Archive for July, 2013

Arkham-TheDarkManandOthers

[Part 12 is here.]

As 1963 began, and as things would continue for decades, Glenn Lord was the receptacle of all things Howard: biographical and publishing information trickled in from Tevis Clyde Smith, E. Hoffmann Price, Lenore and Harold Preece, and others; fanzine editors requested information for their publications; and an ever-growing legion of fans and pulp aficionados traded information, copies, and publications with the god-father of Howard studies. The situation on the business side looked like this: Alla Ray Kuykendall and her daughter owned the rights to Robert E. Howard’s works. These works were offered for sale (or, more likely, requested by publishers who remembered Howard) by Oscar J. Friend, who retained the business name of his predecessor, Otis A. Kline Associates. Business was pretty slow. Besides the Arkham House collection The Dark Man and Others and Glenn Lord’s Howard Collector #4, only one other new publication with a Howard story appeared that year (and not until December).

In a January 21, 1963 postcard to Glenn Lord, Lyon Sprague de Camp says a bit about that last appearance: “The proposed anthology is the one I wrote about in AMRA, of short stories & novelettes of heroic fantasy.” This was the Pyramid Books collection Swords and Sorcery. In his introduction to the anthology, de Camp laid out his view regarding the worth of the material therein: “The purpose of these stories is neither to teach the problems of the steel industry, nor to expose the defects in our foreign-aid program, nor yet to air the problems of the housewife. It is to entertain. These stories combine the color, gore, and action of the costume novel with the atavistic terrors and delights of the fairy tale. They furnish the purest fun to be found in fiction today.” In his preface to the Howard story, “Shadows in the Moonlight,” he presented what would be the standard view of the writer from Texas for decades:

For vivid, violent, gripping, headlong action, the stories of ROBERT ERVIN HOWARD (1906-36) take the prize among heroic fantasies. Howard was born and lived in Cross Plains, Texas [sic: born at Peaster], attended Brownsville College [sic: Howard Payne in Brownwood], and during his short life turned out a large volume of general pulp fiction: sport, detective, western, and oriental adventure stories besides his fantasies. Although a big, powerful man like his heroes, he suffered delusions of persecution and killed himself in an excess of emotion over his aged mother’s death.

Later introductions would add “Oedipal complex” to the mix of Howard’s emotional problems. But let’s get back to the business.

Besides the above, in de Camp’s postcard to Glenn, he added that “Otis Kline Associates is Oscar [Friend] + one lady assistant who mostly types. I don’t know if anybody will carry on the business when Oscar shuffles, but some other agent might buy up the residual business.” Little did de Camp know, but Oscar Friend had died two days before this postcard was typed.

Being ignorant of Friend’s death, Lord wrote to the Kline Agency, again requesting material. This was not the first time; he had made several inquiries in the years since Always Comes Evening—most to no effect. His letter was answered on January 30 by Friend’s daughter, Kittie West:

Dear Mr. Lord:

My father, Oscar J. Friend, passed away on Jan. 19th—peacefully, in his sleep.

My Mother (the Irene M. Ozment on the letterhead) and I (K. F. West) are slowly notifying various clients and catching up on current business.

As yet we have had no time to go through the older files and the stacks of books and manuscripts on hand. When we do, we shall see what Howard material is on hand and inform the estate handling Howard material as to what we have. Meanwhile, please be patient with us, as there are many things which Mr. Friend carried in his head—and which we must slowly piece out and attend to.

Possibly you may obtain the material you want directly from the estate. However, we shall keep in touch with you—and perhaps handle it ourselves. We just don’t know at this point what we are going to do.

Yours very truly,

[Kittie West]

By fall, things were, apparently, still disorganized. A postcard from de Camp to Lord explains that the agency is “carrying on the remaining accounts but not trying to expand the business.” On September 27, 1963, Lord responded to a letter (now lost) from West:

Dear Mrs. West:

Thank you for the nice letter. I can well understand the problems inherent in transferring a mass of possessions from one house to another; a problem that has been familiar with me in the past.

