Sybil's "The HOW ODD Histories!"... Chapter 122: Medicines or MADNESS?...

So much of the 18th and 19th centuries was spent in both the scientific progress of the medical sciences and, simultaneously, the promotion of superstitions and often dangerous quackeries and snake-oil scams by charlatans! The Age of Enlightenment had not completely dispelled mankind's lingering and sometimes willful ignorance, and so county fairs and carnivals became the havens of these practitioners, often with exotic names, fascinating "backgrounds", intricate machinery and devices, and peculiar concoctions...

An example in point? "MESMERINE".... at small exhibitions in a crowded tent, a woman claiming to be an "energistress" would apply her hands in a variety of odd positions and configurations to the face, head, and body of volunteers from the audience, searching out "maladies, misalignments, and miasmas". She would then, with an assortment of twitches, squeezes, pinches, rubbings, and mumbled words or perhaps barnyard sounds, dispel the problems from the subject. As she "succeeded" she would increase her vehemence by shaking, striking, or even kicking the patient while shrieking loudly and scolding the illnesses "to leave our beloved brother"...or sister, as the case might be. The patients, now rolling on the floor and perhaps shrieking themselves, would be filled with a combination of both gratitude and possibly terror, and would gladly pay the $3.00 that Mesmerine's "manager" would charge for the "healing".

Mesmerine's popularity and reputation increased over a span of ten years or so, until it was discovered that she had originally been a lady-wrestler from MacNamee's Milwaukee-Minneapolis circuit, and that her specialty was combat with animals, usually bears and the occasional bison. Animal cruelty societies run by high-born ladies of the community had eventually closed her shows and would have run her out of towns had it not been revealed that all of the animals in her act were not only tame, but in fact much-beloved and well-cared for pets on her own rescue-farm. Indeed, Mesmerine (formerly Gladys-Jo Hanneker of Farrell Falls, Wisconsin) had actually given her pets "animal acting classes" teaching them convincing-ferocity, stage-biting, evincing-sympathy, playing-dead, and harmonically pleasing yowling!

Turning away from wrestling, she made her way into the up and coming medicine shows, then produced by the famous Ratzwielder-Rozensweigg Entertainment Consortium that serviced circuses, ecdysiast exhibitions, and 4H fairs throughout the midwest... (The name "Mesmerine" came to Gladys in a dream she said, where a sheep with a French accent and a severe head-cold told her fortune in a tent furnished with throw pillows and a hookah.) Mesmerine flourished from about 1888 to 1899, until the quack-medicine craze faded, and, as it was finally being exposed and mocked in the public mind, Mesmerine decided to retire to her farm anyway, and to her cherished pets whom she missed terribly while on tour... She returned to being kindly, loving, (though slightly mannish) Gladys-Jo Hanneker of Farrell Falls, Wisconsin. Interestingly, while playing with the local jug-band, she composed the great American classic, "The Farmer In The Dell".... She made a fortune in royalties....claiming the song was based on her own experiences as a child in her father's barn. 

The Men Of Coney Island...and Other Points Along The Coast....

Everyone loves the seashore, whether it’s Coney Island or down the Jersey coast at Asbury Park or on the Boardwalk…. Of course, when I first went to the shore and the amusement parks there, it was a different time. Novelties like sideshows, games of chance, so-called “freak” exhibitions, questionable magic performances, daredevil spectacles, and the usual shady characters from the underside of polite society all collected in a steamy, swarthy, and fairly sexy stew of adventure, raucous partying, and occasional danger! I adored it! ….and the men!... even the less attractive ones were fascinating on some level. At that time, it was the custom to visit the photography studios temporarily set up in the vacation resorts, both high and low, to commemorate one’s holiday….so I kept photos of several of the ones I crossed paths with, (or knew quite well too!) Here’s a collection of some of them from my treasure box….….

Top row (l to r) 
1) Chauncey McRider; inveterate gambler and ponzi schemer who portrayed himself as a prince from a small German duchy of some sort… I named the Chauncey Wheel after him when I started my own "Smarty-Pantz Trivia Challenges" testing the knowledge of vacationers, pickpockets, and ne'er-do-wells milling around in the sawdust looking for cheap thrills, lasting love, or some spare change...
2) Clybourne Shenk; idiot-savant, brilliant at odd mathematical, geometric, trigonometric, and calculus phenomenon, but unable to recite the alphabet or tie his own ascot. He performed his skills hourly at “Hiram’s Fascinating Folks Emporium”, and made a small fortune. But at 31 years of age, he fell down the stairs on his back porch, and it was discovered that the strange bump on the left side of his head was a benign tumor causing both the brilliant and unfortunate aspects of his mental state. It was removed at an outpatient surgery/barber shop, and he became a completely normal, and a sadly uninteresting, brush salesman in Ronkonkoma.
3) Meckdahl Ziffenmyer; a shoe salesman and part-time “home scientist” who began experimenting with electricity and its effects on hair restoration.
4) Quiffel the Inscrutable; (real name never disclosed) A magician and contortionist who specialized in conjuring tricks with celery and other oblong vegetables.

