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

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.web
    NICE WORK—A spider remains at the center of a web, awaiting visitors, during a moist morning last month. The was built in front of Eagle Funeral Home in Morenci.
  • Front.bridge Cross
    STEP BY STEP—Wyatt Stevens of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge Sunday during the Michigan DNR’s Great Outdoors Jamboree at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The Tecumseh Boy Scout Troop constructed the bridge again this year after taking a break in 2016. The Jamboree offered a variety of activities for a wide range of age groups. Morenci’s Stair District Library set up activities again this year and had visits with dozens of kids. See the back page for additional photos.
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    LEADING THE WAY—The Morenci Area High School marching band led the way across the pedestrian bridge on Morenci’s south side for the annual Labor Day Bridge Walk. The Band Boosters shared profits from the sale of T-shirts with the walk’s sponsor, the Morenci Area Chamber of Commerce. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.eclipse
    LOOKING UP—More than 200 people showed up at Stair District Library Monday afternoon to view the big celestial event with free glasses provided by a grant from the Space Science Institute. The library offered craft activities from noon to 1 p.m., refreshments including Cosmic Cake from Zingerman’s Bakehouse and a live viewing of the eclipse from NASA on a large screen. As the sky darkened slightly, more and more people moved outside to the sidewalk to take a look at the shrinking sun. If you missed it, hang on for the next total eclipse in 2024 as the path comes even closer to this area.
  • 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.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.