Thursday, March 27, 2008

Crescent Memories


There are several old hotels in Eureka Springs. The Crescent was built in 1886 and is on the hill overlooking the valley where the main part of Eureka lies. Eureka has many mineral springs and they are known for their medicinal powers. The Crescent Hotel has had many incarnations and it is haunted according to many sources. I have stayed at the Crescent Hotel several times but unlike the New Orleans Hotel, I have never seen a ghost there. Ghosts aside, I did have a particularly memorable trip that involved the Crescent Hotel.

During the oil boom I had a girl friend named Gayle. Friends of ours, Carol and David, decided to join us one weekend on a camping trip to northwest Arkansas. Carol, Gayle and I worked at Texas Oil and Gas and David was an oil and gas lease broker. We left Oklahoma City after work on Friday in David's car and drove to a large lake east of Fayetteville, Arkansas. It was dark when we arrived and we had all been drinking. As we were trying to raise the tent, Gayle slipped and fell down the sloping terrain. She grabbed her leg in pain.

"Are you okay?" I asked, finding her in the dark with my lantern.

"It hurts but I think I'll be okay," she said.

Carol and David had joined us by this time and we all commiserated with her pain. "There's probably an emergency room in Fayetteville," David offered.

"I'll be all right," she said.

We soon realized the temperature inside the tent was almost unbearable and the mosquitoes outside it on a rampage. "Let's go into Eureka Springs and find a room," Carol suggested.

None of us needed much convincing. We drove to Eureka and found a room at the Crescent Hotel. There is a bar on the third floor. After taking our bags to the room, we hurriedly retreated to the bar for drinks. There is a scenic deck outside the bar from where you can see downtown Eureka, and in all directions for many miles. There was also a band playing. Gayle wasn't a big drinker but she slugged two vodka tonics in a matter of what seemed like minutes. The night was moody and rich with sound - perfect for imbibing a little too much alcohol. The rest of us followed her lead.

The next day we toured the scenic spa town. Gayle kept favoring her leg and looking like a whipped puppy, so we decided to head back to Oklahoma City early. After David and Carol dropped us off at my apartment, I took Gayle to the Baptist Hospital Emergency Room. An x-ray showed that she had a broken leg. The doctor's set the break and thankfully gave her pain medication.

Gayle was quite a trooper and her leg healed well. We didn't see any ghosts on that trip but maybe it was because we were all in such an alcoholic haze that we wouldn't have known it if we had.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Kissing the Blarney Stone


My Grandson Braden has red hair, just like my brother Jack had when he was the same age. Last night, we took my Dad to Bennigan's. He is eight-eight and loves children. Since Braden has red hair, just like he and my Brother had, he has taken a particular shine to the lad. Last night, my daughter-in-law Taffy asked if we were Irish. Well, my Dad's grandfather was named O'Rear, about as Irish as you can get. It made me think about my other grandparents and my Grandfather Pittman.

Grandpa Pitt had some Irish blood but was probably more English. One thing is sure, he liked potatoes as much as any Irishman. He and Grandma Pitt lived in a tiny wood-framed house that sat about a foot off the ground on cinder blocks. Grandpa Pitt always raised potatoes under the house and never failed to have a good crop. When I was quite young, I asked him how he got under the house to harvest the potatoes.

"Well, boy," he answered in his best deadpan voice. "It's all in how you do it. I plant them all in a straight line, toward the center of the house. When I dig out the first spud, the rest roll into the basket after it."

Grandpa never cracked a smile but even at my very young age, I knew that he was pulling my leg. My Dad's side of the family was definitely Irish. I'm not sure about my Mom's but I can positively say that my Grandpa Pitt must have kissed the Blarney Stone some time during his life because he could tell a story as well as any Irishman I've ever met.


Monday, March 10, 2008

Crop Circles and Cattle Mutilations

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I wrote a story called Chicken Fries. The story is largely true and recounts one summer when my then wife Anne and I, and our friend Ray, watched a drilling well in Grant County, Oklahoma from the interior of a rented former motor home of Country singer Wanda Jackson, a one-time girlfriend of Elvis Presley.

The story includes details of Satanism and cattle mutilations. In the summer that Chicken Fries occurred, such stories dominated the headlines in newspapers throughout the country. During this period, most Oklahoma newspapers and news stations considered a sheriff in Grant County the expert of choice on Satanism and he was always consulted when a mutilated cow found or newly formed crop circle was found. Pundits were torn between pointing the finger of guilt at Satanists, or extra-terrestrials. In my story, the Satanists were actually pagans, members of the Southern Death Cult.

It was an interesting time that seems behind us now. Maybe, but in my novel in progress, Panther Stalking, Buck McDivit encounters an all-female sect of the Southern Death Cult at a compound in Logan County, Oklahoma, and more than cattle mutilations and crop circles are involved.

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