HOW TO RUN A BOARDING HOUSE - Through most of American history, when you traveled or moved to a new town or were simply poor and alone, your only choice was a boarding house. "Boarding" was not a skate board term in those days. It had to do with food being spread out on a board -- a table -- for you to choose from three times a day, like FAMILY.
"Bed and board" referred to a place to eat and sleep. The concept was that you were staying in somebody's private home, eating at their table, in exchange for which you paid them a small amount of money -- usually barely enough to make ends meet, and even then it was hard for most boarders to pay it. Nowadays, room and board can bring a pretty penny. Up to a thousand a month in a big city where an apartment is 1200$ unfurnished. My Grandma Elena Refugio Childs ran a boarding house on Marsh Street in San Luis Obispo, CA in the 1900's.
In the old days, some people did not rent space but only paid for the food -- they slept somewhere else and came over at mealtime. Others, though, slept right in the house in their own room of course. They lived and ate along with the family that lived there. It helps to have a couple running it. The man does billing, garden work, handyman chores and is the general enforcer or bouncer.
In the era before hotels, the traveling rich ate and slept in taverns. But the poor would ask around when they entered a town, and get steered to places that might take them in. Sometimes they even paid for their lodging with labor, since they had nothing else with which to pay.
Who ran these boarding houses? Most boarding houses were, indeed, run by women. It was one of the respectable things that a widow could do to support her family, in that era when women were not expected -- not even allowed -- to pursue an ordinary career. Running a successful boarding house required all the skills of a hotelier and a restaurateur -- including the vital skill of not cooking too much food, nor treating the tenants with too much costly beef. So frugality was a useful skill if you wanted to make Money. But there was more to earning well than that. Most boarding house keepers also did laundry for their guests (and, often, other people as well), took meals to prisoners in the local jail (paid for by the sheriff), did some sewing and darning, and also kept a vegetable garden and often a dairy cow or goat and chickens or bunnies.
From the crack of dawn till they could finally throw themselves onto their beds at night, these women had a life of nearly unrelenting toil, and if they had children, the kids were put to work doing chores as soon as they were able.
Unlike most chores today, they weren't optional: If you didn't weed the
garden, milk the cow, feed the chickens, gather eggs, or whatever other
task you were assigned, then your already-exhausted mother had to do it --
or it wouldn't get done at all, and you might lose a customer, which could
spell the ruin of the family.
Not that all boarding houses operated on the edge of poverty -- some did
quite well, and the women were able to keep servants to help with the work.
The boundary line between their operations and a modern suites hotel could
grow rather thin.
Many people in Guilford County know something about boarding house life,
because of the long tradition of Furniture Market. Twice a year,
out-of-town buyers would flood the county, needing a place to stay.
Hotels were rare for many years -- they could hardly stay in business
year-round based on two weeks of business. So local residents would rent
rooms in their houses -- or even take a vacation and rent out their whole
It was (and for some people, I hear, still is) a sort of part-time boarding
house operation. Some visitors would come back to the same house year after
year, until it almost felt like their second home -- a kind of ad hoc
It's a fascinating way of life, and one that is almost entirely gone. But
for generations, boarding houses were part of every town, and most men
could expect to spend at least part of their bachelorhood in a boarding
Reading Boarding House Reach will make that lost time come alive again. And
since boarding house culture was similar throughout America during that
era, the general facts you learn about North Carolina boardinghouses will
apply pretty much everywhere else, too.
Your planning should be:
1. To Make required changes in house. If you have a dormitory kind of plan,
then access from outside and also to bath and toilets is to be
planned. Each person is to be provided with required furniture (bed,
study table, cupboard, open shelf).
2. Plan optimum use of your area. Normally you should plan about 50 to
80 sq ft per occupant.Minimum. Bigger bedrooms will cost more.
3. Provide adequate bath and toilets. They bring their own towels, soap. They
take their toiletries back to their bedroom and clean up their mess.LAUNDRY
costs money. IRONING costs LOTS of MONEY.
4. Plan for dining and common facilities (if required). To really create a
tightly knit 'family', serve meals at a time that coincides with all needs,
between the hours they give for bf, lunch and dinner. Define
fridge privileges as YOUR STUFF can go in there but don't take OUR STUFF.
Best is everybody has their own food area on a shelf. Labeled.
5. Get Electrical fittings cable and fone jacks points relocated if
necessary. Do not have a long distance carrier. Provide phone cards from
Walmart or 99c store. Best bet is to keep your phone jack in your bdrm.
