Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy New Year

 I hope you each had a wonderful Christmas, Hanukkah, and holiday season.  I can't wait to start on my next couple of posts.  I wish you all a very safe and Happy New Year.  See you in 2011.

I'm back from a great trip to California, both northern and southern.  We tramped through Disneyland in the flood of the decade.  It was a memory we will never forget.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Best Christmas Gift

Twenty Minutes A Day
Richard Peck

Read to your children
Twenty minutes a day;
You have the time,
And so do they.

Read while the laundry is in the machine;
Read while the dinner cooks;
Tuck a child in the crook of your arm
And reach for the library books.

Hide the remote,
Let the computer games cool,
For one day your will be off to school;
"Remedial"? "Gifted"? You have the choice;
Let them hear their first tales
In the sound of your voice.

Read in the morning;
Read over noon;
Read by the light of 
Goodnight Moon.

Turn the pages together,
Sitting close as you'll fit,
Till a small voice beside you says,
"Hey, don't quit."

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas With The Fitzgerald's

Thanks for hanging on with me.  The past three weeks have been fun/crazy in my life.  We enjoyed Thanksgiving in snow covered Idaho then returned to Washington to watch our son play the Rabbi in Fiddler On The Roof.  Now turning our energies to Christmas I was reminded of a sweet parental lesson from Papa and Mamma.

In The Great Brain Returns J.D. happens on a conversation between Papa and Mamma early in the morning after Christmas.  The boys had worked hard to buy their parents good gifts.  From a boys viewpoint the gifts were wonderful.  From a parents - not quite?  The lesson of love though is the best.  From page 68,

"I know the boys meant well," Papa said, "but I wouldn't wear that necktie to a dog fight.  And as for that hat they bought you, only a dance hall girl from one of the saloons would wear a hat like that."
"I know, dear," Mamma said.  "But you will wear the necktie and I'll wear the hat."
"But what will people say when they see us?"  Papa asked.
"I don't care what people say," Mamma said. "All I care about is not hurting the boys feelings.  They gave us the presents because they love us.  We'll show how much we love them by wearing the necktie and the hat."
"You are right of course," Papa said.  "All we can hope for is that I spill some printer's ink on the tie and you get caught in a rainstorm and ruin the hat."
After overhearing Papa and Mamma, J.D. tried to sneak up stairs.  When Mamma called up to him, he said he just needed to go to the bathroom.

On that note I wish you all a Merry Christmas.  And another time to make wonderful family memories.


Friday, December 3, 2010

Happy Hanukkah - Abie Glassman

Happy Hanukkah.  Today our Jewish friends begin their Festival of Lights.  Jewish people have a strong faith and honor.  To many of us outside they represent a people of remarkable resilience.  John Fitzgerald held Jewish men in high esteem also.  One of the tenderest of characters in The Great Brain Series was the peddler Abie Glasman.  Chapter 4 of The Great Brain is entitled Abie Glassman finds a home.  Its a chapter worth reading.  It reminds of the simple facts of the Golden Rule and the impact that following it can have in someones life.  By chapter 6, the remarkable Abie Glassman is laid to rest.  Again the Golden Rule comes to mind as the town reflects on their own actions toward Abie.  

I have not found an Abie Glassman match in my research but his characters story was vital to John. Abie Glassman can be found in both Papa Married a Mormon and The Great Brain.  Whatever his reasons the lesson of Abie Glassman can be good lessons for us.  

At this time I wish all of our Jewish friends a Happy Hanukkah.  

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone- My family and I are in freezing cold Boise. Snow sledding is great.  Food yummy.  Games ok.  I NEED to do better.  The family time is best.  I began writing my memory did you?  It's still very much in rough draft form.  Just trying to write it helps me appreciate the skill of good authors.

Make it a good memory day!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Holiday Opportunity - Write Your Families Story -Updated

I received a wonderful comment from a new guest and I wanted to share it with all of you.  I hope it encourages you in my Holiday Opportunity Quest.

"In the 1950's my mother belonged to the People's Book Club and I just recently found the books she received in a box long packed. Just finishes PAPA MARRIED A MORMON and, being a librarian, decided I wanted to find out more about John D. Fitzgerald, little realizing that he wrote the GREAT BRAIN series... Found a link to this blog and just couldn't let the option to post a comment pass. I'm currently editing a book of my own grandfather's writings and know more and more each day how much family means! A. R. Huggins."

Thank you A.R. Huggins.  Every story deserves to be told.  If you like send me a note about the stories you've found.  It will give us all inspiration.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Holiday Opportunity - Write Your Families Story

Nearly three decades ago my grandmother suggested to me that I become a writer.  She and I had exchanged letters all our lives.  She had been my mentor in the art of family story telling.  I remember thinking, when she made the suggestion, "Me a writer?  What would I write about?"  As I looked over my life at that present time I saw nothing interesting.  My life wasn't bad or anything.  It was normal.  What would anyone be interested in reading about. Today I see a different world.  My world had no cell phones or computers, we could and did walk to school everyday. And letters were priceless.  This brief memory brings me to this post.

In the next few weeks most of us will be connecting with our past.  Whether we are joining with family or merely remembering family, we will each be in the perfect position to begin our stories.  Like me, you may not see yourself as a writer, but you are.  Anytime you reminisce about "when you were..." you're telling a story.

This year as you connect with the stories of your past, take a minute and write down the story or at least notes.  File it away.  You never know what may develop.  Remember John had the notes from his families reminiscence for over fifteen years before he began writing the story that became our beloved books.  You may just do the same.

But what if your not with family?  Grab out some photos, videos, even cell phone pictures, or the images in your mind.  Write them down, give them words,  Look in the treasure troves you hold and tell your story.  Only you lived when you did.  Someday someone will want to read about it.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Dinner's Served

One constant in all of John's books was Sunday dinner.  Every book has a Sunday dinner guest or event.  The scenario was the same.  After church Papa would go out to the ice house and chip the block for putting ice cream maker.  All afternoon the boys took turns turning the crank.  In time it was ready.  By that point Papa's unannounced guest had arrived for dinner and everyone would eat.

