I'll have a bottle of Crazy Water, please.” Well, actually, I’ve already got one. Mine looks to be from about the 1940s. But I’d really like to find a much older one, like the corked medicinal bottles that were sold in the 1880s, not too long after the water at Mineral Wells was found to have some rather unusual qualities.
A simple postcard inspired me to embark on an unexpected journey. In the early 1980s, I chanced upon a colorful postcard of A Mineral Wells’ Crazy Water Hotel, depicted in its 1930s heyday. Curious about the town’s history, I did some research. It wasn’t long before I had developed a healthy obsession with Texas’ once-booming spa towns, where celebrities and common folks alike gathered to “take the waters.” The ritual of quaffing and immersing one’s mortal vessel in heavily-mineralized water was regarded up to the 1940s and ’50s as nature’s remedy for conditions ranging from sluggishness to insanity. The Palo Pinto County town of Mineral Wells, in particular, became known as the happy spot “Where America Drinks Its Way to Health,” due to the high mineral content of its water, some zesty promotional campaigns, a picturesque setting in a valley of small hills, and several elegant resort hotels.
Needing an escape from city stress, I packed a bag and drove 45 minutes west of my hometown of Fort Worth for a stay at the new Double J Hacienda, a 12-acre retreat just outside Mineral Wells. Almost as soon as I arrived, I realized I had found a favorite getaway destination.