Vintage smilesPicture Page Logo

Number 29, the ultimate picture page...

Three-year-old William Bean

"Then she [Mrs. Bean] turned another page in the album. 'This is Mr. Bean when he was three.' The picture showed a chubby little boy in a plaid dress. He had a frightened look, and his hair was cut in a sort of bang low on his forehead. 'Golly!' said Jinx. 'Isn't it funny to see Mr. Bean without his whiskers!'" (Freddy and the Space Ship, 4)

As you know, I rescued the very Bean family album mentioned above from the big Bean farm fire. Over the years many of you have asked if I would publish the picture referred to above. Well, O.K. Here it is. It is a nice studio photograph done by Mr. Houseknecht of Centerboro. I don't think little William looks particularly frightened, but then I guess Mrs. Bean would have known better than I how to interpret his expressions. Before you ask, I do not know why he would have been so attired, and I hesitate to conjecture. Freddyite scholars may have a clue, so why not ask them at the FOF Yahoo maillist or bring the matter up at one of their biennial conventions.

Dr. Melvin Wintersip

Who's this? Come on, put your thinking cap on. I know that you know the answer! He's a Centerboro resident upon whom Mr. Brooks based one of the following characters:

  1. Dr. Samuel Winterbottom, MD
  2. Dr. Andrew Winterpool, DO
  3. Dr. Melvin Wintersip, DD, Minister of the First Methodist Church

Correct! It is Reverend Doctor Wintersip. Your gaze is, of course, drawn to the bulge on the side of the good man's head. It was a osseous mass that continued to grow throughout Rev. Wintersip's life. In the brief Centerboro necrology elsewhere on this site, I list his demise as a result of a fall from his pulpit. Allow me to elaborate. Though I did not attend his church and therefore did not witness the event myself, I learned that during a lively peroration, he lost his balance owing to his cranial deformity and crashed some ten feet to the floor. I am too old and tired and fatalistic to read much more into that event than its being just one of those things. Even so, I am reminded of the English hymnist William Cowper's words, "God moves in mysterious ways His wonders to perform," when the occasional thought about Melvin's great plunge crosses my mind.

C. Jimson Camphor frolicking with friends C. Jimson Camphor and a number of his pals pursue gymnastic excellence at the Camphor estate on Oteseraga Lake. Jimson, a good-natured and harmless ass, was fond of men-only weekends at his mansion. This and his lifelong bachelorhood gave rise to persistent rumors about...well, you know. I never did put much stock in those rumors for two reasons. First of all, there was Jimson's tragic, unrequited pursuit of Isabel Pomeroy. And then there was Jimson's immaturity. In my opinion, Jimson was about as socially immature and inept as anyone could be, never getting much beyond the horsing-around-with-the-guys stage of development. To put it another way, if life were high school, then Jimson remained stuck in the eighth grade. Given his congenital innocence and apparent straightness, we must therefore ignore those rumors. Also, to answer those of you who have asked, yes, I forgave C. Jimson a long time ago for any part he may have unwittingly played in that business in which I was coerced and cheated out of my perfectly legitimate and completely legal claim to the Lakeside Hotel.

Centerboro's Main Street in 1956

A hitherto unpublished photograph of downtown Centerboro in its late golden age. The theater at which The Eddy Duchin Story was showing the day this photo was taken was a rival of Mr. Muszkiski's theater. It did a pretty good business and even managed to escape the urban renewal wrecking ball that destroyed forever the character of Main Street. (It is no longer a movie theater and currently houses some kind of storefront church.) By the way, I did see the movie there--let's see, that would have been the year after the Martians left, so that places the photo in 1956--and I think that Kim Novak could have picked a better film to appear in that year.

Note also that the YMCA where I was nearly drowned by Richard Albacore (the story of which can be found on Picture Page 24) is right across the street from the theater. Of course, the picture of the "Y" on Page 24 was taken many years earler--when the downtown stretch of Main Street still had a few trees.

