Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Friday, October 26, 2007

Off to the Coffin Races

by Kerry Blair

Before I had kids I spent an hour every morning – sometimes longer – reading the newspaper. When the kids were young and time was more valuable than even Pampers, I settled for switching on the radio. Listening to the morning newscast was the best I could hope for while getting one husband, four children, and an ark’s worth of animals fed, dressed, and ready for the day. (To clarify, it was primarily my daughter who dressed the animals. Repeatedly, I’m sorry to say. Ever seen a gerbil in a Barbie dress, carrying a handbag? I have.)

These days I read the headlines from the newspaper as I carry it into my mother’s room, and listen in when my daughter turns on “Good Morning Arizona” before she leaves for work. (No, she’s not a zoo-keeper; she's missed her calling. Or maybe not. A rhino in sequins is something I shudder to contemplate.) A little later in the day I usually sit down at my computer to scan the top stories from AOL.

In other words, I haven’t been exposed to any news in months.

I don’t want to alarm anybody, but it seems to me that we should worry less about spotted owls and more about journalists. If the latter is not already extinct, for sure they’re endangered. Or possibly they have all been abducted by aliens and replaced with cheap imitations of Robison Wells.

I suspect this last thing because of a “hard news” story I read just this morning:

AP – The same percent of people who say they believe in ghosts also claim to believe in unidentified flying objects. (I know. I’m surprised, too.) Additionally, 48% of the population believes in ESP. (Does this mean that almost half of you knew what I would write about this morning before I did?) Interestingly, you’re most likely to believe in ghosts, little green men, and/or Sylvia Browne if you are single, Catholic, non-religious, and/or politically liberal. (I’m none of those things, by the way.)

I don’t make these stories up, but I wonder if somebody does.

That wasn’t the only news story I read today, of course. AOL’s top piece was on the annual Emma Crawford Festival, held in downtown Manitou Springs, Colorado. At the turn of the century (the 20th century, I believe, though the article wasn’t specific) a lovely young woman named Emma Crawford moved to Manitou Springs seeking a cure for tuberculosis. She fell in love with Red Mountain and asked to be buried at its summit when she died. Her family obliged, and Emma rested peacefully for many years. But Red Mountain is granite and granite eventually gives way. When it did, what remained of Emma and her coffin washed down the side of the mountain and back into town. Believe it or not, Manitou Springs still celebrates this “event” with a parade in which dozens of young women dress up as Emma to compete in a coffin race. Tomorrow’s the big day. Sorry I’ll miss it.

If there’s any place more fun this time of year than Manitou Springs it must be Conneaut Lake, Pennsylvania. Once again they’ve dropped a thousand-pound pumpkin on a truck – to the wild delight of all onlookers. The roots of the Emma Crawford Festival are frankly a little clearer. I mean, how in the world did a half-ton pumpkin-drop originate? Who grew the pumpkin? Whose car did they demolish? Why? Maybe it went something like this:

  • PA: Grew me a thousand-pound pumpkin this year, Ma. Can't for the life of me think what to do with 'er, though.
  • MA: Hear tell Peters has 'er rough ever since them revenooers busted up his still. How 'bout you give it to him? He could ut that new little wife of his in it and --
  • BILL BOB (Peters' 2nd-best customer): Hold on there, Ma! I got an idear. Let's drop it on Bill Boyd's truck!
  • BILL BOYD (Peters' best customer): Yeah, let's!

In any event, we’ve already missed that one. Probably that’s the reason it was only the second headline story on AOL this morning.

So, as you can see, all the news that's fit to print (and then some) pops up on the welcome screen every time I turn on my computer. I'm not a big fan of my primary source, except when I consider the alternative. MSNBC's morning headlines are:

  • Six Dead in Devastating California Fires
  • Putin Compares US Missile Plan to Cuban Missile Crisis
  • 14-yr-old Admits to Stockpiling Guns

You know what? Let’s save the spotted-owls, after all. Who needs journalists? Considering that we're all engaged in a sort of grand coffin-race anyway, I'll stick with human interest.

