Bed and Breakfasts operations possess a quaint appeal or charm most of us can readily accept. Typically, Bed and Breakfast homes are Mom and Pop businesses involving a lot of hands on work, dedication and entrepreneurial spirit. Thinking of B&B’s I envision traveling guests visiting on summer weekends; strolling the streets of our town being civil in both manners and social grace. The thought of staying in well decorated Victorian home filled with antiques and art sounds inviting. Adding to the mix, a little extra money, or rental income for the B&B owner helps out too, especially in these trying economic times. Being honest, I wouldn’t mind sleeping on a thick goose down mattress, having a restful night’s sleep and being served fresh hot blueberry muffins in the morning. Sometimes though, reality takes a slightly different path than what is being discussed.
When Clint Eastwood (Blondie) rode into town in his famous western movie, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, he stayed at a boarding house. After spending a few weeks in the saddle, riding a horse through the desert, I must say who wouldn’t need a home cooked meal and a hot bath. A bottle of whiskey might help too. Yes indeed, I recall old Blondie taking a nice hot bath in a copper bath tub, six gun at his side. One never knows who your neighbors might be in a boarding house or B&B. The gal who owned the place even stopped by to see if the cowboy needed anything else… more hot bath water, a fresh cigar or maybe a little company.
There is only one thing uglier than a poorly managed boarding or tenant house and that is having more than one of them in your neighborhood. The B&B proposals sounding off in local newspapers and hints of possible future A.H. zoning commission discussions are troubling. No one can pretend to know upfront what B&B’s will evolve into. If not properly maintained and controlled, B&B operations will in my opinion be regressive, not progressive in preserving the charm of Atlantic Highlands, our single family neighborhoods and residential property values. What is the difference between a boarding house, a B&B or temporary housing used for less than desirable purposes? The answer is the sign on the door and color of electric lighting in the window. A few officials in local government might think that the B&B proposal has merit. A few homeowners might appreciate a little extra rental money. With unemployment hovering around ten percent, I fully understand why individuals might want (or need) to try and augment their income. There is though something slightly uncomfortable about having strangers stay in your house. Would you want Tuco or Angel Eyes sleeping in a room down the hallway from your bedroom? Angel Eyes might promise to be quiet as a church mouse. Tuco might offer to pay cash, possibly a fistful of dollars for a one night stay. I for one believe differently and so should you.
Author’s Note: Houses of ill repute are associated with nighttime red lighting. Hence we have the term “red light district.” This is a carry over tradition from the old days when railroad conductors hung their red lanterns in the doorways of Brothels while visiting. Apparently, it was a very lonely time in the old railroad caboose. Sergio Leone directed the 1966 movie the Good, the Bad and the Ugly starring Clint Eastwood.