It began when i was a kid. I had a "Haunted House" in my Parent's basement (So did Timmy McVeigh!)
My "House" was a Summer time event, it was fun.
As an adult I was building a Haunt for the JCs.. I noticed that I seemed to be doing ALOT of the work.. myself, especially the "picking-Up" part when it was over!
("Maybe I could do this,me,just myself ??")
Then the second-neatest house in town for a haunt came on the market. (The ultimate "House" was beside the local grave yard and nobody had lived in it for at least 50 years)
My Wife informed me that "we" had not made a house payment in six months!?
"If we could get that house , we would have a place to live and a "Haunt' and a Day-care business she wanted to run. She said, "Go for it !"
I began pitching my idea to people. Most either laughed or scoffed or both. Even though this is my home town and I had worked for so many people here who believed in me and trusted me,nobody believed my ideas were worthy,, I was obviously asking the Wrong Person for backing.
I should think of someone who once did something that everyone else thought was nutty-stupid-would never "work".. but it did!
They would have the mind-set to see it working AND the finances to loan me.
The next day that man called me.. to fix his furnace.
He told me to offer the present owner a ridiculously low offer, the absentee owner took the offer!
I went,told my wife "We got the house!"
She was not excited ?? (But now we have a place to live! )
I began cleaning up the old house.. my step-Son came and told me that his Mother (my Wife,) would not be moving in here!
She told me :"The Only way that I could have possibly gotten the money to get this house was if Satan had given me the money! ?
Then she moved into a very nice house owned by the same man who loaned me the money to buy the Haunt! (She was bankrolled by a friend of her family,who later left her a large house and $ and antiques 170 miles away from here.
I was still working my "Day job" working every spare minute here on my house.
After a few years I decided that I had "enough" to show the "World".
I wrote a letter to The Chicago Tribune describing my house. The letter arrived as they were composing their Halloween Haunted House section.
Because of my letter I got quite a bit of "Ink" on a page that listed a huge number of Haunts (in very small print)
The Tribune said:"We don't know if any of what he said is true, but here is his phone number........
That issue hit the streets around 5AM? I was sleeping on an old Army Cot near my phone.. it rang at 5:30Am.. I answered:"Ravens Grin Inn."
I heard a young male voice say "Holy (Expletive Deleted!) and quickly hung up.
Then the next several hundred callers... did not quickly hang up until I answered their questions:"Where is Mount Carroll? What are your hours? How much is admission?"
I would hang up by just pushing the little phone cradle kill-button, as I did this the phone would ring with another call!
Around lunchtime I turned on the answering machine, walked one block to the downtown,paid visits to the Bars and Restaurants telling them they should keep the waitress on past 8pm,buy more hamburger.....they all laughed at me. (I was just trying to help)
That night this small town was PACKED! Every parking space was filled, strangers walking and gawking, looking for my house!
People stopped in the Sherriff's office asking where my house was, then asking:"How much do houses sell for around here?"
Besides Food and Gasoline, houses and businesses have been sold ,all because my house is here!
People see my silly, artistic venture as a "sign" that this little town just Might be the kind of a place that they would also like to call "Home"! (3 hours from Chicago)
Naturally I had not taken my own advice that I had been giving to others. I was not anywhere near "Prepared" for this onslaught.
I had ONE helper,his job was to hide as people came through the house, then walk from his hiding place and sit on a chair in the kitchen as they returned to the Kitchen via a set of rollers.
If the "Steady-Cam" had been available those nights and had been following me through the house and parking lot as I sold the tickets and did the tours and ran the while time.... no one would believe it!
As the Rooster greets the very early morning sun.. it is Very difficult to "entertain" people who have been waiting in-line for So many hours!
I just wish that everyone could have had such an experience in their own lives of going from "Village Idiot" to "Town Hero" in one night.
My letter to the Tribune said:"I have a "Haunted" Haunted House that has seven physical levels and an optional guaranteed Scare package,all of which is Still, very true.