“I have worked at the Greenbrier for 61 years. I am 87. I was 26 when I came here. I was a houseman on the third floor. Anywhere else they would call it a janitor. My job was scrubbing and sweeping
I was in the Korean War for three years. I was shot and wounded and came home in 1954. I worked in the coal mine for one year for the railroad for ten years before I came to the hotel. I was laid off from the railroad because I didn’t have enough seniority. I had bought a ’55 Chevrolet. The payment was $30 a month. That was a whole lot of money and suddenly I didn’t have a job. I got three months behind, $90, and my car was repossessed. I borrowed my brother’s car and looked for a job everywhere. I was a black man in the days of Jim Crow. I couldn’t work at the grocery store or the gas company. I had never heard of the Greenbrier, but I saw the big building and went in to find the personnel office and find a job. I was scared, broke, and hungry. The personnel director told me to get out of there. I drove the hour-and-a-half home but thought that was an awfully big place not to have a job for me. I didn’t care what I did. The next morning I drove back the hour-and-a-half and walked in. She said, ‘I told you yesterday we didn’t have openings for anybody.’ My feelings flopped again. I got in my brother’s car and took it back to him. The third morning, I drove right back. She said, ‘I told you we don’t have any openings, quick bugging me.’ I said thank you and walked to the door. She said, ‘Wait a minute, you are determined. There is a man out for a few days, you can temporarily fill in for him. It may be one day or one week. But when he comes back, you are history.’ When the man came back, no one told me to leave so I kept working. 61 years later, I am still temporary.
Retire. I can’t spell retire. I was a bellman for a long time and have had every job in the hotel but cook. I cant cook an egg, I started working the door ten years ago when they discovered I have a heart murmur. I have been here for 61 years and I have only met two grouchy people, the rest are good. A lady from North Carolina brings me a dozen green eggs every year. One guy gave me a pair of pink socks. Another lady has an orchard and brings me bushels of peaches and apples when she comes. Others bring me white shirts and a cake for my birthday. I have seen every president since Eisenhower walk through this door. George Bush asked me the secret of getting old. I told him the secret is getting out of bed every morning. The morning you don’t wake up is the morning you don’t get any older.
I have met Bob Hope, Tiger Woods and many athletes, world leaders, and celebrities. I never guessed when I kept driving my brother’s car to get a job at the Greenbrier that I would ever be here this long or all of the people I would meet. Millions of people have walked through these doors. Each of them is the most important person I have ever met. My dad taught me to treat every man black, white, rich or poor like I want to be treated and I would get along in life. That is what I do. The person standing in front of me is the most important person I have ever met. Honey, you are just as important as any president.”