I suppose that you might call Robert E. Howard my hobby, much like one might say H. P. Lovecraft was a “hobby” of August Derleth. I have made several trips to the area of Texas where Mr. Howard lived and know several of his cronies. One of them [Clyde Smith] was an occasional writer and collaborator with Howard and claims to have a couple of mss. that they wrote. Again the problem is the unearthing of said items!

The titles in your possession came from a listing that Mr. Derleth kindly made for me last year after your father sent the Howard mss. to him for examination for possible use in the Arkham House volume of Howard stories due later this year. The descriptions also came from Derleth. He wrote me that he had placed the mss. in some 6 kraft envelopes with a listing on each of the contents. According to my records, “Kelly, the Conjure-Man” and “The Last White Man” are in envelope #3 and “Knife, Bullet and Noose” in envelope #6. That may be of little help in your task however.

I suspect that Donald Grant of Grandon: Publishers will contact you shortly on the matter of a volume of Howard’s Oriental adventure stories. That will be a sort of cooperative venture between Mr. Grant and myself—I seem to have “inherited” the role of “Howard expert” though such is not exactly the case!

In your filing of the material in your possession, would you kindly note if you have a novel by Mr. Howard entitled Post Oaks and Sand Roughs. Supposedly a “modern” novel, this was written in the late 1920s and may have been destroyed later. Also if you come across the letters from Howard to Mr. Kline, would you be willing to loan these to me for possible use in a Selected Letters volume that I hope to edit and compile some day. I say some day as locating old correspondence is a difficult task. I realize I am being a lot of trouble but the agency seems the last bastion of interest in Howard, as Mr. Friend once put it.

Enclosed check for $27.40 for the use of the Howard material.

Best wishes,

[Glenn Lord]

And that wasn’t the only place Glenn was looking for Howard letters. He also wrote to de Camp asking about the material in Friend’s archives, to which de Camp replied in a February 8, 1964 letter:

No, there were no Howard letters in that pile of mss at Oscar Friend’s house. The letters were probably filed separately, and I don’t know if the files still exist. The only personal piece was the little handwritten note from Lovecraft to Howard, which is printed on page 8 of King Conan.

arkham-overtheedge

At some point in 1963-64, West completed at least four deals for the Howard heirs, all of which appeared in 1964. From the Kline stack of typescripts, Arkham House published “The Blue Flame of Vengeance” in its Over the Edge anthology. The story is listed as “completed” by John Pocsik, but the typescript was complete as is, and the story’s appearance here was “drastically rewritten,” as de Camp told Lord in a June 8, 1964 letter. The Pyramid anthology Weird Tales has “Pigeons from Hell,” as does the Panther Books reprint of the 1944 Sleep No More anthology. Finally, West closed a deal with Ace Books which resulted in the first paperback appearance of Howard’s novel Almuric. And there were more paperbacks being envisioned.

On August 22, 1964, de Camp told Lord that “SWORDS & SORCERY did well enough so that Pyramid has authorized a successor” and also that he was “trying to promote a deal for reprinting all the Conan stories in paperback,” but this deal wasn’t far enough along to give details. On September 24, de Camp gave West a glimpse of his plans, saying that he spoke to her “of a projected deal for republication of Howard’s Conan stories in paperback, with me as editor[.] Well, it looks as if that were going through.” He explains that he will be in New York soon and “may want some of the old Howard mss in your collection,” and offers to swing by her house to pick them up. He then adds, “please look through the collection of Howard mss and extract from it any Conan stories, especially ‘The Frost-Giant’s Daughter,’ ‘The God in the Bowl,’ and ‘The Black Stranger.’” An October 24 letter goes into more detail regarding the project, but, unfortunately, we only have the first page of it. That page ends cryptically with de Camp saying: “I don’t see that it is at all necessary for you [West] to prepare a formal contract in standard form, other than the letter I wrote [. . .]”