2nd row (l to r)
5) Fairley Pruss; perfumer at the local Belasco’s Notions Shoppe, and “friendly boy” at various sailors’ bars in the neighborhood
6) Fred Bumpp; local police detective (and occasional companion of Fairley Pruss)
7) Horace Welty; husband to Felicia Welty, regional pie-baking champion at many seaside 4H club festivals and food-preparation contests in the Summer months. Horace was a regular “daytime habitué” of the more exotic dancing-girl tents and pavilions along the Boardwalk while his wife was engaged in her many competitions.
8) Pete Welty; crazed brother to Horace, and famed “speed-eater” at assorted wiener, cotton candy, donut, and, yes, pie eating contests. Tragically, at the Ocean Grove County Fair, while wolfing down the 23rd strawberry-rhubarb pie of his own sister-in-law’s making, he suddenly collapsed from extreme sugar-toxicity and died. He was well in the lead to win the brass-plated loving cup too.

3rd row (l to r)
9) Douglas Hodd; ferris wheel repairman and operator…and ladies’ underwear collector.
10) Digby Hanover; Vaudeville actor specializing in debonair villain roles (ie. Bankers, mortgage holders, disreputable doctors, and collectors of ladies’ underwear items)
11) Teddy Planck; general errand boy and hireling available for any sort of chores or scut-work. A fairly good juggler. Played the harmonica ….sort of…. with his nose.
12) Samuel Britzer; bellboy-second-class at the Mabel MacWhorter Mermadon Guest House. Known for being extremely attentive to single lady travelers and women of means. Said to be ….”gifted” in “evening-relations”….

4th row (l to r)
13) Scott Pount; rugby, soccer, lacrosse, football, and interpretive dance champion at Brisby State College for Animal Husbandry and Farm Sciences.
14) Morris Pount; Scott’s older brother and junior neckwear salesman at Firmby’s.
15) Clancy Pimatt, second Earl of Actrin; impoverished bon-vivant and charmer from the continent who made his living telling fortunes using tarot cards, crystal balls, tea leaves, and stale biscuits. He proved to be strangely accurate but failed to predict his own trampling by Mr. Jamby, the new hippo at the Coney Island Jungle Jamboree tent.
16) Ferd “the Forlorn” Falloy; high school chemistry teacher at Primbleton’s Girls Academy who, through an unfortunate scandal, fell on hard times and became a county-fair “vegetarian geek”. He was forced, for the amusement of paying and shrieking customers, to dig potatoes and other root vegetables out of pots of dirt and then to "kill" and eat them with his own teeth, shaking them violently while growling and drooling! The effect was said to be terrifying, and Ferd’s own sister, Mabel, was hired to portray a nurse who would revive the audience members who fainted, mostly women, but also the occasional single gentleman…with "a sensitive nature"...

The Strange Case of Bellegrave Castle.....


Bellegrave Castle in the remote part of the forest had been a strange and, for most people, a forbidding place, full of rumors of old misfortunes and even violence. Oddly, the people who had fallen victim to its mysteries were loners, rarely related to any family members or wide circles of friends who would follow up on disappearances…. or foul play…almost as if the castle actually knew who to pick and choose for its murderous mischiefs. 

Imagine! A place that actually was capable of conscious thought…and willful malevolence. Skeptics who stumbled on tales of the place would apply their 20th century sensibilities and learning and deny that anything like that could happen, in the “real world”. Of course, there have been other tales of places infected with a methodical evil. But perhaps nothing quite like this. 

You see, the castle had been built by reputedly loving and much loved people; a royal family known for wisdom, justice, and generous displays to their subjects and vassals. The lords of Bellegrave also had been the extremely lucky residents of peaceful times, free of the constant wars and conspiracies that plagued the centuries in which they lived and the neighboring countries that seethed and burned so nearby. The great good fortune that shone on this beautiful place seemed indeed heaven-sent, and the sobriquets of “The Good”, “The Fair”, ‘The Kind Hearted”, and “The Blessed” often were added to the rulers’ names as they were crowned and followed one by one in direct succession, father to son, and even to daughter, in the case of Princesses who also could ascend the throne with no complications of the restrictive male primogeniture where only sons could rule. Each generation was blessed with happy, healthy children, again unlike the other royal houses of Europe where infant mortality and the demise of dynasties could result in secret crimes concealed behind palace walls, or civil wars played out in open countrysides. 

So how, how after the centuries of royalty and chivalry flowed by, and the modern age of reason and modernism had dawned did Bellegrave Castle lose its lustre? Its radiance? …and its sanity? As royal titles faded, duchies and principalities merged, and families gave up putting Roman numerals behind their noble names… Bellegrave Castle drifted from a golden haze into a grey and forlorn miasma… sad at first, and then slowly rotting from somewhere inside…its walls, and its soul…

Sybil Bruncheon's "FACTS & FOTOS!"... The Stepford Effect...

Stepford Republican Wives Cheryel Lemley McRoy.jpg

For years, decades, millennia (really!), women had been truly second-class citizens, if considered "citizens" at all... across continents and cultures, cities and civilizations, they were treated as commodities, fit only to maintain homes, cook, clean, plow fields if necessary, bear children, and be beautiful (if lucky!).... They were no better than the livestock they might be herding, feeding, and milking, and perhaps NOT as valued... 

