At their house on Sterling Avenue, not far from Winner Road, a doe-eyed and bearded mannequin resembling Osama bin Laden has been strung up in the front yard since All Saints Day.
"We're planning on leaving it up until he's caught," Beverly says.
As bin Laden has hopped from cave to cave, Burnett's yard display has grown ever more elaborate. The most recent addition, Uncle Sam in full stars-and-stripes glory, stands on the gallows with his hand on a lever that operates a trapdoor through which bin Laden's feet dangle. "And that thing does work," Beverly says. The noose hangs from a festively lighted cross timber. Yet for all its mechanical excellence, that gallows looks better suited for a barbecue than an execution. "It originally was a deck for a trailer house," Beverly explains.
Kenneth, a limo driver, handyman and fixer of rental appliances, says he'd modified the platform in anticipation of Halloween even before September 11. His mom lent a needle with the sewing, and "my older boys helped some with it," he says.
A cardboard poster declares, "Uncle Sam kicks %!" But of course the real message is, "Uncle Sam kicks @$$." Beverly says she "wanted to put on there, 'Uncle Sam kicks butt,'" but knew she'd "get in trouble." Apparently plain talk is out of style in Harry Truman's hometown.
The cautious approach has paid off. Weeks ago, police paid a visit. "Somebody thought it was a hate crime," says Kenneth Burnett. "It's directed at one person, not a race." Says Beverly: "The cops was, 'It's neat; leave it up there.'
Even Mother Nature has been kind. Though surrounded by catalpa and oak trees, the bearded duo suffered nary a scratch during the recent ice storm, the worst in the history of ice.
Yet despite Beverly's excellent Betsy Ross impersonation in the construction of Uncle Sam's duds, a few seams show in this display. For one thing, there's no puddle of excrement beneath bin Laden's feet. And the entire scene is upstaged by a neighbor's sign: "Mayor Ron Stewart. A good man doing a good job."