A postcard from de Camp to Lord, written January 27, 1965, provides an update on the former Kline Agency: “Kittie West is trying slowly to liquidate the Kline agency, but this is a long-drawn-out process that may take years.” Four days later, de Camp wrote to West, paying the last installment of fees for his use of “Shadows in Zamboula” in the Pyramid collection The Spell of Seven (June 1964). That anthology contains Howard’s story, “Shadows in Zamboula,” as well as de Camp’s thoughts on the author:

Robert E. Howard, the creator of Conan, was a Texan and a prolific writer of pulp-magazine fiction in the early 1930s. Despite certain literary faults, Howard was one of the greatest natural story-tellers the genre has produced. Nobody has excelled him in constructing a fast-moving, smoothly-flowing tale of headlong, violent, gripping action. His stories are not only readable but also endlessly rereadable. Unfortunately, Howard was also maladjusted to the point of psychosis. In 1936, at the age of thirty, he ended a promising literary career by suicide.

Included in de Camp’s letter to West is his advice on how to deal with Martin Greenberg (of Gnome Press) if he should get litigious. Not long after receiving this letter, West forwarded it to Glenn Lord, writing a short note on the corner and asking, “Is Sprague getting a little greedy?”

On February 5, 1965, word was apparently getting out that West was looking to “liquidate” the Kline files. On that day, Donald A. Wollheim wrote to West, saying, in part, “I recall, many years ago when visiting your father, that he had a stack of these old unsold manuscripts, stories, etc. [. . .] since you have closed down the Kline agency, do you still have any of these old literary files? In Howard’s case, who could you give them to or what could you have done with them? If you still have any of this REH material stored away, would you let me know? This is primarily a personal inquiry as a former correspondent of Howard’s as well as one of his publishers.”

1965 02-18 LSdC to GL 1

De Camp had news of a different sort that he shared with Glenn Lord in a February 18 postcard:

Mrs. K. F. west, who has been winding up the Otis Kline Agency business, asked me if I should be willing to “take over” the custody and management of the Howard mss in her possession. I said I couldn’t consider it, because of other commitments; and I took the liberty of suggesting your name to her as the person who ought to have charge of them.

In a letter to West that same day, de Camp explained his reasoning:

I’m afraid I absolutely cannot consider “taking over” the Howard material, since I have enough work of my own contracted for and planned to keep me busy for years. If anybody should take charge of it, I should suggest Glenn Lord, Box 775, Pasadena, Texas, 77501. He is the outstanding living idolater of Howard and would, I am sure, do the best he could for Howard’s reputation. Moreover, being a fellow Texan, he could much more easily keep in touch with Mrs. Kuykendall than anybody in the Northeast could.

He added that Greenberg had been “huffing and puffing again, and Lancer Books has been hesitating to go ahead with their first two volumes [of Conan material] for fear of a nuisance suit. In view of this development, I fear I shall have to make my second offer [to prepare the Conan books] a bit less favorable to the estate than the first one I made to you, in order not to end up out of pocket as a result of possible litigation.” In a March 11th letter, de Camp made his case to the Kuykendalls, explaining that “if the complete series is published, the estate stands to make over a thousand dollars from this publication.”

By March 26, 1965, Glenn Lord had accepted the position of agent for the Howard heirs. On that day, Kittie West sent “a box containing tear sheets & mss. Also the old file with Dr. Kuykendall’s correspondence” to Glenn. She also sent a letter to Glenn and Mrs. Kuykendall that explains the state of the Howard property at that time. On April 27, Mrs. Kuykendall wrote to Glenn: “I am pleased and relieved that you have accepted the handling of the Howard manuscripts. I hope that further publications can be arranged.” Kuykendall closed with the following:

Shortly after Dr. Howard’s death, we sent a trunk filled with Robert’s papers to a man in California—Redwood City, I believe. Mr. Kline or Mr. Friend advised us to do so. Do you recognize who it was? I have forgotten. Perhaps Mrs. West will remember.

