Site Of Fatal Auto Accident Tritely Commemorated

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Vol 37 Issue 17

New Dog Sick Of Being Compared To Old One

PRESTON, MO–Patches, the Layden family's new dog, expressed frustration Monday over the constant comparisons to his predecessor, who died in February. "No matter what I do, I can't escape the long shadow cast by Sneakers," the five-month-old Patches said. "I go for a walk, I hear about the way Sneakers went for walks. I chew on the rug, I hear about the way Sneakers chewed on rugs. They need to realize that I can't be Sneakers."

Guy On Racetrack P.A. Sounds A Little Depressed Today

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY–Gordon Asheton, public-address announcer at Saratoga Racetrack, seemed a bit distant Monday, track regular Brad Herman reported. "Usually, [Asheton]'s totally enthusiastic, firing up the crowd," Herman said. "But today, after he said, 'And they're off,' there was kind of a pause and a heavy sigh before he gave the running order. When he announced Daddy's Little Prizefighter as the winner, he barely seemed to care. I hope everything's okay at home."

Health-Food-Store Worker Dies Of Vitamin Lung

SAUSALITO, CA–Duane Cristopher, longtime manager of the Brooks Street Health Food Co-op, died Sunday following a three-month battle with vitamin lung. "Decades of inhaling a trace dust of vitamin supplements caused particles to accumulate over time in his lungs, ultimately cutting off his oxygen supply," said Dr. Arthur Washington, Christopher's physician. "We also suspect bee pollen may have been a factor." At Christopher's funeral Tuesday, family and friends commented admiringly on how natural the 57-year-old's body looked.

Man Nods Knowingly At Mechanic

GREENSBORO, NC–Attempting to conceal his ignorance of car repair, area resident Dave Snell, 39, nodded knowingly Monday as mechanic Bill Kreuter explained the precise nature of Snell's automotive problem. "He was telling me that the car had, like, a faulty alternator plug," Snell said. "So, you know, that's something that definitely needs to be fixed." Snell said his risky bluff almost backfired when Kreuter asked him how he gaps his plugs, to which Snell responded, "About the usual amount."

Child Lies For Parents' Own Good

CONCORD, NH–Area 9-year-old Andrew Mota lied to his parents Monday, telling them that he was at the park after school and sparing them the unpleasant truth that he was setting off fireworks at the quarry with friends. "[Parents] Patrick and Adrienne are very fragile emotionally," Mota said. "Telling them something like that would only cause them undue stress." He added that he may tell them one day when he is older.

North Dakota Drinks Itself To Sleep Again

BISMARCK, ND–Exhausted from another hard day in the wheat fields, the state of North Dakota drank itself to sleep Monday with the bottle of Old Thompson it keeps hidden in Fargo. "Oh, they've been doing this a lot lately," South Dakota Gov. William Janklow said. "Every night, they fall asleep on their respective couches with the local TV stations on all night." Janklow expressed concern about waking the state, as North Dakota is known for its violent outbursts when hung over.

Beer Commercials Aren't What They Used To Be

In these modern times, the concept of workmanship, of taking pride in one's craft, has gone the way of Nagel paintings, the Thompson Twins, and Vision Street Wear. And nowhere is this more evident than in the sorry state of our beer commercials.

Kerrey's Secret Shame

Last week, former senator Bob Kerrey admitted that a raid he led in the Vietnam War resulted in the deaths of at least 13 unarmed women and children. What do you think?
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  • Night Out Consecrated With Opening Exchange Of High-Fives

    CHARLOTTE, NC—Kicking off the evening with their customary expression of excitement and camaraderie, a group of friends reportedly consecrated their night out on the town Friday with a ceremonial opening exchange of high-fives.

Site Of Fatal Auto Accident Tritely Commemorated

MOUND CITY, KS–A ribbon of blacktop called Highway 52 runs through the heart of this tiny eastern Kansas town. Not much distinguishes this road from countless others, except for the violent, head-on collision that, on the evening of April 24, claimed the lives of five people from the town of Mound City.

Artificial flowers and a $7.99 teddy bear adorn the site of the tragedy.

