Thursday, September 24, 2009


We had heard stories about the cremation of a former guest of The National Hotel, Ben H. Coombs (affectionately known as "Ben"), who left instructions in his will for his ashes to be sent to the building, because that was where he felt most at home. Well, in fact, we located his ashes. But that's not the whole story.

After we took possession of The National Hotel, we were told that Ben's ashes were behind the bar, and we looked for them in order to keep them safe from accidentally being discarded as we cleaned. We did NOT find them. In fact, for a while, Pete thought that one of us had inadvertently thrown them out; we both felt terrible about this. There was so much history right there.

Nevertheless, we cleared the entire bar area and continued on our cleaning schedule. Well wouldn't you know it...Pete arrived one morning to do a final inspection of the cleaning the night before, in order to finish up the bar, when right there, in one of the shelves beneath the area directly behind the bar, sat a green box with a gold seal and an envelope taped to the top from a crematorium.

There was Ben.

If the hairs on your arms are not standing up yet, I don't know what to say. Mine were...still are. We've placed Ben right next to the antique cash register, completely visible to all. He apparently lived in The National Hotel when it took in boarders, renting rooms, instead of being a "hotel" per se. He also spent every night at the bar, & after his death, other patrons would visit The National Hotel raising their glasses to Ben.

It looks to us as though Ben is a part of The National Hotel's colorful past and we want to make sure that we continue that tradition. Anyone up for raising their glass to celebrate with Ben?

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