“It’s Not the Years, It’s the Mileage”: An Indiana Jones Chronology, Part 2 — Risks and Rewards

Remarks in italics are not taken from explicitly-stated events in the canon material. They are my own speculations, logical inferences, gap-fillers, and extrapolations based on fragmentary references and passing mentions in the original sources.

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Early 1915 — Professor Henry Jones, Sr. returns to teaching at Princeton full-time, and Indiana completes his sophomore year of high school.

Indy, who as a youth never met an odd job he didn’t like, hires himself out as an errand boy for busy Princeton students.[1] Indy probably loathed asking his father for spending money, and liked to be out of the house as much as possible.

Summer 1915 — There is likely a round of summer school for Indy after missing his entire fall semester last year, and hopefully a trip to the New Mexico ranch he has grown attached to. His Uncle Fred and Aunt Grace provide the emotional stability his father does not, his similarly-aged cousin Fred, Jr. is one of his best friends, and ranch work agrees with him.

At some point this summer, Indy works shoveling coal at a train depot, either in Princeton or New Mexico. [2]

Autumn 1915 — Indy begins his junior year of high school. He gets a job as a soda jerk at the drugstore downtown. He also begins dating Nancy, the daughter of famous author Edward Stratemeyer, creator of the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. Stratemeyer bases a lot of Nancy Drew on his daughter, who is independent and intelligent and loves mysteries.[3]  

February 1916 — Indy begins spring training for his high school baseball team.[3,4]

SpringBreakAdventureLate February, 1916 —  Indy is desperate to borrow Mr. Stratemeyer’s electric Bugatti car to take Nancy to the prom, but it needs a new generator. Indy takes the generator to an acquaintance of his father’s at Edison Laboratories in West Orange, N.J. Important plans for a long-lasting, powerful battery are stolen (along with, accidentally, the Bugatti generator). At first, German spies are suspected, but Indy and Nancy discover that a big oil company is behind the theft.[3]

February 26, 1916 —  Indy and Nancy attend the prom in triumph, much to the consternation of Indy’s rival, Butch.[3]

March 5, 1916 — Indy arrives at the New Mexico ranch for his spring break, accompanied by his father.[3]

March 8, 1916 — Indy and Fred, Jr. leave for a camping trip, promising to be back in time for Indy’s departure for Princeton on Sunday the 12th. What they actually intend to do is hitch a ride to the border town of Columbus, N.M., and visit the brothels. They arrive to find Columbus seemingly abandoned, but really just anticipating a violent raid by Pancho Villa and his Mexican revolutionaries. Indy and Fred get caught in the crossfire when the raid actually happens. Fred escapes, but Indy is taken by Villa’s men.[3]

Mid – Late March, 1916 — Inspired by Villa’s dedication for fighting for “the people,” Indy 2004c800-6554-11e4-871e-1b62bfda1b3c_young-indiana-jones-chronicles-sean-patrickquickly goes from hostage to participant. He meets Remy Baudouin, a hedonistic and temperamental Belgian ship’s cook several years his senior, who had jumped ship and settled in Mexico. Remy joined Villa after the federales raided his cantina and killed his wife. Indy also notices that one of the people Villa is trading with for weapons looks vaguely familiar and speaks Arabic. After spending a few days with Villa and his men, and observing their tactics which include theft and looting, Indy decides the revolution is hurting the people as much as helping. Upon seeing newsreel footage of the ongoing Great War, Remy decides to return to his homeland and fight for Belgium. Indy agrees to join him, but before he can do that, he finally recognizes Villa’s arms dealer as Dimitrios, the man who stole the jewel from the Egyptian tomb back in 1908. Indy recovers the jewel and rides to meet up with Remy in Veracruz and find a ship going to Europe.[3]

Early April 1916 — On the ship steaming from Mexico to Ireland, Indy and Remy have hidden themselves as stowaways. They are found out and put to work in the engine room. Indy gets them back in the captain’s good graces by overhearing a German saboteur attempting to induce the Mexican crew to mutiny. He tips off the captain, but not before nearly being tossed overboard.[5]

Indiana the dog dies in Princeton of old age as Indy is on his way to Ireland.[6]

Charming_Remy

Remy Baudouin

April 1916  Upon arrival in Dublin, Indy and Remy go to work as barmen in the local pub to afford the remaining fare to London, where they intend to enlist with the Belgian army. Indy’s flirtation with a young Irish girl, Maggie Leamass, prolongs their stay as he keeps spending his money on outings with her rather than saving it. Her brother Sean, who gradually builds a friendship with Indy, is a militant Irish Republican.[7]

April 24, 1916 — Indy witnesses the Easter Rebellion, a failed attempt to end Britain’s rule of Ireland and establish a free Irish republic. Many of the people known to Indy from his work at the pub and friendship with Sean and Maggie Leamass are involved.[7]

May 13, 1916 — Indy and Remy leave for London as soon as the final executions of the Irish Rebellion ringleaders are complete. (They had stayed to offer the Leamasses moral support.)[7]

Mid-May, 1916 —  In London, Indy and Remy officially enlist in the Belgian Army. Indy gives his age as 22, and his name as “Henri Defense.” (Remy indicates they would have taken him no matter what.) While waiting to be called up for service, Indy begins a relationship with a well-educated, outspoken English suffragette, Vicky Prentiss.[7]

Late May, 1916 — Indy thinks enough of Vicky to invite her to Oxford to visit his old tutor, Helen Seymour. Miss Seymour does not approve of Indy’s recent life choices, and insists Indy write his father (who still thinks he is in Mexico) and update him. Miss Seymour invites Indy and Vicky to a dinner party with Winston Churchill, who has words with Vicky on the topic of votes for women. Back in London, Indy proposes marriage to Vicky, who declines. Indy and Remy’s call-up papers arrive, and they set off for the battlefield.[7]

June 1916 — “Henri Defense” and Remy are now privates in the 9th Belgian Infantry, and participate in basic training at Le Havre, France. During his downtime, Indy acquires an old soprano saxophone and teaches himself how to to play it.[8]

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July – August 1916 — The 9th Belgian Infantry goes into combat in Flanders. Indy and Remy get their first taste of vicious trench warfare, seeing heavy action, witnessing the death of several comrades, and losing all of their company officers. Indy, at some point having been promoted to corporal, is in charge of the decimated unit when it is finally pulled from the front lines.[9]

Trenches_of_HellAugust 1916 — The much-reduced Belgian 9th are attached to the 14th French Infantry, and thrown into the Battle of the Somme, one of the bloodiest battles in the history of warfare. Their first assault on the high ground ultimately fails in the face of heavy German machine guns, poison gas, and flamethrowers. The second assault (after a two-day break), initially succeeds, but they don’t have enough troops to hold the position, and the Germans counterattack. Remy is severely wounded, and Indy is taken prisoner. At the prison camp, he participates in a tunnel escape, which fails. Because he is caught wearing a coat with the ID of another soldier (a repeat escapee), Indy is sent to Dusterstadt, a fortress on an island in the Rhine River being used as a maximum security prison for “incorrigibles.” There he meets Charles De Gaulle, another incorrigible repeat escapee. They devise an escape plan (leaving the prison inside the coffins of two dead prisoners). DeGaulle is re-captured, but Indy makes it to freedom.[9]

September 1916 —  Indy has returned to the Belgian Army, and is now working as a f1fa00ce56d3ea54aeef369d8e02882c--indiana-jones-sean-patrick-flanerymotorcycle courier, taking messages from the trenches to the high command in their palatial estates far from the front lines near Verdun. He witnesses yet another failed frontal assault across no man’s land. The French generals are growing increasingly desperate. Indy, who speaks fluent German, volunteers for a dangerous mission — sneaking over to the German lines under cover of night, and eavesdropping to see what intelligence he can glean from conversations in the command bunker. He discovers that two massive railway howitzers (“Big Berthas”) are being brought to this position in advance of another French attack. When the French high command are informed of this, they fall to squabbling among themselves, ordering, cancelling, and re-ordering the attack. Indy finally “loses” the written orders in a staged motorcycle accident. He is sent back to the trenches, where he reunites with a recovered Remy.[10]

October 1916 — Indy and Remy are granted a two-week furlough in Paris. Indy stays with a colleague of his father’s and, out of politeness, is forced to attend a high society dinner party rather than carouse in the bars and brothels with Remy. There he meets the exotic dancer Mata Hari, and he begins a passionate affair with the older woman. They are clandestinely followed wherever they go. Indy struggles with the fact that she is obviously seeing other men. He is finally confronted by British and French authorities, and warned to stay away from her. His two-week furlough is cancelled. (Mata Hari is later revealed to be a spy for Germany, and is executed the following year.)[11]

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Leading a charge on the African front

November 1916 — Indy and Remy are promoted to lieutenants and transferred to the African front. They get lost on their way to their new posting near Nairobi, and stumble onto an Allied camp in the middle of the savannah. They are the 25th Royal Fusiliers, made up mostly of older veteran soldiers, and they have been tasked with destroying a massive German railroad gun that seems to be able to disappear at will. Reconnaissance by Indy and the Fusiliers uncovers a tunnel hidden behind an artificial cliff face. After a complicated hijacking of the train, they succeed in their mission. The Fusiliers then agree to escort Indy and Remy to back their unit. They are captured and get taken to the German camp commanded by the legendary General Von Letow-Vorbeck. Indy and the Fusiliers manage to turn the tables on Von Letow-Vorbevk, and take him hostage. Indy, Remy, and their hostage accidentally take flight in a hot air balloon. After traveling many miles, the balloon crashes in the wilderness. They escape an encounter with hostile tribesmen, and facing a rapidly approaching German unit, Indy and Remy let their prisoner go in order to make a quick escape. They are soon picked up by the Fusiliers.[2]

PhantomTrainOfDoomLate November, 1916 — Back with his unit, Lt. “Defense” leads his mixed Belgian-African unit against an entrenched position under heavy fire. When Indy notices the enemy’s machine gun has jammed, he goes against Major Boucher’s withdrawal orders and continues the attack, which succeeds. Indy earns a promotion to captain, and the enmity of Major Boucher. Indy and the major are then ordered to lead a large expedition 2000 miles through the Congo region to retrieve a shipment of heavy machine guns that has foundered on the west coast of Africa, near Port Lopez. [11]

December 3, 1916 — The expedition across the Congo begins.[11]

Mid-December, 1916 — The trans-Congo expedition encounters a village wiped out by smallpox, except for one small boy, who seems healthy. Major Boucher orders the boy be left behind to die, but the company defies his orders.[11]

December 24, 1916 — Most of the company has perished from disease, and those that remain alive are very ill.[11]

Late December, 1916 — The steamboat the expedition has hired is ordered by Major Boucher to continue past a hospital that could treat them because it is run by a German — Albert Schweitzer. They make it to Port Lopez, drop off the boy with an orphanage, and bury Major Boucher, who died shortly before arrival.[11]

January 1917 — The French garrison at Port Lopez cannot spare any men to take theOganga guns back, so Indy and what’s left of the company will have to do it themselves. They are soon stuck down by fever, and forced to stop at Albert Schweitzer’s hospital. Indy recovers, but the hospital is shut down by the French, and the guns (and Indy) are re-directed to the European front.[11]

Late January, 1917 —  Indy and Remy request and are granted transfer to the Belgian military intelligence program. They quickly realize the program is disorganized and the rote classwork is boring. Indy forges paperwork to get them transferred to the more sophisticated French intelligence service.[1]

March 22, 1917 — French Intelligence assigns Remy to work undercover as an innkeeper in Brussels, and Indy is assigned to the 124th Squadron (the “Lafayette Escadrille”) as an aerial reconnaissance photographer for two weeks until a more permanent assignment is arranged. The 124th is made up largely of American volunteers, and the average survival rate for photographers is eight days.[1]