That was why, as the 20th century unfolded, even with a few stops and starts, the evolving recognition of womens’ equality was so heartening. Women drove cars, flew airplanes, got the vote, qualified for their own loans, purchased their own homes, were elected to political office, worked in factories during wartime, managed businesses and great international corporations in peacetime, and by the beginning of the 21st century were in a position to run for President….

And then, in one of History’s merry pranks, the great gears of progress ground to a halt…. There came a national election that changed so much..and so quickly. Imagine if you can, any man, let alone a famous one in the public eye, running for office, saying that you can grab a woman by her pussy and they let you because you’re a star. The sitting President who happened to be African-American would have been deposed, if not lynched for such a remark. Even his wife and daughters might have been lynched for that kind of statement, but here was a television celebrity, “a reality-show star” and Presidential candidate from an established political party steeped “in tradition”, saying what would get any non-white man torn to pieces…. And yet he not only retained his nomination from the “family-values” party, he was elected. 

As startling as all that might sound or seem, it pales in comparison to the fact that 53%, that’s right, 53% of white women voted for him. Can you believe it? Women whose mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers had struggled for equal rights and recognition as intelligent beings, had voted for someone who described them and their daughters as nothing more than their vaginas, fit only to be assaulted…. modern women in the United States.

And only a few months after that nationally broadcast scandal, everyone had seemed to forget… especially the women themselves… modern women... in the United States.

A New Sybil's "WHO'Z DAT?"... LIONEL ATWILL (March 1st, 1885 -July 22nd, 1946)

MARCH 1st...! A New Sybil Bruncheon's "WHO'Z DAT!!"..... LIONEL ATWILL (March 1, 1885 – April 22nd, 1946)...

Darlings! Mummy has made a decision! After reading dozens of posts and having hundreds of conversations with well-meaning folks who just don't know about the great CHARACTER actors who gave films the depth and genius that surrounded and supported the so-called "stars", I am going to post a regular, special entry called SYBIL'S "WHO'Z DAT??"....there'll be photos and a mini-bio, and the next time you see one of those familiar, fabulous faces that you just "can't quite place".......well, maybe these posts will help. Some of these actors worked more, had longer and broader careers, and ended up happier, more loved, and even wealthier than the "stars" that the public "worships"......I think there may be a metaphor in that! What do you think??? Well, while you're mulling that over, let me present a face that everyone always recognizes and a voice and manner that go with it perfectly! It’s Lionel Atwill (March 1, 1885 – April 22nd, 1946).

Lionel Alfred William Atwill (nicknamed ‘Pinky’ for the red tinge of his hair) was born into a wealthy family in Croydon, Surrey, England. Educated at London's prestigious Mercer School, he had considered a career in medicine but was working in a surveyor’s office with an aim toward becoming an architect when he was lured away from the promise of steady income by the siren’s call of the theatrical arts and eventually turned his interest to the stage. He made his debut at twenty at the famous Garrick Theatre in London in 1904 and worked steadily there and in Australian tours, appearing in plays by both Ibsen and Shaw.

He came to New York in 1915 to tour the United States with Lillie Langtry in MRS. THOMPSON. The production was a disaster but Atwill persevered and made it to Broadway, where he staged and acted in a production of THE LODGER (a full decade before Hitchcock’s silent screen adaptation) at New York’s Bandbox Theater in January of 1917. Atwill was Julius Caesar to Helen Hayes’ Cleopatra in CAESAR AND CLEOPATRA in 1925, appeared with Russian diva Alla Nazimova in a trio of Ibsen plays performed in repertory and appeared opposite Fanny Brice and Louise Brooks in the notorious Broadway flop FIORETTA in 1929. The New York Times devoted a feature to Atwill as early as 1918 (“The Rise of Lionel Atwill”) and he appeared with his second wife in a highly publicized pictorial in Vanity Fair in 1921, in conjunction with his vaudeville tour of THE WHITE FACED FOOL.

Atwill performed in twenty-five Broadway plays between 1917 and 1931, but he also began exploring the new medium of silent film dabbling in it while continuing on stage. His distinctive voice and commanding British accent that served him so well in the theatre made his transition into the “talkies” extremely easy beginning in 1928 when he did some Vitaphone short subjects and then his first real film role in THE SILENT WITNESS (1932), also titled THE VERDICT. His next role was as the chilly clinician Dr. Xavier in First National’s DOCTOR X (1932), which was filmed in revolutionary two-strip Technicolor and costarred Fay Wray. The story was filled with all sorts of lurid horror gimmicks and was a “murder mystery” as well. Cleared of the charge of cannibalism by the fade-out, Atwill’s character turns out to be a loving father and hero by the end of the film. More often than not, he was the fiendish villain as in THE MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM (1932), THE VAMPIRE BAT (1933), THE SPHINX (1933), MURDERS IN THE ZOO (1933), THE MAN WHO RECLAIMED HIS HEAD (1934), and in Tod Browning’s MARK OF THE VAMPIRE (1935).

