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Picture Page 37
(More pictures and commentary from scenic Oteseraga County)


I believe this to be the only existing snapshot of the Martians' exit from Centerboro back in 1955. I took this picture myself, and it was one of the few photographs that some government agency or other did not remove from my house following the Martians' departure. I publish it here because of my steadfast interest in revealing The Truth™ about the Martians (and other Oteseraga County matters) which, as my faithful readers will remember, was my professed mission in coming up with the enduring (maybe) oeuvre of Mr. Eha's Place almost 10 years ago...though I cannot honestly say that I have always stayed 100% focused on that mission or that the site will endure much longer.

The day the Martians left, most of Centerboro turned out for farewell speeches, hotdogs, peanuts, soda pop, and cotton candy in Sibney Memorial Park. After we suffered through the usual stentorian baloney and fulsome humbug from the city and county politicos, we helped the critters load big burlap sacks of peanuts onto their vessel and bid them bye-bye. And so, the Martians came and the Martians went, leaving behind scant traces of their visit. Those of us who were there that Saturday (I think it was a Saturday) to give them a rousing sendoff suffered some minor radiation burns which healed up pretty well if not very quickly. Other than that it had been a fun-filled day...at least for those of us who a few hours later could still remember what had happened earlier that day or could fathom why we felt bewildered and strangely empty at day's end.

This is a psychoanalyst from the Oteseraga County Custodial Asylum in the Beans' front parlor attempting to contact Mars using an apparatus built by Benjamin Bean. So persistent were some of Benjamin's delusions and so persuasive was he that even trained professionals were sometimes duped into considering some of his contentions and/or inventions with some seriousness. After reading Wells's War of the Worlds, Benjamin became obsessed with the notion that the plot of H. G.'s tale was reason enough to believe that an inimical force of Martians might well be preparing to overrun Earth. He thought it necessary to invent a means to eavesdrop on the Martians, and here you see the result. The doctor here...his name is not recorded on this Bean album picture...learned of Benjamin's belief during a therapeutic session at the asylum and decided to visit the "Interplanetary Radio Control Center" (as Benjamin called it) to demonstrate to the moonstruck Bean that he could not possibly be hearing Martian communications. After an hour of listening to what everyone else heard as mere crackling and hissing, the analyst began to hear voices and attempted to speak to the voices. He had to be forcibly removed from the chair and escorted to his car by William. "Inkblots!" was all Benjamin had to say as the analyst drove off. What could he have meant?

I am 100% sure...well, at least 90% sure...that the chicken in this picture inspired Mr. Brooks to create the character Mrs. Hapgood in Men from Mars. I think Mr. Brooks must have gotten wind of the story behind the photo, because everyone around here knew about Herb's trick chicken. I got this snapshot from Herb who took it up in his cabin on Oteseraga Lake. In his spare time on weekends, Herb trained the chicken to walk a tightrope. You're probably wondering why anyone in his right mind, even Herb, would do something like that, right? Well, there is an explanation. Every year at the Oteseraga County Fair there was a animal talent contest with a substantial cash prize. The contest wasn't nearly as interesting as the one described a little later on this page, but it did encourage otherwise sensible people to go to unusual lengths to train animals to do truly unco tricks since the sit-up-and-beg variety just didn't cut it at the fair. Now, you'd think that Herb's chicken act would have at least made it to the top three, but it didn't. That year the chicken was trounced by a "sleepwalking" dog (third place), a backflipping squirrel (second place), and (first place) a dog which had been trained to do a "silent bark." That dog looked just like she was barking to beat the band, but you couldn't hear a thing! Herb was very disappointed in the failure of his chicken to win, though he did get a sort of consolation prize later at the Willow Bend Inn. He was there one night shortly after the fair closed when Bannister was entertaining us with fractured proverbs. Herb chimed in with, "Don't count your chickens until they're on the end of your fork," which Bannister got such a charge out of that he bought Herb a boilermaker--which for those of you who don't know is a shot of blended whiskey chased by glass of beer.

