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Origins of Ed & Fred

Origins of Ed & Fred
Theodore R. Hazen

Ed & Fred Bungle are the owners and operators of Bungle Bros. Milling Company. Through their awkward and clumsy ways, they reveal human qualities common to us all. Ed & Fred has been in business for over 10 years, appearing exclusively on the pages of Old Mill News. They are used as a filler; one or more cartoons may appear in an issue.

I owe my inspiration to Dorn Howlett, now a retired art education teacher at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. He encouraged me to do something with my art and my knowledge of milling.

I learned millstone dressing from the late Arthur Henry, Sr. (Keystone Mills & Zortman's Flour & Feed Company, Edinboro, Pa.); the late Harry N. Moffatt (of F. A. Drake's Sons Mill, Drake's Mills, Pa.); and the late Paul W. Roth (of Roth Milling Company, Prospect, Pa.). I would always go see Paul when he was dressing millstones. Roth Milling Company milled buckwheat in the same manner as the mills I was working in (first making chop on a roller mill and regrinding it on millstones), but Roth had better solutions to keep the healthman happy.

The names Ed & Fred came from two brothers, the late Ed & Fred Zessinger, of Zortman's Flour & Feed Company in Edinboro, Pa. The mill closed in 1980, the machinery sold and removed. Since then, all structures have been removed and the area has become a park. For my cartoon, I have switched their names - Ed Zessinger (miller) has become Fred Bungle and Fred Zessinger (the farmer and machinist) has become Ed Bungle. Ed Zessinger wore glasses and always had a pipe in his mouth. The pipe was only replaced by food. He always wore a cap, and I knew him for years before one day I saw him without it. To my surprise, he was losing his hair! Once in a while we would get Ed's brother, Fred, at the mill. When you got the two together, Fred did all the taking and Ed just kept his pipe in his mouth. My presence made it, amusingly enough, Ed, Fred, & Ted at the mill! In the cartoon, I have occasionally added their father, Jed Bungle. The name Jed comes from my son's name. The character who inspired Jed Bungle comes from Zortman's mill owner, Charles L. Zortman, Jr. If we did not know the answer to a question or problem. Charlie would always know the answer or know where to look.

The backdrop of the cartoon is at either Zortman's Mill or F. A. Drakes Mill, where I also worked. Inspiration for my cartoons come from the late Clarence "Red" Moffatt and his now late father, Harry N. Moffatt, at Drakes Mills, Cambridge Springs, Pa. Red (who would grow a beard for deer hunting season) is the inspiration for Jed Bungle's Beard. Red was working in the mill one day, smoking like usual, when he offered an unknown stranger a cigarette. He turned out to be an inspector or agent for the mill's insurance company. Smooth-talking Red talked his way out of it, claiming it was all a joke and knew who the man was all the time.

Inspiration also comes from the stories I have heard, or sometimes a safety message. They were created to bring some humor and some "cement" to bring together the members of the Society for the Preservation of Old Mills. Only SPOOM members would understand what Ed & Fred are about.

Note: A version of this article by T. R. Hazen appeared in
OLD MILL NEWS, Fall 1994, Vol. XXII, No. 4, Whole Number 89, page 8.

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Copyright 1996 by T. R. Hazen