Number 27

 

Suckling Pig

You can see the effects of incipient osteoporosis on Mr. Bean in this photo of him standing in the muck of his barnyard. You'd think that all the years of farming and its strenuous physical activity would have had a salubrious influence upon William, but that's clearly not the case. It was said that just before the big fire at the Bean farm, William had let it be known that he was planning to retire soon and move to the warmer, more hospitable climes of Florida for his and Martha's health. Well, the proceeds from the "fire sale" plus a tidy insurance payoff certainly helped speed him and Mrs. Bean on their way south. (By the way, there is no substance whatsoever to the contemptible rumor that I conspired with the Beans to torch the farm for a percentage of the proceeds! That allegation was never proved!) Before you move on to the next photo, I call your attention to the unusual relationship between one of William's milking cows and one of his pigs. As you can see, pigs must possess at least some rudimentary reasoning skills.
Free Association Church members
Who are these clownish rubes? Why, none other than a fair representation of the congregation of the Centerboro Free Association Church dressed, no doubt, for one of their outre ceremonies. Few outsiders were privy to exactly what the doctrines and dogmas of the "church" were or what went on in its meeting hall and in the private lives of its members. The few details which gradually leaked out over a number of years painted a picture of a cultish rabble cobbled together by a mishmash of vaguely spiritual concepts and possessing scarcely a firing neuron among them. As you know, one of their ministers was the chance inventor of the so-called "Ignormus" (The story of that is here.), but other than that, the church is known for little else besides the nationally publicized cow exorcism incident, perhaps its most notorious appearance before the public eye. While in my capacity as a real estate agent appraising the house of the last of the group to pass away, I found this photo in her personal effects. I kept it for reasons quite unknown to me, but perhaps I purloined it because Alice Peppercorn, whom I loathed intensely ever since she was my fifth grade teacher, is in it, and it may represent a morbid attachment to my past. Can you find the venomous old biddy? Try the middle row, second from the left. Yes, that's old "Prune Face" Peppercorn, as she was called by legions of her unfortunate students.
Socialist Labor Day float
This was, in my opinion, the most controversial float ever to appear in a Centerboro Labor Day parade. It was conceived and constructed by the Socialist Farmers' Union of Oteseraga County to demonstrate their contempt for the ruling class and its bootlicking lackeys. Now, I myself never was a socialist or any kind of fellow traveler, but I always have admired an honest and explicit expression of opinion, even though I may not have agreed with it. The SFUOC was formed shortly after the county's infamous farmers' riot. It continued to exist well into the 1950s, despite harassment by the county's non-socialist farmers, conservative businessmen and manufacturers, various government agencies which I will not name here, a number of church leaders, all kinds of social clubs and organizations, and so forth. It wasn't until the witch hunts of the 1950s that the SFUOC's last demoralized and exhausted members finally threw in the towel. In the later Freddy books, Mr. Brooks occasionally reveals a rather Republican bias about the political climate of his times. Does he make any sympathetic references to the struggles of the poor and the working classes in rural upstate New York? Not that I've been able to detect, although Freddyite scholars may be able to refute me on this point. I invite, nay, challenge them to do so! Anyway, back to the photo, the SFUOC thought it necessary to protect the driver of the tractor pulling this float with some jury-rigged bulletproof armor, the effectiveness of which was, mercifully, not tested that day.
Centerboro Socialists
You see four of the principal founders of the socialist movement in Oteseraga County in this old photo. From left to right they are Theodore ("Teddy") Macy, the "black sheep" of the Macy family; Franz Diefendorf, a cousin of and complete embarrassment to old Senator Blore (R), who lived near Centerboro; Dexter Jenks, whose son became Elihu Margarine's chauffeur; and Ernst Kurtz, whose nephew Jacob Heinrich ("J.H.") Kurtz was the manager of the Tushville town baseball team which played against the Martians in 1955. The idealism and zeal of these four gentlemen was not much understood or appreciated in staid, conservative Centerboro, and all but Teddy Macy eventually left town to cultivate their socialist cause in Buffalo, Detroit, and Pittsburgh. Teddy just gave up on trying to change the world and returned to the family farm where he kept a low profile and stuck to the chores for the rest of his life, even after losing most of his right leg in a dreadful combine accident. By the early 1960s, he was no more than a fading memory who hadn't raised his voice or worn a necktie or a polished shoe in years. I almost forgot to mention that Teddy was the tractor driver in the picture just above, an assignment which no doubt contributed to his unnerving.
It's little Humphrey Underdunk

