Safe & Sound at the Pfister Hotel

May 27, 2011 • Posted in Beth Finke, blindness, Blogroll, book tour, Harper, travel, Uncategorized, visiting schools by

The kids were mesmerized, but Harper? Not so much.

I love the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee. So does Harper. He and I stayed at the Pfister last month when we visited General Mitchell Elementary School in West Allis, and we were there again this week for our visit to Wilson Elementary School. They know us at the Pfister, and our appreciation for the place has become legendary: this week the Pfister Hotel blog published a post called Safe and Sound in our honor. Here’s an excerpt:

Beth talks a mile a minute, with vivacious enthusiasm. She spritely tells me about the reason for her 3-day visit: several speaking engagements, including an entire day at a school just outside Milwaukee. Beth and her seeing eye dog Harper travel to schools to visit with kids and talk about what it’s like being blind.

You know, I was a little perky during my conversation with Stacie Williams, the woman who writes the Pfister Hotel blog. I was pretty excited about being interviewed by someone from my beloved Pfister Hotel, and hey, I’d downed more than my share of coffee to keep up with the students at Wilson Elementary School that day. The kids had asked lots of great questions, and I shared one of the more thoughtful ones with Stacie. “Do you ever forget you’re blind, and then you can see?” I told the little girl yes. “When I go to sleep, I forget I’m blind. I dream in color.” Stacie was appreciative, and she used that little story in her blog post.

Mostly, though, we talked about the Pfister. My Hotel stays are Walter Mitty experiences for me. “Hello, Ms. Finke.” “Welcome back, Ms. Finke.” “May I take your bag, Ms. Finke?” The front desk has keycards waiting for me with one corner clipped off — that way I know which end to put in the key slot. The doorman who walks Harper and me to our room always reminds me how the keypad on the phone works so I’ll know how to call the front desk in an emergency. He sets the radio station to public radio, makes sure the alarm clock is turned off and helps me set up the hotel toiletries. The front desk always arms me with rubber bands to wrap around similarly-shaped bottles to differentiate them from each other — I washed my hair with lotion once, and trust me, you don’t want to do that twice. Once my room is set up, I have Harper lead me down to the lobby. The Pfister Hotel blog quotes me complimenting their piano players:

Last night I went downstairs and had a Lakefront IPA — it’s nice to have local beer on tap — while I listened to Dr. Hollander, who was taking requests. I also love Perry. And, I book my train home after 1 p.m. so I can catch them playing for the lunch hour. They’re just wonderful.”

I’m writing this blog post from my seat on the train ride back to Chicago, matter of fact. Harper is sound asleep at my feet, and I’m considering leaning my seat back to take a
quick nap myself. All day and evening at an elementary school followed by a nightcap at the magical Pfister Hotel piano bar can leave a woman, well…dog tired!

Gretchen On May 27, 2011 at 11:52 am

I am ready for a vacation at the Pfister after that post! Plus you know I am a train fan so the whole thing sounds perfect.


bethfinke On May 28, 2011 at 9:28 am

Oh, Gretchen, you should do it! One thing I wasn’t able to squeeze into this post is how fun it is to head over to Miller Park for a baseball game while you’re in Milwaukee, too. Players from the opposing teams tend to stay at the Pfister, if you bring Nathan along he would just love it. Mike and I have run into players in the lobby bar from time to time, great fun!

Jeff flodin On May 27, 2011 at 12:24 pm

I love the charm of older hotels and the friendliness of their staff, too. And, as I also have spoken to grade schoolers about blindness and guide dogs, I loved the question to you about forgetting you are blind. And your answer reminded me of how much I enjoy dreams, where I see colors and faces and sky and clouds and my first car, a ’69 Camaro, red with a black vinyl top. I look forward to each night’s entertainment when I go to places and see things in a new, and an old, light.

bethfinke On May 28, 2011 at 9:30 am

Oo la la, Jeff –I love picturing you driving that red ’69 Camaro with a black vinyl top.

