A Yankee from Frost Heaves, N.H.
Fred Marple says "You can't get there from here," but his alter ego, Ken Sheldon '76, disagrees.

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Q: Where did Frost Heaves—the most underappreciated imaginary town in New Hampshire—come from?

A: Frost Heaves originated with my dad. He worked at a Bible camp, and one day, a woman walked into the office and said to him, "I keep seeing signs for the town of Frost Heaves. Where is it?" Dad laughed so hard, he could barely reply. I loved that story, and I began writing and telling tales set in the town of Frost Heaves. At the same time, I had begun acting at the Peterborough Players Theatre, doing parodies of old pop tunes. One day my wife, Christine, said, "You've got to do something with all this material." So we decided to produce a regular variety show, and Frost Heaves seemed like the perfect name for it. Then Fred Marple showed up and said, "I hear you need an MC. I'm available."

Ken Sheldon '76

Q: How alike are Ken and Fred?

A: Well, we do bear a passing resemblance. And our friends often can't figure out what either one of us does for a living. But Fred is much more blunt than I am. He says things that I might think but wouldn't dare say out loud. He's basically a crusty old Yankee, while I've been known to weep at Hallmark commercials. Also, his wardrobe is even more limited than mine; flannel is Fred's major fashion statement—actually, his only fashion statement.

Q: Where did the YouTube video "Yoga for Yankees" come from?

A: My wife and I both do yoga, and our cats often wander through the room. One morning we were doing a pose and one of us said, "Downward scratching cat." We both cracked up, and realized there was gold to be mined there. Right away we came up with "Ice Fishing" and "Too-long Winter." I'd started doing videos as part of the live Frost Heaves show and that seemed like a natural. So one Saturday morning, we gathered a bunch of friends at the library and filmed it.

I was totally floored by the success of that little video—more than 100,000 hits so far. Maybe it's the juxtaposition of "yoga" and "Yankee." It could be that my friends just look so darn funny. I told them to dress as if they were going to the dump.

Ken Sheldon '76

Q: Humor is such a risky business, I think.

A: It's not like performing open-heart surgery or defusing explosives. If I mess up, I hardly ever hear screams of agony. I think being a writer is harder than being a performer. Wouldn't it be great if every now and then someone would come up to you while you're writing and say, "Great sentence, Becky! Love that metaphor!" The beauty of performing is that when it works, you get the instant feedback and a sense of emotional connection with your audience.

Q: Speaking of which, have you ever done open-heart surgery?

A: I was a pre-med art major. Sadly, the medical schools of America weren't visionary enough to appreciate my unique approach—not to mention my grade in organic chemistry.

After graduation, I was a health worker in a clinic for migrant farm workers in California, then a respiratory therapist, a hardware store clerk, a magazine editor and the West Coast bureau chief for Byte Magazine. Also, a freelance writer and musician and wannabe novelist. Then came Frost Heaves.

Q: Where do you go from here?

A: I envision a book. Then "Frost Heaves: the Movie," followed by a theme park. Can't you see the rides? "Take the Wild Shovel Ride down Mount Milliwillitocksett!" Either that, or I'll be telling stories at the Friendly Haven Nursing Home and singing solo versions of old Beatles tunes. ~

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