FAQ #27
(The Necrology FAQ)

Question: Do you have a photograph of Byram and Adoniram you could post at your site?
Answer: I'm surprised that it took so long for someone to ask. Yes, I do, and here they are, those scamps. They are pictured with the Bean farm bull which they showed at the Oteseraga County Fair. As I recall they won the blue ribbon one year. It's easy enough to figure out which is Byram and which is Adoniram on your own, so we'll move on to the next question.

Question: How many of the human beings upon which Freddy characters are based are still alive?
Answer: That's impossible to say, as a number of those folks left Centerboro for parts known and unknown over the years. For example, State Police Lieutenant Sparrow's son Jefferson moved to California in the late sixties, and no one ever heard from him again, although it was rumored that he became a best boy at some movie studio. Mrs. Twitch, the Centerboro Hotel's cook, moved to Nova Scotia shortly after the big hepatitis outbreak, and for all I know, she's still cooking away up there. (If any of you live up there, I'd suggest you do a little "asking around" before patronizing a restaurant.) Herb Garble is still out in Montana or down in Florida, although a short while ago he did revisit Centerboro long enough to grab my Studebaker. Ancient "Old Man" Howell, former manager of Beller and Rohr's, shares a room in the nursing home with my equally ancient father. Edgar, Thurlow, and Sylvester ("Junior") Wilson still live up on the Oteseraga Lake property I sold them after they disposed of the septic tank pumping business their father Sylvester ("Sniffy") started up. Of course, Mrs. U. and I are quite alive. Having heard nothing to the contrary, Freddy, Jinx, and Minx are probably all still alive; the same goes for my ex-wife Harriet and that *%#*$! Pomeroy. In the brief necrology that follows, I will list the names, occupations, and causes of death for some of the Centerboro folks (or visitors) with whom you are familiar through the series. I knew most of the information off the top of my head, but I did have to check the newspaper obits for others. If someone whose demise you're morbidly interested in is not on my list, I suggest you contact the Centerboro Sentinel or the Oteseraga County Records Department yourself.

