planettom (planettom) wrote,

The Time Machine stories in BOYS' LIFE, 1959-1989

I've posted previously here about the SPACE CONQUERORS! comic strip serial that ran in BOYS' LIFE magazine from 1952-1972.

There was also a series of Time Machine short stories that ran 1959-1989. In December I posted about the December 1973 Christmas story.

beamjockey has posted an index here of all the stories in Google Books.

I'm making a more detailed index here. With spoiler discussion, so, if you don't want spoilers, go to beamjockey's index.

The stories involved a Boy Scout patrol that finds an abandoned time machine buried in a rockslide near their Scout camp. The stories ran for 30 years. So they were the oldest Boy Scouts ever. Or maybe having a time machine gave a work-around for that.

I only read a handful of the 1960s and 1970s ones when I was a kid, but now I've read all of them. They retain their charm. What stands out about them is, they aren't just using the time machine as a framework for history lessons; the stories think through the What If consequences of having a time machine (and the various technologies they obtain from the future).

Also, it's interesting to see the different styles of artwork in the illustrations for the stories, and how the kids and the time machine change in appearance.

A funny thing about the stories was the subtext that the kids were lying to the rest of the troop (other kids and the adults leaders), never revealing their find, certainly the most important find in history, and going on incredibly dangerous explorations of time and space. In a single short story, this would be no big deal, in 23 stories that spanned 30 years, it's a pretty un-Boy Scout-like pattern.

Time paradox and changing the timeline and such is never a part of the stories; it's assumed that if the time machine changes history, it's always changed history. And they never try too hard to set up a grandfather paradox or anything along those lines. Also, although they have a timeviewer that can view any point in time, they never try to get too controversial with it, like, oh for example, peeking in on Christ's doings, or anything like that.

The stories were written by the father-son team of Donald and Keith Monroe, under the pseudonym Donald Keith, and later the son wrote them under his own name, Keith Monroe.

There were two short story collections, MUTINY IN THE TIME MACHINE (1963) and THE TIME MACHINE TO THE RESCUE (1967). Seemingly the ones after that were never collected in book form.

Here are the stories in Google Books. Once again, with spoilers, so, if you don't want spoilers, go to beamjockey's list (and he's made a similar list here in wikipedia). The stories appeared in 30 different issues of BOYS' LIFE, but, due to a 4-part serial and 2 3-part serials, it works out to 23 separate stories.

"The Day We Explored The Future" Dec 1959. Bob Tucker (the narrator, a jock) and "Brains" Baines (a nerd) find the time machine in a rockslide near their Scout camp. They pull the lever and wind up in the far future, where it's still a Scout camp, but people have evolved to be frail creatures with bald heads and no teeth. A future Scout troop with anti-gravity belts uses stun-guns on them. They escape, and befriend one of the future Scouts, orphan Kai Beezy Tentroy (K-BZ-10 Troy), and then return to 1959.

"The Time Machine Flies Backwards" February 1960. To get old Scout uniforms for a Golden Jubilee camporee, Tucker and Baines go back to 1910 and "borrow" some uniforms. They unknowingly meet Teddy Roosevelt, and a kid, Jay Henney, sees the time machine so they bring him back to 1960. After the camporee, they take him and the uniforms back to 1910. He thinks it's all a dream, but back in 1960, they visit the adult Jay Henney's restaurant. Their town is Watertown.

"How We Got The Mind-Reading Pills" Jun 1960 Brains Baines figures out how to move the time machine in space as well as time, with a time-viewer screen and joystick. They go "a thousand years" into the future, back to Kai's time. They go to his city-building Troy. Leave with him, anti-gravity kits (apparently self-powered unlike the ones from the first story), stun-guns, and ESP pills (Lets you understand other languages). Kai comes to live with Tucker in 1960.

"Our Time Machine at the Jamboree" Jul 1960. To get in shape, they get a personal trainer: Dion, a Spartan kid from 450 B.C.

