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Pamela Fagan Hutchins | A Haunted Vacation

One of the things Eric and I most wanted to do in New Orleans was go on a ghost tour.  We booked our after dark walking tour with Haunted History Tours which met, fittingly, at Rev. Zombie’s Voodoo Shop.   The tour cost us $20 per person, plus tip: one of the cheaper things we did on our visit.

Our tour guide, Rene, hailed from New Orleans.  He wore a tuxedo befitting the solemnity of the proceedings, and he promised us he learned all his lore while hiding in the library from fifth grade bullies, where he studied New Orleans history and auto-mechanics.  The auto mechanics didn’t seem to be related or necessary to the topic of our tour, but he did know a lot of interesting and helpful stuff about cars.

First, let me say that the tour exceeded our expectations and we would highly recommend it.  Some of the stories raised the hair on the back of our necks, like the story of the two great fires in the city, both emanating from roughly the same location, and the first fire burning down over 800 buildings…all because it occurred on Good Friday and the church could not ring the bells to warn the citizenry of the blaze, as they would normally have done.  Then a third fire started in the same block years later.  While it burned, the sound of bells rang out in the shop standing in the spot of the first great fire.  But there were no bells in the shop.  Only the souls of those lost when the bells could not ring to save them from the earlier fire.  Spooky.  And supposedly caught on audiotape and validated by some paranormal experts from the University of Texas.  Or so Rene says.

And then there was the story about a hotel in the location of a former boarding school where the headmaster and 33 kids died in the first great fire…and even today, ghostly children wander the halls and wake the guests, who complain to management about the unruly disturbance not knowing the source is from beyond and not truly a present-day child.

Or Julie, the mulatto mistress of a man named Mishi, who asked him to marry her despite the conventions of the time making such a union unlikely.  He told her to go lay naked on the roof and if she made it through the night, he would marry her.  And that night was the coldest of the year.  With an ice storm.  He found her naked body dead and frozen to the chimney on the roof the next day.  Mishi rests peacefully after drinking himself to death, but Julie haunts the building still, and Rene directed us to take pictures of it in case her spirit appeared, as she was most active around the anniversary of her death — and it was the coldest day of the year so far when we were there.

The way Rene told the stories kept me up late that night.  And I loved it.

But now let me follow up on all that wonderfulness with a few points of humor/criticism for the evening, because that’s what I do best.  And what most of you were hoping for.

This was a rated R tour, and Haunted History made no bones about the rating.  And yet two families brought young children (actual kids,  not ghostly kids).  The kids monopolized the tour by blurting out “cute” comments, couldn’t keep up (walking), necessitated the group splitting up at break because they couldn’t go in the bar that we were scheduled for, and then held up the group when their families were late rejoining us.

Oh yeah.  And the tour was rated R.  Definitely rated R.  What parents would bring their young kids to this?  Brings to mind the time I took my precious tots to see Talladega Nights and spent most of the movie with hands over their ears.

So, for example, one of our stops was at a former brothel, and the stop was heavy on “history” with only one ghost story.  The “history” included the origin of words like “ragtime” (think “Under the Red Tent” meets Scott Joplin) and the water basins kept bedside known (or so Rene said) as “peter pans”.   And the kids hung on his every word, their little hands shooting up with comments at quite unusual moments.  Oh how cute.  Except that it was a rated R tour.

Y’all know I like kids.  Between Eric and me, we have five of them.  But kids aged 4-8 don’t belong on an adult rated R walking tour, methinks.

Or maybe I’m just being a cranky old biddy.

Either way, they didn’t spoil it for us.  We loved it.  I’d post pictures, but it was dark, and none of them came out worth a darn.

Right before the walking tour, we took a “just us” (and the driver) carriage ride through the Quarter for half an hour.  It was waaaayyyy more expensive than the group ghost tour, but also lovely.  The driver regaled us with history, but none of it was haunted. Here’s a picture of Eric in Jackson Square right after the carriage ride and before the ghost tour.  I think he looks pretty cute.

Many of the ghost stories on our Haunted New Orleans tour centered around the cathedral in the background, or the close-round environs.

After our two tours, I want to go look up our guides’ stories and find out for myself whether they are fact or crap.  Or maybe I don’t.  Sometimes it is just nice to believe.

And to enjoy.  Which we did.  Kids notwithstanding.


p.s. Yes, I know this post was poo.  I am having vacation-lag.  Quit that internal griping and criticizing and just be glad I’m doing anything productive at all.  Because technically I’m still on vacation until January 4th.  So there.

p.p.s. This is totally off-topic, but Eric and I buy ourselves one treasure on each of our vacations.  This Christmas trip was to celebrate our wedding anniversary, so we brought this home and hung it on the wall beside our bed:

The image of "Just Love Me" by Msani looks a little bit haunted, don't you think? Either way, we loved his sense of humor. He did this freehand with a putty knife. See more of his work at or visit his gallery on Royal in the Quarter.

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24 Responses to A Haunted Vacation

  1. Susie Kline says:

    I would love love love to go on one of those! Definitely on my to-do list if I ever make it to New Orleans.

    I’ve watched programs on TV about the hauntings of NO. Scary scary stuff!