And so the business of Robert E. Howard publishing continued. In the months to come, Glenn finally found and acquired the fabled Trunk of Howard manuscripts which helped fuel the Howard Boom, but that is a tale for another time. With the Otis A. Kline Agency officially out of business, it was left to Glenn to navigate the mess between de Camp, Greenberg, and Lancer Books. Besides this, West also forwarded a couple of other deals that were in the works, including a new arrangement with Robert Lowndes, publisher of the Magazine of Horror. The June 1965 issue of that magazine contains “Skulls in the Stars.” That same month, on the 22nd, Kittie West sent Glenn Lord the last of the agency’s files related to Robert E. Howard, excepting their accounting books. She ended her letter with a note: “Good luck with the work—and watch out for co-authors, new publishers, etc!”

[Back to Part 1.]

Frazetta's Conan the Adventurer

Rear mighty temples to your god –
I lurk where shadows sway,
Till, when your drowsy guards shall nod,
To leap and rend and slay.

[…]

For all the works of cultured man
Must fare and fade and fall.
I am the Dark Barbarian
That towers over all.

Robert E. Howard, “A Word From the Outer Dark”

Robert E. Howard – Conan the Barbarian. The two are popularly equated and no doubt always will be. Even REH’s other characters can usually be considered “barbaric” heroes, or very rough diamonds at least, like Conn the thrall in “Spears of Clontarf”, who smashes his Viking master’s head with a log of firewood at the beginning of the story, and continues from there! The fifth-century Gaelic pirate, Cormac mac Art, has his civilized aspects (such as literacy) and doesn’t lack intelligence, but he follows a ferocious and barbaric life-path nevertheless, with a band of Danish Vikings. Francis X. Gordon, “El Borak” seeks out an environment that suits him in the wilds of Afghanistan in the early twentieth century. Elizabethan England would be a wild enough milieu for most men, but the English protagonist of “The Road of the Eagles” leaves home and eventually becomes a Cossack under the name Ivan Sablianka.

Cormac Fitzgeoffrey, Turlogh O’Brien, and Kosru Malik — the Turkish warrior and narrator of “The Road of Azrael” — are all hard men of the wild waste places, and outlaws into the bargain. Bran Mak Morn, King of the Picts and resistance fighter against the Romans, is “a king with an iron crown” leading the savages of the heather – a barbarian and monarch of barbarians. Kull, too, is a barbarian and an outcast who has fought his way to a throne, even though a brooding, pensive one who muses on life, reality and illusion a good deal. The driven, adventurous Puritan Solomon Kane (who may have known Ivan Sablianka) spends much of his life wandering in savage lands, especially the depths of Africa. He also sailed around the world with Drake and appeared in Germany’s Black Forest.

frank_frazetta_branmakmornA recurring theme in REH’s stories is the evanescence of civilization; the tendency of all empires and advanced cultures to soften and collapse before tougher, fiercer, cruder folk. His Picts are the everlasting and ultimate barbarians, from Kull’s age to Conan’s to Bran Mak Morn’s and Cormac mac Art’s, then into the eleventh century in the Turlogh Dubh O’Brien yarn, “The Dark Man” – generally considered one of his best, along with “Worms of the Earth” and “Pigeons From Hell”. The Picts are the outsiders, beset by civilization, though they conquer Aquilonia at last (long after Conan’s time) as REH tells us in his essay “The Hyborian Age”.

He famously comments on this recurring situation in the Conan story, “Beyond the Black River,” another of his finest. Any REH fan can quote it without seeing it printed yet again, but here goes. It comes from the mouth of a woodsman who encounters Conan in a tavern at the end of the story, when a Pictish incursion has successfully wiped out a military outpost and pushed back the frontier. Conan has saved the lives of a number of settlers who would have been caught by the Picts but for him – and his own barbaric skills.

‘Barbarism is the natural state of mankind,” the borderer said, still staring somberly at the Cimmerian. “Civilization is unnatural. It is a whim of circumstance. And barbarism must always ultimately triumph.”