Let's see what an astute detective and student of the Freddy books you really are. This young lad is the larval stage of what character directly appearing in or obliquely referred to in the Freddy books?

a. Winfield Church
b. Humphrey Underdunk
c. C. Jimson Camphor
d. Lafayette Bingle
e. None of the above

The answer? Put your thinking cap on! You should be able to figure it out for yourself easily! (Hint: Whose picture would I be most likely to have in my possession?)

Misters Wurzburger, Wiggins, and Wogus
This is the only other photo I have of the farmers Wurzburger, Wiggins, and Wogus (left to right here). The other one is on the Synopses and Ratings of Unpublished Freddy Manuscripts: Reader Contributions page. Each of these poor fellows died in a horrendous farming accident. I've mentioned this fact elsewhere on the site, and I had originally resolved not to reveal any grisly details. However, so many of you have pestered me for the details over the last couple of years, that I'm am going to reveal them now to shut everyone up. Now, you realize, of course, that farming is one of the most hazardous of all jobs in the United States, so it is not at all surprising that these three husbandmen wound up so badly. The most gruesome mishap involved Wogus, whose loose clothing got caught up in the mechanism of a manure spreader he was attempting to unclog with a pitchfork handle, and...well, the less said, the better, but I think you get the picture. Quite some time before his wife Mavis died from what today is known as Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease, Wurzburger, owing to a couple of years of poor crops and impending bankruptcy, grew despondent and inattentive --a bad, bad combination, especially while driving a tractor in high gear over a deeply rutted field. Wiggins ignored a puncture wound he received when he stepped on a rusty, manure-encrusted nail in his cow barn. Putting off seeing old Doc Winterpool until it was too late was not his best decision. I hope this satisfies everyone's curiosity!
Uncles Elmer and Joseph

Over the years since the first primitive edition of "Mr. Eha's Place" appeared in 1996, I have softened in my once-firm stance against revealing details about my personal life and family. Why? I don't know. Anyway, these are ancestors of mine--two bachelor great-uncles from my father's side, Alexander (a.k.a. "Elmer") and Joseph.. I include the photo here because it demonstrates an Anderson family predisposition which manifests itself in my love of music in general and in the accordion in particular. Yes, my parents did at first have to force me to take lessons to divert me from the crooked path, but I quickly warmed to the study of music, and my talents upon the accordion have brought me much pleasure and semi-popularity.

I know little about Alexander and Joseph. My ancient father, still "alive" in the Oteseraga County Nursing Home, is unable to recall any more than the following facts. Alexander, who early in life unofficially changed his name to Elmer for some unfathomable reason, was a bright man who chose to spend his professional career as a janitor in Centerboro's Catholic high school, Our Lady of Perpetual Sorrows. He took correspondence courses in law and radio, was a voracious reader, and was the better of the two brothers on the accordion. Joseph was a lay-about, who worked only when necessary at odd jobs, spending the majority of his waking life reading the newspapers, betting on horses, chain-smoking Lucky Strkes, and chatting up the girls. My father told me that folks used to say of Uncle Joseph that there was a lot less to him than met the eye. Both Elmer and Joseph lived well into their nineties, so I have reason to believe that I will do the same, despite my having been a heavy smoker for a number of years. (However, if ever I receive a report that I have six months to live, I shall immediately resume the infinitely pleasurable habit of smoking.)

 

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