pics courtesy of Stephen Wilson
This was my room at The Peabody Hotel. Top floor, two levels, winding staircase - very grand n'est-ce pas? To say I was spoiled is an understatement, but I do want to say a special thank you to Rachel, Miss Tenicia and all the staff at the hotel who took very good care of me.
Now as I've previously stated, it is indeed a very grand, very traditional hotel. You can feel it the minute you step foot into the incredible lobby. People call it "The Savoy of the South" (after the famous London Savoy Hotel) - one of many comparisons to other grand hotels found around the world. The original was built in 1869 and closed in the early 1920's. It was re-built in it's current location in 1925.
I've mentioned in a previous post about a tradition at the hotel that must be seen to be believed. It involves live ducks that waddle their way from from their penthouse (they live in a penthouse!) on the top floor of the hotel, to the lobby fountain. Yes, that really happens. Every day. With grand announcements and huge lines of people waiting to take pictures.
I marvelled and marvel at the tradition. Then I thought "Mmm, these water fowl - who live better than I do, would make very tasty dishes." C'mon, who doesn't love the French classic Duck à l'orange, or even Peking duck? It is absolutely sworn by the hotel that the fate of the ducks do not end up on the menu at the hotel restaurants. Shame, I say!
I loved the the grandeur of The Peabody, but I'm always of two minds whenever I stay in places like this, particularly since I was in the American South. I keep in mind that there was a time not so long ago, these grand hotels were only welcoming to people of colour if you worked the elevators or as the cleaning staff. So when I visit I enjoy my stay, but I'm always aware of the history - good and bad.
We've thankfully reached a time where someone like me can stay in a fabulous room like the pictures shown above, in complete comfort and without fear. I also know that the very comfort I've enjoyed, was just one result of the sweat, tears, death and pain of the many African-American men and women who worked so hard to ensure I could get access to the very best.
And even though I'm referring to a hotel room in this instance, it applies to every facet of my life. Words will never be enough to express my gratitude, but always striving to be the best I can be is the action that replaces the words.
*UPDATE* My good friend Jen sent me a news article on Facebook that stated someone jumped from the roof of the Peabody a week before we came down for the conference! Hotels are fascinating places. The secrets it carries. If stories were ever to leak out - real, behind closed doors stories, it'd probably make The Shining look like a Disney movie!