The Story of Stoat

In spring in Washington, D.C., the cherry blossoms are out in force, and so are the tourists. One spring, in the mid-1970's, we decided to spend part of our Easter break from teaching in our nation's capital. Naturally, we booked ahead.

A few days before we were to leave on Amtrak, we decided to call and confirm with our hotel. Note that this was indeed the mid-70's – way before the days of booking on-line. We called. Long distance. Remember long distance?

"Please confirm reservations for Dennis Filangeri," we petitioned the desk clerk.

Off he scurried to check, returning with, "I'm sorry, Mr. Angeri, but I can find no reservation under that name."

We laughed gaily and explained that the reservation was for Dennis Filangeri, not Phil Angeri. Long silence. More scurrying. Alas, no reservation under Filangeri either.

I should mention we were not at that point married. Nor were we laughing gaily any longer.

"OK," said we through gritted teeth, "please check under Judith Wolf."

Long silence.

"I'm so sorry but I can't find any reservation under Fox either."

Ultimately, when the clerk had gotten his beasties correct, he found the reservation.

Huge sigh of relief – vacation saved.

However, obviously we needed to avoid this knuckle-biter in the future. We decided to make all subsequent reservations under the name of Stoat (at the time, we were reading Watership Down.").

Shortly thereafter we purchased a thermal picnic box for travel, naming it The Stoat Box. We still have it. We even had T-shirts made: D Stoat and J Stoat. We would introduce ourselves as He's D and she's J, but neither of us are Stoat.

That's how Dick and Jane Stoat came to be.

And the Stoat Box? It was our first travelling cooler box, clearly labelled STOAT.