Sybil Bruncheon's A Tale for Thanksgiving Time: "SUBURBAN STORIES THAT STUN AND STUPEFY"...

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The warning signs had been there for several months. Mrs. Ruth Anne Snively of 1148 Pembroke Lane had complained to her neighbors of strange voices, coming at first from the telephone, the radio, the television where it seemed strange voices always might have been heard. Indeed, "Ruthie", as she was known to all the Girl Scout Troop mothers, had been known for her quick wit, her sparkling sense of humor, her quirky imagination, and for her desire to be a stand-up comedian in local clubs "once the kids have grown up" as she put it. She even managed a couple of tentative debuts at the local Kiwanis and Shriner's clubs where her little act was described by the local critics as "refreshing"....and "a charming bit of whimsical and timely fluff filled with social commentary and some recipes".

Perhaps it was no surprise when Mrs. Snively began to exhibit eccentricities like a growing diet of Hostess Ding Dongs, Pringles Potato Chips, and vegan "beef" jerky. Frequently, she would answer her front door with facial masks of Marshmallow Fluff and Peter Pan Extra-Crunchy Peanut Butter. Her dependence on increasing dosages of St. Joseph's Aspirin for Children did not go unnoticed at PTA meetings...And on weekends, she could be found incoherent in back alleyways completely drunk on cocktails of Tang ....and Woolite....and Maraschino cherries. After her husband Arthur left her taking the children to Chillicothe, her friends tried interventions and enlisting the aid of the Come To Jesus Society Of Sobriety down on Walnut Street... but nothing worked.

It was finally on that terrible day in January when Snively wandered into her kitchen and overheard all her appliances talking behind her back. Oh yes!..They quickly smiled and pretended to change the subject, but it was too late. She had heard the worst!...and the jokes at her expense.... comments about "that tired old apron", and her "water-weight gain after the Holidays".....It was all too much! TOO MUCH!...and so, lovely, sweet, witty Mrs. Ruth Anne Snively calmly went to her former friend the Sunbeam waffle maker, laid her perfectly coiffed head down on its non-stick surface, and slowly pressed herself into a fluffy breakfast treat for the police to find later in the afternoon. Her suicide note was found on the counter beside an unopened bottle of Mrs. Butterworth's and a virgin stick of Land 'O' Lakes lightly salted butter. (You know Land 'O' Lakes? The one with the Indian maiden on the front whose knees look like breasts??)

Well, Ruth is now being treated for first degree burns and minor cheek-dimpling at Flower Of Mercy Hospital downtown, and will be receiving a lovely re-contouring of her complexion while being housed in their newly opened Extreme Neurosis Wing. She's slowly being re-acclimated to Kitchen Chore duty.... but under strict (and loving!) supervision.... (she continues to wear earplugs to ...shut out.. "unwelcome" chatter"...)

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Sybil Bruncheon's "A Whole Month Of Thanksgiving!"...

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True Crime Stories For the Holidays!… In 1919, it came to the attention of local school authorities in the Murray Hill neighborhood of Manhattan, that little Stephanie Strothers had been exhibiting unusually cheerful, almost frenetic, behavior as the Holidays approached. Frequently sullen and even depressed throughout the Spring and Summer when most children are delighted, Stephanie would not eat for days on end, nor leave her room to see her playmates. But as the weather chilled, Stephanie began to... well... "animate". It started with decorating the house for Halloween, carving the pumpkins, designing and making costumes, first for her own siblings and then for several of the neighborhood children. As Thanksgiving neared and Christmas too, she took over all the preparations that her large family would plan. Sending out handwritten invitations in beautiful calligraphy to a dozen relatives, and coordinating the recipes and doing all the shopping, Stephanie at 12 years of age stunned the adults as she got everything "just right"!

