A TALE OF TWO CHOCOLATE FACTORIES
When Roald Dahl’s mother offered to pay his tuition to Cambridge University, Dahl said: “No thank you. I want to go straight from school to work for a company that will send me to wonderful faraway places like Africa or China.” And Dahl born on September 13, 1916, did go to faraway places — Newfoundland, Tanzania, Nairobi, and Alexandria, Egypt, where as a fighter pilot a plane crash left him with serious injuries.
Following a recovery that included a hip replacement and two spinal surgeries, Dahl was transferred to Washington, D.C., where he met author C.S. Forrester, who encouraged him to start writing. His becoming a writer was a “pure fluke,” he said. “Without being asked to, I doubt if I’d ever have thought to do it.”
Dahl wrote his first story for children, The Gremlins, in 1942, for Walt Disney, coining the word. He didn’t return to children’s stories until the 1960s, winning critical and commercial success with James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Other popular books include Fantastic Mr. Fox (1970), The Witches (1983) and Matilda (1988).
Despite his books’ popularity, some critics and parents have have taken him to task for their portrayal of children’s harsh revenge on adult wrongdoers. In his defense, Dahl claimed that children have a cruder sense of humor than adults, and that he was simply trying to satisfy his readers. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was filmed twice, once under its original title and once as Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.
Dahl died in 1990 and was buried with his snooker cues, an excellent burgundy, chocolates, pencils and a power saw. Today, children continue to leave toys and flowers by his grave
Chocolate for the Masses
Another really big name in chocolate was born on September 13, 1857. After a few years dabbling in caramel, Milton Snavely Hershey became excited by the potential of milk chocolate, which at that time was a luxury. Hershey was determined to develop a formula for milk chocolate and that he could sell to the mass market. He produced his first Hershey Bar in 1900, Hershey’s Kisses in 1907, and the Hershey’s Bar with almonds was in 1908. Willie Wonka created a chocolate factory; Milton Hershey created a chocolate empire with its own town, Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Researchers have discovered that chocolate produces some of the same reactions in the brain as marijuana. The researchers also discovered other similarities between the two but can’t remember what they are. ~ Matt Lauer
Just a Bunch of Tomorrows, Part 3: A Change of Fortunes
One Thursday afternoon, I was playing with my friends Bud and Lou and we were going through our favorite routine.
“What’s the name of the guy on first base?”
“No, Who’s on first.”
“I don’t know.”
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the very young Mrs. Johnson — at least that’s what Bessie and Cora always called her. She huddled with Cora for a while and then left, looking a little sad but not crying like some of the others. But when she was gone Cora began to cry and mumbled something into Bessie’s shoulder.
Bessie said to her sternly: “She’s got a right to know.”
“I couldn’t, “ said Cora, still sniffling. “I saw such terrible things and — he’s so young; they’re both so young.”
I had never thought that much about the fact that there was a war going on. It was far away, didn’t affect my daily life, and self-centered as I was, I pretty much ignored it. I knew about war, at least war as it was shown in the movies, and I played war games with some of my conjured up friends, but I had a hard time thinking of war as something real. But now suddenly it felt real and much closer. I realized from the change in Bessie and Cora and the fortunes they told that we must be losing the war. I hadn’t worried about my father before. He was over there, but he wrote all the time, and most of the time the letters were happy and talked of funny things. Everything always seemed fine, as though he were just on a business trip or vacation. I missed him but didn’t fear for him.
Now I needed to know more. I went to Cora and pestered her until she agreed to tell my fortune. This actually seemed to cheer her up. She began to rub my head and told me I’d see marvelous things, and do exciting stuff. “One day you’ll shake hands with the President,” said Cora almost giddily. “President Patton.”
“Tell me about my father,” I said. She froze, and a look I’d never seen, a look of intense sadness, crept across her face. “No more fortunes today, young man,” she said stiffly, abruptly standing and walking out, leaving me alone.
That was my last day with Bessie and Cora. I didn’t see them again until many years later when I was a teenager and they had retired from the fortune-telling business. I told my mother about that final day and she laughed it off but I could tell she was upset. It had been too long since my father’s last letter, and we both knew it. I was convinced that Cora had seen something horrible that she wouldn’t reveal. And I remained convinced for the next two weeks until my father came marching through our front door, a full week before his letter telling us he was on his way home.
But what about that last day with Cora; had she not seen something tragic after all? I think maybe she had, because I also heard more about the very young Mrs. Johnson. I guess she had every reason to cry, but it wasn’t the reason that Cora had withheld. Young draftee Johnson had boarded the train for California but disappeared before it got there, never to be heard from again. And many of Cora’s other fortunes went slightly awry. You might just say that, for the most part, they were just a bunch of very inaccurate tomorrows, fun at first, but increasingly colored by Cora’s growing sense of the horror of war. I guess she was really meant to be a fair-weather fortuneteller.
And I never shook hands with President Patton.
Just a Bunch of Tomorrows is included in Naughty Marietta and Other Stories