A pair of real characters in real life as well as in the Freddy series, here are C. Jimson's aunts Minerva (Minnie) on the left and Elmira on the right posing by the big fishpond at the Camphor estate on Oteseraga Lake. You can just make out a part of the mansion in the distance, and the lake lies just beyond. Now, if you've kept up with developments here, you know that Elmira is at least as misrepresented in the Freddy books as am I. Minerva, on the other hand, did have the sour demeanor that you became acquainted with in Freddy Goes Camping. There were times, though, when a bit of a twinkle replaced her usual flinty squint, and she could be persuaded to cut up a bit--as evidenced by this photograph. This was before that obnoxious and incessant and ubiquitous admonishment to "talk to your doctor" about this, that, and the other drug. This was before the average consumer was encouraged to have his or her own fully stocked, up-to-date home pharmacopoeia. Therefore, I believe that whenever we saw Minerva acting in a carefree, lighthearted way, as in this photo, it was probably not because she had popped some pill, but simply because she had a pleasant side, too.

You see here two residents...both mentioned in the Freddy series... of the Oteseraga County Nursing Home who famously turned 100 the same month back in 1966. You'd have to be a real Freddy fanatic to have any clue as to who they might have been. Let's make it a quiz...

a. Millicent Wiggins & Netty Witherspoon
b. Gert Filmore & Julia Crispie

c. Mrs. Lafayette Bingle & Alice Peppercorn
d. Effie Peck & Mrs. Winfield Church

The answer is c. That's the answer they say you should always choose when you don't have a clue, isn't it? The two gentlemen standing with the grande dames are Mrs. Bingle's nephews. Mrs. Bingle, a fine seamstress in her day, did not live much beyond February 10, 1966, passing away naturally the following month. Old "Prune Face" Peppercorn cashed it in that very day. I guess she overestimated her strength and sense of balance because her attempt to show everyone she could still ride a bicycle unassisted at 100 ended as badly as it could have.

This old photograph captures a Free Association Church of Centerboro outing to the caves up near the western end of Oteseraga Lake...you know--where the dragon was supposed to have resided. I have written about this group several times already, but I don't think that I've ever mentioned that the FACC once tried to enter the realm of politics. Completely dismayed by what they perceived as the stubborn inability of non-FACC heathens to see the light and become assimilated into the fold, several of the dominant alpha males of this church ran for governing and school board positions in Centerboro and throughout the rest of Oteseraga County. Their agenda was a simple one: to get themselves installed in public office, and once entrenched, to slip their beliefs disguised in secular-sounding language into local statutes and curricula. Their plan did not work because everyone knew exactly who they were and what they were up to, and nobody would stand for it here in Oteseraga County where there persists to this day a firm understanding of what the Establishment Clause is all about. You should keep this in mind if you're thinking of moving here.

In this photo the group had just finished a ritual to exorcise demons from the cave. It must have been successful, because there haven't been any demons (or dragons for that matter) spotted up there since.

Okey-doke, here's another small challenge for Freddyite readers, an easy one this time. This establishment is mentioned many times in the Freddy books. In Spaceship Mr. Brooks says that it is a music store, and it remains a music store for the rest of the series. However, before that Mr. Brooks describes it as a jewelry store in Camping, an appliance store of some sort in Pilot, and a jewelry and radio shop in Cowboy. So what was it? Of course, it's Beller and Rohr's, and at no time was it all the things Mr. Brooks said it was. It was always an appliance store. The wooden Indian figure was just a bit of advertising whimsy, and next to it stands "Old Man" Howell, who managed the store for a number of years. By the way, Mr. Howell was my father's roommate at the Oteseraga County Nursing Home for a while before passing away in 2004. My father, now 106, is the oldest still-living Oteseraga County resident, and he currently holds the official longevity record in these parts, although he is no longer aware of that fact. I intend to outdo him.

Now don't these consenting adults look like they're having some fun? At first glance, it looks as though you might be seeing folks just clowning around for the camera in a slightly kinky way...but you'd be wrong!

What these couples are actually doing is practicing for an event held during the Oteseraga County Fair every summer, the "Giddy-Up Horsey" endurance race. It was much more popular than the three-legged race held downtown every spring on Jackson Street, believe me. To the best of my knowledge, the "Horsey" race started during the mid-'20s. It must have originated in the same part of the brain responsible for the type of consciousness capable of dreaming up flagpole sitting, marathon dancing, and, more recently, the revolting phenomenon of competitive eating (see IFOCE) in which human hogs stuff themselves to bursting as innocent children starve to death in many parts of the world. But I digress again.