It is on the shoulder of this otherwise ordinary road that a makeshift shrine to the victims has been erected. With plastic flowers, stuffed animals, and hand-painted signs, the grieving townspeople of Mound City resolved to consecrate the death site in the most trite and hackneyed way possible.

"This is a truly tragic event," said Mound City resident Trudy Pierstorff. "It's painful enough to lose one person you know, but five, well, it boggles the mind. I'm going out to the site today to pay my respects and leave a few mylar balloons."

According to the Linn County Sheriff's Department, Jason Gullickson, 18, was heading north to nearby Pleasanton at a speed approaching 90 mph when he lost control of his 1992 Plymouth Sundance and collided with a Ford Taurus in the opposite lane driven by 42-year-old James Drabeck. Drabeck, his wife Alma, 40, and daughter Kelly, 13, died instantly. Gullickson and a passenger, Kimberly Femia, 17, died later of massive head injuries. A second passenger, 17-year-old Michael Allen, survived the crash but remains in critical condition at Methodist Medical Center in Pleasanton.

To cope with this incalculable loss of life, within hours of the accident, the citizens of Mound City responded with a spontaneous outpouring of crappy mementos. Despite the presence of such disturbing reminders of the crash as tire marks, headlight shards, and blood-stained pavement, Mound City residents have come here day after day, adding more tacky shit to the steadily growing pile.

"It's staggering to think we won't be seeing Jason and Kimberly anymore," said Mound City High School English teacher John Pentland, who laid two synthetic red roses with plastic baby's breath atop the ever-growing heap of embarrassing kitsch.

"I've been having nightmares every night since the accident," said Lynette Searcy, 38, sister of James Drabeck. "But somehow, I know that Jim, Alma, and Kelly are with God in Heaven now." Searcy then honored her deceased family members with a crocheted clown doll in a tiny Kansas City Chiefs T-shirt.

Passersby on Hwy. 52 also stopped to pay their respects. Off-duty sheriff's deputy Scott Tierney was moved by the tribute.

"I'm a family man like [James Drabeck], and it's sobering to think that everything can disappear like that in the wink of an eye," Tierney said. "He must have been quite a guy to warrant that purple horse piñata."

It is not just tasteless bric-a-brac that makes up the shrine: Ill-conceived signs and corny poems abound, as well. Friends of Gullickson felt the best way to tell the world how much they missed him was with the words "See You At The Crossroads" written in glow-in-the-dark green paint on a slab of cardboard. Bordering the sign was a collage of items representing Jason's favorite things, including a Mound City Mustangs logo, several Icehouse Beer labels, and a crudely cut out image of Jesus Christ.

"You and Jason were so great togeather [sic]," reads a poem to Femia from classmate Danielle Schoyer. "I liked having DECA and Choir with you / You were looking so forward to the senior class trip to Washington / I will throw a coin in the Potamac [sic] for you."

Though the remainder of the poem was illegible, its ink washed out by an overnight drizzle, it no doubt continued in this mawkish vein.

Allen, the lone survivor of the crash, has not been spared the tawdry tributes. Stuffed pandas, bouquets of carnations, and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin balloons adorn his hospital room, as well as a construction-paper placard bearing the proclamation "U R A Hero!!!" spelled in macaroni and glitter.

"I'm sure once Michael regains consciousness, he'll be glad so many people are pulling for him," said Andrea Allen, Michael's mother. "A few days ago, he was awake long enough to see the sign and ask, 'How was I a hero, Mom? I was in a car accident.' Then he slipped out of consciousness again. I'm sure the painkillers are clouding his reasoning."

As the people of Mound City try to rebuild their lives, psychologist and grief counselor Dr. Elizabeth Calloway said their makeshift shrine is a positive sign that they will weather this crisis.

"Mourning is part of the healing process, and people express their grief in many ways," Calloway said. "Leaving unorthodox tokens of their love for the deceased is sometimes the only way people can articulate their sorrow."

Continued Calloway: "I just wish these mourners would give their tributes a little more thought, because some of it is pretty cheesy. I mean, I don't question the depth of their grief, but there's got to be a better way to show it than with a beanbag frog."

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