Someone once asked me if I was the only member of my family to take up writing. Actually, their exact words were "Are there any other scribbling malcontents in that lunatic asylum you call a family?" Choosing to ignore this rudeness, I proceeded to tell them about a journal kept by my great-grandfather during his ill-fated attempt to be the first person to reach the North Pole. I humbly submit these excerpts for you perusal:
March, 4 1907
In an effort to acclimatize my self to the cold I sat in a bathtub filled with ice shavings from a nearby ice cream parlor. My wife is still mopping up…and swearing like a sailor I might add. I didn’t even know she knew some of those words.
March, 10 1907
Gave two weeks notice to old man McGinty at the factory. God, I’ll miss the old place. Sure, making asbestos is hard work, but it’s a trade with a real future. It’s the wonder material of the age I tell you. Note to self; see doctor about clearing up this cough before leaving on trip.
April, 3 1907
I’ve managed to assemble what I believe to be a hardy and steadfast crew:
"Fritzy" Mueller, a sausage stuffer from Pennsylvania who weighs over three hundred pounds but assures me that it’s all muscle.
"Cubby" Rothington III, the black sheep son of a wealthy Boston family is also helping to finance the expedition.
And finally, a one eyed former gold miner known only as "Slim" who claims to be 1/16 Eskimo, will be our guide.
May, 22 1907
Arrived at Ellesmere Island, disappointed to find only three of my sled dogs are huskies. The rest are a mixture of breeds ranging from Collies to a Dachshund whose legs don’t even reach the ground when he’s in the harness. The little fellow is all heart though…I think I’ll call him Doxy and make him our mascot.
June, 18 1907
It is with great sadness that I must record that "Fritzy" Mueller has eaten our mascot Doxy. Rations have been running low and apparently six hours without food was more than he could stand.
June, 27 1907
Our misery continues unabated. "Slim" who has been suffering from frostbite in his one good eye, has fallen into deep crevasse. It was the final straw for "Cubby" who had already become very unstable. He ran off into the frozen landscape, screaming something about finding Santa’s workshop and performing unnatural acts on the elves…we have not seen him since. So, that just leaves "Fritzy" and myself to carry on. It will be difficult, but I believe that if we stick together we can still make it to the pole.
July, 9 1907
I’m afraid that I had to shoot poor "Fritzy". For days he had been looking at me very strangely and last night I awoke to find him pouring salt on my leg. I tried firing a warning shot, but he would not turn loose my leg. What my next move shall be…is uncertain.
As it turned out, his "next move" was to hightail it home and leave the honor of being the first to the North Pole to Robert Peary. The expedition did leave its mark on my great-grandfather though. My great-grandmother said for years after he would sometimes wake up in the middle of the night screaming "Fritzy, I’m begging you…drop the salt shaker!"