We arrived at the Shakespeare ghost town with high expectations and were greeted by a four-year old boy wielding a cap-gun pistol. He was behind the locked gate telling us that he was smart. That he could run fast. That he had a gun.
Finally his father arrived on the scene, dressed in reenactment vintage clothing, and let us in. Oh yeah, and he was smoking. He was smoking, but not like a normal person smokes. He was smoking a hand rolled, fat cigarette that he had to light every two minutes to puff off of before the flame went out. He would usually relight the cigarette moments after the exertion of talking, for a short time, caused him to erupt into a fit of coughing. We paid our $4 per person so off we went on the tour with some trepidation.
It was once a cool old place. You could tell someone had kept it running well once upon a time, but now it was a mess. Things were broken, floors were covered with mouse poop and the ceilings clearly had holes and leaks and mold. It was kind of sad to see it in such a state of disrepair especially after we looked through the photographs in the guest shop. It used to be quite the enterprise with cancan girls and bar fights and well-preserved artifacts. Those days were long gone, however. There seemed to be a new sheriff in town, one not too interested in sanitation or in interior design.
Our guide spent half the time scolding his son who was running in and out of the buildings and disobeying his father at every turn. The little boy enjoyed tempting Tiny-Small to join him in his misbehavior. Of course, Tiny-Small was more than happy to oblige. She threw rocks, sifted dirt and climbed on things some eBay collector would probably pay a pretty penny for. Our guide spent a considerable amount of time telling us stories about his son, his family and his military career. Before we left we knew his opinion on spanking, wearing bicycle helmets and the military police. We learned a little about the ghost town too, but not as much as we had expected.
There were a few stories of fraudulent diamond claims, hangings and haunted desert pathways. There were also a few stories about bodies buried in basements and ghosts roaming hallways that got our attention. Tiny-Small seemed unimpressed with all of the “old things” as she called them and more impressed with the little boys cap-gun hunting rifle that he was now brandishing with quite the expertise. It was quite an experience for all of us.
We weren’t even surprised when the boys tattooed mother showed up and offered Tiny-Small some water. She then instructed her son to let Tiny-Small hold his plastic cap-gun rifle. With big, wide eyes Tiny-Small graciously accepted the offer while her father looked on in horror. She held out her little hands and grasped the barrel of the rifle and held it up in front of her like it was gold treasure she had just discovered and wanted everyone to see. Finally, it was time to go home.
Earlier today, 48 hours after our trip to the ghost town, Tiny-Small picked up a screw driver, pointed it at her dad and told him, “I shoot you.” It seems she learned more than we had hoped during our visit to that old ghost town. She now knows what a gun looks like, how it’s held and what it does. We’re not really sure how we feel about this. At two years old she seems too young for war games. Her dad is pretty unhappy. He wants to hide her from the world to protect her innocence FOREVER. I just hope she doesn’t take up play smoking anytime soon. That’s a bad habit I hope she never cultivates. It’s not really the kind of thing you hope your child will learn when you take her to visit a ghost town. Although, shooting zombie, diamond smuggling, ghosts might come in handy if you ever plan to spend the night in a ghost town. At least she’ll be prepared for that, right? I’m looking for a Silver lining in all of this. I know there is one!