In honor of this weekend’s Frozen Dead Guy Days, today’s funeral film is Grandpa’s in the TUFF SHED. This is a documentary that traces how Norwegian Bredo Morstoel became the Frozen Dead Guy at the center of this wild and wacky winter festival.
As a funeral film, Grandpa’s in the TUFF SHED offers insights into what happens when you don’t plan – like your grandson hijacking your body and putting it in a deep freeze for later reanimation.
I’m showing the film throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday at the Black Forest Restaurant in Nederland, supplementing with cryonic video clips from television and films. With a big snow storm predicted for Saturday, I’m glad I’ll be inside!
Bredo Morstoel died in 1989 at the age of 82 (according to the documentary – he was actually 89) while back country skiing alone in Norway. By the time he was discovered, he was already pretty well frozen.
His grandson, Trygve Bauge, was living in Boulder, Colorado at the time. He was a big supporter of the idea of cryonic reanimation and life extension techniques. In 1983, he started Boulder’s annual New Years Day polar plunge, a tradition of jumping into freezing cold water.
In February 1990, Trygve (pronounced Trig-vay) had his grandfather’s body cryonically frozen by a company in California. Grandpa was moved to Nederland a few years later.
In 1993, Trygve built a fire-proof, earthquake-proof, wind-proof, bomb-proof concrete castle in Nederland, unlike anything anyone had seen. He was going to tunnel into the hillside next to his home to house cryonic chamber pods. The Colorado Life Extension Center was going to be the name of his business.
Trygve was a character. When taking his mother Aud to the airport for a trip back to Norway, he was arrested for joking about hijacking a plane and became a fugitive from the law. But he would always call the local media while he was on the lam and ask them to put a story in the newspaper.
In 1994, Trygve was deported back to Norway.
Aud, concerned that she was going to be deported next, confided to Barbara Lawlor of the local newspaper The Mountain-Ear, saying, “I’m just so concerned the bodies will melt. My father’s body is in a shed behind the house.”
Panic ensued. The marshal’s office called Clay Evans with the Boulder Daily Camera to ask him if he knew anything about frozen bodies and he said, “I do now, and I’ll be there with a photographer in 30 minutes.”
There were originally two bodies in the shed. Al Campbell, Trygve’s first paying customer, was shipped back to Chicago for burial. Grandpa was kept in a metal box, surrounded by dry ice.
The town board held a hearing and outlawed the keeping of frozen bodies on your property in Nederland. However, because he predated the ruling, he was… grandfathered in!
Grandpa has almost thawed out a couple of times, but the family continues to send money to keep the dry ice replenished. The 750 pounds of dry ice is replenished every three weeks. Some of the locals report ghostly events in Nederland. Could it be Grandpa’s spirit haunting the area?
A few years back, the TUFF SHED corporation donated a new shed for Grandpa’s resting place, as the original one was falling apart.
The corporation is a sponsor of the annual Frozen Dead Guy Days festival, usually held the first weekend in March. The festival started in 2000 and continues to this day. The festivities include a parade of hearses, a costumed polar plunge, coffin races, frozen turkey bowling and salmon tossing, and The Newly-Dead Game® (provided by yours truly). There are locally produced special themed drinks and ice cream flavors for the festival. The event draws thousands of people, with as many as 15,000 attending one year.
At the end of the film, as with many true stories, we learn the fates of the main characters:
- Trygve and his mother Aud are still living in Norway.
- Trygve has opened a life extension center that features ice plunging and coffee enemas.
- Grandpa is still in the TUFF SHED, an unwitting champion for the rights of the temporarily dead.
- According to the Boulder psychics who have visited the shed, Grandpa Bredo had a message for us all…
“Never ski alone.” Bredo Morstoel
Gail Rubin, The Doyenne of Death®, is author of the award-winning book, A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die. She hosts the award-winning A Good Goodbye TV series. She also created The Newly-Dead Game® that tests couples on how well they know their partner’s last wishes.