complete their degrees, learn how to become competitive job candidates, and embark upon successful careers.

Funded through a grant from the Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation, Abriendo Puertas works with 155 college students from 14 different universities in Wisconsin offering resources, workshops, and networking events with professionals so students can begin building their professional networks. “I am very proud of them,” said Arely Flores, program coordinator. “I love hearing from people that they are polite and approachable.”

Arely Flores and HPGM member Rafael Acevedo
Arely Flores and HPGM member Rafael Acevedo

Myladys, Carlos and Clara were by far the youngest people in the room, but pleasantly unfazed by it. They were soft spoken, but confident. Poised and polished for their age, but with a tinge of shyness that dissipated the more time I spent with them and the more verbal reinforcements they had from each other.

I asked them all where they went to school and what they study. They sung back in chorus without skipping a beat, as if they’ve been asked this question a million times before:

Myladys: “I go to MATC and I study business management.”

Clara: “I go to UWM and I want to be a nutritionist.”

Carlos: “I go to UWM too and I study global studies management.”

Okay, clearly this wasn’t their first rodeo, so I continued to sling questions.

What do you like about these events?

Myladys: “It’s great networking – you get to learn from a lot of different professionals and find out what they majored in and you can understand how to get to where you want to be.”

Carlos: “I am really shy so at first it was hard, but after I started coming to these sessions, I learned how to talk to other people. Being in this environment helps you to develop these skills.”

Clara: “It opened my eyes to other career possibilities.”

So how did you find out about this program?

Carlos: “Well because I am the president of the Latino Student Union at UWM,  Arely approached me and asked if he wanted to get involved.”

Clara: “I just heard about it from a friend”

Does it help that these are all Latinos here?

Myladys: “It doesn’t really matter, I believe that there are the same opportunities out there for everyone.”

Carlos: “No, I mean I just remember, don’t be scared, because everyone is here to help, just be you.

Myladys, Clara and Carlos.
Myladys, Clara and Carlos.

Stephanie Barenz Named as the Fifth Pfister Artist-in-Residence

The Pfister is thrilled to announce that we’ve named Stephanie Barenz as the fifth Pfister Artist-in-Residence.  Stephanie will begin her residency on April 1st after our current and fourth Artist, Timothy Westbrook ends his.  Stephanie was chosen by the Pfister’s selection committee made up of community leaders in the arts and other disciplines.  You can learn more about Stephanie at her website, stephaniebarenz.com.

Additionally, finalist Eddie Villanueva finished first in the public round of voting and will receive a solo art show at Gallerie M in the InterContinental Hotel.

Background

“The Pfister is the perfect stage for my work, which deals with how travel affects one’s relationship to place,” said Barenz. “The hotel carries thousands of stories from over a hundred years. The Victorian art collection, the antiques, and spaces have served as silent witnesses to all of it.”

“Over the course of the year, I plan to create a body of work that will include 20 to 30 paintings. Images of these paintings will be turned into a book and I plan to collaborate with the Pfister Narrator, the hotel’s writer in residence, to write text for the images. I am so looking forward to moving into the studio, starting my project, and getting to know more of the Milwaukee community through my platform at The Pfister.”

Barenz primarily paints and draws on wood panels using a range of media, including acrylics, sumi ink, and pencil. A Milwaukee-area resident for the past two years, she currently works as a full-time artist at Plaid Tuba, the studio of The Pfister’s first Artist in Residence, Reginald Baylor. With extensive experience teaching and studying art, Barenz has taught in Southeast China, studied in Florence, Italy, and completed a one-year residency at the Chicago Printmakers Collaborative. She graduated from Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., with a Master of Fine Arts degree.

Proposal

“THE CARRIERS”

The Pfister carries thousands of stories from over a hundred years. The famous Victorian art collection, the antiques, and rooms have served as silent witnesses to all of it. Every day a new story is written and this is where my proposal begins.