Late March, 1917 — Indy barely survives his first assignment when his plane is attacked by an entire German squadron. They make an emergency landing, the wounded pilot is taken to a prison hospital, and the unharmed Indy is invited to lunch by the pilot who shot them down, Manfred von Richthofen — the Red Baron. Von Richthofen points out that the 124th’s best pilot, Charles Nungesser, shot down his brother (who was wounded but not captured.) After the lunch, Indy is to be transferred to a prison camp, but he escapes and is picked up by a 124th pilot. As they arrive back at the French air base, the base is buzzed by a German pilot who drops a written challenge to Nungesser, inviting him to face the Red Baron in one-on-one aerial combat to avenge his brother. Nungesser accepts, and brings a reluctant Indy along to photograph his victory. He manages to shoot down von Richthofen, but they are themselves shot down by another group of German pilots. Everyone survives their landings. Von Richthofen meets with plane designer Anthony Fokker regarding a new tri-wing fighter plane, and Indy has his picture of Nungesser shooting down the Red Baron published in the newspaper.[1]

April 6, 1917 — Indy completes his two-week assignment with the Lafayette Escadrille on the same day the U.S. enters the war.[1]

AttackOfTheHawkmenEarly April, 1917 — Upon his return to Paris, Indy’s new mission is to convince Fokker, a Dutchman, to switch his allegiance from the Germans to the Allies. He is dropped by parachute into Hannover, Germany, by Nungesser, and manages to contact Fokker. Fokker declines the French offer, saying the money is not sufficient and German facilities are more suited to his needs. Indy overhears that Fokker’s latest prototype — a ten-engine bomber capable of crossing the Atlantic — is flying into a French air base. Disguised as a German officer, Indy infiltrates the base to take photos, but is spotted by security. In the ensuing gunfight, the hydrogen tanks are sparked, triggering an explosion that levels the base’s hangars, including Fokker’s prototype. Indy escapes via motorcycle to his rendezvous point with Nungesser.[1]

April 1917 — Indy is assigned to escort two emissaries — Princes Xavier and Sixtus of Bourbon-Parma — to meet with their brother-in-law, Emperor Charles I of Austria, in order to negotiate a separate peace between Austria and the Allies. Utilizing all Indy’s knowledge of spycraft and subterfuge, the trio make it safely into Austria, secure an offer of peace from the Emperor, and return safely to France despite being pursued at all times by German agents. Unfortunately, the German Kaiser finds out about the deal, and Austria is forced to withdraw its offer of peace.[12]

May – June 1917 — Indy is assigned to the French embassy in Petrograd (St. Petersburg), SecretServiceRussia, where he decodes and translates communications regarding a possible Bolshevik revolution in the wake of the czar being dethroned and the establishment of a weak provisional government. A Bolshevik victory would mean Russia pulling out of the war, shifting hundreds of thousands of German troops to the Western Front. Indy shares a large apartment with a group of young Russians, some of whom are Bolshevik revolutionaries. They are well aware he is a French spy, and they become friends despite differences in political loyalty. [12]

July 3, 1917 — Indy uses inside information to attempt to prevent his friends from taking part in a premature Bolshevik uprising, knowing it will lead to a government ambush. He fails to persuade them, and one of his roommates is killed.[12]

July 1917 —  Barcelona, Spain, is Indy’s next assignment. Spain is a neutral country unknowingly hosting a small team of Allied spies. His task is to assist in convincing Spain to join the Allies against Germany. The espionage team’s attempts to create a scandal leading to a diplomatic incident ends inconclusively. Indy works briefly undercover as a scimitar-wielding extra in the Russian ballet’s touring version of Scheherazade.[13]

August 5 – 8, 1917 — On a mysterious mission in Prague, Indy is told to wait in a specific apartment for a phone call that may change the course of the war. When the apartment’s phone is stolen, Indy goes through a three-day bureaucratic nightmare to get another phone installed He gets the phone hooked up just in time for the important call, which just tells him to go to another apartment in Berlin — and have a phone installed.[13]

Early August, 1917 — Indy’s Berlin assignment comes to nothing.

August – October, 1917 —  Indy is on assignment in Cairo, working undercover as a merchant.[14] He probably meets up again with Sallah at this time.

DaredevilsOfTheDesertOctober 1917 — On the recommendation of his friend T.E. Lawrence (now known in the press as “Lawrence of Arabia”), Indy is attached to the British army in Palestine. The British are planning an attack on Beersheba, and need someone fluent in Arabic and Turkish for an infiltration mission. Fake battle plans have been planted to mislead the German-Turkish defense at Beersheba into thinking the British attack would be on Gaza. The Turkish commander, Col. Bey, decides to rig the wells with dynamite just in case. It is explained to Indy how the 50,000 British troops that will march across the desert over a period of two days to attack Beersheba will only be carrying one canteen of water each. If they can’t take Beersheba the same day they arrive with the wells intact and full of water they may die of thirst. Indy’s mission is to do everything he can to protect the wells. The mission fails due to the actions of a double-agent, and the wells are rigged to explode.[14]

October 31, 1917 — The British begin their charge on Beersheba, led by the Australian Light Horse Brigade. Indy and his fellow agent, Kazim, begin cutting the wires to the explosives as the Australians advance fast enough to ride in under the Turkish guns. Indy and Kazim manage to cut the wires around all of the wells except for one. Bey orders the wells to be re-wired, which Indy and Kazim, pinned down by the combat around them, cannot prevent. They finally manage to get to the tower where the main switchboard controlling the explosives is located. Bey flees the garrison while the German commander runs into the tower and orders the explosives to be triggered, but Indy shoots him at the last second. The British forces successfully capture Beersheba.[14]

Late 1917 – Early 1918 — Indy assists in combat operations along the Hejaz Railway in Palestine (which ultimately led to the liberation of Damascus on September 30, long after Indy was gone.)[8]

He also participates in an unrecorded mission in Vienna.[15]

Early Summer 1918 — In northern Italy, Indy is busy persuading Czech conscripts in theTales_of_Innocence Austrian army to desert to the Italian lines. He has also been romancing a young Italian girl, Giulietta, but he has a rival suitor in this department. He gets advice from his new friend, volunteer Red Cross ambulance driver Ernest Hemingway. He quickly discovers that Hemingway is his rival. They both desperately one-up each other for her affections.[8]

July 8, 1918 — Indy and Hemingway discover that Giulietta has rejected them both, and is  engaged to another man. They are still squabbling as they head back to headquarters, when they come under attack. Both are badly wounded.[8]

July 1918 — Indy recuperates from his injuries in a Venice hospital.[8]

August 1918 — With a cover identity as “Captain Duval” of the French Foreign Legion, Indy is sent to Morocco to uncover the source of guns and ammunition that are being smuggled to pro-German native rebels. His secondary mission is escorting famous writer Edith Wharton on her travels through the area. He traces the weapons to the household arsenal of Kamal, sheik of Hidron, and French loyalist. Indy uncovers a conspiracy between one of the sheik’s bodyguards and a traitorous French colonel that is funneling the weapons to the rebels.[8,16]

Late August 1918 —  French Intelligence places Indy undercover at the Balkan News Agency in Istanbul as “Nils Anderson,” a Swedish journalist.[15]

September 1918 — While on assignment in Istanbul, Indy has romantically involved himself with Molly, an American volunteer at an orphanage run by Halide Edib, a politically-connected Turkish nationalist. Indy uses her connections to get a meeting with Turkish General Kamal. French Intelligence hopes to negotiate a separate peace with Turkey, but their efforts are undermined by a double agent working within Indy’s small team at the Balkan News Agency. Kemal spurns the offer, and the double-agent is uncovered, but not before he kills Molly in a case of mistaken identity. Indy is transferred to Venice.[15]

Masks_of_EvilOctober 1918 —  Indy receives an assignment to investigate the capture of several Allied POWs by a rogue Romanian warlord, General Mattias Targo. Scouring the Romanian countryside, Indy’s team discovers a castle and locates the missing soldiers. Investigating the castle, Indy experiences another brush with the supernatural – the castle owner is revealed to be General Targo himself, a vampire that has created a personal army of undead soldiers. Indy succeeds in killing the vampire, possibly a reincarnation of Prince Vlad Tepes, which frees the soldiers from Vlad’s influence and allows them to finally rest in peace.[15]

October 24, 1918 — In failing health, Indy’s former tutor Helen Seymour writes him a letter urging reconciliation with his estranged father.[17]

November 4, 1918 — Helen Seymour dies in Oxford, England.[17]

Early November 1918 — French Intelligence reunites Indy and Remy, and sends them back into the trenches to arrest a corporal suspected of passing information to the enemy.[17]

November 11, 1918 — During the last few hours of combat before the armistice is to go into effect, Indy and Remy spot their target, but before they can get to him, he is shot by the German he was communicating with. The German’s attempt to search the body is interrupted by Indy and Remy, who search the body themselves and find a partial map in his boot. [17]

Late November, 1918 — Indy and Remy are discharged by French Intelligence, and head Totpefor England. Indy learns of Miss Seymour’s death and reads her final letter to him, but he is still not ready to face his father. Indy and Remy decide to use the clues on the map to track down the Peacock’s Eye, a massive diamond once in the possession of Alexander the Great.[17]

December 1918 – January 1919 — Indy and Remy begin their search for the Peacock’s Eye in Alexandria. Their map is stolen by Zyke, the same German they spotted the last day in the trenches. They trail Zyke all the way to Java on the far side of the Indian Ocean, where he meets with a group of conspirators in a hotel cafe, hoping to sell the diamond in Singapore. At the cafe, Indy also meets a tempestuous young woman named Lily, who was keeping company with the conspirators until she is dismissed from their presence. The next morning, Indy and Remy discover that Zyke has double-crossed his partners and is heading to the temple indicated on the map to get the diamond for himself. While Zyke looks in the wrong part of the temple, Indy and Remy manage to find the small iron box containing the diamond. Zyke takes it from them at gunpoint, steals their horses, and escapes. Indy and Remy return to the hotel on foot, and discover Zyke has been shot and killed and the box is gone.

Zyke had booked passage on a steamship to Singapore with his compatriots, so Indy and Remy get aboard and attempt to see if any of them have the box. Lily is forcibly put aboard the ship by Javan officials for unspecified reasons. Before Indy and Remy can discover anything, the ship is attacked by Chinese pirates, who take everything of value, including the box, which had been in Lily’s possession. Lily had been Zeke’s partner in a separate deal, and he had betrayed her as well. It was Lily who shot Zyke. Indy, Remy, and Lily board a lifeboat and chase the pirate ship, successfully boarding it. Before they can recover the box, they are discovered, and a gunfight breaks out in the ship’s hold. Lily is killed, and a massive fire breaks out. Indy and Remy use a lifeboat to trail the remaining pirates’ lifeboat to an island off the coast of New Guinea, inhabited by hostile headhunters. A melee ensues on the beach, and the pirates are killed.

Remy recovers the box, and he and Indy flee to a nearby island, where the natives are friendlier. They meet up with Polish anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski, who informs them that cargo ships pass through the area every so often and can get them back home. Remy pries open the box and discovers that it does not contain the Peacock’s Eye, but a simple inscribed stone. Indy translates the inscription, and it is another clue to the diamond’s actual location.

Indy_remy_peacockseye

Indy and Remy search for the Peacock’s Eye

Remy vows to continue the hunt. Indy decides it is time to make his way back home, and the two part ways.[17]

January – April 1919 — Indy makes an epic but unrecorded journey from New Guinea to Paris. 

