Saturday, November 24, 2012

Story ideas from the road...help yourself!

Just returned from my annual fall get-away, roughly defined as "me-time" when I can do what I like when I like without constraints of large beasts and small persons, (not that I don't care about both!), meetings, appointments, and other necessary (often enjoyable) events that seem to crowd the calendar more and more.

This year I went to Eureka Springs AR. Click the link for information about this fascinating place, because this blog post is not a travelogue. Rather, I want to tell you about the 'haunted' Crescent Hotel and throw out some early Christmas candy in the form of story ideas. Please feel free to help yourself!

On Tuesday I hung out on the back porch, ensconced in a larger rocker, Kindle in hand, until it grew chilly. Then I walked up to the fourth floor (elevator down for repairs/replacement) and hung out at Dr. Baker's Bistro until time for the 8 o'clock Ghost Tour, where one may meet guests who checked in but never checked out!

The hotel gets its name from its location on a crescent-shaped ridge overlooking the town. The Cherokee culture includes the premise that flowing water is conducive to spirituality, and there are 68 named springs in Eureka Springs, plus Blue Spring 10 miles away.

The hotel was a grand place when it opened in 1886 and through the 'gay nineties', with stables for 100 horses, a pool, tennis courts, bowling alley, and an orchestra. The rich and famous stayed here to 'take the waters' until the development of of modern medical science pooh-poohed the belief in the healing waters of the springs.

Fr.om 1908 until the Depression era, it was a girls' college which doubled as a hotel during the summers. Then in 1937 came "Dr." Norman Baker, who bought the building and established the Cancer Curable Baker Hospital. His 'miracle treatment' consisted of injections of herbs and carbolic acid! Not a popular figure with those who recognized him for the charlatan he was, he had a well-protected office (bullet-proof glass) and kept weapons handy.

He had the doors of the patients' rooms removed so the staff could check on them during the night without disturbing them. Also to further minimize 'disturbance', he sealed off the wing of the building once used as accommodations for wealthy guests' servants and placed the terminal patients there. The steel doors masked the sounds of their suffering in the area which became known as "The Pain Asylum".

Well, fortunately, Baker was arrested in 1940, though he served a relatively short term in prison.  But--immediately the records disappeared, so no one has any idea how many patients passed through the doors (and out again, often feet first) in four years.

I hope you'll follow the links to get some background on the history of this fascinating, still imposing old structure (again a hotel) and will come back again tomorrow when I spin you the tales of not one but 5 'residents' who never left--and also tell you about the three most 'haunted'--and most requested rooms in the hotel.

Disclaimer: I am not into 'the paranormal', but I love a good 'ghost story'. 

CONTEST OPPORTUNITY:
Leave a comment on this blog and the one tomorrow--specifically about a story idea that has 'rattled your cage'--and be entered in a drawing for a copy of A Very Kate Christmas.

No comments: