20198 2019 2019
Appreciation        and  Historical   Interest


FROM THE OTHER SIDE        By: Patrick Camunes


At first there was no place for us to go until someone put up that Black Granite Wall.  Now, everyday and night, my Brothers and my Sisters wait to see the many people from places afar file in front of this Wall.   Many stopping briefly and many for hours and some that come on a regular basis.  It was hard at first, not that it's gotten any easier, but it seems that many of the attitudes towards that war that we were involved in have changed.  I can only pray that the ones on the other side have learned something and more Walls as this one needn't be built.


Several members of my unit and many that I did not recognize have called me to the Wall by touching my name that is engraved upon it.  The tears aren't necessary but are hard even for me to hold back.  Don't feel guilty for not being with me, my Brothers.  This was my destiny as it is yours, to be on that side of the Wall.


Touch the Wall, my Brothers, so that we can share in the memories that we had.  I have learned to put the bad memories aside and remember only the pleasant times that we had together.  Tell our other Brothers out there to come and visit me, not to say Good Bye but to say Hello and be together again, even for a short time and to ease that pain of loss that we all share.


Today, an irresistible and loving call comes from the Wall.  As I approach I can see an elderly lady and as I get closer I recognize her.......It's Momma!  As much as I have looked forward to this day, I have also regretted it because I didn't know what reaction I would have.


Next to her, I suddenly see my wife and immediately think how hard it must have been for her to come to this place and my mind floods with the pleasant memories of 30 years past.  There's a young man in a military uniform standing with his arm around her......My God!......It's...it has to be my son.  Look at him trying to be the man without a tear in his eye.  I yearn to tell him how proud I am, seeing him standing tall, straight and proud in his uniform.


Momma comes closer and touches the Wall and I feel the soft and gentle touch I had not felt in so many years.  Dad has crossed to this side of the Wall and through our touch, I try to convey to her that Dad is doing fine and is no longer suffering or feeling pain.  I see my wife's courage building as she sees Momma touch the Wall and she approaches and lays her hand on my waiting hand.  All the emotions, feelings and memories of three decades past flash between our touch and I tell her that it's all right.  Carry on with your life and don't worry about me......I can see as I look into her eyes that she hears and understands me and a big burden has been lifted from her.


I watch as they lay flowers and other memories of my past.  My lucky charm that was taken from me and sent to her by my CO, a tattered and worn teddy bear that I can barely remember having as I grew up as a child and several medals that I had earned and were presented to my wife.  One of them is the Combat Infantry Badge that I am very proud of and I notice that my son is also wearing this medal.  I had earned mine in the jungles of Vietnam and he had probably earned his in the deserts of Iraq.


I can tell that they are preparing to leave and I try to take a mental picture of them together, because I don't know when I will see them again.  I wouldn't blame them if they were not to return and can only thank them that I was not forgotten.  My wife and Momma near the Wall for one final touch and so many years of indecision, fear and sorrow are let go.  As they turn to leave I feel my tears that had not flowed for so many years, form as if dew drops on the other side of the Wall.


They slowly move away with only a glance over their shoulder.   My son suddenly stops and slowly returns.   He stands straight and proud in front of me and snaps a salute.   Something makes him move to the Wall and he puts his hand upon the Wall and touches my tears that had formed on the face of the Wall and I can tell that he senses my presence there and the pride and the love that I have for him.  He falls to his knees and the tears flow from his eyes and I try my best to reassure him that it's all right and the tears do not make him any less of a man.


As he moves back wiping the tears from his eyes, he silently mouths, God bless you, Dad......   God Bless You, Son......  We WILL meet someday - but in the meanwhile, go on your way......  There is no hurry.......There is no hurry at all.


As I see them walk off in the distance, I yell out to THEM and EVERYONE

there today, as loud as I can,.........THANKS FOR REMEMBERING and as others on this side of the Wall join in, I notice that the US Flag that so proudly flies in front of us everyday, is flapping and standing proudly straight out in the wind today...




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ALL THINGS TEXAS – The Baker Hotel - in Mineral Wells

https://www.facebook.com/AllThingsTexas - authored by:  John Mowery


   All Things Texas has been asked on numerous occasions to cover this once-grand hotel. Ladies and gentlemen, we bring you…the Baker Hotel! But first, a little backstory on the origins of the “crazy waters.” The history is vast, so stick with us to the end!

   Malaria and rheumatism drove a family and their 50 head of livestock from Denison, west, in search of a drier climate. They found a valley amongst the hills in Palo Pinto County and settled down to avoid Comanche attacks further west. As beautiful as it was, the only water source was four miles away (The Brazos River). Three years later in 1880 a well driller agreed to drill a well in exchange for a few of the Lynch’s oxen. This was the beginning of what we now know as...Mineral Wells.  The water tasted funny to the Lynch’s, so they only watered their livestock with it to test its safety. When the family began to drink it, they started to feel better shortly thereafter.

   Word of the “healing” waters spread like wildfire. The neighbors began drinking it first, and within a month, strangers were showing up on the property with questions about it. Almost overnight, people began arriving by the thousands to just get a sip of this magical liquid. Since the well only produced just 100 gallons a day Mr. Lynch had to ask people to sign a declaration stating that they were sick, and truly needed the water. With popularity continuing to rise, the town of Mineral Wells was laid out in late 1881 with Mr. Lynch naming himself the first mayor.