April – May 1919 Before making the final leg of the return journey to the U.S., Indy picks up employment as a translator for the American delegation to the Paris Peace Conference that will finalize the end of the war. His up-close work with the diplomats as they compromise, break promises, and often make decisions based on greed, ignorance, and vindictiveness proves greatly disillusioning to the idealistic Indy. His friend T.E. Lawrence’s lengthy work for an independent Arabia comes to nothing as Britain and France divide up the region for themselves, and Indy’s personal intervention on behalf of the Vietnamese delegation meets a similar fate.[18]

c.May 10-15, 1919 — Indy finally sails for the U.S. The journey is brightened by meeting a young New York socialite, Amy Wharton, on board the ocean liner.[18]

Mid-May – Early June, 1919 — Soon after his arrival at Princeton, Indy runs into his high school girlfriend Nancy (who has married his old rival, Butch, and had a son). His father is still angry over how Indy left, and does not offer a warm welcome. Indy makes the trip up to Manhattan to visit Amy on weekends, while he works on weekdays as a lab assistant to Robert Goddard, the pioneer of rocket science. He also reconnects with his childhood friend, Paul Robeson, a future African-American civil rights activist who is graduating at the top of his class from Rutgers University.[18]

June 10, 1919 — Indy attends Paul Robeson’s graduation from Rutgers, and hears his “New Idealism” speech, which would one day achieve iconic status.[18]

henrysr

Henry Jones, Sr., 1919

Mid-June, 1919 — Indy’s relationship with his father continues to deteriorate, and after one final dinner table clash, Indy leaves home with the intention of studying archaeology at the University of Chicago in the fall.[18]  

Late June, 1919 — Indy pays a visit to the New Mexico ranch, and goes on a multi-day “vision quest” arranged by his old Navajo acquaintance Changing Man. Indy discovers his “spirit animal” is an eagle.[19]

Summer 1919 — Indy reaches out to the University of Chicago’s leading archaeology professor, Abner Ravenwood, who he had met as a child in Jerusalem. Ravenwood arranges for Indy to join an ongoing dig in North Africa supervised by a colleague.

Mid-July – August 1919 — Indy travels to North Africa for his first archeology dig, sponsored by the Smithsonian Institute and led by a Dr. Lucas.[20] He begins second-guessing his desire to be an archaeologist.

September 1919 — Indy begins attending University of Chicago. He declares his major as linguistics, although he will occasionally refer to himself as an archaeology studentThis may have been a last-minute olive branch to his father, who preferred that course of study for Indy. Indy definitely took archaeology classes when his schedule allowed, and maintained a close relationship with Abner Ravenwood, who served as a surrogate father figure.

Fall 1919 — Indy gets a part-time job as a waiter at Colosimo’s Restaurant, where he can indulge his growing passion for jazz music, for which Colosimo’s is a live venue. His freshman dorm roommate is a studious, uptight killjoy named Eliot Ness.[21] Although a baseball fanatic, and a great high school player, in college Indy gravitates towards more unconventional sports, like javelin throwing.[19]

Spring 1920 — Indy has befriended several of Colosimo’s African-American musicians, MysteryOftheBlueswho encourage him to continue to practice his soprano sax, and even allowing him to sit in occasionally.[20] He probably meets hardcore jazz aficionado Jack Shannon at this point.

May 11, 1920 —  Restaurant owner (and underworld figure) Joe Colosimo is murdered.[21]

Mid-May, 1920 — Indy, his roommate Eliot Ness, and reporter Ernest Hemingway begin an investigation and trace Colosimo murder to a young bartender named Al Brown — soon to be known as Al Capone. They take their findings to the police chief, who refuses to do anything about it and destroys the evidence.[21,22]

June 1920 — Indy travels by train to New York City for a summer job. The job falls through, but he manages to get hired as assistant stage manager for the Broadway review George White’s Scandals (intended to be a rival to the Ziegfeld Follies). For a few weeks, he juggles the demands of his job and three attractive women — the bohemian literary critic Kate, the socialite Gloria, and Peggy, the naive midwestern girl he meets on the train. Peggy has a good singing voice, and Indy gets her a part in Scandals.[23]

July 1, 1920 — Despite advice and assistance from his new friend George Gershwin, maintaining three romantic attachments proves too much, and he ends up losing his job and all three girls — on his 21st birthday.[23]

HollywoodFolliesAugust – Early September, 1920 — Indy is hired by Universal Studios owner Carl Laemmle to travel to Hollywood and inform out-of-control director Erich von Stroheim that his latest over-budget epic, Foolish Wives, needs to finish filming in ten days or it will be shut down. He works with Universal executive Irving Thalberg to pare the script down without compromising von Stroheim’s artistic vision. They believe they have succeeded, but von Stroheim gathers his cast and crew and heads for Mexico to continue filming. Indy is dismissed by Laemmle, but lucks into a job as an assistant to western director John Ford. Indy ends up earning his entire tuition by performing a stunt in the film. He heads back to college with his leg in a cast.[24]

September 7, 1920 — Indy begins his second year at the University of Chicago.[24] He moves out of the dorms and into an apartment with Jack Shannon, a tall, red-headed economics major and cornet player with ties to the local Irish mob.

Indy takes a massively heavy class load, continues discussing archaeology with Professor Ravenwood, and also befriends one of Ravenwood’s star pupils, graduate student Harold Oxley. Oxley, an Englishman in his early thirties, seems to be one of those “professional students,” going from institution to institution collecting degrees. Marcus Brody, his father’s friend and Indy’s chaperone on his second trip to Egypt, is also working in Chicago at this time, and checks in on Indy occasionally.

Indy earns money as a language tutor.[19]

Fall 1921 — Indy is on track to earn a bachelor’s degree in three years, but this is imperiled by too much partying with Jack Shannon and too many late nights in the South Side jazz clubs.[19]

May 1922 — Despite almost being expelled for a Founders’ Day prank, Indy manages to graduate the University of Chicago with an undergraduate degree in linguistics.[19]

Summer 1922 — In anticipation of continuing with graduate studies at the prestigious University of Paris (generally known as “the Sorbonne”), Indy moves to France. Jack Shannon, wanting to explore the Parisian jazz scene, soon follows.[19]

This is the biggest continuity breaker in the entire canon. The novel Indiana Jones and the Peril of Delphi was published in 1991. An opening chapter depicts Indy’s graduation from the University of Chicago as taking place in 1920, and he is a third-year grad student at the Sorbonne when the main events of the novel take place in 1922. The producers of the “Young Indy” TV series, which began production the following year, completely ignored the Peril at Delphi and followed its own timeline, which contradicts the novel’s version of 1920. So the reader (and chronology maker) must take a leap of imagination, and pretend Peril at Delphi’s “1920” prologue is really 1922, and Indy is a first-year grad student at the Sorbonne.

October 1922 Despite being a languages student at the Sorbonne, Indy, as heIndianaJonesAndThePerilAtDelphi did in Chicago, manages to squeeze in archaeology courses. He is invited by his archaeology professor, Dorian Belecamus, to assist with her investigation of the ancient shrine of Delphi in Greece, which had recently suffered earthquake damage. The quake has opened a crevice, which is emitting a mysterious vapor. Dorian and her lover, Col. Mandraki, are actually part of a coup attempt to dethrone the Greek king. After double-crossing Mandraki, Dorian says she has no real interest in the coup, but is interested in the power that is generated by the Omphalos — the conical stone from which the Oracle of Delphi supposedly derived her prophetic power. She forces Indy to retrieve the Omphalos from the crevice. (When he get stuck, he makes a promise to himself to never go anywhere without his bullwhip.) Indy manages to escape and is allowed to leave the country with the Omphalos (described as nothing more than a polished meteorite — “a mere curiosity.”)

As Indy begins his journey back to Paris, he decides to send the Omphalos to Marcus Brody, currently working as a curator at the National Museum’s Chicago branch. He also decides to officially change the focus of his studies from linguistics to archaeology, which is what he had really wanted all along.[19]

December 1922 In his second month as an archaeology grad student, Indy works on a dig in southern Iraq during his winter break. There is some controversy over the credit for the discovery of an important artifact, the Pu-Abu Harp of Ur. A South American archaeologist, Dr. Adres Uribe, claims that Indy stole credit for the find, and carries a violent grudge against him for decades. (Indy later calls it a “misunderstanding.”)[25]

Late December, 1922  — Before returning to Paris, Indy makes a brief holiday visit to his father, and helps celebrate Marcus Brody’s move from the National Museum branch in Chicago to the more prestigious New York branch. It is at this point that Indy reveals he is dropping linguistics in favor of archaeology. This leads to another explosive argument with Henry Jones, Sr. and Indy has little contact with him for the next fifteen years. In his father’s absence, he becomes good friends with Brody.[26]

Early 1923 – Early 1925 — While continuing his studies at the Sorbonne, Indy spent time on his breaks working as a digger on various archaeological sites, learning the trade from the ground up. He spent time in the Caribbean, particularly in Haiti. There was also a visit to Tibet, and probably a long stay in Cairo with Sallah, who was married and beginning a family.

During the academic year, Indy earns his tuition as a laboratory assistant in the Sorbonne’s archaeology department. He has developed mild astigmatism, and occasionally wears a pair of wire-rimmed eyeglasses.[26]

1924 — A fellow grad student at the Sorbonne, Rene Belloq, wins the Archaeological Society Prize with a brilliant paper on stratigraphy — the basis of which was research notes he stole from Indy.[27]

Indy is also visited by Harold Oxley at several points during his time in Paris.[28]

Summer 1924 —  The Sorbonne sponsors a ten-day trip to allow its grad students to observe Ice Age era cave paintings in the Trois Freres region of southern France. Indy attempts to instigate a relationship with an art history student, Mara Rodgers of Utah, but she is leaving for Rome at the end of the summer. The trip ends in a bizarre tragedy. The group leader, Walcott, falls into an underground river in the moments after threatening Indy’s life over credit for discovery of a cave full of Ice Age artifacts. Indy and Mara maintain a written correspondence over the next four years.[29]

May 1925 — Indy graduates from the University of Paris with a Ph.D in archaeology.[26]

1. The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones (AYIJ), Ch. 12: “Attack of the Hawkmen”

2. AYIJ, Ch. 10: “The Phantom Train of Doom”

3. AYIJ, Ch. 6: “Spring Break Adventure.” “Nancy Stratemeyer” is fictional.

4. In the comic book series Indiana Jones: Thunder in the Orient, Indy mentions once having the “best arm in Ivy League baseball.” Since the University of Chicago is not an Ivy League school, he may be jokingly referring to playing for the high school team in Princeton.

5. “Young Indiana Jones Chronicles: Mid-Atlantic, 1916”

6. Indiana Jones: The Ultimate Guide. Young Indiana Jones and the Secret City states that Indiana died sometime in 1913-14 after being bitten by a rattlesnake, but he is definitely mentioned as still alive in the TV episode “Spring Break Adventure,” which is higher canon and set in 1916. So we shall say the rattlesnake incident “nearly” killed Indiana.

7. AYIJ, Ch. 7: “Love’s Sweet Song”

8. AYIJ, Ch. 16: “Tales of Innocence”

9. AYIJ, Ch. 8: “Trenches of Hell.” A screw-up by the TV production team really bothered me here. According to the original broadcast, they set this in August. But the trees are bare, there’s snow on the ground, and it’s visibly freezing cold. Since I am no longer bound by the original broadcast dates, I tried like hell to squeeze this into October, or even late September. But events in subsequent episodes are tied to actual historical events, and I couldn’t make it all fit in a reasonable amount of time. So this is one chilly August.

10. AYIJ, Ch. 9: “Demons of Deception”

11. AYIJ, Ch. 11: “Oganga, the Giver and Taker of Life”

12. AYIJ, Ch. 13: “Adventures in the Secret Service.” Historically, these secret peace negotiations took place in March, not April.

13. AYIJ, Ch. 14: “Espionage Escapades”

14. AYIJ, Ch. 15: “Daredevils of the Desert”

15. AYIJ, Ch. 17: “Masks of Evil”

16. The original TV broadcast accurately portrayed Edith Wharton’s visit to Morocco as the summer of 1917. The DVD re-edit now has her erroneously there in 1918.

17. AYIJ, Ch. 18: “Treasure of the Peacock’s Eye”

18. AYIJ, Ch. 19: “Winds of Change.” Indy is depicted as witnessing both Robeson’s speech (June 10) and the signing of the Versailles Treaty (June 28, long after his return to the U.S.)

19. Indiana Jones and the Peril at Delphi

20. Indiana Jones and the Army of the Dead

21. AYIJ, Ch. 20: “Mystery of the Blues”

22. Historical error here. Ernest Hemingway was still working in Toronto in the spring of 1920. He moved to Chicago in September. Also, Eliot Ness did not begin attending the University of Chicago until the following year.

