3 days, danny dunn to the rescue

What a team! I heard from several of you yesterday regarding the term "laser beam." Alternatives mentioned: "ray gun," "atomic beam," "death ray," "atom bomb," and more.

I loved your stories most of all -- the stories of playing in the woods (or on bunk beds at night) with army men and imaginations, making death ray sounds and capturing one another, digging "trenches" and piling up leaf forts and hiding from the enemy in those trenches and forts or in trees (with water balloons!)... wow. Thanks for the stories.

Then, here came a post from Carianna Gischer in Washington State:
Danny Dunn and the Heat Ray by Jay Williams was first published in 1962. The heat ray was definitely a laser beam. Even though the title of the book refers to it as a "heat ray," the concept of laser (did you know it stood for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation?) is pretty thoroughly explained by Professor Bullfinch in Chapter 5.
Wow! Heat ray! Of course! And look at that documentation. I did some research of my own, and sure enough -- 1962. A way to talk about laser beams before they appeared in the common parlance. For kids. Who'd have believed Danny Dunn would come to my rescue?
The power of the Web, I tell you. And of connections. Thanks so much Carianna. Thanks so much, readers, for your stories.

I'm doing a read-through today. In addition to cutting and snipping and shaping, I find myself adding a few things in, for clarity and phrasing... and rhythm. So glad I have the chance to do that.

Still have some queries to answer, but I'll attend to them tomorrow. I want to be done tomorrow, so I can ship the whole thing off on Friday morning and devote a half-day to packing before we leave on Saturday.

That's the plan now. Let's see how it goes.

Today question for you: How many of you remember telephone exchanges? The number to call "Time" when I was a kid was TI4-2525. But I don't remember exchanges for my family phone number. We never used area codes unless we called out of state. And I believe we went through an operator when we did. But it's the exchanges I'm most interested in now. In 1962. Go. :>

(And... how many of you loved Danny Dunn?)


  1. Danny Dunn! I love them and own all of them. I must have reread them dozens of times as I moved from school to school to school in those turbulent family years of the mid-60s.

    I remember exchanges! They were more metropolitan than rural (Klondike 4, Waverly 8, eventually shortened to KL4 and WA8)--my Maine relatives were still ringing up the operator to call outside of their locale.

    I remember noticing phones as a young child, right around the time of your book, and noticing the exchange writing on the dial.

    For a wonderful commentary, look at Allan Sherman's song "The Let's All Call Up AT&T and Protest to the President March."

  2. I have now listened to this Allan Sherman song. HA! And I laughed so hard, so many years ago, to "Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah..." or however you spell it.

    I got lots of mail about telephone exchanges, which I passed on to Scholastic. Let's see what they say. I maintain I never used them, although they may well have been in use in D.C. in the early sixties. Thanks for chiming in.


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