O.Henry 20th Anniversary Stories Contest

Grand Prize Winners

Michelle Hyatt – McLeansville

The Taffeta Ribbon

It’s been just about three years now. The evening, well I should say the end of the evening, has become a memory I treasure.

My mother wasn’t feeling too well but it was Christmas time and with that old WWII spirit she managed a smile and agreed to go out to dinner with me and my husband.

What would she wear? A Chocolate Brown top with a bit of gold edging looked nice but it was Christmas and a night of magic surely awaited us. I took a gift wrapped present from under the tree. “Open this one tonight mom” I said, as I bit my lower lip in anticipation of her approval. The answer swept across her face – she loved it! A Christmas Red Silk blouse with a Taffeta ribbon about the neck. Her old fingers fumbled a bit to tie it. I quickly went to her and said, “Mom, I’ll do that for you!”

Throughout dinner at the Green Valley Inn, an elderly gentleman, across the dining room, would catch my mother’s eye from time to time. As dessert came to a close the man came over to our table and spoke to us but looked at my mother. “Please excuse me for the interruption of your evening meal.” He took my mother’s hand in his and continued, “I am Joseph Whitman and I have never seen a more exquisite lady.” His southern upbringing, just outside Atlanta about 22 miles, presented itself in all its glory. My mother beamed and just as gently as the gentlemen’s words came forth my mother’s soul accepted them.

The woman in the Christmas Red silk blouse with the Taffeta Bow spoke of that evening at the O’Henry and of the gentleman that encouraged her to feel as if she were in her 20s  or a few years after. My mother died last September and this past Christmas Eve I found myself looking in my dresser mirror as I tied the Christmas Red Taffeta ribbon into a bow.

Jamie Borum – Wilmington

I hope this story time finds you well. First, I would like to give you a little background. I am from Greensboro. I was born and raised there. I moved to Wilmington in 1994 to attend UNCW after graduating from Page High School. Since then, I have lived in Wilmington. However, I love coming back to visit Greensboro. Most recently, I have enjoyed bringing my children back during the holidays to visit your hotel with the beautiful decorations along with all Greensboro has to offer.

On Wednesday, September 12th, I was struggling with a decision that most people in Wilmington were struggling with as Hurricane Florence slowly approached our coast…do I leave my home, not certain of when we would be able to return….or do we stay and ride it out? Up until mid-afternoon, we were  staying in Wilmington with my mom to ride it out. I can’t explain what happened, but suddenly I decided I needed to get myself and my kids out of Wilmington. Honestly, what was I staying for?? I toyed with going to Raleigh, Charlotte, etc. Then, I decided on Greensboro…far enough away from the storm, yet somewhere I was very familiar with and comfortable. Next, I needed to find a hotel. I needed somewhere safe for myself and my kids. After searching through several hotels online, I decided to call my favorite, O.Henry. I knew the rate would be my biggest challenge. A splurge at Christmas is one thing, but staying an unknown amount of time with the cost adding up daily was worrying me. So, I called just to see what it would be. What happened next is why I continue to choose O.Henry. The wonderful associate that answered the phone asked all the normal questions including had I stayed with you before. I gave her my name and she pulled up my information. When I told her we were fleeing the storm, she said she could see from my information on file we were from Wilmington and offered us an inclement weather rate. I am not ashamed to say, I started crying on the phone with her. Just knowing that we were going somewhere familiar and in a wonderful area of town with so much to do brought such great relief to me during a tremendously stressful week. We threw some stuff in our bags and quickly hustled out of town.

Upon arrival, your staff treated us with such great care. We arrived with cupcakes that I had baked just prior to switching up the plans to leave town. And towards the end of our stay, we treated them to HOT Krispy Kreme doughnuts. I wish I could have done more for them because they were wonderful to me and my 2 children.

I’m sure you are aware, but I just wanted to reiterate the point, you have a remarkable staff. From the first phone call, to arriving and walking through the revolving door, to checking out almost a full week later, we enjoyed every bit of our stay with you. Again. As always.

Oh, and I don’t want to leave out the breakfast staff. They were so sweet and accommodating…every single morning!!

We look forward to seeing you all again in the future.

Fenna Corry – Greensboro

Two years ago we came up with a package deal of our own to give as a Christmas gift to our daughter and son-in-law. We started with the O.Henry Gift of the Magi package, and enhanced the gift by offering to provide care for our one-year old granddaughter. The young couple owns a farm, so we had to carefully choose a date when they could schedule care for the animals, and a date that coincided with our availability to care for our granddaughter. Wouldn’t you know it, that weekend brought snow! We couldn’t easily change the date, and the O.Henry was still open, so the plans moved forward.

