Archive for June, 2010

The final volume of Wildside’s ten volume set of The Weird Works of Robert E. Howard will ship at the end of next month.  With the release of A Thunder of Trumpets, this long suffering collection will be complete. The majority of the contents are stories and poems published in Weird Tales after Howard’s death, including his sword and planet novel, Almuric.

Overall the ten volume collection is really nice, especially with Stephen Fabian color covers featured on each one. However, considering the first volume appeared in December 2004, it has been a long road for fans and collectors. For those of you who stuck with the collection to its conclusion, I salute you.  

Volumes 2 through 6 appeared in 2005 and 2006 — then publishing slowed to one volume a year for 2007 through 2010. This was due to Paradox Entertainment acquiring Robert E. Howard Properties and asserting its rights, limiting the volumes to hardcover only and Wildside getting sidetracked on other projects. But editor Paul Herman soldiered on and completed the series.

Below you will find a list of contents and ordering information.

A Thunder of Trumpets Contents:

Introduction by Mark Finn
“Pigeons from Hell”
“The Last Hour”
“Lines Written in the Realization That I Must Die”
“A Thunder of Trumpets”
“The Ghost Kings”
“The King and the Oak”
“Desert Dawn”
“The Hills of Kandahar”
“Song at Midnight”
“Witch from Hell’s Kitchen”
“But the Hills Were Ancient Then”
“The One Black Stain”

A Thunder of Trumpets can be ordered through Wildside’s website. Also, with a coupon code you can save $5.00 on an order of $25.00 or more (use coupon code 5BUCKSOFF), save $10.00 on an order of $50.00 or more (use coupon code 10BUCKSOFF) or save $20.00 on an order of $100.00 or more (use coupon code 20BUCKSOFF).

Anyone interested in the life of Robert E. Howard is probably already aware of the “Scholar Tools” section of the REHupa website. I’m a frequent visitor there for two reasons: The Robert E. Howard Bookshelf and REH Goes to the Movies. These two web pages (compiled by Rusty Burke) list just about everything that Howard mentions reading or watching on the big screen.

Acquiring the books and magazines that Howard read has been one of my little obsessions for almost as long as I’ve been connected to the internet; seeing the movies that Howard saw is a new compulsion. Thanks to television networks like Turner Classic Movies and services like Netflix, websites like Internet Movie Database (IMDB) and Greenbriar Picture Shows, it’s easier than ever to find information about the films Howard mentions; with a little diligence, it’s sometimes possible to find the film itself, out there in cyber space. Watching the movie, and then reading Howard’s comments about that movie, can be pretty interesting.

Take for example Back Street (Universal, 1932). In a circa September 1932 letter to Tevis Clyde Smith, Howard describes his reaction to the film:

Back Street was powerful, to my mind, and most damnably harrowing. I wept bitterly. That’s no lie. While weeping some yegg in front of me turned around and gave me an incredulous look, and thinking he was about to make a smart crack, I gave him a murderous glare, wiped away my tears and drew back my right to mash him for the insect he was, but he made no comment and turned around again. Maybe he was weeping too. I wish I hadn’t seen that show. It really tore me up. The thought of an intelligent and talented woman wasting all her years on a low-lifed son-of-a-bitch and sacrificing herself and living in the shadows, it gave me the jitters. I felt like taking a club and wading through the populace like Samson through the Philadelphians.

Wow, that must be one heck of a movie—the REHupa site has the following information:

A woman falls in love with a married man and consents to be his mistress, remaining faithful through the years. Based on the novel by Fannie Hurst. Director: John M. Stahl. Cast: Irene Dunn (Ray Schmidt); John Boles (Walter Saxel); June Clyde (Freda Schmidt); George Meeker (Kurt Shendler); Zasu Pitts (Mrs. Dole); Doris Lloyd (Mrs. Saxel); etc. Black & white. Sound.

