November 20, 2007

The Baker Hotel

One of my favorite shows on TV is entitled Dead Famous. Two people, a sensitive and a sceptic go and try to find the ghosts of dead celebrities. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, there is some damn good historical knowledge to be gained from watching the show.

On one episode they were investigating the legend of Bonnie & Clyde. The famous outlaw lovers that met their end with police on May 23, 1934 in Bienville Parish, Louisiana. Chris Fleming (the sensitive) and Gail Porter (the sceptic) visit the historic Baker Hotel in Mineral Wells, Texas, a favorite hang out of Bonnie & Clyde.

The Baker Hotel construction began in 1926 and opened in 1929, just two weeks after Black Friday. Built by T. B. Baker at the height of the roaring 20s the hotel welcomed quite a few celebrities, including Judy Garland, Clark Gable, the Three Stooges, Lyndon Johnson, Helen Keller, and Ronald Reagan. The Baker Hotel closed it's doors for good in 1972 and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

To walk into the hotel now is to walk back in time. It's amazingly beautiful even though it is in a state of bad deterioration. The hotel is supposedly home to quite a few ghosts, disembodied voices, and flying orbs.
Check out this links on the hotel:

November 16, 2007

Tacoma's Stadium High School

High school students living in Tacoma Washington have an awesome high school. Dubbed "Castle on the hill" Tacoma High school definitely looks like it is set in a English country side in the 1600s rather than a modern day high school. The school was featured in the movie 10 Things I Hate about You. I didn't really care for the movie, it was the school that caught my eye. I was ecstatic to found out it was an actual building and not a set.

The building was meant to be a luxury hotel and construction began in 1891 but the depression and a fire hampered the construction and the dreams of it becoming of Washington's most beautiful hotel. It was converted into a high school in 1906.

November 4, 2007

The Undertaking

"A man that I work with named Wesley Rice once spent all of one day and all night carefully piecing together the parts of a girl's cranium. She'd been murdered by a madman with a baseball bat after he'd abducted and raped her. . . . Most embalmers, faced with what Wesley Rice was faced with after he'd opened the pouch from the morgue, would have simply said "closed casket," treated the remains enough to control the odor, zipped the pouch, and gone home for cocktails. It would have been easier. The pay was the same. Instead, he started working. Eighteen hours later the girl's mother, who had pleaded to see her, saw her. She was dead, to be sure, and damaged; but her face was hers again, not the madman's version. The hair was hers, not his. The body was hers, not his. Wesley Rice had not raised her from the dead nor hidden the hard facts, but he had retrieved her death from the one who had killed her. He had closed her eyes, her mouth. He'd washed her wounds, sutured her lacerations, pieced her beaten skull together, stitched the incisions from the autopsy, cleaned the dirt from under her fingernails, scrubbed the fingerprint ink from her fingertips, washed her hair, dressed her in jeans and a blue turtleneck, and laid her in a casket beside which her mother stood for two days and sobbed as if something had been pulled from her by force. It was the same when her pastor stood with her and told her "God weeps with you." And the same when they buried the body in the ground. It was then and always will be awful, horrible, unappeasably sad. But the outrage, the horror, the heartbreak belonged, not to the murderer or the media or the morgue, each of whom had staked their claims to it. It belonged to the girl and to her mother. Wesley had given them the body back . . . it was what we undertakers call a good funeral."

That's an excerpt from the book: The Undertaking: Life studies from the dismal trade. The author named Thomas Lynch is a hometown mortician. I saw a documentary on Mr. Lynch and his business Lynch & Sons on PBS entitled The Undertaking. It provide a intimate look into the life of a undertaker, how they carefully balance overwhelming emotion with business.. The book is beautifully written giving the reader a sense of mortality. I highly recommend you check out both the book and the documentary.