Although he did travel on occasion to Australia to appear onstage, his focus remained in U.S. horror film roles in the 1930s. He also specialized as shady noblemen, gruff military men, and police inspectors (usually with a signature mustache) and worked steadily. He had the chance to show a broader character as the tyrannical but unforgettable Col. Bishop in CAPTAIN BLOOD (1935) with super-stars Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, and Basil Rathbone. Perhaps one of his most iconic roles was Inspector Krogh in SON OF FRANKENSTEIN (1939). In an almost comical scene, Inspector Krogh agrees to a game of darts with Basil Rathbone’s Baron Frankenstein and proceeds to impale the darts through the right sleeve of his uniform (the character sports a wooden right arm that replaces the one he lost as child to the original monster.) Few actors could deliver a line like ”One doesn’t easily forget, Herr Baron, an arm torn out by the roots!” and still sound classy. It is as much the over-the-top character of Krogh as Atwill’s delivery of him that is memorably sent up by Kenneth Mars in Mel Brooks’ YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (1974).

In addition to macabre roles, Atwill often appeared in the 1930s as various other authority and villainous figures. Two of his most notable non-horror roles were again opposite his contemporary Basil Rathbone in films featuring Arthur Conan Doyle's character Sherlock Holmes, including a role as Dr. James Mortimer in 20th Century Fox's THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES (1939) and the 1943 Universal Studios film SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE SECRET WEAPON, in which he played Holmes' archenemy and super-villain, Professor Moriarty. Known for his sense of humor, Atwill sends himself up with the wonderful portrayal of stage-ham repertory actor Rawitch in Ernst Lubitsch’s classic TO BE OR NOT TO BE (1942) with Jack Benny. Co-starring such comedic giants as Sig Ruman, Carole Lombard, Felix Bressart, and others, Atwill holds his own with comedic timing and self-important puffery! His films during these years included musicals like THE THREE MUSKETEERS (1939) with Don Ameche, and even a variety of Charlie Chan and Mr. Moto murder mysteries.

Atwill remained a stalwart of the Universal horror films until in 1943, he effectively ruined his solid film career when he was implicated in what was described as an "orgy" at his home. Naked guests (many of them purportedly Hollywood celebrities) along with pornographic films--and an alleged rape perpetrated during the proceedings brought the police, arrests, and scandal. Atwill "lied like a gentleman," it was said, in the court proceedings to protect the identities of his guests and was convicted of perjury and sentenced to five years' probation, an odd and tragic distinction in the Hollywood community. Only seven months into his sentence he applied for and was granted termination of his sentence, and his record was expunged. Unfortunately, the Hays Office was a different matter. He'd been unemployed during the trial and his sentence, and his wealthy wife Louise (the ex-wife of General Douglas MacArthur!) divorced him in June 1943.

He no longer felt welcome in Hollywood, and he moved East spending weeks looking for roles on Broadway without any success. The only possibility was back in Hollywood at the one studio that specialized in hiring fallen name (and no-name) talent on the cheap, Producers Releasing Corporation. Known as the very definition of Poverty Row, PRC was a far cry from his glory days at the major studios. Within the industry, working along Gower Gulch was an admission of failure and disgrace. PRC "features" were usually allotted a five-day shooting schedule and retakes were forbidden. Although Atwill was able to return sporadically to Universal for some sporadic bits and serials, he was condemned to spending the majority of his remaining career working in Poverty Row. Atwill died of pneumonia and lung cancer while working on a low-budget serial, LOST CITY OF THE JUNGLE (1946).

Lionel Atwill has the distinction of being the only actor to appear in five of the eight Frankenstein films released by Universal from 1931-1948. He appeared in Son of Frankenstein (1939), The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942), Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943), House of Frankenstein (1944), and House of Dracula (1945). During his lifetime, he had made more than 60 films. Atwill had a strange string of bad luck with his homes. A $42.000 mansion burned to the ground in the California fires of October 1935, and a December 1936 coastal storm undermined two of his homes which slid into the ocean along with $12,000 worth of antique furniture. The actor's Maryland estate, which had served as a honeymoon retreat for the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, was burglarized twice in August 1937.

Atwill had been married four times, and had two sons. His first son John Anthony Atwill, by first wife Phyllis Relph, was a WWII flying officer with the Royal Air Force and was killed in action in 1941. A second son, Lionel Anthony Guille Atwill, was born to him late in life (at age 60) by his last wife, Mary Paula Pruter. Atwill died just six months after his second son’s birth. Interestingly, given Atwill’s career and personal troubles, he was once quoted as saying, “One side of my face is gentle and kind, incapable of anything but love of my fellow man. The other side, the other profile, is cruel and predatory and evil, incapable of anything but lusts and dark passions. It all depends on which side of my face is turned toward you--or the camera.” His body was cremated, and his ashes were once interred in the Chapel of the Pines Crematory in Los Angeles, but the family later moved them to another location.

Sybil Bruncheon's "Manners Are Nice" #51......

Sybil Bruncheon's "Manners Are Nice" #51....

