Saturday, September 8, 2012

Little Stories for Bedtime 1914


The Stories

Illustration for "Chatterer the Red Squirrel grows too curious" (January 20, 1914)
January 1 to February 9. Sammy Jay extorts (with threat of weasel) Chatterer the Red Squirrel in order to get corn from the corn crib. After subverting the jay's plan, Chatterer gets careless and gets caught in Farmer Brown boy's box trap. Farmer Brown's boy keeps him as a pet and gradually they become friends, even after Chatterer is released. This episode reprinted in The Adventures of Sammy Jay and The Adventures of Chatterer the Red Squirrel.
Illustration for "What Peter Rabbit found" (February 12, 1914)
February 10 to February 14. Peter Rabbit visits Paddy the Beaver's lodge. Peter and Paddy disagree (to themselves) about the best way to spend the winter.
Illustration for "Peter Rabbit's Valentines" (February 16, 1914).
February 16. Peter Rabbit makes valentine hearts in the snow.
Illustration for "What Farmer Brown's boy did to Granny Fox " (February 19, 1914)
February 17 to February 21. Farmer Brown's boy catches Granny Fox taking a nap but decides not to shoot her. Reddy Fox makes fun of Granny for getting caught; she beats him for his impudence.
Illustration for "Mrs. Grouse is once more a prisoner" (February 28, 1914)
February 23 to March 6. Mrs. Grouse is caught under crust after ice storm. Peter Rabbit brings Farmer Brown's boy to rescue her. He takes her home to nurse. The animals debate whether Farmer Brown's boy is friend or foe.
Illustration for "Everybody teases Peter Rabbit" (March 10, 1914)
March  7 to March 12. Peter Rabbit finds a strange large track. Other animals don't believe him.
Illustration for "The Herald of Mistress Spring" (March 17, 1914)
March 13 to March 25. Peter Rabbit looks for signs of spring. Winsome Bluebird arrives and the winter sleepers wake up.
Illustration for "Old Mr. Toad's Mistake" (March 27, 1914)
March 26 to March 28. Jimmy Skunk protects Old Mr. Toad from Mr. Blacksnake.
Illustration for "Sammy Jay and Blacky the Crow both talk at once" (April 3, 1914)
March 30 to April 11. Other animals begin to get glimpses of a stranger in black. Jumper the hare reveals its identity: Buster Bear.
Illustration for "Easter on the Green Meadows" (April 13, 1914)
April 13. Easter episode. Posted in full here.
Illustration for "Farmer Brown's Boy and Buster Meet" (June 10, 1914)
April 14 to June 13. Buster Bear is formally introduced to Green Forest community. (Much of this long multi-part episode is printed in The Adventures of Buster Bear, some in The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad).  Buster helps Jumper the Hare fix his problem with Reddy Fox. Everyone searches for honey (so that Buster will be their friend), including Peter Rabbit. Peter Rabbit finds honey but needs to be rescued from a team of predators by Buster. Mr. Toad gets puffed up with pride when he is invited to dine with Buster (and needs to be taught a lesson). Buster and Little Joe Otter compete for fish, and Buster becomes a short-lived hero when he frightens Farmer Brown's boy. He loses his status when he shows himself to be equally afraid of Farmer Brown's boy.
Illustration for "How Little Mite was saved" (July 20, 1914)
June 15 to July 25. Danny Meadow Mouse finds a mate (Nanny) and starts a family. They have four children, one of whom ("Little Mite") runs away.  He has several adventures before being (inadvertently) returned to his nest by Farmer Brown's boy.
Illustration for "What became of Mr. Blacksnake's old suit." (August 4, 1914)
July 27 to August 8. Mr. Blacksnake tries to eat Drummer the Woodpecker's babies but is stopped by Farmer Brown's boy. Farmer Brown's boy is about to kill him but shows mercy. Mr. Blacksnake sheds his skin; his new skin is used in Cresty the Flycatcher's nest. The snakeskin scares off Chatterer the Red Squirrel, who was planning to raid nest, as well as Sammy Jay, who was set up by Stickytoes the Tree Frog.
Illustration for "Old Man Coyote loses his appetite" (August 31, 1914)
August 10 to September 1. The animal community is scared by stranger without head or legs that rolls after them. Once it's discovered to be Prickly Porky, tricks are played on Reddy Fox, Granny Fox, and Old Man Coyote. Buster Bear finally gives away the joke.
Illustration for "Buster Bear tails pail of Farmer Brown's boy" (September 10, 1914)
September 2 to September 14. Buster Bear and Farmer Brown's boy go blueberry picking at the same time. Humorous situations ensue. (Reprinted in The Adventures of Buster Bear.)
Illustration for "Fight for a home" (September 22, 1914)
September 15 to October 6. Bully the English (House) sparrow and his wife arrive at the Old Orchard and have conflicts with the resident birds. They only leave when Farmer Brown's boy intervenes.
Illustration for "Old Man Coyote goes on with his story" (November 3, 1914)
October 7 to November 12. Old Man Coyote takes one of Farmer Brown's boy's ducks. Farmer Brown's boy sets a trap for the coyote. After Bowser the Hound gets caught instead, Farmer Brown's boy swears off steel traps forever.  Meanwhile we learn that Old Man Coyote is a zoo escapee.
Illustration for "Peter Rabbit learns from Striped Chipmunk" (November 16, 1914)
November 13 to November 25. Peter Rabbit is inspired by nut-collecting squirrels to see if he too can work hard during the fall. After a misadventure he decides to apply himself to cutting paths in bramble tangle instead. Peter is tickled that other folks are either busy or sleepy in preparation for winter.
Illustration for "Peter Rabbit's Thanksgiving" (November 26, 1914)
November 26. Peter Rabbit pauses to be thankful.
Illustration for "Buster Bear and the hunter" (December 24, 1914)
November 27 to December 24.  A series of hunting stories. In the first Farmer Brown's boy subverts his friends' efforts to shoot Bobby Coon. In the second, Jumper the Hare and Mrs. Grouse work together to escape a hunter. In the third and longest story, Buster Bear comes to the rescue of Peter Rabbit (and a hunter learns how it feels to be hunted).
Illustration for "How Christmas came to the Green Forest" (December 26, 1914)
December 26. A special Christmas story. Farmer Brown's boy leaves food for the orchard, forest and meadow folk.

