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When I first had the idea to do a haunted house that would be open for business all year long, I was prepeared to work as hard and as long as I could to give it the best possible chance of succeeding.( Failure meant I would be looking for a drainage tube under the road to move into, I had "Been there, Done That", didn't like "the neighborhood")

At that time I was 38 years old and had worked very hard for alot of other people, so I figured that it was my turn to do it for myself, my own emotional and financial enrichment(if this was to happen?) I had always been the guy that was late getting home for supper or lunch because if I could finish the job in another few minutes, this is what I would do, continue working to get something DONE! I would get calls at all hours and days and nights of the year to repair people's plumbing, heating and air conditioners, some winters just became a "blurr" in my mind, what with being called out at 2 am, getting into a stone cold truck, driving miles to a cold basement, then waking up to fix the limping, antique,(junk) oil furnace that the customer should have had replaced at least 5 years ago! Such was my life for the fifteen years before I got this house. I also got to dig in several water lines by hand every year when tractors couldn't fit in the physical layout of someone's yard.

I came to this haunted house task from a backround of "doing","sweat" and callouses. (All of the previous should not be considered bragging, if I was smarter, I wouldn't have done this for 15 years! Especially when I consider how little I was ever paid for this work) ,p> Even though I had lived in this town for most of my life, alot of people were very free with their advice concerning my plans for becoming a haunter(or as they saw it, a "Show-Biz" personality), usually they suggested I move out of the state. I got so sick of this , that I would sometimes cut them off and bluntly ask,"Do you know anybody in this business? Do you have any phone numbers of someone that you know that would hire me?" Of course their answer was always, "No." Then I would say, "Well I don't know any either." (so I guess you and this town are thereby stuck with me!)

I worked quietly for a few years building the house, getting ready, so to speak. At this time I did not want any newspaper to write anything like a feature story about me or the house, because I knew it just wasn't ready yet, I wanted More to show the waiting world, I didn't want to possibly blow my first big chance by having an empty building trying to be something that it certainly wasn't, yet. The October the Chicago Tribune "found" me was the right time for me to be "found", and fate had helped this to happen, and I was ready. They devoted a special boxed section in the middle of their listings of haunted houses in the Chicagoland area to discussing what they had heard about my house. They were very skeptical,(Yes, the house does have seven physical levels! It should, I built it that way to take advantage of that old urban-myth!) and they left it at that. This was GOLD. The "curiosity-factor" had been peaked. This paper came on the newstands at 6:30 am on a Friday, at a little before 7 my phone rang, I said, "Raven's Grin Inn." A young, male voice on the other end said, "Sh*t!" (Scared) and promptly hung-up! (This proved to be a good start, believe it or not?) My phone rang again in just a few seconds. This person simply wanted to know where Mount Carroll was in relation to where they were? I told them, I hung up, the phone rang immeadiately. Every time I hung up the phone it would ring quickly. finally I wouldn't hang it up, I would push the reciever-cradle with my fingers and the phone would ring! Then all I had to do was lift my fingers and say, "Raven's Grin Inn." (much faster and easier!) This non-stop ringing went on all morning and into the next day, steady. I finally put on the answering machine and took a walk around town to visit some other businesses. "You might want to consider staying open a little later tonight, or buy an extra 50 pounds of hamburger, or have some more help come in, because alot of people will be in Mount Carroll this weekend!" "Huh? What? Oh, yeah, sure, whatever?" Was the common response. The parking lot to the west of my house may measure 100 foot by 60 foot, it was full of people, uncomfortably full. The parking lot to the south of my house is maybe 130 feet by 70 feet, it was full of cars and people. The parking lot east of me is maybe 100 foot by 60 feet, it was full of cars and people. The downtown storefronts are just around the corner from me and the parking spaces were all full, the sidewalks were full of people(an un-common thing here) Some people had stopped in the County Sherriff's office a block and a half away from me to ask directions, and after they were given directions asked how much houses sell for in this quiet little town? (the local realators stood to make some sales because of my place!)

Soon after the smoke had cleared (that monday) "Crazy" Jim had been vindicated, every businessman in the downtown had seen it for himself, or had been told, if he had been at home watching TV, goofing off. So years after the movie "Field of Dreams" had been out and finally on video, I sat down to watch it for the first time, and when the line was spoken, "Build it and they will come", I started laughing uncontrollably, rolling on the floor! I had finally "Risen above" just being the town's peon-know-nothing, even though I was just a local-boy, I HAD been right. In the coming years national television programs would feature my house, national magazines would put it on their cover and people from this town of 1,700 would come back and tell me with wonder in their voice about being half-way across the country , or in an airliner leaving the country and having a stranger ask where they were from? "Mount Carroll, Illinois." "That's the town that has that Raven's Grin haunted house in it!" One former citizen was living in France when an arts channel from Germany broadcast the Home & Garden show "Extreme Homes", and there I was! He said they had me dubbed speaking French ! (this I would really like to see sometime!) Of course one of the funniest things happened when a young man 6 blocks away from me hooked up and turned on his satellite Tv and the first thing to appear on the screen was ME! All that money and equiptment (big screen) just so he can see me!? Pretty funny.

Needless to say, none of this would have ever happened if somewhere along the way I would have listened to the "nay-sayers" and given up. I had asked probably 120 people in the course of a year to be my business partner or to provide financing, wouldn't you know it, the last two I asked were the ones to say "Yes!"

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