Subject: The Christmas Trousers
>pants as a Christmas present for 11 years - and each time the package
>harder to open. This year the pants came wrapped in a car mashed into a
>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
>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
>The friendly exchange continued routinely until Collette twisted the
>tightly, stuffed them into a 3-foot-long, 1-inch wide tube and gave
>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
>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
>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
>Inc. in Owatonna, where the shipping department decorated it with red
>green stripes, put the pants inside and welded the safe shut. The safe
>then shipped to Kunkel, who is the plant manager for Viracon's outlet
>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
>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
>out. I'm confident." But he's waiting until January to think about how
>recover the bothersome britches.
>"Wait until next year," he warned. "I'm on the offensive again."