Saturday, October 12, 2013

Herman Parish at Amelia Bedelia’s 50th Anniversary

          We all know and love that wacky, literal housemaid known as Amelia Bedelia. This year, she is celebrating her 50th anniversary, or birthday, and I had the opportunity to listen to her nephew talk today. As you may know, Peggy Parish passed away in 1988 (coincidentally Amelia’s 25th anniversary) at the age of 61, and her nephew has continued his aunt's legacy.
Her grandparent's home
                                                                                              We all wonder where brilliant children’s authors such as she come up with these beautiful characters that captivate the world. I now know. It seems that much of Ms. Parish’s inspiration came from her own life. Every Sunday, her entire family would take a short drive down to her grandparent’s, the Rogers, house for dinner. There in their big, beautiful home, they had a young maid who was hopeless in household matters. When told to dust around the room, she dusted the edges of the room and not in the middle. Ms. Parish herself was her very literal person. When asked what his favorite memory of his aunt is, Mr. Parish responded, “One day we drove past a sign in her hometown—‘Manning, South Carolina. Matchless for Beauty and Hospitality.’ She then said to me, ‘I’ve always thought that sign was funny. People in Manning have plenty of matches.’ That’s when I knew that I’d known Amelia Bedelia all along.” Do we all remember Amelia’s black purse that she carried at the most random of times? Well, that was actually Ms. Parish’s purse, and true to the reputation, she never put it down.
            For five years after his aunt died, Herman did not write, yet he continued to get thousands of letters from children asking what was going to happen to Amelia Bedelia next. Ms. Parish must have known that her character was going to live long after her.
            His first Amelia Bedelia book without his aunt was Good Driving, Amelia Bedelia. The inspiration for this book came from a road trip with his wife. When they came to a stop sign with only a left or right turn, he asked his wife, “Left?” and she said, “Right.” So instead of turning left, he turned right. When he got yelled at for going right when she said right, she had to scold him, for she meant right, as in correct, not right the direction. Read Good Driving, and you might just find a similar instance happening to Amelia in a fork in the road.
            In my belief, you’re never too old for a good children’s book, especially the crazy, literal world of Amelia Bedelia. So delve back into the world of drawing drapes, undusting, dressing chickens, and delicious lemon-meringue pie, and remember the laugh-out-loud fun that you had as a child.

First Amelia Bedelia Sketch
Fun Facts:
Peggy's memorial in Manning
  • Peggy’s real name is Margaret. She liked the alliteration of Peggy Parish better.
  • After she retired, she acquired eleven cats in two years. That is why Amelia Bedelia’s statue in Manning, South Carolina has a cat paired with it.
  • When Herman Parish asked a school if they knew what Amelia’s famous pie was, a boy raised his hand and said, “I know. She made lemon…orangutan pie!” 

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