Concord Observer: The Strange World of Mr. Mum

By Ken Anderson Columnist
August 24, 2023

My Aunt Louise would visit most weekends from Boston. She always had a box of cookies and newspaper comics. 

I remember two comics: one by Athelstan Spilhaus (interesting for its scientific topics, strange name and, later, for the arrival of his son at CCHS); and one called “The Strange World of Mr. Mum.” Mr. Mum walked around the city for five or six frames, each containing an odd vision. The final frame had Mr. Mum in a health bar, drinking a glass of vegetable juice to clear his mind!

From my earliest years, I have been an early riser.  My mother remembers waking up around 4:30 a.m. on a June morning. She said she saw me, a child of four, sitting on the stone wall watching the day begin.

I still get up early and often enjoy the morning by walking our dog, running (past tense, to be sure) or biking around town. During my early morning travels, I see things that make me think of Mr. Mum. Here are some pleasant ones:

Lawns, bushes and trees freshly washed by the morning dew;

The sounds of birds marking their territory, frogs croaking and my tires on pavement;

The absence of music, the Rolling Stones or old country music, which used to be a staple of my morning runs and which would now disrupt the serenity of the morning;

The mist rising over the Sudbury River on its course to mix with the Assabet at Egg Rock, like Mighty Mo meeting Old Man River north of St. Louis;

The tenth-grade boy who rides his bicycle to the basketball courts at Emerson Playground to work on his shooting; which brings back

The memory of a job in high school making ice for the natural ice rink at the same spot;

I sat in an office in Hunt Gym and studied. There was a framed cartoon from a Boston paper depicting a football player, standing on Earth shouting out to the universe. He asked if there were any teams out there interested in playing Concord High School’s football team (the 1946 team went 10-0);

The location of our makeshift baseball field in the corner of Emerson Playground, defined by a sideline and a yard line of a long-gone football field in the corner of the playground;

The path to Alcott School;

Looking into my son’s family room window (we live on same street) and seeing the TV, unbeknownst to his parents, being viewed by his younger son;

Sometimes I throw acorns at the window to say hello;

Sometimes I leave him alone is his reverie; and

Once we walked our dogs down the street.

Once, I saw a father and son playing catch at 6:40 a.m.;

And later, I was at a light in West Concord. Two girls came to the intersection and pressed the pedestrian button. They waited for the light, crossed and waved to the stopped cars in thanks.

Mr. Mum, indeed!