I grew up just below the town of Jerome, only 13 minutes down the hill from where all the ghosts are supposed to be. In grade school we all had ghost stories, most of them would include the old Jerome hospital--a place notorious for spirits from the other side. To me these were stories for children and tourists, making the town more attractive and mysterious to visitors, and I didn't buy into any of it.
Now, I am 22 and have been to many exotic places and seen important pieces of art in even more important museums, but I am still drawn to Jerome with a otherworldly intensity. I'm not saying that I now suddenly believe all the stories I heard, just that I can't not go to Jerome when I return home. I look up at Mingus Mountain and see it perched there, almost like it is clinging to its own history, and I have to make the drive up. When I am there it feels more like home than Cottonwood (my home town, just at the bottom of Mingus Mountain).
I still know most of the people living there, and can walk into my favorite cafe (The Flatiron Cafe), crack jokes with the Baristas, and drink my Triple Mezzo in peace. Up town is usually crawling with tourists so I stay only briefly enough to grab my coffee (oops, I meant life blood), and then take off with my camera to wander the back streets. The old houses look like aged people with walkers that keep them somehow grounded to the earth, and the people look like people do anywhere...but they smile and say hello. Sometime between the cobble stones and the three black cats that cross my path, I am usually in the mood to visit the graves.
A short drive puts me on a hillside that looks out over the Verde Valley, but if you turn around it is the best view of Jerome you can get. The graves aren't well marked, but you can tell that they were all young guys, lots of them from Italy, all of them miners who lost their lives to Jerome. This is where you can feel the ghosts. Even if you don't believe in them, there is a sadness that will surround you as you walk from grave to grave, reminding you of what sacrifices people make to be here, to build this town as an escape from their countries. When you leave you might need a drink...I recommend THE SPIRIT ROOM...