FAQ #23

The Series Chronology FAQ


Question: We're wondering if you can clear up the chronology problems of the Freddy books once and for all .
Answer: I would if I could, but you are looking for a degree of consistency in the books which simply does not exist. Observe the chart below which uses chronological references (starting with a definite 1942 date for Football, a 99.9% sure 1943 date for News, and a 1944-1946 date for Baseball) within the narratives to demonstrate the impossibility of what you ask. One thing seems certain, though--in the timeframe of the Freddyverse, all the narratives, as chronologically jumbled as they are, occur between 1935 and 1945. As you will see, you must assume that the dates of the Spanish-American War and W.W.II in both our so-called "real world" and the world of the Freddyverse coincide to reach any conclusions at all about the chronology of the series. If anyone has more information for this chart or can correct any erroneous information it may contain, e-mail me the particulars, and I will make adjustments.

Title and Year in the Freddyverse

Time References Establishing Freddyverse Years

(Revised 11/25/99, 1/31/01, 2/25/01, 3/7/01, 3/18/01, 9/4/03, and 8/31/05)

Dragon
1944 - 1945

The statewide revolt of animals is set "two years earlier" (in Dictator), and it's "a couple of years ago" that Jimmy Wiggs had his backyard circus (in Perilous). Dictator and Perilous are separated by a year in the Freddyverse, hence this last chronological uncertainty in the series.

However, here is something to consider as pointed out by John C. from the Freddy group at yahoogroups.com:

Subj: [freddy-the-pig] Freddy chronology: the saga continues
Date: 3/12/01 10:37:08 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: JChas1952@???.???
Reply-to: freddy-the-pig@yahoogroups.com
To: freddy-the-pig@yahoogroups.com

In "Dragon" there's a reference to Uncle Ben's atomic station wagon sounding as loud as an intercontinental rocket. The first atomic reactor was created in 1942 (don't know the month, offhand) by Enrico Fermi at the Univ. of  Chicago (my alma mater), and it certainly wasn't small enough to fit in a station wagon. Any other story mentioning one of Ben's inventions that is atomic-powered must have occurred no earlier than 1942. Intercontinental missiles existed in 1958, when "Dragon" appeared, but the allusion may be an anachronism. FWIW. Sorry if this has been covered! John C.

To which our friend Michael from Dry Well, OK, replies:

Subj: Re: [freddy-the-pig] Freddy chronology: the saga continues
Date: 3/13/01 9:15:48 AM Eastern Standard Time
From: Mbp1952@???.???
Reply-to: freddy-the-pig@yahoogroups.com
To: freddy-the-pig@yahoogroups.com

I, too, thought of Uncle Ben's atomic car as a chronological indication, but then I thought, "Well, hey, the guy IS an inventor, and maybe he invented atomic power beFORE the as-we-see-it advent of same!" --Michael in Oklahoma, who has an army of blooming daffodils in his yard

I have published these interesting observations here with the permission of John and Michael and have altered their e-mail addresses to preserve their privacy. I think their comments regarding atomic anachronism are quite reasonable. Just look at what Wells and Verne were writing about decades before the Martians actually visited Earth and submarines like the Nautilus actually existed.

Saucer
1943

There's a reference to trouble with the rats earlier "this year" (Dictator). The First Animal Bank has been going for "about five years" (Politician), which would set the date of Saucer at 1945, which we can reject owing to more consistent evidence from other titles.

Dictator
1943

The events of Spaceship are said to have taken place "last year." It also says that "Dr. Hopper's" outfit had been borrowed from a scarecrow a year earlier (Perilous).

Baseball
1944

There's a reference to the CHS vs. Tushville football game two years earlier (Football) which would nail the setting of Baseball at 1944, even though there are references to its having been two years since the Grimby house burned down in Spaceship and two years passing since the rats were driven out of the Grimby house in Mars. This would imply that Spaceship and Mars are set in the same year, but in Mars, it's said that the events of Spaceship had taken place the previous year.