Due to a number of weather-related cancellations at the O.Henry, the young sleep-deprived couple was offered an upgrade, much to their delight. They enjoyed taking a walk in the snow as well as a quiet evening, and most importantly, getting a few extra hours of sleep due to the late check-out that is included with the package. It was win-win all the way around. Last year we decided to repeat that gift, and when purchasing it, I told the story about the prior year’s snow and the surprise upgrade. The attentive reservations staff must have slyly made note of this, because when the young couple checked in last year, they were once again given an unexpected upgrade to a suite. We don’t expect this every year, since it might not always be an option depending on occupancy rates, but this is the kind of “going beyond” we have come to realize is part of the O.Henry charm. There is a now a second child in the picture, and the parents will be beyond ready for a night on their own when they receive this gift yet again in 2018 since it will be their first time away from the new baby. I love it when a gift ends up being an unforgettable and memorable experience.

Robbin Smith – Greensboro

My husband and I got married 11/11/11 @11:11 and booked the Magi Suite at Proximity. Upon arrival, we had a bottle of champagne and some chocolate covered strawberries with a lovely note as we entered the Suite. The suite was absolutely beautiful, had a homey feel, and the staff was so accommodating. We enjoyed a short celebration in the room then went downstairs for a delicious meal at Green Valley Grill. We then took everyone back upstairs to the Suite to entertain in the wee hours. We played music, danced by the fire and enjoyed the outside views of the Suite. It was simply magical. The next day we were up early to attend church and came back to the room to enjoy our last moments there. The staff gave us a late check out of 4:00 PM so we read O. Henry’s short stories, especially the Gift Magi and it really hit home. We are still together and love to ride by the Hotel and relive our special day. Thanks to everyone there that helped make a beautiful lasting memory we will treasure forever.

Honorable mentions

Katie Ratley – Brown Summit

My grandma has been taking my cousin, Ashley, to tea at the O.Henry for fifteen years. She started taking her when she was eight years old. Ashley is twenty-three and married now. When I turned eight, my grandma started taking me to tea. I am fourteen now and love everything that has to with tea parties. I love them so much I had my fourteenth birthday party there. These tea parties are where my grandma has given Ashley advice on marriage, where she has made us feel special and loved and something we look forward to every year. I will always remember these special moments and those golden doors that go round and round. They have not only allowed great family time, laughs and great macaroons, but memories I will cherish and remember for a lifetime. I owe a great deal to the O. Henry and their tea room.

Diane Whitman – Jamestown

In 2007, my cousins and I decided to begin a new family tradition. Perhaps we were motivated by the recognition that we were getting older or by the experience of losing our mothers, who were sisters, just a few years earlier. We realized that we were now the “older generation” and that the younger daughters were likely to lose contact with each other unless we did something to keep them together.

So, a new family tradition, the “Girl Cousins’ Christmas Tea” was born in December of 2007. The O’Henry Hotel/Green Valley Grill was the perfect location since our three mothers had spent all their adult years in Greensboro and had experienced the first O’Henry Hotel in all its grandeur. They would have loved being able to experience the new one so it was important for us to enjoy the beauty of this hotel while reminiscing about how our mothers would have loved it.

We began with just six of us, two daughters and a daughter-in-love from the three original sisters, along with our three daughters. Over the years, our group has doubled as we have added a few other levels of cousins who descended from the original three sisters. We have also lost two of our group so far, the original daughter-in-love who passed away shortly after the December 2013 tea party, and a girlfriend of one of the cousins who had to move away because of a serious illness and the need to be near her family. With these losses and the realization that the other two of us “originals” are now in our 70s, we are trying very hard to keep the tradition alive with the younger “girl cousins.” They have begun to value and treasure this tradition so much that they describe it to me as their very favorite Christmas activity. We begin planning in September now to make sure it happens every year! Since the beginning, two young little girls have been born into our family, and they have begun to join us each year. Also, one little guy (my grandson and only grandchild) is four years old but he has also been coming at the very end of the party each year since he was two years old and considers himself a part of the group! Recently, we were riding along Wendover Avenue, and he saw the hotel off in the distance. He very excitedly proclaimed it as the “tea party hotel.” So, now you are known as the Tea Party Hotel!

