Windham Life and Times – December 8, 2017

Edward Searles and Angelo

Angelo Ellison in his elevator operators uniform.


Ray Fremmer says of Searles that, “with age came loneliness and even the frequent change of surroundings he effected by going to New York periodically became of little use to enliven his spirits. In 1914, when he was seventy-three, he was in the habit of busying himself as best he could around Methuen for several months by visiting his different property holdings, and then he would go to New York for a week or two. He had an office at 71 Broadway, in the firm of Thomas Hubbard who managed Searles millions. After a few hours at the office he would go to his hotel, the Biltmore, and begin to wonder what was going on in Methuen right about that time. It was obvious, even to the elevator operator at the Biltmore, that Searles was a very lonely man. His name was Angelo M. Ellison, and he remembers to this day that the white-mustached old gentleman never tipped as did some of his other passengers. The lad, Angy as he was called, was somewhat of a loner himself. He had just recently arrived from Greece and although it was easy to adopt a name more easy to pronounce than his real one, it was not so easy to master the English language. This difficulty, together with the necessity of earning a living, made it very hard for him to associate with boys his own age.”

“Usually, Searles greeted the elevator boy with a polite ‘good morning’ or ‘good evening’ each time he entered the elevator. Gradually, however, he began to take a kindly interest in the seventeen year-old boy’s home country, his parents, and his difficulties in mastering a new language. Shortly, in Angy’s own words, ‘He started to tell me a few things about himself’, and asked Angy if he would like to work as his personal companion. Naturally, tired of travelling up and down the Biltmore Hotel all day, every day, Angy accepted the new job at once. In the moths that followed, each time Searles came to New York, he and Angy would go for long walks along Fifth Avenue and occasionally go the Metropolitan Opera House. When Searles went on inspection trips of his holdings, such as the Pittsburg & Shawmut Railroad coal pits, he was always accompanied by Angy. In Philadelphia they stopped to visit Searles’ aunts, the Smith sisters. And back in New York on Sundays they usually went to the Cathedral of Saint John the Devine, the organ of which Searles was quite fond. By this time Searles legal address was the Murray Hill Hotel— rooms 646 and 647; his legal residence as a citizen of the state of New York. He made New York his legal residence to protest the heavy taxes imposed on him by Massachusetts.”

Murray Hill Hotel where Searles had two suites

Angy tells the story of his meeting with Searles this way, “My name was Angelo, and my family name was Eliopoulos. After I came to America I wanted to become part of this country, so I changed my name to Ellison, because I was told that that was the American version. ‘Eli’ comes from the Greek word for the sun god, ‘Helios’, and ‘opoulos’ means son of’; son of the sun! I changed my name to Andrew after the will trial because reporters were trying to take advantage of me, and I was so disappointed in the way it ended that I didn’t want to be bothered anymore. I just wanted to get on with my life.”

“Before I met Mr. Searles, I was working at the Biltmore Hotel. It was across the street from Grand Central Terminal. That hotel and the other one they built on the other side of Grand Central, the Commodore Hotel, all belonged to the New York Central Railroad. All that was built about the same time and was new when I worked there. It was like a city underneath the station; there were all kinds of shops there, and you could enter the hotel from the passenger station underneath. I started as a bellboy, and they advanced me to operate the elevators. The manager told me that I would have a good future there; working for the organization. He was going to give me a better job but I left to work for Mr. Searles; but it wasn’t like work at all. He got to know me and asked if I wanted to work for him as his assistant; to help him when he went on his business trips, or just around town. We would go walking all over town; he liked to look at buildings and talk about architecture. He would like to go to the opera, or the theater; never a movie! We would have dinners at one of the big restaurants, or at a big hotel; The Plaza, or the old Waldorf Astoria on Fifth Avenue or someplace else. He would stop at Tiffany’s, and that is where he bought me a gold watch and later a beautiful ring with a green stone in it!

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