Oh My Goodness! Where do I start this story about The St.James Hotel? Several films have been made about it and it's paranormal activity. It's historical value is undeniable,especially if you are a fan of tales from the Old Santa Fe Trail and the WILD WILD West. It was the first hotel West of the Mississippi that could claim a five star rating in the days of Billy The Kid, The James Brothers,Wyatt Earp,Buffalo Bill Cody and the wealthy Cattle Barons of that time period.
The hotel was built in the 1870's by Henri Lambert,a immigrant French Chef,who traveled west during the gold mining rush..as the mines played out he was convinced by several prominent western businessmen to build The St.James..A beautifully decorated Hotel in the middle of the Wild West with the finest liquor and cuisine could be found and where the wealthy and notorious would come to play,dine,gamble and DIE! Many of the suites and rooms are named after these famous western personalities. It is still an active hotel and i have provided a link above in case after reading my lengthy ghostly tale, you can't wait to book your haunted adventure at my second favorite haunted hotel.:-)
My first trip to the St.James was more of a recon mission. I had heard about it and did a side trip during a golfing tour to check it out..it has a Bar that just makes you want to pull up a stool and stay forever..counting the bullet holes in the ceiling..yes the original ceiling..I counted 68 holes that day. But just stepping into the lobby I knew I had to come and stay a few days to absorb all this enticing hotel had to offer.
I had picked up a brochure on the hotel's famous "Mystery Murder Week-end" and soon after that I received a call from one of my golfing buddies, he was trying to come up with something special for his wife's 50th Birthday and since I was trying to come up with something special for Earl's 50th Birthday..what better than a trip to the Haunted St.James Hotel for a Murder Mystery Week-end!
A month before the trip we received a letter from the MYSTERY MURDER Directors telling us our roles and what to expect..I was Dirty Dora,the town derelict and drunk..I really wanted to be one of the dance hall girls..but unfortunately it was a luck of the draw situation..so "Dirty Dora" I was..Earl drew A hard fighting gunslinger that loved cigars,booze and "Candy Cane" .My golfing buddy drew Max Bowman,the Cimmaron Sheriff and his wife got the role of "Candy Cane" The Hotel's favorite dance hall girl. ..The costumes were a lot of fun. There is something about becoming the character when you start to look like that character. Calamity Jane didn't have anything on my Dirty Dora! Wild Bill chased me all over that hotel. But then it could have been my whiskey bottle he was after. :-)
The way the murder mystery works is that you arrive in street clothes on Friday afternoon and you do not converse with anyone but the hotel staff until you check in and change into your costume..in your room are different sealed envelopes for the characters,with certain times for them to be opened. No one is allowed to share the contents of the envelope with any other member of the participants of the Murder Mystery including your nearest and dearest. I learned things about my nearest and dearest I never dreamed possible that week-end. Something about a Stetson,a Badge and a western gun and holster,can definitely change a person's personality, especially when it was all in fun..and boy did we have fun..after you arrive and change into your costume,whenever you leave your bedroom,you are asked to always be "in character" So as we met our fellow guests that first evening we met them as who they were in the 19th century in the old west. The only disappointment for me was that when checking in I seemed to be the only "character" not to be given a gun. Even the dance hall girls were given cute little fancy pistols to slip in their bodices..We were warned in an advance letter from the hotel that if our character or costume required a weapon,they would supply them, not to bring our own from home...so no gun for Dirty Dora,or so I thought in the beginning.
But I am getting ahead of my self..first a little background on the famous resident Ghosts at The St.James. The most famous would be T.J. Wright who is a permanent resident of room 18...The room is always kept locked and never rented out..ever..nor does any of the staff go in there anymore. T.J. Wright was shot two rooms away in The Poker room in a dispute over cards..after being shot he staggered to Room 18, where he died..and many say his evil spirit continues to haunt that room today. After several nasty incidents in Room 18, the owners decided it was safer to close and lock the door forever. Yes, Viners I did pass room 18 several times over the week-end and the hairs on the back of my neck pricked up every time..one part of the hotel I never lingered long;-) The next famous ghost is that of Mary Lambert, the wife of Henri Lambert,. She died of natural causes in her corner upstairs suite of the hotel. For many years she was the hostess of her husband's hotel as well as being a celebrated beauty. She evidently loved her life there,because I have no doubt she has never left. I believe she still roams the hallways and rooms carefully watching over all that goes on in her hotel..
