Thursday, July 14, 2016

STOP THE PRESSES! Waldo has been found.

Thirty years ago, in 1986, a 30-year-old English illustrator named Martin Handford, who worked for Walker Books, was asked by his art director to create a character who could give focus to the many drawings Handford liked to create of large crowds of tiny figures. Handford invented a character named Wally and the first of his popular books was published in 1987. In other countries, for reasons not clear to me, Wally's name was changed. In the U.S. and Canada he became “Waldo” but he's “Charlie” in France, “Walter” in Germany, “Ali” in Turkey, “Efi” in Israel, and “Willy” in Norway.

One learns something new every day.

I have found Waldo in the United States.

But 320,000,000 is much too large a crowd to peruse easily. Let's zoom in a little closer:

Now we're getting somewhere. Actually, Waldo is in Maine. Let's take an even closer look:

Did you see it? An entire county in southern Maine is named Waldo (shown in red in the state map on the right). Within Waldo County is the town of Waldo, population 762 (2010 census), shown in yellow in the county map on the left:

Another thing. The Waldo for whom the county and town were named doesn't look anything like Martin Handford's creation. Here is the real Waldo, Brigadier General Samuel Waldo (1696 - 1759):

To add insult to injury, General Waldo died of apoplexy near the town of Bangor, Maine, in 1759, but in 1760 his remains were moved to Boston, Massachusetts, where they, er, remain to this day.

Actually, I found three places named Waldo in the United States.

There is a village in Ohio named Waldo, population 338 (2010 census). According to Wikipedia, it "was laid out in 1833 by M. D. Pettibone at the intersection of a turnpike and a state road. The village was named for Waldo Pettibone, the proprietor's son. A post office called Waldo has been in operation since 1847." (Wikipedia does not say whether M.D. Pettibone was the proprietor of the turnpike or the state road.)

And there is also a Waldo, population 1,015 (2010 census) in Alachua County, Florida, named for a Dr. Benjamin Waldo, an Ocala physician. The most famous place in Waldo, Florida is a red caboose:

Florida's Waldo is bigger than either Maine's or Ohio's, but Maine's Waldo is older than the other two.

I'm sure Martin Handford would be proud.

Perhaps we should be asking "Where in the world is Carmen San Diego?"


  1. Thank you for finding Waldo for us!

    Since you asked where Carmen San Diego is, I dragged out my atlas. I found no Carmen San Diego to be found (though there is a Carmensa in Argentina), so I looked for plain ol' Carmen. I found her in the Philippines, Idaho, Bolivia, Oklahoma, Uruguay, Mexico, Colorado, Paraguay, and Venezuela. She certainly travelled a lot!

  2. Thank you, Jen, for your diligence in investigating and solving another of the great unanswered questions of our time! I sense a kindred soul. And, if I am reading your own blog correctly, congratulations on the new baby at your house!