CROFTON, Neb. — The famous picture of Alice still hangs over the bar and things are pretty much the same at the Historic Argo Hotel, Bed & Breakfast Steakhouse & Lounge.
For Sandy Thunker, it’s about revival.
“The Argo is all about my history of Crofton, it’s one of my memories of growing up,” Thunker said.
She is the new owner of the Historic Argo Hotel and pleased to see the old eating establishment rise out of the ashes so to speak.
Three years ago, Thunker was in a bidding war for the Argo. She and husband Bob, also a Crofton native, were looking forward to retirement and running a bed and breakfast was always Thunker’s dream.
The couple grew up in Crofton, became high school sweethearts, married and then she followed him around the world, raising their son Jeremy, as he pursued a military career — first for the Army as an electrical engineer and then a transfer to the Air Force to continue for a 20-year stint. For the last 20 years he has been a government contractor and the couple lived in Virginia.
Thunker lost the first bidding war but was extremely interested when the Argo went on the market again last fall.
“I have always wanted a B&B and, well, since I followed him around the world with his work, now it was my turn,” Thunker said with a smile. Her husband agreed to support her and they bought the grand old hotel which has been a landmark in Crofton since 1912, hosting travelers who got off the train and later as a sanitarium.
The building sustained some fire damage and had only been open as a B&B in the last year but Thunker went to work and cleaned up the damage, rearranged an office area, moved laundry to top floor where the majority of linens collected and opened the doors in June.
“Everything about the Argo is everything I wanted - like the Victorian atmosphere,” Thunker said. “When I lost the bid three years ago, I was so upset but finally decided to move on and let go of that idea.”
Thunker got a second chance and is not letting go. Not even the ghosts are scaring her away.
“I stay in one of the rooms upstairs, at least until my husband moves back to Crofton to retire, and the first night I looked around and said, ‘OK, I’m living here now, I don’t care you live here. Let’s just get along.” She considers it her ghost-proof bedroom door.
For four months that was fine until the weekend for the grand opening approached. She got a phone call from a paranormal group who were interested in visiting to check out the Argo’s spirit “vibes.” She told them a group had been there once and they could see it online. She didn’t really want them there for the open house.
There was a room which was not rented for the grand opening, so Thunker dumped the unmade laundry on the bed and locked the door. About mid-afternoon, she made her way to the office and the phone rang — not a regular ring — kind of a short two dingle and as she checked the caller ID before picking up, it read in bright yellow, the number of the room which was not rented.
“I thought how strange and knowing it was empty, I went about my business,” Thunker said.
She talked to a couple in the bar about the incident and the man graciously offered to go upstairs and check. The room was locked and he called out but received no reply. As he went up the stairs, a spooky sound was heard by his wife in the bar and she laughed at him when he came back, telling him she was not scared. He looked at her and said he heard the sound, thought it was her.
“It’s the Argo,” Thunker said soft, spooky lilt and then a laugh.
Thinking the whole thing was a glitch in the in-house phone system, Thunker and her assistant manager spent an afternoon calling the office from each room. All lines worked as they should and not once did she get any yellow readings on the caller ID. And the unmade laundry was still chilling on the bed.
A local radio station recently interviewed Thunker at the Argo and the announcer had several issues with the microphone and recording device. When the interviewer moved on to the next interview, she called Thunker back and she had no difficulties at the next place.
“Yep, it’s the Argo,” Thunker laughed again. Ghosts don’t scare her.
The Argo’s Steakhouse & Lounge is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday and the B&B is open seven days a week. There are 11 rooms available which include 2 suites and Thunker has a staff of 10 employees.
The menu has a few changes as now a great burger is available and also there is a Children’s menu but a new addition recently is a big hit — Fried Ice Cream. For more information, check online at http://www.historicargohotel.com/ or checked Historic Argo Hotel on Facebook.
Thunker will agree with previous owner Sandra MacDonald who often said, “If you want to see a ghost, you probably will.”