Sybil Bruncheon's "Crime Time Tales for Children"... HOWDY-DO!

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The kidnapping had been planned for months. It wasn't going to be one of those failed attempts that ended in cross-country chases, false leads, haggling over ransoms, easily spotted look-outs, needless injuries or deaths, and of course apprehension, arrests, and executions, because back in that time, kidnapping was still a "capital offense". Oh yes, you could be executed for kidnapping, and if it was a child or a famous celebrity, or the "ultimate", a famous (and much beloved!) child-celebrity, you would be lucky, if caught, to even be handed over to the authorities. Because in those early years of the new fangled "television", its stars rose to international fame overnight, and the public was fierce in its loyalty and defense of their new friends that visited them in their actual home every night in the little box. Television brought everything glamorous, magical, and exciting right into your own home.... no need to go to the decaying movie theatres anymore with their enormous chandeliers, their gigantic pillars, their miles of dusty velvet draperies, and their strange murals of other times and exotic lands.... India, China, Zanzibar, Katmandu... no more sticky floors, sticky armrests, and seat cushions that leaned this way and that with the sharp little spring that poked you in the behind! Now, you could stay home and see everything and eat dinner off a little tray right there!...a dinner your Mom had made in 7 minutes......

That was why, when the news came on at 6 that terrible Tuesday night in February, that homes all across the nation erupted in fury.. Howdy Doody!... yes, HOWDY DOODY had been kidnapped from his dressing room, right in front of stage hands, technical persons, staff writers, interns, producers, co-stars, and even the studio audience. When questioned by frantic police and representatives from the Mayor's office, the only clue was that what appeared to be a nice married couple with their own little girl who had come to see the broadcast, had left before it began carrying (inexplicably!) a 1955 American Tourister suitcase; the new "Jet-Streamer Line" with the woven wicker grass-cloth sides that resisted rain and scuffing and retailed for the extravagant price of $29.95 for just the overnight size! It was a warm, honey-amber color with brown leather edging, stitching and a handle...and the two horizontal stripes woven into the fabric were a rich teal blue that matched the luxurious satin and "stain-resistant" interior with its zippered pockets.

The couple had looked ordinary enough, like any other from Levittown or Mamaroneck...or Sayville...or Ronkonkoma. But a few more observant stage hands had noticed that their little girl was odd.... they overheard her asking questions about Howdy, and Buffalo Bob...and of course, Clarabell. She even managed to engage them in a short chat.... Buffalo Bob was carrying a bottle and busy looking for a glass as he passed. He smiled at the child, patted her head which, for some reason, spun completely around. Clarabell was next but pushed by her and the adults muttering something unpleasant about an axe and kindling.... and then it was Howdy! He was accompanied only by his agent, a nice Mrs. Trefeeley, who showed him some changes in the show's script, and the fact that a giraffe and a lemur would be doing a political sketch. Howdy was pleasant, even jolly, and when he was introduced to the little girl (her name was thought to be Irene or Ilene...or was it Lulu?....whatever..) his eyes twinkled.

After all, he was only 11 and he had started to get crushes on his prettier fans.... and she was pretty indeed.... in a ....well... somewhat "society debutante" way. Her eyes had that cool, appraising look to them... the kind that go up and down you "like a searchlight"! That's what they said in the movies! Howdy had heard a lady say that about his Aunt Joan (Crawford!). But he still liked the little girl and her nice parents. They asked if they could meet him after the show for ice cream..or maybe some martinis.... Mrs. Trefeeley saw they were all getting along so nicely, that she excused herself, and went over to scold some stagehands who had pinched her bottom with their rough hands right before lunch...and she wanted to make sure they understood that meant they had to all take her out for dinner that night...to Schrafft's... not someplace cheap! When she turned back around, the married couple was gone...so was Irene/Ilene/Lulu...and Howdy!.. HOWDY!! GONE! Not in his dressing room! Not at the shoe-shine stand with Mr. Clem. Not at the snack table, or in the prop room, or in Wardrobe, or...anywhere.

