One day while surfing the Internet, a sudden impulse hit me to type in "Freddy the Pig." I hadn't read the books in over forty years, but they were still out there. Up came a site that listed six books, and with another impulse I ordered Freddy the Detective. When it came, I felt I'd glance at it and give it to a niece; needless to say I was hooked and bad. out went an order for the other five titles.
Was I beginning a descent into my second childhood? Then I discovered the Friends of Freddy, and the acceleration into that time of yore became akin to an avalanche. I had to have all the other Freddies. Almost all were out there to purchase if you wanted to take out a second mortgage. "Sticker-shock" became the operative mode: $700 for a Freddy book and not even a first edition! A great deal of daily scouring the Internet got prices under or around $150, but not that many titles. So, a plea on the Friends of Freddy website, and the members came to the rescue with a number of titles at reasonable prices. By this time, my wife was looking at me sort of funny at times, but I got her to try a book and now she is hooked; that helps when you are looking at spending what is a little fun money on a project like this. Yes, as magnificent a job as Overlook Press does with the new Freddies, I couldn't wait. I had to get all possible and could later replace them with the titles as they came out, with another set aside for my niece.
More good news was yet to come. There were Freddy t-shirts and pens to be had; the orders went out as my bank account went down. However, the best part was coming: back issues of the Bean Home Newsletter were available from the first issue. Well, might as well have them, but would they be just a boring in-house publication? Folks, if you don't have these set aside some money to get them; they are a treasure--news, stories, letters; each was like a mini Freddy book.
In all this one cannot help but be impressed with the people doing the work for us. Year after year the same names kept coming up: Kevin Parker, Connie Arnold, Alice Tracy, Lee Secrest, and others. Then there was this high school student, Aladdine Joroff, who became our president and also the newsletter editor. Reading through the issues of the newsletter to that point I had to wonder who a teenager, and a young teenager at that, was made president. This young lady in her tenure produced what can only be called a wonderful publication, plus her guidance and work helped lead to a doubling of membership. I couldn't help but look back on my days of teaching college preparatory U.S. History and wishing I had had more students like her. I still have to wonder about some things. Will a book on Walter Brooks, as hoped for, ever come to pass? It is needed. Will someone take up the task of producing or having someone do a Bean Farm poster showing all the buildings and characters? Wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to look at such a drawing and see Freddy talking to Charles at the fencepost by the pig house, Alice and Emma on the pond, Hank out in the fields; and my favorite, Jinx? If this sounds like a hint for someone to take up this task, it is!
More than anything, as I've mentioned to some, the key to the Friends is its people. As time goes on you realize they are decidedly the type of people you would want as friends even were it not for your mutual interest in the First Animal Republic.
My wife and I are truly looking forward to the convention in October. Hope to see and meet you there.
Tom O'Neil burst onto the Friends of Freddy electronic maillist sometime in the last year or so and has enlivened the conversation there immensely. Those of us attending the convention were looking forward to meeting him in person at last, but unfortunately he had to beg off at the last minute for medical reasons. Meanwhile, Tom informs me that he is a model railroader and that he has started work on a Bean Farm rendition.