I has now been six months since I stepped away from Little Orphan Annie, much longer than I had intended to. It occurs to me that it would be nice to have all those posts in one place. As soon as I get them moved here, I will continue from where I left off (February, 1938).
NOV 1936: Much of the month is taken up by more of Ginger’s observations of the passersby. Annie tells Ginger all about her time with “Daddy” Warbucks. Annie and Ginger spend Thanksgiving with Honest Al and Barney Hever. Eventually, a group of small-time racketeers try to force Ginger into a protection racket. On three occasions, an honest beat cop named Chuck comes to her rescue. The fourth time, Ginger heats her hat pins in a nearby nut-seller’s fire and drives the thug off herself.
DEC 1936: Racketeer “Snorty” Smith and his right-hand man “Slugger” Jake hire “Bomber” Mike to prepare a Christmas package for Annie. Suspicious because no one she knows who would send her a gift knows where she lives, hurls the package out the window when she sees Jake and Mike lurking in the ally. The package explodes and they are peppered with broken glass and rusty nails. Gray provides his usual schmaltz in his lead-up to Christmas. On one particular Sunday, Annie spends the day at the harbor comparing various ships and boats to various types of people in one long, extended metaphor. On New Year’s Eve, Annie thinks about “Daddy” Warbucks while “Snorty” Smith vows to make an example of Annie and Ginger.
JAN 1937: “Slugger” Jake lures Annie away on a false delivery. By the time she returns, Old Ginger has gone home for the day. Jake attacks Annie with no witnesses other than a blind peddler named “Blinkey,” who attacks Jake from behind and knocks him unconscious. The next day, Blinkey moves into the room next to Ginger and Annie.
A big shot lawyer named J. Preston Slime takes a poke at crime by blaming the police. Slime is a friend of racketeer “Snorty” Smith. Annie notices Blinkey using her cane as if she were tapping out a tune. She also notices that police captain Cuff is standing nearby jotting something down in a small notebook.
Electricians arrive at Blinkey’s place, and “shee” greets them as a man. “Slugger” Jake pressures Blinkey to join the protective association (at a reduced rate of $10 a week). Annie walks Blinkey to the drugstore and notices two cops in a squadcar nearby while Blikey taps “her” cane. Annie walks in and discovers Blinkey’s secret. He is blind, but he’s also an undercover cop and his room is wired to send and receive Morse code.
“Snorty” and his entire gang show up to rub out Old Ginger and Annie. Ginger is gunned down and sandy is wounded… again! (That dog has the worst luck.) Blinkey summons the cops and the gang is arrested, but within a few days they are all out on bail. Annie goes to J. Preston slime for help.
FEB 1937: “Snorty” Smith and his gang were arrested for the murder of Old Ginger, but four days later they were free on bail. Annie goes to the “noble crusader” J. Preston Slime for help and advice. He instructs his driver to take her to a “place of safety” which ends up being “Snorty” Smith’s hideout. “Slugger” wants to bump her off, but “Snorty” has plans for her. While Annie is being held, word comes that Blinkey has been murdered.
Slime wants $1 million to put in the fix for “Snorty” and his gang. “Snorty” gets a line on a millionaire living nearby who is a soft touch for kids. He plan to use Annie to get them into the house, rob him, then kill them both. “Snorty” doesn’t know it, but Slime is the one who made sure he knew about the mark and he plans to double cross him. The day arrives and the mark turns out to be (wait for it)… Oliver Warbucks!
It was Warbucks himself who made sure the story of the “kindly millionaire” got to Slime. Warbucks set up Slime just as Slime set up “Snorty.” Warbucks gets the drop on the gang but he doesn’t turn them over to the police… they simply “disappear.” Now he sets his sights on Slime. Warbucks also has a new assistant known as the Asp, a pretty dangerous character.
MAR 1937: Annie learns from “Daddy” that Wun Wey survived. The uncertainty of what happened to “Snorty” and his gang is driving J. Preston Slime over the edge. Suddenly, a pair of hands reach out from behind the curtains and grab him by the throat. Thiat is the last we are to see of J. Preston Slime.
