Victorian Parlor Games in St. Augustine

The Coolest Way To Spend
a St. Augustine Sunday Afternoon

Being
involved in the hospitality scene in St. Augustine for a number of years has
afforded me the opportunity to do all the tours and experience all the
attractions. This afternoon, I had the pleasure of attending Through The Keyhole, a 2-hour
gathering (hosted by Tina Verduzco and Brandy Klopp) during which we gained first-hand
insight as to how St. Augustine Victorians (from the Flagler Era, to include Henry Flagler’s second wife Ida) spent their clandestine
evenings. We sipped tea, played parlor games, and attempted to conjure up
spirits. We learned the origins of the modern Angel Board and how to read tea
leaves! This was the best afternoon activity in which I have engaged in months
and months!

The
art of tea leaf reading is not my forte, but today’s experience piqued my
interest! We sat at the dining room table in Alexander Homestead (built in
1888), with a tea cup and saucer, silver tray, and elegant cloth napkin (mine
was mint green with a dainty white flower in the corner). The tea we sipped (from St.
Augustine’s Spice & Tea Exchange
) was refreshing (perhaps cleansing?),
the remaining tea leaves “serving” as the information vessel, if you will. The
idea is that the tea leaves will form patterns of objects relative to the
information seeker and each pattern/object represents a future scenario. In my
tea leaves, I saw an eagle (a change for the better); a dove (good fortune);
and a very large and definite capital V (the first initial of my estranged
mother’s name). Tea leaf reading dates back to the 17th century;
whether you engage for amusement or for serious study, you can’t help but be
inspired by whatever message you receive. We also learned about pendulum
dowsing and spirit boards. It was a very interesting, informative, and
safe-feeling experience, one that I highly recommend for the spiritually open
minded!

According
to 2ghouls
Brandy and Tina, The concept of seeking evidence of life after death is not a
recent addition to the tourism industry. Over a century ago, residents and
guests alike were practicing Victorian Spiritualism in our Nation’s Oldest City.
2ghouls has reopened the door to the spirit world of the Gilded Age, and
through paranormal experiences, they introduce their guests to those divine
energies stirred up 100+ years ago!

Historian and folklorist Brandy Klopp is a native Floridian and
member of the Conch Republic (born in Key West). The first time she saw the Hotel Ponce de Leon
(now Flagler College), Brandy was so smitten that she would apply to no other
school. Upon acceptance, she moved to St. Augustine and earned a degree in fine
art and art history, which further kindled her love of the nation’s oldest
city. After nine years in Boston working with outsider artists, Brandy
relocated to Atlanta where she served as Traditional Arts Program Manager &
Curator for the State Art Collection for the Georgia Council for the Arts,
Office of the Governor. She was led back to the “sleepy colonial
town” of St. Augustine in 2011. Given her background, historic tours
seemed a perfect fit and she soon crossed the threshold into the city’s darker
past.

Hypnotist and spirit magnet Tina Verduzco, also a popular local tour
guide, comes from a linage of gypsies, psychics, and Native Americans. She
studied with psychic Kay Mora (Kaimora) and is a consulting hypnotist
specializing in past life regression. She has been featured on the Bio Channel’s My
Ghost Story
and Northeast Florida Paranormal
webcast and is a member of Orlando’s
Spirit Seekers
. She is co-author of the young
adult, historic novel Storm and the
Mermaid’s Knot
, a coming-of-age fantasy about a young mermaid in St.
Augustine. Tina is also a full-time artist, creating assemblage pieces and Day
of the Dead Art. Her work can be seen at several local galleries including Simple Gestures
and The
Gifted Cork
. She also volunteers at the famous
historical (and haunted) St. Augustine Lighthouse (be sure to watch the video hyperlinked above to Bio
Channel’s My Ghost Story).

If you would like to meet Brandy
and Tina, well then Aviles Street is the place to be for First Friday Art Walk
on July 6, 2012. Be sure to make your way down the street to the corner of
Cadiz for Casa de Solana B&B’s Open House where Tina and Brandy
will be setting up shop and ready to share some stories.

Casa de
Solana Bed & Breakfast
is St. Augustine’s seventh oldest house,
located on the city’s oldest street, and most definitely has its share of
spiritual energy and crazy stories! There will be a number of things happening
at Casa that night. In addition to Tina and Brandy, there will be local artists
and vendors who are anxious to wow you with their crafts! Perhaps you’ll want
to sneak away to the far corner of the lush courtyard and surprise your loved
one with a romantic vows renewal ceremony. Be sure to pop into the dining room
for the Sangria social and sweet treats, and you’ll definitely want to take a
sneak peek at The Minorcan (a 2-room suite featuring a room with a queen bed,
gorgeous shower, and flat screen TV and a sitting room with fireplace, desk,
and another flat screen TV)! Open House guests will be the judges for a Casa
Photo Contest

So come and meet Tina and Brandy
and join the rest of the fun at 21 Aviles Street on Friday, July 6, 2012.