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Full Version: It no Strand of Darkness, but my latest crazy idea...
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My adventure began as many do in the modern world with a text message, "A guy has boxes of old books like the Hardy Boys. You want them? 100 bucks."
One world sealed my fate, "Yeah."
"I'll come get you," was the reply. Fifteen minutes later, my buddy who we will call T drove up in his rumbling old pickup truck. As we headed north on the highway, he filled me in. He and friend had looked up an old army buddy who was in town to deal with the estate of his, the old army buddy's, great uncle. The estate auction had finished, but nobody wanted all these piles of boxes that were filled with what looked like books typewritten. T who knew how much I liked old books asked about them. He was told that generations ago, the family had owned a publishing company. For some reason the family had hung onto these particular manuscripts which were old kids series kind of like the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, but even older. With that he texted me and you are caught up.
When we got to the rambling old house, the army buddy met us and showed us the boxes that he had stacked in the front room.
"There they are if you want to look at them," he said almost in passing. I handed him the hundred dollar bill and that seemed to interest him.
"You'll take them sight unseen?" he asked.
"Yeah, I'll get that much in entertainment value out of them anyway. Maybe I'll put some of them up on Gutenberg as long as they are public domain," I said.
"Do whatever you want with them. I'm just happy with the hundred, me and the guys will eat good tonight." I looked at him a bit funny and he explained, "The money from the auction and the house and stuff wont come through for a while. This is pizza and gas to get us back home." His buddies came out to help us load the truck and tie an old tarp on the truck to keep anything from blowing away.
"Speaking of food," I said to T as we pulled away, "Want a bite, its on me." As we pulled into a Chick-fil-A, I grabbed a couple of the manuscripts and papers from under the tarp to see what we had. Over some nicely made chicken sandwiches we looked over some of the oddest books I had ever seen. I knew that some of the series books went back to the 1890s and were a bit old fashioned with stories about the Wireless Boys and the Motorcycle Boys, but these were quirky even by those standards. The Semaphore Boys on Earthquake Island was one I had happened to pull along with The Electric Boys and the Electric Quadcycle. There was also some paperwork which seemed to be a list of at least some of the series and some sales numbers. The Dirigible Boys and The Electric Boys seemed to be selling pretty well though in the 1920s, though the Bicycle Boys and the Semaphore Boys didn't seem to be doing so well. T had grabbed the Electric Boys so I flipped open the Semaphore Boys. I seemed to have joined them mid earthquake.
Another shock rocked the small island. The ground swayed and swelled under the boys' feet. Farther up the mountain a mighty oak cracked and fell startling the boys and a family of deer who cam hurtling past them forgetting for the moment their natural fear of mankind.
"We don't have much longer," cried Jupiter. The sweat was beading on his normally unperturbed brow.
"I'm waving these flags as fast as I can," yelled Mars from the top of the tree.
"You run up to the top of that hill that overlooked the north side of the island," Jupiter told Mercury urgently. His brother was off like a shot. The smallest of the three scaled the hill with the ease of a mountain goat and was soon signalling swiftly but efficiently. Jupiter watched his two brothers using their only pairs of signalling flag and wondered if there might someday be a better way off attracting the attention of boats at sea. He suddenly remembered some fine books he had once read about the group of boys who had used smoke signals in the wilds of America. He didn't want to start the whole of the heavily forested island on fire, but maybe it was an idea and anyway it was better than standing there and doing nothing.
Jupiter clambered up the side of the mountain with some difficulty as he was designed more for thinking that manual labor. He found a smooth area of rock with some deadwood situated conveniently nearby. He hauled and hacked at the wood until he had managed to build something that looked like a small teepee of wood. Using his fire starter he scraped sparks off into dry wood until several places managed to catch fire. As I was getting caught up in the boys predicament and wonder if Jupiter was going to attract a ship of roast everyone on the island alive, T caught be attention with a hearty chuckle.
"These Electric Boys have some pretty fair luck," he told me.
"Why what happened to them?" I asked.
"Well two gangs are after them. The boys were eating in a diner with the police chief. The first gang loosened the bolts on the Quadcycle so that the tires would fly off when it got going fast which I think was about twenty miles an hour. Then hid their own car beside the road to follow the boys after the quadcycle crashed. The second gang stole the quadcycle though and of course they crashed. The first gang saw the crash and started attacking the people in the car who they thought were the electric boys, but were really the second gang."
"That was lucky."
"And then Jupiter got the police chief to call on his electric radio and all the policemen came and arrested both gangs which wasn't very hard to do because they had mostly knocked each other out," T concluded.
"Did you say Jupiter?" I asked.
"Yeah he is the big brother, Mars and Mercury are his brothers. Weird names for a kids book."
"Even stranger, they are the same kids who are in my book. At least they have the same names."
This made for a pleasant bedtime read-out-loud with my wife. The only trouble is we can't tell if you are relating an experience that actually happened to you, or if this is the beginning of a ficcional story that you are writing. Either way, the opening paragraph grabbed our attention and had is reading until the end. I kind of like the down-to-earth narrative style.
Thanks Michael!
It is intended, if I am less lazy, to be a tongue in cheek literary scam. None of it is true. The idea is a mystery built around these books that numbered in the hundreds across dozens of series yet few remember them. For some reason the government was involved and censored many of the books especially the beginnings and endings. This first book will talk about all this as the 'story' of the discovery and being chased by modern government officials, Then the various crazy series will be discussed in a sort of literary review style with some 'examples' and speculation. Thus setting up the writing, again pending laziness, of some of the actual books which will be sort of adventures, sort of comedies, sort of spoofs of various serials.
Love it, BC! It'd make a great blog at the very least- discovering an old series of books. I remember checking out the work of one user of VSCO 2 Pro who used it to make the music for a bunch of "discovered" old sci-fi TV adventures, complete with back-stories about the production difficulties, etc. Always thought that was a cool direction. Smile
Thanks Sam. That is cool about the discovered old tv shows. Clever stuff. Reminds me I keep thinking about creating Professor Wheretofore who of course got beaten out in popularity by Doctor Who. Wink
If anyone is interested in Edward Stratemeyer and the Stratemeyer Syndicate that published Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew and other, this is a 300 page college paper on him including many original documents from his kids...

