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Ryan Skaggs At The Palace

 

 

 

Back in the 1960s the most popular children’s book was Eloise at the Plaza, a story about a very precocious six-year-old girl who lived at The Plaza Hotel in New York and was up to mischief every day. 

 

I did a story on a little six-year-old named Ryan Skaggs who was not fictional but lived with her parents in the Palace Hotel in San Francisco.  Ryan’s mother was the resident manager of the hotel and they lived there in a lovely apartment.

 

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Unlike Eloise, Ryan was a well mannered, not a spoilt, little girl who did have the run of the 500+ rooms.  Debbie, her mother, was on call twenty-four/seven and her dad, John, ran a food and beverage company.

 

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The Palace Hotel was opened in 1875 and was the largest and most magnificent in the USA.  It was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and three years later reopened to even more splendor.  President Harding died at the Palace Hotel in 1923 while still in office, and Enrico Caruso, the famous opera star, fled the hotel during the earthquake clutching his favorite painting and yelling he would never return to San Francisco.

 

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Little Ryan who was beloved by the staff, used the hotel as her private playground.  The Gold Ballroom was for bike riding and skipping rope was done on the rooftop.    She invited her little friends from school for afternoon teas and for swims in the large, heated pool.  Her favorite place was the employees’ cafeteria where she could eat her favorite food, fried chicken, which she preferred to the cuisine in the world famous Garden Court and twice a week, with her parent’s permission, Ryan could dial up and order room service.  Come the hotel’s famous Sunday Brunch, Ryan and one of her invited friends would pass up the huge buffet and settle for Shirley Temples, one after another, and croissants topped with her favorite olives.

 

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Ryan loved her life in the hotel.  Wouldn’t you?  Her collection of stuffed toys and Tweetie, her pet green canary who never chirped, consumed whatever spare time there might be.

 

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In spite of all – her parents kept her grounded.  Her mother, Debbie, did remove the phone from the bathroom and Ryan had to clean her own room on weekends. Staff members were friends, not employees, she was taught.

 

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Ryan’s most favorite thing? – Saturdays when her father would take her in the car to McDonald’s.  Her best restaurant outside the hotel and yes – she has read the book Eloise at the Plaza and loves it.

 

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