Hope all is well with everyone. Here is a mystery that has baffled me for
some time. An author claims that a cemetary headstone for her grandmother is
from a meteorite.
To begin with....Some years ago I bought a children's story book by author
Patricia Polacco, entitled METEOR! It's about an alleged meteor which fell
on her grandmother's farm near Union City Michigan many years ago and the
town reception celebrating it's arival. Cute story. I personally was born and
raised in Kalamazoo Michigan, some 40 miles away. In the book the author
describes how the meteorite which fell had been studied by scientists from
University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and Battle Creek College.
But looking further into this, I could not find any listing in any calalog
about this meteorite or event. The children's story ends with the meteorite
being used as a tombstone marker for the author's grandmother. All of the
landmarks and towns the author uses, is familiar to me being a former
What makes this even more interesting is when I looked up the author's name
on the internet and she now lives at her grandmother's home and has called it
METEOR RIDGE FARM. With the following address, anyone on the internet can
look at this headstone: http://www.patriciapolacco.com/htour.html There
you'll see the author kneeling next to the headstone. Looks a bit like a
pallasite from a distance.
Does anyone on this list know more about this??? I still have relatives near
Kalamazoo, but only go once a year for a day, and have not had a chance to go
to the actual cemetary (it does exist) and look at the tombstone first hand.
Would appreciate imput from any list member who knows more about this mystery.
Steven L. Sachs
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="US-ASCII"
Years ago, (maybe 7??) I read that story and a few months later happened to
be up in the North, so I scheduled a trip to the cemetery you mentioned. My
mind is a little fuzzy on the details, but I remember that it was very cold
and snowy. I do remember asking myself on the out of the way trip I was
taking, that if the rock really was a genuine meteorite, who would have legal
title to it? So when I got to the cemetery and I located the tombstone and
it turned out not to be a meteorite, but just any ordinary big bolder, I was
actually kind of relieved.
Hey, but it made a cute story for a children's book. Nice artwork as I
Hi, List --
I really enjoyed Polacco's book - we read it to our kids many
times. About 7 or 8 years ago, she was on a book tour in Houston,
and we went to hear her read from Meteor! She had brought a piece
of the 'meteor' along, and showed it off. To me, it appeared to be a
piece of granite. Its been a while, but I seem to remeber it was pink
Allan H. Treiman
Lunar and Planetary Institute
3600 Bay Area Boulevard
Houston, TX 77058-1113
Falling Into Reading
The Midland Daily News (Michigan)
April 10, 2003
Wednesday morning's visitor to Adams Elementary School left some students
with tingling hands.
After hearing stories from author Patricia Polacco, students were given the
chance to touch a small piece of a meteorite which she wrote about in her
first book, "Meteor!" Polacco told students they could make wishes while
touching the piece of fallen star.
"It felt tingly in my hand," said first-grader Nicole Meeks. Meeks said her
favorite Polacco book is about a principal who helps a student quit bullying.
"I like the book about her rotten redheaded older brother," classmate Megan
Katie Smith, another first grader, said she liked the book Polacco wrote
about how she was taught to read. A fourth student said he liked the breaks
spent clapping and stomping feet between stories Wednesday.
"The rock felt kind of cold when I touched it," said Nathan Fisher.
Polacco began writing children's books when she was 41 years old and has
written 50 in 17 years. She said she grew up around a family of story tellers.
"My mother's people are from Russia and the Ukraine and my dad was from
Ireland," she told the students. "All my life I've been used to hearing
stories, not seeing them. At my house we didn't have a television. We
watched my grandmother. It was better than any TV I ever watched."
Polacco shared that oral tradition with students by telling three stories -
one about a girl whose grandmother gave her a doll to play with and the doll
comes alive, a second about the meteor and a third about a quilt that's been
in her family for years.
The meteor story is based on an event Polacco's mother told her about.
"My mother saw it happen. I do know it was during the month of August at
11:30 p.m. All of a sudden it looked like the sun came out. They ran to the
windows of the house to see what was making noise and it crashed in the
yard," she said. "My mother said the house shook and they saw something
gleaming in the front yard."
The meteorite has become a piece of family and local history in Union City,
where it crashed. People come in bus loads to touch it at the cemetery
where Polacco`s grandmother is buried. The meteorite now has the family name
carved on it, but Polacco carries a piece with her.
"With every legend there's a warning to be careful what you wish for because
it may come true," she told students. "There are three wishes you can't wish
for. You may not wish for money, you can't change other people
and you can't wish for toys or possessions you can purchase with money."
Ron's posting of an article about Ms. Polacco is of interest, and not just
because it's about a "meteorite."
I wrote an article for "Planetarian" magazine about a year ago discussing
how to tell when a rock is not a meteorite. I mentioned the "meteorite as a
headstone" story as a probable urban legend. I mentioned Ms. Polacco's book
because in the end of her story the "meteorite" becomes her grandmother's
headstone. I contacted Ms. Polacco to try and ascertain how much of her book
was true and how much was poetic license.
She responded by making legal threats against me.
Her basis for this threat was (1) I didn't have her "permission" to mention
her book. (2) Since I'd never seen her talks to school children, I couldn't
write about them. (I pointed out to her that there is a huge difference
between a _talk_, which I hadn't even mentioned in the article, and a
_book_, which was what I was asking about. Very oddly, she just couldn't
seem to grasp the difference between the two.) (3) She makes a lot of money
with her public talks and I wasn't allowed _by_law_ to say anything that
might hurt her income.
It's been reported here that the "meteorite headstone" is in fact a piece of
pink granite. One individual who has seen her speak in public also told me
that the "piece of meteorite" she passes around is also pink granite.
Of course, I gave her blowing of hot air all the attention it rightly
deserved and the article was published. While I couldn't say how much of her
story was true, I could (and did) mention her attempt at censorship. The
greatest irony of all this is the last few lines from the article reprinted
below, which is a quote from Ms. Polacco. She passes her piece of pink rock
around and encourages the children to make a wish, but with restrictions:
>"There are three wishes you can't wish
> for. You may not wish for money, you can't change
> other people and you can't wish for toys or possessions
> you can purchase with money."
Bob Martino, Tucson, AZ
She IS selling it as a TRUE story. At $2500 a pop (plus traveling
She also most likely knows that it isn't a real meteorite - that is why she
threatens to sue when anyone confronts here.
She will never have it tested because then she can no longer claim that the
story is true. "Ignorance is bliss (and financially rewording?)."
If she was willing to sell it as just a "story", then I would have no
argument with that.
For more information, try this link