"Did you say Jupiter?" I asked.
"Yeah he is the big brother, Mars and Mercury are his brothers. Weird names for a kid's book."
"Even stranger, they are the same kids who are in my book. At least they have the same names." I flipped back toward the front where I thought I remembered seeing a date.
"Mine is dated May, 1902. What is yours?" I asked.
"May 1923."
"You don't think all the books have the same characters?"
"One way to find out." We headed out for the truck which was parked under a fairly bright light and pulled back one corner of the tarp. As we flipped though the various manuscripts it became apparent that for some reason all the characters had the same names. Jupiter was always the older brother and seemed smart and stout. Mars and Mercury were always his younger twin brothers. A guy in a van was starting to look at us weird so we decided to head for home. It was getting late.
T dropped my off at my house but we decided to leave the boxes in the truck. He had a garage so they would be safe and I lived up quite a few flights of stairs. I took The Semaphore Boys on Earthquake Island because I wanted to see how it came out along with a couple other random manuscripts and a small box that seemed to have some letters.
I settled into my comfortable reading chair and read the brothers out of trouble temporarily. They were picked up by the last surviving guy in a life raft from a ship that had sunk a week before. He was thrilled to help them in return for eating his fill and then some of the boys' supplies and there was still quite a lot of food left to put on the lifeboat. As they headed well out to sea in the direction of home, the island gave a great convulsion and sank into the sea.
After that I started looking at some of the letters and documents in the small box I had taken with me. What first caught my eye was correspondence with a government agency. The gist of the letter was that most of the manuscripts were being returned under the agreement that the first chapters would be rewritten as specified and the endings truncated to the natural ending point. There were other letters from the same agency demanding certain changes and stating that agents would be by the office to make sure the manuscripts were appropriately edited before publication or else. One of the more heated letters said that the later books in the inventor series were not going to returned and any books dealing with unknown of unusual science ideas or inventions were not to be published and were to be turned over to the agency immediately.
At this point the phone rang and T told me to meet him outside in five minutes. As it was almost midnight, this struck me as unusual. The truck pulled up and I got in.
"You aren't going to believe this," T told me, "P just called and said that the guys we bought the books from brought over some guys in black suits who wanted to know about the books and who bought them. P said we were just some guys he met who happened to be interested in books. He didn't think they believed him as they looked through his house and are out front of his place parked in a dark van."
"Won't they trace his call?" I asked.
"Nah you know P. He put on black clothes and snuck out the cellar door and used a pay phone. He thought it was hilarious."
"Can they find us?"
"I'm not sure. The guy how sold us the books described us and the truck and said we lived in D," T told me.
"That isn't much to go on. I think we are safe," I said.
"P said we could drive up to his Uncle's ranch and stash the boxes. His uncle has all kinds of hiding places," T said with a grin. Uncle Q was famous from his 'disagreements' with the letter of the law about what was legal and what should be taxed and such. Anything that might thwart the government would have his full backing. Also his daughter N and T were sort of kinda maybe in a way going out and T never minded seeing her. So we drove 37 minutes out to Q's place on some serious back roads. We were expected and the boxes were quickly unloaded into a place that looked like a bit of flooring under a big pile of bales of hay.
I gave the box of letters and some other documents I found to Q because i knew he would love those and really want to help us. T, N and I grabbed some more of the manuscripts and we settled down to some reading around the kitchen table. T had gotten me interested in the Electric Boys so I flipped to a spot halfway though The Electric Boys and the Electric Underwater Diving Bell. The Detectives Three in Chicago had interested T, while N found The Wireless Boy in the Indian Ocean.
I was reading a frankly tedious technical bit about how the electric battery on the Underwater Diving Bell worked, when I came across some heavily blacked out lines just as Jupiter was explaining about miniaturizing and dry cells and how it was the future because wet cells were too unstable. About half a page was gone before the technical stuff ended presumably and anyway the adventure began again.
"Where is Chapter One?" asked N all of a sudden. My book starts with chapter two where some girl is thanking Mars for saving her poodle from drowning.
"I have part of a Chapter One," I said a few minutes later after I had looked at the front of my book.
"Me too," said T, "It starts in the middle of a sentence after some black markings through the first third of the page.
"Actually I might have found a chapter one in here," said Q showing us a couple pages of typing. We all read his pages over his shoulder.
