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.
Rubin - the first answer is yes, I am Mormon. But I have a varied background. I mention that to help your understanding for my love of the books. When my mom first purchased The Great Brain books, she had no idea that they had any direct Mormon connection. She was looking for a series for my brother. He was second in line and had spent his time listening to Little Women, Heidi, Little House on the Prairie and Anne of Green Gables.
A boy series in 1970's was dream come true. It wasn't until we started reading them that we understood the Mormon bit. And in the children's books it is just a bit.
My Mom is a convert to the faith. My Dad's family is pioneer stock. I grew up watching two different religious "ideals" come together. It was not until I was older that I realized my Mom's parents were members of record. They were wonderful people, but gave no indication of any denominational affiliation. I loved both sides of my family. And it was the title of Papa Married a Mormon that caught my attention. I wasn't sure if the Papa in that title was the same Papa in the Great Brain, because we are never told that Mamma is a Mormon.
When I finally read Papa Married a Mormon, in my mid thirties. I fell in love in a personal way. It was my hunt to find out - not just if the facts were true, but the essence. Could there have been a time and a place where "love" could be so powerful. I don't know that I have answered it.
Yes-Utah was/is hugely bigoted. Yet when I visited Price, when I hunted through archives and read the history of their newspaper and it's fight to be balanced. I came to believe that John had seen a seedling of great goodness. I probably haven't done a great job at sharing that. I need to go back and fill in better. But Price, it appears did really try to be an inclusive town. Not perfect. How can you be perfect when the Hole in the Wall gang runs through every once in a while. But they had and do have a gorgeous Greek temple, an amazing Catholic Church, and an LDS building. Mamma- Minnie Fitzgerald really did write, produce, and perform fund raiser plays for 2 different religious sects. (The specific denominations are in my files, but I put them away-sorry). Papa was a saloon owner, with an active Mormon wife. Somehow, they did work it out.
The Price City of today keeps that courtesy. I was embraced by neighbors I'd never met, they fed me, drove me around, let me walk through their homes - all on a whim. Two years later I showed up with my family, again uninvited they welcomed us. The churches still stand, the community is still diverse, the people kind.
I didn't know Bishop Horsley at all. But the Horsley family seems to have been fairly virtuous. Not because I am connected to them, but from the newspaper clippings I read. From offices they held outside of the church. And from the fact that John had other Bishops he could chose as his "models", Bishop Horsley must have, in the families eyes, been benevolent.
I too am sure that John Dennis and Isabelle had some rose colored views. As you point out, we all do. It is hard to look back objectively at anything. Even lawlessness is a hard to look at objectively. In Price's infancy, gunslingers abounded. It's hard to imagine it now. Our society doesn't take well to a man packing heat. So I don't believe Bishop Horsley was perfect or Price flawless - but I believe it may have tried harder than most. And at least from my experience that goodness in the town still exists.
Side note - I have only homeschooled one of my three children but I could go on about schooling options for hours. Our family has been through every kind and every style has it's pro's and con's. Maybe I should start a blog on that.