23. AYIJ, Ch. 21: “Scandal of 1920”

24. AYIJ, Ch. 22: “Hollywood Follies”

25. Indiana Jones and the Arms of Gold

26. Indiana Jones and the Dance of the Giants

27. Raiders of the Lost Ark novelization. Alternatively, Indy meets Belloq for the first time in the novel Indiana Jones and the Dinosaur Eggs, set in 1933. But he is clearly known to Indy in both Indiana Jones Adventures digest comics, set in 1930 and 1931. I think the Raiders novelization version is more fun, and his initial line to Indy in Dinosaur Eggs ( “I have waited such a long time to meet you”) is just fuzzy enough to be open to interpretation. (Maybe he waited at that particular place a long time?)

28. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Indy mentions he and Oxley were “obsessed” with the Mitchell-Hedges crystal skull, and implies they frequently discussed it. The Mitchell-Hedges skull wasn’t discovered until 1924, so Oxley either visited Indy in Paris, or they shared their obsession via letter.

29. Indiana Jones and the Unicorn’s Legacy

 

 

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“It’s Not the Years, It’s the Mileage”: An Indiana Jones Chronology Part 1 — Childhood

Remarks in italics are not taken from explicitly-stated events in the canon material. They are my own speculations, logical inferences, gap-fillers, and extrapolations based on fragmentary references and passing mentions in the original sources.

1898

Dr. Henry W. Jones and Anna Mary Jones, wedding day, 1898

July 1, 1899 — Henry Walton Jones, Jr. is born in Princeton, New Jersey, to Henry Walton Jones, Sr., a Scottish-born Oxford graduate and professor of medieval studies at Princeton University, and Anna Mary Jones, who comes from a respected Virginia family. [1,2] 

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c.1900 — The Jones family acquires an Alaskan malamute dog, and names him Indiana. Young Henry Jr. is already demonstrating a penchant for risk-taking behavior. [1,3]

c.1901-1904 — At some point during this time, Henry and Anna Jones have a second child, a daughter Susie, who dies as an infant. [4]

Summer 1905 — Henry Jr. spends the first of many summers on his Uncle Fred and Aunt Grace’s ranch in New Mexico. [5]

IndyInfant

1906 — Henry Jr. first sees a bullwhip in action at a traveling circus, and is fascinated by it. [6]

1906 – 1907 — By now insisting on being called “Indiana” or “Indy” out of his love for the family dog, Indy develops a restless streak. He is frequently getting into trouble or being truant from school. He becomes a baseball fan and passionate baseball card collector. He begins receiving tutoring in foreign languages, becoming conversant in French, German, and Spanish, at the insistence of his father, whose mantra is “language is the key to understanding mankind.” [1,4,7].

He continues to spend summers in New Mexico. [8]

1907 — Henry Jones, Sr. publishes a book on medieval chivalry that is a huge success. He is invited by universities and lecture halls around the world to come and speak. [1]

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May 1908 — Henry and Anna Jones announce to Indy their plans for a two-year world tour, beginning that summer. Henry will be giving lectures, meeting foreign scholars and donors, and gathering various manuscripts and translations relating to the Holy Grail legend, which is his passion.[1]

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Helen Seymour

Early July 1908 — The Jones family arrives in London just after Indy’s ninth birthday. Henry catches up with several of his Oxford friends, and engages the services of his former tutor Miss Helen Seymour (“the best there is”) to accompany them on the tour and provide tutoring for Indy. The now elderly Miss Seymour is initially resistant to the idea, saying she is used to tutoring university students, and is not a “governess,” but is ultimately convinced. On the tour, in lieu of fourth and fifth grades, Indy is expected to observe and record as much as he can, complete a lengthy reading list, write essays, and learn ancient Greek and Latin. [1,9]

Late July 1908 — After nine days’ sail from London, the Jones party arrives in Alexandria, and then travels to Cairo. Henry kicks off his lecture series at Cairo University, leaving Indy and Miss Seymour to their studies and explorations. While investigating the pyramids of Giza, they meet up with another former pupil of Miss Seymour’s, T.E. Lawrence, who invites them to observe famous archaeologist Howard Carter’s excavation of a tomb in the Valley of the Kings further down the Nile. The day after the tomb is opened, it becomes clear that a jewel has been stolen overnight from among the artifacts, and the man guarding the tomb’s entrance is killed. Investigation by Lawrence and Indy lead them to Dimitrios, the camp’s demolition expert, as the thief. Dimitrios manipulated the local crew’s superstition about a “mummy’s curse” to aid him in his theft. Despite Indy and Lawrence’s solving of the mystery, Dimitrios manages to escape with the jewel. [1]

indianaJones_youngIndianaJones_12-1b58eda5b602

It is in Egypt that Indy first expresses interest in being an archaeologist. Lawrence supports his ambition, but suggests studying languages to begin with. Indy is torn between archaeology (his true passion) and linguistics (a more practical skill, and a path supported by his father) for the next fourteen years. T.E. Lawrence becomes a close friend and frequent correspondent until his death in 1935. [1,10]

the_adventures_of_young_indiana_jones_tv_show_image

Indy and T.E. Lawrence

August 1908 — Indy and family leave Egypt for Morocco, where they will be staying with former Oxford classmate of Indy’s father, Walter Harris, a prominent journalist for the London Times. Indy befriends a household slave boy, and, taking a cue from Harris, disguises himself as an Arab to freely explore the city with his new friend. They are captured by slave traders and brought to the market, where they are rescued by the timely arrival of Harris, who buys their freedom, and Indy is returned to his family. [1]

September 1908 – May 1909 — The activities of the world-touring family group during this lengthy period is unknown, although it seems they remained in the North Africa/Middle East area. Indy may have actually buckled down and studied, as his facility with languages continues to grow. [11]

June 1909 — When the touring party visits Jerusalem, Indy meets another noted archaeologist, Abner Ravenwood of the University of Chicago, who is looking for clues to the location of the lost Ark of the Covenant around the Temple Mount. It is not known whether Ravenwood mentions having an infant daughter back in Chicago. [12, 13]

August 1909 — Indy, now ten years old, and family join up with the Smithsonian-Roosevelt African Expedition, led by former president Theodore Roosevelt, in British East Africa. Roosevelt professes himself a great admirer of Henry’s book on medieval armor. The expedition’s purpose is to gather specimens for the Smithsonian Institute, but they are having trouble finding a certain sub-species of oryx. Indy meets up with a young Maasai boy named Meto. As they learn to communicate with each other, Meto tells him where to find the onyx. Indy guides the expedition to where the onyx can now be found, but is disturbed by how many have to be killed to ensure a proper supply of specimens. [14,15]

indy_roosevelt

Indy and Theodore Roosevelt

September 1909 — The touring party sail from Africa to Nice, in southern France, and from there by rail to Paris. Henry has full calendar of academic and social obligations, and Indy is supposed to stay busy studying and visiting museums, but he can’t help sneaking away and investigating slightly seedy artists’ cafes, where he interacts with Edgar Degas and Pablo Picasso, who is beginning to experiment with cubism. [14]

November 1909 — Indy attends horse riding school while his family stays at the U.S. embassy in Vienna. At the school, he meets Princess Sophie of Austria and develops his first romantic feelings for her. They slip out from under their governess’ supervision to ice-skate. This nearly causes an international incident, and Indy is sternly reprimanded. He later tries to give her a snow globe, but is rebuffed at the gate by the palace guards. Indy and his parents attend a dinner thrown by the US ambassador to celebrate the “First Psychoanalytic Conference,” with Sigmund Freud, Karl Jung, and Alfred Adler as the guests of honor. Spurred by some of Indy’s remarks at the table, the three eminent psychiatrists get into a debate — and criticize the notion of romantic love as a human construct. But they agree that repressing one’s feelings is bad. Taking them at their word, Indy returns to the royal palace and is actually granted a brief audience with Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The duke patiently but firmly declines Indy’s offer to marry his daughter (when he is old enough), and denies him an opportunity to say good-bye, saying she is already in bed. After leaving, Indy sneaks back into the royal quarters, where he presents Princess Sophie with the snow globe, and she gives him a locket with her portrait. Indy wears the locket for many years thereafter. [2,16]

During a brief stay in Florence, Indy attends his first opera, La Bohemie, composed by Giacomo Puccini. Puccini dines with the Joneses and their host family after the performance, and is attracted to Indy’s mother. While Indy’s father is away for a week in Rome, Anna begins an intense flirtation with Puccini. She feels neglected by Henry, Sr., who is single-mindedly focused on his lectures. (He does not send a single letter when in Rome.) Puccini invites her to meet him at the train station and go away with him. She goes to the station…but only to walk by him and welcome her returning husband home instead. [2]

December 1909 — The touring party returns to Paris for a second visit. [2]

Young_Henry_Jones

Henry Jones, Sr. c. 1910

Winter – Early Spring 1910 — The Jones party travels through Murmansk and St.Petersburg, Russia. After causing mayhem at a wedding held on a large Russian estate, Indy is rebuked more fiercely than he’s ever been before and banished to his room. He decides to run away, and as he is making his way through the Russian countryside, he encounters the elderly Leo Tolstoy, who has also run away from his materialistic and aristocratic family. After encountering a brutal round-up of gypsies by the Cossack military, Indy and Tolstoy decide to head further east, but Tolstoy’s health clearly is not up to it. They convince each other to return to their respective families. [17]

The family travels from Moscow to Greece. Anna Jones, fearing that Henry is too distant and distracted to spend as much time with Indy as he should, leaves them to have a weekend together. Henry teaches Indy about various schools of Greek philosophy, and a narrow escape from a damaged cliffside elevator at the “hanging monastery” of Kalabaka creates a bonding moment between Indy and the normally stern and reserved Henry. [17]

Spring 1910 — While in the city of Benares, along the Ganges River in India, the toruing party is lodged at the Hindu National College. There they encounter members of the Theosophical Society who are in the process of grooming a new “world teacher” — a young boy named Jiddu Krishnamurti. Miss Seymour, a typical Victorian Christian, is suspicious of the “free love/socialist” theosophists and their claims, but comes to realize that faith is faith. Indy gains a deeper understanding of philosophy and different approaches to religion. The family’s stay in India is a fairly lengthy one. [4]

AnnaJones

Anna Jones, c. 1910

On the train trip from India to China, Anna Jones falls seriously ill, but has recovered by the time the touring party arrives in Peking. Henry is looking forward to meeting with a famous Chinese scholar (who has completed Chinese translations of the Grail legend). The rest of the group decide to explore the Chinese countryside with the help of their guide, Mr. Li. There is some concern about Anna’s health, but it’s Indy who comes down with typhoid fever in a remote Chinese village. With the nearest American doctor three days away, Anna reluctantly agrees to allow a local Chinese doctor to treat Indy with traditional methods. He recovers. [14] There is some indication that Anna Jones’ health never fully recovers.

The Jones party also spends some time in Vietnam, where Indy picks up some of the Vietnamese language. [18]

June 1910 — The epic Jones world tour concludes in Australia, where Indy meets Harry Houdini and gets the opportunity to fly in an early airplane. [19]

Summer 1910 – Winter 1912 — Indy attends sixth and seventh grades in Princeton, N.J. and continues his study of languages. He is probably sent to the New Mexico ranch during the summers of 1910 and 1911. He joins the Boy Scouts, and plays baseball.