People began murmuring...then calling out...and finally yelling, and even screaming while out in the studio, the waiting audience began to panic and even cry and scream themselves. ..especially the adults. Buffalo Bob was grabbed by a couple of big policemen and dragged to his dressing room. His bottle and the full glass got spilled and broken, and someone said he cried and threw up. Clarabell was found in the alleyway smoking a $2.00 cigar and talking to himself. The police didn't bother to bring him inside... they just slapped him around out there, and when he sassed them, they slapped him some more, and one of them kicked him in the ass and honked his nose. That shut him up, and he apologized to them. They made him curtsy...like a little girl!..and make donkey-sounds to make sure he got the message! But no matter what everyone was doing inside and out, no trace of Howdy was found. Finally, everyone began to put the couple with the suitcase and the strange little girl together with his disappearance....maybe they weren't from Ronkonkoma after all...

That night's broadcast was canceled while the "Special Reports" went out across the country. Two hours later a note scrawled on double-spaced lined notebook paper and in Crayola's "Eggplant Whimsy" arrived at the studio..... "We want $36,048 in ones and twos in a Donald Duck lunch box by midnight. We'll tell you where to drop it. If you don't, we'll send you Howdy's left arm ..and the hinge! Here's some proof we have him!" ... and there, tacked to the note was...oh God, no! NO!! Mrs. Treffeeley screamed and fainted. So did Buffalo Bob...and a stagehand! The detectives covered their mouths in horror... tacked to the note was a wad of...string...wadded up STRING!!!... oh God!! NO!... and that's when Clarabell, for the first time sounding concerned about his little co-star, that bright and sunny, freckle-faced kid with the big smile for everyone!..that was when Clarabell snarled to anyone listening, "This is why they still send kidnappers to the gas chamber! TO THE GAS CHAMBER!!... C'mon Sergeant! Let's go find my little buddy!" .....And out they all went...but then ...well... you remember how it all ended....

A New Sybil's "WHO'Z DAT?"... THOMAS MITCHELL (July 11, 1892 – December 17, 1962)

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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. And feel free to share them with your friends! 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, this actor qualifies absolutely as an icon of the "Character STAR" set.... bumbling, wise, a smart aleck, a doddering fool, comedies, dramas, even tragedies! His face, and voice are unforgettable and irreplaceable.... he's one of the folks that I hope is waiting to sit and have coffee ‘n’ croissants with me in a Heaven-For-Actors cafe.... He’s Thomas Mitchell (July 11, 1892 – December 17, 1962). In addition to being an actor, he was also a director, playwright, and screenwriter.

         Born Thomas John Mitchell was born to Irish immigrants in Elizabeth, New Jersey, the youngest of seven children. He came from a family of journalists and civic leaders. Both his father and brother were newspaper reporters, and his nephew, James P. Mitchell, later served as Dwight Eisenhower’s Secretary of Labor. The younger Mitchell also became a newspaper reporter after graduating from St. Patrick High School in Elizabeth. However, Mitchell soon found that he enjoyed writing comic theatrical skits much more than chasing late-breaking scoops. He became an actor in 1913, at one point touring with the Charles Coburn Shakespeare Company. Coburn provided young Mitchell with some much-needed experience in the works of William Shakespeare. In late 1916 Mitchell debuted on Broadway in the original play UNDER SENTENCE and would be a fixture on the Great White Way steadily from then to 1935, working on a total of 29 plays. Even while playing leading roles on Broadway into the 1920s Mitchell would continue to write. One of the plays he co-authored, LITTLE ACCIDENT, was eventually made into a film (three times) by Hollywood, and with CLOUDY WITH SHOWERS (1931).

          Although, Mitchell's first credited screen role was in the 1923 silent film SIX CYLINDER LOVE, his first breakthrough role was as the embezzler in Frank Capra’s film LOST HORIZON (1937). Over the next few years, Mitchell appeared in many significant films. Known for his amazing range in both comedy and drama, and even in tragedy, Thomas Mitchell was respected by directors Frank Capra, Howard Hawks, and John Ford as one of the great American character actors, whose credits read like a list of the greatest films of the 20th century. Forty-three of the fifty-nine films in which he acted, were made in the 10-year period from 1936-1946. In 1939 alone he had key roles in STAGECOACH, MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON with James Stewart, ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS with Cary Grant, THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME with Charles Laughton, and GONE WITH THE WIND with Vivien Leigh. He has the distinction of having performed in three of the Oscar nominated films of that year….an unbroken record. Having been nominated for an Oscar for his complex and very sympathetic Dr. Kersaint in THE HURRICANE (1938), and probably better remembered as Scarlett O'Hara's loving but doomed father in GONE WITH THE WIND, it was for his performance as the drunken Doc Boone in STAGECOACH, co-starring John Wayne (in Wayne's breakthrough role), that Mitchell won the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award. In his acceptance speech, he quipped, "I didn't know I was that good". Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, Mitchell acted in a wide variety of roles in productions such as 1940's SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON, 1942's MOONTIDE, 1944's THE KEYS OF THE KINGDOM, (as an atheist doctor) and HIGH NOON (1952) as the town mayor. He is probably best known to audiences today for his role as sad sack Uncle Billy in Capra's Christmas classic IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946) again with James Stewart.