Over the years, we have had many wonderful times at our annual tea parties. One year, it was icy out so we carpooled across the county with one of the husbands driving because the rest of us were afraid and some of us have to be very careful on ice because of our age! There was no thought of cancelling – just thoughts of how in the world were we going to get there! Another year, it began to snow while we were there, and there was a wedding reception going on in one of the adjacent rooms. It was so magical to see the bridal party taking pictures outside in the snow! That was probably our favorite year because we were all still together. The party in 2014 was the most bittersweet one because we had said goodbye to our sweet Margaret, who was the ultimate Southern lady and who made the tea party so special with a little gift each year for each person there. We reminisced about her and about how she was a perfect fit for that place. In the past few years, we have noticed that our “menfolk” have been dropping us off at the tea, hanging out in the area until we were finished, and then having their own “reunion” of sorts in the parking lot while they waited for us!

We look forward to our 2018 “Girl Cousins’ Tea” on December 15 (and yes, we have had our reservation for several weeks)! Our family (guys included) will celebrate Thanksgiving for the second year in a row at Lucky 32 so that might become a tradition as well. Perhaps the guys were just a little jealous and wanted a tradition that could include them!

Bonnie Pope – Greensboro

My best friend, KANDY, passed away several years ago from complications of Alzheimer’s.  She had always loved Green Valley Grill, so it was decided to have her wake celebration there. It was a happy and loving gathering of friends and family in Kandy’s special restaurant. Even now whenever I go to Green Valley Grill I remember my friend and how much I wish she could be there with me.

Susan Dagenhart – Statesville

We are also about to celebrate our own 20 years together! A few years back i decided to surprise my husband with a get way considering we worked opposite shifts for 10 years it was much needed. I found this hotel online and decided to book it and buy concert tickets for the farewell tour for geroge strait . The hotel stay was just as exciting as the concert ! The whole hotel was just beautiful. The food in the restuarant and breakfast in the sunroom area was fantastic . Its been several years so ive been looking for an excuse to come back. We had an exceptional stay ! I would love to come during christmas no doubt its beautiful!!

Pam Payne – Cary

The Green Valley Grill in the O.Henry hotel is where my friends and I celebrate special occasions. This particular day was my sister’s birthday. Each of us had just ordered our traditional favorite of “pecan crusted trout” when I suddenly excused myself. I had dined in this restaurant many times & had spent numerous nights at the hotel but I had never met the owners.

I had always wanted to thank them “personally” for so many wonderful memories. That was my reason for suddenly excusing myself. When I approached the hospitality desk I casually asked if Mr. Quaintance was in the hotel. To my surprise, she replied, “yes he is. If fact he & his wife just may be able to catch them” while pointing to the bar area. Well, it was all or nothing so I picked up my gait & headed towards them unaware of the stares I was getting. Just as I was about to lose them, I yelled out “excuse me” and they turned and looked my way. Mrs. Quaintance could have been a model. She was dressed in a designer red jacket.

Breathlessly, I introduced myself & shared about my desire to meet them & shared with them about my sister’s birthday lunch. I will never forget his response that came with the cutest grin. “Well, let’s just go and meet them and wish your sister a Happy birthday”! I was speechless and So excited because my sister and I love surprises and this was going to be HUGE.

This was going to be the best gift of all! I couldn’t wait to see their faces. I approached our table where I introduced Nancy & Dennis Quaintance to my sister and friends. They shared a little about themselves ..he had started out washing dishes and she designs and makes all her clothes. She had even made the red jacket that I had admired earlier. I have never met a more personable couple! They wished my sister a Happy Birthday before departing. Even though it was my sister’s birthday I was the recipient of the gift. God had once again delighted my heart via the O.Henry.

Phyllis Hudspeth – Winston Salem

My parents are deceased now. As I was cleaning out their house, I found a post card of the O. Henry Hotel. My mother had written information on the back of the card which I still have.

Here is that information that I want to share with you. My parents, Lee and Othelia Rowland, spent their wedding night on November 26, 1948, at the O. Henry Hotel in Room 347. Their friends, who got married the same day, stayed in Room 348.

One day I am going to visit your hotel and see where my parents spent their wedding night.

Marilyn Couch – Raleigh

The O.Henry is the first choice of 4 special friends as we celebrate each of our birthdays?! We are friends for all seasons – birthdays in April, June, October, & December. And so is the O.Henry to be experienced in all seasons, whether an overnight or for lunch! It’s unforgettable!!

