Other Characters, Crooks,
“The most futile thing in this world is any attempt, perhaps, at exact definition of character. All individuals are a bundle of contradictions – none more so than the most capable.”
- Theodore Dreiser, Hoosier author, Sister Carrie
Here are more residents of Caruthers Corners for you to meet. Some are youngsters, farmers, and upright citizens. Others are more questionable denizens – criminals and crazies. But here they are, both the good and bad apples.
Like most schools, Caruthers High has its cliques. Aggie’s pals center around a couple of girlfriends and their everchanging boyfriends. Only recently has Aggie been allowed to date.
• Robert Elwood – Known as “Bobby.” Aggie’s boyfriend.
• Joan McPhee – Known as Joanie.” Aggie’s BFF.
• Pricilla Moretz – Known as “Prissy.” Aggie’s BFF.
• Debbie Ann Zwork – Aggie’s school friend.
• Theodore DiMacchio – Known as “Teddy D.” Pricilla’s flashy boyfriend.
• Timothy Wilder – Known as “Tim.” Plays the guitar and writes his own songs.
• And now Sissy Jackson has joined the group.
Sons of Anthony Wayne
The Sons of Anthony Wayne was founded in 1978 by the late Hank Warton as a protest to the Boy Scouts of America relocating its headquarters to Irving, Texas. A state-wide camper organization, SAW is comprised of a dozen regional patrols, each with a troop leader. The local outpost is known as the Badger Patrol. The members are trained in woodlore and camping techniques. They go camping about four times a year at a local campsite known as Injun Woods.
• Metea Davis – A Potawatomi Indian. Troop leader of the Sons of Anthony Wayne. Teaches the young campers Native American handicrafts and wilderness survival skills.
• Donald Smyth Jr. – Known as “Buddy.” Son of Donald and Patricia Smyth.
• George Yager – Known as “Georgie.” Son of Henry and Emily Yager. A sickly kid.
• Bobby Bjorn – Son of Roger and Elaine Bjorn.
• John Osbourn – Known as “Kinky.” Son of Harvey and Ethel Osbourn.
• Donald Kensinger – Known as “Donny.” Son of Ed and Ethel Kensinger.
• Plus 16 other Badger Patrol members. Before moving back to Chicago, N’yen had held the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Sons of Anthony Wayne.
(“Cuckoo for Coco Puffs”)
The Crackleton Clan lives mainly in a community 10 miles north of town called Crackleton Crossing. They are thought to be criminals, degenerates, and physical freaks due to consanguinity.
• Sarah Celine “Granny” Crackleton – Matriarch of the Crackleton Clan. A Jinks by birth. Nearing the century mark, she is the oldest woman in the county. She’s fond of sweets and Big Red sodas.
• Ed Crackleton – Granny’s younger brother. Father of numerous delinquents. Manages a team of pickpockets, purse snatchers, and grifters (all family members).
• Jebediah Crackleton – Known as “Jeb.” Granny’s son. At nearly 7-feet tall he is a physical giant in size. A notorious loan shark. Owns the Crackleton Convenience Store.
• Willard Crackleton – Known as “Dub,” short for Dubya (W). Jeb’s eldest son. A physical dwarf, less than 5-feet tall. Six fingers on each hand. Manages the family’s convenience store, when not doing jail time.
• Claude Crackleton – Granny’s other son. An awkward Humpty Dumpty at 410 pounds. Exhibits extreme psoriasis. A special needs case, he suffers from advanced schizophrenia. Believes that an outer space alien lives inside him.
• Faith Ann Ritchie – Granny’s late-in-life daughter. She’s 98 pounds of anger and resentment. Mother of Lou, Gus, and several other kids. Fathers are mostly unknown. Currently managing the family convenience store. Hates it.
• Yarnell Ritchie – Faith Ann’s husband. Went out to buy cigarettes 40 years ago and never came back. May or may not be Lou’s father.
• Louis Ritchie – A flying instructor, known as “Upside Down Lou.” Faith Ann Ritchie’s oldest son. Trying to break away from his crazy family. Lives in Burpyville. Owns Head in the Clouds Skydiving School.