The Smoke Signal boys had helped America expand ever westward. They knew that it was the manifest destiny of the United States to reach from sea to shining sea, but they were also respectful of the Indians who were being displaced. The many Indians saw them as friends and had taught them the mysteries of the ways of life that had been practiced on the great American forests and plains for untold generations. They knew how to hollow out trees to make canoes. They knew how to hunt food from trees and nuts to the mighty buffalo that had once thundered across the plains in herds so vast it took days for a whole herd to vanish from sight. Most importantly they had learned how to use that mighty communications secret of the American Indian, the signal fire. The ability to signal which the brother shared and which they taught to their closest allies had saved many a frontier family and even entire forts of United States soldiers. While their adventures included many dangers as they were pursued by unfriendly Indians or even less friendly bears, faced capture, torture and even death with stoic faces and saved countless lives through intrepid courage and brilliant schemes, often it was the signal fire and its code that proved the most vital of all their skills.
As anyone who has encountered our heroic trio of brothers knows, it is Jupiter who provided the brilliant plans. While he is not as fit and his brothers, Jupiter's mighty mind makes him the natural leader of the boys. Beneath his mop of black hair and over top his noticeable girth lies one of the finest mental faculties to ever grace the planet. As the older brother his dedication to his twin siblings often makes him take risks that even a mighty athlete might blanch before. When his powerful fist connects even a mighty Indian brave has been know to fall like a poleaxed buffalo.
Mars is the mightiest of the brothers. While no slouch in the mental department and certainly quick on his feet, it is with with well developed physique that he most often helps his brothers through an dangers that the wild west of America might present them. Woe be to any opponent who dares to challenge this young Adonis.
Mercury, the youngest brother by almost five minutes which Mars never lets him forget, is the speed merchant of the group. He can outrun a horse for short distances and he has proved several times to the surprise of settlers, army men and even Indians. He can scramble up an cliff or tree faster than any youngster on the frontier and his sure feet never slip. While he can't match Mars power, his quick fighting tactics have caused plenty of consternation and he usually comes out of fights with fewer bruises. Given the chance he would prefer not to fight and is more than willing to try to mediate any dispute often with the mighty brain of his brother Jupiter as a prime resource. Across the country there are many who might think of Mars strength or Jupiter's clever planing with respect but who think of the kindly Mercury with smiles and in the case of a few young ladies with a tenderer emotion.
The introduction rambled on from there covering some of the boys recent adventures in a none too subtle advertisement for the rest of the series. Then it just stopped mid-page. Q flipped to the next page suddenly the story started again.
As Jupiter held the reins loosely the fine team of horses sauntered into town pulling the boys somewhat dilapidated but stoutly built wagon. All their earthly possessions were heaped in that wagon and they were not about to lose them. Mars was whistling a jaunty tune he almost knew as he sat beside Jupiter on the buckboard. Mercury was jogging alongside to relieve his acute boredom. The little town of West Terwilliger wasn't much to look at, but it had a decent hotel which served a decent stack of grub. After trying to eat their own cooking for weeks on end, the boys were ready for something cooked by someone who had once cooked something without burning it. Besides they had the reward money from catching Dead Eye Dave and Ed burning a whole in the little moneybox that was well hidden in the sturdy wagon and here in Canada the Yankee dollars would go even farther.
"I'm gonna eat me half a cow and an acres of potatoes slathered in butter and dripping with gravy," announced Mars when the hotel hove into view.
"Won't slathering you up in a butter and dumping gravy on you wreck your clothes?" asked Jupiter nonchalantly.
"Not if I'm not wearing any," said Mars playing along.
"I reckon I'll stop by the newspaper office then and sell them a story."
"Huh?" inquired Mars.
"Foreigner from the United States arrested while buck naked and slathered in butter and dripping gravy. Pleads insanity and is acquitted. I have a nose for news," Jupiter said. The two brothers contemplated each others continuances for a moments and then burst into laughter. Mercury swung up beside them with a quizzical look.
"What are you guys laughing about?" he asked.
"I reckon we are just punch drunk from the trail," Mars told him. Suddenly a scream rent the air. Rounding a corner and flying onto the main road was a burning wagon pulled by a team of stampeding horses. The poor animals were terrified, their eyes were wide and dazed with fear and sweat flew from thier overexerted bodies. They were trying desperately to escape from a fire that followed them everywhere and was now licking at their tails. A woman sat holding the reins. She seemed petrified with fear and the creis of a child were emanating from the wagon.
End Chapter One of The Smoke Signal Boys in the Canadian Rockies. With one accord we headed for the boxes to see if we couldn't rustle up the rest of The Smoke Signal Boys in the Canadian Rockies. It took a good ten minutes, but N found it. She started reading to us rather breathlessly.