Our photos are memories written on our hearts taken at the Green Valley Grill & the O.Henry. One highlight was Dennis & Nancy personally coming to our table during lunch & demonstrating their 3 foundational words of love, compassion, & service & causing us to feel right at home. Thank you!!

James Lutzweiler – Jamestown

“The Second Coming of O. Henry” and “A Toast to the Hotel Named after Him”

My best friend is the Second Coming of O. Henry. On steroids. He differs from Greensboro’s Gift of the Magi guru in one simple respect: Instead of writing short stories, he just spins them orally. Around campfires –which in my view is possibly the best way to hear a story unless it would be around his dining room table loaded with one of his saintly spouse’s Winston Churchill breakfasts (pork chops smothered in gravy, scalloped potatoes, three fried eggs each, homemade Texas toast topped with homemade strawberry jam, and a full bottle of Grey Goose vodka and shot glasses, both fresh from the freezer). Where was I?

Oh, yes, my friend and O. Henry. My friend is sort of a hermit, and I am one of the lucky ones to enjoy his cloistered companionship. So, for the sake of argument, let’s call him Erwin. Actually, his name is Erwin, but that is as far as I am generally permitted to go, if I wish to stay in the inner circle. As he has grown older (now in his eighties), he has developed and perfected a shorter fuse than when we first met maybe forty years ago; and I do not wish to light it accidentally. I noticed my own fuse has grown a bit shorter, too, though I am only a mere pup in my early seventies. When I wrote him a note to ask for some advice on how to deal with the kind of grumpiness that would put Walter Matthau and Jack Lemon to shame, he shot back shortly, “Why are you asking me?”

Though we are not altogether alike when compared to fuses, we are totally alike in many other respects. E.g., we both share the same birthday, we both love Southern Gospel quartets, we both love his wife (but everyone loves his wife, even my wife), we both love Grey Goose vodka, and we are both pilots, though we never mix the last two. In fact, one of my favorites stories that he has told both around the campfire and his dining room table is one about a time he was flying in his high performance Bonanza V-tail over the Rocky Mountains, when some bad weather rolled in. He had to locate the flattest and longest piece of rockless real estate he could find, and find it fast.

He did find it, but I’m not quite ready to land this plane of thought yet. He had passengers on board. One of them, sitting behind him and noticing the frightening circumstances, tapped him on the shoulder and quietly said, “Smith, (whoops, the cat is out of the bag), Don’t jigger me up.” This had nothing to do with vodka. It was Canadian pilot-speak that translates into American clarity, “If we are going to crash, just get me killed and notparalyzed from the neck down.” Erwin understood.

He landed, safely on what he discovered to be an obscure airstrip not mentioned on his maps. Upon landing, they saw a man coming toward them with a gallon jug in his hand. When they deplaned, the owner of that strip offered them a couple mouthfuls of his moonshine, adding to his hospitality, “I’ve never known anyone to land here who didn’t need some of this.”

Though Erwin and I are very much alike in many respects, we are totally dissimilar in others. In short, he is worth millions. I am not. He made his millions in part due to his magnificent concert-pianist spouse who is trapped in a gourmet cook’s body. One day her father heard the famous faith-healer, Oral Roberts, preaching. In the course of his remarks, Rev. Roberts made reference to the book, Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon

Hill (who also liked vodka a bit more than me, according to my friend, Tom Haggai, who knew Napoleon and practically every other motivational speaker of the twentieth century). Her father listened, read, and succeeded, as Hill had suggested in his book. When Erwin courted his daughter, her father passed along the title to Erwin. Erwin listened, read, and succeeded as well. I read the book, too, but the similarity ends there.

Thus, when Erwin came to visit me here in Greensboro one day several years ago, I wanted to take this first-class storyteller to a first class establishment for a fifteen-round bout with the bottle. Need I say more? No, but I will. The O.Henry Hotel with its Green Valley Grille was the next best thing to a roaring campfire or his dining room table, and we settled in for a tale and ale.

I do not now recall just which story or stories Erwin spun for me that day. It could have been any one of a hundred. And though he has not written them down like O. Henry did, I have done so with as many of them as I can remember. But one thing we did for sure, as no occasion when we have ever been together has gone without one. I refer to a toast. We both love toasts, especially if they border on but stop just short of the ribald –or,

admittedly, sometimes even cross the threshold. One of our favorites is one I had employed in London with my host at the Athenaeum, the famous men’s literary club where Charles Darwin and the British intellectually elite have dined in privacy since 1824 and where today one might spot Harrison Ford or Kim Kardashian in the dining room –as could also no doubt happen at the O. Henry Hotel, no second to the Athenaeum.

