FROM THE MESSED UP FILES OF GREENBUSHBOY
SYNOPSIS: Seven year old Tilly travels the world hand delivering all sorts of merchandise from her grandfather emporium. Her companions are Roscoe, her harmonica playing sheepdog, Otis, a transforming mode of transportation, Cameron, a six year old computer wizard, and Rose, a loquacious spinning globe. It's all about geography.
I have a very responsible job for a seven year old. My name is Tillie Sanderson and I work with my grandfather. We deliver goods all over the world. All kinds of stuff. I’ve heard some people call our stuff nick knacks. I’m not sure what that means. Remember, I am only seven. Everything we deliver is very unique no matter what it is called.
That man with the large moustache and the big laugh wrapping gifts at that old wooden table is my grandfather, MORTIMER SANDERSON. That table is over one hundred years old and made from oaks from the Black Forest of Germany. Our store is called the SANDERSON COUNTRY EMPORIUM and it’s been in our family forever. Right now we have never been busier. My grandfather tells me that he has been in the emporium business so long, some of his first customers were the Pilgrims. I don’t really believe that. He tells me so many stories about the EMPORIUM that I suppose some of them must be true.
Taking phone orders, and text orders, and internet orders is ROSCOE the sheepdog. He plays blues harmonica when he’s not on the phone. He’s friendly, polite and very efficient. Roscoe does not let my grandfather near the telephone. He knows better than to do that. Grandpa enjoys talking on the phone so much that no orders would ever come through. My mom says her dad can talk the hind leg off a goat. I don’t quite know what that means, but that's something I would like to see.
The EMPORIUM is an old fashioned word for store. At one time during the Old West, every town had its own emporium. It was a very special place where customers could buy or order all sorts of goods like pots and pans and soap and candy and fancy clothes. Sometimes the customers would have to wait until the next stagecoach or train arrived. That might take weeks or even months. Our customers don't want to wait much at all.
Now every town has plenty of stores, but our EMPORIUM is different. Our shelves are full of everything anyone could ever possibly want. We even have a web site where people can order things. Roscoe and I are continuously stocking these shelves. Our store is so enormous, we need roller skates to get around. We know the location of everything. Grandfather often wonders whether he could find anything without our help. We work all the time moving boxes and wrapping gifts. Every day here is like the week before Christmas. "Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!" That's our motto. Lucky for us, we love what we do because otherwise we would always be too tired to deliver anything personally.
Over there in that room is where we have all of our furniture from around the world. We have cupboards from Italy and France, and hand-crafted and hand painted South American and African chairs and tables. I could sit and talk about this forever , but I’m on a very tight schedule so we have to move on.
Over there on the top shelves is where we keep all the buttons and beads and books. Not everything that begins with the letter B is up there. It just happens to be that way. Up on the middle shelves and to the left are ceramics and dishes and glasses and clays. Sometimes we catalog things by types. Photographs and musical instruments especially banjos are right below them. My grandfather loves banjos. Nearby are the spun woolens, tea box containers, appliquéd autumn pillows, fancy feathers and pine cones, handmade dolls and baskets, bracelets, quilts and blankets and throw rugs. That’s part of our folk art collection because normal everyday folks make them. On other shelves down that long corridor as far as you can see are shells, bracelets and charms, tribal jewelry and vintage clothes, watches and loose gemstones, dolls and bears, carpets, bells, whistles and clocks, telescopes and model ships, atlases and stained glasses, rocks, fossils, and minerals, lunchboxes and trading cards and even ballerina dolls from France and wooden puppets from Guatemala and Japan. Just mentioning them is exhausting.
Finally there is that special shelf right above my grandfather where he keeps all of his whittling. He loves to carve things for his favorite customers and packs them away as little surprises. This whistle around my neck was carved by my grandfather. I got it when I turned six. I told you we have everything. That’s why we get calls from everywhere.