John always described the dinners well.  I especially love his description of the first meal Mamma cooked Papa.
Their first meal tasted better to Papa than any of the fancy meals they'd eaten in Denver.  It was the first time he'd ever tasted Mormon gravy.  Mamma had made it by adding flour to the grease left from frying the home-cured ham, allowed it to brown, then added milk, and salt and pepper.  She poured it over hot biscuits.  Mamma had made coffee for Papa, but being a Mormon, she herself drank milk.

Though this dinner wasn't Sunday dinner.  I imagine many of them were much like this.  If you ever want to have a Fitzgerald style dinner, I've added some recipes to help you along.  Have fun.  Enjoy Sunday Dinner.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Election Season

Dear Blog Friends-  In honor of our upcoming election this Tuesday Nov. 2, 2010 I bring you the news from Price, Utah on November 2, 1899.
Tom Fitzgerald (Papa) was out on the streets today looking for election bets on almost any old proposition, but he could find no takers.  The gang appears to be afraid of Fitz.
Friends --  The vote is yours --  don't be afraid -- make Fitz proud.
See you in November.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Great Brains first Hijinks

Can anyone remember T.D. Fitzgeralds first hi-jinks?  

It wasn't the Infamous Water Closet moment.  It was oatmeal cookies.  In honor of his cleverness I have included a great oatmeal cookie recipe.  Feel free make yourself a warm batch.  Grab a favorite book.  And get lost in a world of wonder.  Perfect for an autumn evening.  Enjoy.

1 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 Tbsp. water
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp salt
Combine shortening, sugars, eggs, water and vanilla: mix well.  Stir together old-fashioned oats, flour, soda, and salt.  Add to shortening mixture.  Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.  




Friday, October 22, 2010

Follow us on Facebook

I have finally done it.  I created a face book fan page for all of us.  The page is The Great Brain Series.

I can't wait to see our friendships grow.  See you on Face Book.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

October 5, 1899 Price Election Headquarters

Last we read of Thomas Fitzgerald's political ambitions, he had been named as an alternate for the 1897 election.  Two years later the Eastern Utah Advocate printed the following,

There was a meeting of the town board last Monday night at which the regular routine was gone through with Thomas Fitzgerald, John A. Mathis and A.W. Horsley were appointed judges of election.  The scenery in Town Hall, belonging to the Sunday School was purchased at $30.

I love the addition of the scenery in the piece.  I try to imagine what type of scenery the Sunday School would have that would work well at a judges appointment meeting.  I'd love to hear what you imagine.  Add it to comments.

Thanks - PS. I sent my local ballot in today.  

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Election Season

Though John never mentions it in his books, Papa or Thomas Fitzgerald,Sr. was actively engaged in Price politics.  Over the next three weeks leading up to our election I thought I'd post some snippets about his career in local government.

In the October 21, 1897, edition of the Eastern Utah Advocate (Prices newspaper)  we read,

PRICE TOWN DEMOCRATS- Pursuant to call the Price Town Democrats at the meeting house on Friday, October 15....The following committee of three was named to fill any vacancies on the ticket that might occur Albert Bryner, Thomas Fitzgerald and P.I. Olsen.  The above candidates need no introduction to the voters and tax payers of Price.  They are old residents of the valley They have seen Price grow from the tiny settlement to the thrifty town and strategic business center of eastern Utah.

I don't think many people in politics today helped build their towns quite the way the Fitzgeralds did.  I look forward to sharing more of Papa's politics with you in the next couple weeks.  Good Luck in your elections.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

School Project Extraordinaire

Among the exciting finds during my research phase was the school project entitled, John Dennis Fitzgerald The Real Great Brain.

In 1992, Michelle Horner, teacher and principal, of a one room school in Wawona, California, embarked on an intensive study of John Dennis Fitzgerald.  Michelle had been to a conference on ways to deepen history study called the Madera Method.  The purpose of the Madera Method is
to teach students through reading, writing and researching historical projects and publishing their works.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Growing My Dream

I think the part I liked most about this blog is the inter-team work we create.  As avid lovers and readers of John D. Fitzgeralds works we really team up to bring these back to the populace.  Every idea fuels me.  Todays reader input comes from Sandy.  She wrote
I was researching books for my book club assignment, and came across this page: .  I especially like the query at the top about why the heck books in the middle of the series are out of print, and that he is also a huge fan of Great Brain books!

I went to the link.  It's a great piece.  I then wrote the author and asked if I could post it.  He gave me permission.  I hope enjoy it.

Monday, September 27, 2010

School Projects

What is school without projects.  Over the years many various Great Brain, John D. Fitzgerald projects have been carried out.  The most recent one I heard of was from fifth grader named Trent Bakow.  He completed a book report on The Great Brain.  He did such a wonderful job that his teacher asked to keep it to hang in the classroom.  I'm sure that put a smile on Mr. Fitzgeralds face.

The next project was written in the early eighty's by a young man named Ryan Madsen.  His submission was presented at the Utah State History Fair.  At the time he was a middle school student.  He opened his piece with these words
My brothers and I have grown up with the books written by John D. Fitzgerald:  These books took place eighty years ago, and yet my brothers and I began to feel as if we were the three Fitzgerald boys in the books. My brother Troy knew he was "The Great Brain" when the elementary school talked about double-promoting him; I was John.  John D. Fitzgerald has had an influence on every young boy who read his books.
A few years after Ryan's project an entire school immersed themselves in Fitzgerald's work.  They created one of the most amazing projects and field trips I've ever heard of.  Next week I will share their work with you.

