We circled back and, sure enough there was a poster with the headline, White Squirrel Town. The image was a large white squirrel clutching an acorn like a football. The squirrel had green knees and a subhead read, "Where squirrels have nothing to fear except those stubborn grass stains." I immediately had a larcenous thought: "I gotta get me one of them." However, being fond of my freedom, I chose not to act.
We passed this poster many times and I always lamented that it was hanging in a dingy bus shelter when it could just as easily be hanging in my dingy Squirrel Cave. Unbeknownst to me, Mrs. Skwirlboi was already using her formidable investigative powers to track one down for my birthday.
First she called the county building in Olney and spoke to Belinda Henton. She explained to Belinda that I was a great fan of squirrels, enough so that I wrote an annual Christmas Squirrel song in lieu of sending cards. Belinda told MS that the poster was designed as part of the Illinois Bureau of Tourism by JWT, formerly J. Walter Thompson, a huge ad agency.
MS called JWT and spoke to Julie Wisniewski, the ad exec for the Tourism account. MS conveyed to Ms. Wisniewski how great she thought the posters were and that they were a testament to a great account team. Ms. Wisniewsi sent us a few poster samples, the Olney poster included. And these were not just cheapo posters printed on the back of big pizza boxes. No, these were beautiful 4-color prints on a thoughtfully chosen heavy paper stock. Suitable for framing, as they say.
As you can imagine, I was thrilled when Mrs. Skwirlboi gave me the poster for my birthday. (The other 2 posters were not squirrel-related, but equally beautiful in their own rights.) However, to your great misfortune, the story doesn't end there.
The Musical Angle.
A few weeks later I received a mysterious email from a retired Olney police officer. He'd heard of my Christmas songs (who hasn't?) and asked if I'd be interested in writing a song about the Olney squirrels. He was now a photographer and was compiling a DVD of his squirrel photos to which my song would serve as the soundtrack. He'd then sell the DVD's and give me a cut of the loot. I was honored that he would choose me over the plethora of other Squirrel-themed Christmas songwriters, and a few months later I wrote and recorded "The White Squirrels of Olney". I told him it wasn't necessary to pay me because I was doing it for The Cause, and sat back awaiting instant fame.
Now, I'd like to tell you that the song went viral and shot to the top of the charts, and that I now have a diamond-studded grill, but then you'd never believe another word coming out of Skwirlboi's keyboard. However, the retired officer-turned-photographer did present the song to the Olney City Council, and it was officially pronounced the Official Olney Theme Song. They sent me a beautiful certificate, which, to moi, is second only to the Congressional Medal of Honor. Maybe third. Anyway, I framed and hung it proudly in my Squirrel Cave, where It's a source of great pride to me and makes me feel like a veritable Francis Scott Key.
So now that I've got the song I figure the musical is the next logical move. If I can only figure out how to get squirrels to slow-dance.
Listen to this squirrel masterpiece.