Indy visits New Orleans with his parents, [20] takes piano lessons, [16] and teaches himself a little guitar. [21]

Indy_sepia2

Henry & Indy, 1911

Late March – Early April, 1912 —  Indy’s former tutor, Helen Seymour, has inherited a great deal of wealth after the death of a cousin, including a precious gem known as the Shalimar Diamond. She invites the Jones family to visit her in England, but only Indy can make the trip. He stays in England for awhile, seeing the sights and even meeting one of his literary heroes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. [22]

Early April 1912 — Miss Seymour, who has never been to the U.S. before, decides to IndianaJonesAndTheTitanicAdventurereturn with Indy and stay with the Joneses in Princeton for an extended visit. They book passage on the White Star ocean liner RMS Titanic’s maiden voyage. [22]

April 10-14, 1912 — On board the Titanic, Indy and Miss Seymour learn the background of the diamond from an Indian professor, who says it is sacred to the Indian people, and stolen from a temple long ago. Miss Seymour turns the diamond over to Khan. Indy finds himself preoccupied with an Irish stowaway, Molly Kincaid, who is fleeing police after causing property damage during a women’s suffrage march. [22]

April 15, 1912 — The Titanic sinks in the North Atlantic after hitting an iceberg late the night before. Over 1500 people died, and Indy and Miss Seymour were among the 710 survivors who made it into the lifeboats. Khan gave the diamond back to Miss Seymour, trusting her to ensure its return. [22]

May 16, 1912 — Anna Jones dies of complications from scarlet fever. [13,23]

YoungIndianaJonesAndThePiratesLootEarly June 1912 — In mourning for his wife, Henry Jones tries to distract himself, signing himself up for a lengthy conference at Harvard University in Boston. He is accompanied by Indy and Miss Seymour, who take a few days to travel further up the coast to visit one of her friends, Miss Parsons, in Maine. Indy meets Miss Parsons’ niece Rachel, slightly younger than him, and the two of them explore Eagle Island and investigate stories of Captain Kidd’s lost treasure. Their activities actually uncover some of the real treasure, solve a local mystery, and supposedly lay to rest a restless ghost. [24]

Mid-June 1912 — Miss Seymour returns to England. The Jones’ house in Princeton is full of painful memories of Anna. Henry may blame himself, believing the illness that came upon her during their world tour never really left. When they return from New England, Henry takes a leave of absence from Princeton, packs up their belongings, and heads to as remote a location as practicable — Utah, near the “Four Corners” area, where he is taken on at a small college as a visiting professor. He teaches a few classes here and there, but is mostly focused on his Grail studies. Self-absorbed and distant at the best of times, in his grief Henry becomes emotionally unavailable and neglectful of his son. Indy had been a somewhat active Boy Scout back in Princeton, and now he throws himself into scouting to take his mind off his family situation.

indiana-jones-and-the-last-crusade-river-phoenix

August 5, 1912  On a horseback Boy Scout trip to Arches National Park in southeastern Utah (just a few miles from his new home), Indy and his friend Herman Mueller break away from the main group to scout some caves. They discover a group of grave robbers who have found a golden crucifix belonging to Coronado.

Indy steals it from them, hoping to donate it to a museum. The men give chase through a passing circus train, leaving Indy with a bloody cut across his chin, (and a permanent scar) from his first use of a bullwhip, and a new phobia of snakes after tumbling into a vat of them. Indy hops off the train as it passes his hometown. He attempts to tell his father about what has happened, but his father, as usual, ignores him. The local sheriff makes him return the cross to the robbers, who turn it over to the wealthy man who had hired them, identified only by his panama hat. Speaking of hats, the good-natured leader of the grave-robbers (really not too different a guy from what Indy turns out to be in later years) can’t help but be impressed with the boy’s spirit. He gives him his fedora, and a few words of encouragement. [25]

IndianaJonesAndTheLostGoldOfDurango

Late August 1912 — The loot from the robbery of a Durango, Colorado bank that took place three years earlier is hidden somewhere in the ancient cave dwellings of nearby Mesa Verde. Indy and his Pueblo Indian friend Jay believe they know where it is. To find it, they must confront the the recently-escaped robbers — the Butler brothers. Along the way, they meet the eccentric Coyote With An Eagle In His Mouth, who claims to be 750  years old and the last of the Anasazi. (He might actually be Billy the Kid.) [26]

Fall 1912 – Spring 1913 — Indy’s eighth-grade year at a small schoolhouse in Utah. He acquires his own bullwhip, and practices with it obsessively in the early mornings and after school. He also teaches himself to drive.[27] He earns money by weeding gardens and tending sheep. [28]

Spring 1913 — Indy goes on another Boy Scout-based adventure in a region known as the “Mountains of Superstition.”[29]

IndianaJonesAndThePlantationTreasureJune 1913 — At the conclusion of Henry’s academic year at the Utah college, he agrees to do a series of summer lectures at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Henry and Indy take a room in a boardinghouse. Indy and a Georgetown history professor, Dr. Walton, assist a young woman, Lizzie Ravenall, in tracking down her inheritance. To do so, they must follow a runaway slave’s cold trail along the old Underground Railroad from Maryland, through Pennsylvania, and ultimately to New York. With the information they uncover, they return to Lizzie’s ancestral plantation — now owned by a rival family — and recover the claim to her property. [30]

July 1913 — With a major paper to write, Henry realizes he will be less able than usual to supervise Indy. He sees an opportunity when he finds out a former Oxford classmate, Marcus Brody, is heading to Egypt on an artifact-buying excursion for the multi-branched National Museum, of which he is assistant curator. Henry convinces Brody toIndianaJonesAndTheTombOfTerror take Indy along for what will be his second visit to Egypt. Upon arrival, Indy heads off by himself to see the pyramids, but is almost robbed by his cabdriver. He is saved by the intervention of a Cairo street urchin, Sallah, who speaks several languages and offers to be Indy’s guide. He also offers to sell Indy a valuable ring. When Indy questions the motives and morality of this, Sallah admits his cousin has stolen the ring — but from someone who obviously stole the ring themselves. Indy suggests returning the ring to its “owner” and follow him until he led them to his source of purloined artifacts. The adventures that ensue see Indy aid in the defeat of a German grave-robber, uncover Tutankhamun’s tomb several years before Howard Carter officially did so, and cement a lifelong friendship with Sallah Mohammed Faisel el-Kahir. Marcus Brody, an Englishman and widower who has spent most of his adult life teaching and working in museums in the U.S., will become a close friend later. [28]

Upon his return, Indy squeezes in a quick visit to New Mexico, where he meets an old Navajo known as Changing Man. [7]

IndianaJonesAndThePrincessOfPerilAugust 1913 — His work in Georgetown concluded, Henry accepts an offer to come to the Russian province of Georgia and assist a wealthy Georgian, Fedor Kipiani, in researching the region’s role in the Crusades. Indy was originally supposed to stay with the family of his friend Herman Mueller, but Herman has come down with a case of the measles. So Indy finds himself and his father on a train bound for St. Petersburg to meet Kipiani. Their continuing journey to Tiflis, Georgia, sees them accompanied by a young Georgian princess, Tamar, who is being used as a symbol of dissidence and freedom by Kipiani, a hardcore Georgian nationalist. Indy liberates her from the monastery where she is being “protected,” but the pair find themselves abducted by an evil Zoroastrian fanatic who hopes to use her royal blood in a sacrificial ceremony to de-purify a “good” Zoroastrian fire temple on the coast of the Caspian Sea. They manage to escape, and Princess Tamar announces her plan to renounce the throne but continue the fight for Georgian independence. [27]

September 1913 — Preferring constant motion over dealing with his memories of Anna, upon leaving Russia, Henry signs himself up to be a visiting lecturer at Cambridge University in England for the fall term. Indy is enrolled at the Charenton Academy boarding school. Herman Mueller, whose archaeologist father is working on a major excavation of Stonehenge, joins him there. [31,32]

October 1913 — Indy spends his mid-term break with the family of his Charenton friend IndianaJonesAndTheGhostlyRidersCerdic Sandyford in Wales. Cerdic’s father is a coal-mine owner, and a progressive, compassionate one, who treats his workers well. This makes him a target for the more ruthless mine owners, who feel his methods stir up unrest among their own workers. The Sandyford mine is sabotaged, and the injured Sandyford is taken to the other family estate in Somerset to recuperate. His break cut short, Indy is on the train back to Charenton, where he overhears details about the people responsible for the sabotage. He leaps off the train (coincidentally, in Somerset) to avoid capture. As he makes his way, exhausted, across the English countryside, Indy has a mysterious encounter with what appear to be ghostly entities from the Arthurian era. They give him information that will lead him to a cache of 5th century treasure. He snaps out of his reverie on the Sandyford’s doorstep. The treasure turns out to be real, and is used to save the mining operation. [32]

IndianaJonesAndTheCircleOfDeath (1)December 1913 —  Harold Mueller’s father’s Stonehenge dig is experiencing bad luck, and Indy and Herman are constant victims of anti-American bullying at Charenton Academy, especially from a boy named Reggie Pengrave. Indy and his father are staying in the Muellers’ rented house over the Christmas holidays, which unfortunately is located quite near the Pengrave estate. Reggie and several local boys keep up the attacks on Indy, Herman, and also the house itself and its servants. Almost all of Mueller’s diggers quit after a series of supposed supernatural incidents. Indy and Herman investigate the Pengrave estate and discover that Reggie’s father was a member of a “dark Druid” cult that was angry over Mueller’s dig during their holiest day — the winter solstice. They also find out that the Arch-Druid is actually a German spy seeking secret Royal Navy plans in the possession of Pengrave. Herman is captured, and Indy escapes, but tumbles into an old burial mound. He makes his way out and sees that Herman has been marked for sacrifice in the cult’s solstice ritual. Indy manages to rescue Herman and reveal the Arch-Druid’s plans to Pengrave and the other Druids, many of whom are prominent community leaders and want nothing to do with actual human sacrifice. An artifact from the burial mound that Indy had taken protects him from the Arch-Druids magical attacks. The spy is captured, and the relationship with the Pengraves is repaired. [31]

Henry decides to return to Utah for the next academic term. [21]

January 1914 — As they are preparing for a return to the U.S., Henry and Indy visit the IndianaJonesAndTheJourneyToTheUnderworldBritish Museum, where Indy inadvertently damages an artifact. The artifact turns out to be a replica, as the real item, the Pietroasa bowl, was stolen not long ago by a mysterious Greek antiquities thief known as Kourou. Henry volunteers to delay their return to America and travel to Greece to consult with one of his Oxford mentors, Nigel Wolcott, an expert on Mediterranean artifacts and their acquisition, about how to follow the trail of the missing item. Indy does his own detective work, and with the aid of a retired Greek police officer and his daughter, Elyse, uncover the fact the Kouros and Wolcott are one and the same. Indy and Elyse barely survive a plunge into the icy Aegean and an encounter with an octopus. The Pietroasa bowl is recovered from Wolcott’s Athens residence. [21]

Late January 1914 — Indy and Henry arrive back at their stucco house in the Utah desert. Indy begins the second semester of his ninth grade year. Henry returns to his position at the little Utah college, and continues his intensive Grail research.

IndianaJonesAndTheCurseOfTheRubyCrossMarch 1914 — Henry travels to New York to work his way through the many university libraries in the area, focusing on Yale in New Haven, Connecticut and researching their Norman literature. As it is Indy’s spring break from his freshman year of high school, he accompanies Henry on this trip. They stay with Indy’s Aunt Mary (actually a second cousin once removed), who embarks on a Miss Seymour-style attempt to tutor Indy. Indy, considering himself on vacation, resists all instructions to visit art museums and write papers. He reconnects with Lizzie Ravenall, now a militant suffragette attending Barnard College, and befriends a young Sicilian labor organizer Roberto, who is in possession of a valuable family heirloom, a golden cross with an embedded ruby. When the Roberto’s cross is stolen and his tenement apartment burned down, Indy and Lizzie investigate. Their actions lead to the recovery of the cross (actually a sword hilt) and the exposure of a corrupt hotel baron. [33]

Early May 1914 — Indy’s school in Utah is destroyed by fire, and the academic year is cut short. Indy hopes to spend his extra few weeks of summer hunting for Native American artifacts, but his father has other plans. [34]

May 1914 —  Henry sends Indy to southern France town of Aigues-Mortes under theIndianaJonesAndTheGypsyRevenge supervision of Thornton N. Thornton IV, his young assistant professor. Thornton has been dispatched to possibly purchase a manuscript, and Indy is to accompany him to further his education. Thornton is skeptical of the fanciful story behind the manuscript, but it appears genuine. They purchase it — and are robbed of it almost immediately by gypsies. Believing the robbers were probably tipped off by Sarah, the young female palm reader they encountered earlier, Indy and Thornton travel to the nearby gypsy village. They find Sarah, who takes them to the gypsy group’s aged leader, Stefan. They have no knowledge of the manuscript theft, and agree to help them recover it. The trail indicated by the manuscript leads to a hidden crown, which rightfully belongs to the “King of the Gypsies,” but it has been stolen by a deranged descendent of Louis XIII, who plans on restoring the French monarchy. The plan is thwarted, and the crown is turned over to Stefan. Indy returns with the manuscript, which was all Henry was interested in anyway. [34]

IndianaJonesAndTheSecretCityJune 1914 — Indy and Henry make a lengthy stay in Turkey, where Henry continues his obsessive pursuit of Grail lore. They are joined for a while by Herman Mueller in Constantinople, and together he and Indy investigate the trail of a knife believed to be linked to the legend of Cain and Abel. Indy also makes a visit to the Turkish royal palace known as the Topkapi Saray. [35,36]

June 28, 1914 — The Jones’ Turkish sojourn is cut somewhat short when Henry hears of the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28, and they head back to the U.S. in anticipation of the instability to come. [35]

Summer 1914 Henry finally feels able to return to his former life in Princeton, so father and son say farewell to Utah.

