Stories of Gumption is a regular column that profiles individuals who admirably demonstrate Gumption as we define it. These are the stories of real people who exhibit gumption in overcoming personal challenges, and validate the spirit of Gumption during their journey. Let’s take inspiration from those who seize 100% personal responsibility and show us how to live a life that exhibits Gump-like character traits worthy of applause!
Constructing a two-story building on your property with a single theme and single purpose takes Gumption. It’s a building that essentially gets used once a year.
Eccentric? Maybe … but definitely lots of fun.
Allow me to introduce you to a new friend. His name is Ray Petersen. I met Ray and his bride of 38 years, Judi, just this past summer. Ray and Judi are certainly eccentric when it comes to Halloween. They’ve built their own Haunted House.
Before I first visited Ray’s residence situated on about 10 acres in Victor, Montana, I was told Ray’s place is a little like the Winchester Mystery House. Sarah Winchester believed if she kept building on her house in San Jose, California, then she’d live eternally. I don’t believe Ray is superstitious, but he does enjoy a project.
At 78 years young, Ray continues to put his engineering, mechanical, and building skills to good use and has built a total of fourteen buildings on his property. Some bigger, some smaller … all designed with some particular purpose or theme.
Are you brave enough to come with me into the Haunted House? Boo-ha-haa!!!
The Haunted House is a two-story, multi-roomed building that includes its own elevator. Everyone simply calls it the Haunted House.
Ray and Judi have always loved both Christmas and Halloween. For decades, they’d decorate for Halloween and then redecorate for Christmas. It was a lot of boxes, a lot of setting up, and a lot of tearing down. We all know these two wonderful holidays are less then two months apart.
About ten years ago, Ray told Judi, “We’re not going to set up and tear down both holidays every year ever again.” Judi thought of building a single structure that could house both holidays, Christmas at one end, Halloween at the other end and a party room in the middle. But, Ray decided a single two-story structure was required strictly for Halloween. Christmas remains to this day in the main house, while Halloween got its own special building.
The first floor has five rooms all decorated in different themes. The first room is dedicated to Arsenic and Old Lace. The next room represents the basement from Arsenic and Old Lace … there is no floor … that’s where the bodies are buried. You then travel into the infamous bathroom from Hitchcock’s Psycho … complete with a bloody body in the bathtub. The black-and-white striped room has everything witches … the Petersens certainly have an overabundance of witches. Finally, you enter the mortuary, where a life-sized coffin is already filled with a body that has long since assumed room temperature.
As the first floor tour returns to the entry room, you board the elevator to the second floor. Judi originally wanted that single-story structure because she told Ray, “I’m not carrying party supplies and food to the second floor.” Ray was determined to make a two-story building, so he built her an elevator. It’s a homemade model that clanks and rattles, but safely takes several ghouls or goblins between floors.
The second floor is one big, open room that is essentially the party room. Of course, it has cobwebs amongst the rafters and lots of decorations to scare and delight.
Outside there is a graveyard … After they built the haunted house, they noticed a rock that resembled a grave marker. That discovery necessitated building a mock graveyard with signs such as, “Drunken man, trolley car, foot slipped, there you are.”
Over the years, the children from the Victor schools have visited Ray and Judi’s Haunted House. My guess is they’ll be visiting for many more years to come.
Ray Petersen is a man who put his creative talent and building skills to making a Haunted House. Ray shares, and scares, the community each Halloween. Ray is a remarkable, and slightly eccentric, man with Gumption.
Click here to see all 18 pictures from Ray’s Haunted House Party
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Next Blog Date: November 3, 2011