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FAQ #21

Question: What cars did the rich Centerboro people like Mr. Camphor and Mrs. Church drive?
Answer: Of course, the really wealthy Centerboro people did not drive, but were driven--with the exception of Zenas Witherspoon who lived considerably below his considerable means. If memory serves, Camphor once owned a 1940 Lincoln Continental. Now, that particular Lincoln was not known for its performance or reliability, but it was a beauty. Even the Museum of Modern Art recognized the Continental (styled by Edsel Ford himself!) as a work of art. It was never intended to be a production line automobile; instead it was produced in limited numbers for people like Camphor, who for all his dottiness, had a genuine sense of style manifested in his choice of a car uncluttered by flashy chrome and vulgar bulges and protuberances. For many years Mrs. Church was driven around by Riley, her chauffeur, in a 1933 Duesenberg Town Car fitted up to rival a Rolls Royce or Daimler. It had a morocco leather interior and silver and ivory trim! Quite the talk of the town, it was. Its cost was, of course, immense, but Mrs. Church's late husband was immensely wealthy from his banking enterprises, and therefore his widow was squired about in the highest of fashion and taste. Mrs. Underdunk's chauffeur Smith was lucky enough to drive her about in a 1947 Mk. VI Bentley for a number of years. Mr. Margarine owned a Rolls Royce Phantom III and, for dashing about the countryside, a 1939 Lagonda Rapide. Naturally, Camphor, Mrs. Church, Mrs. U., and Margarine owned other vehicles, but these are the ones that I remember best. I do not have any pictures of these automobiles, but you should have no trouble locating some at your library.

Question: Can you give us a picture of CHS's chief rival, Tushville High School?
Answer: Okey-dokey, here is one from the postcard collection I mentioned in FAQ #20.

CHS's chief rival

Question: What is your basic philosophy of life?
Answer: Your query is related to the "What is the meaning of life?" question someone posed and which I briefly answered a while ago in FAQ #4. I said that I just make it up as I go along, and this is largely true. However, I will expand upon my answer a bit here, and I hope that this will satisfy your curiosity. I find revelations everywhere, not in any one particular person, place, thing, idea, book, tradition, etc., etc. I could be sitting having a cup of coffee, and bang!--there's a revelation! Therefore, my philosophy, if you can call it that, tends to bubble up from the universal parts of human experience, of which I have my share. I believe I experienced my greatest epiphany when listening to some children singing the round "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" in Sibney Memorial Park one day. I happened to be passing by on my way to the office when I caught the tune drifting over from the monkey bars. As I continued to my workplace, I simply could not dislodge the lyrics from my mind--you know how that is--so instead I just entertained them, let them play out, hoping that eventually they would go away. Of course, they didn't, so I was plagued with them for the rest of the morning. The lyrics replayed themselves for the nth time as I lunched later at the counter at Dixon's Diner, and I suddenly realized that perhaps there was a  reason why they were so persistently stuck in my mind's ear. I began to think intensely about the lyrics. "Row, row, row your boat"--an active pastime. And what would the boat be? Where did it come from? How did "you" come to possess it? Was it bought? a gift? something you yourself made? One cannot just sit about. "Gently down the stream"--Not aggressively, not forcefully, but "gently." And not upstream like a salmon, soon to exhaust yourself, spawn, and die. No, no--rowing along with the flow. "Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,"--Not grimly, seriously, contentiously, etc., but lightly and happily. "Life is but a dream"--In whose mind? Yours? Mine? A creator's? The universe's? The more I thought about it, the more I was convinced that in this simple children's round was embedded an important revelation about "life, the universe, and everything." Perhaps this philosophy will be quite irrelevant in the last stages of the universe when all that is left will be evaporating black holes, but it seems quite serviceable right now. Maybe you would like to entertain the lyrics for a while yourself and see what surfaces for you. Here, I'll get you started: "Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream...."

Question: I don't have a complete set of Freddy books, and I'm interested in the money values that were placed on various events, things, and services throughout the series. Could you please help.
Answer: Here are some representative examples from the series. I use the copyright date of each of the books mentioned as the year of the action of the book. Brooks jumbles and compresses the timeline of the stories somewhat erratically (everything seems to have happened "two years ago" or "last summer"), so that's the best I can do. (Note: I originally calculated equivalents for the year 2002, but upon closing the site, I updated to 2006.)