Annie observes the Asp over the course of the next several days in much the same way she observed Punjab when he was introduced. “Daddy” is in possession of a cache of $10 billion worth of jewels. He has been tracked around the world by his enemy, Boris Sirob. Sirob finally caught up with him when Warbucks paused to check in on Annie. Annie doesn’t realize how much danger she herself is in just by being with “Daddy.”
Sirob makes a play for Annie, but she gets away. Sirob can’t get into Warbucks’ stronghold, so he decides to wait until Warbucks flees in his yacht, then overtake him at sea. Warbucks sends a decoy to leave in his yacht. Sirob follows, and Warbucks and his party leave in a heavily armed fishing scow with powerful engines. A photographer snaps a picture of Warbucks’ boat for a postcard as it leaves the harbor.
APR/MAY 1937: WHEN Sirab catches up to the decoy yacht, he scuttles it in his anger but the crew escapes. Warbucks and Annie and the Asp have taken a powerful boat disguised as a fishing scow to a well-protected and well-hidden mansion in a remote jungle somewhere. Warbucks communicates with his allies and spies on his enemies using television. Television technology was in its infancy, and it’s clear Gray doesn’t understand quite how it works. It can be two-way (if he wishes), with sound (if he wishes), and the images appear to be projected, life-size on a wall. He can tune in on anywhere he wants: a particular street, even inside a particular house. (What he really has is a spy satellite.) Warbucks is financing many scientific operations in the jungle, and he is determined not to lose them the way he lost Eonite.
Meanwhile, Sirob has obtained the photograph taken of Warbucks leaving the harbor and he begins a worldwide manhunt for that boat.
Annie decides to take a swim in the river, but before she jumps in, the throws a live pig into the water. It is immediately eaten by an alligator. It’s difficult to determine exactly where this jungle is located. In addition to wild pigs and alligators, it also contains seven-foot long rattlesnakes!
On Sunday the 18th, Mr. Am is introduced. He looks to be about 60 or 70 years old, with a long, bushy, white beard and he wears loose-fitting clothes, a vest and a beret. He speaks all languages and claims to be 20,000 years old. When the Asp meets him, he kneels and bows until his head touches the ground. The Asp tells Annie that his grandfather knew Am, and he looked then the same as he does now. He has many servants he refers to as slaves, and he claims he never sleeps. He tells Annie he has lived a few million years, then e says he has always lived and will never die.
Am takes Warbucks and Annie to his “excavation.” It’s like a mine shaft that goes into the ground. There are multiple levels, and each one contains a perfectly preserved city and civilization. (Apparently, Gray doesn’t have a good grasp on how archeology works, either.)
After searching worldwide, Sirob deduces that Warbucks must be in that particular jungle. He attepmts to take a submarine up river, but finds it netted off and mined. He spots the mansion from the air, though, and plans to attacks with 400 mercenary soldiers. As the siege begins, the compound is overrun. Annie is caught outside the compound and heads for Am’s place, but Am is already with Warbucks. Sirob sends Warbucks and the Asp to safety. Meanwhile, Annie and Sandy have wandered into a patch of quicksand but are rescued by Am’s big dogs.
Sirob betrays his men, destroying their boats with time bombs. Then he destroys Warbucks’ facilities. Sirob and Am meet face-to-face, and Am invites Sirob back to his place/. Annie hides. Sirob plans to rob Am blind. Before they leave. Am hints that his most valuable treasure is in an ancient chest, but warns them not to open it. They do, and one whiff of the “prehistoric atmosphere” inside reduces their mental state to that on monkeys.
