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Rich Hanf
02-10-2011, 07:36 PM
Let me begin by saying thanks to those of you who replied to my last post...both here and privately. As I continue to wade through a lifetime of memories, collectables, and all things haunted, my frustration continues to build. My question is simple...what does one do with 30 / 35 years worth of Halloween/ horror/ haunting?

I don't know how many of you have visited the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame...but if you haven't it is something you need to do before you shed your mortal body. It is fabulous on any number of levels. You have to be thankful for those old things that have escaped the garbage dumpster as it would have been so easy for so much to have ended up there.

Another great place to visit is Sam Phillips' Sun Studios in Memphis. This guy discovered Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and of course Elvis. There is an "X" on the studio floor. That is exactly where Elvis stood when he recorded "That's all right mama". The stories and the memorbelia are priceless.

So as I stand here looking at the front of the New York Daily News from the summer of 1983 and read how a Haunted House Fire at Great Adventure killed 8 kids, as I thumb through the first Haunted House book by Phil Morris, as I find a catalog by Denny Dehm, or Spookems, or any one of the dozens and dozens of companies that have long ago gone away...I have to ask...what is to become of us and our history? As I sift through my archives I know the process has already begun. How many of you remember Trisha Drain? She headed the Transworld seminars before Dennis Gorg (who some of you may not remember). We all know the terrific job Steve Kopelman has done with Thrillvania. Does everyone remember the name Lance Pope or do that name not ring true with all of you? Who was JB Corn? We all took the Transworld tour in Kansas City back in November. How does Dennis Kingsolver play into that?

My point is that although it is highly unlikely, how cool would it be to have a Haunters Museum? A place where in decades to come the world of Haunting, Halloween, and Horror could put their finger down and say HERE...RIGHT HERE...this is how it started, these are the guys that blazed the trail that we today are walking. Look at those old posters, those old tee shirts, listen to that guy Rich Hanf talk about standin tall and doin it all...look at the web site that came before Hauntworld, look at that first issue of Haunted Attraction, Fright Times, check out those old Transworld show programs, and so much more.

I promise you this. What I am doing now, you guys will also do. It might not be til next year, or in 5 years, or for some of you maybe it won't be for 20 years...but you all will do it. And when you do you will ask yourself one simple question. Throw or NO?
As I look at the first Cinema Secret or Morris catalog...throw or no? As I look at the How to Manual by Michael Cruz...throw or no? How anout the VORTA tapes personally sent to my by Drew Hunter years before he was IAHA's first President...hell...years before there was even an IAHA? Throw or no? How about this old newspaper clipping from the Dallas Morning News which talks about this frustrated architect that designes haunted houses when he is not designing car dealerships? Throw or no? Because if I say Throw em...and years from now you say Throw em...we become an industry without a past...without a History.

I don't know if we will ever get a building...maybe a museum could be set up in some tractor trailers and rolled out only at Transworld time. As we approach another Transworld show all I know is this... if we don't start thinking about this now, by the time we need it...it will already be too late.

Speaking of Transworld...Haunts come and go. People come and go. Spookyworld (the original) proved that. There is a lot of Flux in this business. The one constant in our history has been Transworld. They have always been there. They have always been the rock...the one thing that could be counted on in a business that doesn't allow you to count on much. When your foot hits that tradeshow floor you know you are "there" you know you are "home". Through the good times and the bad Transworld has always looked upon us as their own...as family. There are other tradeshows of sorts... but no other show is as important...has the history, knows the history...is in every way part of our history...if we ever do have a museum of haunting, Transworld has to be right in the middle of it. Rich Hanf

Jim Warfield
02-10-2011, 07:51 PM
I saw something kind of like that one May right here in Mount Carroll, il.
It was Mayfest weekend and the old college campus was full of art, singers, antiques, food, beer and the Illinois Funeral directors display!?
Nice display of things like old invoices from such a business from the 1920's to show us it was not all profit.
Pictures of some old buggies and hearses and ..coffins right there on display in the trailer/truck machine.
Some people thought Jim, the haunted house guy had conspired to bring this trailer here!?
Surprise, surprise Gomer! It was Sheldon and Lano Frank, the town's undertakers!

