Episode #188 — Bathing at the Buckstaff Bathhouse

The first time you listened to our podcast you might have thought to yourself, “Hey, this isn’t a true crime podcast. Should I still listen to it?” It that was you, we’d first like to thank you for listening anyway. Second, we’d like to emphasize that although each episode doesn’t revolve around a specific criminal investigation, we’d like to think there’s a lot about our shows that keep you guessing until the very end. (We’ll let the reviews declare if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.)

True crime or a fictional whodunit — there’s an appeal to playing detective. There always has been, whether it’s an Edwardian Country House Party (the lesser known of the “House Party” movies) or an old radio show. Who could forget that episode of “Frasier” where he tried to recreate an old murder mystery? You forgot it? That’s okay — it wasn’t one of the best episodes. But you’d better remember watching the zany mystery movie “Clue,” including all the alternate endings, mostly because of Madeline Kahn’s “Flames on the side of my face” delivery. No one can ever duplicate how she says, “I hated her so much…” Pure cinematic gold.

Okay, we’re back from watching that scene on a continual loop for about ten minutes. What were we talking about? Murder mysteries. And Heidi’s surprising willingness to participate in them. Normally she’s not one for old-fashioned games. Want her to play charades? Not a chance. Ask her to join in a group sing from the Great American Songbook around the piano? She’ll have some choice words for you. Just call her “Hard Hearted Hannah (The Vamp of Savannah).” But ask her to participate in a murder mystery party and she’s right there — hoping she’s the murderer. Luke won’t play unless he gets to be the detective in charge. It all tracks.

In the spirit of old-fashioned pastimes that are still fabulous today, we spoke with Mandi from the Buckstaff Bathhouse in Hot Springs Arkansas for this week’s episode. Hot Springs isn’t just the name of the city, it’s been the reason people all over the world have visited there since the nineteenth century. Buckstaff is one of the original bathhouses on Bathhouse Row, built over natural hot springs. In fact, it’s been in operation since 1912 and offers a complete, traditional bathing experience.

So, what makes the water from the hot springs ideal for hydrotherapy? Or just taking a bath? Mandi came to the interview ready with impressive stats about the origins of the water and how long it travels before it emerges from the pipes at Buckstaff Bathhouse. Let’s just say this water has been some places and seen some things.

The hot springs are the draw, but what in the word is a traditional bathing experience? Mandi explained the full process involved in visiting for a thermal mineral bath. There are several steps, each sounding more relaxing than the next. We made Mandi explain each step in great detail in order to pretend that we were there, soaking and relaxing. Plus, there’s a definite allure to knowing your bathhouse visit matches that of someone who visited the same building in the early twentieth century. Who says you can’t have the same luxuries as visiting dignitaries, celebrities, and politicians? Not us, and not Buckstaff Bathhouse!

Be sure to check out Buckstaff Bathhouse on their website, as well as on Facebook and Instagram. It’s a thermal bath. It’s a spa. It’s a historical site. It’s waiting for us to book a visit and check out the needle shower.

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