Merry Christmas! (Truth is stranger than fiction)

Roy Collette and his brother-in-law have been exchanging the same pair of
pants as a Christmas present for 11 years - and each time the package gets
harder to open.  This year the pants came wrapped in a car mashed into a
3-foot cube.  The trousers are in the glove compartment of a 1974 Gremlin.
Now Collette's plotting his revenge--if he can get them out.  

It all started when Collette received a pair of moleskin trousers from his
brother-in-law, Larry Kunkel of Bensenville, Ill.  Kunkel's mother had given
her son the britches when he was a college student.  He wore them a few
times, but they froze stiff in cold weather and he didn't like them. So he
gave them to Collette.  Collette, who called the moleskins "miserable", wore
them three times, then wrapped them up and gave them back to Kunkel for
Christmas the next year.

The friendly exchange continued routinely until Collette twisted the pants
tightly, stuffed them into a 3-foot-long, 1-inch wide tube and gave them
back to Kunkel.  The next Christmas, Kunkel compressed the pants into a
7-inch square, wrapped them with wire and gave the "bale" to Collette.  Not
to be outdone, the next year Collette put the pants into a 2-foot-square
crate filled with stones, nailed it shut, banded it with steel and gave the
trusty trousers back to Kunkel.

The brothers agreed to end the caper if the trousers were damaged. But they
were as careful as they were clever.

Kunkel had the pants mounted inside an insulated window that had a 20-year
guarantee and shipped them off to Collette.  Collette broke the glass,
recovered the trousers, stuffed them into a 5-inch coffee can and soldered
it shut.  The can was put in a 5-gallon container filled with concrete and
reinforcing rods and given to Kunkel the following Christmas.  Two years
ago, Kunkel installed the pants in a 225-pound homemade steel ashtray made
from 8-inch steel casings and etched Collette's name on the side.  Collette
had trouble retrieving the treasured trousers, but succeeded without burning
them with a cutting torch.

Last Christmas, Collette found a 600-pound safe and hauled it to Viracon
Inc. in Owatonna, where the shipping department decorated it with red and
green stripes, put the pants inside and welded the safe shut.  The safe was
then shipped to Kunkel, who is the plant manager for Viracon's outlet in

Last week, the pants were trucked to Owatonna, 55 miles south of
Minneapolis, in a drab green, 3-foot cube that once was a car with 95,000
miles on it.  A note attached to the 2,000-pound scrunched car advised
Collette that the pants were inside the glove compartment.  "This will take
some planning," Collette said. "I will definitely get them out.  I'm
confident."  But he's waiting until January to think about how to recover
the bothersome britches.

"Wait until next year," he warned. "I'm on the offensive again." 

Thanks to Orion Beadling for this contribution.

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This message was sent on 9 Dec 1996