Happy, haunted Halloween
Since we’re coming up on Halloween week, I believe a ghost story is in order.
Also, I’m pimping a book, so this could mean there’s more to come.
On our honeymoon a few years ago, my husband and I went to Tombstone, AZ, because the lengendary heart-shaped bedded rooms in the Poconos were completely booked, or so he said.
We stayed in Tombstone three days and thought it was historically fascinating.
My husband had been there before, but I hadn’t. I still opted out of the re-enactment of the gunfight at the O.K. Corral because it was June, it was hot and the largest rosebush in the world a block over was providing some pretty compelling shade.
My husband loves history, and as a proud subscriber to the western channel, the more western the history the better. So he was very excited to see everything the Bird Cage Theatre had to offer.
And, it was impressive.
The first time we went to the Bird Cage was in the daylight and we were in awe of the rows of glass cases in the main hall that held artifacts from Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp and his brothers, Doc Holliday, and other evidence of the violence as well as the bawdy fun had back in the 1880’s in this fine establishment.
Also, I noticed they had ghost tours every night, twice a night and my day (and subsequent night) was officially made.
The Bird Cage had two kinds of tours, actually - day time historical tours, and night time ghost tours. Since my new husband was less than enthusiastic about ghost activity, I was kind (we were newly-married) and told him he could do the historical tour and stay at the Crystal Palace Saloon while I did the ghost tour alone. Ever the gentleman, he uncomfortably agreed to go on the ghost tour.
Beforehand, we agreed I would be the photographer and he would video parts of the experience.
In the front of the building was the original ‘belly up’ bar where I took my new husband’s picture, so handsome and so brave.
Then the tour proceeded through a door that led to the main hall of the saloon with a 15’X15’ stage and orchestra pit, lit by gas jets on the front side. If you look up, there are fourteen boxes on the two balconies that flank the hall, each with original red velvet curtains.
A dumbwaiter at the end of the bar efficiently fed whiskey and beer to the patrons in the “box seats,” which were actually where the prostitutes plied their trade, then opened the curtains so their customers could enjoy the show.
We went to the basement poker area where the longest poker game in history was played, lasting eight years, five months and three days - 24 hours a day.
The basement is also the resting place of the Black Mariah, a horsedrawn hearse that carried all but six Tombstone residents to Boot Hill during the 1880’s. Worth approximately $2-million today, it is the first vehicle with curved glass, according to Ford Motor Co., and it’s really creepy, according to me.
To no one’s surprise, several people - prostitutes, cowboys, lawmen, miners and others - died in this saloon. To be specific, 26 are believed to have died there.
These were crazy, raucous times these folk lived in. People died quite often, and sometimes there. One of the working girls was reported to have had her heart cut out of her chest by another prostitute. Wyatt Earp’s brother was laid out on the pool table there, which remains in the main hall and for some weird reason has antique typewriters on it.
During the hour and a half ghost tour, we spent quite a lot of time using recording equipment, asking questions of invisible people we hoped would answer and taking pictures.
When we got to the poker room, my husband was video taping, because frankly, it’s pretty cool down there.
The area was not very large and was seemingly unchanged from the poker game that ended 122 years prior.
The original bar still stood, as well as the poker table and chairs, and cards and chips. It was pretty quiet the whole time, unless someone was asking a direct question and trying to capture an answer.
It was endlessly educationaland interesting. But sadly, nothing really happened during the tour. My husband was thrilled with that late development, and I like to get almost scared enough to wet my pants. We are not good battle buddies in ghost hunting situations.
When we got back to the hotel - Holiday Inn on the edge of Tombstone (whoop!) we downloaded the photos and video.
All of my photos were normal. All of them except the very first I took of Bobby in front of the original bar. There are orbs - bright ones - swirling around him. That didn’t happen in any other photo.
I considered that a success.
Bobby was feeling really good about life until right about then, but what soap does one use to get ghost residue off them?
I had no answer for him while I was jumping up and down on the fine Holiday Inn mattress we were about to sleep on.
Then we began downloading the video from the poker room, and we could clearly cards shuffling on the video. Problem is, there were no cards shuffling while we were in there.
But, there were lots of cards shuffling on the video.
Bobby immediately regretted the trip, and I was all like “SUCCESS!” I continued jumping on the bed while my sweet husband locked the cameras in the trunk of the car.
I have proof of the picture, but sadly the video camera left us in a tragically fast descent down a mountain side while hiking with my children. The children weren’t with it on the way down, thank God.
What can I say? I love ghost hunting, even when it turns out nothing was really there. But if something is really there ... well, I might need adult diapers but I’ll be in the middle of it.
My friends and I are going to take a few ghost hunting trips over the next several months, both locally and abroad (Texas abroad, not Europe unless, of course there are sponsors involved - call me!) which could find their way into another book. I like the friend thing, the ghost hunting hobby and the book business and I think they would make a great additional marriage.
I mean, I’m taken because I have a guy who went freaking ghost hunting with me at the Bird Cage Saloon, but the whole friendship adventure thing is a marriage of a whole different soul-healing sort.
It works for me, and it definitely works for my husband.