"Marco Polo and Our Time Machine" Oct 1961. Apparently there are unchronicled time machine trips; Bob Tucker references a time in Rome when they saw Marco Polo. Dion has stayed in their time period (he lives in the hills outside of town, apparently). Due to rashly telling a professor he knew Marco Polo brought a compass back from China, and challenged to prove it, they go to Peiping (Beijing), China in 1275 A.D. Meet Marco Polo (again), and Kubla Khan. But to the Chinese, the compass is unknown, so the 1961 Boy Scouts end up teaching the court wizard how to make a compass with lodestone and needle!

"The Time Machine Slips a Cog" Feb 1962. Dion is now playing high school football, 9th grade. And Tucker, Brains, and Kai are all in high school too. A slip of the time machine lever causes them to wind up in 1972, and they see how their high school has changed. Turns out Dion won medals in the 1968 Olympics (Mexico City)!

"Mutiny in the Time Machine" (4-part serial) Dec 1962, They try to find how the time machine came to be in the rockslide in the first place. Trace to 450 years ago or so when two men are picking herbs and Indians start the landslide just as one is attacking the other. The survivor, Peters, aka "Widgett", says the time machine comes from 2035 A.D., invented by a Professor Zimmer, and Otto, the dead guy, was the pilot. Peters is a self-professed pirate, the time machine was built to get the valuable medicinal herb. Meanwhile, Zimmer is in 1889, with the medicine man who was last known to have the herb - in Johnstown right before the flood. Meanwhile, with the ESP pills, Tucker befriends a wolf-dog and brings him along in the time machine. Tucker doesn't trust Peters, Kai seems undecided, but Baines and Dion want to go - they mutiny, in effect. They head to 1889. Jan 1963 Peters, Baines, and Dion go to search for the Indian medicine man Red Scar, meanwhile Tucker learns to operate the time machine with Kai. Tucker moves the machine, trying to regain control. He has Wolf, and Kai. Peters injures Red Scar and finds Zimmer tied up. They return with Baines and Dion to find the time machine gone. Stalemate - Tucker can't leave them behind, but he won't tell them where he hid the time machine. Feb 1963 Peters throws Dion and Zimmer out in 1889 Johnstown, with the flood approaching. They go back to 2 years before the landslide (circa 1600 or s), and the Peters takes Baines hostage out of the machine. Tucker and Kai go back 24 hours and befriend the Indians. They go forward 24 hours and rescue Brains, get back in the time machine, head to 1889 Johnstown to rescue Dion, but Brains insists that Wolf is tied up. Then Peters emerges from the supply closet, taking command again. Mar 1963. The flood hits, and Bob, Dion, Kai, and Brains Baines struggle to stay alive. Peters and Zimmer are washed away. There's a note at the end that the book form of this story will be longer. I'm actually a little surprised that there was an origin story of the time machine; from the later stories I read as a kid, I just assumed it always remained a mystery.

I'm assuming the 7 stories above were collected in the 1963 volume MUTINY IN THE TIME MACHINE.

"The Time Machine Cracks a Safe" Jun 1964. With the time-viewer they follow the events that got Kai's parents deported to a Jovian penal colony and then lost in space. They're archaeologists exploring what used to be Chicago, a Tabu Zone, now a plain of fused volcanic glass (Was Chicago nuked?). But an officer of the Air Patrol/Future cosmonaut finds them and deports them, ignoring the ancient safe they found. In trying to track down the safe, they end up with that Air Patrol officer in 1871 Chicago, and his fight with Dion starts the Great Chicago Fire, and he zooms off on anti-gravity belt, so they leave him behind with the Chicago fire raging. The evidence of the safe exonerates Kai's parents in absentia.

"The Time Machine to the Rescue" Oct 1964. They rescue Kai's parents from their crashed spaceship on "the 4th moon of Jupiter." (Callisto?) With stopover at the Coliseum in 250 A.D. Rome to get a gladiator's net to subdue a prison ship guard. They use a technique of going back in time every 10 minutes, to create a "fleet" of 8 time machines around the crashed prison ship, to psyche out the guards. In the end, they rescue the guards and the prisoners, and reunite Kai with his parents. He goes back (to the future) to live with them, though planning to visit his pals in 1964 often. Though they make it clear that they can't exit the time machine on the Jupiter's moon surface without spacesuits, they somehow can get the guard and Kai's parents in and out without an airlock. This is the story I distinctly remember when I was a kid, after reading some of the 1970s stories in BOYS' LIFE, I found the book THE TIME MACHINE TO THE RESCUE at my public library.