Did I already tell you about our online catalogue? I am very proud of it. I helped create it almost all by myself. We also have a lot of things that have minds of their own. They have memory chips implanted in them and all seem to love a good game of hide and go seek especially the teddy bears. As a seven year old, I know when it is time to play games. Working to fill orders is not that time. As my grandfather says, “patience is a virtue.” DINA the mail woman drops by every day at 3PM to pick up those orders that I don’t deliver. Roscoe and Dina and Grandfather and I end up looking high and low for those memory chip toys. We usually find them when they start laughing at us. My grandfather just shakes his head at all of this extra work though Dina doesn’t mind.
There are some things in our store that Grandfather believes should be hand delivered and that is where I come in. He says it’s just adds to the personal touch of the EMPORIUM. Since my grandfather can’t leave the store, he sends Roscoe out with me. We’ve gone all over the world carrying all sorts of interesting things. No matter how late we start out we miss dinner. Grandfather prides himself on same day delivery from me no matter where in the world he has to send the package.
Today we have to deliver a birthday gift to one of regular customers who lives not far away from the North Pole. His name is JOSEPH, and he’s an eight year old Inuit. Inuit is the term we use to describe the native peoples of the Canadian Arctic and Greenland. Joseph collects hand carved items from around the world. I’ve already delivered to him small wooden animals from South Asia and Africa. Today it is a carved wooden parrot from Peru. Yesterday, I delivered a graduation gift to Ingmar who lives in the far areas of Northern Norway. It was a cookbook on how to make Brazilian desserts.
The day before that I dropped off a strange looking toothbrush with some very soft bristles to a paleontologist digging up dinosaur bones in Alberta, Canada. The scientist showed me how to use it properly on a T Rex bone. I never knew you could use a toothbrush to clean bones millions of years old. It’s almost like the way I brush my very own teeth. Well almost except for all the dirt and small rocks which I know are not in my mouth. That’s because I floss every day. The day before that I dropped off a brand new set of ropes and pick axes to a group of mountain climbers in Nepal. They had forgotten theirs back home in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.
It looks like Roscoe has finished wrapping the figurine. I love traveling with him. He’s been with my granddad forever. You can ask Roscoe any question, and he will have the right answer. I think he knows everything. One day I found him in the shelves of our local library reading up on the mules of the Grand Canyon. The next day I had to deliver a sombrero to one of those very same mules.
Now the first place I go before I start any journey is the map room. That globe over there is named ROSE. She can flatten herself out or become topographical which means she can get all bumpy and become 3D. I never leave on any trip without first talking to Rose. Many times she travels with us because she loves seeing up close what she pictures on the page. Notice how Rose always starts the line of my trip here at the EMPORIUM and then follows it over mountains and oceans and ice bergs. She spits out all sorts of historical and geographical photographs about where we are going. Roscoe and I study them as if they were a test. See how Rose has already given us pictures of both Peru and the North Pole. She also prints out a list of everything we’ll need for the journey. Roscoe and I already know how to get there since we’ve both been to the North Pole before. But since she loves printing out maps and other bits of information, we don’t mind.
For this trip we will need warm clothes and snow shoes and a plane and a boat and a large sled with plenty of dogs. Roscoe has already pulled from my closet all the necessary heavy clothes I’ll need. It’s really going to be below freezing where we’re going. It will be very important to keep oneself bundled up at all times and keep as warm as possible.
How do I look? I have on a large coat, big bulky pants, gloves, two pair of socks, facemask, hat, and goggles. That looks like just about everything I’ll need. If Roscoe has missed anything, I know OTIS will have extra supplies on board. Can you see my face? Maybe I don’t need the goggles and mittens just yet.
Follow me. The first steps for any trip begins just outside the door of the EMPORIUM. We walk down this garden path and past the red rocks and the knurled oak to THE LITTLE STREAM below. It is here where we wait for OTIS to arrive. Let me ring this bell called a klaxon. Doesn’t that have a great sound? That usually speeds OTIS along. Now watch what happens with this stream. I know it doesn’t look like much now, but I would advise you to move further up the path. You don’t want to get your feet wet. The closer OTIS gets to the EMPORIUM, the deeper the water becomes.
