Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

THE INNER ELOISE CLUB (Find Your Inner Child at The Plaza Hotel)

7 Aug

By Cheri Sundra 

NYC: The Plaza Hotel
Photo Credit:  Wally Gobetz

THE INNER ELOISE CLUBPhoto Credit:  Cheri Sundra

Described as the Holden Caulfield for kindergartners, or anyone willing to embrace their inner child, she is the enormously famous little girl who lives at the Plaza Hotel–“the only hotel in New York that will allow you to have a turtle”.    First published in 1955, Kay Thompson’s ELOISE, a children’s book “for precocious grownups”, is the creation and literal brain-child of author, Kay Thompson, who is known for being quite a character in and of herself. Thompson is also well-known for her appearance in the movie Funny Face (“Think Pink!”) with Audrey Hepburn.

THINK PINKPhoto Credit:  myhumblefash

The James Dean of children’s literature, ELOISE gave a generation of little girls permission to rebel.  She lived parents-free, crayoned walls and ordered up room service for herself and her dog, Weenie, and her turtle, Skipperdee, demanding that the staff “Charge it please. Thank you very much.”

Palm Court, the Plaza, New York Photo Credit:  Tom Barnes

ELOISE understood the power of connections and networking, even at the tender age of six—“The Bell Captain knows who I am.”   When told by The Manager that she is a nuisance in the lobby, ELOISE announces, “My mother knows The Owner”.  She skiddered about The Plaza, slomping her skates and making a terrible racket, not caring one bit about “the ladies” in the lobby with the revolving door and marble pillars, until she was good and ready to return to her “mostly companion”, her “rawther” British nanny.

Happy 66th Birthday LIZA MINNELLI! and Happy CABARET's 40th Anniversary.(Feb.12,1972)

Photo Credit:  Mikie Reyes

Liza Minnelli is often cited as the possible inspiration for ELOISE. Kay Thompson and Judy Garland were so close that Thompson was Minnelli’s godmother. Another theory is that ELOISE was Thompson’s alter-ego. Kay Thompson was definitely a real-life character, as well as being light years ahead of her time.

Thompson, who attended the same high school as Tennessee Williams, was a prodigy on the piano by the time she was sixteen.  Often described as a gifted and attention-seeking oddball, Thompson’s ambitions included becoming a musical star-but her act, high camp, was twenty years ahead of its time.  Despite inclusion in a few musical productions that were popular in their day, Thompson’s role has been mostly unreported in the history of popular music.  When all was said and done, despite wanting to be famous for being Kay Thompson, she became most well-known as the creator of ELOISE and the epic marketing machine that followed.

Despite being created during the 1950s, ELOISE is definitely a child of modern times. Today, we live in the age of the Toyetic, a phrase created by studio executives to describe any movie or TV show’s potential to support the sale of toys and similar merchandising methods. Kay Thompson was forward-thinking when she formed ELOISE, Ltd. after the success of the first ELOISE book. Headquartered appropriately at the Plaza Hotel (where Thompson was allowed to live rent-free), Thompson managed all of the merchandising and publicity pertaining to ELOISE. Thompson is credited with creating one of the first publishing saturation marketing gambits. ELOISE was not just a book, she was also a doll sold exclusively at Lord & Taylor, several toys, her own wardrobe for Neiman Marcus, and she even made her television debut on Thanksgiving Day in 1956.

Eloïse, mon premier contact avec New York?

Photo Credit:  Marine Armstrong

While modern sociology scholars like to credit He-Man as being the first children’s character created for the sole purpose of selling products, I would argue that during her heyday, the ELOISE marketing machine was like He-Man on crack, with the added appeal of selling big ticket items to adults thanks to her endorsements for products such as Kalistron Luggage  and Renault Automobiles    in addition to the numerous products marketed at younger fans.

Eloise goodies

Photo Credit:  Syd.EGore

In 1962, at the height of her celebrity and ELOISE-mania, Kay Thompson mysteriously picked up and left New York, with only a toothbrush, and moved to Rome.  Shortly after, she pulled the plug on the whole ELOISE franchise, refusing to even finish the final ELOISE book. After her death in 1998, Thompson’s estate put ELOISE back on the market again, much to the delight of children and adults everywhere.