Mars
1943

There's a reference to last year's forest fire and the failed trip to Mars (Spaceship). Let's assume (safely) that the order of Spaceship, Mars, and Baseball is chronological and that Brooks simply should have kept track of things better and said in Baseball that the rats had been driven out of the Grimby house "last year." Then the date in the Freddyverse for Mars is 1943. This date fits in well with references to Mars

Spaceship
1942

Based on the reference in Baseball to the Grimby house having been burned down two years earlier, this title should be set in 1942.

But, consider the following exchange among some insightful Freddyites and me on the subject of this date. As per my policy I print their messages with their permission and have altered their e-mail addresses as a matter of routine privacy preservation.

Subj: Re: [freddy-the-pig] Freddy Series Chronology
Date: 3/4/01 6:57:02 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: Mbp1952@???.???
Reply-to: freddy-the-pig@yahoogroups.com
To: freddy-the-pig@yahoogroups.com

In a message dated 2/25/01 6:43:27 AM, mreha@???.??? writes:
<< The Freddy Chronology Chart in FAQ #23 has just been updated and revised. It is evident that all the events of the series must take place between 1935 and 1945--at least in the Freddyverse. >>

This FAQ, which I have just inspected, is clever in its consideration of references in certain Freddy books to events reported in others as having been "five years ago" or "two years ago" and thus deducing from these connections the inferred chronology of the series. However, and nonetheless, the conclusion that "all events of the series must take place between 1935 and 1945" is, as it seems to me, unwarrantable on the face of things, however otherwise it might be "logically" deduced. I am, right now these days, reading my new Overlook FREDDY AND THE SPACESHIP which, on page 140, contains these words: "...must take you for a drive in my new flying saucer. These new nineteen fifty-four models, with supersonic drive, fingertip control, automatic stardust dodger and all the rest of it...they're something!" Difficult indeed to consonate an obviously contemporaneous reference to a 1954 model ANYthing with an assertion that the reference was made no later than 1945. Also, the term "flying saucer" was not known prior to 1947, when a pilot used it to describe objects he'd seen from his plane (in what is considered the first modern UFO sighting)--newspapers picked up on the term and it was after that that the term "flying saucer" became part of the popular culture. Yet, on page 110 of SPACESHIP we read that "The state troopers refused to take any stock in the report that a space ship had landed; they wouldn't even go look for it in the woods north of the farm. 'It's just another of those flying saucer yarns,' they said..." This indicates that the reported remark was made, not only after the introduction of the term in 1947, but also after the deluge of "flying saucer" reports had begun to pour subsequently forth from all quarters in the first years following the fact. The mere use of the term "flying saucer" would prove a date later than 1945 for a document including it, ipso facto, and, again, this seems an insurmountable hurdle to the "1935-1945" thesis given above, however else the matter might be held forth...
--Michael in Oklahoma, who got SPACESHIP and NORTH POLE for his birthday

To which I replied:

Subj: Re: [freddy-the-pig] Freddy Series Chronology
Date: 3/5/01
To: freddy-the-pig@yahoogroups.com

Dear Michael and other Freddyites,

You makes an interesting point with respect to the chronology of the Freddy series. I place the action of Spaceship in 1942 (A Freddyverse year) rather than in 1954 owing to internal evidence that connects several titles to an absolutely certain date for Football of 1942. Here's what Michael says: "I am, right now these days, reading my new Overlook FREDDY AND THE SPACESHIP which, on page 140, contains these words: '...must take you for a drive in my new flying saucer. These new nineteen fifty-four models, with supersonic drive, fingertipcontrol, automatic stardust dodger and all the rest of it...they're something!' Difficult indeed to consonate an obviously contemporaneous reference to a 1954 model ANYthing with an assertion that the reference was made no later than 1945." Michael also notes... "This indicates that the reported remark was made, not only after the introduction of the term [flying saucer] in 1947, but also after the deluge of 'flying saucer' reports had begun to pour subsequently forth from all quarters in the first years following the fact. The mere use of the term "flying saucer' would prove a date later than 1945 for a document including it, ipso facto, and, again, this seems an insurmountable hurdle to the '1935-1945' thesis given above, however else the matter might be held forth..."