Upon entering the Athenaeum, one sees straight ahead a sprawling staircase at the top of the first level of which is a large painting of the goddess Athena, looking just like Eve in Genesis on the day she was deboned. Goddess Athena was –and still is– in her birthday suit with only a small leaf strategically placed. Here I proposed a toast to my host, a toast

that in all probability was invoked at the O.Henry, when I took Erwin there. Lifting a mock glass toward the non-existent Athena, as we had not yet arrived at the dining room, I proposed:
Here’s to Eve, the Mother of our race,

Who wore a fig leaf in just the right place.

And here’s to Adam, the father of us all,
Who was Johnny on the spot, when the leaves began to fall.

My favorite toast of all time, however, is a toast to God. It was inspired by Erwin and his O. Henryish storytelling. I captured it in a poem by that very title that begins with a dialogue between my Muse and me and that prompted the review, “Remarkable!” from the Plains, Georgia, Poet Laureate and former President:

. . . and then my Muse said, “O.K., Smart Aleck, let’s see you blend Franz Kafka, rainbow trout, King James, Timbuctu, belly dancers, colander, and toast into one poetic drink!” And so I proposed

“A Toast To God”

My pal and I were out on his deck
Observin’ the setting sun,
Smokin’ ol’ stogies an’ flickin’ a fleck
And spinning tall tales for fun.

Then he poured me a shot of vodka,
Mixed with a little dry gin;
And we drank a toast to Franz Kafka
And his surreal tales of sin.

When the stars came out and danced about,
He got out some sambuca;
And we toasted poets, lips, rainbow trout,
T——*, towns, Timbuktuka**

By the time the moon reached its zenith,
We’d toasted each of the stars!
And we puzzled over what meaneth>
King James, life, laughter, man, Mars.

And we came up with some great answers
That all but we might find odd.
They charmed us like Turk belly dancers.
Then we drank a toast to God.

A toast to the Author of pleasure,
The Giver of countless gifts,
Whose resources are without measure
And fine as a colander sifts.

When we get together anymore
On decks, sands, water or sod,
The Marnier and cognac and blends we pour,
And first lift the glass to God.

*Here I have omitted a seven-letter word that might make some delicate damsels a bit squeamish, and I leave it to the reader to supply his/her own two syllable noun, provided that it begins with a “T” in order to keep the alliteration going.

**”Timbuktuka” is the correct pronunciation of the West African city, “Timbuctu,” from the standpoint of one who has consumed at least five toasts before arriving there.

And so it is that I also lift a glass to the O.Henry Hotel, an American Athenaeum and a venue worthy of a campfire with Erwin or a seat at his table and a Winston Churchill breakfast in the wings.

Pat Haley – Siler City

Well this is the DELIGHT I received from the O.Henry. It was my birthday ,and I was being treated to lunch by three of my dear friends. This is our “come to place “for lunch when there is a birthday. One of the delightful offerings at a birthday celebration is the delicious slice of Chocolate Mousse Cake. Yum Yum Yum. Well we always split it between the four of us.

Well on this particular day, Dennis and Nancy Quaintance were at our table visiting as I arrived back from my” Favorite Bathroom” in all the world. What a delight to meet them and hear about the incorporating of ownership to each of their employee’s.

Well our waitress at the time (now part owner in The O.Henry) asked if we needed anything else. I inquired about the cost of a whole Chocolate Mousse cake.” $36 “she replied. As she saw me pondering whether I should purchase a whole one , as my mouth was still watering for more, but reluctantly declined to get it.

She said “Would you like for me to bring you your very own piece to take home with you”? Are you kidding? Would I? Not only had the part- ownership idea been put into place – but to me personally- a conveyance of belonging and feeling honored in a way that was total surprising JOY!! That’s a birthday gift that money can’t buy! Pure Delight at it’s Highest!