JUN-AUG 1937: Mr. Am, Annie, Warbucks and the Asp leave the jungle in Am’s solar-powered, sea serpent-shaped submarine. Back in civilization, Warbucks sends the Asp to join Punjab in Singapore. The government confiscates Warbucks’ $10 billion in jewels because he refuses to disclose where he got them. On July 1st, Warbucks announces his intention to return to Singapore himself, leaving Annie in Am’s care. Do-gooders want to take Annie away. Am, having no passport, has difficulty proving who he is. He decides to go away, after giving Annie a formula to drink which will somehow “keep her safe” for one year. Mr. Am is put on trial for his sanity, but departs the proceedings by “stepping into the 4th dimension.”
The do-gooder Mr. Blabble gives Annie to Mr. and Mrs. Nelson G. Brittlewit. She is okay, but he is a bum and doesn’t like Sandy. One day, Annie finds ground glass in Sandy’s food and “puts him out” to save his life. Annie tells Mr. Brittlewit that Sandy ran away. Mr. Brittlewit takes out two insurance policies on Annie: a modest one for $500 and a much larger one. In a few days, Annie finds Sandy living in a house she believes to be haunted, but in fact a Mr. Blade, whose great grandfather was a pirate, lives there. Brittlewit sees Annie take food to Sandy and arranges for a hit-and-run. It would have been successful except the car lost a wheel and crashed.
SEP 1937: September 1937 was a particularly dangerous month for Annie. First, Blabble’s man follows Annie into Blades’ house but he is assaulted by something he cannot see. (Additionally, whenever Annie comes to visit, she hears human-sounding noises coming from empty rooms of from directly behind her when she is in Blades’ presence.) Next, a man lures Annie to the roof with the intention of pushing her off the roof, but he “falls” instead. After that, a man tries to push a loose cornice from atop a building, but he becomes entangled in the rope he used to loosen it and is dragged to his death. Then an abduction fails.
Arunah Blades and his lawyer, Obadiah Ritt, know about Blabble’s attempts on Annie’s life. Apparently, Blades has been taking out policies on unfortunate victims for quite some time. Blades and Ritt contact Mr. Chain, and investigator for the insurance company. He bugs Blabble’s office.
OCT 1937: Annie discovers a locked door in Blade’s house. The next day, it is unlocked and she goes in. It is a great dining hall. Mr. Blade is there, alone. The other places are set, and he “introduces” her to his wife, his aunt, his uncle, his son, cousins, nieces and nephews but she cannot see them. He explains that one night, exactly 30 years ago, all of these people were on their way to this house by water when the boat sank and all aboard were lost. Each year, on the anniversary of that disaster, he holds a feast for all those who should gave attended that night.
One day, Blade introduces Ritt and chain to his two servants. They are descendants of the first Blade’s pirate crew. They are black, tall and stocky. They are bald and wear nose rings. They both wear white tuxedo jackets with tails and black pin-stripe pants with knives in their belts. They are said to be excellent swimmers.
On Sunday, October 17, Brittlewitt takes Annie to the amusement park. That night, on the ferry ride home, they stay well back from the people crowding to get off as the ferry approaches the pier. Bruttlewitt lures Annie to the side, then tosses her over just before the ferry bumps against the pilings. It she wasn’t crushed, she was surely shredded by the propellers. But Blades’ two men, swimmi ng underwater, grabbed her and pulled her down. They saved her and surfaced out of sight under a dock some yards downstream. Annie spends the next two weeks hiding out at Blades’ house as Brittlewitt and Blabble turn on each other.
NOV 1937: To recap: Annie’s court-appointed stepfather, Mr. Brittlewitt, tried to kill her for the insurance but she was rescued. For the next two weeks, she hides out at Mr. Blade’s. Brittlewitt and Blabble are tense waiting for Annie’s body to turn up so they can collect the payout. Blade puts up $200K of his own money to trap them. At Annie’s insistence, Blade, Ritt and Chain let Mrs. Brittlewitt know that Annie is alive. Mrs. B. collapses from stress and relief, but she will be all right with a little rest.
