Saturday, February 6, 2010

Burgess's earliest boy adventure stories

As noted yesterday, Burgess was well-positioned to write Boy Scout stories. Some 15 years previously, he had been a participant (as "Waldo") in the children's section of the New England Homestead and had written a series of adventure stories for boys. I've scanned one of the stories, from June 27, 1896, and will feature it here today in its entirety. As a bonus, I've also included a short boy's craft-oriented piece Burgess contributed to the New England Homestead the previous week. I think the setting of the story is particularly significant, an ideal small town, a community of supportive villagers, hard-working, courageous, and fun-loving boys. Note: it is a "Fourth of July" story.
(I apologize for the disparity in the column widths--to really read the story you will probably have to click on each text image one by one.)

This was during the bicycle craze, a topic of built-in interest. Note the work ethic (reflecting Burgess's own childhood).

Note the traditional values (the boy's aren't allowed to ride on the Sabbath).

The boys plan an adventure, which the mother resists, but the father encourages.

The resourceful boys are able to fix their own flat tire, and the adventure continues with a snake fight (a gratuitous kill, very much unlike later Burgess).

Here comes the climax. Hardworking adventurous boys become heroes.

Here would be a line or two cut off in the photocopying process.

Despite the loss of the bicycle, justice is served. The boys' heroism is recognized and then celebrated during the Fourth of July parade.

The "two Jays" would be ideal Boy Scouts.

Also, as promised, a little craft project--a "Fourth of July Kite," complete with American flag tail. Burgess would submit a few more of these diagram pieces to New England Homestead. This kind of thing would be the hallmark of the Ernest Seton Thompson Woodcraft books.

Burgess would provide a few more boy's adventure stories over the next few months: "Camp Ephraim, at Sunnyside," about a boy's Cape Cod camping trip (July 18, 1896); "The Voyage of the Arctic Tern," about a sailing expedition--also featuring Cape Cod (August 29, 1896); and "Gerald's Moose," discussed in a previous post (November 14, 1896).

Tomorrow: Burgess's own boy

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