Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Million Dollar Mystery - serialized story in The Harvard Courier

Early newspapers serialized stories, often complete books a chapter or so each week. This story began in The Harvard Courier in early February, 1915. 

I recall that the Hastings Tribune serialized stories around 1950. There are two stories that I remember following.

The first story was about a fellow named Milo who wanted to be a champion wrestler. He'd heard the story of a farm kid who began carrying a little bull calf around the farm shortly after the calf was born. It was easy for him to lift and walk around with the calf.

The calf grew normally, but even at that, it only gained a few pounds each day and the boy was growing stronger from this workout. You can guess what happened. Soon the calf was a full grown bull and the boy was still lifting it up and carrying it around the farm. Right?

So Milo thought he'd try this too. His cow was soon to give birth so everything was in place. 

The day of the blessed event arrived and Milo's cow gave birth, to twins. 

Milo was undeterred and found he had no trouble picking up the two little calves, one under each arm. He did it again the next day, and the day after, and the day after that. He was carrying those two little calves around the farm every day, putting them down and picking them up again, over and over growing stronger and stronger day by day, week by week.

Are you with me? A year a half of so into this form of exercising there were two pretty good sized bulls that Milo was hefting up every day and he was becoming pretty hefty himself.

I don't remember the main plot - I suppose Milo got in the ring and mopped up with every opponent, or maybe there was some overwhelming obstacle that got in the way of his dream, whatever.

The other story that I recall being serialized by the Tribune was one of the "end of the world" plots. A nuclear exchange or some natural disaster wiped out the population of the planet, almost. One family survived though I don't remember how. A cave or something. Anyhow, the surviving fellow raised his two sons in the post-apocalyptic United States somewhere.

They found food in grocery stores, took other items necessary for their life as they needed them, kept a few cars running on gas drawn from station tanks and numerous other tricks the author had fun telling.

After several years of listening to Dad tell them about the great things to see in the United States, the two boys decided to take a trip. They picked out one of their cars and were ready to go.

The may have been somewhere around Chicago - it fits - as Dad told them to follow road signs that had two identical figures shaped like a circle with a tail pointing up and over on the left side - two things shaped like "6"

So away they went, but after a time they got lost. They weren't seeing that kind of sign anymore.

After driving aimlessly around they came upon a road that had signs but with just one of those figures on them. They figured that would have to do so they began to follow the setting sun (as Dad had instructed) along this new road. 

The story told of their adventures in towns and finding features that matched the details of Highway 6 features until they eventually reached Los Angeles, where they were heading in the first place.

Would serialized stories work in today's newspaper. No. We have too many other forms of media, but 50 to 100 years ago newspapers were the thing and only the limits were the imaginations of publisher/editors.

Those two Tribune stories were memorable - at least I remember something of them.

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