Haunted Mansion

Declaring Halloween in February, I’m doing all stories this week about Halloween stuff. Enjoy!

One year my friend Dave decided to throw a Halloween party with his brother, the real estate developer. At a huge mansion in upstate NY.

I’ll repeat what I’ve said before. To a NYC native, upstate NY is anything north of the city limits. Maybe Dave will remind me where it actually was.

First, a little background.

Dave’s brother Charlie developed land, built houses on it, and then sold the houses. That was his business. When he encountered a particularly large estate complete with acres of woodlands and a large mansion, he saw opportunity knocking. So he ended up partnering with the Minister of Finance for Saudi Arabia to buy the property, which was in foreclosure due to the mysterious disappearance of the owner. (The Minister was curious, and after some digging found the ex-owner rotting in a Thai jail cell on drug trafficking charges.)

So Charlie had this mansion which needed some renovation, and land to parcel up and develop. He set his crew on fixing the place up, and one of Dave’s coworkers spent his time knocking on walls and floors and such looking for secret hiding places. (He was a drug smuggler, right? He must have a stash someplace!)

One day they’re working outside, and a gentleman drives up looking for the old owner. Charlie explains the situation, and the visitor thanks him and leaves. The next morning when the crew comes to work they find that one of the frog ponds in front of the house had been dug out, revealing a hole in the ground. The consensus was that the visitor came back during the night and dug up the “stash” Dave’s coworker insisted was there.

vivianSo, as fall approached they decided to throw the mother of all Halloween parties in the mansion. (And I do mean mansion – the dining room was bigger than our entire apartment. Plus our first house. And our second house.) The day of, we got costumed up – Mary as a pregnant clown (expecting our first child) and me as Vivian from the Young Ones (a British TV show.)

mansionThe party was a blast, probably the biggest and best I’d ever attended. Lots of great decorations, and it seemed like hundreds of guests in great outfits. The Minister’s “costume” was basically his dress uniform, but there was a variety of really good stuff including some Cleopatras, baseball players, pirates, and more. Here’s another shot of Mary and some work friends and Dave’s cousin Nick.

Mary will yell at me if I don’t mention that I got good and plastered, and fell asleep in the car on the way home so that she had to figure out directions on her own.

As an addendum to the story, it turned out that Ralph Lauren bought the entire lot – mansion, land, and all – so Charlie never got to develop like he wanted. Although I guess as partner he made some money on the deal so I guess it wasn’t so bad.

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