BEFORE AND AFTER VAL MARIE
At Ipswich McCauley’s Museum, you will see five hundred sixty one pairs of baby shoes dating back to 1750; one hundred twenty of them are bronzed, some are moccasins worn by Sioux babies.
Down the road apiece is Doanne Skweizer’s grandfather’s collection of wrenches, 184 in all. Next to each wrench is a glass jar of nuts and bolts the wrench was used on.
In Lipton Seeback’s farmyard is a small shed that contains three hundred eleven early electric fans and a couch made of horseshoes welded together. Not even one of the fans work but, improbably, the couch is extremely comfortable.
Astwurst Shfickins brought his mother’s collection of dolls made of goat dung – all two hundred seventy three of them – from Norway. She made every one herself. He keeps them under locked airtight glass domes, each dome lit by an intense overhead beam.
A mile detour gets you to Ditdit Kbeema’s House of Coconuts. It is not a house made of coconuts but rather a collection of all the varieties of coconuts the planet provides. Ditdit will always try to sell you a polyester Hawaiian shirt. Do not buy one.
Lukas Smallth claims to have about $30,000 worth of coins that he watched being run over by trains after he put them on railway tracks. When you ask him the obvious question, Lukas will likely weep.
Pershing Dowhauser inherited an uncle’s collection of clothespins and displays them on a clothesline holding up an aunt’s collection of Irish linen tea towels with birds on them. Everyday is laundry day at Pershing’s house.
As a school project when he was eight, Gorse Grass started keeping a diary of his toilet habits and still persists at this fifty-three years later. He will show you his twenty-seven volume diary, point out highlights, explain his rating system and, if he is in a good mood, show you the entry for his most favourite bowel movement ever.
Dawn Intrafficschool’s museum features the two things she collects: ribald stories about nuns and obscure laundry detergents. Dawn will enthrall you all day with her nun stories, which she reads aloud in her bold voice. Since she blushes easily, she will spend most of the time beet-faced and embarrassed. Next to her wringer washer is her collection of rare laundry detergents with names by Pek, Jer, Poomt, Durf, KKKleen and White World. Whether removed from the market due to corrosive natures, unhealthy emissions or witless naming, all her detergents have a story to tell, just like Dawn herself.
I stopped at a pay phone outside a garage in Val Marie, Saskatchewan at 3:00 am to call in my report. A small green ball of light shot around the streets of the tiny village the whole time I made my call. It ignored me and, making a tiny rocket noise, zoomed about four feet off the ground up and down the dozen dusty streets that comprise Val Marie. The few streetlights in the village were the old-fashioned, loaded-with-shadows white light types so the brighter-than-neon green gave an eerie organic illumination to the scene.
As I drove out of town, the green ball streamed by me then turned down a street it had traveled 80 times in the last 5 minutes.
A few miles on, I stopped at the side of the highway. As I stepped out of the car, Orion stepped out of the sky and rubbed my shoulders. I palpitated next to Highway 18, massaged by a constellation.
By a stream, I fell asleep. I know this.
I am eastbound now, horizon speaking directly to me in the dim yellow language of morning.
Toodhow Klippenhaus will show you his collection of Venezuelan toreador hats for a small fee, usually from $5 to $8. He has over 800 to show you. Set aside a day.
At Aurora Gaunt’s Soup Museum, taste sixty-six kinds of consommé.
Watch for the dozens of flags flying at Biffyland, the world’s largest collection of outhouses, all in working order. How many? They have lost count but you can count on getting lost in the Biffy Maze. This is a recommended pit stop.
For some odd reason Clynmyst Gigglougg kept everything his mother told him never to put in his mouth. And here it all is, awaiting your perusal. Warning signs are posted.
The Old Testament is written on the west wall of Bryton Galosheski’s barn, on the east the New Testament. The gable ends are painted to look like the fore and aft of Noah’s Ark. All along the ridge top of the gambrel roof is a large wooden cutout of the Last Supper, elaborately painted on both sides. The entire roof area is covered with antlers, horns and hooves of wild animals fastened securely with airplane wire. Some say “awesome”, others say “ghastly.” You decide.
If broken scissors are your bliss then do not miss the stimulating displays at Dayton Drayder’s Home for Wayward Half Scissors. Dayton can answer all your scissor-related queries, even “Is half a scissor better than no scissor at all?”
March 15, 2004
None of these museums exists. Sorry.
Val Marie does exist in southwestern Saskatchewan at the western edge of Grasslands National Park. It has 137 people, an excellent bed and breakfast called The Convent, interesting tour guides and the Information Centre for Grasslands National Park. It is often the Canadian hot spot.