Sputnikfest 2014


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Sunday, June 2, 2013

“Back In The Day” – Sputnik Was Scary Stuff. 
The Russians were Scary People – and they were “Up There” first.  Before us.  Not much good could come of that, from the viewpoint of the average American in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. 
This week I’ll share something with you from my own personal Sputnik memorabilia collection – and ask you to share with me any information you might have about this item or the author.  I picked this up off of eBay a couple years back.  I think I paid twenty-something for it.  Current offerings online for similar items indicate that you’d have to pay $45 to $50 to buy one of these today.
This little booklet measures about 5 3/16” by 4” and is 26 pages (numbered pages, there is a blank page at the end) long.  It was published in 1960 and written in the voice of a fictional 2nd Grade Student named “Junior Bottumburger.”  The actual author, named in the book, is “F. Peter Seidel.”   
The person I bought this from said that from what they knew of the item, it was something that was handed out at “Christian revival meetings” during the Cold War by a traveling preacher who capitalized on the Sputnik scare with an “end of the world” message. 
The content of the booklet does appear to be consistent with that.  Little Junior Bottumberger tells a cautionary tale, with calculated misspellings intended to make  you believe it is written by a second grade student.  Either Junior or Mr. Seidel appear to be more than a little misogynistic when the story tells how after God made man “HIS 1ST MISTAK” he then made woman “HIS WURST MISTAK” because “SHE WUS NO GOOD.”    
The story progresses and explains how this flawed man and woman made “FIRE” and the
“WEEL” and later a long list of items including STEAM ENGINES, MARSHMELOWS, MUSTARD GAS, POEMS, RELIGIONS, ATOM BOMS, STINK BOMS, LIPSTIC, ELECTRIC CANOPNER … and “SPUTNIK.”  Then, “MOR SPUTNIKS” which lead to a race to see “HU CUD MAK THE MOST” and the “BIGIST” Sputnik.  Which ultimately led to the end of the world – and the last page of the book … “GOODBY.” 
I’ve done some limited internet research on the author’s name …
(okay, I googled it) and I find an architect/environmentalist named Peter Seidel, born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1926 – who sounds to be a pretty good candidate to have been the author.  According to Wikipedia (boy, I hate it when my students say that in a paper) he has also written works with titles like “Why We Ignore the Damage We Inflict on the Planet and Ourselves” and “Is it Inevitable that Evolution Will Self-Destruct?”
I see nothing indicating he may have been a revivalist preacher in the mode of “Brother Love’s Travelin’ Salvation Show” (pack up the babies & grab the old ladies) - but I wouldn’t think it entirely unbelievable if someone told me that his little tome ended up in the hands of someone who did use it that way. 
Anyone out there have any solid information on the history of this little booklet?  Any information would be greatly appreciated – please email me at spuntnikfest@gmail.com   
And be sure to join us at Sputnikfest 2013.  No scary stuff.  No preaching.  Just lots of wacky tacky fun.  See you on September 7 in Manitowoc.   Planet Terry

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