Episode 18 - Leap Year's Leaplings Celebrations and a 40ft Slingshot - Use All The Crayons Podcast

Episode 18 February 28, 2024 00:09:44
Episode 18 - Leap Year's Leaplings Celebrations and a 40ft Slingshot - Use All The Crayons Podcast
Use All The Crayons with Chris Rodell
Episode 18 - Leap Year's Leaplings Celebrations and a 40ft Slingshot - Use All The Crayons Podcast

Feb 28 2024 | 00:09:44


Hosted By

Chris Rodell

Show Notes

It's a wild ride through the biggest leap year festival in existence and tales of how a 40ft sling shot started as a 5 beer project and turned into a town party. Join us in the twin towns of Anthony, Texas and Anthony, New Mexico, where leap year babies and their families come together for some seriously quirky celebrations and learn about the wacky events, fascinating entertainment, and hilarious stories from previous leap year shindigs. Then find out what inspired Chris to build a 40ft slingshot in his backyard and the incredible amount of money that was wagered on it!

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Episode Transcript

Chris Rodell [00:00:00]: Today, we're going to talk about the cosmic and mathematical peculiarities of leap year, and The southwestern town that every 4 years becomes the leap year capital of the world. Hi. I'm Chris Rodell. I've written stories and features for just about every major magazine or publication in America. This is the Use all the crayons podcast where I'll share those colorful stories with you. The world's best known leap year festival is the Stonehenge of small town Shindigs. Skeptics have difficulty understanding what it all means, and supernatural things routinely happen there. Yes. Chris Rodell [00:00:34]: The leap year capital of the world and the border straddling co towns of Anthony, Texas and Anthony, New Mexico is once again ready to invite international notoriety as the world's biggest quadrennial leaper colony. More than 80 leap year babies and their families are expected to converge on The schizophrenic town to confuse bartenders who will have to weigh the legalities of thirsty celebrants whose IDs declare they've had as few as 6 birthdays. It's a week when people the calendar forgot get lavished with attention and celebratory honors. Week long events beginning Saturday include a car show, golf tournament, and parade of those who call themselves Leaplings. The fanfare is a giant leap from The humble origins from 1988 after leap year baby Mary Ann Brown, born February 29, 1932, She turns 20 on Wednesday. Read a news story stating that her neighbor, Bertie Lewis, was also a leap year baby. I went across the street and said to Bertie, you know, I'm a leap year baby, too. Let's go to the Chamber of Commerce and see if we can make this a promotional thing for the town. Chris Rodell [00:01:34]: That's just what we did. With no budget, that first festival was held in the Anthony Auto Parts, the family store run by her late husband, Joe Bob Brown. Nine people gathered for punch and cake. Anthony isn't the only place where Leap Year is something special, but you'll have to be in Anthony to enjoy the cosmic quirkiness of the Leap Year. Entertainment will be provided by Bartab and 6 year old singer songwriter Derek Apodaca. Date of birth, 2/29/1988. We're really excited, he says. My family is griping that I won't be spending my leap year birthday with them, but this is going to be a lot of fun. Chris Rodell [00:02:05]: Bartab is falling in some big musical shoes. One of the most revered names in rock headlined the festival in 2000. It turns out a Cornerstone member of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young is married to a lovely Leapling. Susan Nash contacted Mary Anne Brown and asked if Nash could perform in the festival as a birthday present to her and her other Leaplings. Jerry Garland Brown said, my mom had no idea who he was, but she said, sure. That's how Nash came to perform in the Gadsden High School cafeteria on leap year 2000. He played Our House, Teach Your Children Well, and so many great songs, said Jerry. He told stories about all the songs, and some of them were so beautiful They brought tears to our eyes. Chris Rodell [00:02:41]: So you never know what's going to happen on leap year here in leap year capital of the world. Bible says our bodies are temples. On Friday nights, mine is more like a honky tonk. Some beer has been spilled, some of the furniture is busted, and it smells kind of funny. But the folks are friendly, the peanuts are free, and the good music never ends. Behold The giant slingshot. Slingshots used to be boyhood staples. Eustace would take them to school and use them on the way home to clunk trash cans, tree trunks, slow wooded squirrels, and each other. Chris Rodell [00:03:13]: Times change. Minor injuries led schools to ban slingshots as dangerous. Kids no longer take them to school. Today, they take clocks instead. I never took a slingshot to school, more for reasons of chronic truancy than devotion to nonviolence, But there are about 200 people who are in the world who, when they hear my name, zing straight to one word, slingshot. Not just any slingshot, mind Use, a towering 40 foot behemoth capable of flinging spray painted potatoes more than 500 feet. It was the summer of 2000. Our old house, the one with the big apple tree out back, was located on the slopes of a lush field at the base of a sturdy mountain that belched big gusts of wind when the storms developed. Chris Rodell [00:03:53]: It was like living in a wind tunnel. I'd be out there at least once a year amputating damaged limbs. It was always what I would call a 5 beer job. I'd open a beer and study the problem, work for about 20 minutes, open another beer and resume studying. Repeat. During the 4th beer break, I vividly recall having a eureka moment. You know, I said, if I cut that upper left branch just so, I could turn The sturdy old apple tree into a dandy slingshot. What a great idea, I said. Chris Rodell [00:04:20]: I think you're really on to something, handsome. Takes me about 4 