IMDB provides a bit more, like who the writers were, the release date, and the following tagline:

Waiting—always waiting—in the shadows of the back streets . . . longing for the man she loves . . . asking nothing, receiving nothing—yet content to sacrifice all for him. Why?

Why, indeed, but I’m getting ahead of myself. The above is all well and good, of course, but nothing beats the actual movie. Thank goodness for You Tube. Head on over there and do a search for “Back Street (Irene Dunne)”—the next screen should contain the links to all nine pieces of the film. It’s a “talkie” in English, though the subtitles are in Spanish.


So, we’ve got your typical 1920’s flapper, Ray Schmidt (played by Dunne), who all the boys want to date. She is high-spirited and easily outmaneuvers her ardent companions. She meets Walter Saxel (played by John Boles), and the two hit it off. A whirlwind romance ensues and the two fall in love, despite the fact that Saxel is supposed to be marrying another girl. He just knows that if his mother were to meet Ray, she’d concede to letting him marry her, instead. Of course, through no fault of her own Ray misses the meeting with mom and Walter marries the original girl. Then things get weird.

Several years later, Ray and Walter bump into each other and get caught up. The old feelings emerge and the two begin an illicit affair; Walter even sets Ray up in a cozy apartment, all expenses paid. But when he has to leave town on business, Ray discovers just how lonely her life is: she can’t be seen in public, she can’t make dinner plans, etc.

While Walter is away, an old rival for Ray’s affections sees her in the city and the two hit it off. Ray realizes that she can’t have a normal life with Walter and so concedes to marrying her new suitor, but Walter tracks her down and wins her back, saying only that he loves her.

We then jump forward in time. Walter has had a couple of children with his wife, has, in fact, become a very successful guy. He boards a steamship with his family and the onlookers wait for the mysterious other woman who follows Walter everywhere to make her appearance. Ray, of course. It seems that everyone knows about her except for Walter’s wife. Even his children know, and they’re not happy about it.

Walter’s college-age son confronts Ray and tells her to leave the family alone. Walter reveals the depth of his feelings for Ray to his son (above), then suffers a stroke, or something, and dies. The son, realizing it is what his father would have wanted, offers to keep Ray set up in the manner she is accustomed. But she dies too, I guess, of a broken heart. The end—roll credits.

Now, I suppose that I had trouble getting into that 1920s frame of mind. The idea of a woman being content to wait around for the few moments her married boyfriend can give her every once in a while must seem farcical to modern audiences. And Ray’s dramatic shift from the life of the party to a depressed shut-in is pretty unbelievable to me. In fact, while she’s with Walter, she seems miserable. Are we supposed to believe that it was all worth it for her because they loved each other? Or are we supposed to see how pathetic, empty and lonely a mistress’ life is? What?

And while I didn’t weep, I’ll agree with Howard that the “thought of an intelligent and talented woman wasting all her years on a low-lifed son-of-a-bitch and sacrificing herself and living in the shadows” gave me “the jitters.”

The multi-talented and perpetually busy Friend of TGR, Ethan Nahté, has just had a short story titled “Bubbas, Barbarians & Yumbies, Oh My!” published in A Bubba in Time Saves None, a collection of humorous zombie short stories from Yard Dog Press.  Yumbies are actually yuppie zombies, as Ethan explains in his Press Release on the anthology, which is the fifth book in the Bubbas of the Apocalypse series

Ethan’s yarn is of particular interest to Howard fans due to his story’s plot which has the intrepid Yumbie fighters traveling back in time to a 1930s Cross Plains where a certain pulp writer joins the fight that culminates in a stand-off on top of Caddo Peak.

Ethan is also compiling a comprehensive documentary film on REH, which includes a number of interviews with Howard scholars and citizens of Cross Plains who knew Howard. Hopefully, Ethan will have it ready for viewing soon.

This entry filed under News.

