FAQ #28

Question: We hear a lot about the Centerboro fairgrounds, especially in connection with Boomschmidt's annual August sojourn there. Would you by any chance have a picture?
Answer: You'd be surprised at the paucity of photographs of the fairgrounds, but I did manage to dig one out of the old vertical file at the library, and here it is.

The Centerboro fairgrounds, around 1900, I'd say...

I think this picture is from around 1900 or thereabouts. If only we could make out the number of stars on the flag! The fairgrounds are still there, but since the circus (and the Martians) stopped coming to town, they are not much of a source of amusement. The old pavilion was torn down years ago after some squatters were injured falling through the rotting floor and promptly sued the county and the town. If I am not mistaken, the offspring of the idiots who destroyed downtown Centerboro have plans to pave over the old fairgrounds and turn the property into some kind of "business convention mini-center," I believe they call it. Just what we need cluttering up what's left of the upstate landscape! Personally I'd much rather have a Martian expeditionary force land there than two hundred salesmen in, oh, say, the gasket business. Such a horde on the streets of Centerboro would be more than a mere annoyance.

Question: We love those pictures of old downtown Centerboro. Do you have any more you could put up at your site?
Answer:  Why, yes, I do. Here's another one (actually a larger black and white version of a picture previously published here) from not such an early period as some of the others. You can tell by the cars. I will be selling this picture (without the notation about my old office) and others at the next Internet Yard Sale in the spring of 2001, so start saving your pennies.

Not quite present-day Centerboro

Question: How about it? Will you have a Hallowe'en lawn display this year?
Answer: Against my better judgment, yes. I have alerted the Centerboro Police Department to be especially vigilant in my neighborhood as long as my display is up and my pumpkin rests in the customary crook of the old silver maple tree. As you know, the neighborhood ruffians have taken particular delight the last two or three years wreaking their hooliganistic havoc with my displays and festooning my little house with toilet paper. Although the C.P.D. usually dismisses me as a crank, I must admit they are otherwise quite diligent in the pursuit of their duties, and I have, therefore, some hope of maintaining a display which will not annoy the neighbors overmuch while actually delighting those intelligent enough to appreciate my efforts. This year's display is a droll representation of Mrs. U. and me on one of our motor trips. Mrs. U. insisted that I add a dash of color to the display (hence all the mums) and allow her to drive for once. In real life she pays about as much attention to the road as is portrayed in the display. I will post a picture of the pumpkin in a later FAQ.

Yard Display, Hallowe'en 2000

A closeup view


Question: You seem to enjoy traveling to Canada. Have you been there recently and if so can you recommend some good places to stay and eat?
Answer: Yes, Mrs. U. and I have recently returned from an automobile excursion to Montreal and Quebec and we journey frequently to many delightful places in Ontario as well. Here are some splendid restaurants--and one I will never patronize again.


Stash Cafe (Montreal) Location: Corner of St. Paul and St. Francis Xavier near the waterfront
This is the real thing, run by real Polish folks, and after a meal here you will wish there were a Stash Cafe in your town. It is delightful to enjoy tasty Polish fare while gazing out the unscreened windows opened upon the quaint streets of Old Montreal.
Best Dishes: bigos (a cabbage and sausage hunter's stew), pierogi (everyone knows what a pierogi is although few pronounce it correctly), and golabki (stuffed cabbage)

Click here to visit the Stash Cafe site.

Bistro 2000 (Montreal) Location: Corner of St. Denis and Ontario in the Latin quarter
Best Dish: linguine & chicken and the house salad
Cafe de Paris (Quebec) Location: Rue Saint-Louis in the old city
Best Dish: the vegetable linguine and house salad
Note: Seven nights a week, Albert (a splendid accordionist and singer) is on duty. An affable fellow, he is glad to perform requests, and you will feel the uncontrollable urge to tip him generously.
l'Omelette (Quebec) Location: Rue Saint-Louis in the old city
Best Dish: the half-roasted chicken--just the thing to rejuvenate yourself after you've walked around all day--which is precisely what one does in Quebec.
The Inn on the Twenty (Jordan, Ontario) Location: Right on tiny Main Street--you can't miss it.
It is one of the 100 best restaurants in Canada! And yet it maintains a relaxed and unpretentious atmosphere, unlike the restaurant in the review which follows. All the dishes are very nice. And since this is wine country, they have a truly splendid selection. There is a pretty country garden outside the dining area, and Mrs. U and I and some acquaintances had an interesting time this summer betting on how long it would take a grasshopper to climb to the top of one of the windows overlooking the garden as we sipped the spiffy little house red table wine.
The Champlain at the Chateau Frontenac (Quebec City) Where to begin? Mrs. U. and I had a sniffy waiter! Yes, a complete stereotype! Imagine, a servant whom we are hiring to carry food from a kitchen to our table giving off waves of attitude! I was going to say, "Look here, sonny boy, I'm paying you to bring me food, etc." but Mrs. U. restrained me. The salad (extra) was so bitter as to be virtually inedible. I suppose "refined" tastes might relish such a collection of unpalatable greens arranged to resemble something like a crouching hedgehog or pin cushion, but my taste runs to vegetation I can actually swallow without gasping and weeping. I am no stranger to the better vintages, and I would rate the house red wine as middling (and overpriced, of course). The main course, a sesame seed encrusted tuna steak, was ordinary, if not actually dangerously undercooked. I could not repress images of parasites hatching in my intestines within a couple of days. I had to ask what a little textureless custardy mound about the size of one-half a ping-pong ball was, as it was quite unidentifiable by taste and I did not have a mass spectrometer with me. I was informed (yes, sniffily) that it was a vegetable mousse. (Here Mrs. U. restrained me again.) Also gracing my plate were one-half of an underdone potato and a scanty pile of overdone, shriveled green beans that tasted as though they had been fried in motor oil. The Champlain was a most unpleasant experience all around. Save yourself the overblown prices--and everything in this restaurant is overpriced; e.g. $21.00 for a glass of champagne--of pretentious surroundings, sub-average to mediocre food, and snotty, arrogant servants. Go to one of the many nice little bistros that line the nearby streets to enjoy excellent food. I will say, though, that the accommodations at the Frontenac are quite nice, and if you want to splurge and say that you've stayed there, I would recommend an overnight.

