Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Fun as a Barrel of Baums

In 1889 L. Frank Baum and Maud Gage Baum's first family residence in Aberdeen, South Dakota, was this house at 211 Ninth Avenue Southeast. Their third son, Harry Neal Baum, was born here. According to A Tour of L. Frank Baum's Aberdeen by Don Artz, this house is where eldest Baum son Frank J. was cruel to a cat, so as punishment Maud dunked him into the rainwater barrel.

The second photo shows the backyard. Whoever lives there now clearly wasn't expecting people to stop by and shoot photographs.

There I am standing in front of the house in the photo below. Things like air conditioners and satellite dishes are certainly new, but I don't suppose the basic exterior of the house has changed much since Baum lived there.


Sam said...

You've just reminded me of something I still remember having read long ago, from the "Annotated Wizard of Oz" (its inclusion of the Baum boys+father sitting in a room with a cat is easy to remember). Here's what the book said on page xxiv:

"Rob described one particular punishment when he was little:

We had a cat and due to some childish perversity I took it upstairs one day and threw it out the second story window. Fortunately, the cat wasn't hurt, but my mother saw me do it and to teach me a lesson, caught me up and held me out the window pretending that she was going to drop me. But it was quite real to me and I screamed so loudly ... Needless to say, I was quite cured of throwing cats out of windows but I did heave one into a barrel one day and was promptly checked in myself to see how I liked it."

ilex said...

Thank you for posting these pictures. It makes the Baum family more "real."
Besides incubating future bestsellers, there was living. Like how did they get water, did they have a well, how did they heat their home, coal stoves maybe, did they have a horse and a cow, maybe some chickens and who took care of them, cleaning all those blackened kerosene lamp globes so he could write at night---it looks sooo hard.
Maud must have worked like a dog. It makes me want to turn the thermostat up right now!

David Maxine said...

Addressing Sam's comment above:
Robert Baum was the child in the cat story, at least as he explains in his biographical writings. That's why I was careful to attribute Frank J.'s involvement to Don Artz's booklet. Unless this punishment for tormenting cat's was standard in the Baum household, the Artz booklet has the facts garbled.