It all started with my Mom...
Can I blame her? Sure I can. I have 2 older sisters, a younger brother
and sister. I know that before all us kids, art and painting was always
a part of her life. She has a craft room and long book shelf still filled
with art books and impressionist painters. I know she put that on hold
as we demanded more of her time, and did not get back to painting until
we were mostly out of the house
But growing up, she was always promoting
art projects, making paints and crafts available. Because of her love
of art, I was always drawn to these classes in elementary and Junior high
school. One summer I clearly remember using her oil paints to paint an
epic Viking Pirate ship sea battle at my grandfather's house. I wish I
knew where that canvas ended up.
It continues with my Dad. I always had free rain in the basement or garage.
I had to promise to clean up the tool bench, which I know I did not do
very well. I had access to duct tape, wood, nails, and wire
would come home from work some days and just shake his head as he beheld
some of the contraptions I would build. He would say, sarcastically, "Did
you use enough duct tape?" In all seriousness I would say, that "No,
and if I could have found more this contraption would have been better".
Growing up, I lived in Bogotá Colombia, which I only vaguely remember,
but I have an image of floating hot air balloons made from light paper
bags and candles. There was a wild monkey chained in the park that only
I could pet. We lived in Brussels Belgium, where my Mom took us on trips
to Paris and the Louver. That is where my brother would watch for the
security guards and I would blow wet breath on the humidity detectors
but that is a different story. Then we moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where
I shared a room with my brother, and we would build traps and burglar
alarms with wire, and batteries, buzzers and electric eyes. We always
knew if someone had entered our domain unauthorized.
Also in Cleveland, I got to go to an awesome home haunt at Barry Thompson's
house. He had a great house for this. Lots of long hallways. Rooms with
2 doors. A big trap door from one floor to another. You had to jump down
onto a pile of mattresses in the dark. I think Brad or Doug were swinging
on a rope as a hanged man
nice and creepy.
Then when we moved to Bartlesville Oklahoma, while I still went to haunted
houses, and did Halloween parties, and dressed up for school, I didn't
do a lot for Halloween. Time stretched out and I went to college, got
married, moved to Sunnyvale, then San Jose, CA.
It was in San Jose CA, where I got bitten by the Halloween bug again.
It was probably 1996. Some friends around the corner from us did a Haunted
Garage. They spread the word around and told everyone in the neighborhood
to come over
so for fun, Cindy and I went over. Not a whole lot
of effort, I think they threw it together in a few days. They had hallways
partitioned with cardboard and black plastic. Strobe lights, black lights,
scary music. The main twist was, as you went in, a dummy was dropped from
the rafters and fell on a big deep freezer, which then just lays there
you got startled by that
but then you went through a maze of plastic
walls, and scary decorations. I think they had a pepper ghost effect,
which was cool. Then as you came back around to the exit, you passed by
the stuffed dummy that was still lying on the freezer. Only it jumped
up and tried to grab you
They had an actor dressed in the same clothes
switch places. It was a great scare, and we jumped big time
have even peed a little. Walking home I could only think, "I'm totally
We moved to Morgan Hill in 1997, I had a 2 car garage, and as they always
say about the phycho killer next door, "He seemed like the nicest
boy, but I know he was sick in the head". Every year the haunted
garage and yard display gets bigger, better, and more elaborate. I have
a notebooks filled with ideas, most of which come to me in mid-October
while I'm setting for that year
and can't possibly do it, so it
goes in the file labeled "Next Year". There are some cool ideas
in those notes.
I consider Halloween my creative outlet, My kids and their friends were
always taking art classes, and doing art projects, and I thought, "I'm
missing out", so we started painting, and building every year. I
still hang up the very first horror painting I did with my kids. One summer
when my parents were out for a visit, I presented Mom a big blank canvas,
a box of paints, and said, "You have 2 hours
Paint me a haunted
America Gothic. Please
. Please". Now every year I try to get
a new painting of some type, painted either by me, or one of my Boys or
one of their friends. Some are really disturbing and a bit creepy.
One year, not long after I had started Haunting in Morgan Hill, I was
at a Home Dept. I was buying some hardware and PVC pipe for a prop I was
going to build, when I ran in to a guy, who overheard me asking a weird
question, made a comment, and I realized he was a fellow haunt fanatic.
He was also buying PVC
It was early July, very late to be starting
for the next Halloween
We started talking and he let me know that
there was a "support" group that meets every month. While I
don't get to go as often as I would like, Cal
Haunts Northern California, has been a great group. "Hi, my name
is Jim, and I like to scare people
" they said "no, use
your haunt name". "Oh, sorry, hi, my name is Squeaky Hinge,
and I like to scare people
I try to justify all the effort, but like most starving artist, I really
can't. But, I can't stop either. It's all for fun and charity. I collect
food and donations for the Second Harvest Food Bank. I know I have been
successful when I have 300+ Trick or Treaters come through the Haunt,
and end up with more than 200 cans of food. It means they planned to come.
Every year about Oct 10th, I start having the neighborhood kids riding
into the court to check to see if I'm setting up. They always remember
and can't wait
and neither can I.
The Squeaky Hinge Project, is an artistic, creative, technical
experience that manifests itself in the form of a Halloween yard display
and haunted house.
It is dark
and it is creepy, but I would consider it appropriate
for all ages. I can "set" it to be more or less scary and nothing
will actually grab you
Stop by on Halloween, bring a can of food for the local Second Harvest
food bank, and peek into my psychosis. Let me know if you want to get
involved. Even follow the progress on https://www.facebook.com/groups/TheSqueakyHingeProject/