Thursday, April 1, 2010
April's SPIRITS with SPIRITS
GHOULA meets for cocktails in haunted places on the 13th of each month. “SPIRITS with SPIRITS” is a casual gathering of regional ghost hunters and those that just like ghost stories. Open to all, from the curious skeptic to the passionate phantom pursuer. Make friends, and toast a ghost! Let's put the “Boo!” back into “booze.” All those who attend will receive a free G.H.O.U.L.A. button. If you already have one, please wear it so others can find you.
Note: At this month's "Spirits with Spirits," GHOULA will be celebrating the release of Ghoula Press' first book, Disneyland after Dark: An Unauthorized Guide to the Happiest (Haunted) Place on Earth. The book will be available for purchase, and the author will be present.
(for more info about this book...)
THE DATE: April 13th, 2010 (Tuesday)
THE PLACE: Tam O'Shanter Inn (in the bar)
(2980 Los Feliz Boulevard, Los Angeles) Map
THE TIME: 7pm to 9pm
When The Tam O' Shanter Inn first opened in 1922, Los Feliz Blvd was a dirt path, the exterior was French, and the interior was designed to resemble the Witch's house from the popular story "Hansel and Gretel" (about a witch who is murdered by two children, after she attempts to kill them). For a number of reasons the French/Fairy-tale theme didn't work, and after a couple of years this tavern was overhauled with a Scottish theme to reflect the less popular folk tale of Tam O Shanter (who similarly outsmarts a coven of witches). This Scottish/Fairy-tale formula was a huge success, and as a result affected popular culture in two important ways.
First, the idea of serving customers food in their cars was invented here (to accommodate the hungry crowds) and thus paved the way for the Drive-In/Drive-Thru establishments that would populate Southern California in the decades that followed.
Secondly, the themed exterior, the themed interior, and the themed costumes of the friendly staff clearly influenced Tam's O Shanter's #1 fan, Walt Disney, when he was creating his own "theme-park," Disneyland.
Although, this was his favorite restaurant and today one can sit at the "Walt Disney Table" in the main dining room, Walt actually very rarely ate at that table, preferring instead to sit in the bar with the owner (and restaurant pioneer) Lawrence Frank. Not only did Disney try to capture this fantasy atmosphere in his own "land," but he would also copy elements of Frank's other restaurant, Lawry's. Incidentally, the original interior of "Toad Hall" in "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride" at Disneyland looked remarkably similar to Tam's main dining room. Coincidence?
Disneyland aside, Tam O' Shanter's has more folklore connected to it than just the famous Scottish tale. It is also home to a few ghost stories. All of which take place in the "Bonnie Prince Charlie" room at the far end of the restaurant, which oddly was added-on much later and is not part of the original structure. The most famous apparition in this room, a small child, has been nicknamed "Charlie" because of his strong resemblance to the portrait of "The Bonnie Prince Charlie" on the wall. Also, a phantom party of dinners has been witnessed enjoying themselves at the corner table on the far end of the room. It has also been said that a former manager, at the end of the night (before turning on the alarm), would shut the doors to this room, and lean chairs against it, as if to protect the rest of the restaurant from what ever was inside.
On a lesser note, a bartender told GHOULA that he has had a couple of inebriated clients claim to have seen the ghost of Robert Burns (dressed in a kilt). Although, it seems very unlikely that this Scottish ghost would travel so far from home, it is interesting that its happen more than once. The bartender personally believes these particular sightings have more to do with the alcohol than the super-natural.
It is also worth mentioning, one of Tam O'Shanter's specialties is the Welsh Rarebit (a cheesy sauce/spread). In earlier times, it was believed that this food would cause vivid dreams. Maybe if you combine Rarebit and Booze, you too will see the ghost of Robert Burns. Or, Maybe even visions of your own "Theme Park."
Incidentally, Lawry's Restaurants Inc (which owns The Tam O'Shanter Inn) also owns two other local restaurants that are said to be haunted, Lawry's (in Beverly Hills) and Five Crowns (in Corona del Mar).
(To read more about the ghost of The Tam O'Shanter Inn...)
(To learn more about Lawry's...)
(To see last month's location...)