About half a mile east of town, and about a mile north on a gravel road, depending on whose map you use, is the Thistle Dew Fera Manufacturing Company. It was founded well over a week ago by the grandfather of Bart Fera, who now runs the place. T.D.Fera manufactures just about anything the folks in Thistle Dew/Wilder might need. It's odd, but they're extremely diverse. They're not known for being of exceptional quality, but the people of the town know they can get it from T.D.Fera Manufacturing.
Folks can place orders at the Hardware store, but very few people know what happens after that, and they don't ask questions. Linda-Jean from the Library along with Frank's wife, Lena, seem to know how the whole system works. Of course, Big Al, from the Hardware store, knows the workings, too. By the way, Frank, who was mentioned back a couple sentences, is one of the law enforcement officials in town. It's all a legal operation, but still, shrouded in mystery.
The whole T.D.Fera thing started a while back (before self-help weekends were popular) at a self-awareness seminar at a campground, the location and name of which is now long forgotten. This self-awareness seminar was called together by the author, and answered by most of the main characters in the RTMac Saga, along with a respectable number of the extras. One of the characters got the wild idea of wanting to preserve the memory by a painting, etching or drawing, but posing would just take too long and the campfire would probably go out. Then a photo was suggested. Everyone agreed the photo would be faster, but becoming material, rather than imaginary would require time and lots of supplies or props. Where would we, I mean they, get those? They’re expensive --particularly since the characters and author chose to do the materialization through 1/6 scale action figures like Barbie, Ken, G.I.Joe, etc. They’d even be more difficult in other scales. So the characters of the story made known their need for a diverse manufacturing company.
Bart’s grand dad, Elder Bart, suggested he open another manufacturing company in Thistle Dew. Thus was born, Thistle Dew Fera Manufacturing Company, to distinguish it from the original, Fera Manufacturing Company. Elder Bart shortened it to T.D.Fera. (Why Elder Bart is named that, and not the younger being named Bart II, is a mystery, like the company, itself.) Bart added an occasional “‘n’ Grandson” to the T.D.Fera, for ease of product naming, in case the product began with a vowel. Thus, we get, a Thistle Dew Fera cookstove or Thistle Dew Fera bicycle or Thistle Dew Feran axe or Thistle Dew Feran extra dozen people in the crowd. The added “n” just makes it read better. The key for a T.D.Fera product is the user or viewer knows what it is. It doesn’t have to be pretty. The characters all agreed that readers were already using their imaginations, so the props didn’t need to be photo-realistic, as that term is known in the physical world.
So how does the system work? I’m glad I asked that (smooth transition, wasn’t it?). For instance: Redtail needs a bicycle. That’s all good and well, until it comes time to illustrate it visually. Al has to get the order, and he sends it to T.D.Fera (at night, or clandestinely, of course, since nobody sees it). I’ve heard sometimes Big Al gives the order to Frank and he gives it to Lena, or Linda-Jean gets the order and gives it to Lena or delivers it herself. Lena works at T.D.Fera, and Linda-Jean knows the directions to the place. Lena can take an order, herself, but she’s not often seen in town.
The actual factory workers are physicals, or readers, like you and I. Anyway, the order is received at T.D.Fera. It goes through Planning, which determines whether or not it can be done, then is sent off to The Shop which actually creates the item. So they get an order for a bicycle. Planning says, sure, we’ll just make a cardboard cut-out. The Shop sets to laying out the bicycle in 1/6 scale. It’s really easy. If the bicycle is 5 and a half feet long, we’ll call that 5.5 inches, which is now in 1/12 scale. Too small, so we’ll multiply that by two to make the bike 11 inches. That’s 1/6 scale. If the shop is really good at converting by dividing measurements by 6, they can make the scale change in one step. So that makes a 12 inch figure 6 feet tall in… in… ‘real-life’ ‘physical life’ ‘tangible’ –that’s hard to find a term for that. Redtail and George and Big Al are ‘real’ in your mind. They’re ‘physical’ when visually illustrated, as well as ‘tangible’. Anyway, we’ll just use ‘real-life’ for convenience. An 11 inch doll would be 5’6” in real life, and an 11 inch long bike would be 5’ 6”. So a 1/6 figure should be able to ‘ride’ that T.D.Fera bicycle. If the illustration is just the bike, scale doesn’t matter, like for George’s truck here. [photo forthcoming] It’s 1/64 scale, and the woods is actually a Missouri Conservationist Magazine photo. But with your imagination, you know what it’s supposed to be, and shouldn’t have real trouble with it.
The whole process is fun. The customer places the order by either going to the Thistle Dew Hardware Store, Lena, Linda-Jean or, and here’s a little mystery, telepathically through the author. Here’s where there’s even more mystery. We all know librarians can connect us to different worlds and even times. It seems one of the old Thistle Dew Library librarians made a paper doorway for one of her children’s programs. This doorway turned out a little more functional than anticipated, and the librarian who made it didn’t even know it. There must have been some magic in that rolled up door they found, ‘cuz when they placed it on the wall it beg… No, that sounds too familiar. Anyway, there was something weird about it.
A few future librarians figured out how to make these doors, and worlds got connected to Thistle Dew. The neat thing about the doors is they can be put up and taken down in several places around town. One of the places is in upstairs in the storage room of the Thistle Dew Library. Another place is on the back wall of the Thistle Dew Hardware store –inside or outside. One librarian even figured out how to make three doors that could be put up together for a double or even triple door, which is handy for large orders. Another place the doors work is at the T.D.Fera shipping department. They’ve developed a tall, two-car garage door. There are several other libraries around the worlds that have these doors, but not very many. We don’t, at this time, know where those doors are.
The original door is stored, rolled up, in a cardboard tube upstairs at the library. The hardware store has another, much smaller door –about dumbwaiter-sized, in which is stored the triple doors for larger orders. That small door is gently folded and in one of Big Al’s desk drawers. It’s been taped a few times as the corners weaken through use, but it still works. Nobody’s really sure how Lena gets to and from work. Al or Linda-Jean could be in on it, but we really don’t know.