Waldorf-Astoria offers amnesty program

October 3, 2012 2:37:39 PM PDT
It's a landmark hotel and so many guests feel compelled to take something home.

Frank Sinatra lived in the Waldorf-Astoria.

Years ago, his glass shower door disappeared during renovations and has never been seen again.

It probably won't show up during the hotel's newly created amnesty program, but loads of interesting loot is.

"While we have a lovely gift shop, some think it's easier to grab a fork," said Meg Towner, of the Waldorf-Astoria.

It's known for its white glove service but there's another kind of fingers inside the Waldorf-Astoria, the sticky kind, that's probably eyeing that salt and pepper shaker.

"I am very happy to be able to absolve my grandmother's criminal past today," said Paula Herold, a Manhattan resident.

Her grandmother is the late Gussy Herold.

In the early 50's she attended two luncheons at the Waldorf, and it was a big deal.

Each time, she discreetly slipped some butter knives in her purse.

"She gave my mother the knives and my mother said, 'You stole them.' And she went, 'No I didn't' and my mom said, 'Yes, you did,' and so I don't think they talked about it again," Herold said.

The knives and other items are property of the Waldorf and are items some guests couldn't resist taking home with them.

They have now come full circle thanks to the hotel's amnesty program.

"A lot of food and beverage items, I think that's because at dinners people are there for a momentous occasion and they have a purse and their walking out the door," Towner said.

Years later, a relative finds, for example, a coffee creamer from 1948 and returns it.

Under the program there are no questions asked.

There is also a sterling silver tea pot or candy bowl.

Everything will be placed in a special showcase and online.

There are also items like a "do not disturb" sign.

"Which I love because it says 'No telegrams please,'" Towner said.

It was from someone's honeymoon.

Most things arrive in the mail.

"One was signed 'Jane Doe' with no return address on it and the other had nothing in a box but two pieces of China and it was mailed by a mail service," Towner said.

Paula dropped off Gussy's loot in person, insisting she has no plans to follow in her grandmother's footsteps.

"I'm trying to change my family heritage," Herold said.

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