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60 Years of Marriage Earns One Night of Luxury

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60 Years of Marriage Earns One Night of Luxury

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60 Years of Marriage Earns One Night of Luxury

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Mariam and Larry Orenstein celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary at Chiacago's posh Palmer House Hotel, where they honeymooned in 1947. And thanks to a rarely used hotel policy and an original 1947 receipt, the couple from Fox Point, Wisconsin, stayed in the Palmer's $1,600 a night penthouse for a lot less than that.

Mariam Orenstein joins us. Welcome to the program and congratulations.


SIEGEL: So a $1,600 night penthouse - how much did you actually pay for that?

Ms. ORENSTEIN: I think the total bill was $15.20.

SIEGEL: Fifteen dollars and twenty cents.

Ms. ORENSTEIN: I don't know what - how it worked out that way because when we were there 60 years ago, the bill was $9.50 a night with 75 cents extra for the radio every day.

SIEGEL: And they have a policy, which is that if people come back to the hotel, they can get a room for what they paid for the last time (unintelligible).

Ms. ORENSTEIN: Right. We had the original receipt.

SIEGEL: You had the receipt?

Ms. ORENSTEIN: Right. I had, as it happened, I had made an album of the various things that we did that week that we were in Chicago - a Cubs game, a couple of plays, a few restaurants, including the receipt. And that was the magic trick.

SIEGEL: Well, after 60 years, did the elegance of the Palmer House live up to recollection?

Ms. ORENSTEIN: I don't really recollect, but I'm sure that it did because it's a lovely hotel.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIEGEL: Are you saying...

Ms. ORENSTEIN: I mean, who we, who thinks to remember what it was like 60 years ago?

SIEGEL: This was your wedding night...


SIEGEL: ...and the furnishings of the hotel were not the main thing...


SIEGEL: ...on your mind in 1947?

Ms. ORENSTEIN: No. No, they weren't.

SIEGEL: How did they treat you at the hotel when you returned?

Ms. ORENSTEIN: It was astonishing. We got out of the car, which they picked us up with at my son's house in Glen Cove. And there was a bank of photographers on the Monroe Street at the side of the hotel.

SIEGEL: Was that Mr. Orenstein...


SIEGEL: ...prompting you there? Mm-hmm.

Ms. ORENSTEIN: Yeah. And there were people on either side of the bank of photographers who must have thought that celebrities were coming in. But it was fantastic. We went in and they gave me a magnificent bouquet of yellow orchids. And on either side of the steps were personnel from the hotel, cheering and clapping. And it was - the whole thing was so amazing and shocking, and every adjective you can think of that would go in between those two that was wonderful.

SIEGEL: I'm trying to imagine. I bet in 1947, $9.50 for the room - not to mention 75 cents for use of the radio - it was probably a lot of money. It was probably a luxurious night.

Ms. ORENSTEIN: Well, it was not cheap to us. We had nothing. My husband was going to school on the G.I. Bill. He had gotten out of the Navy just the year before, and I was working in an office, I think for $25 a week. So we didn't have a lot of money, but we did enjoy ourselves immensely.

SIEGEL: Well, congratulations once again on your anniversary...

Ms. ORENSTEIN: Thank you.

SIEGEL: ...and for telling us the story of your $9.50 night at the Palmer House in 2007.

Ms. ORENSTEIN: Thank you.

SIEGEL: That's Mariam Orenstein of Fox Point, Wisconsin, talking to us about her 60th wedding anniversary. She and her husband, Larry, spent it at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago.

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