Ryde Hotel

July 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

The other day I was out for a long drive and found myself in Ryde, California. Population 61. It’s one of those really small towns that sits just along the Delta River, right outside of Walnut Grove. The town consists of little more than a couple of shops, a ranch, and this hotel.

According to the owner it was built in 1927 and, at one point, was frequented by Marylin Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Clark Gable and a few other notable guests. There was a speak easy downstairs that has since been converted to a ballroom where people now have wedding receptions and things like that.

They let me poke around a bit. It was the middle of the week, so there were no guests around to disturb. My mind ran wild thinking of all of the things that had been said and done in that hotel. All of the martinis that had been drank, and the beautiful clothing that had been worn, and all of the songs that had been sang by God only knows what amazing star just for the hell of it. And the fact that I had just found this place by accident, just wandering around in my car, was the most amazing part of it all. I hadn’t expected to find anything, nothing other than fields and vineyards and trees. I’ve been going on the occasional exploration in my car since I was sixteen. Then I took a turn I had never taken before, and then another, and then another and, suddenly, I was standing in a hotel lobby where Marylin Monroe had once stood to check herself in for maybe a week or a long weekend. To think that, for most of my life, I lived maybe 20 minutes away from this place and never knew it. It staggers the imagination.

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