Much as H.P. Lovecraft admired REH’s writing and described him as “a true artist” whose stories were so vividly memorable because “he himself is in every one of them,” he took vehement issue with Howard there. The discussion in some of their correspondence became pretty heated, especially on Lovecraft’s side. On occasion he had wish-fulfilling visions of himself as “a Viking, a berserk killer, a drinker of foemen’s blood from clean-picked skulls,” which was his own idea of the primal Anglo-Saxon. However, for the most part he preferred civilization and genteel New England civilization in particular. As REH entertained and wrote intense visions of primeval barbarian warriors, Lovecraft dreamed of being a colonial Tory gentleman and rather considered the Revolution a regrettable piece of treason.

He actually became so miffed at REH’s attitudes at one point that he said they qualified him as “an enemy of humanity”. Yet Howard had a more balanced view than Lovecraft – not surprisingly, since Lovecraft was far more of a recluse than Howard. He dealt with real people with real foibles far less than Howard did. For example, the latter wrote (in a letter of September 22nd, 1932):

For myself, if I should be suddenly confronted with the prospect of being transported back through the centuries into a former age, with the option of living where I wished, I would naturally select the most civilized country possible. That would be necessary, for I have always led a peaceful, sheltered life, and would be unable to cope with conditions of barbarism … As a matter of personal necessity I would seek to adapt myself to the most protected and civilized society possible, would conform to their laws and codes of conduct, and if necessary, fight with them against the ruder races of my own blood.

He believed that if he could have been born a barbarian, “knowing no other life or environment than that … to grow up lean and hard and wolfish, worshipping barbarian gods” he would have been happier than he was in the world he knew. To quote John D. MacDonald, “A world I never knew. Maybe the worlds you never knew are always better than the ones you do.” REH himself was well, and realistically, aware of that truth. In another letter to Lovecraft, a couple of months later than the one quoted above (November 2nd, 1932), he admitted:

I would not choose to plunge into such a life now; it would be the sheerest of hells to me, unfitted as I am for such an existence. But I do say that if I had the choice of another existence, to be born into it and raised in it, knowing no other, I’d choose such an existence as I’ve just sought to depict. There’s no question of the relative merits of barbarism and civilization here involved. It’s just my own personal opinion and choice.

Perhaps. But to this blogger it seems significant that the ultimate barbarian, Conan the Cimmerian, is the only Cimmerian ever depicted in Howard’s stories. What’s more, in the first Conan story to see print, “The Phoenix on the Sword,” the scene that introduces Conan has him talking to his civilized pal Prospero about what a dismal country Cimmeria is. “A gloomier land never was … Mitra! The ways of the Aesir were more to my liking.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Gladewater Oil Field

Even though Howard lived in the 20th century Texas, he wasn’t too far removed from the violence and greed of the Old West. In Howard’s lifetime, it wasn’t gold or cattle, but rather oil — black gold — that seemed to bring out the worst in people, as Howard often observed:

Well, the oil war rages. Doubtless you’ve heard some echoes of it, on the East Coast. The Oklahoma City Oil Field is under martial law, and so is the great East Texas field. A thousand men of the National Guard are patrolling East Texas and they have Hickman and his Rangers there — to protect the National Guard, I reckon. Ordinarily I am rabidly opposed to any sort of martial law, but this time I believe it’s a good thing. The big oil companies are strangling the very life out of the industry.

I haven’t visited the East Texas field but I hear it’s a hummer. Several former law-officers of this section of the country served there for awhile in one capacity or another. But there seemed to be considerable prejudice there against West Texans, especially as officers, and this was probably increased when the former marshal of this town killed a man at Gladewater in a raid. Shortly afterwards an East Texas officer ran amuck and killed a Ranger, narrowly missing several other officers, before he himself was killed by one of them.

— Letter from Howard to Lovecraft, ca. August 1931

Texas Rangers and Oil Boom towns were often subjects of Howard’s correspondence — he admired the former and detested the latter. What both had in common were violence and danger, with one being the cause and the other being the solution. Such was the case of Texas Ranger Tom Hickman and the East Texas Oil Field.