• Augustus “Gus” Crackleton – One of Faith Ann’s numerous children. Father unknown. Cookie and Ben Bentley’s foster son. (See The Quilters Club Families.)
• Phil Jinks – A Crackleton cousin, he has phocomelia, giving him flippers instead of arms.
• Sherman Poindexter – Owner of Sherm’s Guns & Fishing Gear, a small shop at the crossroads. Father of the Poindexter twins.
• Aretha Ann Poindexter (née Crackleton) – Sherman’s wife, source of the mixed-up genes that produced the twins. Daughter of Ed Crackleton.
• Bob Crackleton – Owner of Bob’s Autos, a small used car lot at the Crossing. Son of Ed Crackleton. Doesn’t have a driver’s license.
• Freida Johnson (née Crackleton) – Fatty Johnson’s wife. One if Ed Crackleton’s daughters. Mother of Randolph and Babs. Has an extra set of teeth. Nicknamed “Chewy.”
• Babs Johnson – An example of microcephaly, a “pinhead” in carnival freakshow parlance.
• Clovis Augustus Johnson – Fatty Johnson’s mentally impaired younger brother. “A real wackjob, even by Crackleton standards.” Related to the Crackletons, and thus descended from Ferdinand Jinks. Carries on an imaginary feud between the Jinks and the Madisons. A combination of cunning and bad judgment, he can be dangerous.
• Plus El and Vis Crackleton, Abel and Abby Crackleton, Randolph “Three-Eyes” Johnson and “Rex,” along with Fatty Johnson (Clovis’s older brother).
Lawyers are few in Caruthers Corners, most legal services handled by attorneys over in Burpyville or down in Indianapolis. There are two local judges, one honest, one not. Most legal work consists of wills and land transfers.
• Judge Horace Cramer – A friendly law-and-order jurist. Raises beagles.
• Bartholomew Dingley, Esq. – A retired lawyer. Dingley & Bratts PC, a well-respected law firm in this part of Indiana. Purchased by Mark Tidemore.
• Judge John Lawrence Bristol – A corrupt jurist known as “Bust ‘Em Out” Bristol. Said to take bribes. Father of Johnny Bristol.
• J. Harold Wentworth, Esq. –A shady lawyer from Burpyville. Related to the Yagers. Being disbarred.
• L. Wainscott Gabney, Esq. – A senior partner of the Indianapolis law firm of Preston, Whitney & Gabney. A White Shoe law firm.
• Plus Barnabas Soltairé and Mark the Shark.
Crooks and Shady Characters
Every town has its black sheep. Some of these miscreants have been caught with their hands in a cookie jar … or their neighbor’s pocket. Others simply display a questionable attitude or a furtive look. Reputations follow wrongdoers like a dark storm cloud.
• Jasper Beanie – Town Hall custodian, cemetery caretaker, town drunk. Perhaps a good man at heart, but stays inebriated much of the time. Has his own jail cell for “sleeping it off.”
• Nancy Ann Beanie – Jasper’s wife and Henry Caruthers’s partner in crime.
• Henry Caruthers – Former mayor, crook and swindler, descendant of Town Founder Jacob Abernathy Caruthers.
• Stanley Caruthers – Nicknamed “Stinky.” Henry Caruthers’s “bad seed” nephew.
• Gloria Bradshaw – Harley’s aunt. A conniving personality. A threat to Emmy Buttersworth and others she feels has slighted her.
• Harley Bradshaw – Raised by his aunt Gloria. A bit slow-witted. Easily manipulated. Deliberately ran over Sam Buttersworth with his tractor.
• Charlie Scherzinger – An ex-con who works at Grumman’s Granary. Did time for robbing a Burpyville bank. Will he slip back into his old ways?
• Natalie Scherzinger – Wife of Charlie Scherzinger. Very supportive of his rehabilitation. Prays a lot.
• Elbert Gregory Garrison Ignatius Ettelman (hence the initials E.G.G.I.E.) – Eggie is a small-time con man and grifter. Poses as other people.
• Rodney Ray Martin – Vicky Martin’s unemployed brother ... or whatever. “Roddie,” to her.
