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Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Fredddy the Gateway Drug
One of the neat -- and possibly unique -- programs at the Magna cum Murder mystery conference in Indianapolis is called "Continuing Conversations." The idea is that mystery writers talk shop, and fans listen in. Writers cycle in and out of the discussion for half-hour stretches throughout the day.
Just as I was out to depart "Continuing Conversations" at Magna last October, the talk turned to books that we read when we were young. As I stood up to leave, as I asked, "Did anybody read the Freddy the Pig books?" Sensation! Lots of them had. "Freddy the Detective was the first mystery I ever read," said one writer.
The deerstalker hat on the cover of Freddy the Detective is no fluke: The plot line is that reading The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes inspires Freddy to become a sleuth in his own porcine way. He quotes Holmes constantly.
As a child, I was amazed at how many of my cohorts had never even heard of Freddy. As an adult, I feel an instant bond of kinship whenever a run into a fellow baby boomer who is a Freddy fan. Our numbers are not small. In fact, there's a dedicated group called Friends of Freddy with a website.
For the uninitiated, Freddy was the hero of 26 books between 1927 and 1958 by Walter R. Brooks, who also created the talking horse "Mr. Ed" of TV fame. Freddy and all of his fellow animals on the Bean Farm in upstate New York also talk. But more than that, Freddy is "Everypig," as the Murder Ink entry on him said. Some of the book titles will clue you in on what that means: Freddy the Politician, Freddy the Magician, Freddy the Cowboy, Freddy Plays Football. The Collected Poems of Freddy the Pig.
I only own a couple of first editions, which can be very expensive. But I was fortunately able to buy copies of all of them when they were reprinted in hardback a few years ago. My first retirement project several years from now will be to read them all again in order.
Are there any friends of Freddy reading this?
Posted by Doctor Dan at 12:00 AM