Late September 1914 Henry Jones, Sr. had been settling back into his routine Princeton life when he got word of a collection of 600-year-old manuscripts by Marco Polo available only in China. He pulls Indy out of school, they travel to the west coast, and board a steamship, the China Maid, bound for Peking. [37]

Early October 1914 — As the China Maid nears Honolulu, she narrowly avoids being IndianaJonesAndTheMountainOfFireblown up by a saboteur, and comes into port only to discover a similar boat posing as the China Maid had already made off with all of her coal and provisions. It turns out to be an elaborate plan by the German freighter Ostwind, an intelligence-gathering ship that repeatedly violates U.S. neutrality laws to gain Germany the upper hand in the recently-begun world war. Over the course of helping to put a stop to these activities, Indy reunites one last time with Lizzie Ravenall (visiting her wealthy friend’s sugar plantation, her return delayed by an influenza outbreak), and attempts the Hawaiian pastime of “surf-riding.” [37]

YoungIndianaJonesAndTheFaceOfTheDragonLate October 1914 — After the Joneses leave Honolulu, they encounter troubles as their steamer is intercepted by a Japanese naval vessel. Young Indy discovers soon after that someone has smuggled a golden Chinese dragon statuette in his luggage, which he hides from the Japanese inspectors. Once they reach the mainland, the statuette becomes object of a desperate hunt by Chinese, Japanese and German factions. [38]

December 1914 — Peking is exploding into unrest and street YoungIndianaJonesAndTheEyeOfTheTigerriots, many of them targeting westerners. Henry and Indy arrange a hasty exit aboard the fully-loaded yacht of millionaire Asian art collector Amos Hungerford, who is leaving China under something of a cloud, being accused of stealing the art he could not buy. They travel west, stopping in the small Indian territory of Killahabad, where there is rumored to be a large collection of ivory carvings, and the locals have been having trouble with a rogue tiger. Indy befriends the Oxford-educated prince of Killahabad, Kasim Khan. On a massive, elephant-mounted tiger hunt, Indy confirms the region’s tiger troubles may be tied to a cursed gem recently discovered by Prince Kasim. Before they leave the area, Indy shames the unscrupulous Hungerford into not taking advantage of the cash-strapped Killahabad for its ivory collection. [39]

[1] The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones (AYIJ), Ch. 1: “My First Adventure”

[2] AYIJ, Ch. 3: “Perils of Cupid.”

[3] Indiana is described as a male dog everywhere but the AYIJ episode “Travels with Father,” where Indy refers to it as a “she.”

[4] AYIJ, Ch. 5: “Journey of Radiance.” A line in the later episode “Demons of Deception” indicates the Indian sojourn was lengthy.

[5] The Lost Journal of Indiana Jones.

[6] Raiders of the Lost Ark novelization

[7] Indiana Jones and the Peril at Delphi

[8] I will mention Indy visiting the New Mexico ranch every summer I can squeeze it in, to justify his frequent references in the novels to his having “grown up in the southwest.” This is obviously supposed to refer to the opening sequence of Last Crusade, which depicts Indy and his father living in Utah, but AYIJ — which came out halfway through the novel series — complicates this, using Princeton as Indy’s hometown. What turns out to be an a brief residency in Utah coupled with constant visits to New Mexico, in my opinion, allow him to have a deep childhood connection to the American southwest.

[9] Most sources have the Egypt portion set in May, but Indy is introduced to Miss Seymour as already being “nine years old,” which would place it after his July 1 birthday. There is nothing in the story preventing it from being pushed back a couple of months to make this bit of important establishing dialogue fit, so I have Indy’s parents announcing the trip to him in May. Also, Indy’s school year is not cut short, which would be a priority for the pro-education Jones parents.

[10] Indy’s choice between archaeology and linguistics is finally resolved in the novel Indiana Jones and the Peril at Delphi. His friendship with Lawrence is mentioned in several future episodes of AYIJ.

[11] This lengthy gap in the AYIJ narrative was cause by the re-shuffling of events for the DVD release. Florence, Paris, and Vienna were supposed to close out 1908, but this all fell apart when Paris — mentioned clearly as their first visit to Paris — was placed after Africa. The African events were tied too closely to actual historical events of 1909 to place it anywhere else. Dialogue in the Florence episode also refers to going to Paris “next,” so this has to become their second visit.

[12] AYIJ, Ch. 18: “Treasure of the Peacock’s Eye.” The events of the unproduced Jerusalem episode are briefly mentioned.

[13] Indiana Jones: The Ultimate Guide

[14] AYIJ, Ch. 2: “Passion for Life.”

[15] The Roosevelt hunting party was in British East Africa (now Kenya) from April to December of 1909.

[16] AYIJ, Ch. 11: “Oganga, the Giver and Taker of Life.”

[17] AYIJ, Ch. 4: “Travels with Father.”

[18] AYIJ, Ch. 19: “Winds of Change”

[19] AYIJ, Ch. 15: “Daredevils of the Desert.” The events of the unproduced Australia episode are briefly mentioned.

[20] AYIJ, Ch. 25: “Mystery of the Blues”

[21] Young Indiana Jones and the Journey to the Underworld

[22] Young Indiana Jones and the Titanic Adventure

[23] Several episodes of AYIJ indicate Indy is under the impression that she died of influenza.

[24] Young Indiana Jones and the Pirates’ Loot

[25] Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Specific dates suggested by “The Diaries of Indiana Jones.”

[26] Young Indiana Jones and the Lost Gold of Durango. Indy mentions he acquired his fedora “a couple of months ago.” What he means, of course, is “a couple of weeks ago.”

[27] Young Indiana Jones and the Princess of Peril

[28] Young Indiana Jones and the Tomb of Terror

[29] “Young Indiana Jones and the Mountains of Superstition”

[30] Young Indiana Jones and the Plantation Treasure

[31] Young Indiana Jones and the Circle of Death

[32] Young Indiana Jones and the Ghostly Riders

[33] Young Indiana Jones and the Curse of the Ruby Cross

[34] Young Indiana Jones and the Gypsy Revenge

[35] Young Indiana Jones and the Secret City

[36] Indiana Jones and the Genesis Deluge

[37] Young Indiana Jones and the Mountain of Fire

[38] Young Indiana Jones and the Face of the Dragon

[39] Young Indiana Jones and the Eye of the Tiger

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“It’s Not the Years, It’s the Mileage”: An Indiana Jones Chronology (Introduction)

Working with the James Bond novels last year got me thinking about compiling another 91XTKfFZ3kL._SL1500_chronology for a great period adventurer of the last century — Dr. Henry Walton Jones, Jr., better known by the name he swiped from the family dog, “Indiana.” If you piece together his entire life story, as the Holy Bee has just done, you know that he’s not just Indiana Jones, professor of archaeology, expert on the occult, and obtainer of rare antiquities. He’s also Indiana Jones, Titanic survivor, World War I veteran, boy-toy of the notorious spy Mata Hari, romantic rival of Hemingway, roommate of Eliot Ness, amateur jazz musician (adept at piano and soprano sax), widower at 26, highly-decorated Army Reserve Colonel, and much, much more.

As we know, the movies, and most other Indy media, generally start off with a year written right on the opening scene, or first page. That has pretty much taken all of the detective work out of assembling a base-level chronology…unlike the James Bond stories, which may only hint at a year once every few books.

There’s also the “Indycron.” The Indycron is a private database maintained and curated by Lucasfilm to ensure story and character continuity across media platforms. Every novel author, every game designer, every comic book writer has to check with the Indycron to prevent contradictions and repetition.

The Indycron is a relatively recent development, however, which makes creating a logical timeline incorporating the massive amount earlier material a bit tricky — and at times, impossible. (Sorry, Marvel Comics.) Sloppy mistakes by the actual creators don’t help, either, particularly the novel authors. (All of them are guilty of facepalm-worthy screw-ups, but I’m especially looking at you, Martin Caidin. Your description of Indy as a “professor of Medieval Literature and Studies at Princeton” — when that was his father’s position — is unforgivable. Did you forget Indy is an archaeologist? I know you’re interested in technical details about vintage aircraft far more than characters or story, but at least give the background packet provided for you by Lucasfilm more than a cursory glance, you weirdo.) These errors, inconsequential as they may be within an individual story, collectively made my task very difficult.

Plus, I’m sorry to say, the Indycron actually does a pretty lousy job even with recent material. Indy meets Belloq under at least three different circumstances, and the Lost Journal of Indiana Jones and Indiana Jones: The Ultimate Guide, both Lucasfilm-approved books released in 2008, contradict each other all over the place.

Also unlike the James Bond novels, you may have noticed that we’re working with more than one medium, which makes for a lot more material to absorb. All of the original Ian Fleming and Fleming continuation novels, along with the “Young Bond” series, numbered around 27 books, all of them pretty slim. It was the work of 4 or 5 months to get through them, and that was at a pretty lackadaisical pace. Yes, watching a movie takes less time than reading a novel, but still — the sheer bulk of the Indiana Jones universe is daunting: four feature films, 22 ninety-minute installments of Young Indiana Jones on DVD, 13 novels, 17 young adult novels, 36 comic books (according to the Holy Bee canon), and various other bits and pieces floating around out there. Even though we’re given a year for almost every story, it can still be a challenge to make it all fit together coherently across all media. It’s enough to make armchair chronologists tear out their hair…but also gives them their rush. I know I’m not alone in this particular pastime. Other websites have attempted it as well.

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So…if the years are already given for pretty much every story at the suggestion of Lucasfilm, and James Luceno’s richly-illustrated coffee table book Indiana Jones: The Ultimate Guide and multiple websites have already assembled chronologies, then what’s the point of doing this? Continue reading

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Video Store Memories

Sorry, misled voters of West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Coal-mining jobs are not coming back in any appreciable amount. Never. Ever. And any presidential candidate of any party who tells you otherwise is playing you for a fool. But that’s the way of the world. Think of the poor harness and saddle makers when those Model T Fords started rolling off the assembly line. Shit outta luck. No one’s crossing the Atlantic on dirigibles anymore either, putting all those patriotic, hard-working dirigible technicians out of business. Industries die when times change. It’s a fact of life.

I can’t recall anyone carrying signs at political rallies when the humble video rental store circled the drain and gurgled out of existence not long ago. Maybe that’s because most video store employees are…excuse me, were…jaded Gen-X youngsters, not people with families to support and hoping for a pension after forty-five years of inhaling coal dust.