It had been this way for years, but this particular Holiday season in 1919, several neighbors happened to compare notes, and it was discovered that Stephanie had been especially attentive to getting everyone their turkeys, pheasants, or geese, and in just the right sizes too. It happened that kindly old Mrs. Straycosh from East 36th Street walked in on Stephanie "hugging" a turkey in an alleyway behind the Lefkowitz Candies & Fruitarium. The little girl hadn't heard Mrs. Straycosh round the corner, nor did the elderly lady notice that the hugging had a slightly combative energy to it... at first. But when they both caught sight of each other, the strange glint in Stephanie's glaring eyes, and the growing horror in Straycosh's eyes as she tried to believe what they were seeing was too much. With a deranged yowl, Stephanie released the bird and swooped towards poor Mrs. Straycosh whose shriek of terror attracted the attention of Jamie O'Hanrahan and the Biggy Shamrocker Gang. They rushed the alley and managed to scare off Stephanie, now snarling and drooling heavily. Armed with their home-made truncheons, the boys chased her down Third Avenue and into the arms of two policemen from the 17th precinct who thought at first that the Shamrockers were trying to mug her. But NO! A crowd had formed led by the gasping Mrs. Straycosh who could barely get her tale of horror out without wailing and weeping. Someone carried the lifeless bird forward, and it was Stephanie's own continued writhing and gnashing of teeth that indicted her and convinced everyone of her guilt. The reporters gathering with their pads, pencils, and flash camera boxes immediately tagged her as "Stephie The Strangler" before her parents could even get to the precinct where the deranged mob had already gathered. Needless to say, that was the last Holiday season with any peace or comfort for the Strother family. Shortly after Stephanie was confined in the Bayonne Institute for the Emotionally Inconvenienced, they skipped town late one night, never to be seen again. Stephanie lived to be at least in her late 80s and was kept subdued and serene through most of her life. Her doctors prescribed a steady regimen of experimental drugs made from Madagascar orchids and provided Stephanie with a lifetime supply of second-hand Raggedy Annes and sock-puppets that she could strangle to her heart's content.

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Sybil's "A Whole Month Of Thanksgiving!"...

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"Housewifely Hints For A Happy Holiday!"... Ladies, (and I use that term loosely)... do you try to serve your Thanksgiving crowd a wide but still nutritious variety of side dishes with your turkey? Sure, who doesn't? But sometimes a new and untried recipe from a passing stranger, a resentful in-law, or an adulterous neighbor can turn out just terribly, can't it? Even our healthy and usually heart-friendly vegetable-dishes can suddenly become the stuff of hideous nightmares. I'm reminded of the time a supposedly prize-winning artichoke dip stood up on my beautifully laid dining table and, after kicking over the candelabras, proceeded to eat my Cousin Delia and her husband Carl, a perfectly nice aluminum-siding salesman who had never been to my home before. Well! You can imagine my embarrassment as a hostess, especially when the fire spread to adjoining blocks and killed 13. Ah well... my advice? Always, ALWAYS try out Holiday recipes a week or so beforehand. Why get caught at the last minute in a cuisine catastrophe? There'll be more suggestions in my new cook book/memoir, starting on page 312. Bon Appétit!!!

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Sybil's "12 Young People And WHY THEY WON'T VOTE!"...

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Dear Readers, Over the last several months, I have been widely traveling the country and meeting Americans from all walks of life; different regions, economic classes, educational backgrounds, ethnicities, creeds, religions, sexual orientations, gender identities, and hobby-pursuits. And I have been amazed!... on so many levels. With the election only a short time away, here is a sampling of young people who have decided that they will NOT vote... and why.

1) Melissa Gurnstin / 25/ Mistery, Iowa: "I have a strawberry birthmark on my left ankle which is shaped like the state of Maine... but upside down... and flipped over to the left. Anyway, Senator Susan Collins reminds me of my grandma with her like shaking-thing, ya know? And like, I couldn't vote against my own grandma, could I? Of course, we live in New Mexico which is on the other side of the country, so I guess it doesn't make a difference anyway... but then why should I vote at all, right? I mean. Oh wait. New Mexico IS on the other side of the country, right? And there IS a state called Maine, isn't there?"

