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.

  • Girls.on.ride
    NADIYA YORK and Aniston Valentine take a spin on the Casino, one of the rides offered at Wakefield Park during Morenci’s Town and Country Festival. This year’s festival remained dry but with plenty of heat during the three-day run. Additional photographs are inside this week’s Observer.
  • Front.softball
    Angela Davis (2) and teammate Allison VanBrandt break into a jig after Morenci's softball team won its third consecutive regional title.
  • Front.art.park
    ART PARK—A design created by Poggemeyer Design Group shows a “pocket art park” in the green space south of the State Line Observer building. The proposal includes a 12-foot sculpture based on a design created by Morenci sixth grade student Klara Wesley through a school and library collaboration. A wooden band shell is located at the back of the lot. The Observer wall would be covered with a synthetic stucco material. City council members are considering ways to fund the estimated $125,000 project and perhaps tackling construction one step at a time.
  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.soccer.balls
    BEVY OF BALLS—Stair District Library Summer Reading Program VolunTeens, including Libby Rorick, back left and Ty Kruse, back right, threw a dozen inflatable soccer balls into the crowd during a reading of “Sergio Saves the Game.” The sports-themed program continues on Wednesdays through July 27.

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