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Published Historian Drops By

This blog may have a small following, but it has some of the neatest visitors/followers.  Last week a new visitor dropped by.  His name is Reid Nielson.  I don't believe he is any relation to Mamma's family.  He is however an avid Fitzgerald fan and historian.  He works for the LDS (Mormon) History department.  Through his connections he delivered an address in 2007 entitled Separating Fact from Fiction:  The Life and Writings of  Children's Author John D. Fitzgerald.  

He was kind enough to drop me an email and compliment the blog.  I have emailed him to see if I can have a copy of his address.  If he gives permission I will share it with everyone.

If you have any interest in his other works you can check them out at

Mr. Nielson, thanks for dropping by.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

What's In a Name

There was a time in American history when nicknames became a persons given names.  My grandmother and her sisters were born in the early 1900's.  They each had beautiful given names but somewhere in their teens or earlier they began calling themselves by their nicknames, Mickey, Collie (pronounced Coalie), and Ce.  If I recall right they had taken these names from famous silent film stars.  By the time I knew these women I knew them only by those names.  

My progenitors shared this moniker issue with many of the early Americans.  Among those early Americans were the Fitzgeralds.  Only two of them, to my understanding, had nicknames Papa and John.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

School Days

September is in full swing which means back to school.  I thought you might enjoy seeing some photos from the Fitzgerald kids school days.  Enjoy the haircuts, the clothes, even the faces.

The Great Brain

Gerald Fitzgerald

Walter Kay (Family Friend)

1924 Sophomore Class of Carbon High

*Note:  You may remember the Kay family from the infamous "mumps" experience.  Howard Kay was listed by name, but I forgot to locate a picture.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Real Deal Part 3

Before I post this I want to thank Brigitte for keeping me informed.  Brigitte if you read this please accept my sincere gratitude to you.  We all really enjoy learning more of the details behind the stories we've loved.

Now for the post.  Brigitte sent me a great update in the comments section of the original Real Deal post.  I am sharing it without permission.  I hope she will understand.  Here is some more information on Honore Dussiere.
As a Dusserre form this line, we are French and not Basque. There is a wonderful story told from a cowboy/ sheepherder who was a peer to my grandad Felix (the baby boy in the family photo) and to Great Grandpa Honore.  There is an accurate and charming story of Henore in this document. I am sorry that I don't have the exact page. It seems as if it was on around page 18...? Another bit of info, the Dusserre family played a significant role in building the first Catholic church in Price. Notre Dame.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

County Fairs- All American

To my knowledge County Fairs are an American only institution.  Every August when harvest season is at it's peak the local community hosts a fair.  During those weeks livestock, produce, home canning, sewing, etc.  is on display. The displays are judged.  Awards given with Blue Ribbon being the top honor, Red second, Yellow third.  

For whatever reason John chose not include Mamma's fair participation in any of his books.  I would have loved to have read his description of these wonder events.  We are fortunate though to read a couple of snippets about Mamma's fair entries.  I hope you enjoy them.

Below are the persons who are entitled to receive one years subscription each to The Sun as second special premiums awarded at the recent Carbon-Emery fair. Fattest Baby - Mrs.  Tidwell Wellington:  Prettiest Baby - Mrs. Albert Pace, Price:  Best Hand Sewing-Mrs. Thomas Fitzgerald, Price.
The Carbon-Emery exhibit was taken to the state fair in 1914 by Mrs. Fitzgerald and for several years her cooking and fruit canning entries won blue and red ribbons at state and county fairs.
 It may be a bit late - however, Congratulations Mamma!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Way Back When In Price

The Great Brain Series doesn't spend much time on adult activities, but the first three books do.  One of the activities Fitzgerald relies on is dances.  On this his history was dead accurate.  Papa and Mamma's first dance was fund-raiser for children's school books.  After they were married and were trying to settle in to town life, Grandma Nielsen encouraged Papa to take Mamma to the local church dance.  Mamma was reluctant, but Papa and Grandma Nielsen nudged her forward.  The evening was the beginning of Tena's acceptance into the town she would call home.

Author, Ronald G. Watt, highlights Price love and use of dances in his book Price:City of Diversity.
The people of Price had a variety of entertainment during the early period. Dances were the most popular and were often held in the log meetinghouse and later in the town hall.  Merchants Louis Lowenstein and L.M. Olson held dances when they opened new stores.  Lowenstein even held a dance at the town hall just for advertising purposes.  Ernest Horsley, Henry G. Mathis, and other had benefit dances when they left on LDS church missions.  Wedding receptions always had dances.  Bishop Horsley's wedding reception and dance was one of the best attended.  Sometimes the town board or the ward held benefit dances for a poor family.  At most dances the sponsor charged money to the attendees.  Some organizations like the Commercial Club often had dances to raise money.  A masquerade dance held each fall was very popular.  In addition, the Fourth and Twenty-fourth of July celebrations always ended with a dance.
So if your looking for something to do this weekend - start a dance.  It could be fun.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


I know not a cheery title, but one that deserves addressing.

The other night we gained a new friend/follower.  I think of all of us as friends.  I see us sitting around a campfire just outside of Price.  We are bundled up against a chill in the air.  We're roasting marshmallows and sharing our favorite parts from the books.  We've just spent the day touring the gentle town and are connecting all the pieces we have seen.  When ever any one comments or emails I feel very near that campfire.  And I can't call campfire buddies, followers.  So you are my friends.

