Neighbors and Helpers - Camping.

Good news, wonderers. The Phil are GO! Garage Sale Assault Squad has made the critical acquisition of the 1936 school book "Neighbors and Helpers". It's not a first edition, which may be the reason that a child felt free to scribble all over the pages. Observe the vivid green fabric cover with lively brown and beige silk screening.

We haven't even opened the book yet and already we're learning. The cover illustration teaches animals how to go into the forest to feed the wild children that grow there, in a feral state. One of the children is so feral that she doesn't wear shoes and goes about wearing only a toga. One feral boy wears overalls like a savage. So feral!

In today's story, Joe and his nameless father, named "Father" are seen walking in a park near a city, possibly called "The City". Father is so relaxed that he only feels the need to wear one of his jackets, since it is a warm summer day.

Joe expresses some interest in sleeping under a tree, as well as some awareness that there are people called "Indians". This is fairly progressive material for 1939. This may be the only copy of Neighbors and Friends to escape the bonfire.

Joe's interest in tree-sleeping results in an eventual camping trip. In this illustration, we learn that, when camping, it is acceptable to dress informally. Father is wearing a camping tie and a camping fedora. Joe is wearing his special red camping tie, as well as the hat he usually reserves for occasions in which he addresses people as "mug".

In the chapter "Making Camp", the critical question is "What did father do to make camp?". In short order, we discover that one makes camp by making an "Indian" do it for you. The Indian is as nameless as Father, but also is not allowed to speak or be spoken to. There is no explanation how the Indian got here from India. There is also no mention of "Mother".

At one point, Joe and Father see a bear. Father knows enough to instruct his son to freeze. One wonders what would have been his advice had the bear chosen to investigate further, instead of running off.

After the encounter, it may have been viewed as a fine time to teach Joe how to keep their food supply from attracting bears to their camp site, and thereby prevent an untidy disemboweling. But apparently, you'd have to be an Indian to know that. Maybe Father also brought his anti-bear tie on this trip?

At the end of the story, there is more labor for the Indian, and we finally discover the existence of Mother! Joe expresses some hope that next summer, Mother can go camping with him and father, but this would involve her being allowed to leave the house. Maybe next year?


Mat Black said...

I should like to hear more about the " bear that we thought was a man". Ever so much more.

PhilAreGo@gmail.com said...

Absolutely. Please see updated post.
[- Mgmt.]

Mat Black said...

Delightful! That loutish bear sure knew how to act in the presence of his betters. He wisely skedaddled back to his side of the woods. If only that were the case today. Forest lay-abouts don't seem to know their station these days.

Jim D. said...

I would never, ever put my hand anywhere near the mouth of a beaver. Great choice of closing illustration - - - - Carl Larsson discovers art deco just as he runs out of earth toned paint! It's much better than the new CGI Thunderbirds reboot.

Nat Bumppo said...

"It's much better than the new CGI Thunderbirds reboot" is now my official reply to any request for my opinion. That'll teach 'em.

Mat Black said...

By the by: I had my Indian cut and fetch some balsam boughs. He delivered them to my bed chamber last night (of course he placed them top side down). I couldn't bring myself to actually lay upon them like some sylvan ragamuffin but their scent was enchanting.

PhilAreGo@gmail.com said...

Couple things...

I've just gone and had a look at the CGI Thunderbirds trailer, as it's gotten no press at all over on this side of the pond. I guess it's good for the kids, but I like the creepy puppets better. Thanks to first time commenter and great name haver Nat Bumppo for hepping me to the hideous jive of that reboot.

I also had to go and look up Carl Larsson. Wowzers! His stuff is positively jewel-like in its brightness and clarity. Thanks, Jim! These old children's books do have some great illustrations, like that wooded landscape in the camping post. There's more on the way like that one. Let me know if you want me to email you a 6k x 4k pixel version of that piece. I can dropbox link you if you're keen.

Mat, I'm glad you're a job creator, and not a ragamuffin of any variety. Ask your Indian if he's the regular kind or the Hyderabad kind (hereafter called a "native American, just to keep things clear.)

The massive commentariat response to this post is no deterrent from subsequent exposees of this kind. Expect more from these ancient kid training manuals.


Steve Miller said...

I do love these old school books and feel sorry for kids dealing with what passes for instructional texts today. No illustration...

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