         From the 1950s and into the early 1960s, Mitchell worked primarily in television, appearing in a variety of roles in some of the most well-regarded early series of the era, including PLAYHOUSE 90, DICK POWELL'S ZANE GREY THEATER (in a pilot episode that became the CBS series JOHNNY RINGO), and HALLMARK HALL OF FAME productions. In 1954, he starred in the television version of the radio program, MAYOR OF THE TOWN. And in 1955, he played Kris Kringle in THE 20TH CENTURY-FOX HOUR version of THE MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET opposite Teresa Wright and MacDonald Carey. In 1959, he starred in thirty-nine episodes of the syndicated television series, GLENCANNON, which had aired two years earlier in the United Kingdom. In the early 1960s, Mitchell originated the stage role "Columbo", later made famous on NBC and ABC television by Peter Falk. Columbo was Mitchell's last stage role. His last film role was in POCKETFUL OF MIRACLES (1961) with Bette Davis and again directed by Frank Capra.

          In 1953, Mitchell became the first man to win the "triple crown" of acting awards (Oscar, Emmy, Tony); the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for 1939's STAGECOACH, an Emmy 1952 for Best Actor for TV’s THE DOCTOR, and the following year a Tony Award for best performance by an actor, for the musical HAZEL FLAGG, based on the Carole Lombard film NOTHING SACRED (1937).

          Mitchell died at age 70 from peritoneal mesothelioma in Beverly Hills, California. He had been married twice; Rachel Hartzell (1937 to 1939) and Ann Stuart Breswer, first from 1915 to 1935, and remarried to her 1941 to 1962, by whom he had one daughter, Anne. He has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one for his work in television at 6100 Hollywood Boulevard, and a second star for his work in motion pictures at 1651 Vine Street.

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A 4th of July on Fire Island...

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..... I wish I was a better writer. I wish could describe it well enough...or better yet, I wish each and every one of you could spend a July 4th evening here on Fire Island with me and watch the sun set so grandly over the shimmering lights of a hundred towns all lined up across the Great South Bay on Long Island. And then as the sky darkens, a hundred firework displays begin one-by-one along the shore where each town celebrates in their own proud way! Every once in a while the Summer air carries a faint delayed echo of a soft boom, but for the most part the spectacles are all flash and frenzy with the soft rolling hush of the ocean behind the dunes.... I've seen this same gorgeous sight dozens of times...I watch and think of thousands of people in hundreds of little towns on beautiful Summer nights… and I think of millions of children staring and laughing with joy at their first night of a sky filled with moving colors and lights… their first fireworks...pointing and waving their little hands and smiling up into the loving faces of grown-ups who will cherish them, and love them, and protect them....and it still breaks my heart. I think it always will....

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Get Away!.... From it ALL!!!...

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YES, FRIENDS!!!....the charming little town of Stepford has created the perfect little get-away for you and your whole family! It's the Somnos Chalet Cabin Commune at Camp Conkee-Coma! For a restful Summer vacation, spend just a few days in these peaceful surroundings! Paddle a canoe in the placid Lake Big Sleep Waters, learn various crafts like candle-dipping, lanyard weaving, ceramic and clay arts, or vegetate in our vegetable gardens.... or perhaps you'd like to watch paint dry....