Congratulations are in order for the The Dark Man, which celebrates an important 20 year anniversary this year. The first issue of the journal appeared in the summer of 1990 and featured contributions from a virtual who’s who of Howard scholars.  TDM was originally edited by Rusty Burke and, after changing editorial hands several times, it is currently edited by Mark Hall.

Don “Always Ahead of the Curve” Herron was the first to take notice of this milestone in his instant classic “Castrated But Still Limping Along: The Dark Man 1990 — 2010,” which appears in the current issue of TGR.  When Don informed me of this fact I was surprised — I hadn’t realized it was indeed a big anniversary year for The Journal of Robert E. Howard Studies.

Evidently this fact also slipped by the guys at TDM’s editorial board, because this milestone was not mentioned in their recent issue, nor does it appear on their website.

I suppose they don’t believe in tooting their own horn; but heck, the year is only half over – perhaps we will yet see a special gala anniversary issue from the TDM team.

In the meantime, Don Herron’s take on the first 20 years will have to suffice.  Here is a small sample of a few of the opening paragraphs: 

So, the issue rolled in — let’s refer to it as number fourteen, to be clear on what we’re talking about in the grand historical scheme. I realized suddenly that my sense of years passing had added up to something: The Dark Man had been in existence for no less than twenty years! Two decades on the mean streets, since Rusty Burke started the operation in 1990. Not bad by anyone’s standards.

I suppose it is unfortunate that I had to determine this on my own time. Number fourteen — or “Volume 5, No. 1, March 2010” under the arcane and close to insane numbering system the magazine now uses — didn’t print Word One about the anniversary. For the first time in many long years, The Dark Man had no editorial of any sort, just three very short essays, three even shorter reviews, and a short if nice enough nostalgia piece by Charles Hoffman about his encounter with the 1968 Lancer paperback Wolfshead. Cover photo of REH we’ve all seen before, contents info. Or, ten bucks and postage, gone.

So, if you have not done so yet, order a copy of TGR #14 and read straight shooter Don’s history/review of the first 20 years of this important journal of Howardian studies.

If you are like me, you’ve enjoyed the recent posts by Rob Roehm as he traveled through Texas on his way to Howard Days 2010, stopping in various towns and locations where Howard himself once visited. Rob has made nearly a dozen trips to Texas following in Howard’s footsteps and documenting all the places he visited during his short life.

The majority of these trips were covered by Howard himself in his correspondence with H. P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, August Derleth and a number of other correspondents. Due to finances and his somewhat isolated location, Howard traveled regionally by automobile in Texas and several surrounding states including Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.  Back in Howard’s time there were no interstate highways –- the roads were two lanes and in many instances either paved with gravel or just simple dirt roads.  Also, in the 1920s and 1930s, cars were not as dependable as the ones we drive today, and while they they were simpler machines, mechanics were few and far between.

Speaking of automobiles, even though he left few clues behind in his letters, Rob also has done quite a bit of research on Howard’s automobiles. Luckily, Rusty Burke had previously done some legwork  and found a few pieces of information that Rob recounts in his “Robert E. Howard’s  Automobiles” essay:

There’s not much mention of Howard’s cars in his correspondence, other than him saying he went here or there. Even the description of his accident in Rising Star doesn’t provide much information about the car, though it does describe the incident involving his ’31 Chevy and a flagpole placed “in the middle of the street” in graphic (some say “exaggerated”) detail. This was my starting point.

Next on the checklist was Rusty Burke. I emailed Rusty some follow-up questions about Bob’s ’31 Chevy. Burke responded that Lindsey Tyson, a Cross Plains friend of Howard’s, had said the following in a letter to L. Sprague de Camp dated February 18, 1977:

Bob, Dr Howard and I went to Arlington Texas in about 1932 and Bob bought a used 1931 model Chevrolet. I drove the car home for him and then taught him to drive; after he learned to drive, he had a lot of fun driving on short trips around the country. I can not understand why Dr. Howard had never taught him anything about driving a car. (And by the way, Bob gave $350.00 for this car, about a year old.)