Needless to say, the Giddy-Up Horsey race attracted special competitors...couples who didn't mind looking silly and enduring what must have been excruciating pain as they giddy-upped around the fair's half-mile track. There are people mentioned in the Freddies who were participants over the years. Off the top of my head, some of the couples were Charles and Henrietta (at her insistence, I'm sure), C. Jimson and Isabel Pomeroy, Edmund Bannister and Elmira Camphor, Trevor Dixon and (not mentioned in any Freddy book) Priscilla Belette, "Bloody Mike" Hargreaves and Ella Tingley, Orestes and Rose Boomschmidt, and, strangely, I think, Beller and Rohr.

 

Here are a couple of pages from Chapter 4 of a 1954 publication, Magic Carpet: "The Mystery of Egbert," corresponding, of course, to pp. 74-75 in the 1932 first edition of Freddy the Detective and for which there is no corresponding illustration by Kurt Wiese.

Could Mr. Brooks's inspiration for this episode in which Freddy follows his own footprints been Winnie the Pooh (1926)? I wonder, too, if the inspiration for the illustration here might not have been Ernest Shepard's of Pooh and Piglet passing by a tree and a downed branch as they follow their own tracks while searching for a Woozle. Probably not.

Since I have given up all hope of recovering my '42 Studebaker Commander from Herb, I guess I don't need my owner's manual anymore, and because I do not plan to have another Internet Yard Sale this summer or ever again (too much trouble), I'm putting this item up for sale on this picture page.

My Commander was 1 of only 17,200 built in 1942. It was just the berries, I thought. Back then I was just like everyone else as far as buying automobiles went. I got suckered by all the advertising hype into believing that it really made a difference which make or model you bought. Like everyone else, I never thought much about the concept of product parity...you know, like how all toothpastes and bath soaps are pretty much alike in what they actually do. Cars are like that, too. Any money spent in excess of the cheapest price for a reliable "entry-level" vehicle is not about getting from A to B...it's about gimmickry and image, things our culture values far above discrimination and practicality. We all fall for it. It's hard not to. And I might make an exception for fun little impractical sports cars. And, well, why don't I just shut the heck up now, climb down off my soapbox again, and tell you the price for this corking collectible. It's a paltry

$10.00

Oh, fudge! Sold!


Here are two more items for sale, both of which must command premium, yet reasonable prices owing to their direct connection to the Freddy series. At the top is a matchbook from the Red Jacket Grill Bar which for a short time was a feature at the Centerboro Hotel. Though the colors are a bit faded, all the matches are still there if that makes a difference to you. Why "Red Jacket," a Seneca who was born near Geneva, NY, and lived most of his life in western New York? Good question. The story around here is that he may have had some relatives in the local Oteseraga tribe, but I have not been able to verify this after extensive research in the Centerboro Free Library. During my investigation, though, I did stumble across something which might interest you: Red Jacket's speech on Native American worship. I leave it to you to determine who comes off as more enlightened--Red Jacket or his guest, a representative of a Boston missionary society.

Let's move on to the next item, one of the extremely rare and highly desirable "Scenic Oteseraga County" postcards from the first run of the second series. This run is particularly valuable because of a typo which usually goes unnoticed, but which should be glaringly obvious to any literate person such as yourself. It was corrected in the less valuable second run of the series. In case you can't make it out, "scenic" is misspelled as "senic." This card of the Centerboro Hotel comes from Jason Brewer's extensive collection which I know I have told you about before and which I purchased a number of years ago at his estate sale. I guess a mathematician would describe the hotel as a three-dimensional parallelepipid--i.e., a prism whose faces are all parallelograms, and, in the case of the hotel, all the parallelograms rectangles. Me, I'd just call it a big squat brick box lacking any mathematical aesthetic whatever. Does that matter, though? No. No, it doesn't matter at all, because the hotel was quite dandy inside, and for some interior shots you may go here and here and here.

Any road, I'm selling these two smashing Centerboro mementos for the fairish prices of

$25.00 for the matches & $50.00 for the postcard.

@*##&^! They're Both Sold!


And now, dear Reader,

I have no good idea how large the Mr. Eha's Place audience is or how interested it is in my continuing to spend energy working on it and money parking it at Tripod.com.

Therefore, I would appreciate some feedback. Check one of the choices below during the ten-day period beginning June 22, 2006.

If I receive fewer than a certain number of "Continue" responses I have in mind, I'll know that it's time to spend my time on non-Freddy diversions and possibly take the site down to save me the cost of keeping the thing on the Internet.

Your response is anonymous, and I will not be able to reply to you individually.

Please respond only once. Thank you.

 



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