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.