Our Ethereal Friends

I have to admit that if we have to self quarantine, the hotel is a pretty darned nice place to do it in. I’ve got my tools, materials and a Roku TV. What more could I ask for?

In the spirit of playing the home game, the office model below represents several hours of incarceration. It’s the dream of turning my office space into a display space for my insulator collection. But first, as a reminder for the younger readers, who have not had the pleasure of seeing these things still in service, insulators were glass and porcelain gizmos that used to go on telephone poles. The telephone wires were tied to them so the wires would not short out to the pole.

They are historically interesting and quite pretty if displayed well as I’m attempting below. Envisioned is an office with three walls of backlit cabinets with bookcases underneath.

Of course, this is still a bit of a dream since I still owe Katie baseboards. But, before this design got put on the back burner, I did install a light fixture made from parts in the basement.

Well, this has been a total tangent from the title of this post which I must correct. The true theme is based on house guests. As many of you may have suspected and a few of you have experienced, the Union Hotel has ghosts. This was something we considered when we bought the place but neither Katie nor I are bothered by the idea.

Our first encounter was in 2016. I was creating construction drawings that entailed measuring all of the rooms in their original decrepit state. There were vague shadows and feelings of being watched while I completed the task but as disconcerting as they were, they all disappeared as soon as we started cleaning up the place. The only time I felt it again was when we found a gold coin in the basement. We took the coin off site for safe keeping and the feelings of being watched in the basement reappeared until we promised to bring the coin back.

Things were very quiet after that until we moved in. Then, it started with footsteps on the second floor and went to muffled conversations in the halls and actual sightings of orbs, ghost cats and shadow forms. This even got the hotel enough attention to be featured on a YouTube video.

Now, I still remain a skeptic and many of our experiences can be explained away in one way or another but there are just some things that we can’t shake, like a light fixture that turned itself on and off or a bedroom door opening on its own as we listened to the knob turn without being touched. Also, the number of experiences says something. One or two and I’d think my mind was playing tricks on me but dozens?

Recently, there was an earthquake which triggered loud conversations on both floors of the hotel. I thought that Katie had turned on the TV upstairs but when I entered the room, the sound stopped and the TV was not on. If that wasn’t strange enough, Katie, at that moment, was on the first floor listening to another conversation in the work room behind the kitchen.

So, this really is not so unusual for the neighborhood. The Dayton tap house across the street claims apparitions of both a lady in white and a cowboy. There have also been many other stories that we’ve heard from the neighbors about their own haunts. What this means for us is that we are becoming one with this community on both a corporeal and metaphysical basis. I think that it’s safe to say that we are home.

Charlie Gruber’s hearse collecting him for the last ride. Is he still here?

Long Hard Winter?

More like a short weird one. We only got one or two decent days of snow, an earthquake and lots of wind. It was a perfect time to stay home doing small projects like adding bling in places that have never had bling before.

As our neighbors already know, Adele’s restaurant in Carson City had a kitchen fire which rendered the building too expensive the repair. It was sad that this Nevada landmark came to an end in such a way but the memories will still last. There was an auction in which supplies, furniture and fixtures were sold off. J’s Old Town Bistro across the street from the Union got the Adele’s bar sign.

Katie and I were fortunate enough to bring home furniture, light fixtures and a lifetime supply of drinking straws.

This fixture was in the Adele’s hallway to the restrooms and I suspect it was recycled from a casino of years past. Adele’s was full of repurposed antiques so my theory is plausible.

This fixture was from the Adele’s foyer and now graces our upstairs bath.

What was nice was that the Adele’s light fixtures were in good enough shape that they did not require rebuilding. We have other fixtures that I’ve kit bashed from the stock pile of parts that I keep in the basement.

This is the beginning of two gas and electric combination wall sconces. The one on the right shows what the original parts look like with years of dirt and mismatched colors. The one on the left has been wire brushed and is reading for toning.

Brass toner is a special mix of muriatic acid and probably some other stuff I don’t really want to know about. In any case, when the parts are swirled around in a small tub, it darkens the brass pretty evenly so my lamp parts will look like they actually belong together.

The color match is not perfect but it’s pretty good. It will also improve with age. Since I don’t wax or lacquer my lamps, they will continue to improve on their nice brown patina. Oh, and the gas part is now defunct even though the fixtures still have their decorative glass candles.

The next lamp was a much easier restoration.

This one came all in one piece and it was pretty easy to convert it from kerosene to electric. I found a socket that nested well in the center of the old burner and I used thermostat wire which is small enough to render it almost invisible while still being able to supply 1200 watts to the bulb. The wire was also solid core which meant I could sculpt it to the contours of the lamp and it would retain its shape thus allowing me to hide the wire in the curvy brackets without drilling any holes in the lamp.

Of course, once these new lights were installed, they were well tested by the 5.0 earthquake in Indian Hills south of Carson City. The lamps did okay, but an antique seltzer bottle leapt off a shelf and dive bombed an old gallon pickle jar below. The pickle jar lost.

Pickle jars aside, I thought I’d finish this with a few before and after pictures.

It’s still a work in progress but that’s the fun of it. We will be adding to and polishing up the place for years to come.