Fire Talk – with Chief Brandbil

fire talkThe boys of the Puddlegulch Volunteer Fire Brigade responded on the evening of December 9 to the home of Marietta Marson, widow of the late Henry Marson for report of a fire in the living room. Upon arrival, a fire was indeed found! The source of the blaze was found to be the newly purchased Christmas tree from the Marlo’s MegaMart in Taylorfield which Widow Marson had set up the day before. Gregory Fiddlestone and Joe Whistler put aside their differences over their much talked about collision at Possum Hollow and Main long enough to extinguish the blaze. 

“I always wanted that Norman Rockwell feel to the house at Christmas time,” said Widow Marson. “And to me, that means having a picturesque tree next to a blazing hearth. But Henry never wanted that with a live tree because he thought it would be a fire hazard; we always had to put the tree out in the barn and spend Christmas morning shivering in our wraps with the goats and Henry’s ‘pet’ possum Toothy. What with Henry gone now, I reckoned I could get one of those fake trees from Marlo’s that’s easy to assemble and be able to put it where I’ve always wanted it.”

But an artificial tree is still subject to the perils of fire, Puddlegulchians. It doesn’t matter what kind of tree you put up or how easy it is to assemble, if it’s too close to the fire, it’s going to go up along with your Norman Rockwell dreams.  It’s just a matter of how long it takes. Best to keep your tree away from any heat source, and if it’s a real tree, keep it watered.

I salute Henry Marson for his extraordinary dedication to fire safety.  Would that we all celebrated Christmas in our barns, much like Joseph and Mary did.

In the immortal words of local celebrity author, Chuck Hassler, in his thrilling debut novel Colt Hardcastle & The Persimmon Hill Posse, “Fire takes no friend and respects no tree.”

Fire Chief Red

The Puddlegulch Post welcomes a new staff member

Rose Hassler has taught English and English for Math at Puddlegulch High since 1984 and is married to local celebrity author Chuck Hassler who has received many positive comments from Puddlegulchians over the years for his thrilling 1978 debut western novel  “Colt Hardcastle & The Persimmon Hill Posse.” Rose has been invited to join the Puddlegulch Post staff after 152 letters to the editor over 30 years for grammar and spelling errors. There are rumors that her husband is writing a sequel to “Colt Hardcastle & The Persimmon Hill Posse” called “Colt Hardcastle and the Grandchildren of The Persimmon Hill Posse.”  We at The Puddlegulch Post are happy to welcome Chuck’s new novel.

Mysterious stranger caught on security camera in front of Dale’s Discount General

Security cam shot of mysterious stranger at Dale’s Discount General

 Robert “Bud” Butterworth, Sheriff PPD – This image was captured early on December 10th from the highly-surveilled Dale’s Discount General.  Through the technology we see only in the movies, our department was able to enhance it to show this mysterious man enshrouded in a mysterious fog.  What the enhanced photo tells us is that the man was wearing a fedora and a tie.  The luggage indicates that he is either leaving Puddlegulch or entering Puddlegulch, but to where or from where? Any tips leading to the identity or location of this man will be rewarded with a Dale’s Discount General gift card.

Cinematically, digitally-enchanced photo from Dale’s security camera

Society Celebrates Historic Success

Historical Society member Gloria Nurmbaum playing dead on Possum Day

The Puddlegulch Ladies’ Historical Society and Quilting Bee held its semi-monthly meeting in the back room of the Bluebird Diner on Monday afternoon.  A report concerning the successful conclusion to this weekend’s Possum Day Festival activities was presented by Society President and Possum Cook-off champion 3 years running Fiona Forenstein.

Forenstein reported that this year’s reenactment of the founding of the town by the Society’s members was possibly the most moving yet, despite Emma French’s absence due to her injury when she  tripped over the Puddlegulch High School mascot Perry Possum during this year’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Forenstein also updated the members on their annual toy drive for the holidays.  Donations appear to be right on schedule.

After the report, the rehearsal times were announced for next month’s presentation of the Society’s reenactment of the Battle of the Bulge.   Since the Toastmasters Club normally meets at the Bluebird Diner, it was agreed that the next meeting of the Ladies’ Historical Society will return to Rosemary Jenkins’ parlor.

