“My friend brought the bulb to me, a little brown thing like an onion. I doubted it would grow here but it just seemed determined to keep on trying and look what has happened.” Kit Tyler, The Witch of Blackbird Pond
The Witch of Blackbird Pond is considered a classic book, but I don’t think of it as an old book even though the setting is 1687. Elzabeth George Speare is my favorite children’s author. Her writing grabs me early and satisfies me all the way through. I first made friends with her when our literature club read The Bronze Bow during our ancient studies. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. I know I say this over and over but it is true that every book is written by a living, breathing person who lived, worked, played and wrote in the context of her surroundings. Getting to know the landscape of her world informs about who is speaking to me through a story.
I would love to have met Ms. Speare but since that is impossible I will just image that she took walks between chapters to clear her head like I do some times. Maybe Elizabeth Speare has a cat curled up on the center of her desk like my cat does when I sit down to write. If you’re really interested in her life I’m sure there is a good biography out there somewhere. For now let’s look at the world in which she wrote her amazing stories. She published The Witch of Blackbird Pond in 1958. Let’s see what was happening.
- The average Yearly Wage was $4.600.00
- The cost of a gallon of gas was 25 cents
- The average cost of new house was $12,750.00
- The average monthly Rent cost was $92.00
- The NASA Space Agency is formed.
- Bobby Fischer at 14 years old wins the United States Chess Championship.
- Toyota and Datsun cars go on sale in the United States.
- US unemployment reaches 5.2 million.
- The Great Chinese Famine begins and ends in 1961 causing the deaths of nearly 30 million.
- Elvis Presley is inducted into the Army
- The Wham-O Company introduces the Hula Hoop and over 100 million are sold.
- Elvis Presley
- Billie Holiday
- Ricky Nelson
- Frank Sinatra
- Ella Fitzgerald
- Jerry Lee Lewis
- “My Fair Lady” opens in London, with Rex Harrison as Professor Higgins, and Julie Andrews playing Eliza Doolittle
- Twelfth Night
- The Entertainer
- The Bridge on the River Kwai
- South Pacific
- Candid Camera
- The Ed Sullivan Show
- The Jack Benny Show
- Alfred Hitchcock Presents