Josephine Pineyro – Greensboro

Every year my daughter and I do Mother’s day Tea and now we have started a tradition for us and my sisters to come to tea at the OHenry. I have some wonderful photos of our tea times with you. By the way I have 4 sisters.
Thank you
Jo Pineyro

Jean Martin – Winston Salem

Several years ago our daughter gave us an anniversary gift, a one night stay at the O.Henry Hotel. As part of the Mirandolina package we had dinner at the Green Valley grill, it was also arranged that we would have tea in the lobby area, a nice surprise. When we checked in we were asked what time we would like to go to dinner. After we had our dinner we went up to our hotel room, and since I ALWAYS shut the lights when I leave a room, I told my husband that someone had come in to our room and didn’t shut the lights, he said that I had probably forgot to shut them, I of course disagreed with him, Also someone had turned on music and didn’t have the courtesy to turn it off. We had never been to the O.Henry so I didn’t know what was in store.

As I looked around the room I was surprised to see amenities that I wasn’t aware of. Robes on the bed, flowers and candles on the coffee table, a bottle of wine, a tray with cheese, crackers and truffles and the beautiful music that was wafting across the room was the voice the famous “Andrea Boccelli” what a treat, I was floored to say the least. The O.Henry has become our hotel of choice from that day on. In the morning I called the front desk and asked if I could purchase the CD of Andrea Bocelli, further joy came when I  as told it was mine to keep, no charge. I still have it and still love it.

Cate Parker – Greensboro

I’ve been going to the GVG and the O.Henry for 20 years, enjoying the food, the hotel as a guest on a few special occasions, and as a frequent visitor to the beautiful bar there. It’s my favorite getaway without getting away. For the past year, I’ve routinely met a dear friend and co-worker, Beth, there for a drink or glass of wine almost every week, sitting at the same spot at the bar where the view is great out the big windows behind the bar or of other patrons enjoying themselves. It’s always convivial there, and the service impeccable. Mostly we are there to relax and catch up with each other, but now that we surely are considered regulars, the bartenders have come to know us and be a real part of our visit, sharing their photos of kids, stories about their families or their latest trips and adventures. It ‘s a guaranteed time of delight and fun, always made special thanks to Steven or Alfredo or Etienne, or Jeremiah or Blair…to name a few…who always give us such wonderful service and shared company.

Last year, something really special happened at the bar that went above the usual for Beth and me. Steven was working on a new cocktail for the fall drink menu. He wanted an opinion on his work in progress, so he gave Beth and me a taste of the cocktail he was creating. He wanted to know if it needed anything to make it better or if it was already perfect. He felt it was maybe missing something, but he couldn’t be sure. He stood in anticipation as we swirled and sipped. Beth immediately said, “Delicious, but it needs some bitters. That’ll make it perfect for a fall drink.” I immediately agreed that was the missing ingredient, and so did Steven. From then on, the drink went on the fall menu as The Latham, bitters included. Beth and I were so delighted and honored that Steven had taken the time to get our opinion, to include us in helping him create a unique and tasty drink that contained the perfect ingredients, the most perfect ingredient of all, friendship.

We raise our glasses to twenty more years of good times and friendship at the GVG and O.Henry Hotel!

Cate Parker and Beth Olson

Belinda Crews – Winston Salem

My story actually will take the reader back to the days of 1950-60’s when the original O. Henry was located in downtown Greensboro. As a child my cousins and I were allowed to walk to town from nearby Ashboro Street on Saturday’s. We oftentimes saved our money to buy s 45 record or a treat from Woolworth’s. If we really were diligent and frugal we saved our money so we could go to the Carolina Theater. Now that was something special. We’d dress up if we were going to the movie in hopes that our appearance would allow us to sit downstairs instead of in the balcony. We thought we had arrived and bragged that we didn’t have to go upstairs. My Grandmother beamed with pride when we would recount the details of the movie as well as how much fun we had sitting downstairs. I’ve always loved architecture, traditional furniture and ornate objects. The window of the O. Henry Hotel expanded my appreciation for all things beautiful.

I used to stand and peer in the window at the handsomely crafted check in desk. The chairs in the small sitting area were rich in color and draped in corded fringe. I dreamed of the day when I could surround myself in the elegance of the Hotel. I’d carry my dreams with me as we continued our walk to the Carolina Theatre. I never stayed in the original hotel but last year for our wedding anniversary my husband surprised me with a weekend  at the “new” O.Henry. There was live jazz and elegant meals. I realize that to some I may sound dramatic or overly nostalgic, but to a little brown girl with big dreams and a love and appreciation for the vision I saw through the window of The O. Henry Hotel it was my inspiration.

