Blogger’s Post Fans Memories of The Flame Room

David McLemore has a great post on Hot Wells

On adventurous evenings, we used to head south to the bar there, named The Flame Room because of the fire that had destroyed much of the former resort.   The woman behind the bar would come “entertain” you by making a tacky, spindly-legged bird marionette dance.   Ahead of fashion trends, the muscular carnival workers who wintered on the grounds sported intimidating tattoos. 

We played shuffleboard*, sat on the circular sofettes, tried to inconspicuously observe the unusual clientele and drank longnecks until forced to make the dreaded trek to the facilities.  While the men’s room was under a huge propeller conveniently adjacent to the bar, the ladies’ room required a journey down a long hallway past opening after opening of the dark ruins of private bathing rooms that certainly seemed haunted.  The sulphur smell from the pool was almost overwhelming.  We always went in pairs, too frightened to try to reach the lone dangling lightbulb at the end of the hall alone.   One night, Annie and I had almost reached our destination when, “Boo!”  That’s all the haggard woman screamed when she jumped out from one of the doorways, but we screamed as though she were a chupacabra.

Another night we came out to find out someone had carelessly crunched the bumper of their pickup through the front grille of our Volvo.  Thinking of the muscular tattooed arms inside that far outnumbered ours, we elected not to go back into The Flame Room and demand to know who hit our car.

The connection of Otto Koehler to Hot Wells David mentions is one of several reasons my novel about the brewer’s murder is called An Ostrich Plume Hat.  An in-depth history of Hot Wells can be found on the Edwards Aquifer website, from which I plucked this card.

Although I would be much too chicken to cross it, I wish a swinging bridge like the original one linking Hot Wells to Mission San Jose could be installed as part of the San Antonio River Improvements Project.

*Help!  It’s not called shuffleboard.  Long raised table-alley that you apply sawdust to and push these sort of pucks down to knock other pucks off the table….?

Note Added on September 17:  Also visit David’s article on Nowcast, a slide show and Charlotte-Anne Lucas’ video.  And more Hot Wells photos.

8 thoughts on “Blogger’s Post Fans Memories of The Flame Room

  1. Love the name ‘The Flame Room.’ It’s fits the Hot Wells story, doesn’t it – from internationally known spa to one step up from a biker bar.

    Great story. It’s similar to the ones I heard from friends about visits to Hot Wells. I think that’s the appeal – that spooky, stomach-tightening sense you get in dark and (maybe) dangerous places. Who needs roller-coasters when we have real life.

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  2. I forgot to say: I really love your blog.

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  3. AnnPW says:

    Well, my goodness – a trip down memory lane! Thanks Gayle.

    FWIW, I always called it “shuffleboard”. And I remember when the tables ended up in the back of the old Broadway 50/50 before it became too upscale for the likes of us.
    Either that, or those tables were always there and different from the ones at Hot Wells. I’m so old I get confused.

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  4. heydave says:

    http://www.championshuffleboard.com/

    Shuffleboard it is; no need for the Lido deck anymore!

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  5. AnnPW says:

    one step up from a biker bar

    I don’t know about “up” – sideways, maybe. The place had a definite Twilight Zone-ish atmosphere. I haven’t visited enough biker bars to speak authoritatively of comparisons, but the Flame Room felt unique, enhanced greatly by the proximity of SASH. It was very easy to imagine escapees wandering the grounds, hell, for all we knew they were running the place!

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  6. myvelleities says:

    Thanks for the link… nice blog!

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  7. MarkH says:

    I took some photos out at Hot Wells in June, 2000. Wasn’t there another fire even after that which destroyed the remains even more completely than this?








    Will crosspost at
    http://sajunk.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/visiting-hot-wells/

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