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The Whispering Mummy
Mummy Plot Fact, By Bob Chenu (The Tutter Bugle, Volume 1, No. 3)
Leo Edwards used very striking book titles in all of his books, and both the title and the plot of Jerry Todd & The Whispering Mummy are, to say the least, are extremely unusual. It is of interest to the basic idea for the plot of this book came from a real, honest-to-goodness news story, which points out the old saying, "Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction."
In the Whispering Mummy book, "Ramses", the mummy which the plot revolves around, had been donated to the Tutter College by a Mr. Dixon White. He is described as a wealthy alumnus who purchased the mummy and donated it to the college. In the book the mummy is stolen by the Golden Sphinx Fraternity boys for use in an initiation ceremony, which included placing it in a cemetery.
The mummy is eventually proven to be a fake (and the mummy itchers mythical, dreamed up by the original Chief Mummy Inspector, Arson Arnoldsmith).
Such a hoax actually occurred, involving a "mummy" which was purchased by a patron of Beloit College and donated to that school. It was uncritically accepted by the college authorities, and was placed in the school's Logan Museum. There is was displayed for some years, properly regarded with awe by the undergraduates and other visitors.
Then some members of one of the college fraternities had an inspiration. One of the initiation requirements was for the candidate to perform some prescribed act of "burglary". The mummy was selected for the test, and was successfully mummynaped by the candidate.
Being of a more inquiring turn of mind than the faculty had been, the mummy's artificial nature was discovered by the captors. This discovery did not deter them from making further use of "Ramses".
Appropriately costumed, the mummy did duty at house parties and other initiation. An outstanding initatory use made on several occasions consisted of placing the mummy lying on a grave in the cemetery. An olfactory gesture towards scientific perfection of the stunt was added by the fumes of hydrogen sulfide dumped over the mummy.
A freshman candidate would then be directed towards the spot in a manner calculated to insure his making the grisly discovery. The first candidate this was tried on vaulted the monuments and the fence in his hurried exit. The great success of this lead to its repeated use on subsequent occasions.
The end came when a passerby with a weird sense of humor discovered "Ramses" in the cemetery and transported him to town, leaving him lying in the back yard of the house. The frightened residents, upon making the discovery in the morning, called the police.
Momentarily impressed with the discovery, officers soon realized the artificial composition of the "body" upon closer examination.
"Ramses" fraternal adventures had left him shopworn to an extend expert opinion was no longer needed to determine its artificial nature. Chief Qualman then wrote finis to "Ramses" adventures by having Patrolman Schultz perform an autopsy with an axe.
This was the true series of events, described in a news account, which sparked Edward's Whispering Mummy plot into a spine-tingling and hilarious mystery adventure story for children.