Anyway our new friend was thrilled to find our corner of the world.  So excited that she wrote a blog post about the site on her site.  After I read her post determined I needed to address the disappointment that can occur during this discovery process.  So for Jill and anyone else who has bumped into some sorrow at the discoveries I hope you will read on.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Real Deal Part 2

I've waited a bit to post this entry.  I was waiting to see if I could get any additional information - and I got a bit. A week or so following the previous post "Real Deal"  I received a comment that took my breath away.  It was from a new guest it read,

"Yes, Honore Dusserre, my great grandpan, is the man with the mustache. He stood 6' 9".
While I waited for her reply I located two more pictures of our Basque sheepherder, banker.  I hope you enjoy them.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Pioneer Day- July 24th

Chapter 9 of Mamma's Boarding House is entitled Pioneer Day.   Pioneer Day has been celebrated in Utah since 1847.  In the summer of 1847, the weary Latter Day Saints, who had crossed the vast American plains seeking refuge from persecution settled in the dessert of the west.  It is hard to image it's barren welcome now, but those who saw it, raised it, and established it will never forget.  Generation after generation tells their family tale if they have one.  And up and down Utah every town closes for the day and celebrates the "founding of Utah."

Johns descriptions of the celebratory events are spot on.  Even today those same events take place from town to town.  In the book Price:City of Diversity, author Mr. Watt gives a brief supporting description of Prices Pioneer Day Celebration.
"The epitome of entertainment was the celebrations of the Fourth and Twenty-fourth of July held each year.  The celebrations for each were similar.  A gun salute began the celebrations; by mid-morning the people of Price viewed a parade and then at the town hall heard lectures or witnessed a musical program.  In the afternoon children's races were organized and oftentimes a children's dance as well.  In the evening a dance was held.  Beginning about 1900 these patriotic and other celebrations often included spirited horse races in the afternoon.  Everybody loved these events and people would come from all over the county to watch and celebrate together."

So in celebration of the intrepid Mormon Pioneers I offer you some of  the chapter Pioneer Day from Mamma's Boarding House.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Real Deal

In Papa Married a Mormon we meet a wonderful man named Henri Dussiere.  We are introduced to him in Chapter 13, pg. 163. 
"When the directors of the bank informed Papa they were ready to put up the money, either as loans, or to form a company, to bring in sheep and cattle, Papa asked them to give him some time to investigate the matter.  He had read somewhere that the Basques from Lower Navarre in France were among the best sheepmen in the world.  He wrote to the French Embassy in Washington asking them to recommend Basque immigrants, with the bank offering to advance passage money.  That was how Henri Dussiere and his wife came to Adenville."

In the book, History of Carbon County,  the following description is found on page 203.
"Many French people came from the Haute Alps Department near the Italian border and from the Basque area of the Pyrennes, some who were known for their skills as sheepherders came to the American West to herd sheep.  A number of them settled in Price, prospered as sheepmen, and invested in banks and stores in the commuity; among them were Honore Dusserre."
On page 30 we learn more.
"In December the First National Bank was established.  Alpha Ballinger, Dr. F.F. Fisk, and Honore Dussurre were among the primary investors in the local bank."
I made those written connections in 2003 on my first trip to Price.  A  couple of years later I found the following photograph at the Western Mining Museum.

The typed notation by photo's donor reads,

                   "Men in a bar in Price, Honore Dusserre third from the right."                    
                    Ladies and Gentlemen - Honore Dusserre / Henri Dussiere



Saturday, July 10, 2010

Memoir- A Valid Resource

Candidly in the foreward to Papa Married  A Mormon, John Dennis Fitzgerald states,
The story of the miners and the Mormons as Papa, Mamma, and I knew them, still had to be told, and could be told only by some use of poetic license so that the story would be of the people who made Utah history and not history per se.
Through out literary time writers have often employed this same choice and not be stung by it.  Catherine Marshall's Christie,  Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes, there is even a running debated about the similarities to Harper Lee's To Kill a  Mockingbird and her real life.  Yet for the volume of stories that get by with it, there is a small pile of writers who get hung by it.  John Dennis Fitzgerald is one of them.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

What Reminiscent Thing Are You Doing

Hi Everyone.  It's berry season here in the Northwest.  June wraps up strawberry season.  July opens with raspberry and blueberrys.  Most years we pick the berries ourselves.  This year time hasn't permitted it, but we have bought them at the local farmers market.  Once the berries are home the fun begins - JAM making.

Every year since my kids were little we have made gallons of freezer jam in every berry flavor.  We also freeze these lovely berries to use in the winter.  This year we have also started making pies and freezing them.

I feel very traditional when we do this.  My kids are around.  The jam is yummy.  And we step back in time.
It reminds me of Mamma's kitchen.  Always busy.  Always available for kids, friends, families.  We just didn't have any Indian Chiefs over.

Are you doing anything that reminds you of the books?  Please share.  We'd all love to hear.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Watch The Movie

The owner of the only copy of The Great Brain Movie generously gave me permission to post it.  It took me a while, but it's now available for your viewing pleasure at  Pop some popcorn, pull up a chair, and touch a bit of Adenville.

Thank you John Dennis Fitzgerald.

Summer Reading

I am back.  I hope you are having a great summer.  This past week I spent time driving to family gatherings.  Along the way my brother introduced me to a great author Richard Peck.

As we drove along my son, my nephews and I listened to an audio CD of Pecks On the Wings of Hero's.  It was delightful beyond words.

When we got home I researched the author.  Mr. Peck is an avid youth writer.  He is old fashioned.  He types all his work on a typewriter.  Any webpages about him are not his.  He loves to travel.  He was an english teacher.  Most of all he has the storytellers gift.

So if you are looking for a bright new read - check out Richard Peck - there is plenty to choose from.

I hope your all having a great summer.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Greek Orthodox Church

A few weeks ago a small discussion about the religious diversity of Price took place in our comments section.
I mentioned the Greek Temple.  I thought I'd share the photograph I took of the Greek Church in Price. I encourage you to read the "about us" section at the link.  It's a nice slice of regional history, including names, dates, and community efforts that help us see Utah and it's Statehood from the perspective the Fitzgerald Family might have seen it.

Ernest Samuel Horsley

You guessed it - Family Photo Day.

