WE LIVE IN THE MODERN AGE... and the modern age brims with modern conveniences and safety features, and very much so in the many ways we travel and where we travel and how we go. Let's start with airplanes here -- they rather make getting from Point A to Point B faster than, say, every other conveyance that came before -- and let's put elevators and automobiles and phones to call room service and computer print-outs of our hotel bill into the mod cons category, too. And while 100% of all travelers are looking for a smooth, happy, and issue-free trip, people visiting a new place aren't entirely enamored of the new. Exhibit A: History tours. Exhibit B: Longtime festivals and community traditions. And Exhibit C: Those little touches an older landmark hotel will keep, here and there, to recall the many decades that the storied business has been in service. One doesn't see, for example, those weighty-in-the-palm, brassy-pretty keychains so much anymore, the kind that hotels used to regularly use in the wayback when days. You remember the ones; the keychains said "drop in any mailbox" and return postage would be guaranteed if the mail carrier delivered the lost item to the hotel. Handy key cards, however, with their safety features and numberless faces, have replaced the brass key in many an inn. But you can still find the old-fashioned keychains, in certain gift shops, in certain cities, if you want to hang your own at-home keys from a piece of hospitality history.
THE PALACE HOTEL... of San Francisco still sells the old-school, jingle-jingle accessories in the Palace Collection boutique for nine dollars a pop. The grand dame's flourishy crest is on one side, and the ol' "mailbox drop" request on the other. If you've ever stayed at the hotel -- and you've had since 1909 to do so, though the original hotel stood even earlier, with a start year of 1879 -- then call it a sentimental memento. If you collect hotel and motel keychains that boast personality and history, then this could be your next stocking stuffer (for yourself). And if you simply like history in your pocket, and a reminder of another day, call the keychain a small window back to the San Francisco of yore. Of course, The Palace's grand Garden Court still stands, looking as Edwardian as any softly lit space in the city might, so that could be your time portal right there, if you long for another era. Will your new -- er, old -- keychain feel at home in the Garden Court, should you slip it into your pocket before dining? Things don't have memories, but keys, and keychains, are often magical objects in stories. And a bit of the past mixed in among our modern travel conveniences is pretty darn quaint.