Sunday 2 August 2015

Day of the Tentacle History Lesson: Part 1

Fans of classic LucasArts adventure games will know that Tim Schafer's and Dave Grossman's seminal adventure game classic DAY OF THE TENTACLE (which is due for a Special Edition some point soon) makes references to a slightly-exaggerated (but still very popular) version of American history. There are some great references to get if you're American, but what if you're not?

With that in mind, here are a bunch of completely true, and not in anyway exaggerated or simplified, commonly-held American historical "facts" that are referenced to in Day of the Tentacle, for us non-Americans.

These are the stories you would have heard growing up as a child if you were raised in the US (that you'd later learn as adult were a bit more complicated). They are the shared folklore of the United States, and they are referenced to heavily in Day of the Tentacle.


Some basic scene-setting

During your time in the world of Day of the Tentacle, you'll meet some founding fathers of the United States; George Washington (soon to become the first President), Benjamin Franklin (famous inventor), Thomas Jefferson, and John Hancock. They've declared Independence from Europe, but now they're trying to write a Constitution for their new country.

See also: Part two!

Thanks to the awesome people at the Double Fine forums for helping out with this list!

George Washington... 

...and the Cherry Tree

A six year old George Washington was given a hatchet to play with (hey, it was the 1700s, things were different back then), and it became one of his prized possessions. He would enthusiastically hack at just about anything he could get his hands on, but usually his mother's plants.

One morning, however, he got a little bit carried away with his hacking, and, while nobody was watching, chopped down a beautiful young English CHERRY TREE in his family's back garden.

As it turns out, the tree was a particular favourite of his Dad's, and when he saw what befallen (heh) it he was very angry. He called over his favourite hatchet-happy son, and began the interrogation.

"George," said his father, "do you know who killed that beautiful little cherry tree in the garden?"

George realised he was in serious trouble, but braced himself for punishment and told the truth anyway: "I can't tell a lie, Pa ; you know I can't tell a lie. I did cut it with my hatchet!”

His Dad was so surprised and impressed with his son's honesty in the face of inevitable punishment that he immediately forgave him. "A son's honesty is worth more than a thousand trees!", he said, and gave him a big hug.

Key takeaway: George Washington likes cutting down cherry trees.

...and Valley Forge

Later in his career George Washington commander of the US Army, and things weren't looking good. The British had just taken control of Philadelphia, and were close to victory. Washington's troops were so close to collapse that he had no choice but to retreat to Valley Forge in the hope of getting them some much needed supplies and rest. Unfortunately they found anything but.

Congress had been unable to get supplies through, so his men suffered an incredibly harsh winter at Valley Forge without clothes, blankets, or appropriate food.

Washington refused to give up, however, and forced his men to stick together through the cold, hard winter, despite the terrible conditions. If he hadn't, it's considered that it might have been the end of the Revolutionary War.

Key takeaway: George Washington can handle a bit of cold weather

...and his wooden teeth

George Washington had false teeth... made from wood. Yes, really.

Thomas Jefferson

Hey, it's that guy from the nickel!

John Hancock

...and his massive signature

John Hanock's signature on the Declaration of Independence (and other documents) is always so damned big.

Remember: All of the information here is completely true and in no way a simplified or exaggerated version of history.

Read part two now!


Unknown said...

Thanks! And did you promise the second part soon?

I did not know about that Cherry Tree story. But in USSR we had a similar story about little Lenin who broke some favourite cup of his mother... Should have been some popular children story with some morality :)

And I know a different story about John Hancock - in fact, in the first draft of that Declaration his is the ONLY signature (as he was the Chairman of the Continental Congress and was responcible for signing all the documents). That priliminary draft was found several years ago in an archive here in my city (Kiev, Ukraine), and presented to some US president or something. But that first draft was never published - they have finally decided that everybody is to sign that important paper, so all others just added their (small) signatures to the original one by John.

Johnny Walker said...

Hi Unknown, thanks for your Lenin story.

Yes, I'm well aware of the truth behind all these myths. If anyone wishes to discover them, all they need to do is Google. The truth, however, is a lot more boring :)

Jahn Ghalt said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Johnny Walker said...

Hi Jahn, thanks so much for coming over from Ken's blog to post your comment here. It's very welcome. Unfortunately I think you've missed the tone of this post -- Day of the Tentacle is filled with the children's version of American history: The simplified. The exaggerated. The outright untrue. The game is an adult orientatated tongue in cheek cartoon.

Unfortunately such references are lost on non-Americans like myself, as the truth is easy is find online, but the kindergarten version is not.

So this is what these articles are about: Celebrating the (ahem) "true" version of US history so that players of that (brilliant) game can enjoy all the references in it.

Nearly everything on both pages is apocryphal (although I'm correct about Franklin's kite experiment regarding static electricity -- check it out elsewhere), and there's a few bits and pieces that cross into the truth, but that's not what these pages are about.

Thanks again for stopping by though :) I've deleted your comment because I don't want the myths to be destroyed by the boring, easy to come by, truth. I hope you understand.