    Love the post!

    xo Susie

    • Pamela says:

      The stories were truly fascinating. And you can believe them in a place like New Orleans. Of course, I believe in them anywhere, but New Orleans is just filled with mysticism and spirits. I also loved visiting the above ground cemeteries.

  2. Heidi Dorey says:

    Your post’s not crap.
    I love ghosties.

    Parents who take kids to things like that only care about themselves.
    I’m glad you enjoyed yourselves in spite of that.

  3. Eric Hutchins says:

    The thing about parents bringing the young ones on this is that who knows what Rene might have said if they were not there, and while he tried to stick to the plan i am SURE he toned it down some and we probably missed out on some things that we have the maturity to appreciate.

    Rene was a piece of work with his tiger claw necklace, pony tail, and massive rings. And he was a nice goofball underneath the disguise. My strongest memories of the tour were when Pamela and I looked at each other, and said simultaneously, “did you FEEL that”? and we both did, right after the tale of the bells all ringing in a store that did not have bells. It was so strong that it made me feel like most of what he was telling us had some truth to it.

    The story of the woman who froze on the roof was also very powerful to me. I still think about that one today.

  4. Estella says:

    How exciting and I don’t think your post was “poo” at all. :) I love anything paranormal, I definitely want to do the ghost tour in New Orleans! There’s so much history. Plus I love the architecture. Did you and Eric visit any of the cemetaries? Some scary and interesting history there!

    What a wonderful Christmas vacation and anniversary, very inspiring to pick up a treasure with each trip. I love the treasure you picked up, is it on canvas or wood? Wow, a putty knife? Evoking.

    Thanks for sharing and I hope you enjoy the rest of your vacation. I think I need to plan my trip to New Orleans now (I’ve been getting Groupon deals in anticipation of a future trip). I’d also like to do a ghost tour at the Stanley Hotel…

  5. So glad you two had a good time! I have always wanted to visit New Orleans, but it’s one of the few places I haven’t been in this big old country. When I go, I must do the tour. I love scary, ghost stuff, and weird men who dress in tuxedos and spin R rated yarns (or truths, but we don’t care). Your pictures are cool, especially the “Just Love Me” one………but Eric is cute, too. 😛

  6. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Eric Hutchins, Maria, Susie Kline and others. Susie Kline said: A Haunted Vacation « Road to Joy: via @addthis #blogpromote #moregravyin2011 #fb […]

  7. Pam says:

    You’ve got to come to Charleston and take the ghost tours here. I’ve lived here for 27 years and still haven’t gone on one, but I hear they’re fun!

  8. rtcrita says:

    First of all, HAPPY ANNIVERSARY! (Whenever it was.) And, secondly, I liked this post. No poo at all.

    I truly do not understand parents that take their young children to things like that. Especially when they clearly state they are not intended for young children. WTF, people?! No, you can’t blame the kids, but the parents should know better. Maybe they were on their vacation, too, and really wanted to go but could not leave their children alone at such a young age in a hotel room. THEN DON’T GO, PEOPLE! Save it for next time. This is something we all know as parents and is called “sacrificing.” You have to wait for that kind of stuff when they’re grown. Like having sex in any room in the house you want or coming straight out of the shower naked and walking through the living room to your bedroom. Two things I am still waiting for because my teenagers still live at home…! :)

    • Pamela says:

      Exactly 😉
      You always make me laugh how you express it. We’ve just finished this totally teenagerless week, and I swear one of the best moments for me was stripped off in the laundry room yesterday and washing what i had on. Eric was like WHAT ARE YOU DOING, but hello, the house is kidless, and if I want to be naked spur of the moment instead of walk across, redress, and walk back with my dirties, then I am dang sure gonna!!!
      And that all ends tomorrow, again, ha ha.

  9. SenoraG says:

    Hubby and I took that tour a few years ago and loved it. I am glad you enjoyed yourselves. Nice gift for your bedroom too. Happy New Year

  10. Irene says:

    I don’t know why people bring kids like that to a tour of that caliber either. They don’t care. It’s always about them. They must have been from Pennsylvania.

    PS. Love the slide show of pictures in your heading! You have a beautiful family!

  11. Some parents are such freakin’ numbskulls, which is not only bad for the kids but ruins it for others. Sheesh. Glad you had a good time in spite of that. We took the Ghost Tour at The Stanley (of “The Shining” fame) … and took our kids — but they were in their teens and 20s. It was fun. Never saw any real activity like the TAPS guys found there, but it was interesting … and historical.

    Love the souvenir you chose. Lovely!

    Happy New Year to you and yours!

  12. LBDDiaries says:

    OMG, I haven’t commented on this one yet? Waht’s the matter with me? I read it when it came out so must have had a big ‘ole brain fart or sumthin!!! Well, added comments are always a good thing. I miss, miss, miss Louisiana. I lived there 6 years and am still “homesick” for it 19 years later, even tho I visit occasionally. I’ve got a huge cajun blow out wedding to go to in June so I can get my cajun fix – whoo hoo – crawfish & shirimp boil, beignets, chicory coffee, and zydeco music, here I come!

  13. LBDDiaries says:

    Oh, and I loved this post about your time there – and am with you on those people taking kids to an R rated thing. If they could’t get a babysitter, they needed to do something else, right? Right! Enjoyed your post.

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