The Magic Tunnel by Caroline D. Emerson was one of my favorite books as a child, and it still resides on my bookshelf. I will take it out on occasion and thumb through it, reading bits and pieces and remembering what I loved about it.
It was multi-genre, taking on adventure, history and historical fiction, and time travel, and it probably influenced the direction of my interests more than I would have thought at the time. It had everything a voracious reader in elementary school could ask for.
I spent my elementary years in NYC – Queens with grandparents in both Queens and the Bronx. The brother and sister in The Magic Tunnel also lived in New York City, and in taking the subway, something I did with my uncle and on class trips, they found adventure in the past before NYC became New York. It was originally New Amsterdam, and in their travels, they met the original Dutch colonialists, the Native Americans already living in the area, and Peter Stuyvesant.
They explored the Dutch settlement and saw other aspects of Dutch colonial life and recognized much as what they had been learning in school as well as straightening out some misconceptions from that time period.
In the years after reading this, I immersed myself into history and science-fiction, still two of my loves. I also continue to have an unfinished novel from college in the same multi-genre way, combining time travel, adventure, and history. Without realizing it, I’m certain that The Magic Tunnel was a strong influence to begin and continue that story. Even today, I still come back to it and try to tweak and add elements, thinking maybe the story is relevant and can still go somewhere.
After college, I joined a re-enactment group to study and fully immerse myself in The Middle Ages.
I still love train travel, and am thinking of how to take a train trip for a writing excursion, although I’m not sure that I want to travel to another dimension or plane.
Published in 1964, it may certainly be dated and somewhat stereotypical, but it is still worth a look to see how our past was perceived and may have been perceived by two elementary age siblings just trying to get home.