Chapter Two
Jupiter took in the scene of panic and destruction with a cool eye. He calculated the area of the fire, the speed of the horses and the weight of the woman and in less time than it takes to tell his mighty brain had already formulated a plan of action. Mercury you jump in the back of the wagon and grab the baby. The fire looks like it is only in the front of the wagon. Mars you leap on the front of the wagon and throw me the young lady. Mercury had already sprung into action. He landed in front of the thundering horses and slipped between them with practiced ease. As the flying hooves missed his brothers defenseless body by mere fractions of an inch, Mars leaped onto the oncoming wagon and grasped the young woman in his mighty arms. He tossed her to toward his brother with one hand and grabbed the axe his brother had tossed him with the other. As Jupiter clasped the young lady and used her momentum to set her surprisingly gently on the seat beside him, the runaway wagon passed harmlessly over Mercury with the axles clearing his nose by a solid half inch. The lightning lad lept up with perfect timing and swung into the wagon. He grabbed the crying baby and did a back-flip out of the flames. Mars had brought the axe down with splinting effectiveness on the rail connecting the horses to the wagon. The horses carried on running while the wagon careened to a halt in front of the watering trough. Mars jumped lightly forward and using a well placed bucket doused the flames. Jupiter pulled his wagon up to the front of the Hotel and helped the lady down just as Mercury sauntered up with her baby.