Susie On May 27, 2011 at 12:54 pm

:dog tired:, you say? Reading your posts energize me and make me smile! How your able to keep up that pace amazes me!
I admire your zeal and zest for life!!

bethfinke On May 28, 2011 at 9:35 am

Thanks, Susie. The Pfister Hotel recently added a Starbucks coffee counter to the downstairs lobby, and the Wilson Elementary School included a Starbucks gift card in the welcome basket they had waiting for Harper and me at the hotel. Trust me, I took advantage of that card. Harper very much enjoyed the Nyla bone in the welcome basket, too. All very, very nice. I love Wisconsin!

Maria On May 28, 2011 at 9:49 am

Dog tired, for sure! But the Pfister Hotel and Wilson Elementary School sound like they’re soooooo worth it.

The Empty Pen On May 28, 2011 at 11:00 am

Sounds like a wonderful trip!

Looks like Harper was pretty tuckered out, too.

Benita On May 28, 2011 at 3:34 pm

The Pfister is where we stayed when we went to M’wockee. We loved it too. It’s terrific to know how well you are treated at such a lovely place! They have a beautiful men’s shop. Note: not necessarily for beautiful men.
I like that you were described as “spritely.” From down here (at my full five-two), you are one t-a-l-l sprite!

Bethie On May 28, 2011 at 5:36 pm

Oh, Benita, you’d love our friend Brad. He’s the one who told us about the Pfister in the first place, and he shops at the men’s store you mentioned – if you read the Pfister blog about our stay there
you’ll see they link to that store:
“boy, does she love it here! She was first referred to the Pfister by a friend in Chicago, an art collector from Ohio who has lived in NYC and L.A. He regularly takes the train up from Chicago, knows all the bartenders in Blu, and shops at Roger Stevens.”
Here, fyi, is the link to “Rogers Stevens Impeccable Menswear”:

Stacie Williams On May 29, 2011 at 10:31 am

It was wonderful to get a chance to talk to you, Beth! I had a delightful conversation and look forward to meeting you in person one day.

bethfinke On May 29, 2011 at 5:32 pm

Oh, Stacie, the pleasure was all mine. Thanks so much for the great write-up, what fun to be featured on the Pfister Hotel blog!

nancyb On May 29, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Great story! I’ve been by there a million times and never went in, will have to do that soon.

bethfinke On May 30, 2011 at 8:23 am

You know, one thing you and SB might be particularly interested in is the Pfister’s “artist-in-residence” program, each year they sponsor a different artist. This year it’s Shelby Keefe, and she gives a free tour of the Pfister art collection every Friday and Saturday at 4 pm. Stacie Williams went on one of the tours and blogged about it, here’s the link to that one:

Catherine Tatum On May 29, 2011 at 2:41 pm

What a great blog post. I’m learning more and more about the Pfister and appreciate it more and more!

Jenny On May 29, 2011 at 5:29 pm

Sounds like the perfect hotel!

penn nelson On May 31, 2011 at 11:05 am

I think hotel stays are wonderful, especially ones that know what service is, that a happy guest is what makes a great hotel!

I recently attended our Spherion national meeting in Nashville, and stayed at the Sheraton, they too know how to train there empoyees, and it was a pleasure to be around them, they genuinely enjoy their jobs.

Keep the blogs coming!


Cindy Hesselbein On September 8, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Hi Beth,
Several years ago I heard you speak at my children’s school in Barrington, Roslyn Road, we even got an autographed copy of your book. I am also a teacher in the district. I am a reading specialist at North Barrington Elementary. But the reason I am blogging you is because today I was reading your story to some second graders and an idea came to me. You see, our family are puppy raisers for Leader Dogs For The Blind in Rochester, Mich. and I bring my puppy Rory to work every day. Last year we had our first puppy, Mack, he is in training now, and it has been so much fun to have Mack, and Rory to teach the children about being a puppy raiser. As I was reading your book I thought, I have to see if I can get Beth to come to our school. I ran down to my principal and she loved the idea, a perfect connection to the experience Mack and Rory have brought to our school.
So I am wondering about how I contact you to find out about school visits. Please email me back, I look forward to hearing from you.
I loved reading the blogs about Hanni and Harper, I felt and still do, the same second dog syndrome, although I feel much better about what I am doing with Rory now. Love reading all your stories.
Cindy Hesselbein

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