For the Birds Radio Program: Remembering Mary Tonkin: The John Chickenfat Sled Bird Race

Original Air Date: Dec. 14, 2010

Laura’s treasured friend and neighbor died earlier this year. Mary Tonkin performed the role of Jamie Honker, the top sled bird racer in North America, in one of Laura’s April Fools programs, so Laura repeats that program in honor of her.

Duration: 6′26″


Last winter, my neighbor Mary, who had been one of my dearest friends for almost 30 years, died. She had been more of a mother to me than I’d ever known, and the one person Russ and I knew we could call at 2 am to watch our kids when he had to rush me to the hospital in an emergency. Mary was my best critic, listening to or reading radio scripts, magazine articles, and book manuscripts—her enthusiastic laughter always let me know if something worked the way I’d hoped. Even now, when anything funny happens, or anything sad, I want to call her on the phone. The sudden realization that I can’t still hurts. When I wrote my April Fool’s Day program in 1987, about the John Chickenfat Sled Bird Race, I needed a voice for Jaimie Honker, the top woman sled bird racer in America. Mary Tonkin was ready, willing, and most able. I’m replaying that program in honor of her.