Camelot

Sep. 19th, 2007 02:58 am
naamah_darling: Still from The Last Unicorn animated movie of a springtime forest with a path leading through it. (Road Home)
Tulsa's historic Camelot Hotel burns.

I grew up in the shadow of Camelot. Not many people can say that.

If you walked up the hill and to the main intersection near my house, you could look west and see her, an unmistakable landmark rising above the thick cover of the surrounding trees. She sat beside I-44 like a queen, eight stories high, with white walls, a moat, a drawbridge, and an iron portcullis. Inside the hotel courtyard sat a stone with a sword plunged into it. Nothing could have delighted a child more than to live within walking distance of a real castle.

Whenever we would come back into Tulsa from a long vacation, I would look for her blue turrets and flying flags as we crested that hill. When I saw them, I always knew we were close to home. The sight still lifts my heart, and I look for her whenever I drive through the Lewis and 51st street intersection. In the mornings, mist rises from the nearby river and veils the valley, and she's there like a pale shadow among the trees. In the evenings, the sun sets directly behind her in a blaze of gold; her walls turn pink and her windows throw off the flame of the sunset. Every sight of her is like a homecoming.

I love her. I always have.

She was built in 1965, and entertained many guests in luxury. The King himself -- Elvis -- stayed in Camelot back in its heyday. By the time I knew her she was in her autumn, had passed her days of entertaining high-line guests, and now was home to a different crowd. Our local science fiction convention returned to the Camelot for many years.

It was there, at Okon '91, Sargon and I met for the second time. I remember walking to the hotel from my house, only a half-mile distant. I remember getting to know him in the courtyard, and feeling the hand of fate upon me. I was fourteen, and had been waiting for this forever. I fell in love at Camelot, and again, there are precious few who can say that.

The last time I was there was in 1992, during the last Okon. The hotel hosted the convention, but there were no other guests. The pool was full of green algae, and ivy had covered the walls to the second floor. Flags no longer flew from her towers. Some of the windows were broken, boarded over. But she still had her beauty. I still loved her.

After closing ceremonies, lightning struck the roof of the hotel. It was Fate, signing the end of an era. The Camelot closed forever shortly thereafter.

The abandoned hotel went to scenic ruin over a number of years. Despite Tulsans' love for the old hotel, plans to renovate and restore her never came to fruition, and the building changed hands a number of times only to be condemned in 1996. The city dragged its heels, and nobody seemed to want to tear her down despite the fire and health hazards, but a convenience store chain finally bought the property and demolition was scheduled to begin in October.

They began demolishing the outbuildings on Monday, and today, the second floor of the main castle caught fire and burned. Like the lightning bolt, this was, perhaps, Fate's way of sealing the end.

She's still standing, she's built of steel and built to last, but it won't be long now. This makes it final.

For eleven years, I have loved her in her scenic decline. I have entertained fancies that someone would sweep in and buy her, refurbish her, perhaps turn her into a fantastic medieval-themed brothel.

Now I know she'll be leveled, and someday soon I will crest that hill and see nothing there. The emptiness will smack me like a fist to the chest, and another piece of my life will be consigned to memory, another chapter closed.

I will be sorry when they put a gas station on that corner. It will feel like something personal has been taken away from me. Like part of my home has been unmade. It's bitter, but I understand that it is more respectful to demolish her than to allow her to sit in ruin, her charm failing until what is left is nothing more than a cheap-looking eyesore. Better to tear her down and allow the memory to shine, unbounded by reality. Better to allow her to become, once more, a beautiful dream.

But I will miss the sight of her from the top of the hill, a forest of green trees sweeping down to her white walls and brilliant windows, the highway running by like a river, running forever into the westering sun.

Each evening, from December to December,
Before you drift to sleep upon your cot,
Think back on all the tales that you remember
Of Camelot.




There are more pictures here and more on the Camelot's history here.

This is, incidentally, the latest in a string of disasters associated with my marriage. The church that hosted the SCA event where we first met was demolished by a tornado only a few years later, and a campground that sheltered us on a particularly memorable overnight stay was flooded out the next summer. Once struck by lightning, now the Camelot burns.

Love, it would seem, is a force of nature.