"The Time Machine Gets Stuck" (3-part serial) Feb 1965 New Tenderfoot Rodney Carver ("A Negro") joins the patrol. Tucker and Brains reluctantly tell him about the time machine. For a school contest he needs Emperor Maximilian's autograph, so they plan to go to Mexico City, 1866. But first they go to Mexico City, modern day, to get their friend Manuel they met last Easter to go back and translate for those who don't have the ESP pills (They're surprisingly quick to want to let Manuel in on the time machine secret). But, once they're in Mexico City 1965, a mysterious woman appears, they first mistake her for a ghost, but she seems to be from 1866. She already knows where the time machine is and has filled it with fireworks when they weren't looking. So they take her back to 1866 too. Rodney and Manuel are, understandably, excited about time travel. Rodney accidentally damages the machine. Brains gets out to talk to the Emperor. La Malinche, the mystery woman, gets in, angry that they're not in the time of Cortez. She pulls the lever and they wind up in 1847, in the midst of the "Spanish War", (The Mexican-American War, 1846-1848, wikipedia, with the time machine broken, and Brains Baines, the only one who can fix it, still in 1866! Mar 1965 In 1847, they think the time machine is broken so it can only go backwards. Bob Tucker and Rodney Carver go to the American forces to try to find some wire. Manuel is bewitched by La Malinche, and joins the Mexican forces during the Battle of Chapultepec. He's injured, and Bob and Rodney pull him back to the machine - where La Malinche knocks them out, taking command of the time machine! Apr 1965 La Malinche figures out how to get the time machine back to the time of Cortez, 1519. She delivers the fireworks to him. Tucker, Rod, and Manuel go back a week, and through the Viewer find Baines back in 1866, where he's whitewashed a message on the wall for them to fix the machine with silver wiring. They meet La Malinche before she ever met them the first time. She gets silver wire from Cortez, they fix the machine, and drop her off in 1866 the day before she first met them (so she'll get the fireworks and meet them the next day). They rescue Baine and head back to 1965 with the autographs! Dropping Manuel off on a park bench in Mexico City, and hoping he'll think it's all a dream. Rod Carver is ready for more time machine adventures! Dion and Kai don't appear in this story at all. There's a note at the end about the book MUTINY IN THE TIME MACHINE now being out. This may be the first time the Polaris Patrol is mentioned by name.

"The Time Machine Hunts a Treasure" (3-part serial) Apr 1967 An unscrupulous antiquities dealer steals a family heirloom from Rod Carver's house, leading the boys on a treasure hunt, first to Massachusetts in 1900, where they learn a woman's family bible in 1863 Kansas has clue where the treasure is buried. They pop back in 1967, and the villain, Blount, finds them in the time machine! He ends up back with them in 1863 Kansas, in the middle of the Kansas-Missouri border war. May 1967 Blount takes Rodney Carver hostage, and Bob Tucker and Brains Baines go back to 1860 to intercept a Pony Express rider (A young Buffalo Bill Cody, as it turns out) because he's carrying a letter with a clue. Cody is attacked by Indians, they rescue him. Jun 1967 They find the clues in the letter, use the time-viewer in 1692 to see where the treasure is buried, go rescue Rod in Kansas 1863 (as it turns out, from Frank James and Cole Younger), go to 1900 and, via tape recording-ghost gambit, let Rodney's ancestor know where the treasure is. Then, they return to rescue Blount in 1863, who tries to doublecross them yet again, and they dump him in his front yard in 1967. It's unclear why he's not going to be an ongoing problem, now that he knows where they keep the time machine. Kai and Dion don't appear in this story

I'm assuming the 4 stories above were collected in the 1967 volume THE TIME MACHINE TO THE RESCUE, which sometime during the 1970s I found in my public library

"The Dog From the Time Machine" Dec 1968. Bob Tucker's parents start to think he's crazy because he seems to talk to his dog Wolf (Unknown to them, he really is talking to him with the ESP pills, plus, he got Wolf centuries past with the time machine). The boys consider keeping him in Kai's future, but Kai's people want to defang him! In the end, they lease him out to movies, because Wolf has become a fan of Lassie movies and decides he wants to do that. Dion does not appear in this story. I was trying to remember if I read this one as a kid. It seems kind of familiar, but maybe not.

