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Find the Hidden States!

The Ippicino Family’s
Sleepy, Busy Saturday

A Short Story

With Answer Key

Mark A. Gillespio

Illustration: Niki Garets

Copyright (c) 1999, 2018

All Rights Reserved. No part may be reproduced or transmitted by any means, whether electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission.

The linguistic resemblances of the following 43 U.S. states are hidden throughout this fictional story. Find them using ordinary conversational lingo. Disregard word, sentence, and paragraph boundaries. Disregard syllable stress.

Example: “Mississippi” in “Mrs. Ippicino.”






























New Hampshire*

New Jersey

New York




Rhode Island








*Less exact pronunciation

**Reader favorite

The Scene

A midwestern country homestead

Late spring


Family Characters

Marco, 47

Linda, 42

Rorie, 16

Sharie, 16

Della, 13

Carol, 10

Kent, 7

Nettie, 4

Nessie, 4

Mary, family friend

“OH YAWN, IT’S 9 o’clock and I haven’t gotten the laundry started,” mumbled Linda Ippicino to herself as she groggily poked out from under the covers. Saturday morning found the family off to a late start on the day, and Linda looked over at her dozing husband. “Marco, up,” she nudged. Mr. and Mrs. Ippicino and their seven kids lived on a sprawling midwestern country homestead a few miles from town.

Marco got up and leafed through the newspaper comics while Linda began the weekend laundry washing. Tons of clothes, it seemed, had piled up during the week into scattered messes around the home.

Seven-year-old Kent curiously peeked over his father’s shoulder at the newspaper, where a blue boys’ bicycle called out from a bright color ad. “Oh look-ee... I wannit, wannit!” he exclaimed, springing up to the sofa.

“Hey son, ‘tain’t your birthday yet.”

The Ippicino family’s hardworking -- and hard-playing -- habits made certain that their clothes never made it to the hamper without a layer of dirt and grass stains, if then. Linda liked to sprinkle powdered Wisk on pieces of laundry that were extra-dirty. “Drat no!” she groused as the box slipped, splashing powder across the hardwood floor. Wispy clouds of detergent floated slowly to the living room.

Before long, Marco found himself wiping his eyes and sniffling and sneezing... and sneezing and sneezing. The bustling spring sounds of the outdoors retreated through the open-flung windows as the raucous morning cacophony began to amass “ah-aah-aachoo’s!” Sets of heirloom china in the curio cabinet rattled next to fragile, old-fashioned carnival glassware. The wavy glass lites in the grids of the bungalow's windowpanes tinkled in their sashes.

His thoughts huffy, Marco grabbed a hoe and trudged stridently to the garden, with Kent in sandals matching his tracks. Dad squinted at the potato bed. “Chuminny! Those weeds! If I’d a’ thunk it sooner, I’d a’ hoed ‘em down earlier!” Kent began whacking at the plants with a large twig. “Sonny! Go help Mommy.”

Kent meandered back to the laundry room where his mother was folding spotless bath towels used by recent guests. “Hey Kent, tuck each of these towels nicely in that drawer, please,” she asked.

"Meh, okay," he replied.

The oldest kids woke from their long overnight hibernation. Twin teenagers Rorie and Sharie sat down and began shoveling up a breakfast of Wheaties. Rorie noticed the tennis star on the box. “Betcha can’t beat me at tennis,” he teased his sister.

“Yeah right, betcha can, huh.”

After breakfast, they told their mom they were headed to the park. “Take a six-pack of pop along, and snacks too,” she suggested.


Soon the twins were sweating an energetic game of tennis on the court next to the park’s rolling gorge, but ended their efforts in a hopeless tie, collapsing onto the grassy terrain. Sharie extended her tongue before gulping down her fizzy strawberry cola with crunchy crackers. “Uh-huuuh, so you thought I couldn’t play tennis! See, I’m just as good as you are.”


Back at the house, 13-year-old Della woke up -- later, as usual -- and wondered where her older sister and brother were. “Aaach! Where’s Sharie and Rorie gone off to without me now? Again.” she grumbled.

“They went to play at the park,” explained Mom. “They’ll be back.”

“But! Aww! I really wanted to go too.” Della began lamenting her late, sleepy snooze-in, but a minute later a quiet knock sounded at the back door. She opened the door to find her friend Mary, surprising them both. “Mary... oh, hi!” Opening the door wider, Della exclaimed, “Happy you came over! Wanna go to the park?”

“Sure, sounds like fun,” Della's friend said, cheering her up.