Wiggins for President book Question: Are you going to be selling any more Freddy books at your yardsales? If so, could I cut a deal with you now for any or all titles? We wouldn't have to mention this to anyone.
Answer: Absolutely no deals! You're going to have to wait until the spring and then take your chances just like everybody else. And FYI, yes, I am going to put up a very nice mint dust-jacketed first edition of Wiggins for President, and here it is. (This is not the Overlook reprint!) Even though the prices of the original Freddy books seem to be falling on eBay, they are still absurdly high, so in the interests of preserving a small degree of rationality on this wretched planet, the price of this book will be my usual $1.00, unless you are a bookdealer, in which case it is not for sale to you.

Nearby hotels years ago Question: I'm going to be attending the Freddy Convention this year, and I'd really like to stop for an overnight in Centerboro on my way home. Are there any good places to stay?
Answer: Years ago, I would have said yes, but the great inns and hotels of Oteseraga County are long gone. Nowadays you'll find here the same undistinguished and indistinguishable chain motels you find everywhere else. The Avon Inn in Tushville used to be a splendid establishment, known all over this end of the state for its fine cuisine. The pheasant dinner was particularly delectable. The Centerboro Hotel was a cut below the Avon Inn, but still far above the average for those days. Yes, there were rumors that certain rooms could be rented by the hour, and the hepatitis outbreak did little to enhance its kitchen's reputation. However, it was generally a first-rate operation, and I certainly do miss Ollie Groper, a most solicitous hotelier, though verbose. To the left, by the way, is a page from one of my scrapbooks listing some upstate lodgings which no longer exist. It is a rather old listing, as hot and cold running water is touted as one of the attractions of the Centerboro Hotel!

By the way, I would be glad to rent you space in my toolshed should you be serious about stopping over in Centerboro. I have recently cleaned it out and cleaned it up, and I'm sure I could get a good-sized cot in there for you. Since you are a Freddyite, I would charge only $99.49 (cash only) per night. Of course, I will have to charge you for the cost of the cot, too, as I will have to go out and buy one. Although the shed is not insulated, you'll be plenty warm under a pile of Army surplus blankets I have. There will be no extra charge for any intelligent conversation we might have, and I will throw in your choice of a tour of my scrapbooks or a motor tour of Centerboro (your car) for free. If you're interested, e-mail me to make your reservation.

Short Answers to Infrequently Asked Questions

  • No, R. S., I don't think marbles would be a suitable event for the next summer Olympics.
  • Jacob is first mentioned by name in Clockwork in which he is called upon to warn Adoniram that his aunt and uncle are in the area.
  • Who invented the word Ignormus? As you know from The True Story of the Ignormus, local yokels invented it following a sermon by Pastor Wilberforce of the Centerboro Free Association Church in 1892. In the Freddy series its creation is attributed to Simon.
  • No, I never met Isabel Pomeroy (that &%#*! J.J.'s cousin). She lived in the servants' quarters at the Camphor estate on the lake for a number of years. There were persistent stories (all true) of a liaison between C. Jimson and her. As the story goes, Camphor's disapproving aunts put an end to whatever relationship Isabel and Jimson may have had, for one day Isabel was gone and Jimson went into seclusion for months.
  • Was there really a teacher Miss Calomel at C.H.S.? In Football, it says that Freddy reported to her room when he enrolled in school, but there was no Miss Calomel in actuality.
  • The strangest dish I have ever heard of is served at a trendy restaurant in New York, the name of which I forget. It consists of sea urchins garnished with crushed Altoids. I am sure you will find this hard to believe, but it is true!
  • You may send me birthday greetings via e-mail, of course. Just use the Send Mail link on my Table of Contents. Do not use the U.S. Postal Service. It seems to be difficult to get the post office to deliver to my Clinton Street address.
  • Dear K.F.: I haven't designed a new "Mr. Eha's Place" T-shirt. If I ever do, you'll be the first to know.
  • If I were ever to deliver a talk at a Freddy convention (and most Freddyites will be glad to hear this will never happen!) I think I'd discuss my word occurrence map for the series. I've been working on this project for years and hope that some academic press will publish it before I cash out. So far, no takers.
  • Yes, I've noticed that there are a lot of greenish pumpkins for sale along the roadsides this year. I cannot account for this either, but I don't think it's a portent of doom, and I think you can relax.
  • Dear J.P.: I am as charitable as the next person, actually. For example, each year I donate a pig to a family in either the Dominican Republic or Honduras. You can, too. Just go to Heifer Project International for more information. I think that the Friends of Freddy as a group should consider this as well. Just think of the splendid publicity!

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