Resilience is part of the event
By Rob Carrigan, firstname.lastname@example.org
Events beyond our control have been lining up to take a shot at us this year.
But like a lot of misfortune, it turns out, that the real story of any event is our response. “Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it,” just as Helen Keller noted.
And Colorado locations are known for creating an event — just to emphasize those responses.
Emma Crawford Coffin Races and Festival
"Emma Crawford was born on March 24, 1863, in South Royalston, Massachusetts. Musical at a very early age, Emma developed her talent with the help of her mother, Madame Jeanette Crawford, who was a pianist and music teacher. It is said that at the age of three, Emma “liked no plaything better than to sit on the piano cover and to listen to her mother practicing Beethoven’s sonatas.” At age twelve, she gave piano lessons and public recitals, and at age 15, was “able to render the music of the great masters with rare perfection,” playing the piano parts in a series of concerts given by a renowned violinist and a cellist in Boston in the winter of 1878. Emma favored Beethoven, Chopin, Schumann, and Wagner, and her playing style was 'distinguished by a most delicate touch, a soulful expression, and a power which seemed almost incredible by hands so tender and delicate.' She also played the violin, viola, cello, and mandolin—instruments she mastered while taking rests from her piano work," according to info from the Heritage Center.
Emma, who been ill since age seven, according to the Heritage Center, moved with her mother from Massachusetts to Manitou around 1889, in the hope that the local mineral springs (from which the city took its name) and the mountain air might be a cure for her illness, presumed to be tuberculosis.
Although not found in records such as city directories, longtime Manitou resident William “Bill” S. Crosby recounted in 1947 that Emma and her mother initially rented a two-story frame house with a gable roof and bay windows located at 104 Capitol Hill Avenue. Emma stayed in Manitou in hopes of regaining her health in the fresh air and sunshine and became engaged to William Hildebrand, an engineer from New York who worked on the Pikes Peak Cog Railroad.
"One day Emma fancied she saw a handsome buck Indian beckoning to her from the top of Red Mountain. She vowed that she would climb the mountain and meet her Indian guide. Firm in her resolve, she revealed her plan to her mother and her lover. Both were opposed to such an ordeal for a girl in her delicate condition, as were all her friends and neighbors when they heard of it. But their pleadings were of no avail. She slipped off one day when her mother was teaching piano to a neighbor lady and climbed the mountain to the very top. She was very late getting back home, but no one would believe her when she told them where she had been. "
Climbed Red Mountain
Emma’s death came on Dec. 4, 1891 at 10:30 p.m. Her obituary remarked, “The few who knew her here remarked her calm, unruffled mood, and though her life was such that intimates were few, she was known by nearly all as a musician of rare power and skill.” The Manitou Springs Journal reported:
"Upon the door of a cottage on Ute avenue then hung pendant, several days thereafter [Emma’s death], a white cape [sic], though she, whose departure was thus announced, had in this life passed beyond the bower where brook and river meet."
The funeral services were held at “the family residence on Ute Avenue” on Tuesday afternoon, Dec. 8, 1891. That residence may have been 137 Ute Avenue where a City Directory some years later showed Emma’s Mother, sister Alice and niece Maurine boarding. Those who attended were “intimate friends and votaries of the faith to which the deceased was an adherent.”
Crosby recalled that Emma’s fiancée, William Hildebrand, tried unsuccessfully to get a deed to the site for burial on the summit of Red Mountain. Her burial at that location, where “a beautiful view can be obtained", however, proceeded.
Crosby recalled that Emma’s grave was moved over on the west side of Red Mountain, put into “loose gravel,” and covered with a concrete slab when the Red Mountain Incline erected a power house and depot on the summit. Although Crosby recalled this event as happening in 1924, newspapers reported the construction of Red Mountain Incline occurring in 1912.
"Emma's restless remains stayed in storage for two years as the city tried in vain to find surviving relatives. Finally, one of her pallbearers, Bill Crosby, took responsibility for her remains and it was then she was interred at Crystal Valley Cemetery. Either way, she was buried in an unmarked grave. In 2004 (9 years after her memorial festival began) Historic Manitou Springs, Inc. provided Emma with a memorial stone in the approximate vicinity of where her bones were buried all those years ago. The Heritage Center’s wish was that Emma be honored her spirit rest in peace."