Hmmm, and yet the 1954 date does not jibe with the 1942 date of Football--an equally certain date--and cannot be made to do so. My thought on all this is that the activities in the world of the Freddy series (a.k.a. the Freddyverse) must occur in some kind of continuum which now and then intersects our own and whose years vary in their length relative to ours. Sometimes the universes match-up timewise, and sometimes they just don't. How else could we account for Freddy's lifespan which certainly exceeds that of any ordinary pig (15 to 20 years). If the narratives of the all the titles spanned, oh, say, 30 of our years or so, Freddy would have to be superannuated by Dragon...and he isn't. And Jinx--why, he'd be a regular feline Methuselah! I still like the idea of a ten-year Freddyverse time period for the series, although I'm not completely convinced by even my own arguments. Does anyone else want to weigh in?

(BTW, I wonder if Michael would mind if I copied and posted this exchange on the Chronology Chart?)

BFN, Your friend Mr. Eha

And then Lyn made an interesting observation:

Subj: RE: [freddy-the-pig] Freddy Series Chronology
Date: 3/6/01 11:13:47 AM Eastern Standard Time
From: lyn@???.???
Reply-to: freddy-the-pig@yahoogroups.com

To: freddy-the-pig@yahoogroups.com ('freddy-the-pig@yahoogroups.com')

Re: Chronology and Relativity

If you actually grew up among the villages of Central New York, you probably know more about time warping than Steven Hawking. With the exceptions of a few pesky technological details, in the context of, say, the space between Booneville, Johnstown, Cherry Valley, Norwich and Cazenovia, I think the Freddy series can be firmly set somewhere between 1900 and 2000--the dates being more precisely triangulated as "back in Dad's time," "back when the West Winfield drugstore still served the '$100,000 milkshake." "back when the old town league still played down in the hollow." (But "long after the Loomis gang got hanged over in Sangerfield")

Lyn

I thank Michael and Lyn for their contributions. I still stand by 1942, nonetheless.

Pilot
1941

This date is based on a reference to Freddy's having had his pilot's license for two years in Saucer Plans.

Rides Again
1943 or 1944

It says "a year or so ago" Alice and Emma would have defended Wesley against Jinx's insults; they had admired him until they saw him try to cheat a squirrel (Perilous).

Cowboy
1943 or 1944

These dates are based on Rides Again's setting being later the same summer as Cowboy.

Football
1942

We have convincingly established the date of events in this narrative as 1942 in the Freddyverse, even though it comes later in the series than News, which is set in 1943. In Football, we learn that the real Aaron Doty, Mrs. Bean's older brother by 5 years, was two years old when the Spanish-American War began. As any educated person knows, that would be in 1898. Aaron had left home, so the story goes, 30 years before when Mrs. Bean (Martha Doty) was 11 and he 16. Therefore, the math establishes the time setting of Football as 1942. I must report that Forrest Bede raises an an objection to my conclusion. He believes the year for Football cannot be 1942, but 1943 instead. Why? Because on page 142, Freddy tells Weedly to stay home from school on a Friday and to hang out at the Busy Bee for a couple of hours. (This, of course, establishes a phony alibi for Freddy later on when he stands trial for stealing the $5,000 from Mr. Bean.) At the trial, the date of October 15 is mentioned  (p. 243) as the day when Freddy had feloniously obtained Mr. Bean's money from Mr. Weezer--at the same time when the identically-dressed Weedly was at the Busy Bee creating an alibi for Freddy. Mr. Bede says that a quick look at a calendar for 1942 reveals that October 15 falls on a Thursday, not a Friday. But, he points out, that October 15 does fall on a Friday in 1943! Therefore, he concludes, Football is set in 1943. I reply that Mr. Bede makes an interesting case, but I think 1942 fits in better overall with the rest of the dates established in this chart, even though the publication order of the canon places five stories between Football and News, and News is almost certainly set in 1943. Had Mr. Brooks kept track of his settings better, there would be no problem at all with dating any of the titles.

