I’ve told you how thankful I am for the grandfather who interested me in the people, places, and things of “his time,” and the heyday of Mineral Wells, Texas was certainly a part of Granddad’s time. How that long ago little girl hung onto his words as he made places like the Crazy Water Hotel come alive, if only in my mind!
Granddad was born in 1899, and while the rest of the world might have been rushing into the 20th century, Comanche County was barely off of the frontier. My goodness, Comanche had only had rail service for less than a decade! It’s absolutely no wonder to me (as I look back from the vantage point of today) that the young man who would become my grandfather found himself completely under the spell of all that he considered progress in his first three decades on this earth. The changes and modern technologies that rushed into his world must have been completely heady to a boy of dirt farm parents!
As I’ve told you, my grandfather left home for the first time to follow the oil boom that was Desdemona, Texas…Hog Town to Granddad. It was there that he learned to gamble, and that set the course for the rest of his life. Of course, I did not understand all of that “back then.”
What I did understand was that Granddad loved Mineral Wells, Texas (for obvious reasons, I now know), and he made what his youthful eyes had seen as the glitz and the glamour of the place come alive for me…starting with the Crazy Water Hotel, where he first saw Mary Martin.
In Granddad’s “day” television did not exist, and watching the performers on stage at the Crazy Water was a grand experience indeed. Of course, by the time I heard the story, Peter Pan, like The Wizard of Oz, was one of those television specials that came on our old black and white every year. My mom would shake the skillet filled with popcorn over the stove burner, and we’d all huddle around the set completely spellbound by the young boy who refused to grow up. I must admit that when I first learned that Peter was actually Mary, I was a bit destroyed, but Granddad’s colorful stories soon helped me get over that!
And then, there were the waters…Crazy Water, remember? If you are like me, when you think of Texas, and especially the Texas of the 19th century, luxury spas are not what first come to mind, not at all. And yet, from about 1890 until the mid 1920s, people from all over the country (if they had the money) came to Texas in droves to experience what was touted to be healing mineral waters…and Texas had a LOT of mineral water.
Familiar places like Lampasas and Mineral Wells were just two of the hundred or so locations able to cash in on the deal, so to speak. In fact, Mineral Wells was the absolute king of the spas in Texas. According to A.F. Weaver’s Time Was In Mineral Wells, the town was known as “The nations great health resort,” with upwards of 200,000 thousand people a year flocking into the town of well under 10,000 local residents.
As did the Comanche Chief and many other local newspapers of the day, Mineral Wells’ Palo Pinto County Star worked hard to promote its town, its luxury hotel, and its healing waters. Apparently, it worked since we are still discussing it today, a century later.
Yes, as I said, I am very thankful for a grandfather who took the time to tell hundreds of stories to a very willing little girl audience. What great fodder it has given me here on texansunited.com, the place where we are always more than willing to tell your own family stories if you are willing to share!