Okay not direct family, but story book family will that do.  These are glass mounted tin types of Earnest Samuel Horsley.   He was one of three men John used as his basis for Bishop Ephraim Aden.  Of the three men E.S. Horsley was the most visible in Johns personal experience.   I do not know which wife is in the photo.  I wish I did.

It didn't come through on computer but "E.S. Horsley"
is etched backward in lovely cursive in upper left of this tin-type.

The Real William Fitzgerald

Hi Everyone-

A few posts back I shared my findings on William Fitzgerald and Uncle Will.  I thought you might enjoy seeing him with his family.   Enjoy

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

One last post before I turn to family

The following came from Rubin - who is one of our followers.  I figured his questions were on others minds so I'll answer them.  Then I really will take a break.  (It is wrong to be obsessed with your blog followers :-)).

Rubins questions are ---

Why am I not surprised that you home school? My guess is that those who like the great brain and all historical fiction are more likely to be conservatively inclined (at least on a culture aspect).
I take it that you are a Mormon (I base that on your family relation with the late Bishop Ernest Samuel Horsely). I actually always wondered about the portrayal of the Bishop, in both the kids and adult books. There is a tendency to view memories on the basis of current attitudes. Bishop Aden is a paragon of virtue, tolerance and understanding. Yet, the turn of century Utah was full of bigotry, especially over the Mormon issue (as you can see in the Papa Married book), where a newspaper could openly be anti Mormon. Is it likely that a Mormon bishop was SOOO tolerant a mere 40 years after the Mountain Meadows massacre. In the kid series papa declares that "not one person in town would hold it against Abe Glassman" that he was Jewish. This forty some years before the holocaust, when MANY hotels has signs "no Hebrews" or "Christians only". Is it likely that the town was THAT tolerant (even allowing for hyperbole). I have always assumed that there was a little rosy colored memories based on the attitudes of the 1950s and 60's when the books were written. Curious as to your thoughts, but not sure if you would want a post on this issue.


Hi Everyone -  I am a bit crazed right now.  I have a daughter graduating from high school, my college daughter arrives home tomorrow.  My son is finishing performing in a play.  My parents are do in.  And we are treating a friend to a weekend at the beach.  ----So It'll be a couple weeks before any new posts.  Check back mid-June.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bishop Horsley - Bishop Aden.

Hi Everyone - I am going to try to compile some strong similarities between the two Bishops.  I will type my resources with them to help out.  I will try to use Bishop Horsley first - then contrast it with some of Fitzgerald's descriptions from the book.  - I hope this works.

Bishop Horsley-(from Utah Since Statehood)  Ernest S. Horsely...1885....Price has since continuously been his home and he has seen it grow from a hamlet of a few houses to an enterprising town of twenty-five hundred population.  He helped build the first canal of this region at a cost of twenty thousand dollars and he has ever given his aid and influence on the side of progress and improvement. He was marshal of Price and afterwards filled other positions, brining him eventually to the presidency of the town board.

Bishop Aden-(Prologue Papa Married a Mormon) "The colonization of Adenville flourished, as our story opens, the population was over one thousand.  There were log cabins or adobe houses for every family.  A grist mill, a woolen factory, a tannery, and soap factory were all producing...The dam wich used "to go out like the wash", every Monday was rebuilt and was strong enough to resist any flash flood...Adenville was made a ward with Ephraim Aden as Bishop.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ephriam Aden and Me

There are so many beloved characters in Fitzgerald's works.  Uncle Mark, Uncle Will, Queenie, Papa, Mamma, even Aunt Cathy - but one of the most beloved to me was Bishop Ephriam Aden.

When I first was deciding to research I often hid away from anyone.  My family included.  I would work late at night after everyone was asleep, sneak my letters to the mail box, hide the print offs from the internet, anything to keep this secret.  I know there needs to be an explanation and there is but I'll get to it later.

Bishop Aden was one of the hidden ones.  I'd figured out on my first hunts that Bishop Aden must have been a created character.  Price has a huge GENWEB site with nearly every pioneers name, photos and many have histories.  No Aden's existed.

I also knew that Price was named after William Price, who was a mormon bishop, but never a bishop over Price.  This knowledge should have quelled my interest in  Bishop Aden.  If it  was clear he didn't exist in either form, why should I be so bent on finding him.  Trouble was - his name kept nagging me.  It would take me a while before I could get the answer to settle the nag.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Coming Soon - Ephriam Aden

Hi friends.  I have 2 other deadlines to meet this week, but I plan on posting about Bishop Aden over the weekend.  He was one of my favorite finds in this experience.
Thanks everyone of you for making this blog so fun and productive.  I love your ideas, your questions, even your concerns.  It helps me check my work as well as reminds me why I wanted to use this medium in the first place.  The only thing this blog does not afford me is the opportunity to meet you in person.  I remember one time while I was researching I was kind of stuck, so I said a prayer for help.  In my mind I imagined being a school auditorium, walking up to a podium as if I was going to speak. I never could find a way to make that happen, but just know that sometimes when I write I go back to that image and I try to imagine you.

 Thanks for letting this blog be my podium.  Thank you for coming each day.

I promise I will write soon.  Make it a great day.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Olive Osmond Note

A few weeks ago, one of our friends mentioned an interview John had given back in the 1970's, he was wondering if I knew where he could get a copy.

I saw the interview when I visited the Price City Library.  It was a grainy VHS recording, and very wonderful.  I watched in a small room crammed with boxes and books.  I recall that the interview was done in conjunction with the release of The Great Brain movie.  As I listened to the interview I was surprised by John's consistency with his story characters.  I recall that he stated, without any trace of worry, that his dad had been the newspaper editor in his hometown.  Because he had passed away by the time I saw the video, there is no way to  ask him if he stuck to Papa's profession as a newspaperman as part of the sales pitch or had it morphed into a memory.  But nothing seems to support John having memory problems, so I assume he felt compelled to stick to the book version for the sake of continuity.