“Well drat gummit,” Mom Linda deliberated to herself. “I just put all the play clothes in the wash... hmm... now what on earth could Della wear to the park right now?” She sprinted up the attic steps to look for summer clothes, and Kent scrambled along after her. After Mom finally dug a worn outfit out of a box, Della and Mary were off to the park, nabbing a few cinnamon rolls slathered in icing on their way out the door.

Kent, distracted, curiously eyed the interesting things in the dimly lit attic. Poking around, he found an old birdhouse, lightning rods, and a large, dusty cardboard box full of old junk with a mottled weather vane sticking out of it. Making himself comfortable, he pulled a jumble of stuff from the box.

Up rose a big, tangled mess -- wooden yardstick, two tangled wire hangers, empty box of Wisk, sconce in dusty but good condition with dangling wires, chewed pencil, vane, yucky chewing gum, and a worn, blackened automobile piston -- all jammed together. Disenchanted, he went back downstairs.


At the park, Della and Mary wandered around awhile, and found Rorie and Sharie climbing monkey bars. Mary didn’t wipe her hands -- still slippery from the cinnamon roll icing -- before climbing up to show off. “Hey, look at me!” she hollered, hanging on with one hand, which slipped. Mary landed on the dense spring grass with a whump. “Oh-ow-wow! That didn’t feel so good,” she sniffled.

Sharie poked around in her pocket for some aspirin, but found gum instead. “Aww, poor you. Maybe this'll help you out of your misery,” she supposed, flinging a piece. Mary gulped before unwrapping the gum and sprawled with a sigh on the hill, annoyed at herself for falling.

“We could go hiking,” suggested Rorie, also relaxing near the rolling gorge, “or gee, a trek up to the water tower would be even more fun.”

Della leisurely but assiduously kicked a few stones towards the gorge. “Or jumping rope? Ehh nah, water tower here we come!”


Back home, a sweet whiff drifted from the kitchen where Mom Linda was whipping batter for baked goodies. Four-year-old Nessie and 10-year-old Carol had woken from their long slumbers, and together they hungrily watched Linda coat oblong pans with real homemade butter for brownies, along with a large, round pan for cake. “Carol, I knocked for your help three times,” Mom insisted. “You sure were sleeep-ay!

After Mom left the warm kitchen for more sugar, Nessie gleefully stuck both hands into the light brown batter, and enjoyed her animated and noisy lick-lip-smacking. Mom soon returned to the kitchen and, rushing over to the messy kids, dropped the sugar on the floor. “Carol! Your sister’s got her hands in the batter,” she groaned.

“Didn’t see nuthin’!” Carol flicked her pigtails before skipping out of the kitchen to lick her own fingers.

A crowd of ants strolled in for a sweet banquet, gathering around the spilled sugar on the floor. “Marco!” Linda called out the back door. “Marco, ants!”

From the garden he jogged in like a huffing tub of lard. “Well, those lil’ critters! Think a couple cans o’ Zapbug from the shelf ought’a do the job. So sorry, fellers.” On his knees, he sprayed a crack near one corner of the floor. Rid of the ants, he spanked his hands and went back to the garden. Linda squinted at the spray’s gray mark and saw where the ants had crawled through the crack.


Arriving home from the park, Sharie and Rorie found themselves bored, wondering aloud what to do next. “You could get us more sugar from Cal’s store in town,” Mom suggested. “And you could practice your driving skills too, Sharie.”

“Yippy yay!” Sharie eagerly snatched the keys to the family’s 1959 Dodge sedan and smiled -- again -- at her new license as she darted out the door with Rorie. When it came to driving, she certainly wasn’t squeamish. She gunned the car’s engine out of the lane and took off for the town’s main square, parking at Calvin Belmont’s old-world corner grocery store and restaurant-tavern. Inside, many brass, copper, and sterling tavern-ware antiques, gently resting on the upper ledges, beckoned with memories of bygone eras.

The twins found Cal serving a table of local mine workers, who were bellowing their banter over gin, yummy neapolitan ice cream, and deep-fried mushrooms. “Yo there, Cal! If four neapolitan ice cream scoops would be enough for me,” a tipsy worker chortled from the corner, “four cents ought’a be enough tip for ya, ha!”

“Wise guys, never mind ‘em,” the jovial Mr. Belmont lectured the kids. “You talk like ‘em, you might as well join the Barnum & Bailey Circus.”

Rorie and Sharie patted several dollar bills on the counter before carrying the sack of sugar out the door. “Load o’ thanks, Mr. Belmont!”

