Pedro's Great Moments in Parenting
1st day of Spring, 67 B.C.-Bathsheba Morton cuddles her crying young
son Ismael. As she coughs on a mouthful of gruel, her voice shifts three
octaves. Ismael falls immediately asleep for 60 hours. The "Lullabye" is
January 7, 1936 -Mrs. Norea Neaman tells her son Barney to "look
before crossing traffic". After that day, parents instead used the phrase "look
BOTH WAYS before crossing traffic".
March 22, 1895 -In the first recorded 'baby shower', Bix Jenkins threw
an old rag over the fence to the new Hanke parents, saying "You can have this if
November 3, 1615 -Anthony Gilla becomes the first parent to 'spank'
his child. Thomas, Gilla's 32 year old son, reportedly spanked his father
Caught while smoking cigarettes under a propped-up stack of wood shingles in
her backyard, Sari Green became the first to hear the parental command "Not
while you're under my roof !".
Most children named 'Bob' -12
Mr. and Mrs. Theo Henderson named all
their children, male and female, 'Bob'.
(On a side note, the
couple, it is reported, attempted to name a neighbor's child 'Bob' also. The
Hendersons were released under the condition that they name no more children
'Bob', and that they allow all of their children to remove their name
July 5, 1967-Mary Robinson diapers her son Pablo with a day old copy
of "Gardening Week".
Photographic Sources for Pedro
These photographs taken by Bemlemans during a trip to Ecuador in the late
'30s gives you some idea of the visual source for the story of Pedro and his
adventure aboard the Quito Express.
Bemelmans also wrote extensively about the place. The hero of his first
novel, Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, is an Ecuadorean general. The
Donkey Inside is a book about his travels in this South American country.
What follows is an excerpt from that book, describing his own travels aboard a
train bound for Quito.
"THE GUAYAQUIL AND QUITO RAILWAY"
The Donkey Inside
To take the train for Quito, you are called at five
in the morning, and an old and twisted ferryboat carries you across the Guayas
River to Durán.
This train is a curious affair with little wheels and a lid hanging on the
side of its chimney. It was manufactured by the Baldwin locomotive works in
Philadelphia and the cars that go with it are wooden, red, with elaborate fences
around the platform and banisters up their stairs that belong to an old
brownstone house. But here is the same train mood as in Victoria Station. It
comes from the poom-pah, poom-pah, of the engine, a deep iron breathing and a
small mechanical click in between.
An engineer, his face smudged before he starts, looks out of the cab and
under the shed that covers the station; smoke creeps along, and the air becomes
a kind of champagne for the lungs—carbonated air that makes breathing a
pleasure. It expands the chest, one is tempted to cough, but it does not go that
far. It is the exhilaration that comes from the tuning of a fine orchestra,
rather than from its playing, and it finds its high point in the first two tugs
of the engine, when the landscape outside begins to jerk and then slowly
Out into the large leaves of banana trees—clatatatat, clatatatat, shaking and
trembling and about half an hour late the red train runs. Its most luxurious
accommodation is the last car, called an observation car. You can observe out of
six barber chairs, three on the left and three on the right, made of genuine
mahogany, each one with an immense brass cuspidor next to it, on a green
linoleum floor. At one end is a little water fountain, overhead sways a lamp,
and in the back through the open door the rails run away and tremble in the
The prospectus of the Guayaquil and Quito Railway informs us that we are in a
land of Old World charm, courtesy, and hospitality, a land with a delightful
climate to suit every taste, ranging from the tropical to the temperate; that
verdure-covered hills are set like jewels among snow-capped mountains; that the
distance from Guayaquil (Gwah-yah-keel) to Quito is 462 kilometers; that the
railway is the result of the initiative of General Eloy Alfaro and Mr. Archer
Harman, a far-seeing North American; that the railway traverses banana and cocoa
plantations, coffee and rice and tobacco fields; that the train stops in Huigra
and that from there on is the most interesting part of the trip, where the road
goes up over the Devil's Nose in a five-and-a-half-percent zigzag and eventually
comes to Riobamba, which lies at an altitude of 9020 feet; that the population
of this city is 30,000, that it is the capital of the province of Chimborazo,
and that it has many fine buildings, parks, statues, and excellent hotels.