Friday, October 19, 2018

10 Ways To Know Your House is Haunted

With all of the haunted houses movies, books and video games available, have you ever wondered if your house is haunted?

Here's a handy list of things to watch for.

1. Your Hand of Glory gives you the finger.

2. The face of Jon Lovitz appears in the flames of your fireplace.


3. Your new neighbors, George and Kathy Lutz, stare at you from their porch, shaking their heads with pity.

4. Every time you let out your dog, you remember that you don't have a dog. Yet you still end up picking big piles of poop up off your lawn. And this isn't Chihuahua poop, either. More like from a St. Bernard who sorely lacks an appropriate amount of fiber.

5. While you are having sex, your cat hisses and attacks your balls.

6. The moles on your back spell GET OUT. (Or maybe BE COOL? You know how hard it is to read the moles on your back in a mirror?)

7. The food in your fridge is moldy. I mean really moldy. Like the kind of mold H.P. Lovecraft writes about. And it's only been in there like - what? How long? Okay, never mind.

8. Your spouse develops stigmata. It tastes surprisingly like sriracha sauce.

9. Your house was built on the grounds of a former insane asylum, which was built over a pet cemetery located over an ancient burial ground...and you accidentally urinated on it while cursing God.

10. You reflect on the last ten years of your life and realize time was swallowed by an apparition. All you have to show for it are more wrinkles, belly fat, and a saggy set of cat-scratched balls.

I hope this helps you figure out if your house is truly haunted. If you can think of any more ways to tell if your house is haunted, let me know in the comments below!

Also, if you're looking for a great haunted house read, you can't do much better than Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House:

Sunday, July 15, 2018

1937 Vintage Road Trip Scrapbook - Part 26 - South Dakota, Part 3

More South Dakota before Home

Here are the last few pages of Joan Adelle Johnson's scrapbook. 

The below page features a pamphlet of Bad Land National Park, compliments of Wall Drug Store. Wall Drug certainly still exists, but it hadn't existed very long before the Johnsons visited. The drug store was bought in 1931 but the family who would go on to make it the famous tourist trap it is today, but it was only the summer before the Johnsons arrived that they started giving out the free ice water they are known for.

Crystal Cave, advertised in the brochure, is also around - but when I checked, it looks like it's currently closed to the public. Bummer! I think I toured it as a kid.

By the way, Wall Drug carries one of my novels! (Ox Cart Angel - a middle grade historical fiction novel about a father and daughter's journey over the Red River trails in 1863) If you want to check it out, click on the link below.

On the next page, we have another wonderful postcard packet - again, 9 double-sided postcards in color - this time of the Badlands. Some highlights farther down. There's also an article about the progress on Lincoln's head on the Mount Rushmore Memorial, and I'm guessing the accompanying picture would have been much like the Johnsons saw the memorial when they visited.

Hell's Half Acre on Sheep Mountain, Bad Lands, So. Dak. (I find it interesting how Badlands used to be denoted as two separate words back then).

Sheep Mountain Near Scenic Bad Lands.

View From the South, Tunnel Through the Bad Lands.

Vampire Valley, Cedar Pass

"The Wall", Cedar Pass

A page with a Ripley's Believe it Or Not cartoon and one of unknown origin.

"Be sure and get that spot on his nose!...That's Junior."

And the very last page of Joan Johnson's scrapbook of her family's 1937 journey. Here we have a Mount Rushmore pamphlet (the pic below this one is a photo from inside the pamphlet) and a newspaper article about Rushmore's sculptor's son taking over the work.

Cool shot from the pamphlet of workers treating Lincoln's acne.

Well, heck! That's it! That's the end of the Johnson scrapbook! I hope you've enjoyed taking a glimpse at these old pages rescued a few years ago from an antiques dealer. I'm not completely done with this scrapbook, however. 

A couple things I'd like to do:

Track down any of the Johnsons living relatives. The hard part is that their last name is Johnson, not a particularly rare name in this part of the world. 

I would also like to meet the folks who currently live in the old Johnson house on Summit Avenue in St. Paul. I wonder if they'd be interested in seeing this.