Camping
1941 or 1942
1944 or 1945

Charles had attacked H. Garble in his office "a year or so ago"  (Bean Home News), so the setting could be 1944 or 1945...but in Dictator, there's mention of Camphor, Freddy, and Bannister's having gone camping at Jones's Bay across the lake "a couple of summers earlier," which would put Camping in 1941 or 1942. Hmmmm. This complicates not only the establishment of the timeframe of Camping, but also that of Camphor.

Magician
1940 or 1941

These dates are based on the date for Spaceship, in which it says Freddy acquired Zingo the magician's gun two years earlier.

Other references that would seem to make it possible to exactly date Magician in a way similar to Football do not pan out upon investigation. It says, for example, that magic shows by Freddy and Zingo are scheduled for Tuesday, August 25, and Tuesday, September 2, respectively. One doesn't need to consult a perpetual calendar to see that no year in the twentieth century could possibly work for these dates. If August 25 were a Tuesday, September 2 would always have to be on a Wednesday.

On the first page of the book, mention is made of the "tail end of a hurricane" having "whipped across the Bean farm." Magician, published in 1947, may have been referring to either of two intense and deadly hurricanes (of which Brooks could scarcely have been unaware) that affected the Northeast in 1938 and 1944. Since Magician precedes Football in the canon, the hurricane mentioned therein would have to have been the one of 1938. Of course, this date does not fit very well into other established dates of the canon, so we probably should conclude that Brooks referred not to a hurricane on the records in the "real world," but a fictitious storm concocted for the story.

Finally, reference is made to a silk hat Freddy had borrowed from a scarecrow "a year or so before" and is now using in his magic show. The hat referred to is the one Freddy dons as part of a disguise in Perilous. If one interprets "a year or so before" as "one or two years ago," then according to this reference, Magician could be set in 1943 or 1944, which would place it after the 1942 Freddyverse action of Spaceship. It would seem, therefore, that the best (i.e., least contradictory) dates for Magician are 1940 or 1941.

Piper
1941-1945, possibly after 1943

Col. Yancey, a former owner of the house in Virginia now occupied by Mr. Boomschmidt, is said to have hidden money and left for the war (the Civil War, of course, from which he never returns) eighty years ago back in the sixties. Since the war ran from 1861 to 1865, that would place the action of Piper somewhere between 1941 and 1945. There is also a reference to Col. Yancey's "treasure" (actually money Freddy has raised to help Mr. Boomschmidt get his circus back on the road) consisting of 1934 series U.S. currency which would place Piper after that date, which we already know. Since the action of News is most likely set in 1943, and Camphor and Popinjay stand between News and Piper, it seems sensible to conclude that Piper is set after 1943, though that would place it out of order with respect to the next three titles in the series. But then, Mr. Brooks is careless with details of setting, so that is hardly surprising. (Also, on the first page of the story, it does mention that Piper opens on Feb. 14 which cannot be a Sunday because the mail is delivered to the farm that day and Freddy goes to Centerboro and meets with Mr. Weezer--i.e., the bank is open--but this isn't much to go on to establish an exact year for Piper.) In any case, with Piper we have a rare example of the Freddyverse's timeline coinciding with that of the real world in which Piper has a copyright date of 1946.

Popinjay
(?)

Freddy led the charge on the Grimby house "several years ago" (Ignormus). "Two summers ago" Byram and Adoniram captained water polo teams. There is a reference in Popinjay to the movie Bird of Paradise which is to be released. Such a film actually exists, directed by King Vidor and released in 1932. But doesn't 1932 seem a most unlikely year for the setting of Popinjay, given its position in the canon?

Camphor
1940 or 1941
1943 or 1944 

The Florida trip occurred five years ago (Florida)

In Camping, Freddy had been a caretaker on Mr. Camphor's estate "last summer" and had driven Simon out of Camphor's attic "the summer before."