"Oh my," said N and that about summed it up.

Some series descriptions or partial descriptions...

The Smoke Signal Boys

These books mix the long tradition of children's historical books, westerns and adventure stories. The fairly odd idea of building books around the boys being taught how to send smoke signals by friendly Indians is mostly an afterthought after the first couple books. Smoke signals seem to have been fairly limited. Three puffs always met Trouble, two puffs met everything was fine and one puff was just to attract attention. There were more advanced smoke signals which might look like a V or a bolt of lightning, but those were usually private signals between individuals or a tribe. After all you couldn't make a smoke signal secretly as anyone could see your message unless it was coded so only the receiver understood it. The Smoke Signal boys generally only used the fires to warn of approaching danger and then they often found their way into the danger themselves.

There are several oddities about this series. It spans a far greater time frame going back to the earliest days of the 1800s through the 1920s, since the same trio of boys stars in each adventure, as they do in all these series, it requires some suspension of disbelief. Also there are often celebrity appearances which are explored in the dust jacket blurbs. Danial Boone, Lewis and Clark and Davy Crockett are the featured stars in the first three books in the series. The truth is these are cameo appearances that usually last for no more than a chapter and serve as a chance for the hero to shake the boys hands, spin a yarn and encourage them to adventure every further west.

As the earliest series in the Blue Badge Boys line, there wasn't a starter collection. In the later series, the first three books would be written and released all at once so that the excited reader would have more than one novel capture his attention and his twenty five cents. This series saw two years pass between the first and second books. The original series seems to have salt-petered out on the West Coast of Canada in 1896, but the Yukon gold rush saw a quick attempt at a comeback in 1899. Another book was rushed out to exploit the success of the film The Great Train Robbery in which the boys, still in Alaska, were robbed of their gold from the previous book while going to Anchorage by dog sled. The Great Dogsled Robbery didn't excite much interest apparently as the series lay dormant until 1920 when the boys reached Hollywood and tried to become movie stars. This may have been a toe in the water approach which resulted in the mid 1920s Hollywood Boys series.

The Smoke Signal Boys in the Appalachians (1888)
"The Smoke Signal Boys face danger alongside their hero, Daniel Boone in the uncharted woods beyond the Appalachian mountains. Boonseville is in peril from both crooked swindlers from within and cruel Indians without. Can the lads save the first great town of the American West from extinction?"

The Smoke Signal Boys on the Mississippi (1890)
"When Lewis and Clark face life and death peril along the Mississippi, the Smoke Signal Boys must use their cunning and know how to save the day. If the great expedition should fail, the United States expansion westward would be stunted for decades. It is against this backdrop, the the lads engage in one of their most exciting adventures."

The Smoke Signal Boys in Texas (1890)
"The Smoke Signal Boys meet the great Davy Crockett in this thrilling tale. Americans looking for adventure they faced many dangers including a Mexican government that wanted them out of this land and aimed to preserve Texas as part of Mexico. The famous battle at the Alamo became a rallying cry for independence, but one of the greatest of the fighters almost didn't reach the mission for that famous battle. Only the Smoke Signal Boys know the true tale."

The Smoke Signal Boys on the Great Plains (1891)
The Smoke Signal Boys in the Dakotas (1892)
The Smoke Signal Boys in the Rockies (1893)
The Smoke Signal Boys in the Northern Rockies (1894)
The Smoke Signal Boys in the Canadian Rockies (1895)
The Smoke Signal Boys on the Western Coast of Canada (1896)
The Smoke Signal Boys in the Yukon (1899)
The Smoke Signal Boys in the Great Robbery by Bandits (1904)
The Smoke Signal Boys in California (1920)
The Smoke Signal Boys Make Movies (1921)

The Semaphore Boys

Semaphore was used for ship to ship communication before the invention of radio. It involved the use of two flags that were held in various positions for each letter of the alphabet. This method of communication became obsolete with the dawn of the twentieth century which likely explains why the Semaphore Boys were the only Blue Badge series not to survive the 1800s. The first three books did tend to involve Semaphore but much like the Smoke Signal Boys, the later books mostly became adventure stories this time of storms and shipwrecks.

