A documentary entitled “Cereal Thriller” by writer/director David McDonald about a 1950’s scheme that involved stashing deeds to a miniscule piece of land in the Yukon in Quaker puffed wheat and rice was a real eye-opener for me. In fact, if anyone is so inclined, I believe this has the makings of an amazing screenplay! I don’t want to give the whole tale away, so read on in my poem:
In 1955, it seems
Some boys and girls had golden dreams,
Fuelled by the fire of mythic Mountie
And his dog, King, who tracked their bounty,
On friendly family radio,
Over hills of Klondike-snow.
Quaker Oats was waging wars
With Sugar Pops and such in stores;
Barker’s man who counted dough,
Had a brainwave how to go:
Through the ones who ate their stuff,
Wheat and rice–not sweet,all puff.
So began the campaign great:
Breakfast boxes held kids’ fate;
Find a “deed” before they’re gone;
Own a piece of yon Yukon.
Moms from sea to sea would run,
Buying for each little one.
Fists were forced in boxes deep;
Deeds discovered they could keep;
Winners who pulled out the prize,
Held in hand a doc of size,
Rimmed in gilded filigree–
Legal lingo all to see.
Each kid claimed his “Big Inch Land”;
In his head he did command,
Rule upon the tiny space;
Not a problem, he would place,
Flag or flower on the spot,
Though on map ‘twas just a dot.
Land itself was real, it’s true!
Quaker’s Baker and his crew,
Bought themselves a Klondike tract;
Scoped on foot, to make it fact;
Gave it out in inches, square,
Knowing kids would hardly care.
Mountie cop, in blazer, red
(Used a gun, in taser’s stead),
Kept kids’ minds on land of gold;
Quaker’s men had their foothold;
Yukon dirt, they had brought back;
Sent to tots in tiny sack.
Kids were panning hard for rocks;
Quaker’s board was watching stocks,
Rising higher every day;
Not much gold was found, they say;
Northern orphans, in bags filled–
Never mind! Rich kids were thrilled.
Some folks ferreted the deed;
Stashed it safe, not out of greed;
Pride, more like and bragging rights;
Be the one who set his sights,
On titled land in Klondike far–
It made a kid look like a star.
In years ahead, as each one grew,
Into adults, they held onto,
The deeds they’d drawn from out the box,
With hope one day of taking docs
And laying claim to property,
But sad to say, ‘twas not to be.
For Quaker, sold off all the ground;
The taxman he would not be bound,
To pay a fee of small amount;
The number-crunchers made the count,
And killed the dream with no remorse;
To make the land a duffer’s course.
And still, today, the phone calls ring;
The faxes, letters questioning,
If any claim can still be had,
On deed in hand, won as a lad,
Or purchased through an online ad;
Ever hopeful–they’ve been had!
Kathleen Mortensen © 2007