1/8/97 A Dormant Hotel
To all who know and love the Wawona Hotel, know that it
is fine, untouched by the recent chaos in Yosemite. It
has been fine for a long, long time, now. I was up there,
today, and checked. Trouble is, it was built by and for
people, and there arent any at the moment.
Actually, this state was once the norm, for during the
winter, the Hotel would be shut down and given a rest.
Not until December of 1987 did the Wawona open for the
holiday season. Ive experienced the cold, quiet
grounds fairly often over the years, and wandered in the
vacant lobby and dining room. Youd think
thered be ghosts, or something, but despite my best
efforts to hear mysterious footsteps and voices, all I
get is a feeling of being home.
The Hotel was infused with elegant goodwill by its
builders, and patiently exerts itself upon those who work
or visit there. Tacitly imposing its Victorian standards,
the Wawona Hotel doesnt seem to allow much change
in the way its run. There may be superficial
phases--changes in the wallpaper, menu, the way the
guests dress--but if you listen to those who remember the
Wawona of 70 years ago, youll notice that its
spirit and its guests havent changed, much.
Wawona hasnt been made into an Old Hotel Museum,
with its artifacts displayed in glass cases; it continues
to function under the premise upon which it was
built--but with the added charm and patina of its years.
And no ghosts, not even in the attic. I got to rummage
around in the attic, once. Nope, didnt find any
hidden artifacts in the dust. There is the old wiring up
there (bare wires strung along white insulators attached
to the rough sawn ceiling joists), and the plaster
pushing through the lathe--the effort of long ago
plasterers frozen in time--and the fragrance of
decades-long stillness. For me, the goodly spirit of the
Hotel emanates from that dark, serene attic, and coexists
with an even older spirit, just as the bats fly in and
out through its hidden openings.
The bats were zipping around there before the Hotel,
before people, and will be there after the Hotel and
people leave. This may also apply to Stanley. Stanley has
worked at the Wawona, some believe, since before it was
built--there in the woods, towel and tray in hand,
waiting for the construction of a dining room. I happen
to know he hasnt been there quite that long.
Anyway, the next entry will be Stanleys chronology
of the Wawona Hotel.