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  • Snowball Atrocities 7#: Ghostly Snowballs in Illinois June 26, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback

    Beach was awfully fond of his snowball tag, and was disappointed when he simply ran out of good snowball stories. Imagine his joy then to run into some ghostly snowballs in Skinner’s Myths and Legends of Our Own Land. The year is apparently 1849

    Forty-seven years ago, in the township of St.  Mary’s, Illinois, two lads named Groves and a companion named Kirk were pelted with snowballs while on their way home from a barn where they had been to care for the stock for the night.  The evening had shut in dark, and the accuracy of the thrower’s aim was the more remarkable because it was hardly possible to see more than a rod away.  The snowballs were packed so tightly that they did not break on striking, though they were thrown with force, and Kirk was considerably bruised by them.  Mr. Groves went out with a lantern, but its rays lit up a field of untrodden snow, and there was no sound except that made by the wind as it whistled past the barn and fences.  Toward dawn another inspection was made, and in the dim light the snowballs were seen rising from the middle of a field that had not a footprint on it, and flying toward the spectators like bullets.  They ran into the field and laid about them with pitchforks, but nothing came of that, and not until the sun arose was the pelting stopped.  Young Kirk, who was badly hurt, died within a year.

    Can anyone find the original newspaper report: drbeachcombing DOT com, at least this sounds like it comes from a newspaper.

    Floodmouse, 30 Jun 2017 gives a literary snowball atrocity: “Fifth Business” by Robertson Davies (1970) [SYNOPSIS:]  The Magician, the Prince, and the Fool-Saint all meet up in Canada.  The Magician is Magnus Eisengrim, the greatest illusionist in the world–but long before he became Magnus Eisengrim, he was young Paul Dempster from the wrong side of the tracks in Deptford (a village of five hundred souls, with five churches).  Young Paul’s mother is the Fool-Saint (too simple and good for this world), who is enfeebled after being struck in the head by a snowball thrown by the Prince.  The Prince is Percy Boyd Staunton (the Rich Young Ruler), and the snowball he threw was intended to hit his young (sometime) friend, Dunstable Ramsey.  Wracked by guilt for “dodging the bullet,” Dunstable grows up to become tutor to the young Paul, scholar of saints, and occasional caretaker for Paul’s mother, the infirm Fool-Saint (Mary Dempster).  Not at all wracked by guilt (or so it would seem), the Prince goes on his merry way, achieving riches, fame, and worldly power as a sugar-beet magnate.  [SPOILER ALERT:]  Upon their reunion many years later, the Magician and the Tutor confront the Prince with the results of his action (throwing the snowball which hit Paul’s mother), but the Prince disclaims all responsibility.  Shortly thereafter, the Prince is found dead alone in his car, having driven off the pier into the waters of Toronto harbor.  His death is a great mystery.  In his mouth is found a pink granite stone, the size of a small egg.  The Magician’s tutor has kept this stone on his desk for many years, using it as a paperweight, and only later does he realize that it disappeared off his desk on the occasion of the reunion between Magician and Prince (shortly before the Prince’s death).  Of course, this is the very same stone which the Prince embedded in the snowball that he threw many years before, enfeebling Paul’s mother and setting them all on their various paths to fame or destruction.  The denouement occurs as the Tutor reflects on the long trajectory of their lives, and its climax in the last stage performance by Magnus Eisengrim.  During the mind-reading act, someone from the balcony shouts out, “Who killed Boy Staunton?”  The talking head replies:  The usual cabal–but first of all himself, and the man who granted his inmost wish.  Although Magnus has vowed never to hypnotize anyone under the age of twenty-one, it is left for the Reader to reflect (in the words of the Magician’s Tutor), that as they all have reached their sixties, the cloaks they used to conceal their inmost selves have worn thin.  The rock is showing, underneath the snowb