Colin Dickey MS ’91 visited the upper school on Aug. 30 to share insights into his book, “Cranioklepty.” Dickey sat down with students in biology teacher Dan Ajerman’s classroom to discuss the book, which examines the obsession of many individuals to possess the remains of famous persons, such as Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Joseph Haydn, which grew in the 19th century with the emergence of phrenology (later abandoned as pseudoscience).
He also shared stories about how various peoples regarded and treated their dead, such as the disposal of bodies after the French Revolution and the decision by the city of San Francisco to bury its deceased immediately southward in Colma, which is made up mostly of cemeteries and bears the humorous motto, “It’s Great to Be Alive in Colma!”
For his next project, Dickey has spent time delving into the life of Sarah Winchester, who owned the famous Winchester Mystery House. Winchester’s husband was a son of the man who invented the Winchester rifle, and popular belief holds that the house’s bizarre modifications were made to confuse the ghosts of those killed by the rifle who had come back to haunt her. The legend, Dickey said, is a fabrication invented by a “carnival huckster” who wished to use the house’s allure to turn a profit.