• Robert Earl Stutz – A drifter hanging around town. Sometimes called “Robbie.”
• Ethan Allen Harrington – A career criminal from Chicago. He’s always having a bad day.
• (Also see The Crackletons and The Lost Boys.)
The Fourth Estate is represented by the Burpyville Gazette, the Indianapolis Star, WZUR radio, WABL radio, Channel 4 TV, and five residential cable TV providers.
• Ralph Wrightson – An ace reporter with the Burpyville Gazette. Won an Indiana State Press Association award for Investigative Journalism back in 2014.
• Justin Nightley – Publisher of the Burpyville Gazette. A dyspeptic man who hates deadlines. Son of the owner.
• Josiah Nightley – Owner of the Nightley Newspapers Group. Justin’s elderly father. Considered to be quite cantankerous. Very right wing.
• Bob Tippey – Former owner/publisher of the Burpyville Gazette. Regrets selling the family business.
• Lucius Plancus – Reporter for WZUR. A large, 300-pound 6-foot-2 florid-faced redhead. Called “the Jolly Red Giant” behind his back. Very aggressive.
• Kenny Kincaid – Reporter for WZUR. A laissez-faire attitude, doesn’t work very hard at getting a story. Lucius Plancus’s on-air rival.
• Jeffery Snodgrass – Sound engineer for WZUR.
• Clyde Carson – Station manager for WZUR.
• Anderson Cooper – CNN anchor.
• Howlin’ Horace – A popular radio personality for WABL. A shock jock.
• Darlene Baxter – The weather girl on Channel 4. “A big-haired Barbie Doll” is an apt description.
• John Powers Petrovitch – A professional storm chaser. Fearless or foolish in his pursuit of dangerous weather, depending on your viewpoint.
• Stuart Frumkin – A meteorologist. Trained in the science of weather. Said to date Darlene Baxter.
Circus that toured Indiana, Ohio, and other Midwestern states for nearly 50 years. It usually featured only seven animals – elephant, lion, tiger, baboon, bear, and two trained horses – in its on-the-road entourage, along with a ringmaster, a mentalist, juggling act, assorted clowns, lion tamer, and occasional roustabouts.
• Big Bill Haney – Founder of Haney Bros. Circus (now Haney Bros. Petting Zoo and Exotic Animals Refuge). He’s the ringmaster, lion tamer, and strongman rolled into one.
• Willamina Haney – Wife of Big Bill Haney. A/K/A “Little William,” she is the second “brother” in Haney Bros. Circus. She kept her sex a secret to the outside world.
• Swami Bombay (né Juan Martinez) – Manager of Haney Bros. Petting Zoo. Mentalist, lion tamer, animal handler, and general roustabout. Passes as an East Indian, but was born in Juarez, Mexico.
• Thomas “Tom” Appleby – A circus performer. Part of a juggling pirate act, but always wanted to be a lion tamer.
• “Tall Paul” Johnson – A former carnival sideshow giant. A full 7-feet tall. He could touch most ceilings, with his palms flat.
• Martha Ray Johnson – A former carnival sideshow tattooed lady. Tall Paul’s wife. Promoted as “The Human Canvas.”
Plus the three Lost Boys (see below).
(Also see Amish Farmers)
Caruthers County is mostly rural, supporting a number of farms. The main agricultural product here is watermelons. The biggest producer by far is Aitkens Produce (today, Aitkens Co-op). There are also many well-maintained Amish farms dotting the countryside.
• Errol Baumgartner – A local farmer, grandson of Edwin Baumgartner. Maintains the family farm up near Never Ending Swamp.
• Janey Baumgartner – Errol’s wife. Gracious, a good baker. She seems to be lonely.
• Teresa “Tessie” Humphrey – Errol and Janey Baumgartner’s divorced daughter. Bobby Ray Purdue’s girlfriend.
• Andrew Linderman – A farmer with 9 children, 4 dogs, and 12 cats. He also grows watermelons.
• Alice Linderman – Always seems to be pregnant.
• Emmanuel Linderman – One of the Lindermans’ rug rats. A cute little tyke. Has a tendency to wander off.
• Tim Mischler – A day laborer. Does mostly farm work.
