Thursday, November 25, 2010


Happy Thanksgiving, and Obscurity of the Day: Granny Goodthing

Hope you're all having a good Thanksgiving. Me, I've got a rotten cold so bah humbug (or whatever the equivalent saying is for this holiday).

Cole Johnson, who actually thinks ahead to prepare for holiday posts, unlike me, sends this cornucopia of Granny Goodthing episodes, headlined with a funny Thanksgiving slapstick. Granny Goodthing was the brainchild of one of my favorite turn of the century cartoonists, Foster M. Follett. Follett arguably did his best work for the New York World, but he made the rounds like most of the better cartoonists of the day. Granny Goodthing he did for the Otis F. Wood-copyrighted version of the McClure Syndicate Sunday section. The series ran from November 14 1909 to May 14 1911, a nice long run for a delightful strip.

The premise was that a fat dad and his fat kid are treated rather shabbily by the cold cruel world and only darling granny ever gives them succor. Ah, the piteous plight of the porcine. Well, tough, says I. At least they weren't stuck sipping chicken soup and using up veritable forests of Puffs Plus on Turkey Day.


Happy T-Day to the Stripper! These abscurities are like a Thanksgiving feast every day.
Hear, hear!
Hello, Allan and all---The original storyline of GRANNY GOODTHING was how her little grandson could get her to buy or do anything his little heart desired, no matter hofoolish it was. In 1910 parlance, she was a "Good Thing",that is, an easy mark. This didn't last too long, and the bizarre new plot had the little boy and his father now balloon up to pachyderm aspect, and their troubles with their terrible tonnage. Just right for the Thanksgiving entry!----CJ.
---Ad I hope you're feeling better, Allan!----C.J.
Lambiek Comiclopedia has an excellent biography on Foster Morse Follett that was written, I believe, by a grandson, Douglas Follett. The one detail I question is the birth year which is given as 1878. The census records and a passport application clearly show that Follett was born in 1870.

On the 1870 U.S. Federal Census Follett was two months old and the first child of Foster Valentine and Portia. The family lived in Sandusky, Ohio. In 1880 the Follett family included another son and a daughter. Some time later Follet's father died; his mother remarried but the date is not known.

Follett married Netti Bell in 1897. During their honeymoon in Europe, he applied for an emergency passport on December 24, 1897. The application showed that he resided in Cleveland, left the U.S. on September 29, and temporarily sojourned in Munich. The passport was picked up at the American consulate in Munich on December 28. Follett was described as follows:

Stature: 5 feet, 8 1/2 inches, Eng.
Forehead: Normal
Eyes: Hazel
Nose: Roman
Mouth: Regular
Chin: Round
Hair: Brown
Complexion: Light
Face: Fair

In 1898 or 1899 the couple returned and settled in New York City. In 1901 their daughter, Helen was born. His mother's death was reported in the Kalamazoo Gazette on September 30, 1906:

Flint, Mich., Sept. 29.—Mrs. Portia Gardner, wife of J. Henry Gardner,
the Flint bandmaster, who was awarded first prize for his state band at
the exposition in Philadelphia in 1876, died yesterday, at the age of 63
years. She was a talented musician, and at the age of 17 had charge
of the music in the public schools of Cleveland. She was a sister of
Mayor A. L. Bartholomew, of Preston, Ia. Her son, Foster M. Follett, is
a cartoonist on the New York World.

In 1910 the Follett family, with two more children, lived in Montclair, New Jersey. Follett's occupation was "Artist". In 1920 they lived at the same address, and he was an "Artist" at a "Studio". Follett passed away in 1938.

by Alex Jay
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