Readers Exchange

That’s the spirit

This happened before Youtube and smartphones; otherwise the moment would have inevitably been shared: we’re among a summertime gaggle of tourists entering the Alamo–pausing inside the threshold to consider worn, hand-fashioned walls scarred by history.  A visitor farther back in line surveys the first sign he sees, taking offense at the polite directive: “Are you kidding me?  Who says I have to take my hat off?  Whaddaya think this is–a shrine or something?”

I wonder if the thermostat registered that chill in the atmosphere as eyes collectively narrowed and dozens of hatless heads swiveled in his direction. 

On a lighter note, a non-Texan friend, respectful but whimsical, couldn’t resist the observation that Travis missed a strategic opportunity–he could have posted a sentry on the roof of the Crockett Hotel….

The Crockett did provide a (non-military) solution when my daughter’s birthday came around this year. Having changed jobs in the past year, she’d had no chance of a vacation in many months; I proposed a micro-vacation/overnight getaway.  San Antonio’s museums, Riverwalk, and a re-visit to the Alamo were her choice. 

The ghost tour was a lucky last-minute add-on.  Shepherded by a young lady attired in a hoop skirt and equipped with an iPad (to display historic photos), about twenty ticketholders met in Alamo Plaza to stroll through downtown, pausing from time to time to admire facades and be regaled with tales imparting equal amounts of history and hauntings.  The phantom chambermaid at the Menger Hotel, the swimming pool constructed from old hospital operating tables at the Emily Morgan Hotel, gory hangings and interred ashes at the Holiday Inn Express (former Bexar County Jail), reported apparitions at San Fernando Cathedral and more–all were recounted charmingly as though they’d been just discovered by our guide, not rehearsed nightly.  Paper ghosts

We didn’t follow up on photo-snapping opportunities; somehow, pursuing digital capture of phantom images seemed unfair.   But the structured meander through the quiet streets, graced by illuminated horse-drawn carriages and the rapt attention of fellow tourists, was delightful.  Besides, ghost stories are a wonderful introduction to any city; they invite one to focus s exploration on sites and past events that promise a personal connection.

Our library offers Haunted Texas Vacations: the Complete Ghostly Guide and similar books about the region’s ghost legends.  I even momentarily wondered if we should borrow the ghost tour concept for the library.  (It would certainly address the ever-present Library Concern:  “How can we demonstrate the library’s uniqueness–what we offer that sets us apart?”)

First drawback: no library ghosts (that we know of).  Sure, we could jazz up the unexplained phenomena:  “And now, ladies and gentlemen, did you know that library books sometimes leave the library and are never seen again?  And here–behold!– a microfilm printer that (pause to widen eyes and gesture dramatically) sometimes switches off for no apparent reason!”

I know.  The tour idea needs (a) paranormal activity and (b) professional help.   Who we gonna call?

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