Farewell to a haunt

By Rick Hinton

They say that familiarity can breed contempt. Familiarity can also bring comfort. Sometimes it’s something in between. Familiarity boils down to getting to know something very well. Can this also apply to not only people but also a haunted building? Yes … it does.

A certain former Odd Fellows Lodge located in a small farming community in northern Indiana has closed its doors to paranormal investigations. A change in leadership will often cause that to happen. It happened in this case. Board member Bob Freeman, responsible for overseeing the weekend forays, had put the notice out a few months in advance to give those that wanted to pay a last visit the opportunity to do so. Weekend spots filled up quickly.

Former glory days of the building. (Submitted photo)

Even though it’s not my practice to do these venues any longer, Bob, the building and I, have gotten to know each other over the years as we grew older. I wanted and needed to say goodbye. I organized a group of folks and we separately headed north on that Saturday night, Feb. 2. With a sense of closure, we turned out to be the last group on the last night to investigate this old and reliable friend.

There was the traditional Pizza King dinner (most likely a dependable source of revenue when paranormal groups decided to make a weekend of it in the small town. They’ll notice the absence after tonight!) and then across the street to the building where Bob was waiting. There were 11 people in our party; two had never been on an investigation.

Present day view. (Photo by Rick Hinton.)

Bob gave the tour, one of which he had given hundreds of times in the past: the former doctor’s office and waiting room; the bordello of the past; a former KKK office; and up to the third floor grand hall, where the Big Bad Dark resides. Then it was back downstairs to shuffle through cases of equipment in preparation for the night.

As I had followed along on the tour, I was very conscious of the fact that, after all these years, this may very well be the last time I, or anyone else, would walk these halls and spend time in the dark within its many rooms. Was whatever resided within these walls aware of this? That there would no longer be a constant shuffle of weekend feet, darting flashlight beams, pulsating infra-red cameras and nervous chatter?

Bob Freeman & Rick Hinton. (Photo provided by Rick Hinton)

Did the building know? They have their own personalities, you know. I felt they both did. It was a sad moment of realization that people and places do come, and then go in one’s lifetime. It’s that familiarity thing that’s not easy to let go of. It’s like a blanket — you want to keep it around.

Did “they” know it was the last hurrah? Would paranormal investigations go out with a bang or a whimper? Would Bob Freeman continue to smile? The former Odd Fellows Lodge in a small town in northern Indiana did not disappoint. …

Next week: the conclusion.