damon carson
02-10-2011, 08:54 PM
Sounds like it was a great undertaking to say the least Jim!
Damon

drfrightner
02-11-2011, 02:15 AM
Rich,

Couple things... I have been working on an article that outlines how the industry became the industry, how we got where we are today and it really highlights the 13 most imporant things that have ever happened which created major impacts on our industry as we know it. Its very thought out, researched and detailed down to the bone as to how and why everything happened.

Rich you've been around a LONG TIME... and you've been a part of a lot of different things but the things you'll learn you'll discover in this article you didn't even know! The Morris book isn't part of the equation, the Ghost Shows none of that... its not how we got started and once you read what I have you won't believe it.

Back in 1975 the very first haunted house company was started by only one NAME... The Haunted House Company, and they helped hundreds of haunted houses open across the country and this group because the haunted house experts getting calls from people around the nation. This group also did the first ever haunted house tour, hiring a crew to visit 35 haunts across America to document them so they could then do the first ever haunted house seminars, and more. All this happened in 1975.

You'll learn their names, you'll learn how it happened and you'll find out how it got us to today...

Lastly, I dont' agree with you about TW ... although I love TW they ignored our industry for years on end, tried to boot us from the show, and did little to promote our industry until recently. Today TW is a great asset to our industry but I wouldn't ever say its been the rock of the industry. You'll learn all the details about that as well in the article...

Its coming and its something that you a man of history will dive right into and never put down until you've read every word!

Its coming...

Larry

Rich Hanf
02-11-2011, 09:10 AM
Larry...you are right. I am certainly anxious to read this detailed history. I'm sure it will be worth the wait. As far as Transworld, I'm not so sure it's as bleak a picture as you paint. I do believe that they had a tiger by the tail and it took them a while to first figure out that it was even a tiger and then more time to figure what to do with it. As far as keep us away...I think they did cave in to the costumers desire to keep "non buyers" off the floor...something they quickly found to be a mistake. They owned up to it and moved on. As far as promoting us, I don't think anyone ever thought it was their job to do that. It would have been nice if over ...what...10 years or so IAHA had thought about promoting us...but I can't hold Transworld's feet to the fire for not doing what was never their mandate to do. As people and shows came and went the one constant that was always there was Transworld. For me at least, that makes them a rock. Maybe not Mt Everest, but a rock nontheless. Rich

Jolly Pumpkin
02-11-2011, 10:20 AM
This should be an interesting read and it may become quite controversial since there are many haunts that were around before 1975. As far as I know, haunted houses started in Ohio and the oldest haunt that's still in operation today is the Hudson Jaycees Haunted House which is 39 years old. Haunts opened around 1970 in Ohio, but the majority of the early ones have been closed. But different people have their theories on the history.

drfrightner
02-11-2011, 11:03 AM
Rich,

Just so I'm clear... I do think TW rocks, and just for the records people like Jen Thayer had nothing to do what so ever with the TW who tried to boot us from the show, it was the old regime who are no longer involved what so ever. With that being said it was still TW, and yes at one point we as an industry wasn't the focus and at one point was asked to pony up all sorts of things that I would deem unfair. In the end it was unfair and TW changed their policy which I think upset some retailers.

Haunts was a huge dilema for TW from the retail side, and its hard to side how much haunts influenced retailers to start their own show, or how big a problem we really became. All I know is that when all was said and all was done TW did exactly what they said they would do for our industry and that was start our own show, focus on us, and build a better show and its all that matters.

Things couldn't be great.

I think the point the whole point is and was that we've hit speed bumps along the whole road and some people still to this day continue to try and cause people problems just for the sake of it. Its said.

I doubt this industry will ever really be all out friendly to each other but its something to hope for!