2) Carl Joseph Calt / 21/ Ft. Poot, Indiana: "I'm a really cool dude on my college campus where I study air conditioner repair and dog grooming. The chicks all really like me, and voting is so gay. I don't want some hot chick to think I’m gay... even though I'm not... gay."

3) Pete Hankston / 23/ Nassus, Idaho: “I campaigned in the last election really hard for Hillary Clinton. I walked around neighborhoods, shouting through a rolled up newspaper like a foghorn saying VOTE FOR HILLARY! SHE’S YOUR MAN BECAUSE SHE WEARS PANTS LIKE A MAN!... then I got beat up. I got beat up by Clinton folks because they thought I was campaigning for Trump. And I got beat up by Trumpsters because they thought I was making people laugh at them. I got so confused, I forgot who I was supposed to be for. I went to bed for a week… and I really had cool dreams. I want to do that again this time. I like to sleep and have really cool dreams. Mostly about fish sticks.”

4) Glucinda Funbrathy / 26/ Camp Sitzbath, Missouri: “I mean… like what’s the big deal. One vote. Who cares? Now if I could cast twenty votes..or a hundred, right? But that’s illegal-like… or isn’t it? I want to be a lawyer when I grow up… maybe at a petting zoo.”

5) Seth Cruldour / 23/ Faithville, Pennylvania: “I’m a political science major at the Apex Academy of Household Appliance Sciences. And I am also a moderate-independent-transfigural-intrasigent. Our political club espouses a complete refusal to engage with a petroleum-based economy and the resultant greenhouse gases. That was our platform, and then my best bud, Jim-Joe Luntfer said we all had gas after last night’s Burrito ‘n’ Beer fundraiser, and we like all broke up! WE ALL HAD GAS! Dude! WE ALL HAD GAS!! Leave it to the Jim-Ster to cut right to the heart of the matter, right?”

6) Miriam Monckton / 24/ Serial City, Wyoming: “I don’t think either of the parties represents me about anything I think about… like, first of all. I don’t like zoos, so why is there a donkey and a elephant? I grew up on a ranch. Donkeys are stupid and too hard to get to work, and I didn’t see a elephant till I was six or something and saw one on a cartoon… and I asked my Mom why that mouse was so big… and had a nose that looked like our vacuum cleaner. Why would I vote for THAT?”

7) Franklin Somerset / 22/ Hope Falls, Tennessee: “ I move around a lot, and I’m never in the same place for more than a day or so… well, actually, I live in my car!… well, it’s not really a car. It’s my grandpa’s old pick-up truck that I built a log cabin on in the back. It’s got a working stove and chimney, and all the stuff you need to stay warm when it gets cold. I hook it up to water with a garden hose, and a big extension cable gives me electricity for the hotplate, tv, and toaster. And I can always run into my parent’s house to take a leak and wash up. I know I said I move around a lot, and I’m never in the same place for more than a day or so… because I park my truck-cabin in different parts of our backyard. Sometimes, by the swing-set. Sometimes, behind the garage. Sometimes, by my old sand box. I don’t know how the voter-folks would figure out what my home-address is.”

8) Brynne Thokaw / 28/ Colonel Pinkton, Alabama: “I hated spending time going and registering to vote. Then I found out you could do it online. I hated the idea of waiting in line to vote, then I found out you could mail it in. I hated the idea of having to get stamps, and go to a mailbox… whatever THAT is. Why can’t they just make voting something you can do at IHOP with a waitress?... when you order your pancakes with the chocolate chips and Nutella frosting? It’s too hard.”

9) Sammy Capriot / 21/ Doogin’s Bluff, Wisconsin: “My whole family gets into fights at the dinner table over all the issues; Should we plant corn or wheat? Should we like people who talk funny or not? Are there people on other planets? Should we be nice to Stevie Schmidt down the street who dresses like a girl and says HI, MISS GIRL to my dad? My mother hates the color orange and says that she could never stand beside the president because it would make her freckles show. My dad says that he heard that Hillary was a man from my cousin Pete Hankston in Idaho. I don’t know who to vote for, but that’s okay. None of my family votes either. I have 14 brothers and sisters.”