East-Teaxs-Map-AOGHS-e1322151479727Sleepy East Texas was forever changed with the discovery of oil in 1930 and 1931. After suffering through the early years of the Great Depression, luck and wealth suddenly arrived, bringing national attention to the region.

In early 1929, 70-year-old wildcatter Columbus Marion “Dad” Joiner drilled two dry holes south of Kilgore. Undeterred by his initial failure, Joiner spudded a third hole in May on the Daisy Bradford farm in Rusk County. But it was not until October 3, 1930 that a production test was done, resulting in a gusher – the discovery well, Daisy Bradford No. 3.

Within a few months, oil fever came in with a rush, or rather a gush when a production test well owned by Bateman Oil Company (the Lou Della Crim well), south of Kilgore blew on December 17, 1930, flowing 22,000 barrels a day.

The well was only nine miles from Daisy Bradford No. 3, yet no one was aware that the two wells were part of what was then a geological phenomenon – an incredible deposit of oil in the Woodbine formation had “pinched out” as it tilted upward against the Sabine Uplift creating the massive East Texas Oil Field.

The initial Oil Boom was completed January 26, 1931 when the J.K. Lathrop lease in Gregg County hit black gold at 3,587 feet, producing 18,000 barrels daily. The Lathrop well was situated on land assembled by B.A. Skipper of Longview and taken over by the Arkansas Fuel Oil Company.

Production from the East Texas Oil Field skyrocketed from seven wells every other week, to seven wells daily, to a whopping 100 wells put into production each day. The first oil pumped out sold for $1.10 a barrel, but prices soon sank to 15 cents a barrel as supply flooded the market and drilling activity spread to the surrounding counties of  Upshur, Smith and Cherokee.

With hundreds of wells pumping around the clock, production swelled to more than 1,000,000 barrels a day. In August 1931, the situation was getting out of control — law and order needed to be restored to keep the peace between roughnecks, lease hounds, oil speculators and camp followers (gamblers, prostitutes, scam artists and ne’er-do-wells).

1930Glade

The root cause of the conflicts were the well operators, who were over-pumping – pulling so much oil out of the ground so fast it caused a glut and prices to  plummet drastically. Also, the speed at which the oil was coming out was  damaging the underground rock formations and potentially causing a collapse of the whole oil field area. Finally, the state had to resort to “proration” – limiting the supply of oil that could be pumped daily from each well. Of course, no one paid any attention to this regulation and pumped even more, given the small amount they were getting paid per barrel (as little as 2 cents).

Tempers flared and fuses were short. People were fighting in the streets, murders and shootouts were commonplace place as the populous became more desperate. The whole, complicated morass known as “The Oil Wars” played out on the once peaceful East Texas landscape.

On August 16, 1931, Governor Ross Sterling signed a Proclamation of Martial Law in East Texas. Captain Tom Hickman and his company of Texas Rangers, fresh from helping resolve the “Red River Bridge War” on the Texas-Oklahoma border, were enlisted on August 17, 1931 by Sterling to restore order in the East Texas Oil Field — he also sent Texas National Guard troops as well. Needless to say, both contingents of peacekeepers had their work cut out for them.

Tom HickmanThomas Rufus Hickman was born in northwest Cooke County, Texas on Feburary 12, 1886. According to Hickman himself, his given name and middle name came from two people who visited his father’s farm the day he was born — a white man named Tom and an Indian named Rufus. In 1907, Hickman graduating from Gainesville Business College and shortly after joined the Miller Brothers 101 Ranch Wild West Show. After leaving the show, he was appointed deputy sheriff of Cooke County. Hickman was chosen to be a private in Company B the Texas Rangers by  Governor William Pettus Hobby on June 16, 1919. He quickly rose to the rank of sergeant and by the end of 1920 he was Captain of Emergency Company #2. In 1922 Hickman became Captain of Company B.

