Grandma Gertie always said there's not a savory dish that can't be made tastier by just a touch of tarragon.

Tsunami and Me

Tsunami and Me
too big to escape now....

Saturday, July 1, 2017

O, Call Back Yesterday

6/28/17  Fisherman's, San Clemente, CA

 "O call back yesterday, bid time return." 
William Shakespeare,  Richard II (act iii, scene 2)

Though I didn't precisely turn back the hands of time, on my 80th birthday I managed to bid time return. In June, 1977, shortly after its 1975 debut and during the week of my 40th birthday, I read Richard Matheson's time travel novel, Bid Time Return. My husband at the time, Bob Elders, and I were vacationing at San Diego's Shelter Island. Though we trekked out each morning to visit landmarks such as the famous zoo in Balboa Park, and the restored windjammer, Star of India, in the harbor, I eagerly returned each evening to pick up the novel.

Entranced with its ethereal love story, and the allusions to the Victorian architecture of the Hotel Del, I pleaded we stop for a quick walk around the locale on our drive back home to Long Beach. What I remember most from that hotel visit exactly half my lifetime earlier had been riding in the Otis #61 elevator, which had been transporting guests since the resort opened in 1888.
Hotel Del Coronado, San Diego, CA

 You may remember the movie, released in 1980, starring the transcendentally handsome Christopher Reeve. Filmed at Mackinac Island's Grand Hotel, the film was called Somewhere in Time. Subsequent editions of the book also bore that new title. Another difference: In the film, Richard Collier, the main character, moves from 1980 back to 1912. In the book he moves from 1971 to 1896. I read later that the reason the location had been changed was that the area around the Hotel Del Coronado, including the parking lots and grounds, had been altered too much to capture the Victorian feel of the hotel.

For my 80th birthday my boyfriend, Frank Stern, offered me a choice of places for an overnight trip. He mentioned Ventura to the north, but I'd just passed through a few days earlier on my return from a weekend in Santa Cruz to visit my nieces. Next he suggested The Mission Inn, east in Riverside, charming, but I didn't want to travel inland during our heatwave. He could barely finish articulating the words "San Diego" when I began to swoon. "Yes, yes, oh, yes, yes, yes. Let's go south."

So we did on my June 28 birthday, stopping in San Clemente at Fisherman's, for fish and chips and a pint, before heading on.

Irish combo at The Field
That evening we walked around the celebrated Gaslamp Quarter, stopping for supper at an Irish pub, The Field, where we shared a sampler, that included corned beef and cabbage, Shepard's pie, whiskey chicken boxty and Guiness beef stew. The next morning, after a succulent Farmers omelette, featuring goat cheese and fig sauce, at Harbor Breakfast, near Little Italy, finally, a half a lifetime later, I headed again for the Hotel Del.

I dragged Frank through nearly a dozen shops there, but I couldn't find a single copy of Matheson's novel in any of them. Though I know the original is a collector's item (my bookseller friend Chris Statler sold his first edition several years ago to finance an operation), I understand from friend Jane Conn, who visited the Grand Hotel a couple of years ago, that the reprint and subsequent film are celebrated there, instead.

Portrait, Maude Adams, Piper Opera House
I feel saddened, because Matheson spent several weeks living at the Hotel Del, while creating his novel. He'd been  inspired by a portrait he'd seen of  at Piper's Opera House in Nevada. He speculated what might transpire if a man could self-hypnotize himself, fall asleep and wake up in an earlier time. Elisa McKenna, the Victorian actress in the novel, is portrayed as starring in the same plays that Maude Adams actually starred in. Elise even shares the same birthday and place of birth, November 11, Salt Lake City.

In 1999 I attended a concert at the Robinson Theater in Little Rock, AR. The conductor opened the evening by announcing he had a prize for anybody in the audience who could identify the name of the author of the book that Somewhere in Time had been adapted from. I jumped up, along with three or others. I bid my time as they guessed, Harlan Ellison, Ray Bradbury, Jack Finney. No, no, no. Finally the conductor nodded toward me. "This woman thinks she knows the answer." I smiled. I didn't just think...I knew. I collected my prize, a cassette with the soundtrack of the film, featuring the haunting theme.

 Here's the simple version of Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43, from John Barry's enchanting soundtrack:

Though I couldn't find either the book or the soundtrack at the Hotel Del, Frank and I did see the ghost of Kate Morgan, or at least the actress who portrays her, wandering through the grounds, dressed in her black dress, carrying her parasol. Here's the story of the woman who is alleged to continue to haunt the place:

Finally, I did some time traveling myself, riding up from the lower floor to the lobby in the Otis #61, one of the first electric elevators manufactured in America, which has graced the main lobby of the Hotel del Coronado since it opened in 1888. Its famous conductor indeed was running it while we rode up.
Terri's Time Travel

Operator Andrew Lounsbury
Interview with elevator operator Andrew Lounsbury: 

If you're in the market for a collector's edition...and can spare $1461.57, here's your chance:

Bid Time Return - 1st Edition/1st Printing, Matheson, Richard
New York: The Viking Press. Fine in Fine dust jacket. 1975. First Edition; First Printing. 1/4 Cloth. 0670162329 . A most attractive first edition/first printing in unread Fine condition in alike dustjacket. Rather scarce in this condition; Matheson's time travel romance of Richard Collier, who has been given 6 months to live by his doctors. Spending his final days in the famed Hotel del Coronado, he falls in love with actress Elise McKenna who performed in the hotel almost 100 years before. Bid Time Return, derived from Shakespeare's Richard II, "O call back yesterday, bid time return", was basis for the 1980 movie Somewhere in Time starring Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour, Christopher Plummer, Teresa Wright and William H. Macy; [x], 278 pages .

Historical Landmark Marker
Hotel Del again, thanks to Frank
Making a birthday wish at H-W

1 comment:

  1. Oh my what a delightful post. I know your heart is still singing from all the joy and excitement. I am amazed at what a storied life you live.