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Hometown Haunts T-Shirt Contest

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I'm from a little dot on the map called Lower Macungie Township. The township comprises a handful of towns, villages and a borough, but all that's really there is basically my mom's house, a diner and a cornfield (Ooh, we just got a Starbucks, too. Welcome to the 21st century, everyone). For some reason, our quiet little township has what seems to me a disproportionately high number of ghost stories and folk legends. I'm talking enough to fill a book.

Or at least a healthy chunk of one. Ghost Stories of the Lehigh Valley was published in 1993 "“ ghost-stories.jpgincidentally, the same year I moved to Macungie (Oooh, spooky coincidence! Boo!). The writing wasn't great and the design was worse, but for a kid with some morbid curiosities, the book was a treasure. Macungie finally had something interesting going for it.

Among the ghosts that call my town home are"¦

Bucky

Bucky is the resident ghost at a building just down the street from a friend's house. The Hensingerville Hotel has been variously been a hotel, a tavern and a private home for almost 200 years, and the whole time owners and guests have had run-ins with Bucky, a one-time owner who killed himself there. Bucky is said to be mostly helpful, and at least two people who've owned the place have said that they've come downstairs in the morning to find the ghost had started breakfast for them by heating up a frying pan for eggs or putting on a pot of coffee. But like many ghosts, Bucky liked to play tricks on the living, too. One owner claims that one night, the lights over the bar started spilling water, even though there was a bedroom directly above them and no pipes in the ceiling. The water didn't cause any damage to the plaster, and the lights continued to function the whole time.

The ghost of Minesite Road

East Texas used to be a remote and rough-and-tumble place (which is how it got its name), but its proximity to iron mines opened it up to heavy traffic along Minesite Road. No one can say exactly when, but sometime in the late 1800s, a man hanged himself in a tree along the road and has haunted the surrounding area ever since. Over the years, horse riders, wagon drivers and even modern motorists have claimed to see strange lights in the woods, apparitions on the side of the road and inexplicable problems with their rides.

Charlie

Back when the Inn at Maple Grove was still the Maple Grove Hotel and a stagecoach stop in the mine country near Alburtis, a guest was murdered on the second floor and the angry locals lynched an Indian in front of the dining room fireplace. Before he died, the Indian vowed to remain in the hotel and prove his innocence. To this day, the Pennsylvania Dutch in the area regard the place as "˜hexed." One of the owners interviewed in the book claimed the fireplace is the location of much of the unexplained activity. Some nights, the iron cooking crane in the hearth started to shake, just a twitch at first, and then continuing until the whole building was shaking. Other times, the owner would be closing up after the guests had left the dining room and would hear someone whistling tune by the fireplace. Stranger still, patrons claim to have seen a white dove materialize out of thin air, fly across the dining room and disappear.

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So there you go, a place with a ghost to person ratio of 1:1. I know you flossers come to us from around the country, and surely your towns have some legends of their own. Here's a chance to win a free t-shirt: Leave a comment recounting a ghost story from your hometown.

On Friday, I'll pick the best story and announce the winner. Weirdness and scariness are key factors for me, and I'll pay extra attention to anyone that's gone ghost hunting and actually saw something with their own eyes.

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Food
Let Alexa Help You Brine a Turkey This Thanksgiving
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There’s a reason most of us only cook turkey once a year: The bird is notoriously easy to overcook. You could rely on gravy and cranberry sauce to salvage your dried-out turkey this Thanksgiving, or you could follow cooking advice from the experts.

Brining a turkey is the best way to guarantee it retains its moisture after hours in the oven. The process is also time-consuming, so do yourself a favor this year and let Alexa be your sous chef.

“Morton Brine Time” is a new skill from the cloud-based home assistant. If you own an Amazon Echo you can download it for free by going online or by asking Alexa to enable it. Once it’s set up, start asking Alexa for brining tips and step-by-step recipes customized to the size of your turkey. Two recipes were developed by Richard Blais, the celebrity chef and restaurateur best known for his Top Chef win and Food Network appearances.

Whether you go for a wet brine (soaking your turkey in water, salt, sugar, and spices) or a dry one (just salt and spices), the process isn’t as intimidating as it sounds. And the knowledge that your bird will come out succulent and juicy will definitely take some stress out of the holiday.

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Big Questions
Why Do the Lions and Cowboys Always Play on Thanksgiving?
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Because it's tradition! But how did this tradition begin?

Every year since 1934, the Detroit Lions have taken the field for a Thanksgiving game, no matter how bad their record has been. It all goes back to when the Lions were still a fairly young franchise. The team started in 1929 in Portsmouth, Ohio, as the Spartans. Portsmouth, while surely a lovely town, wasn't quite big enough to support a pro team in the young NFL. Detroit radio station owner George A. Richards bought the Spartans and moved the team to Detroit in 1934.

Although Richards's new squad was a solid team, they were playing second fiddle in Detroit to the Hank Greenberg-led Tigers, who had gone 101-53 to win the 1934 American League Pennant. In the early weeks of the 1934 season, the biggest crowd the Lions could draw for a game was a relatively paltry 15,000. Desperate for a marketing trick to get Detroit excited about its fledgling football franchise, Richards hit on the idea of playing a game on Thanksgiving. Since Richards's WJR was one of the bigger radio stations in the country, he had considerable clout with his network and convinced NBC to broadcast a Thanksgiving game on 94 stations nationwide.

The move worked brilliantly. The undefeated Chicago Bears rolled into town as defending NFL champions, and since the Lions had only one loss, the winner of the first Thanksgiving game would take the NFL's Western Division. The Lions not only sold out their 26,000-seat stadium, they also had to turn fans away at the gate. Even though the juggernaut Bears won that game, the tradition took hold, and the Lions have been playing on Thanksgiving ever since.

This year, the Lions host the Minnesota Vikings.

HOW 'BOUT THEM COWBOYS?


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The Cowboys, too, jumped on the opportunity to play on Thanksgiving as an extra little bump for their popularity. When the chance to take the field on Thanksgiving arose in 1966, it might not have been a huge benefit for the Cowboys. Sure, the Lions had filled their stadium for their Thanksgiving games, but that was no assurance that Texans would warm to holiday football so quickly.

Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm, though, was something of a marketing genius; among his other achievements was the creation of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.

Schramm saw the Thanksgiving Day game as a great way to get the team some national publicity even as it struggled under young head coach Tom Landry. Schramm signed the Cowboys up for the game even though the NFL was worried that the fans might just not show up—the league guaranteed the team a certain gate revenue in case nobody bought tickets. But the fans showed up in droves, and the team broke its attendance record as 80,259 crammed into the Cotton Bowl. The Cowboys beat the Cleveland Browns 26-14 that day, and a second Thanksgiving pigskin tradition caught hold. Since 1966, the Cowboys have missed having Thanksgiving games only twice.

Dallas will take on the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday.

WHAT'S WITH THE NIGHT GAME?


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In 2006, because 6-plus hours of holiday football was not sufficient, the NFL added a third game to the Thanksgiving lineup. This game is not assigned to a specific franchise—this year, the Washington Redskins will welcome the New York Giants.

Re-running this 2008 article a few days before the games is our Thanksgiving tradition.

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