News
Most likely 1943

This title was published in 1943. The references to blackouts, to rationing (which started with the rationing of new tires), and to scrap collecting (aluminum, for example, was one of the very first things collected--for warplanes. I remember turning in old toothpaste tubes and flattened tin cans) all go back historically to December of 1941. So, this book could be set anywhere from 1943 to the end of the war, despite the evidence in Camping which suggests 1939 or 1940--clearly out of whack with real history. Why 1943? It's mentioned in News that there had already been a big scrap drive for the war effort the previous year--and that could be no earlier than 1942. There would not have been time to organize a big drive between December 7 and Dec. 31, 1941. So the previous drive mentioned in News probably did not occur earlier than 1942. If so, that would make 1943 the likely setting of the story. After all, why would Brooks have set the story one or two years in his future--1944 or 1945? So here's another example of a story in which the chronologies of the Freddyverse and the real world coincide, and we can establish the time of the setting with a very high degree of certainty.

Also, in Camphor, there is mention of Jerry Peters' megaphone having been made "the summer before," so if one can buy Camphor's being set in 1944, then the 1943 date for News works just fine..

Perilous
1942

In News, Mrs. Bean mentions, "They tried to arrest Freddy last year, when they thought he'd stolen a balloon."

Ignormus
(?)

Weedly
(?)

Politician
1940

In Perilous, which is reliably set in 1943, it states that Freddy has taken two years to save $7.00 in the First Animal Bank, which was instituted in Politician. Also, Grover's letter to Mr. Weezer in Politician includes a reference to a proposed meeting between them on Friday, May 3. In our space-time continuum, May 3rd is on a Friday in 1940. Here is a splendid example of a perfect intersection of the chronologies of the Freddyverse and our world! Mention is made in Politician of the Centerboro area's having been settled for 150 years, but this does not help date the book. Nearby Rome and Utica were most likely settled around 1700, which would indicate a time of about 1850 or so for Politician. This is of course clearly erroneous owing to Mr. Brooks's inattentiveness to details. References to past Presidents of the United States in Politician do not help date it, either.

Twin
1939

In Politician, mention is made of Freddy's having gone "to the orphan asylum last year," referring to his visit to the orphange in Dutch Flats to make inquiries about Byram Jones in Twin. Also in Politician, Bertram is said to be "...a year old now, and good and dry from sitting month after month up in the loft." Clearly then, the action of The Clockwork Twin must take place in 1939.

Freginald
(?)

Detective
1937

There is a reference in "The Trial" chapter to the "...old phaeton, which the animals had brought back from Florida two years before...," which suggests, therefore, the year 1937 for Detective.

North Pole
(1936-1937)

The story opens with a reference to the Florida trip's having ended in spring. Let's agree on 1935 for that (see below). Another Florida trip is planned for that winter and the animals return the following spring (1936). That summer the expedition to the North Pole leaves. The winter comes and goes and so does the following spring and summer. The rescue party leaves after August and all of them return that winter. The animals leave the North Pole on December 28 and arrive at the Bean farm some time between 4 and 5 PM on December 29, 1937. (However, Forrest Bede, a careful reader of the Freddy books and Mr. Eha's Place, points out that in North Pole there is a comment about "advertising appropriate for 1931" in a discussion between Mr. Hooker and Mr. Pomeroy at a board meeting with Santa Claus. Well, this date, of course, does not fit the chronology we have been able to deduce from other passages in the series based on the 1942 setting of Football and jumbles the timeframe of the works just as much. Although it might make sense to accept 1931 as the time of the animals' visit to the North Pole given the publication date of the book (1930), if we do, then Florida would have to be set in 1931 and, working forward from this date, no more sense or order can be made of the chronology than before. All Mr. Brooks would have to have done to avoid this temporal mishmash was to have kept a timeline on a big piece of paper that he could have affixed to the wall above his typewriter. But noooo!)

Florida
1935

In Camphor, it states that the Florida trip took place "five years ago," so based on the earlier dates for Camphor, that would set Florida in 1935 at the earliest, although (absurdly) the trip could have taken place as late as 1940 based on the Brooksian mess-up of dates for Camping and Camphor. Based on the cock-eyed internal time references from the series, I guess 1935 seems to be a reasonable Freddyverse date, doesn't it--despite its publication date of 1927.

Question: You have suggested that Martians visited the earth in prehistoric as well as historic times. Do you have any real proof of this or is this just some weird idea you have?