Phyllis was excited to be flying on a jet to Paris. She sat beside an attractive man named Bill from Dallas, and he seemed very friendly and quite sophisticated until it was dinner time. The nice steward and stewardess came by with a delicious and nutritious seven-course meal beautifully laid out on a cart....Bill said that was how they did it on Panam! There were so many yummy things to choose from, and then, suddenly ...the meal was spoiled. Bill noticed that the stewardess only had one hand, maybe from birth, or an accident involving a buzz saw…or a clown. Her name tag said she was "Judy", and Phyllis thought she was very pretty... but Bill pointed at her and giggled that she was holding both the spoon and the fork in her one remaining hand. Phyllis and the steward pretended not to hear, even when Judy's hand shook a little, and a sad look darted through her lovely blue eyes. She finished serving the Croquettes de Poulet et Le Beurre d'Arachide égyptienne, the Guimauve a la Surprise Flambée, and the creamed corn with Spam shavings....and then she moved on. The steward finished also and rolled the cart to the next row of seats. He was mad, but didn't say anything because Judy was his friend... and because when he was only 8 he'd seen a lady in the circus who had a foot where a hand ought to be. Phyllis offered Bill the salt and pepper and ate the meal mostly in silence. It wasn't her place to scold him, but later when they landed in Paris, she reported him to the nice people at the Panam desk at baggage claim. She heard later that someone had urinated in his luggage....

My Memoirs.... Mr. Pinky and I Go For a Drive.....

Here I am as a child in my first car driving Mr. Pinky to our wonderful clubhouse where other children would gather for a busy day of "advanced armament fort-building", "cowboys, Indians, and League of Nations arbitrators", "draping and fashion modeling with Silly Putty and drugs", and, my favorite, "Strip Old Maid". On the way, Mr. Pinky and I had a terrible accident over near the Dalrymple estate.... I don't remember everything, but it seems I crashed through a privet hedge and down an embankment into their three acre sand box..... Luckily, good old Pinky was thrown clear before my Mini-Duesenberg rolled over three times and burst into flames. As you can see, I was wearing my Fruit-of-the-Loom Asbestos Jumper....I was lucky, yes, and pulled to safety by three cub scouts who happened to be playing cops, robbers, and EMT workers, but the police saw my purple tongue and the empty bottles of Welch's grape juice in the back...I was later cited for DWI and talking on a tin can and string while operating a vehicle.... The judge handed down a sentence of 6 months hard labor at pot-holder making and selling Girl Scout cookies...door-to-door! I was totally humiliated! 

Later, Mr. Pinky became my designated driver during my probation....Even in college, years later, we never spoke of it again….

Sybil's "What's Cookin'?"...... A Midnight Snack from The Land Of Midnight Sun!

                                                 NORWEGIAN SWEDISH MEATBALLS!!                        

          Dear Sybil, I’m always trying to throw little impromptu get-togethers at the beach and come up with cute themes for the parties and just the right menu!...but I find Sandra Lee’s “tablescapes and cocktails” profoundly UNsatisfying….especially because some of my guests are sober, and if your party depends totally on booze, napkin folds, and some citronella candles, you’re a loser…(no offence!) Have you got something that might be fun and a novelty? Sincerely, Bjørnstjerne “Skippy” Bjørnson

          Well…… Skippy! I may have just the thing for you!...and for any other hosts and hostesses who feel stranded…  Out at the seashore for vacation??? Planning a soiree on the patio??  Need a great and quick treat for company dropping by for cocktails at sunset??  In-laws checking up on you with NO warning???  Well, Darlings, Mummy went to her super-secret recipe library, (which looks like Severus Snape's personal storeroom at Hogwarts!! I dated him in Junior High School!...but that’s another story for another time!), and pulled out a simple recipe just perfect for a buffet, or passed hors d'oeuvres, or a midnight broad daylight!!!!!  It's NORWEGIAN SWEDISH MEATBALLS!!  I got it from my old friend Hedda Gabler shortly before her unfortunate …um… “accident”!, in a could say..."These are a dead woman's treats!!".  They're absolutely perfect for a FJORD FIESTA, and who doesn’t want a new theme like that for their deck party?!?!  Make them ahead of time, and let their wonderful flavor develop for a day or two...and of course they're great as leftovers for that midnight snack!!... If there ARE any!  You know, with all the Summer Stock Theatre and Plays-In-The-Park-type-things ....we could do a whole Ibsen menu....WILD DUCK as the entree, and of course, Nora Helmer's DOLL HOUSE Macaroons for dessert!!!  Enjoi, mes amis!!!!

Norwegian Swedish Meatballs: Serves 4 to 6
For the meatballs-
• 1/2 cup fine dry bread crumbs
• 1/4 cup heavy cream
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
• 1/2 pound ground chuck or sirloin                                                                                                                          • 1/2 pound ground veal
• 1/2 pound ground pork
• 2 tablespoons honey
• 1 large egg
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

For the sauce-
• 1 cup chicken stock
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• 2 tablespoons juice from quick pickled cucumbers (optional)
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper                                                                                                           • nutmeg (optional)

Prepare the meatballs: In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, veal, pork, breadcrumbs, onion, honey, and egg, and mix well with your hands.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add in the heavy cream, and mix thoroughly. Set aside. Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for about 5 minutes, until softened.  Remove from the heat.  With wet hands (to keep the mixture from sticking), (or better yet, use an ice cream scoop!) shape the mixture into meatballs the size of a golf ball, but no larger!!  Swedish meatballs are much more elegant when they're small enough to be popped in the mouth without smearing your lipstick!  Tres chic!! Place them on a plate lightly moistened with water.  You should have about 24 meatballs.  Melt the butter and a small amount of olive oil (to keep the butter from burning!) in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the meatballs, in batches if necessary, and cook, turning frequently, for about 7 minutes, until browned on all sides and cooked through.  Transfer the meatballs to a plate, and discard all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the skillet. (Well, girls! We have to count a FEW calories!)
Prepare the sauce: Return the skillet to the heat, whisk in the stock, cream, and pickle juice, and bring to a simmer.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Add the meatballs to the sauce, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the sauce thickens slightly and the meatballs are heated through. Add a dash or two of nutmeg if you like! Serve hot with the mashed potatoes, lingonberry preserves, and pickled cucumbers!  Pickled cucumbers…the perfect Summer treat!  Oops!  Mummy didn't include those recipes, did she?  Oh well... here goes!!