“An’ a fine day to y’uns, too.” He waved his hand as they left. “Sharie there, now don’t be driving yourself too recklessly like that; you’re still just a lass! Cops around here can write you up in no time.”


Della and Mary, also home from the park and very bored, mulled the idea of riding Annabelle, the family's brown and white pony, in the homestead’s southwestern meadow. “Quick,” Mary pressed, “let’s take Annabelle out of the barn ‘cuz it feels like rain out here and it’s getting windy!” Annabelle snorted feistily in agreement. Monty and Shalla, the family's young retrievers, wagged their tails a little faster.

“Yup, let’s!” Della looked up. “That dusty air is on a roll and we hardly have time!” The sky was slowly turning dark gray from a light sunny blue. “Easy, Annabelle!” Della patted the pony prancing in a circle.

While the friends were riding around in the overgrown meadow, the young pony nearly tripped over a shallow, crumbling woodpile hidden near the old shell of an unseen wooden canoe. Jersey milk cows raised their heads to stare while munching unhurriedly on tall green grass and patches of red clover. Monty nipped at a fleeing groundhog’s tail, and a rabbit scampered away near Shalla.

Bam! A door on the dark red barn shut itself in the wind and soon -- much too soon, it seemed -- the friends felt the cool sprinkles of rain on their arms, so they sprinted for the kitchen door as the raindrops fought back the drift of sugary aromas and the hint of juicy, roasted ham.


Shyer than most kids, Mary asked if she could stay for the birthday party -- “Yes! Yes, of course!” -- so the family with friend gathered snugly around their scuffed timber plank table, loaded with roast, a dozen or so glass bottles of Coca-Cola, a platter of warm brownies, and a freshly frosted banana cake to celebrate the birthday of twins Nettie and Nessie. The clouds now distant, lazy lightning lit up the dripping windowpanes like a dreamy yellow beacon.

“Nettie, cut our cake like I showed you.” Mom handed the carving knife to the youngest twin, and soon afterwards a gaggle of fingers reached in for the plenteous goodies.

“Mmm-mmm, well, gotta say,” Marco commented, “I knew your cake smelled pretty good hun, but this here’s daggum scrooomptious.” Rorie nodded in agreement. “So, you had lots of fun out there hanging on to the pony?” he jibed to Della and Mary.

“You bet we did,” Della responded, “except Mary fell off down by the....”

“Oh, it wasn’t real bad,” Mary cut in, suddenly talkative. “I just slipped out of the saddle in the meadow down by the road. I landed on a whole bunch of thistle weeds though. Grrr. Annabelle sure gets startled easily if she detects a snake or rabbit or groundhog in that tall grass.” “Yeah,” Della interjected, “a rabbit ran out and Annabelle almost tripped over that old hidden canoe!”

“Ham sure is good, Mom,” Sharie munched, “and mmm, these brownies? Choomsy!” She smacked her lips, prompting Nessie to quickly un-plunk herself from the chair and gesture with small hands. “Yumm-mee! More brownies for me!” But Sharie patted her younger sister. “More brownies are comin’, Ness, so tut-tut, sit back down.”

Alabama Shalla. Bam! A

Alaska a lass! Cops

Arkansas mark and saw

Arizona air is on a

California Cal! If four neapolitan

Carolina “Carol, I knocked

Colorado color ad. “Oh

Connecticut beacon. “Nettie, cut

Dakota Linda coat oblong

Delaware Della wear

Florida floor. Rid of

Georgia gorge. “Or jumping

Hawaii ha!” “Wise

Idaho I’d a’ hoed

Illinois hill, annoyed

Indiana windy!” Annabelle

Iowa I wannit,

Kansas cans o’ Zapbug

Kentucky Kent, tuck each

Louisiana blue. “Easy, Annabelle!”

Maine main

Maryland Mary landed

Massachusetts amass “ah-aah-aachoo’s!” Sets

Michigan squeamish. She gunned

Minnesota comin’, Ness, so tut-tut,

Mississippi Mrs. Ippicino

Missouri misery

Montana Belmont!” “An’ a

Nebraska many brass, copper,

New Hampshire canoe!” “Ham sure

New Jersey canoe. Jersey

New York knew your cake

Oregon Rorie gone

Ohio oh, hi!” Opening

Pennsylvania pencil, vane, yucky

Rhode Island road. I landed

Tennessee tennis! See,

Texas [a toughie, not going to tell you]

Utah “You talk

Vermont clover. Monty

Virginia over gin, yummy

Washington washing. Tons

Wisconsin Wisk, sconce in


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