After 16 years of relative isolation in Idaho and not a lot of cultural and historical activities in the area, I vowed once getting settled in Pensacola that I wouldn't be spending a lot of time sitting on my butt getting fat on Cheetos and would take advantage of the many historical and cultural activities the City of Five Flags had to offer through out the year. Last month, The Pensacola Journal had an article on the Annual Haunted Tours of Historical Pensacola, and I was immediately piqued by the one tour called The Red Light Tour of Pensacola: Brothels and Bars, and I asked Mom if she was interested in going on the tour the Saturday before Halloween, and she was just as eager as I was to take the tour.
Mom made the reservations over the phone the week before we went on tour for the 7 p.m. Red Light Tour, and we were told by the lady over the phone we needed to be in front of the Pensacola Historical Society Building 10-15 minutes before the tour. Mom and I went out to an early dinner at Sam's Seafood and Steaks and arrived downtown by 6:15 which gave us plenty of time to walk around Downtown Pensacola and also tour the Pensacola Historical Society Building, which was open for everyone to tour free of charge that night. After walking a little bit of Downtown Pensacola, Mom and I went inside the Historical Society and toured around. There was an exhibition about the recent Hurricanes, Ivan, Arlene, and Dennis that savaged Pensacola and the Gulf in 2004 and 2005. There were several photos of many of Pensacola's neighborhoods and the destruction along with signs outside the houses saying "YOU LOOT, I SHOOT!" and other creative signs the folks made to prevent looting of their destroyed homes. Mom perused the many books up for sale in the Historical Society and I discovered some candy sticks for sale at the counter for 15 cents each or 7 for $1. I grabbed eight candies and paid the lady at the register who was dressed as a witch for the occasion, and she gave me a nice compliment on the poncho I had on that I had knit a couple of years ago.
The Pensacola Historical Society Building has an interesting history as well. It was built c. 1865 at the end of the Civil War and was owned by a Spanish family who had just immigrated to the USA from Spain. The family turned the first floor into a bar in order to make money, and they lived on the second floor. But years later, the family patriach and matriach did the inevitable for the late 19th Century, they divorced. The husband left the house and bought another building down the road and opened his own bar, but a few years later, he moved back to Spain and eventually committed suicide. The wife and her children, however, continued to run a successful bar and business until the mother passed away in the late 1920's at the age of 82. The building became part of the Historical part of Pensacola in the 1930's and continues today.
After Mom and I toured the Pensacola Historical Society, we headed right outside to our meeting place which was to the left of the building where a drawing of a lady of the evening was posted on a light post. This was an adults only tour, and a about a dozen other people were waiting for our tour to begin while a group of noisy Boy Scouts roughhoused at their meeting place across the road.
Finally at 7 p.m., our guide Jim showed up dressed up in a light blue striped seersucker sports coat and straw hat. He carried a cane and proceeded to pull out a long piece of paper with the rules and regulations of our tour. He made sure we could handle blood and other gory things and didn't smoke and immediately we knew this tour was going to be a hoot with Jim's sense of humor and manners.
Be sure to read all about the tour in other entries in this journal. If you are in Pensacola next Halloween, make sure you take a Haunted Tour of Pensacola. There are tours for adults only and ones for families. The tour costs for adults are $10 while the rugrats tour for $5.50. You can get tickets the night of the tour or to be safe, do what Mom and I did and made reservations early and over the phone with the Pensacola Historical Society at (850) 433-1559 Tuesday through Saturday.