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Everyone knows the big video store chains. Blockbuster Video, with twelve locations still open nationwide as of this writing. Hollywood Video, which died screaming in 2010, never collecting the $23.00 I owed them for a way past-due return of I Love You, Beth Cooper. Less remembered are the independents, the hole-in-the-wall mom & pop places that sprang up all over, circa 1985. They occupied every third strip-mall storefront for a while, usually had a beaded curtain guarding access to untold triple-X delights in the “back room,” and were mostly forced out of existence a decade-and-a-half later by the aforementioned big chains and their corporate ubiquity. Even liquor stores and gas stations often had a small video rental section for awhile. But as the twin behemoths of Blockbuster and Hollywood scaled a mountain made up of the smoking corpses of their competitors, their time was running out, too. Streaming services became the order of the day, and with a little practice, even Grandma and Grandpa could pick a flick from Amazon Video without having to put on their orthopedic shoes and leave their house that smells of dishrags and old soup.

Physical media came with a lot of problems. VHS tapes could get mangled (or melted in a hot car). DVDs could get scratched. But streaming has its limitations, too. Your WiFi can get intermittent. It’s hard to casually browse. You have to actively seek out older movies to stream. You can no longer just randomly spot them on the shelves when you’re out with your friends in the video store, and then shame your friends into seeing them:

“Dude, you haven’t seen Mandingo? We are getting that shit and solving that problem TONIGHT.” So you would get Mandingo, maybe Big Trouble in Little China, and whatever the new release of the week was. And odds are, the rabid Mandingo fan would push to watch that one first, possibly to the total exclusion of the other movies, and to the enlightenment of all viewers.

In my multi-part look back at 90s music, I told a few stories about life behind the counter of a video store, but I didn’t go into the detail this vanished way of life deserves. I was an employee of First Run Video in Yuba City, California from August 1993 (age 18) to December 1995 (just turned 21). First Run was not a national chain, nor was it a standalone. It was a mini-chain, consisting of about six locations in the northern part of the Sacramento Valley. Redding. Red Bluff. Weaverville. Oroville, maybe? I know Yuba City was its southernmost location. I started there on its third or fourth day of operation.

I can find no web evidence of First Run Video. It closed its doors in 1999, I think. As far as the internet is concerned, it never existed. No archived local business articles or ads. No old storefront photos on Google Images. No bitmap image files of its logo (a medal that read “1st” with a forked blue prize ribbon dangling underneath). No YouTube video of its one local TV commercial (which featured the back of my head for .002 seconds). Except for those mentions on my own website, First Run Video is — in the truest sense — gone, even from the internet nostalgia machine.

So all we have left is my description of the place, drawn solely from twenty-plus-year-old memories. Take my hand, Gentle Reader, and I’ll guide you through it…

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A busy shopping center at a busy intersection. Anchored at one end by an Orchard Supply Hardware store, and at the other, a Bel Air grocery store. Just around the corner from Bel Air, facing the palm tree-lined side parking lot, is First Run Video…

It’s big for what it is. A lot of square footage. It seems like there’s an acre or more of alternating blue and white tiled floor. Walk in the double doors. On your left is the Children/Family video section, and the video games. On your right are all other genres. Lining the wall running across the back of the store, and curving around to the right, are the New Releases. If you walk straight ahead, you approach the counter where you receive your rented videos after you’d paid for them. There was a slot in that counter that would receive your returned videos. Above you are bright blue buzzing neon letters that spell out MOVIES. (I think. Maybe it said something else. All I know is that it was covered with a shitload of gnats and lacewings every summer.) But you pick up your movies later. Right now, pass by the Disneyland-style popcorn wagon (popcorn is gratis, but we only fire it up on weekends). Rows of little marquee light bulbs on both sides of the entrance lobby channel you to enter the rental floor to the right or left. Either way, you pass through our security gates. Metallic strips of tape stuck to each and every VHS cassette in the store will set those bad boys off, ensuring you don’t pilfer that copy of License To Drive. They’re also fun to stick on co-workers’ backs right before they leave for the day, so they can exit to the sound of a shrieking alarm system. (Best to pull that gag when the store is pretty empty.)

One employee, Doug, who bore a striking resemblance to the “Ogre” character from Revenge328ff3d500bd1af7297f0e2145245ead of the Nerds (but was much more good-natured) was actually simple enough to clean the dust out of an empty marquee light socket using his finger. The crack sound was audible, and Doug’s considerable bulk was sent sprawling. He later showed us the black fingernail and the spiderweb of reddened blood vessels that crept up his arm. Doug also once called in sick after falling off a local railroad bridge. He soon moved on to other opportunities.

The store shelves are not real shelves, they are those rubberized wire racks that you would normally find in a budget-line refrigerator. Light, movable, and above all, cheap. Apart from the Customer Service Counter (and the New Member Sign-Up table just to the side of it), everything in the store seems made out of these modular racks. Most people enter to the right, where they would encounter the New Member Sign-Up table with its stacks of membership info cards, and, for a blessedly short period, the “trailer machine.”

InnocentBlood-Warner1The trailer machine was a big console with a video screen, where customers could cue up a preview for an upcoming movie by pushing a button. If no one was around to push the button, and few people exercised this option, the machine would simply cycle through all its trailers on a randomized loop. The problem was, the machine was loaded with far too few trailers, and each one would crop up every fifteen minutes or so. The first two lines of Sinatra’s “That Old Black Magic,” which opened the trailer of John Landis’ Innocent Blood, became permanently embedded in by frontal brain lobe after four months of hearing it every fifteen minutes of an eight-hour shift. The other problem was that no one ever showed up to change out the trailers. The movies featured went from “Upcoming” to “New Release” to “Saturday afternoon on TNT.” The machine was finally removed in the name of employee sanity.

If you’re like most people, you would head right for the New Release section against the back wall. The VHS boxes shrink-wrapped around styrofoam blocks would be the “display models.” Any actual copies of the movie we have on hand would be behind those. How many people bring the display box up to rent, and leave disappointed? More than I’d care to count, despite the myriad of signs around the store explaining the system. No such confusion in the main rental area, where the videos older than three months go to be pretty much never touched again. The box is cut down and slid into the clear sleeve of a traditional plastic VHS case, and the tape goes right inside. When their time comes, a copy of the former New Release is kept for this area (divided by genre), and the dozen or so others–the ones we could barely keep on the shelves for those heady first few weeks we had them–are kicked to our Used Movies To Buy section. When they inevitably fail to sell after a few more months, they are shipped off to some mysterious video graveyard.

New Releases rent for $2.99, and go fast. People with far too much time on their hands hover around, and snatch them as soon as we put them on the shelf. They ask us to go out to the parking lot and check the dropbox, even though it had just been checked twenty minutes ago. Luck plays a big part in going home with the hottest new movie…unless you are a comely young woman, then your odds go up substantially. We always keep one copy of all the New Releases in the “Pretty Girl Drawer” behind the counter. (“One just came in…I was holding it for myself, but you seem nice…” No employee discount for New Releases, either. Once they are in the old movie section, however, they are free for us, and we can and do bring them home by the carload.)

If you are lucky (or attractive) enough to get ahold of your coveted New Release, then you might turn your attention to our back catalog, which takes up the bulk of the real estate. They are subdivided into an exasperatingly pointless amount of sub-genres, as indicated by a color-coded sticker. Here’s what I remember: Action (green), Adventure (orange), Children (light blue), Classic (light brown), Comedy (yellow), Drama (gold), Family (dark blue), Horror (pink), Thriller (red), Romance (white with pink text), Sci Fi (purple), Western (dark brown). There may be more. Documentaries and foreign films are over by the Family section, and sport a layer of dust the thickness of a rabbit’s pelt. This is Yuba City, after all. Continue reading

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The Holy Bee Recommends, #18: Thomas Berger’s “Neighbors”

To a lot of people, the title Neighbors conjures up fairly recent memories of the raucous Seth Rogen/Zac Efron frat boy comedy. To an older generation, it may trigger a dim recollection of the identically-titled flop starring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd. To colossal shut-in nerd like the Holy Bee, the go-to is the Thomas Berger novel on which the Belushi/Aykroyd film is based.

Berger (1924-2014) wrote about two dozen novels, but he’s probably best known for SUB-BERGER-obit-master180the picaresque quasi-Western Little Big Man. He also wrote one of my favorite Arthurian novels, Arthur Rex. But it’s this seemingly low-stakes, dark comedy tale published in 1980, set in sleepy suburbia, that I keep coming back to. I’ve re-read it many times since I was about fifteen, and it doesn’t seem to get old.

Earl Keese, 49, and his wife Enid live at the end of a cul-de-sac in a semi-rural area near an unnamed “village” where everything closes by six, and within commuting distance of a large unnamed city. (The setting is Staten Island in my imagination, but it could be somewhere in New Jersey. Definitely East Coast.) Keese works at an office in the city, but beyond that, we never learn anything about his occupation. Enid is a housewife. They have a single child, daughter Elaine, who is away at college. He arrives home one Friday evening to the news from his wife that there’s only leftover succotash for dinner — and that the vacant house that they share the end of the cul-de-sac with is now occupied by a younger couple.

220px-NeighborsWithin minutes, Keese is dealing with the female half of the couple, Ramona, who shows up on his doorstep, seeming to want nothing but to make him uncomfortable. She helps herself to Keese’s wineglass he had left on the coffee table, stares fixedly at his crotch for long enough that he believes his fly must be down, and remarks — after knowing him all of three minutes — that “you’re not so old, but you are too fat.” With old-fashioned politeness, Keese invites the couple to dinner, then goes into the kitchen to discuss non-succotash dinner options with his wife. He raises the possibility of going out to a nice restaurant. Enid is totally passive and doesn’t want to do anything (a recurring theme for her.)  When Keese returns, he finds Ramona has vanished, and her partner, Harry, has let himself in without knocking, and — after knowing him all of two minutes — slaps Keese affectionately on the ass.

From that awkward but sort of harmless beginning, things degenerate. At first it’s just that everything Harry and Ramona do is completely foreign to anything in Keese’s experience, and that they do not observe the social cues and forced inane niceties of late-middle aged suburban life. This culture clash spirals downward quickly. Over the course of the next 24 hours, there is psychological warfare, sexual tension, property damage, physical violence, and not a wink of sleep. What’s worse is that the more Keese tries to expose Harry and Ramona as sociopaths, the more these efforts backfire. When he attempts to verify some of Harry’s seemingly bold-faced lies, they almost — almost — check out. Sometimes Keese actually gets the better of them, but usually he is the one humiliated. The ultimate humiliation is that Enid and Elaine (who has arrived home unexpectedly) repeatedly come to their defense, implying that Keese is close-minded and paranoid. The more harried he becomes, the more calm and dismissive they become.

If it were merely a back-and-forth of retaliatory hijinks, it would be more of a kind with the shallow-but-entertaining Seth Rogen movie. Berger goes darker and deeper. The twist here is that even though the book is not written in the first-person, everything in the story is filtered through Keese’s perception — and that perception is not to be trusted. If the novel were in first-person, Keese would be an “unreliable narrator.” It is revealed in the first few pages that his eyes and mind often play tricks on him, causing him to see things that aren’t really there, or rather, to twist things that are there into bizarre hallucinations. When he first sees Harry and Ramona’s dog, a large wolfhound, he mistakes it for a naked human being on all fours. That sort of thing. How much of this affliction affects Keese’s perception of his neighbors is for the reader to decide. There are moments when Harry and Ramona aren’t around that his wife and daughter admit the new neighbors are indeed creepy people and that they are just trying to placate them. But there are also moments when they are not there that Enid and Elaine continue to defend them, or at least shrug off Keese’s concerns. What is to be believed? What the hell is going on? Continue reading

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The Weirdest Thing I Ever Saw

We all watch stupid shit. Although terms like “golden age” and “peak TV” have been thrown around quite a bit in the last few years, referring to the acclaimed offerings of HBO, AMC, Netflix, et al., sometimes you just want to look at garbage. I’m sure there are people with advanced degrees and high-paying jobs who get through the day just to race home to their tastefully decorated domiciles to gorge on Real Housewives on their DVR.

