The Bunker - put two copies of this photo side by side and you have the whole width of the house

When I lived down in Momence, IL, or “The Kank” as I like to refer to it (Kankakee Valley area about 90 minutes south of Chicago), I often came home to a dark Hill House-esque pink cottage which teased me with its Pepto crust and screwy center.  To say that I believed that the house was haunted does an injustice to the word “believed”.  I knew it.  But like anything that anyone is sure of, it’s often the story you tell to others that reveals your doubts.  I’d start the familiar story with an endless string of clauses like, “I know this is going to sound crazy, and maybe it’s just the result of me living alone for the first time in my life, or maybe it’s the woods, and of course it could be that my TV reception is bad…”  Eventually I’d get to the part where I say that my petite South of France-emulating cottage was haunted by a young man and an old lady in a wheelchair.  Having two unexpected roommates in a supposedly empty house of unknown origin will freak you the hell out, especially when a rack of pots and pans falls off of its moorings in the ceiling crashing to the floor in a tremendous racket only to be cleaned up by the time you walk the ten steps into the kitchen.  The footsteps upstairs will also unnerve you when you are the only person at home.  These are charming additions to an otherwise lonely little house for some, I’m sure.  For me, I was ready to sprint out of there the day after I gave the “ghosts” a talking to.  One day, after a tremendous fright, I said enough was enough.  I explained it like this, “Look, I know it has to suck being stuck in a house.  And maybe this is all very confusing to you.  Maybe you feel like you have always lived here.  But you are dead.  I don’t know if you are aware of that.  I mean, who would tell you?  Maybe it happened in the absence of time, and for years you have been wondering what goes bump in YOUR night.  Well, if that is the case, then it’s people like me, the living, who now occupy your house.  I’m sorry you are stuck in this position, but I’m willing to make a deal with you.  I live here now.  So when I am home, which is mostly only on the weekends and at night, you should stay in the basement.  I know that sucks.  I’m sorry.  But I can tell when you are walking around upstairs and it freaks me out.  So when I’m NOT home, feel free to run around the whole house.  But all I ask is that when I start to come home, please just go down to the basement.  I can tell when you are watching me walk up the sidewalk, those dark windows are staring right through me.  Anyway, I’m hoping we can work this out.  Thanks.”

Instantly, the place seemed calmer, at peace.  The next day, my landlady told me that I had to move out because her daughter was getting a divorce and she needed the place.  I was instantly suspicious of the whole thing.

Shortly thereafter, I moved to a cinder block ranch home, which being next to a mansion-sized home reminded me of slave quarters.  A shower was added to the original showerless floor plan in a small closet.  I called this place The Bunker.  It even had a small slit window at the top of the living room wall perfect for defending the waterfront.  This place offered no defense against hating it though.  The off-white wall to wall carpeting was perfect for accepting the massive roast I dropped on it the first week there.  It added an element of, “Something bad happened here,” to the whole Sixth Sense-like experience of living down in the Kank.

Anyway, how does any of this relate to being a photographer or photography in general?  It probably doesn’t.  Sorry.

The Bunker - notice the gun port at the top of the wall

  1. Anne March 11, 2010

    I REMEMBER THE BUNKER! …and I still relay your ghost stories, too =) Remember the infestation of ladybugs? Instead of locusts, they sent ladybugs =)

  2. Jon Hillenbrand March 11, 2010

    Forgot about the ladybugs. Yeah, there were a lot of em. I wonder if I ever took a pic of that.


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