Peter Puckerton

Mrs. Rinehart attended a street carnival, tossed a ring on a bottle, and took home a three-cent fish in a ten-cent bowl. Folks said Peter Puckerton was about the luckiest fish ever. Maybe he didn’t live as plush as a clownfish in a fancy restaurant aquarium, but he was as fortunate as a three-cent goldfish could hope to be, more so because of the way she coddled him. Few fish are prayed over morning and evening and get their flakes blessed to boot. Did the praying work? I believe in prayer but I don’t know if it applies to goldfish.… Keep reading

The Hymnboarder

When a man has been in charge of changing the song numbers on the hymn board for 43 years, how do you tell him he’s no longer fit for the job? Numbers get transposed, so when the congregation sang “Valley of the Shadow of Death” following a sermon about walking in the light, no one said a thing. And they overlooked “Fill me with God’s Light” at Graham Miller’s funeral, even though it wasn’t the best song for someone killed in a lightning strike. But after the invitation song on the last night of the gospel meeting, everyone knew Hank… Keep reading

The John Doe Statue

I think it was Winnie the Pooh who said that nudity, once familiar, loses its impact. A bridegroom who cheers and claps as his bride undresses will, in a few years, gaze upon his naked spouse with the same passion he would look at a toaster. And in Sycamore Shadows, even those who avert their eyes from provocative mannequins at Mayapple Clothing will glance at the John Doe statue in Marsuoin Park with indifference. Mayor Malcolm McDowell purchased the statue at an estate auction, though he could never explain why. Perhaps the mayor was the victim of a temporary insanity… Keep reading

Pond’s Bridge

You turn the bend, ease up the ramp, the car rises, and it’s suddenly dark. The timbers rattle and shake for 132 feet, and then you pop into the sunlight and the town is in view. I wish I could introduce everyone to Sycamore Shadows through our covered bridge. Unfortunately, it leads nowhere except the Shady Glen Campground and a dead end. It used to lead everywhere, before the hillside collapsed one night and destroyed the road, but that was when my grandparents were young. Since that night—Pap said the sound was so loud that houses shook and folks feared… Keep reading

Feature: Sycamore Shadows

Somewhere in Ohio on the banks of Little Rindle Creek, several miles south of Toad Hall, and a day’s walk from Neverland, lies the idyllic town of Sycamore Shadows. You will find it nestled in a shaded valley, sheltered from the world like a sleeping child inside a pillow fort. Sycamore Shadows cannot be found on any map but my own, nor will you be able to drive there in your car, but you can visit whenever you like and can stay as long as you wish. I have created this imaginary place because it is my delight and because, in… Keep reading

Feature: The Man with the Magic Camera

On the northern shore of the Ohio River a mile upstream from the mouth of Little Rindle Creek, near Castor, Pennsylvania, is an area once known as “Indian Rocks.” Carved into the flat bedrock bordering the river were hundreds of petroglyphs, or rock carvings, made by ancient Indians. The carvings, numbering nearly 100, were probably created over many centuries. Because of their quality and density, prominent authorities have studied the petroglyphs, many of whom published their conclusions. Unfortunately, one day an engineer looked at the naturally shallow water of the Ohio River and said, “Dam it.” As a result, the… Keep reading

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