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

Life in the Shadows

Image caption: Preliminary sketch of the prisoner known only as 21, 258, from “Shackles,” by Henri Revasser, arrested for unknown “crimes against the state,” 21, 258 has awaited trial for 58 years in the dungeon of the notorious Chateau D’Oeuf, located off the coast of France. His only companions are a pet rat, Latude, and a cellmate, 58, 937. The two men spend their days telling stories, recounting their history, and discussing philosophical questions. This Tuesday, May 23, marks the 209th anniversary of the first meeting of Gideon Bowman, Castoreum College professor, and Aedre Nichols, his future wife, at Sanderling’s… Keep reading

The Museum of Sycamore Shadows

Experience the culture and folkways of America’s most unusual small town when the Museum of Sycamore Shadows begins its 80th summer season on May 21. Named one of the ten best small-town museums in the country by Folklust magazine. Admission to the museum is free. Limited parking is available at the Imaginactory but spaces can be found along Plane Tree Lane. Private tours are available by appointment, including the popular “Introvert’s Tour,” in which your guide follows at a distance and says nothing unless you ask a question. Visitors may purchase refreshments at the restored Verter Beer Wagon, located on… Keep reading

Life in the Shadows

Photo caption: Curly Dowd purchased this half-photo at a garage sale and needs help identifying the lady. He thinks it may be his great aunt. “That’s my grandfather’s chin,” he says. Herman Yost says he has trained his slohund, Lancaster, to locate ripe raspberries, and intends rent him out by the hour. Note: Seldom seen outside of rural communities, the slohund is a breed of hound developed in the late nineteenth century by Amish farmers in need of an intelligent, sturdy, reliable dog for both hunting and farm work. Otto Hopp, Angel’s Rest Funeral Home, reports that since the introduction of… Keep reading

Miss Vivian

Miss Vivian moved to Sycamore Shadows just after World War II, beginning work in the lingerie department at Hibb’s Department Store the next morning. Sixty-eight years later, she still works every day the business is open at the only job she has known. The years have taken their toll and she’s not as spry as she used to be, but Miss Vivian will not consider retirement. If Hibb’s owner Lloyd Lloyd Chalmers were to suggest it, he would find himself tarred and feathered, so loved is Miss Vivian, even among those of us not accustomed to wearing lingerie. When Miss… Keep reading

Life in the Shadows

According to reports, moles have invaded the home of the Buttonballs and “right field looks like it has varicose veins.” Mayor Chibble says the town needs to establish rules for the new Marsuoin Park restrooms, “before things get out of hand.” In related news, the Castor Area Spastic Colon Club has announced an ambitious plan to build public restrooms at seven additional sites throughout the region. In celebration of Earth Day, Burson’s Hardware is offering 30% off pesticides, weed killers, and chainsaws. “Kill some bugs, wilt some weeds, and drop a tree,” says Burson. For members of the Church of… Keep reading

The Bookmobile

In 1920 Chase Bibble, the owner of Castaway Books, bought a milk wagon and paid Huddleston Drayson to convert it to a bookmobile. Bibble took to the roads of western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio the next spring, leaving his sister, Dorothy Swain, to run the bookstore. At a time when farmers seldom traveled beyond the pig barn, books were an escape to the world beyond the oinks. Seeing a dust cloud in the distance, a farmer knew that a visitor was coming. With luck, it would be Chase Bibble. Each summer for twelve years Chase Bibble traveled, selling books, making… Keep reading

Life in the Shadows

SYCAMORE SHADOWS, Ohio. Eighty-seven people attended last week’s dedication of the new Marsuoin Park restrooms. The use of toilet paper for the ribbon-cutting ceremony was pure genius and Mayor Chibble’s address was well-received, even if he did venture into hyperbole by calling the new facility a “monument to nature’s call.” Otto Hopp would like to swap a funeral for a vacation in Maine, preferably on the coast. According to an unconfirmed report, young Hanny Yoder has entered the rebellious stage, Amish style. Last Saturday he took the family mule, rode it to Castor, got drunk, and came home the next… Keep reading

Life in the Shadows

    The subject of Minister Easter Westminster’s sermon next Sunday will be, “How to File Your Taxes Without Losing Your Soul.” The first 20 visitors will receive a free copy of the book, “Render Unto Caesar.” Tax forms will be provided for all.     Garton Purby found a pet groundhog yesterday and will hold it in his garage for one week. The rodent appears to be a young male, walks with a slight roll, and is wearing an Ohio State Buckeyes sweater. Purby says people shouldn’t keep groundhogs if they’re not going to take care of them.  … Keep reading

Frazzled Sheep

Homer Hundigger told this story at the Crawdad Club last night: Daddy always said I didn’t apply myself. I did, just not how he wanted. We was dirt poor, so Daddy probably didn’t apply himself neither, least not the way Momma wanted.    The Gritstones, a mighty fat family, lived behind the church and had a sheep pen in the rear—six or seven head. Now, older folks might see the Gritstones laundry on a line and think nothing of it—young folks is different. I saw them clothes hanging there, and them sheep resting comfortably, and I thought it would be… Keep reading

Life in the Shadows

Thursday, March 30, marks the 85th anniversary of the Shadow Road collapse, widely considered one of the seminal moments in town history. Construction has begun on the Marsuoin Park restrooms. Frida Goblocks is writing a research paper for her history class and wants to know if anyone was ever beheaded, stoned to death, or drawn and quartered in Sycamore Shadows. If not, she’ll have to change her subject. Betty Hundigger wants to know if Mr. Hopp really signs bodies with a marker after embalming them or just says he does for advertising purposes. She’d hate to think that Grandma Wentworth… Keep reading

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