The Hotel del Coronado — Part Three

This is not Coronado Beach, on Coronado Island, off of San Diego, California, but this structure is similar to the cabinette my husband and I rented there. I could not write a series about this 120-year-old resort without telling you how wonderful it is in the present.

At the Del, a cabinette is two wooden lounge chairs joined together with a canopy that you pull up if you want shade.  The young people lucky enough to get summer jobs at this wide, wonderful beach brought bottles of water to our cabinette, as well as a bowl of fruit.  All included in the price.

Read a good book, doze, read, swim.

I don’t know how it can be legal, but just across the path, at the edge of the hotel, there is a walk-up bar where you can get wine, beer, or cocktails to go and bring them to your beach chair or cabinette.  Some people had cardboard boxes that held four cocktails per box.

Read, sip, doze.

The Del is presently the largest wooden structure in the United States.  Although it was built in 1888, it was powered by electricity from the beginning.  Other Victorian hotels were lit by gaslight, and the open flames caused fires and destruction.

Although a few days at this beach resort is wonderful, some guests in the early twentieth century stayed for such long periods — they received a substantial discount off the nightly and weekly rates — that the Del opened a school for the children.

With the next post, I will begin the astonishing events of the past and present.

The Hotel del Coronado — Part Two

Pickford, Chaplin, Gable and Katharine Hepburn, as well as movie stars of the present, have been guests at the Hotel del Coronado.  Eleven U.S. presidents have slept here.  Charles Lindbergh was feted at a 1927 banquet for his solo crossing of the Atlantic in “The Spirit of St. Louis,” and a replica of his plane circled above the guests in the dining room.

Clicking this link will open a new window with a website showing a lovely impressionist painting created by artist Louis Betts about 1907. It is of Coronado Beach, and Betts probably painted it while he was outside.  The top of the page has a detail of the painting. Below that is a blank area above a row of small photos (called thumbnails). Click on the thumbnail of this painting, the one on the far lef,t to see the entire painting.

I can almost feel the warmth of the sand. The lady in the white dress carries a yellow umbrella, and the top of it is lit by the sun. The umbrella shades her upper body, and she herself casts a shadow on the sand.

With all the sunshine and bathers enjoying the ocean, I wondered why the painting is called “Mid-Winter, Coronado Beach.” I’ve been to Coronado Beach in summer, which I will write about in a few days, and this looks like summertime to me. This afternoon, it’s 75 degrees in Coronado and the water is 69 degrees. (Yes, the water is this cool off of San Diego, the southernmost city on the west coast of the continental U.S.  That’s because the surface current along the Pacific coast comes from Alaska. Along the east coast of the U.S., the current comes from the Gulf of Mexico, so beach water is warmer on that coast.)

But mid-winter in Coronado? Isn’t the water chilly? The water then averages 59 degrees, but this painting was an advertisement for the Southern Pacific Railway.

This painting will be on display only until September 20, and then it will go into storage. The exhibit is called “Paradise Found.” I will try to see it. Art is worth the drive, and I could use a little paradise.  I’ll bet you could, too.  This is what art is for.

Hotel del Coronado — Part Three will describe the beach in the present, and then I will move on to the amazing events at the hotel, as I promised in Part One.  If you haven’t read Part One, the previous post, take a look at it and view a scene from the #1 comedy of all time.

The Hotel Del Coronado : A Beauty at the Beach – Part One

Image credit: coleong / 123RF Stock Photo

Let’s cool off. What better place than Coronado Island off San Diego, California? I had heard of a grand Victorian beach hotel a couple hours from my home, but when I saw Coronado Beach on a list of the top ten beaches in the United States, I had to go. Later this month, I’ll describe the past and present at the hotel – afternoons at the beach, famous visitors and astonishing events.  Yes, astonishing. I promise.

I’m excited to introduce this resort with a delightful video clip of a famous comedy filmed at the Del. The American Film Institute, based on input from many industry experts, ranked “Some Like It Hot” the number-one comedy of the first 100 years of American cinema.
“Some Like It Hot” stars Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis. Billy Wilder co-wrote, produced, and directed. Filmed in 1959, it takes place during Prohibition, when speakeasy musicians played by Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis witness the St. Valentine’s Day massacre. In order to flee Chicago gangsters, they must disguise themselves as female musicians. They join an all-girls band heading to a resort that is supposedly in Florida.

The clip shows the lovely Hotel del Coronado, where both Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe catch the eyes of millionaires. One of them, Osgood Fielding III, played by Joe E. Brown, flirts with Jack Lemmon.  It’s priceless.

Olympic Medals for the Arts

In the first half of the 20th century, the Olympics awarded medals for artworks. Baron Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic Games, which began in 1896, pushed for “muscle and mind” to be honored. Medals were presented to artists from 1912 to 1948.

Gold, silver, and bronze medals were awarded for music, sculpture, literature, architecture, and two categories of painting, oil painting and watercolor. No, they did not paint in front of a crowd or the judges.

In the first year of the arts competition, American Walter Winans won a medal in sculpture and another in shooting. A true artist-athlete.

You can read more about this in the book The Forgotten Olympic Art Competitions by Richard Stanton.

You can also read about a gold-medal winner and the poignant path his life, his art, and his medal took after his victory. “When aesthetes competed at the Olympics” was published in the Los Angeles Times on August 25, 2008.

Take a Stroll, Play a Piano

“Play Me, I’m Yours,” an international project by artist Luke Jerram, is all about the joy of music. For three weeks In the spring of 2012, this project came to Los Angeles, courtesy of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. Thirty pianos were scattered about the county, outdoors and indoors.

In a courtyard with modern stores in historic buildings, people stood and looked at the piano. It was Saturday evening and couples had come to enjoy the restaurants, stores and movie theater. There were three young men about eighteen years old. Everyone kept their distance from a wildly painted piano.

“It’s for anyone to play,” someone said.

“He can play,” one of the young men said about another.

People said they would like to hear him play, but the young man made no move to do so.

“Nobody expects you to be great,” I told him.

He sat at the piano. His playing wasn’t perfect.

Yet the music was magic in the twilight on the Saturday evening. Couples put their arms around each other as they listened. At the end of the song, people applauded.

Here’s a link to a wonderful video. A gospel choir sings at a street piano twenty years to the day after the Los Angeles riots. Elson Trinidad, the choir member at the keyboard, says, “Things have changed in twenty years and we’re going to celebrate the changes.”

Elson Trinidad and the Gospel Choir of St. Agatha’s Church on a Street Piano