• Sad Sammy Hankins –A well-known watermelon farmer. Looks like the Pillsbury Dough Boy. He holds the record for growing largest watermelon in the county (316 pounds).
• Eileen Teague – Deputy Harry Teague’s elderly mother. She lives on the family’s 40-acre farm up near the Ohio border. Rents the fields to a tenet farmer since her husband Arthur passed away. Grows Yellow Crimsons, a rare yellow-flesh sweet-tasting watermelon.
• The Brandenbergers – A farming family who left the area after their home fell into a sinkhole up near Injun Woods. A scary experience.
• Plus the late Big Nose Evans, a farmer who also served on the Town Council.
• And, of course, the Boyd Aitkens family (See Aitkens Produce).
The Amish migrated to this area around 1840. Being traditionalist Christian fellowships with Swiss German Anabaptist origins, they are closely related to, but distinct from, Mennonites. Old Order Amish are known for simple living, plain dress, and refusal to accept modern technology. Most of these Amish families speak a Bernese German dialect among themselves. Farming, carpentry, and stone masonry are the main trades of the Amish community. About a quarter of Caruthers County’s population is Amish. They generally refer to Non-Amish people as “English.”
• Abram Wagler – Head of a large Amish family of carpenters and farmers. A church leader. Maintains a large, well-maintained farm that you pass on Highway 102.
• Abigail Wagler – Abram’s wife. Mother of 15 children.
• Adam Wagler – Abram and Abigail’s oldest son. One of the few Amish employed at the EZ Seat Chair Factory.
• Ephraim Wagler – Abram and Abigail’s second oldest son. Works as a carpenter. Recently married, so he is now growing a mustache-less beard as is Amish tradition.
• Rachel Wagler – Ephraim’s wife.
• David Wagler – Abram and Abigail’s middle son (#8). Soon turning 16, David will be allowed to go experience modern life among the “English.” Once he gets his fill, he will be allowed to return to the church and commit himself to the Amish way of life.
• Leland Borkholder – A successful small farmer. Husband of Sarah, father of Atlee. A church deacon.
• Sarah Borkholder – Wife of Leland, mother of seven children – Atlee, Mordicai, Avril, Luke, Levi, Joshua, and (yes) Randy.
• Amos Stoltzfus – A cabinetmaker. Grandson of the original Amos Stoltzfus. Being shunned for marrying outside the church.
• Naomi Stoltzfus – Amos’s non-Amish wife.
The largest watermelon farm in the county. Watermelons are the main agricultural crop hereabouts, mostly the Carolina Cross variety.
• Boyd Aitkens – Head of Aitkens Produce, the largest watermelon farm in the county. A big balding man with a handlebar mustache.
• Ralph Aitkens – Boyd’s oldest son. Foreman of Aitkens Produce. Sulky and second rate.
• Charlie Aitkens – Boyd’s youngest son. “The Golden Boy,” his father’s favorite.
• Susan Quinlan Aitkens Hitzer – Boyd’s illegitimate daughter. Known to friends as “Suzy Q.” Grew up in Pitsville. Recently married Petie Hitzer.
• Louise Gluck – Aitkens Produce staff accountant. A widow, she’s seeing Buck Jackson.
• Henry “Hank” Yager – A supervisor at Aitkens Produce. A reputation for abusing the Mexican laborers.
• Emily Yager – Hank Yager’s wife, Georgie’s mother. Works in Aitkens Produce office. Belongs to macramé club.
• Tommy “Spud” Bodkin – Charlie Aitkens’s pal. Manages a crew of watermelon pickers.
Note: Caruthers County has an inordinate number of twins per capita. The US norm is 3.33 twins per 100 births, but this county boasts about 6 per 100. The phenomena was documented in the Baltimore Geographical Society’s 1994 study.
• Mary Andrews and Catherine Andrews – These thirtysomething twins still live with their parents on Easy Chair Lane. Childhood friends of Leslie Ann Holmes. Mary and Catherine are collectively referred to by friends as “The Andrews Sisters,” although they have no talent for singing.