Cecily Mebane – Greensboro

I had a wonderful experience for my 40th birthday myself along with friends and family got dressed up for Tea. When I was a little girl I always wanted to have a tea party it only took 40 years for me to be able to have a wonderful experience enjoying Talk Over Tea. Which inspired me to start a woman Empowerment Group called” Let’s TALK OVER Tea”. I can’t wait to bring my women’s group to the O’Henry Hotel for the same experience in which I enjoyed.

Ellen Furstenberg – Reidsville

Hello O.Henry! My family & I call this place a Hidden Jewel in Greensboro. Looking back at January 28, 2018, my wedding day, we stayed at the O.Henry the whole weekend leading up to that special day. I could not have asked for a better place. From having an Afternoon Tea with my bridesmaids the day before, to dinner at Green Valley and jazz music the night before and the shuttles to and from the venue, everything was top notch. We reserved a suite and a few additional rooms for my bridal party, and it was wonderful to be able to have all of us together! Honeymoon night, we were placed in room 701. Upon arrival, we had the most delicious chocolate covered strawberries waiting on us! We have asked for that room the last few times we have stayed, because this place means so much to us. Thank you O.Henry for providing a very memorable experience. One that my family and I will never forget!

Samantha Lutz – Thomasville

It took me a minute to narrow down just one story about the O.Henry. This hotel has a lot  of very special memories for me. From bachelorette parties, tea parties, date nights, and even the most special I would say my wedding day. The story I want to share has to do with my wedding and a tea party I went to about a year after my wedding.

It all started the Friday before I got married. Family was coming in and me, my mom (Ann), and my aunt Terri where all running around like chickens with our heads cut off, but having a blast. We were cutting up and if you know my family laughing so loudly people probably began to stare. During all this the bell boys or gentlemen really where helping lug countless bags, dresses, luggage, and props all the way from Friday to Sunday. Anyone who knows O.Henry’s staff knows that they are implacable and no one can compare. However this one bell boy was cracking up with us and made the weekend even better.

The weekend went by fast and it was a weekend and wedding night I will never forget. Fast forward a little over a year after my wedding in April of 2015. October of 2016 I came to O.Henry to celebrate my memaws birthday with tea and who did I come with… well my mom and Aunt Terri. As we entered O.Henry that same bell boy from my wedding was there and he looked directly at us and was like I remember you guys. I was shocked and he proceeded to tell us how much fun we where and all these great memories rushed back. We shared these memories over tea.

This may not be the best story, but I cant think of just one amazing memory or story about O.Henry. This place will always hold a special place in my heart and it will always bring a smile to my face. I recommend this place to everyone and when my Aunt Terri comes to town it’s the only place she stays. Thank you for all you strive to be and do!!

Nils Skudra – Greensboro

While dining one evening at the Green Valley Grill, I decided to read a copy of the “O.Henry Magazine” which I had taken from the Harris Teeter market. I read an article by Jim Dodson (the editor) and was so inspired by his writing that that very evening I began to write a piece myself. I am a Civil War historian (just received my Master’s Degree in American History from UNCG) but had often given thought to making a second career as a writer. As luck would have it, my article “The Dog Who Loves Guilford College” was published in the July 2018 issue of “O.Henry Magazine” and I have published at least 30 more articles since this event. I currently have an article in the current edition of “Asheboro Magazine” and aanother article in the “North Carolina Friends Historical Society” newsletter. I cannot fully explain why that particular night while enjoying a delicious repast at the GVG I found a muse in Mr. Dodson — but I did. I continue my studies as a Civil War historian but also do other things such as write movie reviews and articles on the importance of making sure that individuals with disabilities are not marginalized in school or work settings. Every time I drive by the Green Valley Grill I say a silent word of thanks because it was there I began my second career as a writer with a little nudge by the goodly Mr. Dodson.

Peter Eckle – New Bern

We were visiting our younger son and daughter in law in 2017 for Thanksgiving at their Greensboro home in Lake Janette. Our older son and his wife and 2 children were also visiting from Arlington VA, so my wife and I were staying at the O.Henry. With 4 grandchildren, we decided to have the only girl, 10 year old Abigail, join us in our room at the O.Henry Thanksgiving evening. She was very excited about the opportunity to join us, and as we drove up to the front of the hotel, she asked- “How many stars does this hotel have?” At first all we could do was burst out into laughter. Our simple answer was to have her go in with us and see for herself. After spending the night and enjoying the wonderful breakfast the next morning, her answer was a 10!