Better than just being happy, everyone is free of all emotions, all stresses, all cares.....Why, some of our guests even claim that after a couple of weeks with us, they can't remember how to get home...And why bother? Just look at all those smiling faces!! They all want you to be one of them....Call today for a brochure....and prepare to leave your troubles, and even yourself behind! (...Each cabin comes with it's own special "pod" to put under the bed for a really great night's sleep....and when you wake up on that first morning, you won't have a care in the world!!!...just like your new friends!!.....Thank you, The Management.

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A New Sybil's "WHO'Z DAT?"... FRIEDA INESCORT (June 29th, 1901 - February 26th, 1976)

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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. And feel free to share them with your friends! 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???)… Our Birthday girl tonight has one of those faces you never forget!... and one of those voices you never, ever, ever forget!!

Frieda Inescort (June 29th, 1901 - February 26th, 1976) was born in Edinburgh, Scotland as Frieda Wrightman. She was the daughter of Scots-born journalist John "Jock" Wrightman and actress Elaine Inescort, who was of German and Polish descent. Her parents initially met when he came to review a play she was appearing in. They married in 1899 but eventually parted ways while Frieda was still young. Her impulsive mother, who had strong designs on a theater career and placed it high on her priority list, sent young Frieda off to live with other families and in boarding schools in England and Wales while she avidly pursued her dreams. Although her father divorced Elaine in 1911 charging his wife with abandonment and adultery, Frieda ended up moving to America with her mother. Again, when Elaine found occasional roles in touring shows, Frieda wound up being carted off to convents or boarding schools.

Mother and daughter eventually returned to London following World War I and the young girl, now solely on her own, managed to find employment as a personal secretary to British Member of Parliament Waldorf Astor (2nd Viscount Astor), who was then Parliamentary Secretary to British Prime Minister David Lloyd-George. She also assisted the American-born Lady (Nancy) Astor. While accompanying Lady Astor on a trip to the United States in July 1919, Frieda decided to stay in the States and terminated her position with the Astors. In New York she continued finding secretarial work that supported both her and her unemployed actress-mother. She worked at one point with the British consulate in New York.

Noticing a number of American actors cast in British parts on Broadway, Frieda was encouraged in the early 1920s to test the waters as British actresses were in short supply. By chance, she was introduced to producer/director Winthrop Ames, who gave the unseasoned hopeful a small but showy role in his Broadway comedy THE TRUTH ABOUT BLAYDS (1922) at the Booth Theatre. The play turned out to be a hit. Playwright Philip Barry caught her stage performance and offered her a starring role in his upcoming comedy production YOU AND I (1923). The show proved to be another winner and Frieda, a star on the horizon, finally saw the end of her days as part of a secretarial pool.

With her classic bone-structure and deep mellifluous voice and demeanor, Frieda was most often cast as very sophisticated, wealthy, and even arrogant society doyennes.

Other Broadway credits followed quickly in succession with THE WOMAN ON THE JURY (1923), WINDOWS (1923), THE FAKE (1924), ARIADNE (1925), HAY FEVER (1925), LOVE IN A MIST (1926), MOZART (1926), TRELAWNY OF THE "WELLS" (1927), and ESCAPE (1927-1928). While working in the late 1920s as an assistant for Putnam's Publishing Company in New York, Frieda met assistant editor Ben Ray Redman. They married in 1926 and Redman later became a literary critic for the New York Herald Tribune. Frieda, in the meantime, continued to resonate on the New York and touring stage with such plays as NAPI (1931), COMPANY'S COMING (1931), SPRINGTIME FOR HENRY (1931-1932), WHEN LADIES MEET (1933), FALSE DREAMS, FAREWELL (1934), and LADY JANE (1934). Frieda's happenstance into acting and her sudden surge of success triggered deep envy and jealousy within her mother, who was unemployed. This led to a bitter and long-term estrangement between the two that never managed to heal itself.

For over a decade, Frieda had resisted the cinema, having turned down several offers in silent and early talking films. When her husband was offered a job with Universal Studios as a literary adviser and author, however, and the couple had to relocate to Hollywood, she decided to take a difference stance.

