Fay Jacobs: Chelsea Pines, Prom and Mame. We’ll Always Be Bosom Buddies!

by Fay Jacobs

Fay is the author of author of three hilarious memoirs about lesbian life, politics and her beloved hometown Rehoboth Beach DE.  She is the Publisher and Managing Editor of A&M Books, a successor to the legendary Naiad Press.  Fay has contributed feature stories and columns to such publications as The Washington Post, The Advocate, OutTraveler, Curve Magazine, The Washington Blade and many others.  She and Bonnie, her partner of almost 30 years, have two Miniature Schnauzers and a riding lawn mower.  Find her and her books at www.aandmbooks.com.

As we celebrate 25 years with Chelsea Pines I have to tell the tale of my 45 year connection! One day in 2003 I was trolling the internet for a gay B&B in New York. I found the Chelsea Pines and a very surprising connection. The email went something like this:

Hello –
I checked out your web site and recognized the innkeeper’s name. Are you the same Jay Lesiger who was my senior prom date in 1965? If so, we should have known we were both gay. Nobody else hates camping and likes Broadway THAT much.
I live in Rehoboth Beach (Gayberry RFD) with my partner and will definitely check out Chelsea Pines!
Fay (Rubenstein) Jacobs

Dear Fay:
Okay, I’m stunned and my office staff is insisting you became a lesbian after you dated me!… I still have photos of us dressed for your prom tucked away in my memory box (pretty scary). How cool to hear from you; It would be great if you and your lover would come to NYC and stay here; I’ll make you a great deal. Write and tell me about your last 35 years!

Dear Jay,
Oy! Where to start!!!!! First off, every man I ever dated (except the man I married, which is a whole other embarrassing story) turned out to be gay, so it had to be me that was the culprit, okay?
We’d love to come to NYC and stay at your place some time. What a hoot that would be. Thanks so much for writing, With all the stories you hear about people reconnecting through the internet and running off with their high school sweethearts, we can both rest assured it won’t happen here.

So much for e-mail. So then, we went to NYC.

When Bonnie and I arrived at the Chelsea Pines, my high school honey’s front desk staff greeted us warmly, with devilish grins. “Where’s your corsage?” said the cute staffer. Then we toured the rooms with their movie poster art and fabulous camp sensibility.
The general manager pointed us to the Donna Reed Suite, where we opened the door to find enlarged, grainy, frightening, copies of my 1965 prom pictures, yearbook photo, and other assorted artifacts on the walls over the movie posters. I especially appreciated the Thelma & Louise-ish picture of me, behind the wheel of my parents’ sports car, wearing a ridiculous grin and humongous, dramatically pointy white sunglasses. Bonnie, staring at the yearbook graduation picture laughed that she had Jimmy Carter type lust in her heart at the sight of that innocent young thing. Weird!!!!

When our host arrived, he came bearing flowers and a huge smile. We stared at each other, searching for our former young selves in the middle-aged gay people we’d become. I recognized him right away, even if he was letting his natural blonde grow in (!!). I noted that perhaps he’d forgotten I was always a red head.
I heard Jay’s tale of the run-down rooming house becoming the now- thriving Chelsea Pines Inn, met his partner Tom, and shared my stories of coming out, becoming a writer and moving to the beach.
The visit was short, but we have gotten together again quite a few times over the past several years and rekindled a glorious friendship.
And when I go to readings and signings for my books, this tale is one of my favorites to read. Happy Anniversary, Chelsea Pines. Long may you and your hosts wave!

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