Burke had a wealth of information. His transcription of de Camp’s August 1977 notes from a phone conversation with Tyson revealed that the ’31 Chevy was purchased “second-hand after Lovecraft’s visit to New Orleans in the spring of 1932.” In a different interview with de Camp, Tyson described the car as “Dark Green,” and that it “had a glove compartment” rather than a door pocket: “This is where he carried his gun.” Upon further questioning, in 1978, Tyson added that the car was “a Chevrolet coach;” a “Twodoor.”

Later, perhaps toward the end of 1934, Howard purchased a black 1935 Chevy sedan.  This is the vehicle in which he fired that fateful and fatal shot on the morning of June 11, 1936.  After Howard’s death, Dr. Howard had the car cleaned and repaired and drove it for several years before finally selling it.

While Rob has done a yeoman’s job  of chronicling all of Howard’s travels, REHupan Gary Romeo previously covered much of the same territory in his outstanding essay “In Search of Cimmeria,” which is posted at the REHupa website.  A slightly revised version was published in 2004 in the form of a chapbook published by The Cimmerian Press.

In January 2007, Rob published Howard’s Haunts, which detailed a number of places Howard visited with excerpts from his letters, vintage and current photographs and other information.  I would not be surprised to see Rob author a second volume showcasing the places he has scouted since Howard’s Haunts was published three years ago — after all, he has spent many, many hours on the road with Two-Gun Bob.

Another Howard Days has come and gone, and, man, was it a good one. We got home yesterday afternoon, so I’m writing this from my desk and not some hotel on the road, and I’ve got some good coffee sitting here—not the Best Western Blend, yuck!

For me, Howard Days really starts on Thursday night when the “regulars” start showing up at the 36 West in Cross Plains and the Holiday Inn Express in Brownwood. We raid a local eatery and the conversations begin. The talk usually runs well into the evening, and many of the attendees have trouble making it to the Walking or Bus Tours that start around 9:00 on Friday morning.

Above: Mark Finn, Paul Sammon, Barbara Barrett, and Bill Cavalier at the pre-game gathering.

I didn’t, um, celebrate as much as some others on Thursday, so I was able to join Bill “Indy” Cavalier and Damon Sasser for breakfast at Jean’s Feedbarn, right across a side street from the motel. After eating, we strolled over to the Howard House and greeted the early Howard fans and members of Project Pride, made note of the new sign out front, and had a quick look around the house; then it was time for the Walking Tour.

Well, not exactly. This year the Walking Tour was actually the Riding Tour. A flatbed trailer with folding chairs and a pickup truck pulled us from Turkey Creek to the cemetery to downtown, with commentary provided by Rusty Burke and Don Clark (below).

I’m guessing the trailer was added because of the usual Texas heat—it’s a lot more appealing to ride around town in 100+ degrees than walk—but this year the weather cooperated: cloudy and breezy, I doubt that it ever reached the 100 degree mark. Though it was still too humid for my California skin, it was much nicer than last year.


After the chili dog lunch provided by Project Pride, we all went downtown to the Cross Plains Library’s new Children’s Library for the first panel discussion: The Illustrators of REH. This panel featured Guests of Honor Jim & Ruth Keegan, as well as Tom Foster and Paul Sammon (above). The acoustics weren’t very good at first, but after the microphone got hooked up, this and all the other panels were great: entertaining and informative—who could ask for more?

After the presentation, Jack Baum pulled me aside to show me yet another discovery he had made while going through the old family home. Last year he discovered an old text book that had been Howard’s; this year he had an old pocket watch (above) with “RH” inscribed on the back (close-up below). I haven’t found any mention of Howard owning any kind of watch in his letters, though that’s hardly the type of thing he would have talked about, and the only mention of a pocket watch I can remember is his failed attempt to win one in an auction that he wrote about in Post Oaks and Sand Roughs. Jack Baum told me that he had had the watch appraised and that it was definitely from the early 1920s; he’d also gone through the genealogy of everyone associated with his house and no one had “RH” for initials except for Bob. Pretty strong circumstantial evidence.