Always have a dead bolt on your bdrm door and closet door. Keep CD's and
valuables in your room. Ditto cashmere sweaters, good coats.
6. Check if local munipal body requires any registration/license for
operating a boarding house. Some people do not license it but keep
an underground profile. In my city they save 14% transit tax which
hotels and boarding houses must pay the city. It is using credit cards
and having to make a DBA registration to use these cards that got my
friend caught by the Finance office of my city. They wanted her to pay 14% on
three back years of 'fiched' receipts on those credit cards. She could not wiggle
out of that debt. Too late she realized that she should never have gone with
credit cards. Cash and checks were the way.
7. Keep complete details (name, address, ssa# & references) of all
occupants for traceability.
8. Learn the regulations or standard city procedures for evicting. Instead of
usual fees, it may be No cost or low cost to poor landlords. Prove you own
no property, just rent if that is the case.
9. Use the scary bogus letter to evict non payers. "Dear Mr Goldwitz, c/o
Mason, Harvey and Goldwitz, Suite 5200 some Impressive address Please
initiate a law suit against X as he won't move and I've asked him to. You
know the eviction courts, but also I need you to do a police check on this
person...etc" Use the cash left over from my last eviction in April. Thank you, etc.
Leave that letter on your desk for them to find.
10. RESIDENTS sign a contract saying they won't sue you if your dog bites, if
ants come in their room due to food they had, etc. All possibilities must
be foreseen.State codes allowing, they pay two months in advance
as you need to have time to evict if it becomes necessary. Reasons for
eviction are stipulated in lease agreement, no opp sex visits at night being one.
Define parking as some cities ticket, require tags on cars, prohibit trucks
parking overnight. Spell local regs out to the new tenant before they sign.
11. Always welcome at least one single mother with children. They usually are
home all day, will help with chores like cooking, dishes, gardening.
12. If there is garden space, let all tenants create their own patch of food.No stealing from the other guy's patch.
13. Turn your house into a boarding house you maybe make 30$ a nite or 900$ a month tops if it's just a house but would you like to charge $l00 a day per room? You can if you call your place a hotel or B&B...that means it's got to be in a big city where EUROOPEANS VISIT. 'course it has to be a smashingly majestic home. This ploy works well in Los Angeles where there are these one acre lots with affordable ancient mansions with huge kitchens, tiled floors, spanish tile red roofs, vast gardens, big mausoleum sized bedrooms going for a song right now due to recession.If you have a posh home, call it a B&B (Bed and Breakfast.) If you live in a favorite city (MIAMI, L.A, Houston, NYC, Frisco, Seattle,) where European tourists visit ---you can earn 100$ a room per day. OR MORE. Tourists get free breakfast, that's all. Advertise on CRAIGS LIST in EUROPE. And at a website of your own design with a lot of great photos. My ex gal pal did the "WEST HOLLYWOOD CONTINENTAL HOTEL" in her Rudy Valentino type Spanish mansion with all those BIG ROOM and she advertises all over EUROPE and has a website and is booked solid. To Europeans l00$ a nite is chump change. She gives a California breakfast for free to each visitor. Her daily fee is the amount of Euros these visitors would spend for lunch out in PARIS!
Read: Boarding House Reach: North Carolina's Entrepreneurial Women, by Alice E. Sink and Nickie Doyal, is a marvelous collection of anecdotes and memoirs that, taken all together, gives a pretty broad picture of the many kinds of things that made up life in boarding houses.
Read: Mrs. Wilkes' Boardinghouse Cookbook. Ninety-four year old Sema Wilkes
has been running her boardinghouse in Savannah, Ga., since 1943, cooking up
traditional Southern favorites biscuits, etc.
Read: James Joyce's "The Boarding House" All three are AVAIL USED for a buck at ABE BOOKS
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Our POSTER is ANITA SANDS HERNANDEZ, Los Angeles Writer, Futurist and Astrologer. Catch up with her websites TRUTHS GOV WILL HIDE & NEVER TELL YOU, also The FUTURE, WHAT'S COMIN' AT YA! FRUGAL LIFE STYLE TIPS, HOW TO SURVIVE the COMING GREAT DEPRESSION, and Secrets of Nature, HOLISTIC, AFFORDABLE HEALING. Also ARTISANRY FOR EXPORT, EARN EUROS....* Anita is at firstname.lastname@example.org ). Get a 35$ natal horoscope "my money/future life" reading now + copy horoscope as a Gif file graphic! No smarter, more accurate career reading out there!
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