By Chuck Petterson
Okay Geezers, this is just for you. If you were born after 1950 you probably won’t understand.
When I was a youngster growing up in Minnesota, the famous Florida attractions were Cypress Gardens and Silver Springs. Orlando wasn’t anything more than a sleepy town surrounded by swamp. Another famous stop near Miami was (is) Parrott Jungle.
Yes, there are many others, but this isn’t a travelogue. My point is that the stars of our youth have long faded. I was slow to appreciate this fact of life when I gave title to my novel, Polar Bear in Parrot Jungle. The title was to imply something completely in the wrong setting, which is the basis for the story.
I visited Parrot Jungle in the mid-70s with my wife during a work-vacation trip. I had heard about this attraction when I was a child, and I figured at least every adult from Boston to Miami also knew of it. Not the case.
I did not consider how few people are well traveled enough to have even been in a neighboring state. I failed to appreciate how many people think “Disney” is a separate country, not part of one of the 50 states.
My reference turned out to be of no significance to anyone I have talked to, even my snowbird friends. For sure the cover art doesn’t help any, but that was kind of constrained by having to avoid using an actual picture of Parrot Jungle.
The lesson I have learned is that subtle and clever has to be approached carefully when thinking about a book title. YOU may understand the connection, but don’t count on ANYONE else, not a single soul in the English-speaking world, to make the connection.
As an aside, I have banged my head against the virtual wall to come up with another title. I am sure my ego is fighting with my creativity, preventing a brilliant idea from coming to mind. I would happily retitle and buy new cover art, if I weren’t so clever.
Charles (Chuck) Petterson lives with his wife of 43 years in rural Harrison County, Iowa. Following graduation from Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Chuck enlisted in the Navy. He spent seven and a half years at sea with the Atlantic Submarine Force after two years of training as a nuclear plant operator. He worked for Westinghouse Electric Corporation as a nuclear instructor and field engineer for 18 years. Since 1991 Chuck has been an independent technical writer specializing in proprietary documents for electric utilities and industrial thermal facilities.
Chuck’s creative outlets include playing saxophone in a variety of community concert bands and dance bands. His writing efforts include contributions to a variety of hobby interest publications. Polar Bear in Parrot Jungle is the first novel length story offered to the public.