Felix Rohr's "Electro-Dynamic Aeroplane" circa 1909
Another photo from the Bean family albums, this picture taken in 1909 is of Uncle Ben's "mentor" and friend, Felix Rohr (a cousin of Mr. Rohr of Beller and Rohr's various stores.) The setting is the Oteseraga County fairgrounds, and Felix is seen here in his pedal-powered "Electro-Dynamic Aeroplane." He theorized that by administering a continuous low-voltage electrical shock to his gluteus muscles he could induce super rapid and powerful motions in his biceps femoris to turn the propeller on his contraption sufficiently fast to get airborne. Guess what. It didn't work! The Beans blamed Felix for encouraging Benjamin to embark upon his life's work of turning out one crackpot invention after another, although, truth be told, Benjamin didn't need much encouragement..
A no-longer airworthy hot air balloon basket The firemen attending the big conflagration at the Bean farm tossed this slightly scorched hot air balloon basket out of the hayloft of the barn. One cannot help but wonder what was it doing there. No one, including William or Martha, seemed able to provide any kind of sensible information about it at the time, and to this day, this no longer airworthy basket is a genuine puzzle. It is possible that Uncle Ben could have told us something about it, but by the time of the fire, he had long been a permanent resident of the Oteseraga County Custodial Asylum. Since the workings of the poor fellow's mind resembled two gerbils running in opposite directions in the same exercise wheel, it is unlikely that we would have gotten any rational answer out of him anyway. So, the history of this artifact or any solid indication of whether it bears a direct relation to the storyline of Freddy and the Perilous Adventure will forever be shrouded in mystery. I purchased this basket at the big "fire sale" and have been using it as a laundry hamper ever since.
Frederick Bean on the CHS football team

Here's the Centerboro High School football team of which Freddy (under the X) was a member until he was dismissed by Coach Finnerty for particularly poor sportsmanship in a notorious game against Tushville. Freddy was thrown out of the game for unnecessary roughness which included biting, gouging, stomping, shoving, cursing, spitting, poking, sneering and other forms of ungentlemanly behavior upon the field. Our principal Mr. Gridley was, I believe, quite correct in further demanding that Freddy then be dismissed from the team. Mr. Gridley frequently complained that the game was "only fit for wild animals" (as Freddy's poor show that day proved) and that it detracted from the CHS students' focus upon academics. There is some truth to Mr. Gridley's position. I have noticed that when NFL and AFL players (who presumably started their <ahem> "careers" in high school) are interviewed on television, they usually speak with the brains of one of those talking greeting cards, but without attaining the card's level of grammatical correctness or proper pronunciation. Furthermore, they avoid the actual expression of the results of thinking, preferring to litter the mental highway with inane sportspeak formulae; e.g. "Y'know, we jus' gotta, y'know, get out there and do what we gotta do, y'know." But I digress. Freddy dropped out of school after being booted off the team and soon began his earnest pursuit of a criminal career. For a fuller account of Freddy's thoroughly bad behavior, see

  1. My Misdeeds vs Frederick Bean's
  2. A Corrected and Emended Transcript of My Address (Slightly Abridged) to the Ladies' Literary Society of Centerboro on Saturday, September 12, 1959
And finally, here's the absolute last of the Centerboro pictures I will publish on this Web site, unless I decide to publish more in my semi-retirement as a website creator. It must be about 1948 or 1949 in this scene. Now, honestly, wouldn't you just love to wake up and find that your life has been but a dream, and that you actually live here, and that there still is a Bean farm with a duckpond you can swim in, and you can go to Dixon's for a ham sandwich and a cherry phosphate, and then off to the Busy Bee to pick up some perfume or an Eddy Duchin record, and then you could head out to the fairgrounds to catch the arrival of Boomschmidt's Stupendous and Unexcelled Circus, and then.... But of course, none of that is ever going to happen, because... though, wait now ! I suppose you could keep reading the Freddy books to vicariously enjoy what we folks lucky enough to have lived during those golden days of Centerboro actually experienced. I shall detain you no further! May I suggest you go to your shelves forthwith and pick up Freddy Goes Camping (which is best read (1) up in a treehouse or (2) by flashlight under the covers) and leave your cares and troubles behind as once again you venture off to Centerboro....

Quick Link