There is a good story behind this, one that stretches from Norway to California to Colorado, involving cryonics, deportation, psychics, celebrations, and a dedicated Ice Man. It’s a tale that has captured international attention and sparked a must-attend annual event called Frozen Dead Guy Days.
Life After Death
"Before Grandpa Bredo Morstoel died from a heart condition in 1989, he
enjoyed a comfortable life in Norway, where he was born and raised. He
loved painting, fishing, skiing, and hiking in the mountains of his
homeland. He was also the director of parks and recreation in Norway’s
Baerum County for more than 30 years," reports the site.
"After he died, things got really interesting. Instead of a burial, he was packed in dry ice and prepared for international travel. First, he was shipped to the Trans Time cryonics facility in Oakland, California, where he was placed in liquid nitrogen for almost four years. Then, he was moved to Colorado in 1993 to stay with his daughter Aud Morstoel and his grandson Trygve Bauge, both strong advocates for cryonics who hoped to start a facility of their own."
There he stayed for years under cold cover, in a shed, near his grandson’s home, and about to be left on his own, due to some pesky visa issues.
The Grandfather Clause
"If you peruse the laws of Nederland, you’ll discover that it’s illegal to store a frozen human or animal (or any body part thereof) in your home. We have Grandpa Bredo to thank for this. When grandson Trygve was deported in the mid-90s because of an expired visa, Bredo’s daughter stepped in to take care of the household – including keeping her father on ice."
However, Aud was evicted for living in a house with no electricity or plumbing and was about to head back to Norway. This meant that the family’s fledgling cryonics facility was destined to come to a halt. Worried that her father would thaw out before his time, she spoke to a local reporter, who spoke to the Nederland city council, who passed Section 7-34 of the municipal code regarding the “keeping of bodies.”
Luckily for Bredo, he was grandfathered in and allowed to stay. Suddenly, he was a worldwide media sensation. And he has been well cared for by his family and community ever since.
"Bo Shaffer saw an intriguing want ad on the Internet in 1995 posted by Trygve. He applied for the one-of-a-kind job, got it, and is now known as the “Ice Man.” Every month, Shaffer and a team of volunteers delivers 1,600 pounds of dry ice and packs it around Grandpa Bredo in his sarcophagus, surrounded by foam padding, a tarp, and blankets. As Cryonicist-in-Charge, Shaffer keeps Grandpa at a steady -60 degrees Fahrenheit. He also gives tours to investigators, filmmakers, local volunteers, and even psychics who have purported to communicate with the dearly departed (by one account, Bredo is amused by the fuss but doing fine)," says FrozenDeadGuyDays.org.
"Shaffer feels the weight of this responsibility, knowing how much has been invested in keeping Grandpa in his cryonic state. Now frozen for over 20 years, he has kept the hope alive for his family and their faith in cryonics, as well as spurring an annual festival in Nederland that has grown into a full-fledged winter celebration."
Dead Man’s Party
For a town like Nederland that thrives on the colorful, the offbeat, and the weird, Frozen Dead Guy Days is a fitting way to end the short days of winter and head into the melting snows of spring. Trygve Bauge calls it “Cryonics’ first Mardi Gras.”
The community experiences a new burst of life with the festival’s creative contests, icy events (including coffin racing, polar plunging, frozen salmon tossing) basically if it is fun and can be done in the cold, it goes! People come from around the world every March to experience the legacy of Grandpa Bredo – even representatives of cryonics organizations who want share the science behind this unique story.
Pecking through dust in Fruita
Sept. 10, 1945 finds a strapping (but tender) young rooster pecking through the dust of Fruita, Colorado. The unsuspecting bird had never looked so delicious as he did that, now famous, day. Clara Olsen was planning on featuring the plump chicken in the evening meal. Husband Lloyd Olsen was sent out, on a very routine mission, to prepare the designated fryer for the pan. Nothing about this task turned out to be routine. Lloyd knew his mother-in-law would be dining with them and would savor the neck. He positioned his ax precisely, estimating just the right tolerances, to leave a generous neck bone. "It was as important to suck-up to your mother-in-law in the 40's as it is today." A skillful blow was executed and the chicken staggered around like most freshly terminated poultry.
"Then the determined bird shook off the traumatic event and never looked back. Mike (it is unclear when the famous rooster took on the name) returned to his job of being a chicken. He pecked for food and preened his feathers just like the rest of his barnyard buddies," says information from https://www.miketheheadlesschicken.org/mike/page/history
Now on the first weekend in June — Mike "the headless chicken" festival.