Another idea I have is a bit more ambitious. I would eventually like to recreate this trip with my family and create a book comparing the Johnson's route to the modern day route, trying to match their's as closely as possible. However, that would be at least a three week trip, and even that would be rushing it. Perhaps I'll start a Kickstarter campaign to cover costs? We'll see. If I did that, it would be fun to meet people along the way, or have other families also taking this trip. We can have meetups along the way, exchange stories, photos. We could video it, or make it into a travelling podcast.

Ha! We'll see what happens, but anyhow, thanks for following the Johnsons on their journey with me!
If you have any questions or suggestions, shoot me an email at

Joel Arnold

1937 Vintage Road Trip Scrapbook - Part 25 - South Dakota, Part 2

Black Hills and Badlands

The next page in good ol' Joan's scrapbook is a bit of a mishmash. Devil's Tower, Mount Rushmore, Ol' Judge Robbins comic...but my favorite thing is the postcard packet, which contains 9 double-sided colorful postcards of the Black Hills, a sampling of which is below.

Here's Ol' Judge Robbins. "Believe me, there's plenty to see in the Black Hills of South Dakota," says the Judge." Chubbins (remember her?) asks, "What are those queer looking rocks, Daddy?" "They're due to erosion by glaciers that existed in the Black Hills ages ago," says Daddy. Chubbin's says, "Hold it, Dad - Woofy, stop your barking!" "Hurry Chubbins - we don't want to miss that Days of '76 celebration up at Deadwood."

Unfortunately, Chubbins didn't hurry, and was left behind to fend for herself.

Here's that Black Hills postcard packet.

Mount Rushmore with only Washington's head finished.

White-tailed deer in Custer State Park.

Rough Lock Falls, Little Spearfish Canyon. (I really like this one!)

Twin Tunnels on Iron Mountain Road to Mr. Rushmore.

The next page we have a clipping of Dinosaur Park at Rapid City, another Ol' Judge Robbins' comic, and another piece of artwork from our favorite scrapbook artist, Joan Adelle.

Joan's drawing.

Oh, I guess Chubbins found her way back to her dad's car. "This Days' of '76 celebration is held here every year," says pops. "There's how highwaymen used to hold up the western stage coaches in your grandfather's time." "Thank goodness it's only fun," says Chubbins. Judge Robbins sez, "I'm glad we stopped back at this Mount Rushmore memorial. I'm told that Washington's and Jefferson's faces are 60 feet high and carved from solid rock. Let's go up with the guide."

The ol' Judge is also probably wishing the guide would stop leering at his daughter.

Ready for the last pages of the Johnson scrapbook? Then click here!

1937 Vintage Road Trip Scrapbook - Part 24 - South Dakota, Part 1

The Black Hills

Ah, the Black Hills. Lots of fun and interesting things for the Johnsons to see there. Below, we have a 1937 South Dakota Highway Map, a couple clipped pictures from a magazine (one of a dude ranch, one of a momma pig and her litter) and a couple of Joan's drawings.

A close-up for your amusement;

I like how she signs them "Joan Adelle".

This next drawing of Joan's takes up much of the next scrapbook page. She writes at the bottom, "My sister Marilyn, drawn in the car while travelling homeward." Marilyn looks wistful, as if she's had a good trip but is anxious to get home to friends and the life she's accustomed to.

Next we get into some Mount Rushmore items. I find this especially interesting, since the monument has not yet been completed when the Johnsons visit.

"Hold that pose, George!"

Some photographic prints of Rushmore. A view through a tunnel. A photograph showing the mountain before carving began, and after. Also, an informational postcard on the memorial.

Close-up of the tunnel print below. The caption beneath says, "Every Rushmore highway tunnel forms perfect frame for Natl. memorial miles away. Black Hills, S.D."

Here's the before and after photo. Some interesting tidbits about the mountain that the faces are carved on. The Lakota Sioux called the mountain The Six Grandfathers (they also called it Cougar Mountain). White settlers also called it Slaughterhouse Mountain, Sugarloaf Mountain, Keystone Cliffs, and also Cougar Mountain.

When the Johnsons visited Mt. Rushmore National Memorial, only Washington's and Jefferson's heads were finished, although Lincoln's head would be finished a few months later. Teddy Roosevelt's visage wouldn't be completed until 1939. Astoundingly, no workers died while carving the mountain.

