by Pa Rock
Alcor Life Extensions, a Scottsdale, Arizona, firm that specializes in cryonics (the fine art of freezing recently deceased human bodies in the belief that they can possibly be thawed out later and reanimated) was in the news back in 2002 when famed baseballer Ted Williams died. Two of Williams children decided to preserve Williams' severed head with Alcor in the hope that they could be reunited with their dead father sometime in the distant future. A third child went to court to stop the sideshow. By the time it all played out in the tabloids, the legacy of a great American athlete had been subsumed by weirdness.
After Mr. Williams' head was severed and frozen, a disgruntled former employee of Alcor named Larry Johnson said in his book Frozen: My Journey Into the World of Cryonics, Deception and Death that he watched an Alcor official swing a monkey wrench at Williams head. He was trying to remove a tuna can that was stuck to the base of the neck. Johnson reported that the first swing accidentally struck the head, and the second knocked the tuna can loose. (Just for clarification, the head had apparently been intentionally set atop the tuna can so that it would sit upright in the freezer. Is that too much information?)
That was in 2002. Since that time one of Ted Williams' children, one of the strange ones, has also died and had his head frozen at Alcor - so an Addams Family Reunion is definitely in the works!
All of that cryonics history is provided as background, because Alcor Life Extensions of Scottsdale is in the news again.
Mary Robbins, a seventy-one-year-old woman from Colorado Springs, Colorado, kicked the bucket recently. Ms. Robbins, who was supposedly of sound mind, had signed her head away to Alcor in 2006, along with a stipend of $50,000 - apparently to pay the freezer bill.
Enter Darlene Robbins, a daughter of the recently deceased. Darlene stated that her mother had verbally told her prior to death that she wanted the agreement with Alcor cancelled. An attorney for Alcor spit back that the law in Colorado is crystal clear - any anatomical gift must be declared and canceled in writing.
Anatomical gift? It's not like the head is going to be used in a transplant, is it? Could it be that the $50,000 is as much of an issue as the poor old woman's cranium?
The body is on ice awaiting a court hearing in Colorado where a judge will have to decide who gets what.
For some odd reason I am reminded of a book that I once read that involved young men who worked nights at a grocery store stocking shelves. One of their recreations during those late hours was a game called turkey bowling. They would make pyramids of canned goods, and then use frozen turkeys as bowling balls to knock the cans down.
But I digress...