The title “The Carriers” is used to describe how I would use images of the hotel’s people and objects to “carry” the memories and stories of the Pfister. For example, I woudl ask guests if I could interview them about where they were coming from, their visit at the Pfister, what they brought with them, and what kind of transportation brought them to Milwaukee. I would then paint an image of their luggage or the train car that they arrived in that is piled high with their stories and memories from our conversation. Our conversation would most likely extend beyond their stay at the hotel and I would work from images they give me.

I would also create works solely based on the hotel’s past and present history. Anything could carry a memory, such as a hotel room or an old chandelier. This playful approach has endless possibilities. I would turn the Victorian collection and the hotel archives for imagery and inspiration.

Over the course of a year I would like to create an entire body of work entitled “The Carriers” that would include 20 to 30 paintings. I would turn these images into an illustrated book and hopefully collaborate with the Pfister resident journalist and storyteller to write some text for the images.

Work Samples

Baring it All

As an artist, putting your work out there can be as scary as standing on stage naked in front of a crowded auditorium. After all, as a writer, most of my work is done in private and a great deal of it formulates quietly in my own head. Luckily, there are groups in Milwaukee like the  Milwaukee Artist Resource Network (MARN) who recognize that creativity can sometimes be an isolating activity.

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I met MARN’s Operations Director Maggie Sasso at Gallery Night and convinced her that the Pfister could be a creative wellspring for writers involved with MARN. And just like that, the next monthly meeting of Writer’s Wednesday took place at the Pfister.

Writer’s Wednesday is group of people from Milwaukee’s literary community that “share their work and engage in critical discourse in a creatively nurturing environment.” Nurturing is the key word there. The delightful artist and storyteller Anja Notanja Seiger leads the group and provides thoughtful and constructive feedback, while making sure that all feel at ease and supported when sharing work.

Frog-throated and shaky-kneed, I shared an unpublished story, along with some of my favorite excerpts from Pfister stories. After each compliment, I countered with a “Yes, but do you think I need more of this…or that?”  To my relief, the other creative professionals in the room assured me I was being too critical of myself. And this is where the creative process really begins, with discourse and editing. This is what writers like me crave to be their best.

There were writers of all kind – poets, jingle writers, fiction writers and storytellers. Of the dozen partipants, more than half shared some form work, even if it was nothing but a work in progress or a recounting of dreams.

Anja was the last to share. She recited a love letter written to the Milwaukee arts groups, as part of MARN’s new campaign, I Heart Art.  Her coffee colored curls peeked out under her mustard wool cloche hat. Though minute in stature, she commanded our attention with her confident, erect posture like a solider , flowery language and clever puns, carefully woven into a story about young bride. She couldn’t help but give in to the chorus of giggles as people slowly grasped her jokes and allusions peppered throughout the letter. After a round of hearty applause, many of us were likely left thinking the same thing, “Yeah, why couldn’t I think of that!?” That’s the beauty of creativity – it’s a totally unique to each creator.

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Donations and submissions are still being collected at MARN’s website for the I Heart Art campaign. If you do heart the arts in Milwaukee, be sure to show it! Sometimes a little push and reassurance is all you need.

 

 

 

Pfister Files: 120 Years

Over the next few months, I will be dusting off pages from the Pfister’s history books and sharing bits of the Pfister’s prolific history. This is the second post in this series.

A lot can happen in 20 years. Nipping at the heels of the 120th anniversary of the Pfister Hotel, I thought now might be an interesting time to find out what things were like around here at the 100th anniversary.

I found a six-page newspaper supplement from 1993 commemorating the centennial celebration of the Pfister Hotel, which gave me a good sense of sentiment for this momentous occasion. Jean Towell from the Milwaukee Journal said it best: “Entering the lobby of The Pfister Hotel is like stepping into another era – one that’s more gracious and civilized than the one you left. Courteous service prevails and you feel a sense of gentility that’s some how lost in the choas of everyday life outside.” Twenty years later it’s still true, but the best part is that The Pfister has that same elegance and you wear jeans and even bring your dog.