Quick-Pickled Cucumbers and Red Onion                                                                                    INGREDIENTS:
• 1 seedless cucumber
• ½ medium sized red onion
• 1 ½ cups of white vinegar
• 1 cup of sugar
• 2 tbsp. of dill                                                                                                                                                             • 6 allspice berries
• ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
• a pinch or two of freshly ground pepper

DIRECTIONS: Using a mandoline or a very sharp knife, finely slice the cucumbers and red onion….really fine… as in “see-through”! It’ll make the salad look ever so much more sophisticated for the recipe-snobs that might be there! But certainly be careful… the tip of finger is such an appetite depressant, don’t you think?! (When handling slicing or poking tools in the kitchen, it’s best not to be chatting on the cell phone or watching All My Children!) Put in a mixing bowl with the dill and a pinch of salt while you prepare the pickling solution. 

In a small pot over medium heat, combine white vinegar, sugar, allspice and salt. Stir well until the liquid is simmering and the sugar has completely dissolved. Pour pickling liquid over red onion and cucumbers and stir to ensure everything is evenly coated. Allow to cool to room temperature, then cover with plastic wrap (press the plastic wrap down onto the cucumbers so there is no air) and refrigerate. Chill for at least 4 hours to cool completely before serving. Reserve two tablespoons of the juice for your meatball sauce! It adds just the right tang and serves as a counterpoint to the lush sweetness of the lingonberry preserves. Speaking of which, the best way to get good lingonberry preserves is to just buy them at the store, but make sure they’re high-end. You can get them at any fine gourmet shop or even at IKEA if you happen to be buying a bookcase! There are two ways of serving the preserves according to personal preference; warmed up and with a bit of ginger beer and lime to compliment the heated meatballs… or chilled to contrast with the hot meatballs….your choice!

Smashed Potatoes                                                                                                                            INGREDIENTS:
• 1 lb. baby new potatoes
• 6 tablespoons milk
• 1/4 cup of crème fraîche or sour cream
• kosher salt and pepper to taste
• 2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsely

DIRECTIONS: Put the potatoes in a stockpot, and cover by an inch of water. Season with salt and boil until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the potatoes, and return back to their hot pot. Add 6 tablespoons milk and 1/4 cup of crème fraîche or sour cream, and season with salt and pepper. Add half the parsley chopped very fine, if using, and smash the potatoes. Plate the potatoes, and pour the meatballs and sauce over the top. Top with the remaining parsley!...and voilà! …er, um…. här är!

          You know, Darlings!.. When I think of how those long Winters in Scandinavia with no sun, and then Summers where the sun never sets, I’m not surprised that those beautiful blondes get so down in the mouth… if only we’d popped a few of these sumptuous Swedish meatballs in Hedda’s mouth, she might not have gotten so grumpy! Ah well… As I said before, Enjoi, mes amis!!.... ooops!  I mean, Enjoi, mine venner!!!! ...and let me know how you like them!


         Ah, me Dairlins, did I ever tell ye the time I was visitin me loovly ancestors in dear old Ireland, when I was bewitched, BEWITCHED I tell ye, by a band of the Wee-Peeple and their mischiefs??... well, one misty morn, I was out for a stroll and some quiet time by myself. I was whistlin a tune and feelin pensive-like about the beautiful landscape and the quiet surroundins, when suddenly, out pops a little fellow dressed all in green (what else!?). His duds were all mixed patterns and prints with stripes butted up against polka-dots, chevrons, curly-cues, paisleys, checks, harlequinades, skeetlebarts, floopsie-loos and embellished with sequins, rhinestones, ric-rac, and all manner of gew-gaws, pasties, ribbons, ruffles, frills, and sillies.

         I knew instantly by his ridiculous togs that not only was he a Leprechaun, but quite possibly a "Mary-Maker" as well.... (you know, the kind of Leprechaun who lures young lads away on drunken weekends and likes to re-do a woman's home or hair when she's fast asleep, sometimes in a very naughty way!!). Though he was only 20 polpits high or so, he gave a sweepin bow, flourishin his befeathered cap and introducin himself as "Breehan O'Really", a respectable enough name for so cheeky a fellow, but I checked my purse and pockets immediately out of habit, for I have met his like many o'time oer the years in all sorts of disreputable places like Bingo halls and emergency rooms in Doll Hospitals. Mr. O'Really wished me “a gracious goo'day” and asked me where I was bein off to, and I dished him some blarney about lookin for a cappucino and croissant in the vicinity which brought him (and me!) to loud laughter and shared winks! ....and then, after a slight and pregnant pause, Breehan drew my attention to the huge tunnel that was right beside me, but that I hadn't noticed before!