A Brief Centerboro Necrology

  • Bannister, Edmund (Butler): Natural causes
  • Bean, Benjamin (Local lunatic and self-styled inventor): Chemical explosion
  • Bean, Martha (nee Doty) (Farmer's wife): Natural causes
  • Bean, William F. (Farmer): Natural causes
  • Bingle, Mrs. Lafayette (Sarah) (Seamstress): Undisclosed cause
  • Bismuth, Ambrosia (Housewife): Aspiration of a petit four
  • Bismuth, Edward (Unemployed no-account): Complications of plastic surgery
  • Blunder, Sen. Bertram (New York State Senator): Struck by lightning while delivering a speech
  • Boomschmidt, Hercules (Circus strongman): Heart failure
  • Boomschmidt, Orestes (Circus proprietor): Long-term deterioration following a mauling by a lion.
  • Boomschmidt, Rose (nee Carraway) (Circus performer): Natural causes
  • Brewer, Jason (High school star athlete; clerk ): Complications of obesity and diabetes
  • Camphor, C. Jimson (Wealthy confirmed bachelor): Lawn mower accident
  • Carraway, Annie (Circus performer): Natural causes
  • Church, Mrs. Winfield (Rich banker's widow): Nasty fall down a flight of stairs
  • Condiment, Watson P. (Publisher): small plane crash
  • Coombs, Angus (Farmer): Awful silo mishap
  • Crispie, Julia (5th grade teacher): Progressive dementia
  • Dimsey, Wilberforce (Newspaper owner and editor): Natural causes
  • Dixon, Trevor (Diner owner): Plugged arteries/apoplexy
  • Filmore, Gertrude (Resort hotel owner): Natural causes
  • Finnerty, John (High school football coach): Mysterious circumstances
  • Garble, Orville (Stock farm owner): Trampled while unloading cattle
  • Gilman, Frank (Owner of Gilman Lumber Co.): Tetanus
  • Gorflinger, John (Owner of Gorflinger's Drug Store): Mercury poisoning
  • Gridley, Amos (High school principal): Stroke
  • Groper, Oliver (Hotel proprietor): Hepatitis
  • Guild, Johnny (Flight instructor): Car accident
  • Hall, Jennifer (Actress): Fall from stage
  • Hall, Olivia (Farmer's wife): Natural causes
  • Hall, Thomas (Farmer): Overturned tractor
  • Hargreaves, "Bloody Mike" (Career criminal): Dispatched while breaking and entering by shotgun-wielding homeowner
  • Higgins, John (Sheriff): Fall from upper window
  • Hinkelbaugh, Victor (Butcher): Septicemia
  • Jackson, Samuel (Owner of Sam's Salvage Yard): Lost and presumed dead on spelunking expedition
  • Lenihan, Amos (Farmer): Contaminated well water
  • Lenihan, Mary (Farmer's wife): Contaminated well water
  • Macy, Alvin (Farmer): Combine accident
  • Macy, Delores (Farmer's wife): Natural causes
  • Margarine, Elihu P. (Banker): Thrown from horse
  • Margarine, Mirabel (Banker's Wife): Natural causes, so we heard
  • Margarine, William "Billy" (Banker's son): Acute alcohol poisoning at fraternity hazing
  • McMinnickle, Eleanor (Spinster): Complications arising from untreated dog bite
  • Molecule, Henry (Grocer): Hepatitis
  • Muszkiski, Stanley (Movie theater and bowling alley owner): Natural causes
  • Peppercorn, Alice "Prune Face" (Schoolteacher): Tumble from bicycle
  • Peters, Jerry (Entomologist): Allergic reaction to bee sting
  • Pferd, Henry "Hank" (Hired farmhand): Complications arising from senile dementia
  • Plaskett, Eloise (7th grade teacher): Self-inflicted gunshot wound
  • Polo, Charles "Charlie" (Chicken farmer): Natural causes in Attica State Prison
  • Polo, Henrietta (Wife of above): Homicide
  • Quackenworthy, Alice (Hairdresser): Natural causes
  • Quackenworthy, Emma (Hairdresser): Natural causes
  • Quackenworthy, Wesley (Pool salesman): Homicide
  • Rana, Theodore (Pool installer): Rattlesnake bite
  • Rodere, Eli (Bookie and fence): Mysterious disappearance; presumed dead
  • Schermerhorn, Bess (Farmer's wife): Melancholia
  • Schermerhorn, Calvin (Farmer): Electric fence mishap
  • Sibney, Maj. George (Former Centerboro mayor): Forgot his hearing aid and stepped in front of a car
  • Smith, Robert (Chauffeur): Natural causes
  • Snedeker, Effie (Housewife): Heavy metal poisoning
  • Snedeker, Lucius (Factory worker): Natural causes
  • Tingley, Ella (Notions clerk at the Busy Bee): Missing & presumed dead
  • Tweedle, Edgar (Bookstore owner): Hypertension and depression following dropping sales
  • Watt, Pickthorn (Oculist and murderer): State-approved electrocution
  • Weezer, Henry (Banker): Brain contusion; hit head on desk corner when stooping to pick up glasses.
  • Wiggins, Millicent (Coubos Dairy Farm partner): Natural causes
  • Wiggs, Jack (Criminal): Mysterious causes
  • Wiggs, Jimmy (Veterinarian): Natural causes
  • Willey, Nathan (Jurist): Choked on bubble gum
  • Wilson, Sylvester ("Sniffy") (Owner of Sniffy's Pump-'Em-Out): On-the-job drowning
  • Winterbottom, Dr. Samuel (Physician): Cirrhosis
  • Winterpool, Dr. Andrew (Physician): Misdiagnosed "rash"
  • Wintersip, Rev. Dr. Melvin (Minister, First Methodist Church): Fall from pulpit
  • Witherspoon, Jimmy (Men's furnishings clerk in the Busy Bee): Wounds received in battle
  • Witherspoon, Netty (Farmer's wife): Natural causes
  • Witherspoon, Zenas (Farmer): Plunge from hayloft following bankruptcy
  • Wogus, Matilda (Coubos Dairy Farm partner): Tuberculosis
  • Wurzburger, Mavis (Coubos Dairy Farm partner): Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease

Short Answers to Infrequently Asked Questions
(You know who you are.)

