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The Hidden Message (Adventures of the Northwoods, Book 2)

The Hidden Message - Lois Walfrid Johnson Setting: BirdBrian's History Camp for KidsBirdBrian: Welcome to BirdBrian's history camp, Kids! Pull up a seat around the campfire, and I'll chill your bones and thrill your young minds with tales of high adventure amongst the Eastern Washington State surveyors of yore! I'll just pull out my handy "Spokane Country" comic book here (©1973, Eastern Washington State Heritage Society Press) ...and read you a story.... What kid hasn't indulged the fantasy of being an Eastern Washington State surveyor, back in those heady days when the lay of the land was so imperfectly known, and the laws had yet to sort out the city slickin' issues of eminant domain, public easements, and other unnatural instruments of the Devil's Office of Land Management? Why... it was only a few generations back when an adventurous young 'un from the East could carve his way through the wilderness to Spokane land, set his sights on a fine parcel of God's wilderness, and stake a claim. Thus began many an adventure of high-stakes postal drama, when he would wait, wait, wait... for weeks, maybe months, to hear a verdict from the offices in the Big City as to whether the land was already taken, or the claim accepted.Imagine! Walking into the post office every day, to hear whether the letter determining the course of your life had come in or not! I get me the shivers just thinking about it.Kid #1: So is that how a lot of people got their land out here?BirdBrian: A lot of them. Of course the railroad and John Jacob Astor claimed a lot of the land for his fur trading company.Kid #2: Astor! Isn't that an old Illuminati family? Wasn't he a robberbaron who screwed over honest fur trappers, and built an exploitive financial empire on their backs?BirdBrian: That's true... there's a good link [Here] about the Astor bloodline's ties to the evolving oligarchical collectivist world government currently forming called the New World Order.Kid #2: So this Astor was in bed with the Rockefellers and Rothschilds? BirdBrian: That's all true, but it isn't in this book. We're getting kind of far afield. This book doesn't even mention that Astor died aboard the Titanic, or that news anchor Anderson Cooper is one of his descendents. Kid #3: Those would be better stories.BirdBrian: I know, right? But for now, I want to get back to surveying...Kid #4: Surveying? Waiting for the mail?!? THIS IS BORING!!BirdBrian: (indignant) Boring?! Au contraire, petite fille!, but if you insist, let's move on to another story! A harrowing yarn of walking in the woods!The time: 1812. The hero: Ross Cox. For thirteen terrifying days, he walked the countryside...Kid #2: That's it? He just walked...?BirdBrian: He had been travelling with a caravan, but they stopped for an afternoon rest, and Cox fell asleep. When he woke, they had moved on without him.Kid #5: (peering over to see the illustration) In the picture, there's only five guys. They didn't notice he was missing?BirdBrian: Erm, that is a little odd, isn't it? I'm not too clear on how that happened either. Maybe he offended them.Kid #1: I'd rather hear more about that part.BirdBrian: Anyhow, he had to walk the rest of the way to the next trading post alone. He could have died.Kid #4: Of starvation?BirdBrian: No. According to this, he found plenty of berries and other plantstuff to eat... but it got cold at night, so he could have frozen.(silence)BirdBrian: Listen, I know it's not exactly Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, but this stuff really happened. The point is, this was a harsh land, and you couldn't take survival for granted. Your forebears had to fight tooth-and-nail for everything they built out here. Nothing was given to them.(silence.... the kids are sulking)BirdBrian: Ahem! How about the story of James Glover- one of Spokane's founders? How in a mere sixty years, he parlayed a small fortune into a large fortune, and grew the city of Spokane from a mill by a river to largest metropolis in all of Eastern Washington?Kid #6: There's more surveying in that story, isn't there?BirdBrian: Oh, youbetcha! And level road building too!....(pause)Kid #3: How about a story of cowboys and Indians!Other kids: Yeah! Yeah!BirdBrian: (uncomfortable) Oh, ah, about that... the Native Americans in this book...Kids: We saw some pictures of them! Running around in loin cloths, pillaging wagon trains, running in panic from the forces of the mounted cavalry, running in panic from a volcano, getting their canoe tipped over...BirdBrian: This comic was published in 1973... it, um, was not as sensitive to...Kid #7: (pointing) What's going on in this picture here, with the white settler acting so friendly with that Indian squaw?BirdBrian: (closing the book) Kids! It's almost your bedtime; it's too late to start that story! Let's just flip to the back of the book and read the last story. That one isn't too long.Kids: What's it about?BirdBrian: A donkey who discovers a gold mine.Kids: GOLD!!! AWESOME!!BirdBrian: That's right kids! Throughout the ages, gold has faithfully retained its value, while fiat currencies have risen and fallen, each shining briefly in ephemoral glory, before being ground out of existance by the harsh dictates of natural economic law.Kid #5: Fiat money is truly man's greatest folly.(all nod)Kid #6: So does the donkey get rich?BirdBrian: No; actually it gets killed in a dynamite explosion.(all sit in silence for a while, looking at the fire)Kid #2: Why do you like this book?BirdBrian: I like that a little historical society in Spokane put together this comic of local history back in 1973. Sure, the tales aren't all as high-adventure as you might wish, but it's authentic, and a little sweet. It was obviously somebody's labor of love.(more silence, as the campfire crackles a bit)And the low-cost three-color comic artwork reminds me of the days when there were lots of educational-type comics. I had the comic version of The Prince and the Pauper, and a few assorted American history comics. I don't know if they still make stuff like that. It makes me nostalgic for my childhood in the early and mid 1970's.Kid #2: I was born in 2005. Kid #5: Has anybody seen my iPhone?