Above is yours truly in an authentic body box from the late 1800s. It was originally used to ship a body from California to Ohio. The box collected dust in a mortuary garage for decades because no one knew what to do with it. Though quite lengthy for what must have been a tall decedent, it’s actually made of very lightweight pine. It isn’t suitable for anything but storage and, quite frankly, who wants to store anything in a box that closely resembles a casket?
Our local funeral home was finally able to divest of the piece just before this past Halloween when they gave it to my wife and me. We used it in our family run haunted house in our own house. I spent a couple nights laying in the box in my kitchen turned waiting room, dreading my own turn with the sadistic butcher in the room next door and begging every scared passerby to free me from my deathly bonds before I became his next victim. It was a blast, to say the least!
We had great fun with our haunted house and we raised several hundred dollars to benefit a local cause. My wife, a haunted scare fan from way back, really wants to go commercial and run a haunted house for real, for fun and for profit. It’s always been her dream. Everyone has to have a dream, right? After the holidays, she started looking for a house we could buy nearby to haunt for more than just a one weekend gig in October.
Fast forward to late January and, lo and behold, a 50,000 square foot building in town that’s owned by the school district that sits empty got scheduled for demolition much to the consternation of the people in our little village in the middle of nowhere. At a community meeting, it was decided that the community would pursue forming a charitable foundation and, as such, pursue buying the building from the school district. We had nothing to lose and lots to gain for our village on the very edge of still alive and trying to survive.
Wednesday night, the dreams of many in the village – my wife’s included – took a step toward reality. The school board voted to sell the community foundation the building for the nominal price of a dollar. This summer, if all goes well, we’ll take possession as a community of a great place that can be used for community space and that will also include space that can be leased out (benefiting the foundation) to ‘for profit’ businesses.
We have our eyes on the oldest part of the building, including the dark, dank basement that everyone else wants to mothball to build the haunted house my beloved envisions. Besides rent, we’ll kick back some of the gate to the foundation, supply seasonal jobs for several folks in town and give the area restaurants and civic groups space to sell food and drink and fund raise. It’s a win for everybody.
Let the haunting begin!