Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Ghosts of Tombstone

Photo by Gayle Martin
Prior to writing the Luke and Jenny books I spent a lot of time in Tombstone. Photography, like writing, is one of my passions, and long before I became involved with any of the reenacting groups in Tombstone, (a topic for a later post), I visited the town as a tourist and took many photos.

Now it's no secret that Tombstone has a reputation for being a haunted town, and, sure enough, the first time I visited The Birdcage Theater I got an anomaly in my photo. This photo, (on the left), was taken in 2003, with a 35mm camera, and it also appeared in the negative.

As I spent more time shooting photos in Tombstone I noticed a pattern emerging. Odd things would sometimes appear in photos taken in Tombstone, while other shots, taken in other locations, on the same roll of film, all looked normal, so think we can rule out bad film. It happened so often that in 2008 I started up a blog just for those photos.

I had other strange experiences in Tombstone. Sometimes I smelled cigar smoke inside The Birdcage, however no one has smoked inside that building in decades, nor is smoking allowed there. Other times I smelled lilac perfume. Lilac perfume was popular in the 1880s, yet no one in the building was wearing perfume at the time I smelled it. (It smells wonderful, by the way. I may have to see it I can find a bottle for myself.) 

Experiences such as mine are all too common for people who live in town or are frequent visitors. In fact, they are so common that you get used to it after awhile. These experiences became the inspiration for the ghost guide characters in the Luke and Jenny books. The Swamper, featured in Gunfight at the O.K. Corral: Luke and Jenny Visit Tombstone, was inspired by an allegedly real ghost who haunts Big Nose Kate's Saloon, formerly the Grand Hotel. And while he may not have been the nicest man in real-life, he appears in the novel as a benevolent ghost who teaches the two youngers the real history of 1880s Tombstone.

I realize not everyone believes in ghosts or even life after death, but those who've experienced the paranormal, ghosts are indeed real.


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