Martian fossil

An authentic Martian

Answer: Of course I have proof. I am not one to make things up. One of my main objectives in publishing this site, after all, is the advancement of The Truth™. I obtained the picture above left from a UFO convention circuit associate of mine who has asked to remain anonymous. Now before you automatically dismiss him as a nameless crank, you should know that he has a Ph.D. from a well-known university (accreditation pending) and sits on the board of directors of several important businesses and charities (financial reports available upon request). This is someone you can trust. He has informed me that this is an image of an actual fossil which used to be kept under lock and key at a famous New York museum. The fossil itself disappeared in the mid-1950s from the vault in which it was hidden. What has become of it no one knows--except, of course, whoever or whatever removed it. The code in the lower right corner of the image ends with the letter M, which certainly signifies Mars or Of Martian Origin or something like that. My friend and I are both sure that what you see can be nothing other than the fossilized remains of a primitive Martian. Just look at it compared to my sketch of an authentic modern Martian. Go ahead. Note the six appendages. Note the three eyes and the antennae. The relationship is obvious. And this fossil was found right here in New York State! I have mentioned before that perhaps Martians have a common ancestor with Earth insects somehow, and this image certainly lends credence to my speculation. Perhaps Martians flourished on Earth long before man made his wretched and unfortunate appearance and have visited many times since after having migrated to Mars. I hope to find out the next time I am abducted.

 

Question: Would you please sort out the Drs. Wintersip and Winterpool. Were they real Centerboro people? Are they both M.D.s?
Answer: (1) It's the Rev. Dr. Wintersip, and he was the real pastor of the real First Methodist Church. He used to live right behind me. (2) Dr. Winterpool was a real medical doctor who in his later years owing to a failing memory had to look things up in his old medical books right in front of his patients. He did not inspire much confidence because of that and also because of a hand tremor, but I think that I'd still prefer going to him rather than the bean-counting, penny-pinching, body-processing HMOs. Or maybe it's body-pinching, penny-processing that I mean.

Question: How's the 1999 pumpkin?
Answer: See for yourself. There he is perched in the big fork of the silver maple in my yard.


The 1999 pumpkin in the daylight....

And here he is at night....

 
Short Answers to Infrequently Asked Questions

  • Still no Studebaker; still don't know who E.T. is for sure; still no winner of Contest 6
  • As far as I know, first it was the Gazette, then the Guardian, and now the Sentinel
  • Am I buying the Overlook reissues? Yes, naturally, for research purposes.
  • Yes, the monkey accordionist did actually work, although it was rather moth-eaten and smelly.
  • Boomschmidt's Circus did hand out little giveaways to kiddies. I happen to have a picture of a school pencil box they'd pass out at the gate to the first 50 or so children in line.

A Boombox...Ha! Ha!  

  • Yes, the "back road" has a real name. It's Clapsaddle Road, and it was also known (unofficially) as "the timber road" and "the old logging road."
  • No, I can't recommend any herbal remedies for you. Why don't you just eat well, get enough sleep, and take a daily walk? I will recommend three or four cups of Alvita Chinese Green Tea every day, though, for its antioxidant properties.
  • Mr. Weezer married a Miss Biles, I believe it was, who was considerably younger than he, and who really gave him a "run for the money" so to speak with those forget-me-not eyes of hers! Eventually she settled down, produced a number of little Weezers, and turned into one of Centerboro's grand matrons. They're both dead now, and their offspring are scattered all over, none in Centerboro.
  • I'm not having a yard display this year for Hallowe'en. Number one, there are too many destructive hooligans running amuck nowadays; number two, there were some complaints to the city council about last year's display which caused them to issue a warning to me to "cease and desist"; number three and finally, I just don't feel like it. It wouldn't be much fun under the circumstances.
  • Yes, I brush Chloe's teeth. She enjoys it because I use chicken-flavored toothpaste. It actually doesn't taste too bad.
  • What do I give out on Hallowe'en? I give out those little bite-sized candy bars. If you've heard that I passed out chocolate-covered asphalt balls last year, that is a complete lie that those miserable children at the end of the block fabricated because I wouldn't pay them for not waxing my windows.

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