White Squirrel Heaven
In the funeral home basement, we've noticed a large number of albino squirrels among Sam Sanfillippo's perky dead animal dioramas. They ride motorcycles and jeeps, shoot hoops, party in bars. There are more here than in all the wildlife museums and taxidermy collections we have visited. And, as Roadside fans know, we have a keen interest in towns that have proclaimed themselves White Squirrel Capital of the World.
Sam tells us about acquaintances he had made through a fraternal organization in the town of Marionville, Missouri, a well-established Mecca of albino squirrels. When they discovered his passion for animal dioramas, they volunteered to send him a batch -- "the ones that had been hit by cars or died of heart attacks or whatever."
Back to The Dead Pals of Sam Sanfillippo
He didn't think about this unusual and generous offer until one day a few years ago. "Our beagle just started barking and barking, sniffing around the front door. The UPS guy drives up to the front door with a box about that long... and do you know that beagle knew what was in that box -- six albino squirrels. I brought it in, and that beagle was sniffing it and going crazy -- OOUUWWWW! OOUUWWW! You know how beagles go..."
"They were frozen and put on dry ice. So every year now -- one just came last month -- I receive six more."
"They accumulate ones that got killed, and keep 'em frozen. Then they pack 'em in an insulated box and send them up to me. So now I have twelve more for the taxidermist to work with."
This wealth of pale, pink-eyed critters challenges Sam to optimize display space and dream up a new diorama before too many build up in his freezer.
"The last six I had riding motorcycles. And another six will be riding horses on a racetrack. I'll have to think about what to do with the latest six." Sam cheerily considers our suggestions of an Arctic motif, or Cloud Nine scene, with little wings attached to each squirrel. "Oh, that would be good. People would like that." Whatever he does with them we're sure will be entertaining.