Frieda Wrightman adopted her mother's surname as her professional name. Discovered by a talent scout while performing in a Los Angeles play, Frieda was signed by The Samuel Goldwyn Company and made her debut supporting Fredric March and Merle Oberon in the dewy-eyed drama THE DARK ANGEL (1935) in which she received attractive notices and rare sympathy as blind author March's secretary. She did not stay long at Goldwyn, however, and went on to freelance for various other studios. During the course of her movie career, Frieda could be quite charming on the screen playing a wronged woman (as she did in GIVE ME YOUR HEART (1936)), but she specialized in haughtier roles and played them older and colder than she really was off-camera. She soon gained a classy reputation for both her benign and haughty sophisticates. Some of her other films include MARY OF SCOTLAND (1936) starring Katharine Hepburn and Frederick March. After Warner Bros. signed her up, she showed promise in ANOTHER DAWN (1937) with Errol Flynn, a leading role in CALL IT A DAY (1937) with Olivia de Havilland and Bonita Granville, and THE GREAT O’MALLEY (1937) with Humphrey Bogart, three films in one year. Surprisingly after such an impressive start, however, Warner Bros. lost interest in her career and loaned her out more and more to other studios. When she would be given leading roles, they were mostly in “B” pictures. But her character work continued to excel, especially in THE LETTER (1940) starring an Oscar nominated Bette Davis and Herbert Marshall,) YOU’LL NEVER GET RICH (1941), a Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth hit musical, and the iconic A PLACE IN THE SUN (1951) as Elizabeth Taylor’s mother with Montgomery Clift and Shelley Winters. One of her most famous roles was the conniving Caroline Bingley in the 1940 film version of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE with Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson. Although she continued to work in off and on in Hollywood, Inescort returned to Broadway a few more times with A SOLDIER'S WIFE (1944-1945), THE MERMAIDS SINGING (1945-1946), AND YOU NEVER CAN TELL (1948). Her last appearances in film included a few low-budget clunkers and the two horror-camp-classics THE SHE CREATURE (1956) and THE ALLIGATOR PEOPLE (1959) with Lon Chaney, Jr.

 She appeared on television in at least one episode of PERRY MASON as Hope Quentin in "The Case of the Jealous Journalist" (season 5, 1961).  Inescort was one of those distinguished actresses who was valued greatly by her directors and costars and had the distinction of being surrounded by Oscar nominated and winning coworkers though never nominated herself.

On August 2nd, 1961, she and her husband since 1926, Ben Ray Redman, dined out. Redman had been despondent for some time. Returning home, he went upstairs to bed. He then called Frieda, informing her that he was depressed over the state of the world and had taken 12 sedative pills. By the time the paramedics arrived, he had died, a suicide at the age of 65. He had been working as a writer for the Saturday Review Magazine and was also involved in the translation of European classic literature into English.

Inescort herself had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in the 1930s and had suffered periodically as the years went by. Her disease accelerated after her husband's death, and she was using a wheelchair by the mid 1960s. On July 7th, 1964, her estranged mother, British actress Elaine Inescourt, died in Brighton, England, aged 87. Though unable to work in either film or onstage, Frieda Inescort worked as much as possible for the multiple sclerosis association. Often seen in the Hollywood area seated in her wheelchair, she collected donations outside supermarkets and in malls for several years. Inescort died on February 26th, 1976 at the Motion Picture Country Home at Woodland Hills, California from the disease she had battled since 1932. She was 74.

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Sybil Bruncheon's "My Merry Memoirs": Chapter 23 - The Doll House...

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When I was a little girl, (and the crown Princess and Heir Apparent of the twin kingdoms Greater & Lesser Marnier and the Triple Sec Islands - but that's another story for another time!) my parents believed in all my toys providing educational and moralistic benefits as well as pure childish entertainment! A case in point is the doll house competition which they announced to the great European and American architects of the time. Among the many submissions was this one by the great illustrator, designer, and artist Alphonse Mucha. He proposed a fantastic dream-like structure that would stand 6' high and be approximately 21' square with all its grounds and gardens. Furniture, dolls, and mythical beasts and gods and goddesses would occupy it along with fiends and doll-demons in trap doors underneath, which were timed to open only at night for me to release and play with. The whole thing was overseen by our family-therapists Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung who each treated my mother and father respectively resulting in terrible fights at the dinner table over the metaphorical meaning and sexual symbolism of various foods being served by alternately frightened or furious servants!