Title (Year)

Events, Things, and Services

$ Then

$ 2006

Politician (1939) Mr. Weezer's glasses fall off at the mention of

10.00

145.68

News (1943) Annual subscription to the Bean Home News

1.00

11.71

Camphor (1944) Freddy's monthly caretaker's salary at Camphor's

50.00

575.28

  Freddy's bonus for each proverb he "experiments" with

10.00

115.06

Popinjay (1945) Mrs. Church pays J.J. Pomeroy this amount for his stint at her niece's wedding

25.00

281.25

  Cost of a boy's haircut

50¢

5.63

Piper (1946) Mrs. Church encloses this amount in a Valentine card for Freddy

5.00

51.92

  Mrs. Guffin will sell Leo for

100.00

1,038.46

Cost for a "Mouseless House"

5.00

51.92

Freddy's take after the 1st day of de-mousing in Centerboro

291.00

3,021.02

Freddy's de-mousing business's net take after expenses

1,726.00

17,923.85

Grand Prize at the Yare's Corner race

200.00

2,076.92

Magician (1947) Cost of a "people's" ticket to Freddy's 1st magic show (children and animals at half this amount)

50¢

4.54

  Amount Presto offers for solutions to each of Freddy's tricks

5.00

45.40

The receipts for Freddy's first magic show

172.75

1,568.69

Payments to Zingo for solutions

130.00

1,180.49
Amount Zingo has stolen from Boomschmidt 1,000.00
9,080.72
The stakes in the Zingo-Freddy mind-reading contest

100.00

908.07
Camping (1948) Cost of one of Camphor's cigars

25¢

2.27
  Mr. Eha's "sale price" for the Lakeside Hotel

5,000.00

45,403.59
  Real value of Lakeside 50,000.00
454,035.87
Football (1949) Mrs. Bean's inheritance (owes 1/2 to her brother)

10,000

85,084.03
  Mr. Weezer's glasses still fall off at

10.00

85.08
The reward offered for Freddy (the bank robber)

5.00

42.54
Cowboy (1950) Staying on Cal's "Cy" for 10 sec. will get you

50.00

420.12
Rides Again (1951) Margarine gives Zenas Witherspoon this amount as a down-payment on property damages

50.00

389.42
Pilot (1952) Condiment offers Freddy this amount to use his plane after his is destroyed

200.00

1,528.30
Space Ship (1953) Bismuth sells tickets to Mars for

5.00

37.92
  Bismuth's profit on the trip to Mars tickets

100.00

758.43
Bismuth steals this amount from Mrs. McMinnickle's purse

83.00

629.49
Whibley straightens out Bismuth's nose for

50.00

379.21
Men from Mars (1954) Herb charges this amount to see his "Martians"

50¢

3.76
  Mr. Weezer's glasses continue to fall off at the mention of

10.00

75.28
Margarine sells the Big Woods to Herb G. for

300.00

2,258.36
Dictator (1956) Amount stolen from Sen. Blunder

500.00

3,722.43
  Ransom (per person ) for Miss Anguish and Mr. Camphor

5,000.00

37,224.26
Saucer (1957) Freddy makes a bit more than this amount telling the spies' fortunes

15.00

108.10
Dragon (1958) "Service" for one year from the Oteseraga Protection Society

50.00

350.35

Short Answers to Infrequently Asked Questions

  • That business about Herb's pulling his hair out in handfuls in Men from Mars is pure hogwash. He never exhibited trichotillomania in his life. The mucilage story is true, however.

My little book

Dear S.C.--I explain the picture (left) you e-mailed me thusly: you obviously have come across a very rare copy of a booklet I wrote back in the 1950s which details my true experiences aboard the Martians' flying saucer. I guess you would call it a "limited run" privately published edition which I had Mr. Dimsey set up and print for me. The cover was designed by Gladys Pippin, the owner of Children's & Young Misses Emporium and quite a fine artist. Unfortunately, only about thirty copies ever sold at Slater's book store (for 95¢), and eventually Mr. Slater asked me to take the remaining seventy home--which I did. They're still up in the attic somewhere or other. Where did you run across your copy, I wonder? Did you get it at the South Pharisee flea market? I hope you did not pay too much for it. By the way, this is the booklet that was later reissued in a revised, expanded, and updated 200-page version called They Walk Among Us: The Earth-Mars Confluence! which I cleared out at $1.98 in the EHA Industries Catalog special sale a while ago.

  • Pomeroy is the name of the first mate of the the ship in North Pole as well as that of Mr. J. J. Pomeroy. I don't think there is much to make of this.
  • The F.A.R. flag is made of old blue overalls, a white nightshirt, and some old red flannel underwear.
  • Yes, in Bean Home News there is cold ham on the Beans' table. In my edition, that's on page 122. Mrs. Bean is also frying up bacon earlier in the same book. What do I make of that? Nothing, that's what, and I probably will not respond to any more pork-related questions.
  • Well, F.C., I know that Brooks said the Centerboro library was built in the Gothic style, but evidently I must remind you once again that the books are fiction. The library is exactly as shown here and there on this site.
  • That's pretty far in advance, but next summer Mrs. U. and I plan to travel to Portland, Oregon. We look forward to a nice dinner cruise and strolling in Washington Park among other things.
  • The "Interminable Motors" mentioned in Freddy and the Flying Saucer Plans was the Ford Motor Company indeed, although I'm sure they would deny it.
  • I don't know what happened to Mrs. Church's sister Eva. I know they both lived in France for some time, but Eva never showed up in Centerboro.
  • E.T. No, I have not missed hearing from you in some time, and I am not interested in paying you any amount of money to stop bothering me. Instead I intend to pursue this matter to the fullest extent of the law.

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