The original Mountain Shadows resort, built in 1959 in Scottsdale, had a distinctive Rat Pack appeal. The sprawling building, designed by real estate developer Del Webb, had the largest known swimming pool in Arizona. It attracted Hollywood actors such as Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, Elizabeth Taylor, and Robert Stack, among others. They came to enjoy golfing, swimming, and drinking cocktails while listening and dancing to a live orchestra at night in the shadows of the Camelback and Mummy Mountains.
Just think – I ended up in jail on charge of trespassing private property thanks to a nun.
Yes, a nun. Somewhat older. Hard to say how old she was 55, 65 with her hair hidden behind her black veil. She had the cherubic round cheeks of the young nuns of my youth and that relentless, disarming cheerfulness that seems to be the hallmark of the sisters of the cloth. Or at the least the ones you see on TV and in the movies. Not that smart-ass Whoopi Goldberg in Sister Act.
Back to how I ended up in a jail. A first since my high school days when I was jailed for illegal possession of marijuana. I’ve forgotten that, and believe it or not, that youthful indiscretion derailed my career for a while since it was a felony.
So I called this nun to the building I manage, the late and great Frank Sinatra’s Desert Palms home. It has a kidney-shaped pool overlooking the city. The one you see featured in movie videos, commercials and more. It’s one of our most popular properties in our portfolio, well worth the $27 million our company Staywell Investors LLC spent to buy it a decade ago.
We’ve never had a problem filling that property since the day we we closed on in it. Until now. Now it’s too popular – thanks to Frank Sinatra’s ghost.
Or at least that’s what my AirBnB renters believe. I’ve never met this ghost and I’m cynical guy. I stopped believing in Santa at age 4 after I saw my dad putting presents under the Christmas tree. No more cookies and milk for that guy.
My renters have said they have started hearing Frank sing in the middle of the night. A lot of his swing-era favorites – Come Fly with Me, etc. Accompanied by his signature cigarette. At first they thought it was somebody playing the record player. But that record player – a defunct Philco model 49-1401 radio/phonograph – doesn’t work. I know. Arm is broken and there’s no needle.
The news quickly spread that Frank was singing nearly nightly in Desert Palms. An impersonator who knew Frank back in the day says it’s really Frank.
The problem is people are breaking in to hear this ghost sing. These break-ins affect our daytime rentals as police need to fill out reports and more..
So I called the ghost buster nun. Paid for her fly out to Desert Palms, put her up in the swankiest hotel. Told her she needed to get rid of this ghost.
She even stayed one night. Communed with the ghost.
She told me Frank is upset. Very upset. “Upset about what?” I responded. “He’s singing happy songs, I hear. Come Fly with Me. Upbeat songs.”
“He’s upset they’re planning to tear down his childhood church in New Jersey,” she said.
I blew a gasket or two. “Frank is dead and upset about a demolition? You’ve got to be kidding me.”
That wasn’t all. Apparently, Frank – a guy I never met while he was alive – wants me to stop the demolition.
“He’s afraid that all those souls who are attending Mass there now will not go to Heaven,” she said, fingering her rosary. “He’s fearful they won’t attend another church. They will just stop going.”
“That’s my problem?”
It turns out that if I want to save my imperiled Desert Palms property I have to save that church in Jersey. I don’t even go to church anymore, I’ve forgotten how to say the Rosary, none of my family members go, let alone my circle of friends. Church is passe.
But I was desperate to stop the travesty of break-ins at Palm Springs. I went to Jersey, fastened myself to a chain link fence surrounding the condemned church, threw myself in front of a bulldozer and got arrested. All to appease the ghost of Frank Sinatra.
The nun bailed me out long distance. “I’m sorry, I got it all wrong,” she said in her phone call to me. “Frank doesn’t care about that church-”.
I didn’t bother to hear the rest I was so angry. I hung up on her.