Pinedale Roundup | Eiden: People do crazy things

People do crazy things. And I don’t mean try a different barbeque sauce, lie about eating a bag of chips or allow a grocery store to select and substitute groceries, though that’s becoming the norm. One woman ordered a few loaves of whole wheat bread but since none was available, she got a 22-pound bag of wheat flour instead. Gosh, that’d make a professional woman’s day. Another person said every vegetable on her order was replaced with broccoli. She said she’s had so many oddities she treats her online shopping order like a trip to the casino, gambling she’ll sometimes get more than expected.

When I say that people do crazy things I mean weirdness to the max, like fad diets. While I think a liquid diet would be beyond the realm of common decency, some people are desperate enough for weight loss to try it. If you think that’s on a loony level, just wait, there’s more. Apparently, it’s not unheard of to buy a pill online that has a tapeworm egg inside. It’s to be swallowed, wait for the tapeworm to hatch and then grow to 30 feet, eating all the nutrients inside the desperate person’s gut until skinnying down is eminent. That’s so outrageous it’s hard to imagine, yet it happens. Not to me, but to somebody.

It’s basically inconceivable to think of anything that would top a tapeworm diet, so I won’t try, but there are a few other peculiarities about mankind that I find cringe-worthy. Our daughter, while in Africa, bungee jumped off a cliff the length of nearly 2½ football fields. That was the day I questioned whether I’d actually seen her, with my own eyes, emerge from my loins.

During WWII, a group of more than 2,200 Jewish youngsters escaped Nazi Germany and came to America. They immediately joined our military, trained at Camp Ritchie in Maryland and were forevermore to be known as the Ritchie Boys. Most, speaking at least four languages, served as prisoner interrogators in Nazi-occupied countries. Yes, they went back from when they’d fled. I find that crazy, but they did it to avenge the deaths of their loved ones, plus they wanted America to win the war. They were incredibly effective, with 60 percent of the intelligence gathered on the battlefield done by these young men who had a fascinating habit. During interrogations, German POWs were given chocolate if they talked. Chocolate! Who wouldn’t talk? I’d have sung like a canary until they begged me to stop, then negotiated for more chocolate to shut me up.

Virginia City, Nev., was founded in 1859 and, in its heyday, housed nearly 30,000 individuals, with 100 dressmakers sewing the finest Paris fashions. It had 150 saloons, basically shoulder to shoulder, but only three churches. The Comstock Lode Mine, along with several other small mines, had 700 miles of tunnels 3,000 feet under the city. The Comstock, being the most productive, hit the Big Bonanza in 1873 worth $300 million. In fact, between 1859 and 1919, the gold and silver amounted to $700 million, about $25 billion in today’s worth. Other than that being a lot of money, why would this be considered abnormal to us? Well, the mine had geothermal activity, creating a horrific work environment year-round. Bare to the waist, in nearly 160-degree temperatures, men could only physically endure a mere 15 minutes of toil before being put into ice chambers to cool down. In winter, ice was cut from the river to sell to the mine, but not being enough to keep up with demand, an icemaker was purchased. An icemaker…in the 1800s? Who knew? Obviously, when there’s cash flowing, there are creative inventors; Thus, the mine owner’s home had indoor plumbing, as did the school with 1,000 students. The first toilet stalls in schools… and teenagers have been hiding in there ever since. I wouldn’t know this personally.

The miners knew the risks, as the average lifespan was 35 years old due to shootings, knifings and hangings. There were drownings from the mine itself when the pumps went down and, high on the death toll, were men succumbing to heat exhaustion. There were also the ever-present tunnel collapses. It all borders on insane when you consider the fact that these miners tiled for a mere $80/month, only twice a cowboy’s pay.

Ulysses S. Grant once went down into the suffocating, sweltering mine and came up stating, “That was as close to hell as I ever want to be.”

Trena Eiden [email protected]

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