Short Story Review: “Bad Penny” by Carrie Laben

2 of 5 stars.

This tale takes one insignificant hamlet’s quirky town lore and turns it into historical fiction, barely. In Western New York State near Lake Erie, unincorporated Town Line–according to lore–voted to secede from the Union in the Civil War. Neither the North nor the South noticed/cared.

As for their role in the war, 5 men took off for Canada, 5 men went south to join the Rebs, and 20 men donned the Yankee blue. Generations later the town’s claim to quirky fame was aired when it was realized that if the historic vote took place, they had never voted to rescind said secession. In the post-war patriotism of 1946, they formally rescinded and rejoined the US to the delight of journalists looking for a sensationalized story. Cesar Romero [the original television Joker to Adam West’s Batman] emceed the festivities. These are the Wiki-facts.

The tale overlays a veneer of characters of then [during the Civil War] and now [just post WWII]. It’s not the full immersive Erik Larson treatment of fictionalized history, but it does draw a spotlight to the quirky tales hidden within many a town across the land.

This tale appears in Shades of Blue & Gray: Ghosts of the Civil War edited by Steve Berman. I’ve previously read this author’s “Underneath Me, Steady Air”.
 
 
 
[Check out my other reviews here.]

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