Hickman worked on many famous cases, most notably the Santa Claus Bank Robbery that occurred in Cisco in December of 1927. He worked alongside other renowned Texas Rangers like Manuel T. “Lone Wolf” Gonzaullas and Frank Hamer. Hickman also projected a perfect image of  a Texas Ranger: he stood six feet tall, ramrod straight, and knew how to look good sitting on a horse. He dressed sharply and women and the press found him to be a fine example of what a man is supposed to be. Hickman was also an excellent marksman, but was a peacekeeper at heart — often saying: “I always tried to talk my way out of a situation instead of having to shoot my way out.”

When Hickman arrived in the East Texas Oil Field, he, along with his men and the National Guard shut-in all of the 1,650 oil wells in the area and sought to enforce the production proration and restore peace in the area. Of course, disgruntled operators did not like the restrictions and sought to pump in excess of their limit and smuggle that extra oil out of state to neighboring Oklahoma and Louisiana. Hickman and his men put a halt to these illegal hauls by stopping the dishonest railroad men, pipeliners and truckers who were aiding and abetting the operators’ actions.

Sterling Newspaper CartoonUltimately, the crisis blew up into a political nightmare for Sterling who was at odds with the oil companies, big and small over the proration and martial law. A court overturned Sterling’s Martial Law and the operators ignored the proration and the Texas Rangers and National Guard were forbidden to enforce the limits. Finally, weary of fighting a losing battle, the Rangers and Troops left. The initial drama of martial law and proration had soured the public on Sterling and the Texas Railroad Commission, which regulated oil operations. Eventually the whole mess was resolved, but not without getting the federal goverment involved in 1933.

As for Hickman, he was fired from the Texas Rangers by Governor James V. Allred in 1935 after a heated disagreement over Hickman’s alleged involvement with an illegal Arlington gambling operation. He worked for the Gulf Oil Company as head of  security for its pipeline division in the 1940s. Hickman returned to law enforcement in 1957 when Governor Alan Shivers appointed him to the Texas Department of Public Safety Commission for a six-year term. He became Chairman of the Commission in 1961 and served in that capacity until his death in January of 1962. Hickman is buried in his hometown of Gainesville.

This entry filed under H. P. Lovecraft, Howard's Texas.

arkham-darkminddarkheart

[Part 11 is here.]

By February 1962, Alvin Fick had completed his side of The Howard Collector #2, and by the beginning of March, copies were landing in mailboxes. Besides the rare Howard material, the first issue had included a verse index. The second issue contained Glenn’s listing of Howard’s fiction. These listings of Howard’s works, as well as Glenn’s use of Tevis Clyde Smith’s “Incidents” in #2, prodded Smith into his archives. On April 22, 1962 he wrote to Glenn:

Perhaps you’ll enjoy this rare little souvenir [The All-Around Magazine]. I set most of the type by hand, and the printing was done on a hand press that defied not only me but two employees from a semi-weekly newspaper who tried to get an impression.

I haven’t written because I’ve been extra busy since your last letter. There is information I wish to send you for the next copy of THE HOWARD COLLECTOR when I can get around to it—information that I believe that you’ll be able to use.

I think that you have an unusually good magazine in COLLECTOR, and I hope that you continue its publication.

1962 04-22 TCS to GL

Besides information from Smith, which came in slowly, Glenn was still on the hunt. On April 6, 1962, Leo Margulies, then publisher at Renown Publications and owner of Weird Tales, wrote the following to Lord after reviewing the Weird Tales records:

All that I was able to unearth were a series of seven cards—evidently Weird Tales kept a very careful record of all their purchases. And on those cards was a list of every story and verse they purchased from Mr. Howard. They indicated as his name and address: Robert Ervin Howard, L. B. 313, Cross Plains, Texas—and the notation that he died June 4 [sic.], 1936. “Send checks to his father, Dr. I. M. Howard, Cross Plains.” The cards also indicate that some of the stories were used in “os” (presumably Oriental Stories) and in “mc” (presumably Magic Carpet.) There was no correspondence whatsoever between Mr. Howard and Mr. Farnsworth Wright.

