For our forty-sixth anniversary, Craig and I went to Jerome, Arizona for a night’s stay in the Connor Hotel. We had been advised that room 12 was their most popular room, so we requested it. It is decorated with antique furniture and a wonderfully comfortable king-sized bed. We found a cold bottle of champagne and a spice cake waiting for us in our room as an anniversary gift from the hotel.
For those of you who are not familiar, the town of Jerome literally hangs on the side of Mingus Mountain looking down on the Verde Valley. It began as a mining town in the late 19th century. Soon great deposits of gold, silver and copper were discovered and Jerome became a boom town–growing from a tent city to a population of 15,000 by the 1920’s. Jerome was known as “Wicked City” do to the great number of saloons, gambling establishments and houses of ill-repute. During that time, the natural and human resources were exploited by greedy men who became instant millionaires. When the mines closed in 1953, the population dropped to just fifty–earning Jerome the title “Ghost Town.”
Labeling a place a ghost town sparks the imagination and tends to make one’s mind susceptible to the powers of suggestion. Still, most of the residents of Jerome and many of its visitors have their own scary stories to tell. The Hotel Connor, for example, is said to be Haunted by Mr. Connor, the original owner. There are stories of people hearing laughter, parties, and things moving around. Craig and I did not encounter any spirits I’m happy to say, but we did have an experience that left me wondering. After spending the night in our hotel room, we were getting ready to go for breakfast. All dressed, Craig was still without his shoes. I searched the room from top to bottom–even in unusual places like the microwave and refrigerator. I looked again and again in the closet, under the bed and under all the furniture. There were two large chairs in the room. After looking under them many times, I picked up each chair and moved it–still no shoes. Not sure what to do next, I was in the bathroom when I said, “Maybe a ghost got them.” I walked back in the room and there they were under the chair–the same chair where Craig is sitting in the picture above.
After breakfast, we went on a walking tour of Jerome. When I related the story of the missing shoes to our guide, he said, “I know which room you were in.” Then he told us about a man who put his wallet on a night stand. When he was ready to leave, his wallet was missing. After looking for it everywhere, he finally found it under a chair. Apparently ghosts like to play tricks on people. Maybe it’s just their way of making themselves known. I’m still not sure I believe in ghosts, but it was enough to make me keep an open mind.