Ghastly Grand Adventures

By Patti Parish-Kaminski, Publisher

At least the Johnson girls and I had one thing in common: an abundance of hair.

I am all up for a grand adventure, even during a Texas summer when just getting to your car without passing out can be described as a grand adventure.  And I’m getting much better at “going with the flow” allowing others to coordinate trip details.  That’s taken a minute.

Now don’t get me wrong – “going with the flow” doesn’t mean that I toss all caution to the wind and don’t prepare.  I still overpack; a girl needs options.  I still pose multiple questions about the itinerary, dress code, weather, participants, travel arrangements, essentials – wine and Diet Coke being the most paramount – and such to the elected adventure organizer.  But I really am better at showing up without a deep dive into accommodations.

Of course, most of my people know that I’m particular about accommodations.  I like clean, I like valets, I like sheets that don’t cut you, I like hot water, I like multiple pillows, I like safe – I like to sleep without thinking someone is going to break in and kill me in my sleep.  I really like bellmen due my propensity to overpack as toting my own bags can be described as an Olympic-style event.  I can do without room service or a fancy bar as I typically pack my own snacks and libations in my multiple bags.  Honestly, I don’t that’s too much to ask.

One of my most recent weekend jaunts found me as an overnight guest at a historic home.  Lisa Ann booked The Historic Pearl in Johnson City’s downtown square.  When she mentioned we were staying at The Pearl, I naturally thought of the San Antonio establishment where she and I moved in one summer for a week.  Definitely another grand adventure as we were completely prepared to forward our mail and never return home – or for at least as long as our credit cards worked.

This Historic Pearl was built in the 1880s by James Polk Johnson and named after his daughter, Pearl.  The home was quite large with eight bedrooms and three bathrooms on two floors.  It was furnished with period pieces and was just lovely.

With our tribe in tow, we scouted rooms, and I ended up on the second floor in a room by myself as the beds were tiny period pieces as well.  I quickly assessed that Mr. Kaminski and I could not possibly fit in one bed without major injuries, so he took a room across the hall. The wait time for the bellmen, a.k.a. Mr. Kaminski, was less than desirable, but I waited patiently nonetheless as toting my things up a steep, long staircase does not fit into my work-out plan.  And no, I do not have a work-out plan, hence I waited.

Vintage photographs of the family who built and occupied the home over the past 140 years lined the walls.  I glanced at a few and upon closer inspection, I realized that some of the photos were a bit ghastly if not ghostly.  Apparently, the Johnson fam liked to take photos of the back of their family members sans the faces.  Mr. Kaminski found this quite amusing; I found this downright unsettling.

I personally believe that individuals who pass on from this earth and who have a particular connection or affinity to a place might like to stick around in a spiritual sense.  It’s a fancy way of saving I believe in ghosts.  I’ve had too many unexplained experiences in my life that support my opinion, and I absolutely for certain believe that we in our human capacity cannot possibly know everything.  Of course, we may think we do at times, but I truly believe there is so much unknown that we cannot possibly fathom.

Now I never saw the Johnson girls or any member of the dearly departed Johnson family during my stay there, but let me tell you the house had a life.  There were creaks and squeaks and slams and various noises throughout the night that were inexplicable.  And yes, your girl slept with a light on, just in case.  Yet another circumstance Mr. Kaminski found extremely humorous.

“Why did you leave a light on?” he queried quite tickled with himself.  “Did you want to be able to see the ghosts?”

“Everyone knows that spirits do not fancy a well-lit environment,” was my retort.

We only stayed one night. I didn’t want to push my luck risking a nocturnal visit from beyond. Visiting with a departed soul is just not my jam. Heck, visiting with some folks who are actually here about near wears me out at times.

Just as I was letting go of my need to coordinate every little thing on a trip, looks like I’ll need to add avoiding potentially haunted venues to my list of accommodations requirements.  See y’all next week – on the porch!

Patti Parish-Kaminski

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