Ray Sylvester: East Meets West a.k.a Polyester Suit Meets Mao Suit
Immediately following Richard Nixon's historic trip to China in 1972, the Peoples Republic of China set up temporary a Liaison Office in The Mayflower Hotel the following on May 1, 1973.
My role as Sr. Assistant Manager was to arrange the room requirements and to assist the PRC Business Manager in arranging for transportation, menus and other recreational needs such as providing a ping-pong table which could be accommodated in the large corridors of the hotel.
As good hosts Kim Chappell (Executive Assistant Manager) and I thought it would be good to initiate our own ping-pong diplomacy by challenging some of the women to a few matches. Needless to say we were quickly dispatched, and avoided the subject thereafter.
When they needed cars, they puchased three Cadillacs with cash. When they paid the weekly bill I visited the Business Manager who would sit across from me, sitting on the twin beds, open a briefcase and count out payment in cash.
They were super guests and Bill Hulett (General Manager) and our team hosted them in a farewell party when they were ready to move into more permanent quarters.
As a gesture of goodwill on their part they sent the famous Chinese acrobatic troop to the hotel to entertain the hotel employees and their families. They also gave the hotel a uniquely stitched silk image of panda bears. That memento sat in the hotel lobby for many years thereafter.
Finally the owners of the Mayflower and Bill and Penny were then invited to China as guests of the PRC. They were among the very first westerners admitted to the country after several decades.
One day while checking a guest in I received a call at the front desk from Bill Hulett. "Guess where I am? I'm in Shanghai. It takes a wheelbarrow of money to buy something here, and everyone is staring at Penny because they've never seen a person with blonde hair before."
This was history in the making!
Photo: Ray Sylvester welcomes Chief of Liaison and eventual Ambassador Huang-Zhen to the Mayflower
December 30, 2012
Ray Sylvester: Mr. Trader Vic Seattle Remembered
Ray Sylvester: A President's Election Concession Speech
On November 3, 1992 George H. W. Bush made his concession speech in the Grand Ballroom of the Westin Galleria in Houston. After many hugs and tears among those in his party in an adjacent staging room, Marlin Fitzwater, Jeb Bush, Mrs. Bush and Jim Baker left to enter the ballroom leaving me alone with the President and his military aide who waited outside the room. Mr. Bush lifted a leg onto the armrest of a nearby chair to tie his shoelace, then straightened his jacket, said, "Well, let's go"! and entered the ballroom to a cheering crowd.