19 A Room Of One's Own

* * *

My search for a Hopperesque hotel left me feeling a little like Goldilocks. "This one is too new," I pouted about a hotel that looked like a 1960s office building. "This one is too old," I lamented about a "European Luxury Hotel" that waxed a little too opulent to be Hopperesque. But I exclaimed, "This one is just right," when I found the Ramada in the former American Fletcher Bank building. Like Hopper's Hotel Lobby, it was festooned with dark wood, brass railings, dim lamps, and a little clock on the wall. Unlike Hopper's lanky male desk attendant, the Ramada's greeter was a plump young woman. When I told her of my search, she directed me to the Crowne Plaza Hotel in the old train depot.

"They've got railroad cars you can stay in," she chirped. "You should see if they'll let you go in one."

[Crowne Plaza lobby]

I reveled in finding both Hopper subjects in one place: a hotel lobby and railroad tracks. A low brick extension in back that formerly covered passenger platforms now sheltered the plush Pullman railcar hotel rooms that I aimed to see. I asked the young goateed manager behind the front desk if I could tour one.

"Well, someone has it booked soon, but if you're only going to be a short time..."

I was handed the key to car #001, also named for Charlie Chaplin. Film fan Hopper would approve. Being number #001, the car hunkered at the end of the track. I ascended the narrow metal stairs feeling like a President going to campaign from the train's back platform.

Inside, the room definitely evoked Chaplin: decorated in black and white and filled with canes, bowler hats, and other memorabilia. Modern sprinklers and fire alarms had been added; otherwise, the car seemed frozen in the heyday of American train travel, Chaplin's films, and Hopper's scenes.

A wiry old man with a bushy white mustache trundled in with a small bag wedged under one arm and a big suitcase in the other hand. He looked just like the man in Hotel Lobby. His eyes widened in alarm when he saw me.

"Excuse me," he objected. "Is this your room?"

I apologized and scurried out. I felt like I had found my room--one from Hopper's world. I seemed to have entered Indianapolis's Hopper paintings and made contact with one of his characters. I strolled out through the hotel lobby.

No comments: