Number 18


Cow exorcism This picture from the Guardian files represents a remarkable incident in the history of Centerboro. One summer evening while walking along the Beans' upper pasture, Speaker Delbert Postlethwaite of the now defunct Free Association Church of Centerboro thought he heard one of the cows talking to itself. Being a half-wit and a rube, he concluded that the cow had been possessed by a demon. His followers (pictured here), also half-wits and rubes, kidnapped the poor cow, confined it in their church hall, and performed several exorcisms upon the hapless creature. When the cow presented no evidence whatsoever of an ability to speak, they congratulated themselves on having successfully purged the beast of the demon, but it took the threat of criminal charges to get the congregation to release the cow, which they had determined to sacrifice in gratitude for their success. As I recollect, this story was carried nationally, and I am 100% sure that Mr. Brooks refers obliquely to this absurd incident in his portrayal of Mrs. Wiggins as the Countess Chinitzky, a.k.a. the "Demon Woman of Grisly Gulch," in Freddy the Pilot.
Rose and Dexter As long as we're talking about Freddy the Pilot, here is a picture related to that story. It's a snapshot I myself took of Mademoiselle Rose, the Boomschmidt circus "Equestrienne" on her trick horse Dexter. (Rose's mother, Annie Carraway, was the circus fortune teller "Madame Delphine.") Although it looks as though Rose is about to be thrown from the rearing Dexter, that is not the case. Rose was a masterful stunt rider and suffered not a single fall throughout her circus career. In Pilot, Rose is stalked by a Mr. Condiment. In real life, it is true that Rose was pursued rather ardently by a would-be suitor before she married Orestes Boomschmidt, but the fellow was not named Watson Condiment, nor was he any kind of comic book mogul. He was just some local clodhopper (whose name I forget) who was smart enough to pay attention when ordered by Judge Nathan Willey to keep far away from Rose and the circus whenever it hit town.
Harold vs.  Tom Tall Speaking of Boomschmidt's circus, a large number of you have asked to see a picture or two of some of the actual circus sideshow attractions after you saw that Harold Huge banner on "Picture Page 17." Well, here you are. The stout fellow is, as you might have suspected, Harold Huge, who was but 21, just starting his career with Boomschmidt, and not nearly as heavy at the time this picture was taken as he had become when he was forced to leave the circus owing to poor health. He has removed his glasses to spar with the rather skeletal giant Tom Tall--whose real name I have forgotten or never knew. Tom, also 21, was 7'2" and 110 pounds and Harold was 5'4" and 435 pounds--or so it says on the back of the photo. I wonder who would have won a real fight between the two of them....
A very dumb circus act Here you see a unique snapshot of a Boomschmidt act which, owing to a tragic miscalculation, was performed but once (not in Centerboro) and which ended very badly indeed. I got this photo the same day I got my autographed picture of Hercules Boomschmidt. While we were chatting, Herc asked, "Wanta see somethin' real bad, Eddie?" Well, who knew what Herc could have meant, and who could have resisted? I expected something a little risqué, but he pulled this picture out of a cigar box in his dressing room and told me the whole story--which I will not repeat here. I was instantly put into a philosophical frame of mind, and Hercules took a dollar for the photo. Sometimes when I wonder about the meaning of it all, I take this photo out and wonder some more.  
Madeline "Minx" Bean Here is a nice little photograph of little Madeline ("Minx") Bean. I have published a number of photographs of her repulsive brother Frederick, so to balance things, I offer the other end of the human spectrum. No one knows what ultimately became of this delightful world traveler. Although I have done my best to find out, her whereabouts remain a mystery. Once she escaped from podunk Centerboro, her visits home were few and far between. Eventually they stopped altogether after her parents moved to Florida. And is it any wonder? I believe there is a direct relationship between Madeline's diminishing returns to Centerboro and the demise of a Centerboro worth returning to--it's as simple as that. Often there's nothing even faintly resembling home to go back to, is there?
Inscribed Freddy and the Space Ship One time Mr. Brooks attempted to make up to me for the Freddy and Mr. Eha debacle (Click here for the story in FAQ #20.) by autographing and sending me a copy of a first edition of Spaceship. Pretty keen, isn't it. Do you think I should put it up for sale at my next Internet Yard Sale? It would be a swell item for someone named "Eddie," wouldn't it? If your name is Eddie and you would like to make a reasonable offer right now, just e-mail me.

(Sorry--You're Too Late. Sold for $2.00)

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