Monday, September 26, 2011

Time Capsule: 1951

September, 1951
: On a chilly Monday night in late September – sixty years ago this month – 12-year-old Johnny Dixon walked home from his Boy Scout meeting and found his beloved grandmother sitting alone in the dark and wondering if her grandson was home from school early. As any child would be in such a situation, Johnny was thrown for a loop and unprepared for the battalions of sorrows that were to come his way over the next few months.

Yes, it’s been sixty years since the events of The Mummy, the Will, and the Crypt, a book full of autobiographical memories that the author committed to paper some thirty years later:
  • In 1951, 13-year-old Bellairs was a Boy Scout in his native Marshall, where Scoutmaster Gilbert Sherman, an area optometrist, led Troop 112's weekly meetings at the Brooks Memorial Methodist Church.
  • Camp Chocorua was most likely influenced by Camp T. Ben Johnston on Sherman Lake outside Augusta, Michigan, itself about 8 miles west of Battle Creek.
  • Similar to Kate Dixon, Bellairs's mother, Virginia, was diagnosed with a brain tumor; Mrs. Bellairs passed away in 1967. In a story featuring a prominent character overcoming such an ailment, it’s interesting to note Bellairs chose Glomus as a character name. A glomus tumor is a small, ball-like swelling usually found in the middle ear, usually causing hearing loss, tinnitus, or dizziness.
  • H. Bagwell Glomus – the inventor of Oaty Crisps – is a high Bellairsian spoof of John Harvey Kellogg, the renowned cereal magnate of Battle Creek, Michigan, a town not more than 20 miles west of Marshall. Like H.B., John Kellogg had some pretty stringent thoughts on health and nutrition, both inspired by the late nineteenth century health craze that swept the country. Glomar, Glomus' wheat-based, coffee-like beverage is based on Postum, the creation of Charles William Post, an eventual competitor of Kellogg.
  • Finally, we can’t mention Mummy without calling attention to the Staunton Harold manor house in Leicestershire, England – something Bellairs undoubtedly came across on one of his overseas visits.

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