Deborah Gsell – Greensboro

How often does a day not turn out as planned, upsetting life’s applecart, ruining the to-do list, tossing problems in our paths as quickly as a ball machine on the tennis court? Sometimes, though, unplanned events can bring a pleasant twist. Saturday was on the calendar as my “me day” to attend Writers Meet Readers at O. Henry Hotel. I cajoled two friends to tag along who were pleasantly surprised to experience the lovely event being staged with its plethora of local authors. We wandered apart to explore our individual interests, one to Jim Dodson to talk golf, another to discuss mountain recipes with John Batchelor. My faith in high school youth was rekindled while discussing the Grimsley students’ literary publication. I got my usual book lover’s high buying Ellen Fischer’s If An Armadillo Went to a Restaurant for my great-niece, snagging a photo of the author signing, to show Emma. After a few more go-rounds and several more purchases, my friends and I reconvened, and decided we didn’t want the afternoon to end, so why not linger with a glass of pinot grigio around the corner in the bar area.

And just then, the day took a turn: FIRE ALARM! The incessant noise went on and on. We schoolteachers know to drop everything and get out quickly, but hotel and restaurant guests looked around with “For real?” faces as staff herded the masses out the front doors to the parking area. It was cold…frigid, in fact. Patrons, however, were in good warm spirits waiting for the all-clear, and a witty gentleman traded some quips with my group as we anticipated entry back inside. I felt as if I knew him but couldn’t recall the context. Re-ensconced on barstools with beverages, we happily continued conversation with our new-found friend, who now looked more than familiar, and – eek – I realized was none other than North Carolina’s long-time Poet Laureate and amazing author, Fred Chappell. Be still a book nerd’s heart! I tried desperately not to gush as he shared an impressive tome of his. Animated conversation ensued, and book-lovers all, we played show and tell with our purchases. When Fred-friends walked by, we replayed the scene and oohed and ahhed over the others, and noted that many of us chose Laurie Lake White’s Play Music, albeit for different reasons.

Lots of topics were covered with Fred Chappell, a forty-year teaching veteran, and oh-how-I-wish-he-had-been-my-professor. He is as good a listener as an engaging speaker. Talk was lively and one or all of us must have mentioned more than once what a great way to spend an afternoon. Our poet even slipped in a teachable moment and explained the southern term “poor mouth” to the Yankees among us. When Fred’s beautiful wife appeared, she quickly fit right in and charmed us as much as her down-toearth husband. Next Valerie Nieman (Hotel Worthy) was talked into expanding our ranks, and a table was commandeered with yet another round of both drinks and show and tell to find out what she had deemed interesting. I’d hoped to see Wiley Cash since my book club had really enjoyed his A Land More Kind Than Home, and on a day of unexpected luck, he stopped at our table and I was able to tell him just that over a handshake. This perfect setting was full of favorite characters: friends, writers, intelligent people who respect each other and enjoy others’ company, all propelled by the rumored burning lamp on the 8th floor of the O.Henry Hotel, and the subsequent evacuation. William Sydney Porter could not have tailored a better unexpected Saturday afternoon.

Pamela Payne – Cary

The other night my husband looked at me and said, “is there anywhere in the world you would like to go?” … I paused for a moment before replying “the O.Henry in Greensboro… but it’s expensive”.

He responded, “well I tell you what…when I die I will leave you the money to go”. I thought for a moment and then said…”why thank you ! I can’t think of a more perfect place to grieve.”

It’s true you know…your hotel meets every need whether a celebration of life or death

Sergio Ward – Kernersville

In 2015, after My Mother’s passing in December, I discovered O.Henry Hotel. A co worker told Me about the Jazz Series on Thursday and Saturday nights. The irony was I had just started doing a Jazz Radio program ( Jet Set Jazz Radio on WQFS FM 90.9) I thought this would be a brilliant format for local musicians and singers, and to also showcase the Great series at O.Henry. So the past 4 years I’ve had some of the Greatest talent from the Jazz program: Karon Click , Benjamin Matlack , Aaron Matson, Drew Hays, the Penn Family, Matt Kendrick , Benjamin Strickland and O.Henry Jazz coordinator Victoria Marshall Clegg ( along with Neil!!!) As a Jazz lover, My support for O.Henry is FREE! It’s the gift that gives. And over the Years, the Wonderful staff has treated Me better than Family As a Native of Greensboro, this is My second home?

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