Childhood ain’t what it used to be. Our fluorescent colored, artificial fruit scented, bubble-wrapped perversion today of the growing years of children may seem like evolution but in truth, it’s a regression.
No, I’m not casting nostalgia as fact and pandering to your generation X (or boomer) illusion of your rugged past captured in Polaroids of Big Wheels, Evil Knieval ramps for banana seat bikes, or those golden years when kids were allowed to be kids, get dirty, and play so hard they needed the reinforced knees of Tough Skins from Sears.
The ironically mature childhood I speak of was long before then.
Before James Maury Henson gave birth in 1955 to Kermit the Frog, ancestor to all Muppets we know and love; before 1957 when Belgian artist Pierre Culliford created Les Schtroumpfs (The Smurfs); and before 1929 when Walter Elias Disney produced “Silly Symphonies,” a historic movie that introduced friends of Mickey Mouse including Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, and Pluto; before all of that was a mischevious tiny army whose adventures were meant to teach children life lessons.
They were known as The Brownies and they were sprung from the imagination of Palmer Cox, a Canadian-born (1840) railroad worker and carpenter in California before who became a full-time illustrator in New York 1875. The Brownies series made him a millionaire and resourced him well enough to build a “Brownie castle” as his home back in Quebec where he died in the summer of 1924