The meeting was concluded with a round of the Diner’s famed ice tea and an extended round of quilting.

The Puddle Gulch Post Accused of Ableism

Note from editor:  I don’t get paid enough to take the caps out of this post.  Mrs. Frith will be offered free technical support from Carl’s Computer Help to resolve her caps issue.

DEAR EDITOR,
 
MY NAME IS FERN FRITH.  PLEASE EXCUSE MY WRITING IN ALL CAPS.  I DO NOT INTEND TO APPEAR TO BE SHOUTING OR TO BE ANGRY.  UNFORTUNATELY, THE KEY ON MY COMPUTER WHICH ALLOWS ME TO WRITE IN CAPS OR LOWER CASE IS NOT WORKING PROPERLY.  IT IS STUCK ON ALL CAPS.
 
I AM WRITING BECAUSE OF SOME CONSTERNATION I AM FEELING DUE TO YOUR TREATMENT OF MY HUSBAND, FRED FRITH.  FRED, UNFORTUNATELY, IS THE VICTIM OF A LITTLE KNOWN DISABILITY BY THE NAME OF UFA, OR UNFORTUNATE SPELLATION ANXIETY.  IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR FRED TO SPELL CORRECTLY.  TO ADD TO HIS TROUBLES, FRED ALSO HAS MMS, OR MIXED METAPHORS SYNDROME, AS SEEN IN HIS SAYING, ‘DON’T TAKE ANY WOODEN PICKLES.’  OR, AS FRED WRITES IT, ‘DUNT TAKE ENY WOODEN PICKELS.’  
 
WE HAVE RECENTLY MOVED TO PUDDLEGULCH, OR ‘PULLYGUT’ AS FRED CALLS IT.  FRED, BEING A VERY CIVIC MINDED PERSON, DECIDED TO WRITE A LETTER TO YOUR NEWSPAPER. EXPRESSING HOW HE IS ‘QUOKING WITH EXSITMENT AT THE PURSPICT OF LEAVING IN…..YURE LUVLY CITY, PULLYGUT.’ HE WAS DEVASTATED WHEN HE WAS TOLD THAT HIS LETTER WOULD NOT BE PRINTED.  AND WAS VERITABLY LEFT IN RUINS WHEN HE HEARD THAT THE REASON WAS DUE TO HIS INABILITY TO SPELL CORRECTLY.
 
FRED AND I ARE VERY FRIENDLY PEOPLE.  WE HAVE REACHED OUT TO THE PEOPLE OF PUDDLEGULCH. WE HAVE ALREADY FOUND A CHURCH HOME AS WE WERE THRILLED TO DISCOVER THAT PUDDLEGULCH HAS A PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH.  WE ARE LIFELONG PRESBYTERIANS.  IN FACT, WITH NO ENCOURAGEMENT FROM FRED OR ME, THE SESSION OF THAT CHURCH HAS HAD A DISCUSSION OF HOW IMPROPER IT IS FOR THE LOCAL NEWSPAPER TO BEHAVE THIS WAY TOWARD A PERSON WHO HAS THE DISABILITIES, UFA AND MMS, THAT FRED HAS.
 
I HOPE THAT YOU WILL RECONSIDER YOUR DECISION TO NOT PUBLISH FRED’S HEARTFELT LETTER WHICH HE RECENTLY SENT TO YOUR NEWSPAPER.
 
SINCERLY YOURS,
 
FERN FANNIE FRITH
DAR  

Sweet Pastures Nursing Village and Retirement Home to Crown Queen

Bonita Mae Hogwallop, Society Columnist

It’s that time of year again!  The Possum Day festival means that The Sweet Pastures Nursing Village and Retirement Home will be crowning this year’s Queen Sweet and put her out to Pasture.

The contest is open to everyone in the home and will contain the regular rounds of Noisiest Napper, Walker/Wheelchair Roundup, Cooking Courtroom and, of course, swim suit (only one pieces this year, ladies.)  The residents are really excited and can’t wait to attend the festivities.

Flora Forenstein, the recently hired activity director, hopes this will put the unfortunate rumors that have been circulating about the Sweet Pasture for years to rest for good.

