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Coffee Break with Liz and Kate » Headline, Let's Celebrate » Get your party on: 9/19-9/25

Get your party on: 9/19-9/25

Last week, I mentioned that this was gonna be a fun week where all things holiday are concerned, so I hope you’ve been getting ready because today, Sept. 19, is Talk Like a Pirate Day.

It should go without saying that simply talking like a pirate just won’t Talk_Like_a_Pirate_Daydo this day justice. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • eye patch
  • parrot (preferably one that talks)
  • peg leg
  • treasure box  (filled, of course)
  • hook hand (optional)

Your greeting for the day? “Arrrgh, Matey!” Say it everywhere you go, using it in place of hello and goodbye. You could have a pirate’s feast dinner, play “Pin the Patch on the Pirate,” offering treasure from the treasure box to the winner, and watch movies like Hook and Pirates of the Caribbean.

If you really want to be the life of the party, get your pirate name. Yours truly is Slashing Ursula Bonny (nice…).

Needless to say, the possibilities are endless. I would suggest emailing Kate for additional ideas – something makes me think this holiday will be right up her galley, er, alley.

Ah, but the fun doesn’t stop there. National Punch Day is on Sept. 20, followed by Miniature Golf Day and World Gratitude Day (on the 21st), and Checkers Day and Dog in Politics Day on the 23rd. (Don’t get me started on that last one…)

While these are certainly noteworthy holidays, I call your attention to Elephant Appreciation Day, which we celebrate Sept. 23 (also my daughter’s birthday – Happy Birthday!!). Apparently, elephants are big fans of pumpkins, so I guess you could visit your local zoo bearing a pumpkin or two.

I say, instead, we remember the life – and death – of Mary the Elephant.

“Murderous Mary” as she came to be known, was the star of Sparks Circus, which had travelled to Kingsport, TN in 1916 for one of its two-bit shows. I say two-bit because Sparks Circus carried a less than stellar reputation in its day. Think flea bags and slime. Mary had a reputation, too. Some say she’d killed before. Was it one murder? Was it a dozen? No one seemed to know for sure.

All the news surrounding Mary wasn’t bad, though. Some said she could “play 25 tunes on the musical horns without missing a note”. There were stories that she was the star on the circus’ baseball game routine with a batting average of .400. Talk about your talent…

Anywho, a new handler by the name of Red Eldridge had taken said criminal to the pond for a drink after one of the performances. With all the qualifications of a janitor, one must wonder how in the world such an amateur could be put in charge of an elephant to begin with.

Nevertheless, at some point, events took a turn for the worse. Eldridge was dead. Whether Mary trampled him to death or dealt a fatal blow with the swing of her trunk is anyone’s guess at this point. Some say the murderer was bored. Others say she had an abscessed tooth or two – that she struck out in pain, with Eldridge on the receiving end, whether intentional or not.

Didn’t matter though. Mary was a killer in the eyes of the town. Even the circus owner knew no one would come to the performances with such a scoundrel as Mary in the mix.

She was a murderer. And justice was the only recourse.

The million-dollar question became how to kill her. They tried guns, which barely made a nick in her tough skin. They tried electrocution, using 44,000 volts from the railroad. They even discussed dismemberment. They could tie her to two railroad cars, then pull her in two, or tie her to the tracks and send two cars in either direction to squash her like a bug.

Believe it or not, they decided against dismemberment, labeling it too cruel.

Somewhere along the way, someone came up with the bright idea of hanging her. With details of the execution worked out, it was determined that Mary the Murderer would be hanged after the circus performance on the following day.mary-the-elephant

While the crowd was more than a little put out that she didn’t perform before her execution, they were more than satisfied with the announcement that her hanging would be a spectacle on display for everyone (I’m surprised they didn’t charge admission).

More than 2,500 people showed up that day to see Mary meet her maker, urging Mary’s executioners on with chants of,  “Kill the elephant!”

And they did. She was hanged. While I’ll spare you the details, some say she was hanged twice, because the first set of chains broke under her massive weight of  five tons.

I’m just telling you what I’ve heard.

So in celebration of Elephant Appreciation Day, perhaps you can make up your own version of what event transpired that fateful day, ultimately leading to Mary’s demise. Do the details really matter? Almost 100 years later, I’m beginning to wonder. All I know is this: in 1916 and elephant was hanged for murder in a small Tennessee town. What else is there to say?

Until next week, get your party on!

-Liz

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