From 1981-1983, I and my wife Michele were the third tenant to occupy The Ashton Villa Carriage House which had previously been owned and occupied by the El Mina Shrine Temple.
It had become the property of The Galveston Historical Foundation perhaps five years earlier. We renovated the apartment and were also the recipients of a “My Old House Award”, a program that GHF had in those days.
And, yes it is a pretty cool address to have.
My signature is in the house somewhere.
Maybe someone will find that someday?
Among the customary responsibilities for the tenant, during the Holidays the tenant hosts a party with friends to decorate the front of the House for Dickens Evening and Christmas.
On my watch, about thirty close friends gathered and it took most of the afternoon and evening, slowed somewhat by a couple of cases of Ashton Villa Champagne and a few coolers of iced down beer and wine.
A the end of the evening a camera was positioned in the Broadway esplanade and the timer set for 30 seconds, in which I had to cross three lanes, enter and close the gate huge, enter and close the enormous heavy front doors, and then ascend the staircase to the second floor, and dive through an open window to be included in the photograph with the group scattered and posing about the balcony.
The first time, the camera flashed as I was about to enter the window.
So, we reset the camera, and I tried again.
This time I made it.
But as I dove through the window, I tripped on the baseboard, falling forward into the aluminum ladder which held a guest stretching and straining to barely hook a Wreath into the ornamental iron at the apex.
I struck the ladder with my right eyebrow, splitting it wide open, and began bleeding profusely. The guest atop the ladder was now hanging by the ornamental iron and several guests had wrapped their arms around his legs and supported him while others repositioned the ladder beneath him.
Some others tended to my wound.
Of course, we still managed to laugh our asses off since no one had fallen to their death.
They probably don’t even do this sort of thing anymore?
After all, it was the 1980s, and it was a very time and a very different GHF.
The photo was taken, but I have never seen it.
Probably because it was chaos? Fortunately, the photographer’s fiancé was a nurse and my wound received proper professional assistance.
I barely even have a scar today. Arrrgh!
I have lots of interesting tales from those years.
Some I have shared, But never this one: I had the keys and run of the big mansion also.
Should a security alarm go off, the police were there in minutes and I would have to meet them to let them enter the premises?
That was all part of the responsibility of being “the resident”. But, there were occasions where I would go over and play piano by myself in the big dark house.
Or just set in a room and think.
Once, I even took a long nap in one of the rooms after a night out drinking.
It was Miss Betty’s Room I later discovered.
You know…” That” Miss Betty?
I wasn’t too bad looking back then.
But apparently, Miss Betty had absolutely zero interest in me, even though I was quite vulnerable.
I didn’t even see her that night.
She was a “NO Show”. But, you know, a guy doesn’t always remember everything from “the night before”.
You know how that goes…right?
Nonetheless, don’t let this one experience put a damper on your Galveston Ghost Stories.
I did have some very strange experiences in that house.
But not in Miss Betty’s room. Damp Wind from nowhere in a house with windows and doors locked tight. A measurable and rapid temperature drop in one part of the house that should be the absolute hottest at all times. And, in which few people are permitted to go. Noises you would not believe. Yeah, just keep snooping. They’re in there. I am pretty darn sure! But you may just want to leave it all to the imagination? Better safe than…well, you know.
That was a longtime back. But I am not likely to forget it. I mean never.