I did try to locate a copy of the interview for myself.  I copied the address off the back of the box.  I sent my letter on February 27, 2001.  I never received a copy of the 17 minute interview, but my letter came back with a hand written note on it.
Dear Carrie:  I'm sorry but we have no such interview available.  We cannot even get the Great Brain anymore.  Love, Olive Osmond
That November Olive Osmond suffered a stroke.  She recovered somewhat and passed away on Mothers Day 2007.

If any one finds the interview, please share it.  I know we would all enjoy it.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Uncle Will

Perhaps Uncle Will settled in Harrisburg and Thomas Fitzgerald (John D.'s father) followed him there, fell in love with Utah and settled in Price (where John D. was born
In June of 2003 a poster named SkeptiJess wrote a synopsis on the background of  The Great Brain series.  One of our followers Rubin sent the link to me.  It is where the Tena/Minnie question came from.  The quote I opened this post with is a portion of SkeptiJess's process.  He made a pretty good guess.  From his research he attrirbuted Adenville to the Leeds/Silver Reef ghost towns.  And he has a strong supporting argument for those towns based on flood data.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

One More Great Brain Question

After yesterdays post about name changes and purpose.  Bob asked an additional question,
So why do you think JD's protrayal of Tom became less flattering as the series went on? 
Bob was referring to putting Tom on trial.  -

The Great Brain books (or original book) grew out of a night of reminsicing with friends.  John kept remembering various "tales" with his brother (or brothers).  His wife suggested the book based on them.  Because we will never get to read the original adult Great Brain book, there is no way for us to imagine how John portrayed him.  We can only assume.  But if you take our first meeting of the Great Brain from the chapter in Papa Married a Mormon,  you will find it a flattering tale of two creative brothers hoping to achieve something good.  We must remember they were kids.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

"Protect the Innocent"

OK. Why did John change the name of some of his siblings (Katie for Isabelle and Sweyn for William) but not for others (Tom)?     I can see him changing all the names to "protect the innocent", as Jack Web would say, but then why not be consistent and do it for everybody?  
Blog buddy Bobbertsan asked the above question.  I hope he won't mind my posting his question for everyone?

I have no answers as to why some names changed and others didn't.  As I often do, I guess - with some deductive reasoning.  It appears that 3 characters at most never had name changes.  Papa was Thomas in life and in publication.  Tom "the Great Brain" retained his name.  Last of all J.D. - John Dennis.

Family Tree-

Natalie said she "loves Papa Married a Mormon" and wanted some details on the branches of Papa and Mamma's tree.

The following information is from a typed and handwritten spread sheet.  It was part of a written response to Michelle Heuser (who is Belle's granddaughter) and her uncle Charles (the youngest child of Papa and Mamma)

William J. Fitzgerld (above his name she handwrote "Swen")
First wife Edna Calloway
Second Wife Marie - no children

Isabelle C. (above her name-handwritten "my grandmother").
First husband Lamar Morrison , divorced.  Children Thomas L. Morrison and William Morrison.
Second husband Lee Empey - no children
Thomas and William each married.  Thomas had a daughter Michelle or Shelly as she was called. William had a son named Mark.

Thomas N. (not written in but for our purposes The Great Brain)
First wife Fern Smith - died- had one child who died at the same time.
Second wife Florence Beverage - children 2-  Thomas (Tucker or Tuck) and Mary M. (Pickering) - Thomas and Florence divorced.
Thomas/Tucker had 4 children.  He passed away before his dad.

John Dennis married Joan (Josephine Speciale) - no children

Charles E. married Mary - they had no children, but Mary had a daughter Jeaneen.

Gerald (above his name in handwriting are the words, "not in the Books".
Married Ruth Hamilton had 2 sons James Thomas and John Michael.

This is the most complete family list I have encountered.  When I corresponded with Tom Fitzgerald, son of Gerald, he didn't have any changes.  I tried many times to reach Shelly (Michelle Heuser) but no luck.  Anyway, if you read the dedications to The Great Brain books most of the grandkids can be found in one book or another.

Thanks Natalie for your question.  I hope this helps. Please keep the questions coming and stop by often.

Jumping Around

I have a couple of different directions I can go.  Two reader questions remain and The Great Brain movie upload.  If you had a question I haven't answered, please remind me.  I sometimes get so excited I lose track.

Friday, April 16, 2010

One Final Thought on Mamma

I know these posts will appear backwards - the final thought will be read before the major explanation.  If you want read the next post first, then come back to this.  It's up to you.

More Mamma

One of followers asked me the following question after reading yesterdays post about Mamma?
In one of your earlier posts, you mention that Mamma's funeral service was in the LDS chapel, so I'm assuming she was a Mormon. What are your thoughts on why she is Catholic in the children's books? Because it was easier to tell the story that way?
In short the answer is yes.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Mamma -

One of our followers sent me a copy of a discussion which took place back in 2003.  The discussion was regarding the various children's books that may or may not have been fictionalized.  The writer of the post had gathered a nice supply of information, but he had some questions - so I thought I would respond to him here.

In his post he wrote,
 Fitzgerald's mother's name was also changed for some reason -- she was called 'Tena' in all the books, but was, according to the historical sites I found, named 'Minnie.' All very confusing. 
That was a stumper for me for quite a while.  I first found the discrepancy when I received the Utah Since Statehood biography.  Mamma's name was Minnie.  (I was very sad when I first read it - I loved Tena).
I also was confused because Papa Married a Mormon is set on the premise of Mamma being a Mormon, yet in The Great Brain it seemed as if the entire family was Catholic (in  fact the poster on chat room had the same confusion).  That confusion led me to wonder if Papa and Mamma were made up.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Unsung Hero

What really bothers me is that there is so little information about John Fitzgerald and it almost feels as if he is unsung. This is an author who should be harolded with the likes of Edger Rice Burroughs, Judy Bloom and Dr. Seuss. My favorite books, "Tarzan of the Apes", "Fudge" and "The Great Brain".
Most Fitzgerald fan's share the above viewpoint.