I didn’t stick around for the next panel, but I didn’t leave before the group shot of Cimmerian bloggers, past and present, was taken at Barbara Barrett’s insistence. After the photo (below), my folks and I went out to Burkett. I’d been there a few times before, but I wanted to have a look in the cemetery and revisit the gazebo Howard and his mother used in the 1920s (far below).

Cimmerian bloggers: Mark Finn, Rob Roehm, Al Harron, Deuce Richardson, Barbara Barrett, and Jeffrey Shanks.

Then it was back to Cross Plains for the silent auction and banquet. The auction was a little tamer than in years past, but I did manage to score a copy of Mundy’s King—of the Khyber Rifles. The banquet went off without a hitch: fajitas, with all the trimmings, provided by the Mexico City Restaurant. After the meal, Arlene Stephenson stepped up and made the introductions; Al Harron and Deuce Richardson presented a donation to Project Pride in memory of Dan Goudey (“PainBrush”), a recently deceased member of the Conan forum; and Jim & Ruth Keegan ended the program with one of the better GOH speaches in recent years (with accompanying slideshow, of course).

After people collected their silent auction winnings, Cavalier and Burke presented the Robert E. Howard Foundation Awards for 2008 and 2009. The program had run a bit long, several of the winners were not present, and we were all chomping at the bit to get back to the Pavilion, so the awards presentation was pretty quick. And we still had to put up the tables and chairs!

Once at the Pavilion, we made up for lost time. There was a short Poetry Throwdown, lots of Howard talk, and plenty of beer. I went back to my room around midnight, but there were still plenty of Howard-heads at the Pavilion until the wee hours.

I missed the Walking and Bus Tours on Saturday, but managed to make it to The Jim & Ruth Keegan Hour at 10:00. They talked about how they discovered Howard, how they work together—all kinds of things. And afterwards, they had several of their paintings on display.


Above: Ruth Keegan and El Borak.

From the library, Russell Andrew and I high-tailed it to Jean’s for the REH Foundation luncheon. Jack Baum passed around the watch for all to see, and Indy passed out the newest Foundation Newsletter and the goodies that only Legacy Circle members receive. This year, those goodies were the 2010 membership pin and a chapbook of the alternate version of “Black Canaan,” and an untitled synopsis: both never before published.

The Board members had a meeting after lunch, and I wanted to go out to Pioneer after that, so I missed the “What’s Happening with REH” panel at 3:00. I hear that the Paradox representative had fine things to say about various film and television projects that are in the works, but I can’t confirm that.

We got back to the Pavilion just in time to head for the West Caddo Peak Ranch and the annual barbecue provided by the Middleton family. A few brave souls climbed the peak before dinner and everyone enjoyed a few more hours of camaraderie. After dinner, we gathered to watch the sunset and then headed back to the Pavilion for more conversation. Another Howard Days over.

Above: Past and present members of REHupa: Lee Breakiron, Jeffrey Shanks, Rusty Burke, Damon Sasser, Frank Coffman, Gary Romeo, Dennis McHaney, Bill Cavalier, Rob Roehm, Jim & Ruth Keegan, and David Hardy.

This new issue of The Definitive Robert E. Howard Journal made its debut in Cross Plains last Friday at the 2010 Howard Days and is available for purchase.  Issue #14 is limited to 200 numbered copies and is the largest issue of TGR ever published. 

The featured Howard story is a rare humorous western featuring Bearfield Elston.  This story has not been reprinted since its original appearance in 1936.

Issue #14 also features a stunning four plate portfolio by Michael L. Peters based on the Solomon Kane story “The Hills of the Dead,” and a full color El Borak cover painting also by Peters.