And aren't some of us just endlessly interesting?


At 10/26/2007 8:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm on the next bus to Manitou Springs! Who's with me?

At 10/26/2007 8:29 PM, Blogger Jeff Savage said...

A coffin race. That has got to be in your next mystery novel. Can't you just see the race ending. All of the grils climb out of their coffins, except one. And she ends up being dead. Cool.

By the way, condolances on your recent sporting news. I was bummed. I think the D-Backs would have given the Sox a run for their money. Unlike the Rockies.

At 10/26/2007 8:33 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

I agree with Jeff--put the coffin race in your next book!

At 10/26/2007 9:02 PM, Anonymous Jennie said...

I don't know, Kerry, maybe you should put the Sox in the coffin. Watching them zip down the mountain would be a lot more fun than watching them spit and chew.
How's the punmpkin contests going? Are you going to post the finals on Halloween?

At 10/26/2007 10:14 PM, Blogger Sariah S. Wilson said...

I'm still laughing over the gerbil in the Barbie dress. Maybe he should be in the coffin race.

At 10/26/2007 10:47 PM, Anonymous marlene said...

I guess I have been too much in awe of the Red Sox's playing ability and their zipping around the bases to notice the spitting and chewing.

I read that the author of Sassy Tree (can't remember her name) got all her ideas from newspaper articles since she was a reporter.

At 10/26/2007 11:58 PM, Blogger Josi said...

I have coffin races all the time, I tell myself I'm gunna run a couple miles and before you know it I'm coffin and coffin.

You have a much funner newsliner than I do, I might have to go to AOL

At 10/27/2007 12:35 AM, Blogger Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen said...

Hmmm. I believe in "ghosts" because I've experienced them. I wonder which part of the population I truly belong in. Fun blog, btw.

At 10/27/2007 9:57 AM, Blogger Janet Jensen said...

Think of all the pies that could have been made from the smashed pumpkin! Seems like a colossal waste . . . . if they'd salvaged some of the pulp, that would have led to a pumpkin pie eating contest . . . .

but check this outline if you want to lose faith in press conferences: (to summarize, FEMA held a FAKE one!)

At 10/27/2007 1:06 PM, Blogger Tristi Pinkston said...

Okay, Jeff's idea is totally da bomb. She gets in the coffin alive, and then by the end of the race, she's dead, and they have to figure out who done it. If this isn't in your next book, I'm not buying it.

Okay, I'm buying it. But I'll be disappointed!

At 10/27/2007 9:45 PM, Anonymous marlene said...

Love it, Josi!

I don't know. I think there's going to have to be some kind of complication--like the girl that is dead in the coffin isn't the same girl as started out in the coffin, and maybe no one realizes that because it is actually the dead-coffin girl's twin sister who has either done-in her twin or the twin got kidnapped... Too bad we can't work our own manuscripts as easily as this!

At 10/27/2007 10:26 PM, Blogger Rebecca Talley said...

We used to dress up our dog in baby clothes (actually my sister did that--I thought it was strange). A gerbil?

Coffin races? I live in CO, but we never do anything like that.

You are so funny. Your posts always make me laugh.

Loved, "Ghost of a Chance." Great humor!

At 10/28/2007 9:41 AM, Blogger Candace Salima (LDS Nora Roberts) said...

A coffin race . . . ugh! That's just gross . . . what is WRONG with that town?

At 10/29/2007 11:26 AM, Blogger Janette Rallison said...

See, this is why I don't mind missing the news.

At 10/29/2007 8:54 PM, Blogger Jon said...

Hey, Kerry, if you get any good responses for the Pumpkin Theme Song, tell them to enter them here:

It's the Washington Post's Style Invitational open contest - asking for a parodied song that celebrates a holiday other than Christmas or Chanukah. It's perfect! =)


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