The Semaphore Boys seem to have had the worst luck of any of the trios in the Blue Badge Series. They never make it home as they always seem to be wrecked on some island or other. Maybe it is this sense of failure that kept the series from achieving greater success or maybe Semaphore just wasn't that exciting a topic.

The Semaphore Boys (1889)
The Semaphore Boys and the Storm (1889)
The Semaphore Boys and the Buoy of Doom (1890)
The Semaphore Boys and the Iceberg (1893)
The Semaphore Boys Adrift (1894)
The Semaphore Boys on Earthquake Island (1895)
The Semaphore Boys on Volcano Island (1897)
The Semaphore Boys and the Really Big Wave (1899)
While annoying one and all. I started doing a bit about the Stratemeyer Syndicate and the books of Edward Stratemeyer.

I had to copy and paste the text since the forum isn't exactly formatted for reading fiction, but this is some lovely stuff bigcat! Very cool and unusual idea, looking forward to see where you're going with this.

Funny side note. There's a Swedish hard rock band called Electric Boys that has been around since the late 80's. Can't read that without picturing long haired guys in Hendrix-style seventies attire Smile
Thanks Mattias. That means a lot coming from one of the coolest fantasy writers I've ever known. And thanks for the reminder now that I have a functional computer, I'd better get back to it before I lose the thread. I think I was going to have them meet an expert on teenish fiction and series who is amazed that anyone remembers these old books and has some comments on the government censoring them. Now how to make that funny... Plus I have this cool Fantasy book in progress I've been meaning to read...
It also gives me the opportunity to write silly parodies of the Hardy Boys and blame any lack of skill and innovation on the concept!