“We are really a fun bunch of folks,” she is quoted as saying.  “We have recently filled all of our nursing positions and are ready to show these seniors the time of their life.”

I hate to repeat rumors, but we all remember that many residents here have had unfortunate stories amid their backgrounds.  Including Mel Chubbicks’ possum poaching and Myrna Hogwallop’s obstruction of past Possum Queen elections to benefit her nieces.  Absurd! 

“I realize Minnie Mersaphat, God rest her soul, a former resident was found guilty of poisoning those deviled eggs, “Forenstein said, “but she was only acting on her conscience.  She had asked that the name of the delicious dish be changed to Angelled Eggs to fall into accordance with her dreams.  Jesus told her to put bleach in those eggs to cleanse them of sin because everyone refused to change the name! “

“And all of the other pending allegations concerning poisoning and our residents are being dismissed or passed to a higher court.  We are a bunch of fun loving folks here and we just want to share our amusements!”

Festivities begin at 10 am this Saturday.

After the story was written I was asked to correct Ms. Forenstein’s statement that the nursing positions have all been filled.  Three of the above said employees have become sick and posted their resignations.  If you are interested in these positions, please contact Flora Forenstein and Sweet Pasture.

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Hardwood Drought Ends
Welcome to The Puddlegulch Post

Community Tree Lighting “Kindles” Holiday Spirit

The Puddlegulch Community Christmas Tree lighting took place at the City Park Friday night soon after dusk.  The event officially kicked off the weekend’s Possum Day festivities.  The proceedings were introduced by Mayor John F. Townsend  who welcomed the crowd and introduced Choir Director Claudette Tibbs and the Sowser Elementary School Choir who presented a selection of holiday melodies.

An hour and twenty-three minutes later, local celebrity Chuck Hassler had the honor of lighting the Official Puddlegulch Christmas Tree.  Hassler made a short speech that included numerous quotes from his 1978 novel, Colt Hardcastle & The Persimmon Hill Posse before throwing the switch to ignite the tinsel festooned 30 foot tall aluminum tree.

The Puddlegulch volunteer fire department was near at hand for just such a contingency, recalling the 1999 tree lighting, and spirits were soon back on track for hot cocoa and cookies provided by the folks from the local chapter of Chocoholics Anonymous.  Signed copies of Hassler’s novel were also available for purchase after the ceremony.  The author says they make perfect “stocking stuffers”.  In addition to being Puddlegulch’s celebrated author, Hassler teaches a Creative Writing course at South Mid-State College, Standing Rock Extension.

“The stoic sequoia or the hardy oak cannot fall without a mighty crash.  So it was with Colt Hardcastle when he met with the most dastardly gang of outlaws in the Wild Wild West,” said Hassler, with little or no context or reason why. “Trees!” he was heard intoning heartily into the night air.

Those still remaining after the ceremony gathered together singing Christmas carols around the smoking husk of the majestic symbol of the season.

The tree lighting was just one of the many events in a busy weekend in Puddlegulch, including the Possum Cookoff, Boggle tournament, Civil War era reenactments, bake sales, classic car gatherings and more.

The miraculous, heart-warming origins of The Trampling of the Possums

christmas possum

The day after Thanksgiving, known elsewhere as Black Friday, was “The Trampling of the Possums.”  Although this seems like a gruesome event, it originates with Puddlegulch’s first and only true miracle.

The Christmas Possum is the reason for the Trampling of the Possums. In 1903, when the first mass-produced Christmas lights came out, Willard Johnson, the owner of Johnson’s Drugs, was up on a ladder putting up the lights of the town above his storefront 15 feet high. All of a sudden a strong gust of wind caused Johnson to fall backward. When he woke up a dead possum was under his head. The possum’s innards were all over the sidewalk. At first, Johnson thought the carnage was his own but he soon realized that this possum had darted out of nowhere to save his life. Henceforth it was referred to The Christmas Possum. 

But that’s not the end. This next part is considered legendary by some, but there are many true believers. Several reports over the years have come out from citizens who fell off ladders while putting up lights who claimed that they woke up after the fall with no injuries to the faint smell of possum. It is believed that is the Spirit of the Christmas Possum who saved their lives.