The first night at dinner(which the food was always awesome)19 strangers sat around the dining room..we knew nothing about each other except for our 19th century "characters"..Nothing about who we were or where we came from in the real world, but it did not take us long, thanks to the scripts left in our rooms for the hijinks and fun to began...Shut my mouth and butter my biscuit! But when My gun-slinging husband walked across the bar and shoved some western gunslinger away from Candy Cane and challenged him to a duel at high noon the next day ..I knew this was not going to be an ordinary week-end.
Going to bed that night amid all the sounds of this creaky, old, but beautiful hotel was fueled thank goodness by plenty of Dirty Dora's always present bottle of Jack Daniels... As good as her character, she went out like a light... Dead Drunk!
I loved the duel at high noon,because I got to steal the guns from everyone that got shot..at High Noon,as the gunslingers faced each other in the middle of the street in front of the hotel, three shots were fired,three characters fell dead..including Candy Cane up in the Mary Lambert Suite..and it was Dirty Dora's privilege to scavenge the guns from the dead bodies...Do you know how hard it is to get a gun belt off a man pretending to be dead without laughing your Butt off?..I should add here that if you got killed during the weekend you were given a button that said RIP..you could still hang around but only as a ghost...
Earl and I had been lucky enough to book The Jesse James Suite" ..a beautiful set of rooms all done up in who$ehouse red velvet and tassels(yes,Grump it even had a "Fainting Couch"! On the second night of our adventure I went to my room after dinner to refresh my dirty makeup and use the facilities.. My room was on the ground floor at the very end of the hallway,the farthest away from the big double doors to the outer public rooms and where the staircase to the upper floor met.Feeling awesome and ready to party I danced down the hallway to the big double doors that let you enter the main lobby and social area..as I pushed against the doors to enter the lobby,they wouldn't budge.I pushed against them again..nothing,they didn't move an inch..then I got really cold..all of a sudden that area was freezing..I could hear everybody on the other side of the doors talking and laughing,but I couldn't get the doors to open..and the smell of Lavender in the air was almost choking me.Just when I was at the banging the door and yelling for help stage of the evening,which wasn't part of my script! The doors seemed to almost open on their own... The smell of Lavender seemed to have followed me into the room...as I walked over to where Earl and my friends were sitting I passed by one of the Hotel staff who jumped away from me and Gave me a very weird look. I asked what was wrong and he asked if i had just put on lavender perfume..i said no but the staircase foyer reeked of the smell..He smiled and said "It happens all the time when Mrs.Lambert takes one of her strolls through the hotel!!!..
Several other little incidents happened over the week-end that had some weird affects. A coffee cup that that literately flew from my breakfast table to smash against the wall..everyone seemed shocked including the staff(either that or they are all dang good actors..and while trying to take a short nap on Saturday afternoon..the lights on either side of my bed seem to slowly come on, and then dim again...it just felt really spooky.
The last day and meal together we all showed up as who we were in real life. It was a real shock for many to see what we really looked like and who we were. One couple had flown all the way from New York to celebrate his 50th birthday, so we had quite the celebration...Another couple in their thirties were on their honeymoon(so that explained all the creaking and moaning throughout the nights!!!
19 strangers met on that Friday night and by Monday Morning we were all going to depart the best of friends. I saw my own husband and friends take on their roles with child like abandon.And do things I NEVER thought I would see them do.. It was not only one one of the best times of my life. But a real learning experience about getting "out of the box" We shared something really different,and special that week-end. Memories we will no doubt take to our own graves :-)
oh and when I left the hotel Dirty Dora turned in all ten guns she had scavenged.
Have a good one:-)