In 1993, Rosemary Steinfest was the General Manager (the only female GM in history), The English Room was the place to be for fine dining and they just wrapped up a five-year renovation to restore The Pfister’s 19th century splendor. The lobby’s original fireplace was uncovered, guest rooms in the tower were constructed, and presidential suites and 7th floor conference and banquet center were added. The Cafe at the Pfister was the final addition, along with bringing the whole building up to speed with 21st century amenities.

Recognize this guy? Yes, the lovable, loquacious concierge Peter Mortensen (and his mustache) was a fixture in lobby even twenty years ago.

Peter Mortensen, concierge and hotel historian,  in 1993. Photo by Dean E. Johnson, courtesy of the Milwaukee Journal.
Peter Mortensen Concierge and hotel historian, in 1993. Photo by Dean E. Johnson, courtesy of the Milwaukee Journal.
Peter in 2012.
Peter in 2012.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Rooms have also changed quite a bit. Gone is the era of pastels and florals, replaced by the warm, earth tones and modern design.

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Guest room at the Pfister Hotel, circa 1990

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twenty years passed and though the styles may change, the same century-old traditions prevail. Congratulations to all who have taken part in preserving this great legacy for Milwaukee.

Love is in the Air

Although it’s still one week from Valentine’s Day, there is love in air at the Pfister Hotel tonight. Romantic love, Milwaukee love, Latin music love.

“Guajira,” scrape, boom, swoosh, “Guajira,” scrape, boom, swoosh…It’s the type of sound that crawls under your skin and tickles until you dance. Two people are wildly gyrating in front of the window at Blu about four counts faster than the music. It looks like an African tribal dance of sorts.  They are the only people dancing in the room, but they couldn’t care less. It’s hard not to notice her, wearing a red shirt and her braid whipping slices through the heavy conversation in the air. He’s wearing a sweater vest and thick-rimmed glasses. His movements are stiff and jerky, but his chin stays up as he concentrates on repeating the same footsteps.

A woman courteously invites me to share her corner of the room as we remain innocent bystanders to their unabashed spectacle and soak in the energy radiating from the room. We agree that it’s a crime if you’re a local and you don’t know about this great place. We both also agree that De la Buena is a fantastic band, even paired down to a quartet. She introduced herself as Bonnie Schafer. Her husband John returned to their table and they nibbled on a brightly-colored assortment of cheese cubes as we continued to gush about all the different things we love about Milwaukee – live music, Blu and views of the lake top the list. As more and more guests trickle in from the Heart Ball (more on that later this week) I decided to relinquish my coveted spot near the band and head downstairs.

At the lobby bar, I found Ted and Victoria unwinding in the company of two Kettle One martinis, straight up. A single olive floated in their glasses like a buoy.

They excitedly greeted Ellie, the cocktail waitress, a familiar face. “How long have you been working here?” asked Victoria. “32 years,” proudly replied Ellie. “That’s about as long as I’ve been coming here,” admitted Ted.

Cecil Negro Jr. of De la Buena
Cecil Negro Jr. of De la Buena

Ted went to Marquette University from 1964-1969. He visited the Pfister Hotel for the first time when his parents were dropping him off at school and it quickly became a family favorite. “They continued to stay here every time they came to Milwaukee to visit me,” he said. Now living in Chicago, Ted and his wife Victoria make it a Valentine’s Day tradition to stay at Pfister Hotel. “I know it’s a little early, but we wanted to come in for the Marquette basketball game today,” says Victoria. “We like to make it back a few times a year for the summer festivals or to cheer on Marquette.”

I urged them to head upstairs and hear De La Buena. Victoria’s ears perked up like a bunny when I said Latin music. “Will there be dancing? she asked “I do ballroom and Salsa dance.”

“You will not be the only ones dancing,” I promised. “And if you know ballroom, you’re two steps ahead of the rest.”