The Vacuum Tube Boys and the Cartable Radio

Chapter One
“It’s a brilliant idea,” declared Mercury as he steered the brothers’ flivver along the winding mountain road. The sun was beaming down from a cloudless sky and the boys had the convertible top pulled down to enjoy the warmth and the wind.
“Thanks Merc,” said Jupiter with a smile, “the future will undoubtedly supersede our efforts, but I suspect we can acquire some substantial income with these radios.” Jupiter was the oldest and smartest of the three brothers and his dialogue sometimes required some interpretation.
“Huh?” said Mars as he gathered all his grey matter into one lump. Mars was the great athlete of the group, but not the most intellectually gifted. It was for his benefit that Jupiter’s grand and occasionally run-on sentences were most often translated.
“We can make some dough off these cartable radios,” explained Mercury as he navigated a hairpin turn at far greater speed than was usually suggested. Everything Mercury did was a top speed. If his mind wasn’t as powerful as Jupiter’s nor his muscles like the Popeye brand sported by Mars, he was usually the first to catch on to a dastardly plot or a fleeing criminal.
The brothers had solved several mysteries and the resultant monies had been used to buy their pride and joy, an old Model T. While not as pleasurable to the eye as some of the roadsters of their chums, the three brothers’ tender ministrations had given the old girl new life and surprisingly good handling and pickup. Jupiter’s love of all thing electronic had resulted in some exotic additions like a numerical speed indicator, while Mars love of all things mechanical had made the Tin Lizzie the smoothest ride on the road.
Taking the Flivver out for a pleasure ride was on the top of the brothers list of favorite past times. Having just successfully concluded the Mystery of the Electrical Air Signals in which a band of desperadoes had attempted to disrupt the radio broadcasts of the entire state for diabolic ends, the three felt that it was time for some relaxation. With the firm hand shake of the Mayor still tingling on their finger tips and a bit of reward money jingling in their pockets, the boys were on top of the world. The late spring sun was shining and school was almost over for the summer. If there was a better time or place to be a young man than in 1929 America, it would have been hard to imagine. Prosperity was everywhere and it was just good to be alive.
The three combined these recreational wanderings with a quick trip into the big city so Jupiter could purchase a fairly good-sized collection of vacuum tubes. The hefty lad had come up with the clever idea of a radio that could sit in the dashboard of your car when you were driving, be transferred into your bedroom when you were at home and even be carried, with some difficulty, on your back when you were hiking. An adventure the trio had become inadvertently involved in last fall where a large liner had been saved from certain disaster had been weighing on Jupiter’s mind. He had decided that if radios were widely available and could go everywhere, all forms of disasters might be avoided. There was also a budding field of radio entertainment that he and his brother enjoyed immensely. The idea of having a philharmonic or a dance band available anywhere at most any hour made the young man even more excited about his idea.
I’ve been hinting at the skills and adventures of these brothers, but I really should properly introduce those of your who haven’t had the pleasure of their company in one of their previous three adventures. I beg the indulgence of those of you who know these young gentlemen better than you know your families. You can skim along for a moment here.
Jupiter Edison is the oldest of our three friends. He is a large young man who plays tackle on the football field while his prodigious mind lays waste to any subject in any classroom. Science is his special joy and he adores getting his hands on the latest technology which he seems to understand almost by instinct. He is the undisputed leader of the brothers and a rock in any crisis.
Mars is the athlete of the group. While he never looks to start a fight, he has been known to finish plenty of them and woe be to anyone who picks on his brothers. Thankfully for the young ladies of Pleasantville High, his occasional scraps have done nothing to diminish his good looks. It must be admitted that even his brothers are occasionally a but jealous of his combination of muscles and charm. Mars is diligent in his studies, but a solid C+ is his high-water mark, however his skills with all things mechanical are already legendary.
Mercury loves speed. From winning to quarter mile as a freshman to racing any vehicle he can get his hands on; the impish young man terrifies his mother and is the apple of his father’s eye. His mind is as fast as his body and he constantly comes up with clever if sometimes crazy ideas. It is often Mercury who gets the brothers into the troubles that Jupiter’s magnificent mind and Mars majestic muscles have to get the trio back out of. They wouldn’t have it any other way.
The boys live with their parents in a lovely home on the corner of Might and Main in the aptly named Pleasantville. This all-American town has a fine high school, three churches, a synagogue, two libraries and one bar that closes down on Sunday. It should be noted that the name is a coincidence. The town owes its existence to a sadly misnamed mule called Pleasant.
J Jeramiah Jenkins was headed west to seek his fortune on the back of an old mule that he had ‘borrowed’. For reasons known only to the raggedy scarecrow of a man whose feet touched the ground at intervals from the back of his animal, J Jeramiah took to calling the mule ‘Pleasant’. At first, they made reasonable time across country which was a good thing for J Jeramiah as the farmer who had a more legal claim to the mule was hot on their trail. After a couple days, the mule had had enough. He liked to wander around slowly if not very slowly and sniff things. The breakneck pace was lowering his moral. As any mule with a moral deficit will do, Pleasant stopped in his tracks and refused to go another step.
J Jeramiah was stymied and when J Jeramiah was stymied, he used words of which his mother would not have approved. This was saying something as his mother was currently being held in upper New York at government expense and wouldn’t be available to scold her son for another 17 months. J Jeramiah cussed that mule up one side and was just starting to cuss him down the other when he heard a gasp. He whirled around to see the prettiest, plumpest young lady he had ever seen in his life. Somewhat embarrassedly he doffed his ragged hat and tried to stammer out a greeting.
“I have never heard the like!” declared the pretty, plump girl, “If you are going to hang about these parts, you had best clean up your language young man.”
“J. Jeramiah,” the young man explained apologetically, “Where are these parts?” he asked as an afterthought.
“Ain’t nowhere,” said the young lady, “And I’m Jezebel Jones because my father wanted me to be an example to those whosoever needed an example. You want to make something of it?”
“I think it’s a lovely name,” said the smitten raggedy youth.
“Well I hate it so call me Belle.”
“Yes ma’am, I mean Belle.” Well this went on for some time and it happened that as Belle learned of all J. Jeramiah’s vices and her being the reformingest daughter of a the reformingest preacher that ever lived before he died, she decided that she must spend her lifetime reforming this young man. She also reformed the mule. Soon they had a little farm where the creek split. J. Jeramiah and Pleasant plowed those fields like anybody’s business while Belle watched them for any spirit of unrepentance. She never saw any, but when she turned her back, J. Jeramiah and Pleasant cussed each other. So they had sons who never cussed around their mother or their reforming wives and to this day, the Jenkins men are kept in line by their women. Though they may be the oldest family in Pleasantville, they aren’t the town lights. Maybe this helps as all the important folk in town know they can’t claim to be the founding fathers or mothers and so can’t become to self-important and the Jenkins boys can’t spell self-important.
But we seem to have strayed from the informative introduction that is intruding on the exciting plot of our story. So the three young men Jupiter, Mars and Mercury live in this town with their mother, their father and their slightly disreputable uncle. Their Mother is an astronomer and it was her idea to name her sons after planets. Their Father is also an astronomer and it was his idea to keep peace in the family by letting his wife name their sons after planets. Uncle Gilbert hickingly said the whole idea was stupid then passed out. Mother just tolerated Uncle Gilbert because ‘You do for Family’ though she often told Father that if she had her way Uncle Gilbert would be on the next train to Peoria. This made the boys smile because Uncle Gilbert was Mother’s Brother.
Those of you who have been skimming come on back as we are ready for your attention and the plot once again. The Flivver is leaping along the winding road which leads up to the observatory with Mercury at the wheel, Mars is daydreaming about Brenda and Jupiter is sorting his vacuum tubes. Suddenly a scream rent the air. As the Tin Lizzie rounded a blind corner on the mountain road, a runaway horseless buggy hove into view. It was going the same direction as the boys and in the act of tipping over. A young lady in curiously old-fashioned clothing was trying to convince the buggy not to overturn.
“Rock,” yelled Mars coming out of his daydream and noticing a large boulder on the road. Mercury reacted instantly and whipped the wheel to the left as hard as he could avoiding both the rock and the buggy by an inch.
“Brake when straight,” instructed Jupiter. Mercury applied the brakes hard once he had the car under control. The buggy came alongside and overbalanced. Mars grabbed the frightened girl and pulled her into the Flivver as the buggy flew over their heads. The old vehicle crashed and splinted its way down the mountainside as the young lady clung to Mars.
“Are you hurt?” asked the gallant young man.
“I think so the steering went and,” she paused for a moment trying to catch her breath before gasping out, “FIRE!”
“Where?” yelled Mercury looking around him.
“Our cabin is on fire. Up the road. I was coming to get the firemen,” she explained in panic.