Just seven months after John's passing, Utah historian, Audrey Godfrey, made a case for his literary recognition.
She began her thesis with these words,
John D. Fitzgerald produced a bibliography of over three hundred publications; yet in Utah where he was born, the literary community has rarely commented on his works.  

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Brief History of My Fitzgerald Book Collection

This deals with the 11 books that were authored by John D. Fitzgerald. This shows my copies of the books and where I got them. I encourage you to gather your books together and expand your collection. I cherish them.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Going back to school is never fun

Great Brain Movie

Hi Everyone - I just wanted to give you a quick heads up about the Great Brain Movie, the one starring Jimmy Osmond, we found it the other night on
I've tried to move it here, but it isn't working. Anyway if you are interested in watching it, you can see it there. Just type in The Great Brain and you'll see it set up in episodes. Enjoy.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Memories of the Flash Flood in "The Great Brain"

I took some video on our spring break. The next video is from there. The wind is really strong, you may have trouble hearing, just hang in there, it dies down.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Why I got started on Finding Fitzgerald.

I've noticed many blog sites have videos to watch.  However, because mine is set in a time without a video, I decided to try recording some posts of me sharing some "Great Brain" thoughts.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

What did the Fitzgerald Siblings Think of the Books

A few weeks ago, Charles, asked me a question.  I got a little side-tracked in answering.  I hope it's not too late.

I would like to begin by explaining that I do not have correspondence from many of the siblings.  The best way I feel I can answer this question is to write the answers I have and where they come from.  I will let each of you decide what you think.

On August 30, 1957, Allene Jensen, interviewed John and his sister Belle about the success of Papa Married a Mormon.  In the second paragraph she writes

John Fitzgerald in collaboration with his sister, Belle Fitzgerald Empey, wrote the recent best seller, Papa Married a Mormon.  Mrs. Empey says her name is not included on the book because of its being written in the first-person.  An account of their family's life in pioneer Utah together with a good-natured lesson in religious tolerance, made it an overnight hit.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Thomas P. Murphy


Thomas P. Murphy is no more, death coming to him in a most shocking and unlooked for manner at Salt Lake City last Friday night or Saturday morning.  Together with numerous persons from this section of the state, he had gone there to witness the reception to the nation's chief magistrate, and incidentally to look after some matters in connection with his business.  His taking away is perhaps best told in the following from the Evening Telegram:

Thomas Murphy

If Aunt Cathie was a mystery than her real life husband was an oversight - sort of.  

One of John's challenges in telling the story of the "miners, and the mormons" came in naming the characters.  Because the family history he had written before the books is no longer available, it's hard to see the challenge as an outsider.  John, however, saw the problem immediately and worked hard to carry over the purposefullness of the names and yet not confuse the reader.  Such was the case of Thomas.   In the Fitzgerald family there exist at least 4 Thomas'.  Thomas Fitzgerald of Pennsylvania, Papa's dad.  Thomas Fitzgerald of Adenville, Papa to T.D. and J.D. Fitzgerald, and Uncle Thomas Murphy, brother-in-law and business partner of Papa.

As I mentioned in the Aunt Cathie post, Mr. and Mrs. Murphy, had moved to Price for Thomas consumption. Consumption is really tuberculosis.  Treatment of the time was to look for fresher air, dryer climates and hope for a successful outcome.  For a few years the treatment appears successful (note the photograph in Aunt Cathie post).  The Advocate wrote

Thomas P. Murphy is making some substantial improvements to his already comfortable home.

Throughout the years they lived in Price, the Murphy's were just as social as the Fitzgeralds.  When they weren't hosting parties, they were attending parties. 

Saturday, March 13, 2010

We Are Beyond Average

I've begun to look at this blog as a collective.  Even though I write the posts, the comments and small conversations we have create a connection between friends I hadn't expected.

My husband is at a big technology conference in Texas, he texted me that "the average blog has 7 followers".  We are at least double that amount.  In short We Are Beyond Average.  

Thanks for making my blog so successful.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Mystery of Aunt Cathie

From the books, we know that Papa wasn't the only Fitzgerald in Adenville/Price.  According to the books he had a sister named Cathie or Aunt Cathie, as we come to know her.  It is in the character of Aunt Cathie that researchers find the best compilation of fact, fiction, family, and time.

There were in fact two Fitzgerald sisters living in Price when J.D. was a boy.  An Aunt Josephine or Josie as the newspaper referred to her, and Aunt Isabelle.

Aunt Josie was single.  She worked in the clerk in the County Records office.  Many years later when Gerald, the youngest child of  Thomas and Minnie Fitzgerald, was asked to explain who the character of Aunt Cathie was, he gave the name of Aunt Josie.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Finding Fitzgerald

I wasn't the first person to research John Dennis Fitzgerald.  By my count I was the fifth, well maybe more like the 25th if you include all of the students from the Wawona School.  However, I knew nothing of this when I began to search.

I had grown up reading The Great Brain books.  My mom read them to us first, but after that my brother and I  re-read them repeatedly over the years. The tattered books remain as evidence of our undying devotions to the stories.

The itch for research didn't begin until years later, when I finally read Papa Married a Mormon.  The book stuck to my heart in a way no other book  had.  Questions abounded.  I was sure a quick internet search would answer the questions.  I was wrong.  No such site existed.  Eventually my husband found one called, Searching  for the Great Brain.

It was the sweetest site.  A family of homeschoolers had read the books. They then set out on a trek finding Adenville.  On the site they had some pictures, some brief descriptions, and some links.  Sadly, they never found Adenville.  For me, they were the first "finders".