Illustration for "What was Farmer Brown's boy doing?" (December 29, 1914)
December 27-30. Farmer Brown's boy posts no hunting signs on his family's property.

Illustration for "Roughleg the Hawk arrives" (December 31, 1914)
December 31. Danny Meadow Mouse avoids detection by Roughleg the Hawk.


1914 featured fewer classic "Adventures of..." stories than the previous two years but introduced one of readers' most favorite Burgess character, Buster Bear. Farmer Brown's boy, now the animals' friend, also has a more prominent role, appearing in about half of the major storylines in 1914 overall.  It was Danny Meadow Mouse's turn to have a family (and an adventure-seeking child).

Burgess continued his growing emphasis on nature fact and became more explicit about his anti-hunting/trapping position.  He rationalized Old Man Coyote's presence in Massachusetts (still unlikely in 1914) by making him an escapee from a zoo.

Burgess ran a long humorous episode around the premise that porcupines can curl themselves into balls and roll down hills. This is an old myth that Burgess likely repeated from William J. Long. John Burroughs famously called Long out on this porcupine story in particular in his famous critique of what would be called "Nature Fakers." Yes, in this story, Thornton Burgess was a nature faker. 

In 1914 Burgess continued to pay attention to the seasons (Peter Rabbit's search for signs of spring and the work of winter preparation) but also began to watch the calendar. There were special stories for Valentine's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. And he began to highlight the "sad times" of autumn hunting season.

Farmer Brown's Boy

1914 was the year of Farmer Brown's boy's conversion from nemesis to savior. (This conversion is discussed more fully here).  He made friends with Chatterer the Red Squirrel, rescued Mrs. Grouse and Stickytoes the Treefrog's son, showed mercy towards Granny Fox, Mr. Blacksnake, Mr. Gartersnake, Danny Meadowmouse (and son) and Old Man Coyote, and he intervened to remove house sparrows from the Old Orchard and to save Bobby Coon from hunters. Not all animals, particularly Sammy Jay, are convinced of the conversion, especially when Farmer Brown's boy uses ruthless steel traps to try to catch Old Man Coyote. But when at the end of the year he leaves Christmas presents of food for the animals and posts no hunting signs on his family's property, there's no longer a question of where he stands.

Next: Three more years of the GREATEST NEWSPAPER FEATURE

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