Also of interest is Mark Finn’s  ”The Old Time Radio Adventures of Sailor Steve Costigan,” which details the creative process involved and preparation involved adapting several of Howard’s “Sailor” Steve Costigan stories into radio plays.

Contents Include:

  • “The Curly Wolf of Sawtooth” by Robert E. Howard, illustrated by Richard Pace
  • “The Hills of the Dead: A Solomon Kane Portfolio” by Michael L. Peters
  • “The Old Time Radio Adventures of Sailor Steve Costigan” by Mark Finn, illustrated by John Lucas
  • “It Really Wasn’t a Game: El Borak and the Victorian Cold War” by Brian Leno
  • “From Bran Mak Morn to Beyond the Black River: The Evolution of the Picts in Robert E. Howard’s Fiction by Simon Sanahujas, illustrated by Bob Covington
  • “The Monster in the Jungle: “Red Nails” and the Return of the Repressed” by David Hardy, illustrated by Didier Normand
  • Unmasking “The Shadow Kingdom:” Kull and Howard as Outsiders by Brian Murphy, illustrated by Bill Cavalier
  • Reviews of The Dark Man journal by Don Herron and Deuce Richardson
  • El Borak Cover by Michael L. Peters
  • Inside Front and Back Covers: Scenes from “Nekht Semerkeht” by Terry Pavlet
  • Back Cover: Terence Vulmea by Robert Sankner
  • Plus additional artwork and features.

Don’t miss out on this issue which is chock full of essays, articles, art, reviews and Howard fiction — order your copy today.  You can find price and ordering information on the Issues for Sale page.

Well, I missed a few days; sorry about that, but I haven’t had a moment to spare (or internet access in my room) since Wednesday. We’ve stopped for the night just west of Flagstaff, Arizona—home tomorrow afternoon. I’ll post a Howard Days wrap-up soon, if Damon doesn’t beat me to it, but for now, here’s what I was going to post on Thursday: 

I’ll be in Cross Plains for the next three days, so it’s always nice to sneak away to Brownwood before the festivities begin. One might think that I’ve had enough of Brownwood, but I heard a few things when I was there in January that made me want to have a return visit.

Ever since my first visit to Howard Payne University back in August of 2004, I’ve wanted to return and more thoroughly inspect the Robert E. Howard Memorial Collection (two of the three shelves shown above) housed at the Walker Memorial Library. The first time I saw these books, I was so filled with awe that I didn’t take the time to really look at them. I took a bunch of pictures and left. Things were different this time, and I took lots of photos–including the inscription by Edmond Hamilton, below.

Also, I’ve been hearing rumors about the stash of Yellow Jackets at HPU, that some scoundrel had swiped an issue or two containing the Howard yarns. Having never seen the actual papers, it was on my agenda in January. However, when I arrived to inspect them, I was informed that they were off-site being scanned—they would be back in the spring. Well, spring is over.

I’m happy to report that all of the known issues that contain a Howard story or poem are present and accounted for. And if some rapscallion ever does manage to purloin an issue, I’ve got some good, high quality photographs of the relevant pages—thanks to my photog father.

More later, maybe.

Another report from the road to Howard Days:

About an hour east from Kerrville on Interstate 10 lies San Antonio, which Robert E. Howard, in a circa September 1930 letter to H.P. Lovecraft,  described as “a picturesque town, with the narrow river winding in and out all through it, with its broad plazas, old missions and cathedrals, and adobe houses shouldering modern buildings.” That states things pretty accurately, even today. San Antonio was one of Howard’s favorite places; he told August Derleth in a July 3, 1933 letter “Of all these northern cities, I like Fort Worth best, though for color and historical glamor none of them can compare to San Antonio and other towns of the south.” He visited there on many different occasions, touring the Alamo, the Spanish Governor’s Palace, and the Buckhorn Saloon! But it wasn’t always fun and games, he once spent something like a month in San Antonio doing research in the public library. He wrote to Tevis Clyde Smith:

What a library they got here alretty! A whole room with genealogy nearly. Like most men who have nothing to be proud of in themselves, I seek a vicarious pride in my ancestry.