Monday, February 8, 2010

Your Beginnings

A friend of mine mentioned that her son was just starting to read the Great Brain Series.  Realizing we all had a first with these stories I thought it would be fun if we shared some of ours.  Now I know you can't post it on the blog - but I can.  Send me your story in the comments section. When we get a few I will post them.  Enjoy your week.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Yeah for Updates

Yes, long overdue but here they are, a new page on the website - Growing Up Fitzgerald.  There were a couple of technical glitches - but I decided to get it out there for you to enjoy.  We'll tinker with it later.

Also some images were added to past blog posts.  Check out Seedlings for a Promise and Great Brain Descendants.

Thanks again for following along.  Enjoy all the pictures on both sites.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Almost There...

I know I promised a new page to the website in December and then again few weeks ago.  It is really almost there.  I've written the text, we are just getting the images attached and it should be up.  I've been struggling with vertigo, so it slows me down.  But don't worry you'll get it very soon.  Thanks for reading, following and sharing.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Another Glimpse of Papa

I am still writing the webpage for "Growing Up Fitzgerald".  I am excited for it's completion.  You will get to see a photograph of The Great Brain as a baby.  Other pictures will be attached, too, of the kids at various ages and stages.  Trying to make the text cohesive is my present challenge.

While I was writing it though, I ran across one of my first finds.  Someday I will tell the story of the research side of the project, but for the purpose of this post I will share with you, that I wasn't quite sure what I was looking for when I started, because of that, I was on  a pell-mell hunt.  One afternoon, while I was reading the History of Carbon County,  I ran across this piece (at the time I wasn't sure how prominent Thomas Fitzgerald really was in Price's history.) This clarified it for me.
"Dr. Frank F. Fisk was one of the first people in Carbon County to own an automobile.  In December 1907 Thomas Fitzgerald built a new barn to accommodate his roadster."
 The next paragraph states,
"The roads were rutted and in rainy weather were muddy, making for very slow traveling either with a carriage coach or a new automobile."
 Doesn't that sound like the Pape we meet.  In fact the opening chapter of The Great Brain says,
"If there was one man in all of Adenville who would order the first water closet ever seen in town, that man had to be Papa."
I can just picture Papa finding out Dr. Fisk had a car.  Immediately he'd get one, too, but he'd do better - he would build the first garage to house his automobile.  I can also see every kid in town paying a nickel to see the car, a dime to honk the horn.

I have to say I just love this family.

The Last Fitzgerald Home in Price

I feel as if I should start this post, Dear Lon and Anonymous.  Both of you asked for similar requests about the home still standing in Price.  Lon, I am reluctant to give out the address. I have met the owners, had a wonderful spaghetti dinner with them.  They were gracious and kind.  They have let reporters take pictures, whole school buses drop by, without prior knowledge. As a friend- I just don't feel comfortable about giving it out.  The color photograph on the Adenville post is the house from the front.  If you go to Price, it's not hard to find.  The streets are wide enough you can park across and see it fantastically.

Anonymous - Two pictures exist of the Fitzgerald homes we know about.  One can be found in Papa Married a  Mormon.  It is the 6 bedroom house Papa built.   The other house is the one in the Adenville post.

******* To anyone who visits Price - the house is not listed as a historic monument.  It is a private residence.  Please know that the residents are friends of mine and I will feel awful if people just started showing up.  Thank you *******

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Great Brain's descendants.

One of the most fascinating parts about this research project was the unexpected insights that came my way.  Many writers or researchers have a direction or end result they are searching for.  Mine was unclear.  I knew without a doubt that some type of serious discovery was needed.  Too many people had searched for their own answers and had come up empty.  From there anything was possible.

At times the findings hurt so bad I would just sit and cry.  The "Great Brain" discoveries were some of the hardest.  I remember explaining it to my mom.  Both of us aching for his sorrow.  Wanting to comfort him and make it all right.  Tonight a new Fitzgerald Follower asked me a question.  I was so glad he did, yes, it brought the sorrow back, but it reminded me that I forgot a few details.  So Rubin here goes-  you asked when he died and what of his descendants.

Thomas Fitzgerald, Jr.  died at the age of 86 on October 27, 1988.  He was survived by his second wife Florence and their daughter Mary (both of whom resided in California).  Only three people attended his service.  One of them was a lady who happened to be passing the cemetery at the time of the service, she had no idea who the service was for, but felt the other two men would want companionship at that time. My heart just broke for the image that understanding created.

Regarding his descendants, Tom had two other children with Florence, the eldest's name was Tuck.  Tuck's obituary was sent to me on a fluke at the time I didn't know Tom and Florence had children.  I had sent a letter asking for Tom's obituary, the librarian found Tuck's instead.  Tuck's given name was Thomas H. Fitzgerald.  He died in 1969, following a 10 day illness in a Salt Lake City Hospital.

I have assumed that Tuck's passing was brutal to Tom.  The losses he had to endure during his adulthood were tremendous. No wonder he sought seclusion. The list of passing is as follows his first wife, their child, his second wife to divorce, his second child-nearly 20 years ahead of him, and his daughter living with her mother.

From my point of view I can see why the once clever Great Brain could be overlooked.  The boy who once was, shared nothing in common with the man he became.

On a happy note though, as I dragged out the obituaries to read them, a paragraph about Thomas Fitzgerald, Jr. caught my attention.  I hope you don't mind if I quote it.  "Graduated from Carbon HIgh School in 1922.  Active in all high school sports.  Excelled as a boxer and swimmer."

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy New Year

Hi Everybody,

I had a wonderful Christmas/New Year holiday.  I hope you did, too.  I wanted to let you know I am working on a new page for the website.  The page is called "Growing Up Fitzgerald".  I am excited about it.  I will let you know when it's ready for reading.  If I run across anything fun to blog in the meantime I will add it, otherwise give me a few days.

Thanks for all of you.  I get so excited.  I jump up and down or read your comments to my family.  All day today during church I thought about all of you and the joy you give me.

Thanks - and Happy 2010 to all of you.