   As time went on, and popularity never diminished, if anything, it grew; citizens were concerned that out of towners were profiting from the fame of the water. In 1922 they raised $150,000 in an effort to build a large hotel that would be owned by local shareholders. They went to Theodore Brasher Baker, who was already famous for the design and build of such hotels as the Baker Hotel in Dallas and the Hotel Texas in Fort Worth.
The architect originally based the design on the Arlington Hotel in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The construction began in 1926 but came to an abrupt halt when Mr. Baker returned from a trip to California where he visited a hotel with a swimming pool. The new Baker just had to have one. Right in front of the hotel at that. An Olympic sized pool to be filled with the curing mineral waters, it was the first swimming pool built at a hotel in Texas.

   Construction began the following year on the grand and opulent structure. It would rise fourteen stories over Mineral Wells, house 450 guest rooms, two ballrooms, an in-house beauty shop, and other novelties such as a bowling alley, a gymnasium, and an outdoor swimming pool. Completed three years later with a cost of dollars of $1.2 million on November 9th, 1929, the mammoth building instantly dominated the city skyline.
Even though the Grand Old Lady opened her doors just days after the 1929 stock market crash, she enjoyed immense success throughout the 30’s. Extravagant creature comforts such as an advanced hydraulic system that circulated ice water to all 450 guest rooms, lighting and fans controlled by the door locks that shut off and on automatically when the guest left or arrived in their rooms, and a valet compartment where guests could deposit soiled laundry that was accessible by hotel staff without them ever even having to enter the guest's room were boasted. It was a top-notch convention attraction that offered a meeting capacity of 2,500 attendees.

   As the decade came to a close however, the reputation as a health spa began to decline, due to advances in modern medication and the discovery of antibiotics such as penicillin. Doctors, even locally, began to invest more confidence in medicine. But as soon as business began to suffer as a result of it, Fort Wolters military base opened nearby in 1940. The base eventually became the largest infantry replacement base in the country, with 30,000 soldiers passing through its gates in 1942 alone. The Baker was then at its peak, catering to both civilians and military personnel.

   Alas the 1950’s brought the FDA, who cracked down on almost all advertising for cure-all tonics and mineral waters. The new drugs and preventative medicine were the new healthcare mainstream. The need for the healing waters began to fade. As we’ve seen many times across Texas, the relocation of a highway (1-20) cut off a major financial artery to the town when it was re-routed 14 miles south.

   Mr. Baker has passed control of the hotel to his nephew, Earl Baker back in the 30’s when he was met with financial crisis despite the popularity of the Hotel. He officially retired in 1952, and since he had no children, he left his hotel empire to Earl. Earl promised that he would continue to operate the hotel until his 70th birthday. True to his word, on April 30, 1963, he closed the Baker’s doors. A group of civic leaders managed to re-open the hotel in 1965, but not for long. With very little profit to be made, the Baker was closed for good in 1970 (Some sources state this was 1973).

   In a strange twist of fate, Earl Baker was visiting the hotel for one last time on December 3, 1967 when he suddenly died of a massive heart attack. It was as if the hotel dealt him a vengeful blow for the years of declining glory and subjugated neglect.

   Now all that are left to inhabit the hotel are the ghosts of bygone decades. Even though stories of some originate before she ever closed. “The woman on the seventh floor,” was first reported in 50’s-60’s. Maids would find drinking glasses, stained with red lipstick, when no one was staying in the room. The general belief is that she is the mistress of the hotel manager. Upset from her affair, she jumped to her death from the top of the floor. The year of the incident has not been verified but the room she stayed in, apparently quite comfortably, was a suite on the southeast corner of the seventh floor. Many have reported smelling her perfume and her spirit is said to be quite flirtatious with men she may fancy, and for those that have “seen” her, she is said to be beautiful with red hair and a white dress.

   The “Brazos Room” on the first floor, is still in use to those of yesteryear according to one tour group. Several people in the group slowly began to hear dished and silverware clanking as well as people talking with orchestra music in the background.

   Bank tellers near the hotel, noticed certain windows were opened, then later closed, but in no particular pattern. One of the girls told the others "it must be the man who lives in the building and takes care of it". After that, the interest ceased, and they stopped noticing. The strange thing is, no one has ever stayed in the Baker at any time since its closure in 1970. There never was a caretaker. So just who was opening and closing the windows?

   A drunken woman was said to attempt to jump into the swimming pool from the 12th floor but…well missed. A married male cook got into a huge fight with his girlfriend, who was a maid at the hotel. She threatened to tell his wife about their love. He lost his temper and control and stabbed her to death in the pantry.

   The hotel has been visited by many paranormal investigators, and all, at the end of their sessions, are asked, “do you believe that the Baker is haunted?” All respond with a resounding “YES!”


   But today the Baker Hotel is under renovation and is expected to be open again in 2024. All Things Texas has been keeping up on the progress on the hotel and we look forward to the time when we can go live and bring our members the grand opening of the "Grand Old Lady."


   On Face Book, there are a few ongoing renovation photos posted with this artical.  Please share this history with friends and family.