  • Yes, you are correct in pointing out that in North Pole "Leah" is said to be Charles and Henrietta's eldest daughter and in Clockwork, "Cackletta" is elevated to that position. This is, of course, one of those mysteries of the series that can have no satisfactory resolution unless assumptions are made.
  • Congratulations. You have stumbled across another "unanswerable." Ferdinand is a brave rescuer in North Pole, a thieving crow and a prosecuting attorney in Detective, and then the presiding minister at Ronald and Cackletta's wedding in Clockwork. One wonders whether he is about as complex a character as you're likely to find in the Bean farm band of flat characters. Too bad he doesn't show up more frequently than the rats as an antagonist....
  • There are at least two minor porcupine characters that I know of. One is Clarence and the other is Cecil.
  • I think you are mistaken. The rats could not have always been the enemies of the Bean animals, for it is mentioned in Ignormus that Ezra had been taught to write by Freddy: "'Why of course,' [Freddy] exclaimed; 'that handwriting on the letters was yours, Ezra.  I remember when I taught you to write, you always made your d's with a funny tail.'" Now why, I ask, would Freddy have given the power of literacy to an enemy?
It's Zebedee Winch!!!
  • It is altogether possible that the "unidentified man" photo in Picture Pages 1-5 is of Zebedee Winch, the "man with the black mustache"! Yes! If you compare the photo with the illustration on p. 79 of Camphor, it seems almost obvious. But how could this photo have wound up in my storage chest? I simply can't account for this. Also to answer your question about who "the woman" is who comes out of a door at the end of the hall in my house and talks to "Dr. Hopper" in Camping--Brooks based that extremely minor character on my mother, who would come and clean my home office when I had one.
  • How observant you are! In Dragon, the gang "holed up in that old cave at the west end of the lake" (98). Yet later it states: "Up at the east end of the lake they all concealed themselves along the road, by the path which led up to the cave" (210). This geographical transposition is not a misprint; it is simply the final irksome inconsistency in the series. However, I have pointed out that these inconsistencies, though irritating, have no significant effect on the literary value of the series, which is completely negligible anyway. (Proof? Please attend. If there were literary merit to the series, there would exist discussion of the books as literature--not as mere objects and commodities--at the Freddy mailing list. Such discussion is so rare as to be virtually nonexistent. Therefore, there is no literary merit to the Freddy series. QED)
  • Indeed, Beller and Rohr's does undergo a transformation in the series. In Spaceship it is a music store and stays a music store for the rest of the series, but before that it is a jewelry store (Camping), an appliance store of some sort in Pilot (there's a television set in the window), and a jewelry and radio shop in Cowboy.
  • I'll bet no one else has ever noticed this. It certainly escaped my attention, and I'm glad to mention it here. In the abominable Freginald, it does state that a Mr. Scatterthwaithe has a farm near Centerboro and that his son-in-law is the farmer Zenas Witherspoon. In Popinjay, Mrs. Bean says she went to school with a Netty Trimble, Zenas Witherspoon's wife. There are a number of ways to account for this (e.g., Netty was Zenas's second wife), but it's probably just another Brooksian slip-up.
  • Yes, I think Sally Field must have read Perilous and taken her inspiration from it, for in it Wesley begins to weep after exclaiming, "Why, you like me!"  Now here's what Ms. Field said in her second Oscar acceptance speech: "I haven't had an orthodox career and I wanted more than anything to have your respect. The first time I didn't feel it, but this time I feel it, and I can't deny the fact that you like me--right now, you like me!" Is this a mere coincidence? Not very likely!
A very talented actress!
  • For the last time, the Centerboro local newspaper starts out as the Guardian and turns into the Sentinel in Saucer Plans.
  • The parents of Orestes, Hercules, and Hector Boomschmidt are Ulysses X. and Sarah Boomschmidt.
  • To answer your two geographical questions, that river referred to in Clockwork is most likely the Mohawk River, the Hudson's largest tributary. In 1918, the dams and locks of the former "Erie Canal" was replaced by the "Barge Canal System" which incorporates much of this splendid river's channel for its route to Rome, New York, from Albany. And the only reasonably "good sized lake" west of Centerboro and southeast (about 20 miles) of Syracuse as mentioned in Perilous is Cazenovia Lake. Brooks probably had Oneida Lake in mind. It's northeast of Syracuse and a genuinely good sized lake.

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