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April 24, 1966: Hotel is home for real-life ‘Eloise’

Posted by: Ben Welter under Minnesota History Updated: December 5, 2011 - 9:32 AM
 
 
   
As anyone familiar with children’s literature knows, Eloise is a 6-year-old girl who lives in a room on the tippy-top floor of the  Plaza Hotel in New York. She has the run of the place, skating down halls and writing on walls and charging her meals to Room Service.
 
About 10 years after the popular series hit bookstores, a 5-year-old girl named Allison Hoadley moved into the Sheraton-Ritz Hotel in downtown Minneapolis. She also had the run of the place, skating down halls and writing on walls (a blackboard, actually) and sampling baked goods in the hotel kitchen. Unlike Eloise’s largely absent parents, Mr. and Mrs. Hoadley appear to have kept close track of Allison’s activities. Mr. Hoadley, the hotel’s general manager, took time each day to read to Allison in his office, and Mrs. Hoadley made sure Allison was dressed Just Like Eloise when a photographer for the Minneapolis Tribune shot this photo spread for the Sunday Picture magazine.
 

Permanent Resident, 5, Is at Home in Hotel

 
Text by JANE SHANARD | Photos by EARL SEUBERT
 
ALLISON HOADLEY, 5, doesn’t slide down the banister like the famous imp, Eloise, but that certainly doesn’t mean she is incapable of such escapades at her new home in the Sheraton-Ritz Hotel, Minneapolis.
 
If her first weeks as permanent resident of the hotel (where daddy, Tom, is general manger) give any inkling of what’s to come, it won’t be long before she has explored every nook and cranny of the hotel. For most people a hotel could be considered a bit confining and no place to raise a child. But for Allison, every day means something new.
 
 
  The 17-story Sheraton-Ritz, shown here in 1975, was demolished in 1990. (mnhs.org)
Brought up in a world of adults, she has lived in hotels since she was a year old. She’s a friend of the hotel baker, who gives her sweet rolls; of the doorman, whom she gives a cheery smile; of the housekeeping department, where she writes her name and her boy friend’s (Batman) on the bullentin board, and of the family’s maid, Anna, whom she helps with the cleaning.
 
“You’d be surprised,” her mother says of the effervescent and uninhibited little girl with the bouncing pony tail, “how many toys of a quiet nature it takes to keep her busy.”
 
One of her greatest delights is a shoe-shining kit with an electric buffer. She amused herself the other day by shining her red school shoes with brown polish until her mother appeared on the scene. The red school shoes are for kindergarten at Northrop Collegiate School.
 
Story time for Allison means time with her busy father, sitting on his knee, while he reads “Uncle Remus.”
 
Recently Allison challenged her mother to go back to bed and she would mind sister Caroline. A happy 25-pound bundle of energy, Caroline is exactly four years younger than Allison. Both were born Jan. 10.
 
At his first staff meeting Hoadley warned his staff: “Don’t be surprised to see my daughter riding her bike around the Cotillion Ballroom when it’s not in use.” She’s pedaled her bike around the chairs and tables like an expert, but only after “checking the gas.”
 
Her father tells the story of Allison on her first trip to a friend’s house for dinner at age 2. “Allison sat down and promptly asked for a menu.”
 
With the coming of spring, Allison substituted snow angels on the hotel plaza for hopscotch and roller skating and swimming in the hotel pool.
 
Allison steers her bike with learner wheels around the ballroom with the ease of an expert despite the obstacles. [The captions on these Earl Seubert photos are the originals]

 

 
“Mmmm. Good,” Allison tells hotel baker Donovan Nolte after sampling the breakfast rolls.

 

 
She writes numbers and boy friend’s name (Batman) on the laundry room blackboard for Shirley Ellgren.

 

 
“You make it like this,” Allison instructs the maid, Anna Grimm, as she helps her with the morning chore.

 

 
Mother assists as Allison prepares to speed down the hall on her way to the hotel plaza to roller-skate.

 

 
Dad takes time out for a little storytelling in his office. Allison and sister, Caroline, bring “Uncle Remus” for this daily ritual.

 

 
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