Freud felt that the presence of naked people all over the doll-house was exactly the kind of progressive education that a child should have to be fully comfortable with sex later on "in 6th grade". He DID insist that all the figures be of extremely beauty physically because, "Vy shood un eempreshanable tchild bee exposed tu dee ugly pipple. Hoo vants to see dee old und rinkles? Dee faht und balled? Dee doll-hoz moost be a plays ob dee hahppy, not dee hiddy-ose! Yo vant for dee Sheeble tu grow to be a keeler...or a meeskite?".

Carl Jung, on the other hand, was thrilled that the whole thing was like something out of dream, albeit a bad one, but he and I, along with Mucha had many concept meetings over late night hot-chocolate martini marathons discussing the details and the negotiations with the union laborers.

At any rate, the Mucha dollhouse was finally built at an appalling cost because "Uncle" Alphonse (who adored me, and I him!) insisted on the entire thing to have both gaslights and electricity, running water, and twice the number of doll-servants originally proposed. Apparently, he was shocked that my parents would leave such a large estate (though a toy!) to so few caretakers, and stated quite angrily at my cowering mother that "Sybil should not have to wait with doll-guests for tea and butter-biscuits to be served in a timely manner. Whattya think I'm building here for her? A DUMP????".... My mother fled from the room and was confined to a sofa for two weeks with round-the-clock sessions with Dr. Freud to "calm her nerves"!!!! ....Uncle Alphonse and I rocked with laughter! ROCKED WITH LAUGHTER!!... good times, ah, good times....

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Sybil Bruncheon's Most Interesting Private Messages on Facebook...

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1) Dear Sybil, I am not able to contact too many people right now because of where I'm living. I DID notice that you have a very attractive boyish quality even though you seem to be a girl. Would you like to have a pen pal? I like to write to good-looking guys, and you'll do nicely for now, until I get out and can meet you for dinner. Would you like to be my dinner? (Jeffrey Dahmer)

2) Sybil, I live in a far off place and have not been "on the circuit" in a long, long time. That's been fine with me, although I HAVE heard through the grapevine that Franklin Roosevelt is no longer the President. Will you accept my friend request and catch me up on some things?... especially on the unisex thingie with girl's wearing men's clothes! Thanks a bunch! (Amelia Earhart)

3) Deer SheeBul, Da vay you valked vas torny, true no falt ob yair own, but as dee rrrain anters dee soyle, dah ribber ahnters dee sea, so tearse rahn to a predestneied ahnd! Air you a vere-volf? You loook like dee vere-volf or a Franhknestine! Ah vould lyke to bee yure fraind, bute you mustn't eet me! LOLOLOL! (Maria Ouspenskaya)

4) Dearest Sybil, Glub! Glub! Glub! (Captain E.J. Smith)

5) Hey, Daddy-O!! Want to cruise around in my brand-spanking-new Spyder convertible! You look like a cool gal, and I dig really your muscles... if ya know what I mean! ;-) ;-) ;-) (James Dean)

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Sybil Bruncheon's HYSTERICAL HISTORIES... "Albert Learns a Lesson"...

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Yes, Boys and Girls, even very important and nice people sometimes have a day that doesn't go quite right; like Daddy when the lady in the big office next to his gave him the pink piece of paper and a coupon to go to Howard Johnson's "with the whole family for dinner tonight", and Daddy punched her in the tummy and pushed her back into the mimeograph machine. Or when Mommie was told that her canned tomatoes exploded at the 4H Club County Fair and all the judges were barring her for life from their Jams, Jellies, and Preserves tents... for life!!! 

Yes, even nice people get bad days. Here's a photo of a very important and nice man on a sad day. His name is Mr. Albert Einstein! (We put "Mr." in front when we think they're very important... like "Mr." Mahatma Gandhi, and "Mr." Winston Churchill, and "Mr." Eleanor Roosevelt). Here is Mr. Albert Einstein hearing the news that the Universe is flat, not round or even curved... and that the only time he needs to worry about is what his Timex wrist watch tells him about his next class. He's been late three times this week, and the university board of governors is thinking of giving him a pink piece of paper... and dinner tonight at Howard Johnson's. Nice Mr. Einstein looks sad in this picture because he's Jewish, it's Friday, and he doesn't think he should eat clam strips....

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Sybil Bruncheon's Collection of the World's Most Concerning Children's Books...

