As some of my fellow haunters may, or may not, be aware, this past Halloween, Rob at SkullAndBone.com made the decision to end the renowned Miss Rose yard haunt that he has so wonderfully crafted over the past 5+ years.
I know a good many people have found his haunt and website to be a great source of inspiration, education and anticipation. Myself very much included. But, he felt it was time to move on to other endeavours.
Rob, being the classy guy that he is, made another decision. He didn't just end the haunt. Incredibly, he sought to pass it on. Preferrably to another haunter. At first he thought to sell it. I can't speak to whether or not he got any offers for the entire haunt, but, apparently, he was approached by some only to acquire a few props and things. He even had one guy act like he was doing Rob a favor by taking the haunt off his hands. Obviously, a less than learned soul. Well, he couldn't stand to see it scattered to the four winds, being sold off piecemeal or disappearing into a larger, already established haunt.
Then, astoundingly, I saw this from Rob responding to another member of the HauntForum...
"I am less concerned about selling props than I am about finding a good home. I have a couple mails out to a few close friends, but I am still looking for the perfect home for the entire haunt. Frankly, for the right haunter, I will be happy to pass along the entire haunt for free."
Insert many excited expletives here. A great many.
After some very brief consideration and calculation, I knew I had to at least attempt acquiring Miss Rose.
So enamored am I of their work, that I tend to regard some haunters as near celebrities. Naturally, some are more approachable than others. Also, having not really communicated with many other haunters pertaining to actual haunting, I was feeling a little trepidation. But, I took a chance, wrote from the heart and fired off an email to Rob.
I won't post the entire email here as this is a long enough story already, but, essentially, I expressed my admiration for the beauty and craft of his haunt. I included some of my personal background and my history with haunting. How, whether through lack of venue, budgetary concerns, or raising a family, it was difficult to start an entire haunt from scratch. How I was more of a detail guy and needed a palette from which to work, allowing me to concentrate on things on a somewhat smaller scale. And, finally, how I would be privileged and honored to carry on the legacy of the Miss Rose haunt.
The following evening, I heard back from Rob.
He was very gracious and appreciative of my admiration and enthusiasm for the haunt. He mentioned that he very much liked the idea of Miss Rose spawning a brand new haunt, and was lamenting it possibly being folded into another larger haunt. Moreover, my timeline seemed to coincide perfectly with his, as the haunt was still up. Perfect. Things were looking good. So, Rob asked to sleep on it and he would let me know of his decision Thursday morning. I made my plans, just in case, and waited for the good word to hopefully come. Friday morning, that good word came.
Rob said that, with a few minor stipulations, he would be very happy for my family to have the entire Miss Rose haunt. The stipulations were three. I had to take it all (not even remotely a problem), I had to pick it up that weekend (fortune favored the foolish) and, if I ever get tired of it, I have to pass it on to someone else (not likely for awhile, but I definately appreciated the sentiment).
Well, I was beyond ecstatic! Talk about a thrill of a lifetime. And the sheer generosity of Rob to just give the haunt away. Especially to someone he didn't even know. Simply amazing. I had never spoken to Rob before that day. And it's not like he was giving away store bought props. This was art. And some artists tend to be very proprietary about their work. So, to me, it was like Da Vinci saying, "Sure, you-a can-a have-a dat-a painting of-a da smiling-a girl." Close enough to that anyway. Needless to say, I was beyond grateful and honored and I couldn't wait to get down there.
We got a truck and trailer Friday morning, packed up and left late Friday night. We live about 20 miles southwest of Portland, Oregon. We drove all night and arrived in San Francisco, CA about 12 hours later. We stayed at my mother-in-law's house Saturday night and my son and I left early-ish Sunday morning and drove south about 3½ hours to just north of San Luis Obispo, CA.
We arrived there about noon-ish and I finally saw, in person, what I had only seen in pictures. One of my very favorite yard haunts in all it's spooky glory. And I was very pleasantly surprised to see that it looked as good during the day as it did at night. AWESOME! Beyond awesome.
Then I saw how much there actually was to the haunt. Uh oh. Shades of Roy Scheider: "We're gonna need a bigger boat". I needn't have worried as it all ended up fitting just fine.
It was a genuine pleasure meeting Rob and his wife, the lovely 'Miss Rose' herself. I brought them a bottle of Pinot Noir, from an Oregon vineyard, that was described as being "complicated by rose" and a jug of Oregon-brewed "Dead Guy" ale. They were very gracious and thankful. As was I. I'm sure my lingering thanks and endless praise are still caking the walls of their house.
A quick sidenote, they have an awesome house for haunting. It's a Historical Preservation Society 1912 Colony House with lots of exterior moulding and shutters. That house was built to haunt. As Rob himself said, "It came pre-haunted". Now she's going to a 1980 Crackerjack Box. Heh.
We hung around for awhile shooting the breeze. Rob revealed a few of his secrets and insights and we generally talked haunting and Rose's history with them. It was really cool. He's a very nice guy with lots of talent and creative energy. For my part, I could hang with the guy all the time. He's got a friend for life in Oregon, that's for sure.
Finally, we set about tearing it all down and stuffing 10 pounds of haunt into an 8 pound bag. With Rob's experience at packing it all away, we made fairly short order of it. Though, next time, I must remember to bring enough damn rope. As we were loading, he had a few friends and neighbors drive by, noticing the truck and U-Haul and asking what was going on. Suffice it to say, for opposing reasons, the both of us are going to have some pretty shocked neighbors next Halloween. I felt a little bad for his, depriving them of such a treasured landmark. But only a little. Heh.
Alas, the time came for us to depart. After a few photos and many more thank you's, we said our goodbyes and headed back to San Francisco with Miss Rose in tow. We stayed in SF that night and left early Monday morning for Oregon. We arrived back home late Monday night where my son and I unloaded all that wonderous haunted goodness. Not five minutes after we closed the garage door, it started to rain. The fates, it seems, were on our side for once.
Come the next morning, my younger kids finally got to see what Daddy a-brung home. Talk about bug-eyed surprise. It was really neat to see their reaction. They were almost as excited as I am. Almost.
I know this was an exceptionally long post to read.
But, to me anyway, it's such a unique occurrence and experience that I felt compelled to share it as close to how it happened as possible. To appreciate and admire something from afar that took countless hours to create and then have it become mine through sheer generosity and willingness to share is something that I will never forget. It is a rare thing in this world.
I also believe that this story is a shining example of the intent of the HauntForum founder(s) and the haunting community in general. The willingness, even desire, to share ideas and knowledge and to celebrate our love of Halloween and the creative spirit. To be around others of like mind and find joy in their triumphs and commiserate in their less-than-successful undertakings.
So there you have it, friends. The tale of the passing of SkullAndBone's Miss Rose Haunt Torch. I am ecstatic, ever grateful and, most of all, excited about Rose's future with us.
And, as always, my profound and undying respect and gratitude to Rob at SkullAndBone for this beyond amazing privilege and gift. I've never met a classier guy and I'm proud to call him a friend. You rule the pool, brother.
As for the Miss Rose haunt itself, it may change in form, but, thanks to one haunter's generosity and another haunter's enthusiasm...
It will live on.
And perhaps, one day, another new haunter will have their own tale to tell.