EloisePhoto Credit:  Luvzdollz

 It has been reported that Thompson became jealous that her creation became more famous than she was herself.  Thompson was a woman known for being fastidious and precise about every aspect of her appearance and career.  When ELOISE was first published, Thompson insisted that her name be above the title, as if on a marquee.  During the height of the ELOISE craze, Thompson reportedly called book stores to ask “What is the title of the book in the window?”  When the clerk would inevitably answer “ELOISE”, she would shout “That is incorrect! The title of the book is Kay Thompson’s ELOISE!”

Even after becoming urber-successful, Kay Thompson was still an insecure, self-absorbed, restless six-year old.  And in the final analysis, aren’t we all?

UntitledPhoto Credit:  rodkimble

Fifty-six years later, you can still make plans to get in touch with your inner-ELOISE and skibble over to The Plaza.  Remember the ELOISE moto–“Getting bored is not allowed!”

Take a Pilgrim Plantation THANKSGIVING Vacation

24 Nov

by CHERI SUNDRA

Plymouth Rock           Photo Credit: Tom Harjo

Despite earning the title “Most Disappointing Historical Landmark”, Pilgrim Memorial State Park is one of the most heavily visited locations within the National State Park System.  More than 1 million people visit Plymouth Rock each year to pay homage to the faith and courage of the men and women who founded the first New England colony.  Luckily for history buffs and the tourist industry in Plymouth, Massachusetts, there is more to do year round than gaze upon a weathered hunk of Dedham granite.  Yet nothing beats walking along the same terrain as the Pilgrims, and spending time in this destination filled with history and tradition during the “America’s Hometown Thanksgiving Celebration”, which occurs annually on the third weekend of November.
Wampanoag Guide

Photo Credit:  eracose (Margaret Ayad)

This year, the 15th Annual Thanksgiving Celebration in Plymouth, Massachusetts was held on November 19th thru the 21st, 2010.  The celebration of Thanksgiving is literally brought to life as Native Americans, Pilgrims, Soldiers, Pioneers and Patriots climb right out of our history and emerge onto the streets of Plymouth.  One of the major features of the celebration is the parade that begins on the Plymouth historic waterfront.  This is America’s only historically accurate chronological parade which shows the preservation of America’s history by starting with the Pilgrim era and representing each century from the 17th thru the 21st.  The parade is both educational and entertaining to attract visitors from all corners of the United States and beyond.  It includes historical reenactments, vintage American cars and elaborate handmade floats.  The festival surrounding the parade is designed to treat visitors to a visual trip back to colonial times.
What to make for Thanksgiving?

Photo Credit:  sfPhotocraft

The Annual Thanksgiving Celebration also coincides with the New England Food Festival where attendees line up at the entrance by Plymouth Rock to sample the very best soups, chowders and desserts from area restaurants.  New England style culinary demonstrations are performed by the renowned chefs from Le Cordon Blue and the Culinary College of Boston.  At the food festival, chefs vie for valuable prizes as well as the prestige that comes with being a winner.

While enjoying the scenic views of Plymouth Harbor at Pilgrim Memorial State Park, visitors can admire The Mayflower II, a full-scale reproduction of the type of ship that brought the Pilgrims from England to America in 1620, which is anchored at the park and open for tours from March through the end of November.  Visitors can climb aboard the ship and explore her from bow to stern while encountering costumed role players, modern-day staff and maritime artisans.

Happy Thanksgiving

PHOTO CREDIT:  Tim King

No one knows for sure what happened to the original Mayflower.  The last record of the ship was an assessment of her value in 1624.  The Mayflower II was constructed in England and sailed to America in 1957, and is officially part of the Plimoth Plantation.

History literally comes alive at the living history museum that recreates the original Pilgrim settlement where it’s 1627 all of the time.   Plimoth Plantation is open daily from late March through late November annually.  Visitors are treated to an authentic recreation of the original Pilgrim settlement including the recreated home of the Pilgrims’ Native American neighbors and a food program featuring 17th-century cuisine.

There is no more historically appropriate location for eating Thanksgiving dinner than at Plimoth Plantation itself, where Pilgrim role players and Native interpreters will entertain dinner guests with stories, riddles and music, while they dine on classic roast turkey with the founders of the feast.

On Thanksgiving Day, downtown Plymouth provides a day full of fun festivities in celebration of the town’s significance in being the home for the very first Thanksgiving.  Next year, plan your own Plimoth Plantation Thanksgiving Vacation—you’ll be glad that you did!

Cheri Sundra © 2010
All Rights Reserved