2005.12.27 Coffin racing and radio for pets

Written by David Green.

By RICH FOLEY

Far be it from me to declare any particular news item the strangest one of 2005, but I’ve collected a few contenders for the title.

The city of Elmore, Ohio, probably hit on a unique festival idea when they hosted their first Tombstone Derby in October, just before Halloween. The idea arose from a local legend involving a ghostly headless motorcycle rider who is said to appear each March 21. The race itself is for homemade vehicles resembling coffins.

Mike Smith of Wayne, Ohio, made an entry from his late wife’s car. Smith told a reporter, “After she passed away, I had an extra car and I said, ’What the heck? I don’t need this,’ so I cut it up.”

The only recognizable part of Sandy Smith’s 1995 Thunderbird remaining was the wheel covers. The rest was cut away, with the drive train serving as the base for a mobile casket. After all that work, Smith failed to win any of the urn-shaped trophies. Quite a tribute to his late wife, wouldn’t you say?

Out in Colorado, a man already serving a life sentence on a murder conviction was given three additional years for handing out cheese sandwiches.

While in jail awaiting trial on the murder charge, Douglas Wilson tried to give his extra sandwiches to fellow inmates. When he ignored a deputy’s order to stop, he was shocked with a stun gun. Wilson eventually pled guilty to possession of contraband and had three years added to his prison time.

In Wausau, Wisconsin, a man upset that city park workers blew grass clippings on him while mowing found an odd way to express his anger.

The unidentified man began sneaking into the parking lot at the city’s parks and recreation department at night, hanging women’s underwear from the mirrors of parked vehicles. Police said clothing had been left on several vehicles 30 to 50 times between May and October, usually one vehicle at a time, several times a week.

The parks department finally caught the man on videotape. Park director Bill Duncanson said he was concerned by the incidents because it looked unprofessional. No word on if the man was charged with anything, but it looks like he’ll have to find a new nighttime hobby.

Meanwhile, in Japan, where people drive on the left side of the road, Ford Motor Company plans to start selling its Explorer SUV with the steering wheel on the left.

Studies by Ford show that the Japanese regard vehicles with the steering wheel on the “wrong” side as status symbols and leaving the wheel where it is instead of modifying it for the Japanese market could enhance its popularity.

Ford considers the new, U.S.-style Explorer as the key to its growth strategy in the Japanese market. They’re probably correct. Just think how many will be sold to replace those destroyed in collisions by drivers sitting on the left side, but passing on the right, all in the name of status.

In California, a man has started DogCatRadio.com, an Internet radio station for pets only. It is said to help relieve the loneliness of pets while their owners are away. The station even has a “Spanish Hour,” to serve pets of the area’s burgeoning Hispanic community.

Station founder Adrian Martinez says he started the station because his cat, Snickers, “asked me to do it.” By the way, the favorite song of Snickers, a cat who apparently can talk, is Eddie Money’s “Take Me Home Tonight.”

Finally, animal lovers in Holland have made death threats against an exterminator who killed a domino-toppling sparrow. An Amsterdam television station attempting to set a world record by knocking down over 4.1 million dominos was slowed by a sparrow which felled over 23,000 tiles while the stunt was being constructed.

An exterminator with an air rifle was brought in to dispatch the bird, angering animal and bird protection groups. Over 5,000 people signed an Internet condolence register for the sparrow, and several more found the time to threaten the exterminator’s life.

I think that’s enough weirdness for now. If you don’t agree, just wait a bit. I’ve got a good feeling about 2006.

  - Dec. 27, 2005

 

  • Cecil
    THE MAYOR—Cecil Schoonover poses with a collection of garden gnomes that mysteriously arrive and disappear from his property. Along with the gnomes, someone created the sign stating that he is the Mayor of Gnomesville. He hasn’t yet tracked down the people involved in the prank, but he’s having a good time with the mystery.
  • Front.rest
    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
  • Front.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.snake
    Lannis Smith of the Leslie Science and Nature Center in Ann Arbor shows off a python last week at Stair District Library's Summer Reading Program.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
  • Pipeline Spread
    LINED UP—Lengths of pipe were put in place last week along the route of the Rover natural gas pipeline that will stretch from Defiance, Ohio, to Ontario, Canada. Topsoil was removed before the pipes were laid out. The 42-inch diameter pipeline is scheduled for completion in November.
  • Front.rock Study
    ROCKHOUNDS—From the left, Joseph McCullough, Sean Pagett and Jonathan McCullough peer through hand lenses to study rocks. The project is part of Morenci Elementary School’s summer camp that continues into August.

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