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The Magnolia Hotel in 1936
The Magnolia Hotel in 1936
Arthur W. Stewart, Library of Congress

Visit a Famously Haunted Texas Hotel in October

The Magnolia Hotel in 1936
The Magnolia Hotel in 1936
Arthur W. Stewart, Library of Congress

Seguin, Texas, is a surprisingly popular destination for ghost hunters. The 27,000-person town located 35 miles outside of San Antonio has been featured on several ghost-hunting TV shows, thanks to the presence of the Magnolia Hotel, a spooky historic inn that’s reportedly home to at least 13 restless spirits—at least according to its owner.

This Halloween season, you can experience the Magnolia’s hauntings for yourself. The hotel, which sat vacant for two decades and has been under renovation for years, will open its doors to visitors on October 28, according to San Antonio news station KSAT. The public can get a rare glimpse of the building (and maybe some of its spookier residents).

The hotel’s origins stretch back to 1840, when one of Seguin’s founders, Texas Ranger James Campbell, built a two-room log cabin on the property. Campbell was killed shortly after, and the cabin ended up in the hands of various other owners who transformed it first into a stagecoach station, then into a hotel. Throughout the years, owners built new additions to the property, expanding the hotel. By the mid-1800s, it was the town’s largest inn, and it would retain the title well into the 20th century. In the 1930s, it was renovated into apartments, but was abandoned in the 1990s.

Throughout those years, the building was witness to plenty of violence. In the 1850s, its cellar served as a safehouse for women and children during attacks on the town by members of the Comanche tribe. For a while, that basement shelter also served as the town’s first jail.

In 1874, serial killer Wilhelm Faust was staying there for work when he snuck away to murder his wife, who was staying nearby, but killed a family friend’s young daughter instead. He later confessed to several other murders.

Current Magnolia owner Erin Ghedi says that the hotel is now home to at least 13 ghosts—which have been pinpointed “with the assistance of a well-known Texas psychic, and the owner's ability to communicate with the spirits,” according to the hotel website. But Ghedi is still trying to figure out who exactly the ghosts are, according to KSAT.

When the Russel Rush Haunted Tour stopped by the hotel to film, though, she told the crew that she and others have seen the ghost of the young girl killed by Wilhelm Faust roaming around the hotel playing with a ball, and the spirit of a prostitute who used to bring clients to the place in the 1880s. Ghedi also claims that ghosts have thrown heavy radiators and other objects across rooms and that people have felt their eyes being scratched in bathrooms. On the paranormal TV show Strange Town, ghost hunters saw mysterious mist floating through one of the hotel’s historic rooms during the night.

The hotel will be open on October 28 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. According to the Magnolia’s website, though the hotel doesn’t offer overnight stays just yet, its owners hope to in the future, so keep an eye out.

[h/t KSAT]

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The Magnolia Hotel in 1936
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LaGuardia Airport Is Serving Up Personalized Short Stories to Passengers
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In between purchasing a neck pillow and a bag full of snacks, guests flying out of the Marine Air Terminal at New York City's LaGuardia Airport can now order up an impromptu short story. As Hyperallergic reports, Landing Pages is an art project that connects writers to travelers looking for short fiction written in the time it takes to reach their destination.

The kiosk was set up as part of the ArtPort Residency, a new collaboration between the Queens Council on the Arts and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which sponsors different art projects at the Marine Air Terminal for a few months at a time.

Artists Lexie Smith and Gideon Jacobs set up the inaugural project at the terminal earlier this month. To request a story from Landing Pages, travelers can visit the kiosk and leave their flight number and contact information. While the passenger is in the air, Smith and Jacobs churn out a custom story, in the form of poetry, illustration, or prose, from their airport terminal workspace and send it out in time for it to reach the reader's phone before he or she lands.

The word count depends on the duration of the flight, and the subject matter often touches upon themes of travel and adventure. As Smith and Jacobs continue their residency through June 30, the pieces they complete will be made available at Landingpages.nyc and in hard copy form at the airport kiosk.

Landing Pages isn't the first airport service to offer à la carte short stories. In 2011, a French startup debuted its short story-dispensing vending machine at Paris's Charles de Gaulle Airport. Those stories come in three categories—one-minute, three-minute, and five-minute reads—and are printed out immediately so travelers can read them during their flight.

[h/t Hyperallergic]

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Big Questions
Why Do Cats 'Blep'?
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As pet owners are well aware, cats are inscrutable creatures. They hiss at bare walls. They invite petting and then answer with scratching ingratitude. Their eyes are wandering globes of murky motivations.

Sometimes, you may catch your cat staring off into the abyss with his or her tongue lolling out of their mouth. This cartoonish expression, which is atypical of a cat’s normally regal air, has been identified as a “blep” by internet cat photo connoisseurs. An example:

Cunning as they are, cats probably don’t have the self-awareness to realize how charming this is. So why do cats really blep?

In a piece for Inverse, cat consultant Amy Shojai expressed the belief that a blep could be associated with the Flehmen response, which describes the act of a cat “smelling” their environment with their tongue. As a cat pants with his or her mouth open, pheromones are collected and passed along to the vomeronasal organ on the roof of their mouth. This typically happens when cats want to learn more about other cats or intriguing scents, like your dirty socks.

While the Flehmen response might precede a blep, it is not precisely a blep. That involves the cat’s mouth being closed while the tongue hangs out listlessly.

Ingrid Johnson, a certified cat behavior consultant through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants and the owner of Fundamentally Feline, tells Mental Floss that cat bleps may have several other plausible explanations. “It’s likely they don’t feel it or even realize they’re doing it,” she says. “One reason for that might be that they’re on medication that causes relaxation. Something for anxiety or stress or a muscle relaxer would do it.”

A photo of a cat sticking its tongue out
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If the cat isn’t sedated and unfurling their tongue because they’re high, then it’s possible that an anatomic cause is behind a blep: Johnson says she’s seen several cats display their tongues after having teeth extracted for health reasons. “Canine teeth help keep the tongue in place, so this would be a more common behavior for cats missing teeth, particularly on the bottom.”

A blep might even be breed-specific. Persians, which have been bred to have flat faces, might dangle their tongues because they lack the real estate to store it. “I see it a lot with Persians because there’s just no room to tuck it back in,” Johnson says. A cat may also simply have a Gene Simmons-sized tongue that gets caught on their incisors during a grooming session, leading to repeated bleps.

Whatever the origin, bleps are generally no cause for concern unless they’re doing it on a regular basis. That could be sign of an oral problem with their gums or teeth, prompting an evaluation by a veterinarian. Otherwise, a blep can either be admired—or retracted with a gentle prod of the tongue (provided your cat puts up with that kind of nonsense). “They might put up with touching their tongue, or they may bite or swipe at you,” Johnson says. “It depends on the temperament of the cat.” Considering the possible wrath involved, it may be best to let them blep in peace.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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