By Karen Moon
When I was a 1-year-old, my father left a supervisory position in Buffalo to take over a small town tavern in Burt, Niagara County. It was called Moon’s Burt Hotel.
Burt is a hamlet in the Town of Newfane, between Newfane proper and Olcott Beach.
Everyone always teased about Burt – blink and you will have missed it. I remember practicing “the blink” to see if it was true as we drove through Burt (it isn’t true).
It was never a hotel during my family’s ownership. We lived upstairs from the tavern area.
I remember my parents working night and day to keep the business flourishing. The hotel was a popular place during the late ’40s, early ’50s. When I was 6 years old, my parents divorced and my father kept the hotel for another few years. I continued to live in the same area off and on most of my life but never once returned to the Burt Hotel until recently.
I was hesitant or perhaps afraid to walk back into the hotel.
Once in a while I would drive by and a different thought of my life there would pop up in my memory bank and I would encourage myself to stop, but still couldn’t do it.
Other times I would drive by and have no feelings or thoughts about it. It was like I was denying or hiding my fear.
A few years ago, I wrote my autobiography and in it I described the rooms inside the hotel and again often wondered if I was correct on my perspective of the layout inside.
As I was recently planning a 75th birthday party for my sister, I thought why not make the Burt Hotel – now Rosemellia’s Burt Hotel – a part of the celebration. I knew my sister hadn’t been to the hotel either. I would need to be brave and stop in.
I’m proud to say I did and what a pleasant surprise. Though the outside and inside have changed quite a bit since I lived there, with a different bar and western style decor, it was still my “first home” that I remembered.
I knew right away it would be the perfect place to start the birthday celebration and surprise my sister.
About 30 people started at the Burt Hotel with us for the birthday celebration and every one of them was impressed with the owner, the food and the service. It was a comfortable and appropriate venue for the party. And an added touch, as you walk in, you are greeted by an image of John Wayne.
The side porch area, dart games, pool table, skeeball, booths and modern jukebox have added much to the interior. I was able to share information about The Burt when we lived there and the owner was able to fill in the blanks with answers to questions I had all my life. He gave me a tour of the building and explained more of the differences and similarities.
I have never been one to submit to fear. I always told myself that if I’m afraid I should figure out why and try to eliminate it. Though it took me 66 years to do it, at age 72 I can celebrate that I did it.
I believe it is never too late to change and this experience convinced me even more of that statement.
Fear seems to have a way of limiting our experiences, and I made a decision I wasn’t going to let that continue. Letting go of that fear has left me with an inner calm. Now if only I had walked in earlier ...
Karen Moon, of Orchard Park, is happy to be reacquainted with the Burt Hotel in Newfane.