Chapter Two
Mercury floored the accelerator and the Tin Lizzie leapt up the road with a will. A moment later, the roaring blaze came into view. A man and a woman and two children were using buckets filled from a nearby stream to try to put out the fire but it was clear they were losing. Just beyond them, the stream cascaded down the mountain.
“Drive toward the waterfall,” yelled Jupiter. Mercury followed his brother’s directions over the bumpy ground.
“Swing the back around under the fall,” Jupiter instructed jumping from the now slow moving auto. He motioned for Mars to do the same. Mars gently set down the young lady and ran after the car. Mercury swung the Flivver around in a controlled skid directly under the falling water. Jupiter grabbed the back on one side and Mars hurried to do the same on the other. There was plenty of mud and they didn’t want the Tin Lizzy to get stuck with its precious cargo of water.
“Go,” yelled Jupiter when the water had filled the back seat. Jupiter and Mars flung the car forward free of the mud and Mercury raced forward as soon as the wheels hit solid earth. He headed straight for the burning building until at the last moment he turned the wheel as hard as he could and the car flung the load of water straight into the fire.
“Again,” yelled Jupiter and Mercury raced back for a repeat performance. His skill was good for a second dousing of the fire and much of the flame fizzled out. The boys quickly set up their own bucket brigade along with the now recovered young lady who they had saved earlier.
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