The lights contest began in 1953 at the 50th anniversary of the selfless sacrificial possum’s death. Every qualifying entry must depict the Spirit of the Christmas Possum and his sacrifice. In 2003, at the 100-year anniversary when Black Friday was getting in full swing, the Puddlegulch Chamber of Commerce in an effort to increase interest in the downtown stores for Christmas began the Trampling of the Possums. They felt that having people falling off ladders onto papier-mache possums filled with red licorice was too dangerous so they went with trampling instead. 

The winner of the lights decoration competition has the honor of the first ceremonial stomp. They then throw the red licorice (a Johnson’s Drugs favorite) into the air, symbolizing the Spirit of the Christmas Possum’s annual ascent back to Possum heaven.

Sheriff decries eviction notice, misleading headline

Jolene Butterworth, Education and General Assignment Reporter (wife of Sheriff Butterworth)

(edited for profanity)

In the wake of an eviction notice served on the Clarke’s Mill County Sheriff’s Office Wednesday, Sheriff Robert “Bud” Butterworth has vowed to remain in the former Donut Queen Donut Shoppe until a suitable new location can be found.

“That was a [heavy-handed] move by (landlord Horace B.) Crumbpacker. He could have told us months ago if he didn’t want to renew our lease instead of making Jimmy (Deputy James Barnes) serve himself,” Butterworth said. “You’d think he would want to be a better friend to law enforcement.”

In an exclusive interview with this reporter, Butterworth also took issue with the Post’s headline about the eviction notice, Sheriff Removed from Office.

“They made it sound like I was impeached or something, when the truth is they ain’t got [nothing] on me,” he said. “And we’re still in the office space, so even saying we’ve been removed is [incorrect]. I mean, [come on].”

A new location for the sheriff’s office may be hard to come by. There has been a dearth of other office and retail space on the Puddlegulch town square since Dollar Colonel and Dollar Bonanza moved in last spring, and a bond issue to build a new Sheriff’s Office to replace the one that burned down failed last month. Moreover, the current location has been retrofitted to include jail facilities.

“It was [no picnic] to retrofit the Donut Queen’s proofing cabinets as holding cells, but they work [like a charm], especially if I heat them up a little,” Butterworth said.

Proofing cabinets before jail cell conversion
Proofing cabinet retrofitted for jail cell

Sheriff Removed From Office

Jack Studebaker, Reporter – The Clarke’s Mill County Sheriff has been formally served an eviction notice for the office located in the Cedar Creek Shopping Center according to the property’s landlord, Horace B. Crumbpacker.  Papers were served by Deputy James Barnes on Wednesday, but since Sheriff Robert “Bud” Butterworth was unavailable at the time, the Deputy accepted the papers on the Sheriff’s behalf.

The Sheriff’s office has been located in the Cedar Creek Shopping Center adjacent to Sonshine Tanning & Christian Bookstore since last year when the previous office on State Street was fumigated for weasels and subsequently burned down due to faulty wiring. 

The current location was previously occupied by The Donut Queen Donut Shop whose owner, Ben Pomeroy, wants to return to the property.  

Crumbpacker, who owns a number of properties in Puddlegulch and Standing Rock, chose not to renew the lease with the Sheriff’s Department which ended the first day of this month.  “I’ve got a hankering for some donuts,” Crumbpacker said. “Besides, Bud will probably be there more often after he’s evicted than he was before!” he added.

This is just one incident in an ongoing feud between Crumbpacker and Butterworth.  Some have expressed concern that since Pomeroy is Crumbpacker’s son-in-law, the entire issue was orchestrated as a strike against the Sheriff after he arrested Crumbpacker’s dog, Sadie, for disturbing the peace this summer.

“The idea that any of this was intended as an opportunity to embarrass the Sheriff and his fine department is absurd,” Crumbpacker commented.

Sheriff Butterworth was unavailable for comment.  Deputy Barnes however was available for comment.  “I like donuts,” Barnes said.

If the Sheriff refuses to vacate within 30 days, it is unsure at this point whether he will be required to physically escort himself from the property or not.