Me? I’m hooked on paranormal shows. And thanks to the wealth of cable channels, I ghost-adventures_ep_magnolia-plantation.rend.hgtvcom.616.462can feed my addiction on a pretty much constant basis. It’s only a matter of time before there’s an all-paranormal channel. (Destination America comes close, but it’s been having audio problems the last few days. And I’m on my summer staycation! I’m almost ready to put a bullet through the screen, Elvis-style, because the sound keeps dropping when I’m trying to watch Monsters & Mysteries in America.) If there’s someone wandering around in an old abandoned hospital, turning the screen green with their infrared cameras, and asking each other “did you hear that?”…then I want to watch them doing it.

I don’t believe a second of it, of course. But that wasn’t always the case. Where did my abiding interest in this subject come from?

A much younger Holy Bee had quite a scholarly interest in the paranormal, and took it pretty seriously. Maybe because by studying it, I could control my fear of it. I was the kind of kid who always slept with his bedroom door open and the hall light on, when I wasn’t actually bringing my Garfield sleeping bag onto the floor of my parents’ bedroom after a particularly unsettling episode of In Search Of. ISO, hosted by Leonard Nimoy, was the first TV show to seriously investigate mysterious phenomena. Running from 1977 to 1982, it popped up in syndication on Sunday afternoons a lot. 

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My earliest recollection of a non-Halloween “true” ghost story was my grandmother relating a tale involving a friend or relative who late one night observed, through a bedroom window, a spectral woman roaming her front yard and gradually fading from sight. She wasn’t telling the story to entertain or frighten me. She was matter-of-factly telling it to someone else when she thought I was already asleep on the daybed in the living room. That did quite a number on me.

Another big subcategory of the paranormal is cryptozoology — “hidden animals.” Bigfoot/Sasquatch, Yeti, Loch Ness Monster, etc. My first major exposure to this was an old 1970s documentary Bigfoot: The Mysterious Monster, which I saw on TV while staying up way too late when I was about seven. Hosted and narrated by a Very Serious Peter Graves, it was full of dramatic recreations of Bigfoot encounters and presented everything as bona-fide fact. I knew I was watching re-enactments, but the Bigfoot costume that the special effects department created for that low-budget doc joined my grandmother’s front-yard ghost in my Nightmare File.

(For some reason, I had little to no interest in the third major area of the paranormal — UFOs.)

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The local library was about six blocks away from my house, and I pedaled my bike there a lot during summer vacations (scrupulously mashing the crosswalk button at the lone busy intersection that bisected the journey.) The children’s section was in the basement, and boasted powerful air-conditioning and several beanbag chairs. They also had a robust selection of paranormal books for kids like me, who ate this stuff up. It’s still a thriving realm of children’s publishing, if Amazon is anything to go by. Ghost stuff was in the 133 section of the Dewey Decimal System, cryptozoology in the random catch-all section of 001. A lot of them were by a guy named 51PhG2vKz9L._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_Daniel Cohen, who is probably responsible for many grade-school bookworms’ sleepless nights. When I exhausted the children’s section (which took awhile — I had no problem re-reading and re-re-reading), I ventured upstairs and nosed through the adult books on the topic. By the time I was thirteen, I had a subscription to the Time-Life book series Mysteries of the Unknown.

As I grew into my teens, this particular hobby went on the backburner, although I would still occasionally pick up a Hanz Holzer paperback. Continue reading

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The Holy Bee Recommends, #17: The Rolling Stones’ Post-Exile Trilogy

There is a blindly-accepted mythology that began as soon as the 70s ended. The myth goes like this: The Rolling Stones were a scrappy London R&B band that rode the first wave of the British Invasion, had some monster singles, did a classic mid-60s album (Aftermath), stumbled briefly with a psychedelic Beatles knock-off (Their Satanic Majesties Request), then righted themselves, found an excellent producer in Jimmy Miller, and made the Holy Quadrilogy — Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers, and Exile On Main Street — each an irrefutable cornerstone of their massive legacy and four of the greatest rock albums ever made.

And after that — Some Girls aside — it all went to shit.

The “Ultimate Classic Rock” website, the internet’s click-bait custodian of lazy rock factoids, perpetuates the well-trodden path, describing the first post-Exile album, Goats Head Soup as “the end of the Stones’ classic era, with two more increasingly careless albums following until the band got back on track five years later with Some Girls.” This sentiment has been robotically repeated ad nauseam for almost forty years now.

The Stones themselves even bought into the narrative, self-deprecatingly naming a compilation of their post-Exile material Sucking In The Seventies.

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Supposedly, the three albums between the mighty Exile and the fluke disco/New Wave-era smash of Some Girls represented a trough of mediocrity, but I’m here to tell you that those three albums — the aforementioned Goats Head Soup, along with It’s Only Rock ‘N Roll, and Black And Blue  — are totally underrated. Classics? Maybe I’d stop just shy of that. But they have an adventurous spirit and willingness to mess with the Stones’ formula a little, and an air of breezily coked-up, rock-god Dionysian decadence impossible to replicate in any other era. Every track, even the weak ones, has something at least interesting about it, which is more than I can say for some of their 80s albums (the true trough of mediocrity, in my opinion –buy me a drink and raise the topic of Dirty Work.

And for two of these three albums, the Stones still had the services of “second” guitarist Mick Taylor, a Clapton-esque blues virtuoso, whose jazz-tinged soloing lifted many of these songs to a new level. For the first time since the Brian Jones era, Keith Richards’ slashing, open-tuned riffage wasn’t the dominant sound. Although Keith always claimed his 70s heroin habit did not slow him down much, the instrumental line-ups on these songs frequently tell a different tale. He’s just not there on about a sixth of them, and on several more he’s just croaking out backing vocals, or strumming a single sloppy rhythm guitar buried in the mix, or plunking on the bass (the Stones’ actual bassist, Bill Wyman, was somewhat minimalized on these albums, his role frequently usurped by Richards or Taylor).

NPG P851; Mick Jagger by Laurie LewisFor better and worse (see below), this era was Jagger’s version of the Rolling Stones. His lyrics were some of the best he ever concocted, and the empty space left by Keith was filled by his own guitar work, which grew more confident with every album. Sadly, these albums are tainted in a lot of people’s mind by Jagger’s increasing buffoonery. The whirling dervish of the ‘69 concert stage was now a glam-rock self-parody (this reached its nadir with the “Dancing In The Streets” video of ‘85 before he finally dialed it back for the Stones’ more recent tours.) So…try to hear these albums without picturing Jagger’s eye-shadow and spangly onesies with the necklines that plunged to the pubes, or the band as a whole’s incredibly dated visual aspect during this period (despite the images I’ve gone ahead and inexplicably included.)

Goats Head Soup is often described as the “hangover” after the wild party of Exile On Main Street, and according to the myth, the drop-off between the two is steep. But at the time, Exile was considered something of a sprawling disappointment, and the hazy, bleary sounds of Goats felt much more of a piece with its predecessor. Jimmy Miller was still producing (for the last time), and some of the songs pre-date the Exile sessions.

Britain’s tax laws forced the band to spend a large part of the year outside the country, and the Exile sessions (in the French Riviera and L.A.) began the tradition of recording on foreign shores as much as possible. In November 1972, the Rolling Stones and pianist Nicky Hopkins set up camp at Dynamic Sound Studios in Jamaica. Their chief road manager, “sixth Stone” Ian Stewart, also served as occasional pianist, and he was there too, of course, but he only played on songs he liked. He did not dig most of the Goats Head material. With a major narcotics case against Richards still pending, Jamaica was the only suitably cool country that would give them an extended work visa. 

Although they were all reggae fans (especially Keith), they admitted they were not ready to pull off any real reggae tracks in the same studio where so many of the genre’s classics were made, including the Harder They Come soundtrack and the early Bob Marley records. (Some would say, based on the mixed reception their later reggae-based tracks received, that they never achieved that state of readiness.) Nicky Hopkins departed at the beginning of December, and Billy Preston was flown in to spice things up with his gospel organ and clavinet.

The sessions continued in May and June 1973 at Olympic Studios and Island Studios in London, where they added elements such as brass, strings, the congas and shakers of noted Ghanaian percussionist “Rebop” Kwaku Baah, and additional percussion by mysterious and eccentric electronic music pioneer Nik Pascal.

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Goats Head Soup, 1973

The album, released in late August 1973, opens with “Dancing With Mr. D,” invariably described by naysayers as a tepid, silly sequel to “Sympathy For The Devil.” But apart from name-checking the Horned One himself, the two songs aren’t really similar. The frenzied samba of “Sympathy” is in no way referenced by the grinding party funk of “Mr. D,” and while Jagger doesn’t come close to his “Sympathy” lyrics, lines like “Down in the graveyard where we have our tryst/The air smells sweet, the air smells sick/He never smiles, his mouth merely twists/The breath in my lungs feels clingy and thick” have a certain eerie flow and Halloween-y charm.

This is followed by what may be my favorite song on all three albums — “100 Years Ago.” “Went out walking through the wood the other day/And the world was a carpet laid before me/The buds were bursting and the air smelled sweet and strange/It seemed about one hundred years ago…don’t you think it’s sometimes wise not to grow up…” A mid-tempo quasi-ballad about the power of memory that breaks down almost to a full stop (“Call me lazybones…”) then upshifts into a furious instrumental outro, with Mick Taylor leading the charge. This is right up there with “Tumbling Dice” and “Brown Sugar” for me.

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Nicky Hopkins

“Coming Down Again,” a slow-burner sung by Keith at a snail’s pace over a watery bed of phased guitar and Nicky Hopkins’ moody piano, perfectly captures the feeling of waking up with the dry heaves, alone, confused, and regretful. The mood is quickly shattered by the unfortunately-titled “Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)” with its urgent traffic-jam horn section and spine-chilling urban jungle lyrics about “accidental” police shootings and poverty-stricken children OD’ing in the gutter. “Angie” was the big radio hit from the album, and despite the inclusion of lots of down-tempo stuff, this is the only song that could be classified as a traditional ballad. Nicky Hopkins once again shows why he was the most in-demand session pianist of the era, providing tasteful accents to the gently dueling acoustic guitars of Richards and Taylor.

“Angie” closes side one, and side two kicks off with “Silver Train,” the one song on the album that sounds the most like a typical Rolling Stones riff-rocker. It was originally recorded two years before the other songs, and was handed off to Johnny Winter, who recorded a blistering version that spurred the Stones to re-record theirs at the end of the sessions in London and put it on the album. “Hide Your Love” dates from the same late-stage London sessions. The simple, hypnotic number is based around Jagger’s echo-heavy piano vamping, and is built up into a primal Delta blues pastiche, Robert Johnson-style. “Winter” is another one of those tracks that critics of this period in the Stones career have to admit is a beauty. Similar in tone to Sticky Fingers’ “Moonlight Mile,” you can almost feel the chill and see your breath as the song glides along on a stream of orchestral strings.

As much as I like them, each of these albums has a total misfire buried in its track listing. “Can You Hear The Music” is a plodding, discordant mess that uses some world-music/psychedelic flourishes to cover up its lack of direction. The album closes with “Star Star,” a Chuck Berry-inspired, old-fashioned bit of rock & roll that sounds like something the ‘64 Stones would have played (except for the lyrics.) Ian Stewart finally lets loose on the ivories in his trademark boogie-woogie style.

One web reviewer calls the Goats Head Soup “the album that set the Stones on a course of mediocrity from which they have yet to return…” Then goes on to say: “It’s not that Goats Head Soup is bad, in itself…” Well, then, what the hell? “[It] set no musical agenda…did nothing new.” Which is totally incorrect. The Stones were never AM radio balladeers before. “Angie” changed that, whatever you think of the song itself. (I love it.) They were beginning to explore the funk genre, aided by sideman Billy Preston’s churning clavinet and Taylor’s wah-wah guitar (“Dancing With Mr. D,” “Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo”). And they crossed the boundaries of what could and couldn’t be stated in a rock lyric with the gleefully sleazy (and brutally explicit) “Star Star” (original title: “Starfucker.”)
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Filed under Music -- 1970s-80s, The Holy Bee Recommends