Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Historic Texas hotels inspire stories
The hero in my western historical romance, SEDUCTION, owns a lavish hotel with all the modern amenities available to a small town of the late 1870s in the old west. My inspiration for his hotel came from hearing family stories about various hotels, mostly in Texas where my great grandfather worked as manager in the late 1800s.
Recently I heard on the Texas news channel that the famous Tremont Hotel in Galveston is reopening after the completion of needed remodeling following last summer's destructive hurricane. The name Tremont Hotel struck a chord with me, so I checked a story about my great grandfather. Of all the hotels he managed he did not work at the Tremont, but my great great grandfather was connected to the first Tremont Hotel in Galveston. The Tremont Hotel recently remodeled is the third Tremont Hotel on Galveston according to the article I read at The Handbook of Texas Online.
My great grandfather worked at the Rice Hotel in Houston, however, and that's where he met his wife, the daughter of the grandfather connected to the Tremont Hotel and later the Rice Hotel in Houston. That in itself is enough to inspire a romance story for me, but there are more hotels my great grandfather managed that also inspire me. He managed the St. Charles Hotel in New Orleans. He managed a small hotel in Wooten Wells, Texas. There's a story.
Wooten Wells has a "build it and they will come" history. A young married couple settled there and discovered their well water turned everything either yellow or red. At first discouraged, they soon discovered the water was mineral water with wonderful curative properties. When the news got out, people flocked to Wooten Wells to bathe in the mineral water baths which the man built with the help of friends. He built houses and hotels for people to stay in, and businesses popped up as the area turned into a health resort. I won't tell you the rest of the story. You can read about it online.
My great grandfather later managed the Vogel Hotel in Dallas before taking a job with a company in El Paso. I have a copy of a menu he wrote for one day's dinner meal at a hotel named the Carson and Lewis House. I believe it was in New Orleans, and may have been associated with the St. Charles Hotel there. If anyone has any information on the Carson and Lewis House, I would love to hear it. The menu gives dinner as 12 to 2 p.m. and starts with soup, okra and tomato. Fish follows with hot salmon, roast beef, chicken with dressing, venison pie, and corn bread. Vegetables include Irish sweet potatoes, turnips, onions, rice and green peas. It lists relishes, pastry of peach cobbler and dessert with apple cake, cheese, oranges, and raisins. Beverages include coffee, iced tea, and buttermilk. The cost is seventy-five cents. This can be
helpful information for historical fiction writers of stories about the old west in the late 1800s.
Food and meals are often mentioned in romances. Meals provide an opportunity to reveal something important about the characters in the story. In all of my stories this year, including SEDUCTION, available now, and ARE YOU GOING TO THE DANCE, coming soon July 31, meals are prepared and enjoyed by the characters in various scenarios ranging from dangerous to frivolous. I hope my readers will enjoy them as much as I enjoyed writing them.
I'll be drawing someone's name from my newsletter members for a copy of one of my stories in July. So please visit my web site where you can sign up for my newsletter.
I'd love to read your comments or answer your questions about Historic Texas Hotels.