1937 Vintage Road Trip Scrapbook - Part 23 - Crossing Wyoming through the Big Horns

(for part 1, click here)

Crossing Wyoming

The Johnsons are now in the home stretch, but there's still plenty of adventure left! According to the map at the beginning of the scrapbook, they left Yellowstone via Hwy 20 (which I believe is now the equivalent of Hwy 14) traveled through Cody to Greybull, then south to Worland.

There's a pamphlet for Thermopolis, WY in the scrapbook (see bottom picture) so they may have taken the 33 mile stretch south to visit, though it's not marked on their main map. Either way, they eventually took Hwy 16 east and north through the Bighorn Mountains.

I've driven over the Bighorns a couple of times, and if it's your first time driving in Mountains, it can be a bit of a white-knuckled ride, especially back in 1937 when the roads weren't as nice as they are now. But it is a beautiful and breathtaking drive, so if yo have time, take that route instead of the faster, but not as awe-inspiring Interstate 90.

Below is the above Big Horns pamphlet opened up;

Close-up of the other little map on the above page;

The black and white postcard on the scrapbook page below is captioned, "Hair Pin Turn - Ten Sleep Canyon on U.S. Highway 16, near Buffalo, Wyoming."

I wonder how the Johnson's LaSalle did travelling up and down the Big Horns and navigating the sharp turns and switchbacks. Did Joan and family ever have a flat tire? Run out of gas? Did anyone get sick on their journey? It's impossible to know all of the details, of course, but it's fun to imagine.

Anyway, after coming out of the Big Horns, our adventurous family drove through Buffalo, and then perhaps going to the Sheridan Rodeo advertised below. It was a bit out of the way of their drawn route, but not too far.

I love the vibrant colors of this old ad.

Also, today, as I write this, it is July 15th, 2018 - exactly 81 years (give or take a day depending on which of these three days they attended) ago.

Whether or not they trekked up to Sheridan, they would have soon drive through Ucross, picking up Hwy 14, which took them north, east, and back south to Gillette, then east again past Devil's Tower. Hwy 14 soon took them into South Dakota, via Spearfish.

Nameless Cave (6-1/2 miles west of Rapid City!) is in the Black Hills, but is now privately owned, and no longer open to the public, dagnabbit! Luckily, if you go to the Black Hills today, there are many other great caves to tour.

The Thermopolis pamphlet as well as a National Service Bureau brochure showing points of interest in the Black Hills. It has a map on the back, as well as noting service stations located within the hills.

Next, the Johnsons spend more time in South Dakota. We will also see some more of Joan's artwork!

Saturday, July 14, 2018

1937 Vintage Road Trip Scrapbook - Part 22, Yellowstone Part 3

Even MORE Yellowstone!

The Johnson family is still in Yellowstone, soaking up the beauty. This next page has wonderful old postcards of; Giant Geyser Cone, Grizzly Bears at Otter Creek Feeding Grounds, and Emerald Pool. There's also a simple map of the park, and of course, Joan's drawings of flowers, which I featured in the previous post.

More postcards and another of Joan's drawings. 

Next to the top postcard of Morning Glory Pool, Joan writes, "Filled with pure water over 200-degrees in temperature, never erupts or boils - always remaining quiescent like the flower for which it is named. It is 23 ft across and about 29 ft deep. The narrow fissure supplying this hot spring penetrates the earth to unknown depths."

The other two postcards on this page are of Tower Falls and the Mammoth Hot Spring Terraces. I also like the little advertisement Joan included on this page. 'Try Ten Litening Gasoline; Made in the West for Use in the West.' I believe it was a window sticker. The company was part of the Yale Oil Corporation in Billings, Montana.

Below are two more cool old postcards, the first again of Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces, and the next of Jupiter Springs. The cartoon on the bottom of the page says, "The wife insisted on a basement so we could have a ping pong table." There's also the awesome brochure, which I show in more detail farther below.

Accommodations and Services at the Disposal of Visitors to Yellowstone Park, 1937:

Look at the prices for 1937 lodging (including meals!)!

That's it for the Johnsons in Yellowstone.