On this day in 1846, the Donner Party set out from Springfield, Illinois. They went on to famously eat each other. As a result, I’ve never been that much interested in it because when I’m hungry I’ll eat anything. So it doesn’t much matter to me. But I bring it up today for a totally different reason.
I had been out of touch with my friend Will for a number of years. I think we managed to independently marry different women on the same day. But when I got back in touch with him, I found that he had become obsessed with the Donner Party. I remember one evening coming over to his place and his idea of the proper way to spend the night was to listen to a lecture on the Donner Party.
Now, on the one hand, I greatly admire that. And I can always use it when Will tells me that whatever I’m currently obsessing about is boring. But it is a little creepy. You haven’t seen a guy for years and all he wants to talk about is cannibalism. I’m not saying Will is a cannibal, but he is very picky about exactly what taco trucks we eat at. Just saying.
The one thing I learned about the Donner Party is this wasn’t the case of people getting stuck and then starving. The whole thing went on for a year. People went off looking for help, leaving others behind. The whole thing seemed very much preventable. If only other people had cared more. But hopefully, Will will notice this post and fill us all in with a comment.
But as I indicated: it just doesn’t seem strange to me that starving people would eat the flesh of dead people. I don’t see the big deal. In fact, I don’t see any issue at all. It is a totally rational decision. Any other decision is just standing on ceremony.