10) Dekins Make / 22/ Vera Cazuz, Arizona: “I have a tendency to break machines and to get hurt by them. I don’t know why, but they seem to hate me. I would get my pants caught in the gears of my bike and crash, or run over rocks and bricks and even a wagon with our lawnmower, and you know what can happen then. And Mrs. Staley from next door was a really nice lady too. Anyway, anytime that I get near a machine, something bad happens. I might pinch my fingers in the lever-things that have the names… like the Hostess Twinkie lever that tried to cut off my thumb when I went to get an extra Twinkie after the two Ding-Dongs. I don’t want to be scared again… especially if I’m not even getting a Twinkie out of it. What’s the point of voting?”

11) Greg Malfeans / 25/ Simpkin, South Dakota: “People are always yelling about voting and who’s the best. But who’s to say who’s the best? Only sports class shows you who’s the best. Starting in kindergarten, you can see who’s fastest, strongest, or the best person at pushing other kids down and grabbing the ball. Voting’s not like that. And I haven’t been all around the world. How am I supposed to know for sure that it even IS round? Answer me that! I mean.”

12) Becky Ann Smythe / 24/ Firewin, Ohio: “I’m a stay-at-home daughter. Everything I know comes from the TV. Here’s my point; Bill Clinton or Hillary Clinton? Donald Trump or Three-No-Trump? Bernie Sanders or Colonel Sanders? George Bush I or George Bush II? Right? Everything is relative. No one is perfect. Everyone is right and wrong. All things are shades of grey…like that chick-flick says. Sit back and have a brew… and watch the Real Housewives. Sh*t, that Bethany’s a pisser, isn’t she?”

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Sybil Bruncheon's "Separated At Birth?... or THE SAME PERSON?!?!?"...

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The strange case of Velma Cruther and Leroy Jessup... born in the South but of exact "parts-unknown"... and not even exact birth-dates or certificates. Were they neighbors, classmates, siblings, lovers, or perhaps even the same person??

What IS known for sure is that they seemed to have lived their entire and fairly short lives within a 23 mile radius of their childhoods and final... ahem... "demises". They both, coincidentally, had careers in custodial and housekeeping service, and never progressed past the 7th grade. They never attended any professional academy or training facility, nor did they serve their country in the military or in civil service. Neither of them was apparently married or had children, or even had relatives to be concerned when they were deceased.

As to another theory of who they were; in the South, the tradition in vaudeville and showboat minstrelsy included "gender comedy" with performers donning costumes and characterizations of the opposite sex. Perhaps these "two persons", both known for extreme eccentricity and borderline anti-social and even criminal activity, may have fallen on hard times and been driven to unfortunate fates in the backwaters of the South. According to authorities and what few public and official records we have, they both came to fairly terrible ends which were verified by witnesses and local (though rural!) coroners. Yes, bodies were buried in marked graves, although both bodies were seriously disfigured, beyond absolute recognition as was recorded, though their identities were surmised and seemingly irrefutable. But.... were they actually Cruther and Jessup?... or bodies substituted in some bizarre conspiracy?... and what did the pair of bright red girl's tap shoes and a small bottle of so-called "smelling salts" have to do with anything?? Are Cruther and Jessup perhaps one-and-the-same?... and is he, or she, still wandering the country, looking for work... and possible mayhem!

So! We leave it up to you dear readers! Velma Cruther and Leroy Jessup; Separated at birth?... or THE SAME PERSON?!?!?... you decide!

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Sybil's 31 Days of Halloween Horror & Hilarity!... another Sybil’s “Who’z Dat?” Quiz…

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Can you figure out who the screamers are in Mummie's collage? Answers are posted with each face…

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