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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Abe’s is the creepiest bar in southern Arizona

    Courtesy+of+Sarah+Renshaw
    Courtesy of Sarah Renshaw

    This bar isn’t like your overcrowded Fourth Avenue bars. Tumacácori, named after and located right next to the Mission San José de Tumacácori, is an hour south of the UA campus, along Interstate 19.
    The bar has a lot of history. I was there to tag along with the Arizona division of Paranormal Investigation teams. I was there because this bar has a ghost.

    There’s an old stone fireplace that can produce a silhouette of Abraham Lincoln next to a door that can do the same with Abe Trujillo’s face. There’s a gigantic moose head on the wall, an old jukebox that plays country and every classic rock hit from the 60s to the late 70s, black-and-white photos of family members, and a collection of shooter bottles lining the bar’s shelves.

    The place looks like the ideal country bar, with a hand-woven bamboo ceiling to conceal the raw materials used for the roof. The building, with the exception of the floors and roof, has not changed since its original construction.

    In 1934, Terso Trujillo, Dolores’s grandfather built and opened the bar that still stands there today.
    When Terso died, his son Abe was only 12 years old. His mother took over the bar, but she didn’t know much about the business.

    Abe had been helping his father run the bar since he was 6, so he would explain to his mother how to make drinks and run the business side of the bar. By 1950, when Abe was 21, he was already an expert in the business and the bar was his.

    Abe worked the bar until the day he died, for 60 years straight. According to Dolores, who now owns the bar, he still reminds her to dust the counters and lets family members know he’s around by opening doors, walking around the bar and using the bathroom. It’s as if there’s a sense of humor about the whole thing, while Abe, Terso and several other deceased family members wait for their family to be ready to join them in the afterlife.

    To start the investigation, we took pictures. One shot featured a semi-transparent profile of a short Pima woman. It was pretty good, but not nearly as convincing as the quieter clairvoyant’s picture of a woman in a dress leaning on a fence. It was like something out of a Tim Burton film: sunken eyes scrunched up with a small nose and an abnormally round head with a sewn mouth.
    I didn’t get anything but lens flare.

    The team then set up two devices to assess ghost activity while we talked with Dolores. The devices measure electromagnetic activity in the immediate area. Apparently, ghosts have electrical fields.
    There was a pattern, however. During the interview the devices would have five to ten second seizures whenever Dolores talked about immigrants. Everyone’s pupils seemed to dilate with excitement whenever the things went off.

    That was about the extent of the ghost activity, though. We left with three alleged ghost photos, some fantastically creepy anecdotes and a clairvoyant claiming to feel hot and “prickly.” Apparently, we were naturals, though I was mostly unsatisfied with the “evidence.”

    The outspoken clairvoyant sent an email the following day with a recap of her experience. She described something very hot touching her neck during one of the stories and an eerie bathroom break: “I walked through the break in the bar, and through to the restroom. I found I was, for lack of better description, ‘dizzy,’ both going in and out of the restroom.”

    Until Vicci Trujillo, a member of the family who owns Abe’s as well as Paranormal Investigation Teams, contacted me, I hadn’t really understood why five people would spend a day ghost hunting in a bar.

    “We are not out to ‘Ghostbust’ per say, we are out to find answers, and if the answers are not true to the best of our knowledge then it is not used,” Trujillo said. “We want to find answers and not just walk around googly-eyed trying to find and see things that anyone can see if they want to. ”With three creepy photographs and five hours of light drinking, we may not have found any answers, but we certainly got to know some fascinating people and their entire family history.

    And from this point on, I’m a part of the history of Abe’s — which is really what these kinds of articles are about. Travel, in its most useful sense, is about being a part of things.

    Stop trying to be entertained and go somewhere. The entertained life leads to death by heart disease and mental deterioration. The traveled life leads to the unknown: to novel concepts, places, friends and stories, which will keep you alive for as long as anyone remembers you.

    Follow us on Twitter @wildcatarts and follow Greg @Philoboarder43.

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