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1) Sweetle-kins, the dancing llama, had never trampled a child before, not even naughty ones when they pulled his tail, or said the bad words in his ear. So why did Mrs. Lemon call the policemen with the rifles?.... ("The Happy Valley Stories" by Mike Gund - 1947)

2) Mr. Gabbins was the farmer who raised the special lettuce that my Daddy liked so much but wouldn't tell Mommy he was taking to the card game he played every Wednesday night with other Daddies. He said if I could keep a secret he'd give me a new baseball bat and glove... but I said I'd rather have a new pink hair dryer to open my kindergarten beauty salon. I hope other boys come! ("Sometimes Secrets Are Funny" by Biff Hyde-Heinie -1967)

3) The giant Clumpp was looking for a child, preferably a fat one that would make a delicious stew, but a healthy stew with green beans for vitamin C and potassium, cabbage for folic acid and calcium, and carrots for vitamins A and K, corn for all the nice B vitamins. He wasn't going to put leeks, shallots, or onions in because they made him make bad smells from both ends! ("Fairy Tales That Help Us Stay Healthy" by Dr. Morizmo Steinholtz - 1931)

4) Did you wash your hands today?
Did you wash your hands right after play?
When you touch yourself or your best friend Ray!
Did you wash your hands today?
("I Like My Body" by Hortense Thucker R.N. - 1960)

5) Once Upon A Time there was a beautiful princess who lived in a very big city... not in a castle, because she had met some bad people and had fallen on hard times. Now she worked in a nail salon and was saving up money to put some of her teeth back in... and to repair her septum... ("A Child's Wonderbook For Modern and Savvy Young People" by Chief Detective Gary Cruller of the 6th Precinct in Manhattan - 1984)

6) Have you tried yodeling? Go out in your back yard, preferably when it's dark out, when your Mommy and Daddy are asleep. Did you know that when it's dark in America, it's probably already morning for our little friends in Switzerland! Go out in your backyard and yodel as loud as you can! LOUDER! Nope! REALLY LOUD!! A nice little boy or girl in Switzerland might hear you yodel and think, "I have a nice new friend in America!". If it's too hot out, take off all your clothes. ("Let's Be Friends With the Whole Wide World!" by Hector Fecter - 1965)

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Sybil Bruncheon’s Collection of the World’s Shortest Unfinished Novels...

UNFINISHED NOVELS Writers Block Collage.jpg

1) His career descended into a slurry of endless days spent sprawling on the stained sofa, swallowing handfuls of stale potato chips from the bowls resting under his chin, and slaking his salted thirst in gallons of crème de menthe drunk straight from their cheerless little bottles. (“Mr. Sollomsby’s Mettle” by Philip Pothe – 1921)

2) Little Marguerite had never seen one so big, let alone touched one, as she was instructed to in a kindly, but firm fashion with much stuttering and blinking by old Professor Zsimkitz. (“The Bad Man Finds a Friend” by Clarentula Chafe – 1910… part of her twelve part “Dear Little Marguerite” series)

3) There are those who travel to Comely Corners for the waters, and others for the strange natural beauty of the place. Norbert was neither off these, and never would be, especially after that evening of raspberry macaroon scented candles, charades, and murder. (“Hideous Tales From Inspector Dalrymple’s Diary” by Dame Hogdenne Fusture -1916)

4) However could she explain the mirth she felt when she saw the rhubarb crumble that had meant so much in her childhood with the gypsies that kidnapped her and their donkey Ferdy-kins? (“Around the Many Lands She Traipsed” by Norris Peetch – 1931)

5) The little gold-plated pocket-watch which had seen so many misadventures, and been loved, desired, trusted, or ignored but owned by so many hands finally lay on the dresser, permanently still and asleep for the first time in its one hundred and twenty years, never to brightly tick again. (“The Little Gold-Plated Pocket-Watch” [–working title only!] by Calliope Sternhausen – 1928)

6) “Who dares to call at the Great Quay? Who dares?”, boomed the dark voice from behind the weathered oaken doors rising above the moat… followed by quacking. (“Prince Cuandor and the Appalling Netherparts of Skrotusland” by Myrtle Simmietin – 1908… with illustrations by Myrna Simmietin, her twin sister!)

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