"The Time Machine and the Generation Gap" Sep 1970. Tucker, Baines, and Rod go 50 years into the future to 2020, to see if their Scout Troop, Watertown Troop 1, is still going. Apparently the town is near the ocean, and they find the troop is exploring a future fish-farm. Brains Baynes's grandson, Nick Baynes, has gotten the troop in trouble. Meanwhile, the Scoutmaster is Paul Freeman, their Senior Patrol Leader in 1970. And he's rather surprisingly unsurprised to see kids he knew from 50 years ago unaged, and their tale of having a time machine. Nick has some sort of mental disorder, so they go to 2045 and get him cured, then fix the problems he caused. Kai and Dion do not appear in this story. "Braines" Baine is 16 in this story. It's mentioned that the future Brains Baines is a professor at a university, and that his daughter is dead by the time grandson Nick Baines is a teenager, which would seem to be a pretty heavy weight to age into the future with, though Brains doesn't reference it.

"The King and the Time Machine" August 1971. Visiting Kai almost 5000 years in the future, he mentions his ancestor is King Edward III wikipedia. So they visit him in 1327, when he's 15. Brains takes him to 1971 to teach him a lesson, and disaster and hilarity ensue. Rodney Carver and Dion don't appear in this story. Wolf the dog-wolf does, and it's mentioned he comes from "prehistoric" times. He seems to spend his time guarding the time machine, so his movie career may have ended. The illustrations for this story are quite different from the other time machine stories; really trippy. At one point, they worry about what will happen if they don't get the king back to 14th century England. This is really the first instance where changing history with the time machine, at least theoretically, is mentioned. This is the first story I definitely remember reading as a kid, although I later found the 1967 collection THE TIME MACHINE TO THE RESCUE at the library and so read some of the 1960s stories.

"The Time Machine Cleans Up" February 1973. Rod, Brains, and Tucker use technology from Kai's time to clean up the river and town dump. Mr. Shephard is Scoutmaster. They drop Dion off in Sparta 450 BC, which is interesting, because previously he seemed to relocate permanently to their time period, living in the hills. In an earlier story it didn't seem like he had a home in Sparta anymore. Their town formerly called "Watertown" in 1970 if now called "Waterton" - it lost a w! It's mentioned that the water treatment process is put into use elsewhere, which may be the first real instance of paradox in these stories --- future technology changes the present, and by Kai's time, it's already known, so nobody really ever invented it

"The Time Machine Twins the Jamboree" August 1973. Unique in the series. No real time travel to past or future, except for a time when Tucker sacks out on a 40th century beach. Bob Tucker wants to attend the August 1973 Jamboree West in Idaho, and the simultaneous Jamboree East in Pennsylvania, so Brains, Rodney Carver, and Kai help him out, using the time machine to attend both at the same time. There's a new member of the Polaris patrol, Rex Dill, who's not in on the secret of the time machine, and they keep it from him, with some difficulty. First story solely by "Keith Monroe." Dion is mentioned as training for the Olympics back in 448 BC. So he seems to be living back there, though in a previous story he graduates from high school in their present-future, and competes in a modern-day Olympics.

"Santa Claus and the Time Machine" December 1973. They kidnap the historic inspiration for Santa Claus from Lapland long ago, bring him to Kai's future, and outfit a sleigh and reindeer with anti-gravity belts to show a bunch of future-kids a real Santa Claus. Rodney Carver and Dion do not appear in this story. One last story by "Donald Keith," the father-son team of Donald & Keith Monroe. Donald Monroe apparently died in 1972, so two of these stories were published posthumously.