Larry

Jim Warfield
02-12-2011, 06:39 AM
One of my first & best patrons here when I started 25 yrs. ago was a Doctor who is also a surgeon practising 35 miles from here, he is/was a Haunted House enthusiast.
He told me that the first Haunt ,in his opinion, was possibly in San Antonio, Tex.? And they were copied ,to the extreme, by the national JCs, the Jcs putting all of the San Antonio haunts' concepts and ideas into a nationaly distributed handbook, a JCs "How To Book".
The haunt being copied was a charity-run place in a castle-like old building with towers, a hunchback roaming around the parapets and may have even been open almost year-round.
They used many live animals inside, bats, snakes, ex cetra.
They had a scene in which a child(his daughter) was placed in an electric chair, with much fanfare and when the "Switch" was thrown, she got no shock but everybody else , sitting on a bench did!

KroneDaddy
02-12-2011, 07:28 AM
Larry, I used to have The Haunted House Company's catalog, wish I had kept it. Jaycees ruled the roost back in those days and that's when I started. I am 51 now and remember doing my first Jaycee haunt in 1976. Those were the days. You could build a haunted house out of old Christmas trees and gasoline and no one cared.

Rich, long time, no see. I hope you're well. A lot of us remember Lance and JB Corn. The early days of Haunted Attraction and Fright Times. Prof Nightmare, Kevin McCurdy's Haunted Mansion, remember Dr. John's Haunted House Video. Denley and I both do a fair impersonation of Dr. John.

Takes me back, Larry I look forward to your story.

Tim Harkleroad

Rich Hanf
02-12-2011, 02:37 PM
Hello Tim...glad you are well. There are some catalogs that I think all of had wished we had kept...and that's the popint of this whole post. Will there ever be a Hall of Fame where people can see how this started going back 30 - 35 years? Here in the NY / NJ area we never had a jaycees but we did have a religious organization that did haunts called Campus Life. IO still have a Campus Life button from 1972 or 73

drfrightner
02-12-2011, 05:31 PM
I proposed a haunted house hall of fame for Hauntworld a long time ago... I think it would have to be an online version as I couldn't see a real haunted house museum being created.

Although I think that would be awesome if we could build one. I would love to help design that thing... it would be fun!

Who would you nominate is the question... lots of names to pick from.

Larry

DarkTikiEntertainment
02-14-2011, 02:39 PM
Seems to me that online might be your best option. It would be tough to find someone to foot the ongoing bill for a physical location. Plus if you put it at the site of someone's haunt, we all know how haunts come and go, even large ones. Conventions come and go. People come and go. But if you could put it online, it could be done relatively cheaply, and could last indefinitely.

You could scan in documents, magazines, catalogs. You could take photos of props, etc. There could be videos. I know it's not the same as a physical location, but it seems much more likely to happen, and much more likely to last into the future. Plus if it's online, it becomes a resource for everyone, instead of just those who can travel to a physical location.

Another concern is that a physical location can be vandalized, stolen, flood damaged, or burn to the ground. If all that history is preserved in a website (and back-ups are made), it is essentially bullet-proof. Once you digitize (scan) an old magazine from the 80s, it will no longer fade or degrade. It is in a fixed form, and should look the same 20 years from now as it did the day it was scanned. Plus going digital makes it easier for haunters from around the world to contribute to the HOF/museum, as they just have to send digital files, instead of shipping physical artifacts. Plus it means they get to keep their original copies, which some people would want to do.

Finally, stewardship of a website is much easier to pass on to future generations of haunters than stacks of books & mags, props, costumes, etc. Since the hassle and expense maintaining a website would be minimal, the likelihood is high that someone would be interested in being the next curator of the website, when the current one is ready to retire.

I think even if you do somehow manage to create a physical hall of fame, you should consider also preserving all that history via a companion website, for the reasons listed above.

Best of luck to you in this endeavor! '

Raycliff Manor
02-14-2011, 03:17 PM
Some interesting Campus Life / Scream in the Dark history can be found here:

http://tulsatvmemories.com/mahu.html

Enjoy!

Kel