Saturday, February 27, 2016

Raising the Dead

John Dehner takes
the part of the
One classic legend from Utah inspired Rod Serling to write one of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes—Mr. Garrity and the Graves.

A stranger appeared in Alta, Utah in the mid 1860s. Alta today is a ski resort * but then it was little more than a muddy hole amidst the Wasatch Mountains.

This silver boomtown east of Salt Lake City was made up of a handful of fake storefronts, miner’s tents and several whiskey establishments.

Alta's main road.
The stranger stood in the middle of the main road one early morning patiently waiting to attract attention.

This didn’t take long for the tall slender man was dressed in biblical robes with a long beard to match. Once a crowd had gathered the stranger then gestured toward Rustler Mountain where the town’s cemetery lay.

This cemetery mostly held those who had died through violent acts and diseases common to the time.

Several locals asked him what was his business. He smiled and made an offer. He offered to raise the dead.

As the crowd leaned in he continued. He promised to bring back their loved ones, all those who had been taken too soon. Waves of delight swept through his now rapt audience.

If there were any who were skeptical about the stranger’s claims of being able to perform Lazarus-like miracles, they did not voice their concerns.

Many who heard this offer thought fondly on their lost son or daughter, mother or father, friend or lover.

The stranger told the crowd with modesty and patience that he was willing to wait to nightfall for their reply. As he walked away many in the group had already made up their minds.

Who wouldn’t want to welcome back a lost loved one? Or would they?

Doubts slowly took hold. The awkwardness of their loved ones returning began to dawn on them.

I am married again—to a younger wife, her house has been turned into a brothel, I don’t want to give back the money I inherited, we sold Uncle’s claim.

It became apparent that this was about the worst idea anyone had ever heard. The complications involved were insurmountable.

That evening a committee was sent to the cemetery to thank the stranger for his nice offer but they had decided to decline.

The stranger shook his head and stated that it was too late. He walked into the cemetery. The group panicked by his action quickly dug into their pockets and came up with over $2500 in silver and coins.

They asked the stranger would he leave if they paid him. He looked from one anxious face to another and nodded. He took the money, stuffed into his pack and then rode away.

The dead of Alta were left in peace.

Rod Serling’s version of this story first aired in 1964. He stayed true to the story with a few exceptions.

Scene from Mr. Garrity and the Graves.
He made the town, Happiness, Arizona, the stranger, as he enters the town, brings a dog back to life after he hits and kills it with his wagon, he then promises to raise over 128 dead people.

When the townsfolk realize the folly of his offer they pay him off one by one. The stranger played by the actor, John Dehner leaves Happiness a wealthy man.

Serling with his usual panache leaves the viewer with an extra surprise at the end. Here is a short snippet from this episode. It shows the surprise ending.

Emma Silver Mine and the eity, 1875.

*  The silver boom in Alta started in 1865, the town grew to 8,000 residents by 1872 but due to water in the mines and the expense of smelting the town was deserted by 1880.

No comments: