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Yesterday Sunday Brother #4 wanted to see the local ghost town, so we went to Vulture City AZ, which was once upon a time a booming mining community but then fell on hard times, was abandoned, and recently resurrected as a tourist trap. I enjoyed it more than I expected. The tour guide, who was well over four feet, talked about the community and its resources, many suspect and lacking propriety. There was murders, riots, a whisky mill, several jails, and some talk of building a church.  My favorite building was the one which housed the brothel and the medical clinic.

At the south end of the building was the bordello, where the madam lived with her various nieces. At the north end was the doctor’s office and bunk. I thought it nice how both branches of the profession were conveniently under the same roof. One can imagine the traffic going back and forth between these establishments, including the doctor, going back and forth for consultations and so forth. One wonders (well I would) if a few of the miners looking for services sought out the doctor rather than the madam. 

The tour guide told us the ladies of the establishment were often paid merely for a home-cooked meal or even conversation. Most of Medicine is careful listening, so you take your pick.  Apparently, the doctor was fond of ‘the mercury cure’. Whether due to exposure or self-medication this fellow ended up in a graveyard of an insane asylum. This usually means mercury-induced dementia or neurosyphilis.  What a dear the doctor was to have done house calls (even if it was only next door) but one wonders about doctor-patient boundaries.  The madam, “Mexican Rita”, were were told insisted the men take a bath before entering the boudoir; it is not known if the doctor required likewise.  One can only imagine the stench of the miners, having worked in the mines all day in the ardent Arizona sun and who slept in a bunkhouse and whose diet consisted of baked beans and roadkill.  Oh the horror.

The doctor’s office didn’t look as comfy as the other rooms in the building. The doctor had a capacious couch upon which the patient could pass out from the vapors, or lie back for psychoanalysis or (perhaps) have other medical needs attended to. Given the architectural set up, I could see how it could be confusing for the clientele/patients who happened to mix up the doorways – intentional or not. 

There was a lot left to the imagination on the tour. Like all old mining towns, this one is reportedly chockful of ghosts. In the room with the vault where the gold was kept prior to shipment was a ‘no women allowed’ policy. Tourists of the female persuasion often report feeling stared at or even touched when they enter the room. I didn’t feel anything myself (more’s the pity) but I did sense a menace in the doctor’s room. Perhaps I had missed my appointment time.

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April 2021

Spo-Reflections 2006-2018