In another letter to Smith written during that same stay, Howard says he’ll try to look up Smith’s ancestors:

I’ll see what I can do about tracing your ancestors, though it’s a bewildering game, because of the custom, extant among all Western races, of naming so many families and members of families almost exactly alike. My confounded ancestors must never have registered births, land deeds, marryings or any damned thing.

Clearly Howard spent a lot of time in the San Antonio Public Library; I wanted to, too. And how hard could it be to find the public library?

Well, that particular library has 24 branches and one “Central Library” pictured above. That building was clearly not around in the 1930s, and I didn’t have enough time to track down all of the branch locations. What’s a Howard fan to do?

As I said in my previous post, to find the good stuff, you’ve got to find “old town,” which is usually near a courthouse. Since we were headed that way anyway, on a whim I asked a parking lot attendant where the “old library” was located. He directed me downtown—old downtown—210 Market Street.

The building at 210 Market Street served as the main library from 1930 to 1968, when it was relocated to 203 South St. Mary Street, and then to its current location in 1995. The original building is now being renovated/restored and will open again as the Briscoe Western Art Museum. I couldn’t get inside due to the renovation, and the interior will no doubt be completely different anyway, but just being outside this magnificent structure satisfied my Howard craving for the moment.

More later, maybe.

Another report on the road to Cross Plains:

Continuing east on Interstate 10 from Junction, the next stop was Kerrville, which was mentioned in my first “road post.” That same August 1931 letter to H.P. Lovecraft has a bit more to say about Kerrville:

Then from Junction I went to Kerrville, a rather noted health-and-pleasure-resort among the mountains about fifty miles southeast of Junction; after a couple of days stay at Kerrvillle I went on to San Antonio, seventy miles to the south [. . .]

Hmm, I’m not aware of Howard’s mom ever going to Kerrville for treatment of her tuberculosis, but I can’t imagine another reason for Bob to spend more than an hour in the “noted health-and-pleasure resort.” Better investigate.

As with all these towns, you can’t just pull off the freeway and expect to find anything. Usually, all an off-ramp will have to offer is gas stations and fast food; these are usually on the outskirts of towns. To find the areas that Howard might have visited, you usually have to ask someone where the local courthouse is located. In Junction, the gas station attendant first told me that there were no old buildings around, but after I asked if there was a courthouse downtown, she changed her story.

Anyway, a few miles from the off-ramp, downtown Kerrville is quite a sight. Unlike Junction, this place is still thriving, with many local businesses occupying and restoring the original town structures. It’s easy to get a 1930’s vibe while walking down the streets. In a bookstore (yes, an actual bookstore), I asked the aging proprietor about health resorts in Kerrville. She directed me to Joe Herring, the general manager of a local print shop.

Herring had a wealth of information about the town, including thousands of photos. He told me that there used to be plenty of “health resorts” in town as a result of the natural hot springs. He said that many people came seeking relief from tuberculosis. When I told him that Howard’s mom suffered from the disease, he nodded and said, “That makes sense.” He also told me that, without a name, it was virtually impossible for him to help me with a location; however, only one of the old resorts was still standing.

The postcard above (sorry for the poor quality, I was miles down the road before I realized my camera was out of focus) was once a TB sanatorium; today, it is part of the State Hospital in Kerrville. The old building is located on a hill behind a newer structure. The guard in a guardhouse refused to let me take pictures of the building, saying something about patients’ privacy. If I hadn’t needed to hit the road, I probably could have gone over her head, but Howard Days waits for no one, and I had things to do down the road in San Antonio.

More later, maybe.