But one of the most interesting (and looking back, strange) things I did was tour King’s Tavern. Believed to be the oldest building in Natchez, it was built in 1789 and as various times operated as a tavern, stage stop, and a mail station.
Knowing my mother would likely balk at eating dinner at an establishment called a tavern, not to mention that it’s still fairly dark and seedy looking, we opted for something a little less risqué and pricey.
After dinner, though, I was dying (no pun intended) to see King’s Tavern, where Madeline the ghost lives. We found the tavern easily enough on a narrow, dark street. Mama was not impressed. I told her to just stay in the car, and I wouldn’t be long. I just wanted to see the building.
So, off I go to this tavern, which in reality is now a very respectable restaurant.
This is where my tale becomes a bit eerie.
When I waltzed in with my camera, the hostess on duty said that she wasn’t supposed to let people tour the building if they weren’t dining. But, she said, since they weren’t very busy that night, she’d make an exception. She pointed me to the stairs and away I went, feeling very adventurous and a bit nervous that the manager was going to find out and throw me out.
So, there I was, creeping around upstairs taking pictures and getting a feel for what the sleeping rooms and taproom of an 18th Century tavern looked like.
Not wanting to overstay my welcome, and a bit afraid that Madeline would make an appearance and I’d make a fool of myself by screaming, I didn’t stay long. I made my way downstairs and back toward the entrance.
And there, scowling and looking a lot like the ghost from the past with his tails and top hat (not really!), was the manager. I’m sure the hostess was on pins and needles, so I just smiled, sailed on by, and said, “Thank you so much. I enjoyed it!”
“It” is relative, if you’re vague enough. :)
Anyway, it was all quite fascinating and enlightening. I don’t know what I expected to find at the tavern. I mostly wanted to get a feel for such an old building, one built a couple of years before my series starts.
What I didn’t expect was the tension I felt. Not because of the place exactly, or the stories of ghosts that roam the tavern, but because of my covert trip up those steep, narrow stairs and the floorboards creaking under my feet that might alert the manager that someone was upstairs.
I had to write several tavern scenes in the series and I think I channeled that feeling of tension in each and every tavern scene, so the trip up those creaking stairs was totally worth it.
So, tell me the most memorable (scary? Funny? Interesting?) research trip or situation you ever found yourself in?
|Pam's latest release, The Road to Magnolia Glen, book #2|
in her Natchez Trace Novel series, released June 5th.