Last night Shana and I took advantage of a generous offer for dinner and an inspiring talk at the Hilton Skirvin Oklahoma City, which will always be the Skirvin Plaza Hotel to me, because that was its name when I first came to Okahoma City. In 1911, when it was built, it started life as the Skirvin Hotel. I worked in downtown Oklahoma City for a few months in the early 70's, passing through the elegant lobby a few times. The "Oil Slicks" were in town and parties were lavish. Then came the bust in 1982. At that time it was experiencing hard times and it was not a surprise when it closed in 1988. I came back downtown to work in 1990, spending some months working right across the street from the hotel. That was still in the days of Oklahoma's recovery from the oil bust, and the empty Skirvin seemed like a sad reminder of all the tough times we had experienced. Several attempts to restore the hotel to its function were proposed and collapsed before its current resurrection as a part of the Hilton empire. I can't speak for the guest rooms, but the lobbies and meeting rooms have been treated to a sensitive renovation. It is even more beautiful than I recalled. The only odd thing is that the acoustics of the building make the piano bar in the first floor lounge sound creepily like the Overlook Hotel from the mezzanine.
Our tickets were courtesy of Dr. R. Murali Krishna, who is president of Integris Mental Health, among many other honors and positions. He treated the therapists to tickets which not only entitled them to dinner at the hotel and a seat for the lecture, but also counted as points towards their health program. He's a wonderful speaker, and the topic was very interesting: the benefits of happiness from a physical and psychological point of view, and strategies for achieving that state. Not only did we get to enjoy his presentation, but he also provided every attendee with a set of Cd's covering most of the talk and additional materials. It was a great evening out, especially since it was free.
This being the month of my Annual Birthday Celebration it was only fair that I get to enjoy an evening downtown. So far I have also scored a camping ax and a campstove toaster. I can hardly wait for the next camping trip to try out my booty.