• Charlene Baumgartner and Claudine Baumgartner – Twin daughters of Errol and Janey Baumgartner. College students at IU.
• El Crackleton and Vis Crackleton – Jeb’s twin sons. A pair of dumb criminal. Their combined names are a tribute to Elvis, half to each boy.
• Jean Simpson and Jane Simpson – They work as clerks at Home Depot. Identical twin sisters, they are impossible to tell apart. Sexy blondes who share a promiscuous history.
• Randolph Everett Johnson – Dubbed “Three-Eyes” due to an extra eye in his forehead from a parasitic twin. Rex Johnson – The unborn “vanished twin” of Three-Eyes Johnson. Only physical evidence of Rex is his brother’s third eye. Featured in the Baltimore Geographic Society’s Study of Physical Deformities in Crackleton Crossing, Indiana.
• Abel Crackleton and Abby Crackleton – Conjoined twins, joined at the hip. The freakish sons of Ed Crackleton. Featured in the Baltimore Geographic Society study. (See picture above.)
• Lonny Poindexter and Larry Poindexter – Twins who attend Madison Elementary. Lonny and his brother speak their own invented language. They have the “IQ of a pineapple,” says their father, Sherman Poindexter.
• Plus Maddy Madison and her separated-at-birth fraternal twin Maisie Walters.
• The Hoople Quadruplets do not count.
The Lost Boys
Three boys became local legends when they got lost in Never Ending Swamp. Imagine the local folks’ surprise when they turned up three decades later, with tales of having joined a traveling circus.
• Jud Watson – One of the Lost Boys. Disappeared back in 1982 in the Never Ending Swamp, only to reappear 30 years later. A/K/A Bernard Warbuckle.
• Myrtle Watson – Jud’s mother. Pete and Darnell’s sister-in-law.
• Harry Periwinkle – Second of the Lost Boys. Disappeared back in 1982 in the Never Ending Swamp, only to reappear 30 years later.
• Myrtle Periwinkle – Harry’s mother. One-time member of the Youth International Party (Yippies). A free thinker.
• Plus Bobby Ray Purdue, the third Lost Boy who disappeared back in 1982 in the Never Ending Swamp, only to reappear 30 years later.
Pets (and Other Critters)
Just for the fun of it, here are some of the pets and critters you will encounter in the Quilters Club stories. The town has an active no-kill animal shelter and a petting zoo featuring “retired” circus animals.
• Tige I – Maddy’s long-ago mutt, named after the Buster Brown dog.
• Tige II – Aggie’s dog, a wire-haired Dachshund mix. A “Heinz 57.” Named after Aggie’s Grammy’s old dog.
Inka, Dinka, and Doo – Bootsie’s three rescued dogs. Respectively. a black Doberman, a blue-eyed Malamute, and a tiny Chihuahua.
• Bippiti, Bobbidi, and Boo – Bootsie’s three new rescued dogs.
• Alexander the Great – Mrs. Warton’s cat. Now owned by Maisie Walters.
• Patsy – Moose Johansson’s pit bull.
• Bowser – Bobby Ray Purdue’s boyhood dog. A common name in these parts.
• Bowwow – Eugene Gluck’s Blue Tick Hound. His widow still has the old dog, nearly 18 now.
• Bippy – Fred Zwicky’s Pomeranian. The dog was adopted by Emmy Buttersworth after Principal Zwicky’s death.
• Doodlebug – Alice Schroeder’s little mop of a dog, a Pekingese.
• Pedro – Wanda Schaeffer’s Mexican Chihuahua.
• Ol’ Horace – An iguana at the animal shelter.
• “The Magnificent Seven” – Those original animals with the Haney Bros. Circus: Happy the Elephant, Sneezy the Baboon, Bashful the Tiger, Grumpy the Lion, Sleepy the Bear, plus Doc and Dopey the Horses.
• The Dalton Gang – Three rhesus monkeys that are constantly escaping from the Haney Bros. Circus and Petting Zoo.
• Pia – A ten-foot Burmese Python (Python bivittatus) at the Haney Bros. Circus and Petting Zoo.
• Big Calvin – The giant catfish that lurks near the bridge where Highway 101 crosses over the Wabash River.