Speedy’s Mummy, a Hot Granny and Atheist Evolution

With a short production schedule this week, the staff at the Peninsula Pulse has been racing to compress seven days of work into slightly less than six. Your intrepid columnist and, for some of you, sales representative is no exception. So this week I present three items selected from columns that ran 20 years ago.

Item 1: People, take heed of this item now, lest the fate of Henry “Speedy” Atkins befall you.

Speedy got his nickname by being a fast worker in a tobacco plant in the Paducah, Kentucky, area at the beginning of the 20th century. Very little else was known about him when he drowned in 1928 during a fishing trip on the Ohio River. No one came forward to claim the body.

This is where the story turns bizarre.

Funeral director A.Z. Hamock had a thing for Egyptians and how they mummified bodies, so he used his own experimental fluids on our hero to preserve Speedy’s body and prevent smells. A.Z. died in 1949 without ever revealing his secret formula, though he did leave the business and Speedy to his wife Velma.

So, for the past 66 years since his death, Speedy has been propped up against a closet wall for the curious to view (he even appeared on TV a few times). Three times each year, Speedy received a bath and a change of clothes to prevent mold, though the chemicals did turn his skin a rusty color.

Speedy was finally buried this past week. Reportedly Velma Hamock commented at the funeral, “I never saw a dead man bring so much happiness to people.” And the gentleman who has been in charge of washing Speedy actually cried because, “…he’s been around so long. I’m really going to miss him.”

There are two obvious lessons from this story. First, make sure you have a will and that it clearly spells out what you want done with your remains. And second, stay as far away from Paducah as you possibly can – sanity is apparently a rare commodity in that municipality.

Item 2: Okay, here’s the scenario: you’re out for a drive with your 81-year-old grandmother in the front seat next to you. You spot a McDonald’s and get the urge for some fries and a shake, so you pull in to the drive-through window. While you’re at it you order grandma a coffee – she keeps nodding off and banging her head into the window so you figure the caffeine will do her good.

With your order in hand you head out onto the road again. As you’re munching fries you notice that granny has the coffee wedged between her legs and is battling with the carryout lid. Suddenly…disaster! Grandma spills the coffee all over her groin. Double disaster: McDonald’s, like most fast food establishments, heats their coffee to 180 degrees.

Granny is hurt! Grandma has third degree burns!

The above events actually happened in Albuquerque, NM. The strange part of this story is that the grandmother sued McDonald’s and won. Though her hospital bill totaled only $10,000, a jury awarded her $160,000 in compensatory damages and $2.7 million in punitive damages. Apparently, the jury chose to disregard the fact that coffee is a hot beverage and when being consumed in the car requires extra care, and chose to focus on the temperature of the coffee in question. I certainly, under normal circumstances, would never be disrespectful toward the grandmother involved or make light of her injuries, but she asked for it when she chose to sue over an accident.

It would be wonderful to think that maybe a few more people would recognize the ridiculous extremes many Americans are reaching in their zest to sue. Unfortunately, I think the scenario around many a dining room table across the country, after this lawsuit hit the newswire went more like this:

Grandson: Come on, granny, I really want to go to college.

Daughter: Screw college, you owe us, Mom. We’ve been taking care of you for the past 10 years.

Son-in-Law: Come on, Ethel. Take it in the lap for the sake of the family.

Item 3: Finally, the quote goes like this: “There’s so many people named Christian, or Christine.”

This morsel of idiotic reasoning comes from one George Rollason of York, Penn., explaining why he and his wife (a non-believer) named their daughter “Atheist Evolution.”

What the hell was this couple thinking? What baby name book were they consulting? Maybe they had a conversation at some point in the third trimester of pregnancy that went something like this:

Wife: George, I want our child to grow up dysfunctional.

George: That’s nice, hon’.

Wife: No, George. I mean really dysfunctional. Like almost completely psychotic.

George: What exactly did you have in mind, dear?

Wife (with enthusiasm): Well, I want to give our child a really awful name. Something so stupid that when people look into the nursery at the hospital they will point and laugh. Hell, something so stupid the other babies will laugh.

George (warming to the idea): Sure. We could name the kid something that will attract a lot of media attention and we’ll save the clippings. As the baby is growing we’ll give it some cute, harmless nickname that will stick. Then, if the kid ever starts to seem well adjusted, we’ll pull out the newspaper clippings for them and really mess up their head.

Wife (with warm adoration): Oh, George, you’re such a wonderful man.

This conversation probably never occurred, but it may as well have. To the unfortunate little girl I send this little wish:

Dear A. “Evie” Rollason:

May the years pass quickly for you. As soon as you are old enough to realize the cruel trick that has been played upon you, file to divorce your parents and change your name to something sane. And remember, in all probability you will outlive your parents. Start thinking now of suitable names for the headstones.