The creation of the Nellenby animal characters and their lives was very much inspired by the characters around me, and the city of Boston. I was allowed to roam freely in the city as a teen, traveling from Hyde Park by bus, trolley, and train.
My father, Ed Boyle, inspired Mr. Lion. Although I never saw my father cook anything (as Mr Lion did in 'A Splendid Dough). He just washed dishes as he believed it was relaxing.
In some scenes the characters have French names. Madame Couchon, Monsieur Lion, etc. I thought French was exotic and romantic and so it played a role in Nellenby culture.
My father's knowledge of French was limited to the usual American usage, "Cherche la femme, Oo la la", etc.