beers to overcome my shyness about talking out loud to myself. The hardware required 4 eye hole screws and about 80 foot of strong, flexible surgical tubing. I spent hours duct taping and massaging a thin square of of cardboard until it was supple enough to use it as a delivery pouch. It was the summer of 2000. Val was 8 months pregnant. Was our last child free party and our best. It may have been the best party ever that didn't involve at least a little nudity. Chris Rodell [00:04:50]: The crudely drawn invitations depicted a giant y towering above the Pittsburgh skyline. Extended pull lines stretching clear to Ohio crowded the left side of the page. The middle was the Atlantic Ocean. The far right had a bull's eye straddling the once disputed border region between France and Germany. The copy urged everyone to bring baskets of objects that weighed less than £12. Suggestions included overripe fruit, discarded children's toys, and the cranky neighbor's cat. One guy brought a basket of goo filled surgical gloves. We spent an afternoon spray painting 200 potatoes various colors for gambling purposes. Chris Rodell [00:05:26]: Less inebriated judges would stand in the field and gauge whose potato flew the farthest. The pot got as high as $525 It is a true thing of wonder to see volleys of silent potatoes soaring through the dusky sky with barn penetrating velocity. I think it's something even sober people would appreciate. I remember lying on my back in the grass and watching those inanimate objects sailing over my head and saying, I've really done something noble for mankind here. This is something we'll fondly remember forever. You got that right, I replied. The day's beer consumption had long rendered my self talking shyness moot. In a world where crabby tight asses seem to make all the rules, convivial folk will always have a way of finding one another. Chris Rodell [00:06:12]: It's probably because of my years at Ohio University that I drink responsibly whenever I should and irresponsibly whenever I can. It's a vast oversimplification to say, but the only thing I recall learning with any clarity there from 1981-1985, was never mix ouzo and beer in the same glass. We used to do that all the time, and guaranteed, whenever we did, someone was bound to lose their pants. You can't spell bourbon or ouzo without o u. It was a fountain of knowledge where I went to drink. Those were some of the t shirts they sold on campus back when I was there. I still see variations of them when I go back once every year or so to see the old gang. We fly or drive in from all over the country and get the 2 or 3 hotel rooms in the Dvious Hotel down near the Hocking River. Chris Rodell [00:06:54]: In a town where big guys are called tiny, the hotels on lowest point in the The Ohio is called the Highlander. Tell someone who attended most any other college, a group of 40 somethings are going can go back to their university, and many assume lecherous activities will ensue. They think the guys will slip off their wedding rings and spend the night chasing around the comely innocents. This is wrong on multiple levels. 1st, I've never met any innocent at OU, not to be confused, please, with Ohio State University in Columbus. 2nd, most of us are too fatigued and too wise to chase anything anymore. 3rd, and this is key, there's not a soul within 50 mile radius more important to us than The dozen or so people clustered around those tables tilting from too many pitchers of beer. It was after leaving Athens that I began to understand games were for people who were inept at the art of conversation. Chris Rodell [00:07:41]: Why would you engage in any distraction that kept you from learning more about the people sitting right next to you? Those are some of the things that crossed my mind when I learned Ohio University was named by The Princeton Review as the number one party school in America. It's a chicken and egg sort of question, but I didn't go to Athens because it was a party school, but I did go there because, at the time, Ohio drinking age was 18. I learned later on, surprise, it had a great school for journalism. Hey. I like to journalize. If anything exceeds its reputation for being a party school, it is its reputation for grooming dynamic journalists. Now disgraced media bigshots Rodger Ailes and Matt Lauer graduate from there. Legendary actor Paul Newman dropped out from there. Chris Rodell [00:08:19]: My academic achievements fall somewhere between deep in the middle of that spectrum. I remember when I went for one of my first postgraduate interviews. It was at the Nashville banner. The managing editor, a fine southern gentleman, saw Ohio University on my resume and asked if that's where Woody Hayes coached. No, sir. That was 0 state in Columbus. How long were you on the school paper? He asked. 1 year, I told him. Chris Rodell [00:08:40]: What'd you do the other 3 years? Drink beer? Yes, sir. Good. I did it for 4. I got that job, and it was instrumental in launching a career that has led me to friendships with some of the world's most fascinating individuals. Athens was where I became who I am. So cheers, Ohio University. I've been under your influence for 30 years now and gloriously under the influence for many of those years, and it's just been one hell of a good time. If you enjoy the podcast, we urge you to complete the podcast Road to Success Triathlon of share, rate, and review. Chris Rodell [00:09:12]: Be sure to tell all your friends and urge them to do the same. Thanks to our friends at Headspace Media in Latrobe for technological expertise and for always being gentle in their criticisms. And thanks to Robindale Energy for their gracious and essential support. Interested in visiting Latrobe and the lovely Laurel Highlands? Start your journey at go Laurel Highlands Dot com or stop at the Landmark Tin Lizzie just down the street from world famous Latrobe Country Club and ask for me. Learn the fine art of knowing precisely when to quit. Thank you. Yes.

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