2009.12.30 2009 a big year for Camaros, rutabagas, kookaburras and cats

Written by David Green.

By RICH FOLEY

Another year is almost gone, and while many might wish to say “good riddance” to 2009, it wasn’t all that bad, was it? I thought it was pretty boring myself, but upon reviewing this year’s group of columns, maybe my life is slightly more exciting than I would have guessed.

After all, I visited Hell, Michigan, and survived, got a guided tour of the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile, tested the waters of Morenci’s annual city-wide garage sale, found and purchased online the twin to my childhood teddy bear after years of searching, subscribed to cable television after 25 years of using “rabbit ears,” and made friends with a small herd of local cows.

What’s more, my dream self hung out with Brad Pitt while Bruce Springsteen came to Fayette to play at my dream birthday party. In other non-dream news, I spotted my old 1985 Caprice while driving in Adrian. I sold it for $275 in 2003 and thought that might have been too much to ask, but six years later, here it was, still on the road. 

Another man paid $275,000 this year to reunite with a 1971 Chevy from his own past. Back in June, I wrote about John Schnatter, founder of the Papa John’s pizza chain, who was trying to find his old Chevy Camaro he sold in 1983. He used the proceeds of the $2,800 sale to start his pizza business.

He originally offered $25,000 for the car, then raised the offer to $250,000 when the first batch of leads dried up. Once the car was finally located last August, I was surprised Schnatter had such trouble finding it. 

The car had only changed hands two more times after Schnatter originally sold it. The first buyers tracked down the current owner, who bought the Camaro for $4,000 about five years ago. I suppose it didn’t take much convincing for him to take a quarter million for it. Schnatter also paid the original buyers $25,000 for their work in finding the current owner. To celebrate, Schnatter offered all Camaro owners a free pizza at his stores. That guy is seriously into Camaros, don’t you think? 

In other odd 2009 news, researchers at Michigan State University are closing in on efforts to turn the rutabaga into a major source of biofuel. The vegetable, which already stores oil in its seeds, is being modified to make much more oil throughout the plant.

Unlike corn and soybeans, whose use in biofuels helps to raise food prices, the rutabaga isn’t all that popular as a food crop but for one exception. In Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, residents like to include the root vegetable in their recipes for the regionally popular pasty. Soon, vacationers in the UP may be able to choose between having rutabagas in their pasty or their gas tank.

And can a year go by without the image of Jesus showing up on some unexpected object? This year, a woman in Massachusetts claimed His image appeared on the bottom of her electric iron. She told reporters that she plans to buy a new iron and store the old one in her closet. I’m happy she finds the image reassuring, but to me, it looks like Richard Nixon much more than anything of a holy nature.

And when was the last time you thought abut the Australian band Men at Work? More than 25 years after the fact, the long-defunct group is accused of stealing the melody of their biggest hit, “Down Under,” from a children’s song called “Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree.” 

It took someone this long to notice a similarity between the two tunes? And what exactly does the copyright holder of “Kookaburra” plan to gain? No doubt the former members of the group have spent all their royalty money on Vegemite sandwiches by now. Maybe the kookaburra should just stay in the tree.

There’s probably no doubt that residents of Warren, Michigan, felt safe earlier this year after ten police officers quickly responded to a 911 call of a 150 pound cougar hiding in a discarded drain pipe. Police Tasered the “cat”, which turned out to be a large stuffed animal, apparently left as a hoax. But at least the 911 system seems to be working.

That’s about all I have room for this year. But come on back in 2010. I’m sure there will be lots more silliness to come in the new year. In fact, I’d bet a rutabaga on it.

  • 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.grieders
    ONE-TWO PUNCH—Morenci’s Griffin Grieder saved his best for last, running his fastest time ever in the 110-meter high hurdles at the state finals Saturday in Grand Rapids to finish first in the state in Div. IV. His brother Luke, a junior (right), claimed the state runner-up spot. Bulldog junior Bailee Dominique placed seventh in the 100-meter dash.
  • Front.sidewalk
    MORENCI senior class president Mikayla Price leads the way Sunday afternoon from the Church of the Nazarene to the United Methodist Church for the baccalaureate ceremony. Later in the day, 39 members of the senior class received diplomas in the high school gymnasium.
  • Front.F.school
    PROGRESS continues on the agriculture classroom addition at Fayette High School. The project will add 2,900 square feet of space and include an overhead door that would allow equipment to be driven inside. The building should be ready for the start of school in August. Work on ball fields and a running track is also underway.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Face Paint
    FUN NIGHT FUN—Savanna Miles sits patiently while Abbie White works on a face paint design Friday during the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Gracie Snead watches the progress after having spent time in the chair. Abbie was one of several volunteer painters, each creating their own unique look. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.

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