"The Time Machine Fights Earthquakes" Nov 1974. Kai's father in the future asks them to use the time machine for his earthquake research. So Bob Tucker, Brains Baynes, Rodney Carver, Dion, and Kai head back to 1400 BC Greece. They help Theseus get a sword from under a stone to prove his king-worthiness. Then Dion and Theseus get captured and taken to Crete by African mercenaries of King Minos. They get thrown in the minotaur maze, but their ESP pills help them befriend the bulls and their anti-gravity belts help them ride the bulls. Then they find the bulls can predict earthquakes. Theseus heads off, seemingly still wearing an anti-gravity belt. They impart the earthquake info to Kai's father 5000 years in their future All the stories from here on are solely by Keith Monroe. Seems like Kai's father could have just fed some ESP pills to bulls in his time period and learned the same thing, but, oh well!

"The Time Machine Saves a Patriot" Nov 1975. They go to 1775 and meet Paul Revere. Bob Tucker, Braines Baines, and Kai help him evade the British with the help of some skunks. First of two Time Machine stories to tie-in with the approaching American Bicentennial. This was the first Time Machine story after BOYS' LIFE went to the smaller format in January 1975, and, even when I read it as a kid, there was a sense that the flavor had changed.

"The Time Machine Kidnaps a Parade" July 1976. For America's Bicentennial, they discover their town Waterton's parade will be ruined because a busload of 1776 Continental soldier-reenactors have their bus stuck in the mud. So Tucker, Brains, Rodney Carver, Kai (part-time Patrol member from the future), and Dion from Ancient Sparta go kidnap some real American Revolution soldiers from 1776 to be in the parade, led by Lieutenant Colonel William Barton (wikipedia). This is the last Time Machine story I read as a kid (although I wouldn't join Scouts for another year, 1977, I had my older brother's stockpile of BOYS' LIFE magazines).

"Target Timbuktu" Sep 1988. They go to Africa in 1310 A.D. to meet Rodney Carver's ancestor, Emperor Mansa Musa, and get some cloth to make a robe for a school project. Tucker, Baines, Dion, and Kai also go (In this story, Kai is described as "living with us now").

"Why We Kidnapped Our Scoutmaster" Feb 1989. On a hiking trip, Scoutmaster Dunn gets a head injury. Tucker, Rodney Carver, and, Dion hike out, until they meet a Ferrari, and use the guy's car-phone (!) to call the ranger station, and also "Brains" Bain at home (he didn't go on the trip, and in this story, Kai is mentioned as living in the future but they visit him often) to come with the time machine (They later theorize the Ferrari-driver is a drug dealer!). Baines arrives with the time machine, but it can't fit in the canyon where Dunn is. So they go to 1851 and get mountain man Jebediah Curtis to lead them to the canyon, with anti-gravity belts and night goggles. They get Dunn out, get Kai to get a healing suit from the future from his parents, take Jebediah back to his own time, put the healed Dunn back at the campsite, he doesn't remember the time machine or thinks it was a dream, problem solved! I point out for the record that, even though they have a time machine, a healing suit, anti-gravity belts, and night goggles, all technology from Kai's time, and the help of an 1851 mountain man, the technology that actually saves Mr. Dunn's life is a 1989 drug dealer's car phone!

"A Pirate Took our TIME MACHINE!" Sep 1989. They go to 1731 to attempt to find buried pirate treasure to finance their island Scout camp. Instead, Tucker, Baines, Carver, Kai, and Dion are taken captive by pirates, one of whom climbs into the time machine and shifts it to neutral, vanishing. They finally get him back by putting a sign on the hilltop telling him to pull the lever, which he sees on the viewscreen. The time machine appears, he tumbles out, they get in. They go to 1733 and get the treasure!

That seems to be the last adventure of our heroes. But, if they could be in Boy Scouts for 30 years, 1959-1989, having adventures in their time machine, they're probably still at it today!

Author Keith Monroe died in 2003 at the age of 88.

UPDATE April 5, 2017
I've posted an update of this article over on dreamwidth here.
Tags: books
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