Camelot

Sep. 19th, 2007 02:58 am
naamah_darling: Still from The Last Unicorn animated movie of a springtime forest with a path leading through it. (Road Home)
Tulsa's historic Camelot Hotel burns.

I grew up in the shadow of Camelot. Not many people can say that.

If you walked up the hill and to the main intersection near my house, you could look west and see her, an unmistakable landmark rising above the thick cover of the surrounding trees. She sat beside I-44 like a queen, eight stories high, with white walls, a moat, a drawbridge, and an iron portcullis. Inside the hotel courtyard sat a stone with a sword plunged into it. Nothing could have delighted a child more than to live within walking distance of a real castle.

Whenever we would come back into Tulsa from a long vacation, I would look for her blue turrets and flying flags as we crested that hill. When I saw them, I always knew we were close to home. The sight still lifts my heart, and I look for her whenever I drive through the Lewis and 51st street intersection. In the mornings, mist rises from the nearby river and veils the valley, and she's there like a pale shadow among the trees. In the evenings, the sun sets directly behind her in a blaze of gold; her walls turn pink and her windows throw off the flame of the sunset. Every sight of her is like a homecoming.

I love her. I always have.

She was built in 1965, and entertained many guests in luxury. The King himself -- Elvis -- stayed in Camelot back in its heyday. By the time I knew her she was in her autumn, had passed her days of entertaining high-line guests, and now was home to a different crowd. Our local science fiction convention returned to the Camelot for many years.

It was there, at Okon '91, Sargon and I met for the second time. I remember walking to the hotel from my house, only a half-mile distant. I remember getting to know him in the courtyard, and feeling the hand of fate upon me. I was fourteen, and had been waiting for this forever. I fell in love at Camelot, and again, there are precious few who can say that.

The last time I was there was in 1992, during the last Okon. The hotel hosted the convention, but there were no other guests. The pool was full of green algae, and ivy had covered the walls to the second floor. Flags no longer flew from her towers. Some of the windows were broken, boarded over. But she still had her beauty. I still loved her.

After closing ceremonies, lightning struck the roof of the hotel. It was Fate, signing the end of an era. The Camelot closed forever shortly thereafter.

The abandoned hotel went to scenic ruin over a number of years. Despite Tulsans' love for the old hotel, plans to renovate and restore her never came to fruition, and the building changed hands a number of times only to be condemned in 1996. The city dragged its heels, and nobody seemed to want to tear her down despite the fire and health hazards, but a convenience store chain finally bought the property and demolition was scheduled to begin in October.

They began demolishing the outbuildings on Monday, and today, the second floor of the main castle caught fire and burned. Like the lightning bolt, this was, perhaps, Fate's way of sealing the end.

She's still standing, she's built of steel and built to last, but it won't be long now. This makes it final.

For eleven years, I have loved her in her scenic decline. I have entertained fancies that someone would sweep in and buy her, refurbish her, perhaps turn her into a fantastic medieval-themed brothel.

Now I know she'll be leveled, and someday soon I will crest that hill and see nothing there. The emptiness will smack me like a fist to the chest, and another piece of my life will be consigned to memory, another chapter closed.

I will be sorry when they put a gas station on that corner. It will feel like something personal has been taken away from me. Like part of my home has been unmade. It's bitter, but I understand that it is more respectful to demolish her than to allow her to sit in ruin, her charm failing until what is left is nothing more than a cheap-looking eyesore. Better to tear her down and allow the memory to shine, unbounded by reality. Better to allow her to become, once more, a beautiful dream.

But I will miss the sight of her from the top of the hill, a forest of green trees sweeping down to her white walls and brilliant windows, the highway running by like a river, running forever into the westering sun.

Each evening, from December to December,
Before you drift to sleep upon your cot,
Think back on all the tales that you remember
Of Camelot.




There are more pictures here and more on the Camelot's history here.

This is, incidentally, the latest in a string of disasters associated with my marriage. The church that hosted the SCA event where we first met was demolished by a tornado only a few years later, and a campground that sheltered us on a particularly memorable overnight stay was flooded out the next summer. Once struck by lightning, now the Camelot burns.

Love, it would seem, is a force of nature.

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