Do you hear that music? That’s OTIS coming around the bend. Isn’t he grand? He’s the best paddle steamer around except for those on the Mississippi. But OTIS is special. Show them Otis. You see OTIS is now a plane. But he can also become a canoe. Or a sled. Or a fancy automobile. There he goes showing off by becoming an eighteen wheeler. OTIS can transform into any vehicle we need to complete our journey. I see he has brought along the mush dogs and the sled as well. This will be a fun trip for Roscoe. He loves talking dog to dog.
You know what else is great about OTIS? He plays music native to our destination. He knows songs and dance rhythms from all over the world which makes for some pretty rockin’ adventures. For a steamboat, he has a wonderful singing voice. Let’s jump on board. We have one final stop before we begin our journey.
Just look down the river. Over there, by the landing. That’s CAMERON. He’s six. He’s my next door neighbor. He is never without his laptop and cell phone and safari hat. He wants to be a reporter one day. He is what my dad calls a worry wart. I call him Mister Two Questions. I think you will understand why as soon as he says something.
“Aren’t we late? Will we make it in time?”
“Do you see what I mean? No Cameron. We are not late, and we have plenty of time. Hurry and jump on board. Did you remember your mittens? The last time you brought the wrong set of gloves.”
“What music will Otis play for us? This doesn’t sound like the correct music, does it?”
Cameron worries about everything. “I am so sorry,” chimes in Otto. “I still have on the Nepal music from yesterday’s delivery. Let me see. How about this? This is Inuit throat singing music to get us in the mood for the North Pole. I also have Peruvian folk chants as well.”
Otis has his own set of pictures that he brings along on every trip. He loves taking snap shots and movies wherever he goes. Between Rose and Otis, we have a constant multi media show playing in the background. Cameron downloads them and places them on our web site. He also adds some very nice facts and descriptions so visitors can tell one mountain range or glacier from another.
Otis loves traveling so much that he never goes straight to the destination. He’ll go East instead of going West just so he can explore more lands and we can talk to even more kinds of people. Otis enjoys taking side trips so that we can see as much as possible. This drives Rose crazy. She is a straight line sort of globe. Cameron will ask questions no matter where we take him. These side journeys sometimes annoy Roscoe because he lives by his wristwatch. The sooner we start out, Roscoe believes, the sooner we can get back. I know he really doesn’t mind the extra excursions, but as the only adult on board, he feels he must show some sense of leadership.
With everyone on board, it looks as if we are ready to leave. Everything has been checked and double checked. We have our clothes and our dogs and our food and our directions and our supplies. But where is the package? Did I leave it back on the table? Sometimes I become so excited about delivering an item, I forget it and have to turn Otis around. Not this time. There it is sitting right next to Cameron’s computer. So buckle up. We have a lot of land and water to cover. We have plenty of pictures to take and loads of music to listen to. We have a very important package on board and the sooner we start this journey, the sooner Cameron can ask his questions.
"Did you know that the North Pole is not situated on land but in the Arctic Ocean? Is the North or South Pole colder? Did you know that polar bears live on top of the world but penguins live at the bottom?"
I think Cameron just asked three questions.
TILLIE’S DELIVERY SERVICE is a geography show and a history show and a music show and a science show. The item delivered on Tillie’s always circuitous route will be the conduit that opens a whole new world to the viewer with an emphasis on how the four disciplines listed above are all interconnected. Tillie delivers child relatable items. The responsibility of completing a delivery is a key factor within this show and makes it very different from other types of exploratory programming for children. Tillie is in charge of making sure that the item wrapped by her grandfather (and Roscoe) gets to the correct location and that makes her grown-up in a fashion not seen anywhere else.
TILLIE’S DELIVERY SERVICE goes everywhere. One episode she delivers new nets to fishermen in Vietnam; the next she's off to the bonny isle of Whalsay to hand carry a bridle for a Shetland pony; a third will take her and her friends to Mount Kilimanjaro to deliver climbing rope to a group of hikers. But Tillie and her friends are not Earth bound. With Otis taking on the shape of a space ship, she can journey to Mars to carry a simple part for one of the Mars Rovers. Perhaps she might even one day receive an order to deliver a second molecule to replace one lost by a absentminded hydrogen atom.