C'est moi. Another Mr. Eha's Place Picture Page
Number 14

 

An old Wiggins for President campaign button Here is a very interesting item, I think. Millicent ("Millie") Wiggins and her two sisters Matilda and Mavis lived, as you know, with a widowed aunt of theirs, Frieda Coubos, after their good-for-nothing father Percy ran off and their mother had a nervous breakdown. Frieda ran what was probably the largest dairy operation in Oteseraga County, and the girls took over its management when Frieda retired and its ownership when she died, turning it into a first-rate enterprise. Millie ran for President of the Oteseraga County Dairy Farmers League one year and adopted the laughing cow logo you see here on one of her campaign pins from a Wiese illustration in one of the Freddy books--exactly which one I can't recollect. I don't know whether she got Wiese's or Knopf's permission, but what difference does that make now? Perhaps the Friends of Freddy might use this very design if they ever decide to run "Mrs. Wiggins" for President of the USA Anyhow, Millie won the election and remained the league president for many years until she and her sisters went out to pasture, so to speak.
An autographed picture of Hercules Boomschmidt If you've ever wondered how closely Mr. Wiese's illustrations correspond to the real folks they depict, here's a good example. You've no doubt already noticed that this is Hercules Boomschmidt. For his day, he was quite "ripped" as far as circus strongmen went, but as fine a physical specimen as he was, his brain was nearer 60 watts than 100. He could perform prodigious feats of strength, yet found it quite beyond his powers to spell out his full first name. When I obtained this autographed Boomschmidt Circus promotional card, I had to spell "Eddie" for him several times, but didn't have the heart to correct the rest of his childlike orthography. Everyone was Herc's "best frend" as far as he was concerned, and it was fortunate for him that Orestes was around to watch over him and keep not-so-nice people from taking advantage of the poor fellow...at least until 1961, that is.
Freddy and the Crazy Day cover art Mrs. L. McK of Toronto recently sent me a copy of what appears to be cover art for a Freddy story that came close to being published, but for some reason was not. She tells me that her husband purchased the original artwork in an auction lot several years ago in New York City. She believes that this Wiese illustration (or one very like it) may have been recycled and used for some other Knopf publication instead. I have wasted several hours of my limited time on this planet researching this possibility, but have come up with nothing. Do any of you Freddyite scholars out there know of such a non-Brooks book? Does anyone have a partial or complete copy of the manuscript of Freddy and the Crazy Day? If so, I would be most interested in studying it and commenting upon it in the "Synopses and Ratings of Unpublished Freddy Manuscripts: Reader Contributions" page of this site.
Fafner

Freddy and the Dragon cover art
From time to time, certain cultured Freddyites have asked for more information about the Metropolitan Opera's Fafner, which I believe Mr. Brooks may have used as the basis for his description of the eponymous beast in Freddy and the Dragon. To the left you see first a portrait of the Met's creature and then Mr. Wiese's dragon. Below you may read an excerpt from the article "Behind the Scenes at the Grand Opera, 1897" (which appeared in the May 29, 1897, edition of Scientific American) dealing with the critter. The entire article, by the way, was an abridgment from Magic: Stage Illusions and Scientific Diversions, a book which was eventually published later in the autumn of 1897 and to which I refer in FAQ #13.

"Fafner the dragon, in Siegfried, is one of the most interesting properties at the Metropolitan. It is the creation of Mr. Siedle, the property master, and is thirty feet long. The head is particularly terrible. It is made of papier maché and is painted in shades of green. The jaw, tongue and antennae are all movable. The head is supported by the first man and is by the second man by means of a lever, the shoulders of the first man being the fulcrum. Each of the legs of the two men are incased in enormous boots which form the scaly, squat legs and hoofs of the monster. The body is of painted cloth and the tail consists of boards articulated with hinges. A hose runs through the tail and the body to the mouth, and carries the steam for the sulphurous breath of the monster; the steam is admitted by a stage hand in the wings. The eyes are provided with electric lights, the wires running through the tail. The dragon does not wholly withdraw from the cave, but stands in the mouth of it belching forth steam, the eyes gleaming fitfully."

Does it not seem plausible that this amazing creation just might be the inspiration for Brooks's relatively puny dragon?

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