        How had that suddenly come into view? Even in reverie, or recoverin from a “tipsy”, I'm an observant soul, and I couldn't imagine how I had missed that great a vision so near to my path??? Little Breehan's eyes shone brightly as he beckoned me close...much more brightly than your usual Wee-lette, and as he spoke, those deep green eyes shone bigger, and brighter....with a bit o’ menace in them, if truth be told. I bent low to see into them more clearly, and to show wee Breehan that I wasn’t a-feared of him, though he had a tad o’ the Devil himself in those twinklers! He asked me if I liked wearing pretties, “bein a loovly lass myself”. Well I gave him my best askance and told him to “go on!”, but I was glad for the compliment (for a lady of any age likes to be told and not have to pay for it at a local pub or in an alleyway). And then, right there, I heard them! Breehan’s fellow-magicals, singin their plaintive tune, their sweet harmonies a-driftin out o’ the tunnel’s great mouth. I could na see ‘em, but their angels’ voices rose and rose more and more as if they were gettin close to comin into view! And angels’ voices they had too! For never have ye heard a sound so close to dyin and wakin in the clouds with St. Peter’s hand on yer heart welcoming ye home! I confess, I was lured by their sweet song, almost a prayer-like, and then, as if through a mist, the first of ‘em began to come out into the grey morning light. In procession, but not formal, just amblin along, smiling at me with their faces open and friendly, and one of ‘em was holdin a huge cushion in his outstretched hands. It was beautiful, dark green velvet with trims and braids and tassels all on it fit for a king’s coronation, and I wondered if Breehan and his pranksters had stolen it!...and when I saw what was nestled down inside the lushness, I was very sure there had been some thievery…or at least a wee bit o’ finger-friskiness. For there, as delicious as candy, was the most gloriously green arc o’ emeralds ye’ve ever seen, arranged in a tiara-crown.

        Even in the dull grey of the mornin mist, it twinkled and nearly danced on its pilla, the light in it as merry and laughin as that dangerous spark in the eyes o’ the Wees that brought it towards me. Oh yes… for that is how green fire can be, and indeed the color green itself, doncha know? Green is the color of the Lord’s own trees and every leaf upon ‘em in His good world, God bless ye, but it also can be the color o’ Envy and Jealousy … and Coveting…and Money….and green can be the sickly color of somethin’ deadly or dyin and left in a dark place to rot and corrupt. But, oh, how I stared at that beautiful crown and its laughin emeralds, even as I remembered my catechism and all the lessons that nuns and nicer folks had taught me well through love and ruler whacks….

        And then, wee Breehan whispered ever so gently and lovin-like, “Would ye care, dear Lass, to try it on? I daresay it looks just yer size, and the twinklettes match yer eyes so!”… and… well…. I knew in my heart ‘o hearts it might be wrong, or at least it might be what Sister Mary Bernice had warned me against at my eighth birthday party when I gave Johnny Brannigan an extra piece of my cake if he’d show me why boys were different than girls…. It might be like that. Tryin on that tiara and lookin at Johnny behind the church in all his glory… they might be the same thing. …and I thought of Sister Mary Bernice! But I couldna resist! Neither when I was eight!.... nor when I was a grown lady and had seen many glories in the passin years. We’re mortal, aren’t we, made of flesh and bone, and prone to mischiefs, and temptations, and bruises, and beauty. God protect us, Beauty!...maybe the most dangerous injury of all on this fretful journey. And when we are first born and set sail in each our own fragile vessel on the great sea of life, to be buffeted about as whim will have it, how guilty of wrong are we when our crewmen include the Breehan O’Reallys of the world? They stow away in the hold, and jump out at all the wrong times to vex our better natures and set our destinies at odds with what our stars and souls would better like. But there it is!

       ...and so, as the glorious cushion with its fantastic cargo was held before me, and I stared into the invitin eyes of each of the little minions that ringed me, I took a deep and quiet breath. I smiled back, as sweetly and deeply as I ever have, finally settlin on Breehan’s upturned face. I slowly reached out for the tiara with both my tremblin hands, and lifted its surprising weight up… and towards my brow, all feverish now with expectation. I lowered the crown of gold and diamonds and emeralds upon myself, and Yes! It fit perfectly!.... I felt it there, substantial and filled with glory, but not encumbering or hurtful. Almost like a loved-one who had come home after a long absence, and was now sittin exactly where he was meant to be. I slowly rose up and stood before the gathered magicals around me, their eyes watchful, waitin….AND I RAN! RAN with my treasure clutched tight to my head so as not to lose it on the rocky path that I tore down like a meteor shootin through the night!..... and the last thing I heard as I rounded a stone wall was the yowled rage of the Wees as they realized that sometimes, on rare occasions, the world that holds the teachins of Mary Bernice, and ruler whacks, and croissants and cappuccinos, and Johnny Brannigan, and the likes of a lass like me…. That world sometimes gets the better of THEM for a change! And the Wees and the Magicals and the Tricksters have to dance the same jig as the rest of us… in front of the Great Maker.


