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.

  • 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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