Meanwhile, Brittlewitt plans to double-cross Blabble and keep all the payout. Blabble knows Brittlewitt is carrying a gun and plays along. When they go out to celebrate, Blabbe’s henchman (Cecil) discovers the office has been bugged. He finds them celebrating, and Blabble gets the drop on Brittlewitt and “takes him for a ride.” He kills him, but the cops have been following close behind. Blabble escapes, but is forced to leave the money behind.
Cecil sees Annie walking near Blade’s house. He thinks Blade’s is haunted, he knows Annie used to play there, and concludes she is a ghost. Annie sees Cecil, too, out of the corner of her eye. Annie is being followed by Blade’s men. They follow Cecil, but they lose him before he gets to Blabble’s hideout. Blabble knows Annie is not a ghost, but figures she must be hiding in Blade’s house, so that night he goes there for revenge.
Blade knows he’s coming and puts on a record of Blabble incriminating himself. Blabble draws a knife, but Blade stops him short with his sword/cane. “Ghosts” then kick Blabble in the pants and force him downstairs and outside into the hands of the police. Blade suggests to Annie that perhaps Blabble “hypnotized” himself into believing in ghosts. Blabble lawyers up, hiring Timothy J. Silverfish, who has successfully defended over 100 murderers.
Annie’s insists that Mrs. Blabble be told that her husband was a hero who died defending her. Blabble kicks in $2500 (pretending it was a policy on Mr. blabble) so she can return to her family in Europe. Annie stays behind.
DEC 1937: It’s Ritt vs. Silverfish in court. By the middle of the month, Silverfish has lost. While planning an appeal, Blabble grab’s Silverfish’s gun and shoots a guard. The result: Silverfish gets life and Blabble gets the chair.
On a windy day, Annie’s hat blows into the back of a truck. When she and Sandy jump in to retrieve it, the driver closes the door, pulls away and drives all night. When his truck begins to overheat, he pulls over and discovers Annie. Fearing being charged with kidnapping, he deserts Annie and Sandy in a snowstorm. Sandy finds a woman with a baby partially buried in a snowdrift. Annie rouses her and they make their way to the nearest town.
It is Christmas Eve. After first being turned away by stingy Mr. Gudge, they are taken in by elderly Abigail Alden (who mysteriously remarks, “You’ll do.”). Mr. Gudge holds Mrs. Alden’s mortgage, and may not take kindly to her taking in four additional mouths to feed (including Sandy). The next day, the woman identifies herself as Rose Chance and her infant son as Danny.
JAN 1938: The new year begins with Rose Chance, her baby danny, Annie and sandy all staying with Mrs. Alden. Mrs. Alden skips meals so the others can eat. Still, a pension check that barely provides enough for one person each month cannot possibly support five. Annie is wise to the situation and is determined to help. She has $10 to her name, but Mrs. Alden won’t accept it. Rose and Annie for a team.
When the truant officer stops by to enroll Annie in school, Rose implies that Annie is her child. Her teacher is Miss Light and the principal is Mr. Theorem.
One day, Rose uses all of the flour and lard to make a batch of donuts. There is a trucking company across the street, and Annie takes the donuts over to them, but she doesn’t charge. (Apparently, these are the best-tasting donuts ever baked.) The donuts are such a hit with the truckers that Annie gives her $10 to Rose and instructs her to go to the market and put the entire amount toward donut ingredients. The next day, she sells the donuts to the truckers, but doesn’t set a price; she just asks them to pay whatever they think the donuts are worth. Using this method, she not only sells out in 10 ,minutes, she also makes a hefty profit.
Mrs. Alden now has enough to pay some of the interest on the mortgage, but Mr. Gudge won’t accept it. He calls the principle due in a week, and if she can’t pay he will foreclose. Annie is befriended by Jack (no last name given), the owner of the trucking company. When he sees Gudge giving Annie a hard time for selling donuts, Jack pops him in the face giving him two shiners. Jack has a friend who is a cop. Between all the truck drivers and all the cops and all their friends, they raise the $500 needed to pay off Mrs. Alden’s mortgage on Sunday, January 30. The mortgage is due the next day.