A New Sybil's "WHO'Z DAT?"... ALLEN JENKINS (April 9, 1900 - July 24, 1974)

Darlings! Mummy has made a decision! After reading dozens of posts and having hundreds of conversations with well-meaning folks who just don't know about the great CHARACTER actors who gave films the depth and genius that surrounded and supported the so-called "stars", I am going to post a regular, special entry called SYBIL'S "WHO'Z DAT??"....there'll be photos and a mini-bio, and the next time you see one of those familiar, fabulous faces that you just "can't quite place".......well, maybe these posts will help. Some of these actors worked more, had longer and broader careers, and ended up happier, more loved, and even wealthier than the "stars" that the public "worships"......I think there may be a metaphor in that! What do you think??? ….well, here’s one of those faces that you can’t miss or forget! a matter of fact, just to see his face automatically triggers the sound of his voice in many film fans! He’s Allen Jenkins (April 9, 1900 – July 20, 1974).

Born David Allen Curtis Jenkins in Staten Island, New York on April 9, 1900. Both of Allen Jenkins' parents were musical comedy performers, and he entered the theater as a stage mechanic after World War I, after having spent time working in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. He studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. In his first stage appearance, he danced next to James Cagney in a chorus line for an off-Broadway musical called PITTER-PATTER (1920), earning five dollars a week. He also appeared in Broadway plays between 1923 and 1962, including THE FRONT PAGE (1928). His big break came when he replaced Spencer Tracy for three weeks in the Broadway play THE LAST MILE (1930).

Jenkins was called to Hollywood by Darryl F. Zanuck and signed first to Paramount Pictures and shortly afterward to Warner Bros. His first role in films came in 1931, when he appeared as an ex-convict in the short STRAIGHT AND NARROW. He had originated the character of Frankie Wells in the Broadway production of BLESSED EVENT and reprised the role in its film adaptation, both in 1932. With the advent of talking pictures, he made a career out of playing comic henchmen, stooges, policemen, taxi drivers, and other 'tough guys' in numerous films of the 1930s and 1940s, especially for Warner Bros. where the actor made so many pictures that he was sometimes referred to as "the fifth Warner Brother." As outspoken and pugnacious off screen as on, Jenkins was a member in good standing of Hollywood's so-called "Irish Mafia," a rotating band of Hibernian actors (including James Cagney, Pat O'Brien, Frank McHugh and James Gleason) who palled around incessantly. Vivid in even the smallest walk-ons roles, Jenkins was labeled the "greatest scene-stealer of the 1930s" by The New York Times. Some of his most iconic films include heavy “message dramas” like I AM A FUGITIVE FROM A CHAIN GANG (1932) with Paul Muni and classic Art Deco Busby Berkeley musicals like 42ND STREET (1933).

Popular but undisciplined and profligate with his money, Jenkins was reduced to "B" films by the 1940s and 1950s, including occasional appearances in RKO's Falcon films and the Bowery Boys epics at Monogram; still, he was as game as ever, and capable of taking any sort of physical punishment meted out to his characters. TV offered several opportunities for Jenkins in the 1950s and 1960s, notably his supporting role on 1956's HEY JEANNIE, a sitcom starring Scottish songstress Jeannie Carson, and 30 weeks' worth of voice-over work as Officer Dibble on the 1961 animated series Top Cat. Going the dinner theater and summer stock route in the 1960s, Jenkins was as wiry as ever onstage, but his eyesight had deteriorated to the point that he had to memorize where the furniture was set. Making ends meet between acting jobs, Jenkins took on work as varied as tool-and-die making for Douglas Aircraft and selling cars for a Santa Monica dealer. Asked in 1965 how he felt about "moonlighting", Jenkins (who in his heyday had commanded $4000 per week) growled, "I go where the work is and do what the work is! Moonlighting's a fact. The rest is for the birds." Towards the end of his life, Jenkins was hired for cameo roles by directors who fondly remembered the frail but still feisty actor from his glory days; one of Jenkins' last appearances was as a telegrapher in the final scene of Billy Wilder's THE FRONT PAGE (1974). Being a great character actor, he aged gracefully as his roles did moving smoothly through the years while the films and their subjects evolved. In 1959 Jenkins played the role of elevator operator Harry in the comedy PILLOW TALK with Doris Day and Rock Hudson.

Jenkins even voiced the character of Officer Charlie Dibble on the Hanna-Barbera TV cartoon, TOP CAT (1961–62). He was a regular on the television sitcom HEY, JEANNIE! (1956–57), starring Jeannie Carson and he often portrayed Muggsy on the 1950s-1970s CBS series THE RED SKELTON SHOW. He was also a guest star on many other television programs, such as THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E., MR. & MRS. NORTH, I LOVE LUCY, PLAYHOUSE 90, THE ERNIE KOVACS SHOW, ZANE GREY THEATER, and YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS. He had a cameo appearance in IT'S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD (1963). Eleven days before his death, he made his final appearance, at the end of Billy Wilder's remake of THE FRONT PAGE (1974); it was released posthumously.

Jenkins was married to Mary Landee from 1931 to 1962 when they divorced. They had three children. He went public with his alcoholism and was the first actor to speak in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate about it. He helped start the first Alcoholics Anonymous programs in California prisons for women. He was the seventh member of the Screen Actors Guild. Jenkins died of lung cancer early on July 20, 1974. He was 74 years old. 

[With photo of Allen Jenkins collage]