Pirate Prosthetics

Sycamore Shadows’ peg-legged postman, Andrew Bollman, recently gave a short talk on the history of pirate prosthetics and has graciously allowed me to print this excerpt: Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, though written as a novel, was the most influential pirate manual ever published, and a great influence on pirate marketing. Before publication of Stevenson’s immortal story, pirates had plied the seas with an imperfect idea of how a proper pirate should act. Accustomed to simply sail, drink, and plunder, most buccaneers remained unaware of the rich potential of pirate life. Had Stevenson done nothing but give pirates their parrots,… Keep reading

Life in the Shadows

Mayor Chibble says that if someone doesn’t start shooting pigeons soon, it’s going to be 1994 all over again. Charlie Sternwiesse, Sycamore Savings Bank, saw a hamster walking down the sidewalk on Sycamore Street and advises owners of small rodents to check cages. Willie Fimple would like some help lugging an old washer from the basement. Monica Horn asks if it’s true that children conceived during a total eclipse will be albinos. I take it you and Buck missed the astronomical event of the year, Monica? Curly Dowd wishes to announce that production has begun on his magnetic, remote-controlled, electronic bra.… Keep reading

Life in the Shadows

Greta Goblocks cautions parents not to avoid uncomfortable questions posed by children. Last week, Wooly asked her to explain the world’s oldest profession. Mrs. Goblocks answered that it simply referred to a “woman who labors in the dark.” Two days later, Wooly announced to everyone at the Wednesday evening bible study that his cousin, who works the night shift at a bowling alley in Castor, was a hooker. Kitty Parr would like to remind the public that Castaway Books does not sell self-help books. According to Kitty, “The only people such trash has ever helped are the authors and publishers.”… Keep reading

Musty and the Water Nymph

Sitting in our favorite chairs at the Crawdad Club last evening, Wilson Hahn and I had just begun an interesting discussion of the merits of slate for gravestone carving when Musty Groves burst into the room and collapsed into the chair beside us. “Bring me a Scotch,” he groaned to Wetherbury, our ever-present club attendant. “Is something wrong?” I asked, somewhat concerned. Musty answered with a wave of dismissal. Only after we had watched him finish the first drink and order a second did he began to speak. Wilson and I listened with rapt attention. Like most antique dealers, Musty… Keep reading

Life in the Shadows

Image: Recent photo of the ellipsis mound group, courtesy of the Kentunhe Hill/Ellipsis Mound Group Regional Historical Site. (You may also notice the tracks from Curly Dowd’s four-wheeler, even though he’s not supposed to ride it in the historic area.) SYCAMORE SHADOWS, Ohio. Curly Dowd says that while deer hunting last week he shot at a buck with a pair of men’s underwear—boxers with the Milwaukee Brewers logo—wrapped around its antlers. He cannot imagine a scenario in which such a thing could happen. Nippy Keene says perhaps the deer walked through a yard and ventured too close to a clothesline,… Keep reading

Clarence and the Bearded Lady

Clarence Rinehart, president of the Toby Tyler Circus Collectors Club of Castor and Environs, enjoyed a weakness for slim women and big tops, so it surprised no one when he hopped onto the circus train after falling for the bearded lady, leaving his wife and young son in the Shadows. Tatiana Myshkin was her name, but she billed herself as “Tatty, the Bearded Queen of Sensual Delight,” which should have been warning enough. Maybe the title was only marketing; maybe not. Sensual delight is fine and a body’s bound to have a booming good time for a few hundred miles… Keep reading

Life in the Shadows

Image: I took this photo while walking along Sanderling’s Run yesterday morning (with my new dog, Stray Ponder). The light shining on Aedre Bowman’s gravestone looked amazing. Unfortunately, there was no photographer nearby. It has been several months since I’ve received an update on Curly Dowd’s revolutionary electronic bra. He promises exciting news soon. “I look forward to the public’s support,” he says, not for the first time. Curly, it’s questionable whether any pun deserves life; you have already beaten the “support” pun to death. Mayor Chibble says the law states that standing naked under Fletcher’s Falls is skinny dipping… Keep reading

Swooner’s Island

When the town dammed the spring to create Swinfish Lake in Marsuoin Park, no one knew that an island would remain after four months of trickling inflow. Once the lake had finished growing and the water began to slip over the spillway, people stood on the shore and laughed at the island, small and low in the middle. They knew that when you’re an island as insignificant as Swooner’s, newlyweds don’t chase each other up and down your shores, brochures don’t brag about your beaches, and castaways would rather drown than call you home. You’re class-D, the lowest island rating,… Keep reading

Life in the Shadows

Minister Westminster will read the Declaration of Independence to the public on the steps of the Church of the Lost Sheep, Tuesday morning at 8 a.m., followed by a ceremony at the burying ground near the graves of our five Revolutionary War veterans: Christian Coon, John Hurd, Carrie Sanderling, Isaac Sanderling, and Neville Sanderling. Since Tuesday is Independence Day it may be interesting to note that Gideon Bowman, with the exception of his wife, Aedre, the most prominent individual in Sycamore Shadows history, was a friend and correspondent of Thomas Jefferson. Both Bowman and Jefferson were born in Albemarle County,… Keep reading

Life in the Shadows

In anticipation of Father’s Day, I took a stroll through town and asked people to share memories of what Little Bull Burson calls the “Hairy Parent.” Space does not permit me to list them all, but here are some of my favorites: Wilson Hahn says he remembers his father telling him that during the Great Depression, the citizens of Sycamore Shadows conducted a weekly “Indigent’s Drive.” “What did they do,” Wilson asked him, “give the bums food and shelter?” “Nope,” his father answered, “we gathered them up, and drove them out of town.” Homer Hundigger says his father once told… Keep reading

Woody Wheeler

September 12, 1930, promised to be a great day for baseball as the Sycamore Shadows “Fighting Buttonballs” took the field to the cheers of the local crowd. The leadoff hitter for the Castor County Poorhouse “Screaming Indigents” strolled to the batter’s box. On the mound for the Buttonballs was their ace, towering right-hander Virgil “Lefty” Berg, so nicknamed because of his missing right eye. [A clown on and off the field, Berg is famous in baseball circles as being the answer to this trivia question: who is the only pitcher to throw a glass eye to first base?] Despite an… Keep reading

Life in the Shadows

Bill Burson, Burson’s Hardware, reports that Miss Leena Freeman phoned the store to inquire if they carried connectors for garden hoses. When Burson asked if she needed the male or female end, she answered, “I don’t know. I was never married.” With a sense of humor like that, one wonders why. Goethe Goblocks got his head stuck in a sewer pipe on Buttonball St. and his friends emptied seven buckets of creek water into the other end in a misguided attempt to flush him free. Chap Gharrity said that if he hadn’t happened by, they’d have drowned him. When asked… Keep reading

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