And E. Hoffmann Price was still good for a nugget or two. On June 11, he sent Glenn a postcard:

I mailed Mrs. Howard’s scrapbook to you Friday via insured parcel post. Keep it, & with my compliments. Far better it be in your hands, or those of any other aficionado, than in mine.

Meanwhile, Fick informed Glenn that he would no longer be able to produce The Howard Collector, though he could get the covers for #3 done. And, due to slow sales, Glenn was thinking about discontinuing it, anyway. But orders slowly came in and, by May 22, Glenn was talking to Donald M. Grant about printing. On that day, Grant wrote to Lord: “I’ll help you any way that I can on THE HOWARD COLLECTOR. However, please realize that I am not a printer by trade, and my equipment is entirely offset. [. . .] If you are agreeable to offset work and will not press for the completed job, in turn I would fit the COLLECTOR into my spare time and hold the cost to a minimum.” Grant wrote again on September 21, acknowledging receipt of the typescript for THC #3, and on October 15, saying that “The layout and first draft for THC #3 are complete. It will run 36 pages plus the cover (and the covers have arrived from Alvin Fick in good order; they will have to be trimmed a shade, but otherwise they look fine).” After a series of problems with his equipment, Grant was finally able to send proof copies to Glenn on November 20; and, despite its “Autumn 1962” date, the finished product wasn’t sent to Glenn until December 27, 1962, with copies reaching subscribers in January 1963.

Besides The Howard Collector, the only other Howard publishing to occur in 1962 was “The Grey God Passes” which appeared in the Arkham House collection Dark Mind, Dark Heart. On November 9, Arkham House top dog August Derleth wrote to Glenn:

I don’t think Oscar [Friend] is well. I have the contract in on THE DARK MAN & OTHERS, and the writing on it is very shaky indeed—like that of an old or very sick man. [. . .] I don’t believe either [Clark Ashton] Smith’s letters to HPL or Howard’s to HPL exist, no matter what you’ve heard. HPL used the backs of letters to write on, did occasionally keep scattered letters for some particular reference; but we have no reason to believe he kept entire correspondences.

On December 12, Clyde Smith wrote to Glenn: “I will have some interesting material for you for 4th issue, including some public domain stuff I know that you don’t have, and never heard of, and will be of interest. I unearthed it recently.” These items were more of Howard’s tales from The Tattler and his poems from the Daniel Baker Collegian.

With information from a variety of sources coming in regularly, a new printer for The Howard Collector, and a forthcoming Howard collection from Arkham House, 1963 was looking like it would be a great year for Howard fans. For one in particular, it would be the start of a life-changing series of events.

[Part 13, Conclusion, is here.]

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[Part 10 is here.]

Well before he had any ideas of publishing a fanzine of his own, Glenn Lord had been in contact with the editors/publishers of many amateur publications and presses. Those he was aware of, Glenn sent letters to, usually seeking to trade pulps, ’zines, or information; later, after the publication of Always Comes Evening, editors contacted him. As we have seen, Lord corresponded with George Scithers, of Amra fame; Larry Farsace, editor of The Golden Atom; Darrell C. Richardson, editor/publisher of The Fabulous Faust; and Joseph Payne Brennan, who put out Macabre. Glenn also exchanged letters with Oswald Train, a co-founder of the ill-fated Prime Press; D. Peter Ogden, editor of ERBania; Vernell Coriell, publisher of The Burroughs Bulletin; Jerry Page, who produced Sci-Fan; Jack L. Chalker, editor of Mirage . . . and the list goes on. So, when he started thinking of publishing his Robert E. Howard bibliography, the idea of a fanzine probably seemed the right way to go.

As early as 1959, Glenn had been trading Flash Gordon comic strips with Alvin Fick, who ran the amateur Pinion Private Press in his spare time. Mixed in with their trades are hints of Glenn’s ideas for publication. In an October 8, 1959 letter to Lord, Fick included a sample that showed what his press could accomplish and the following:

Your Robert E. Howard bibliography project is very intriguing. I am certainly susceptible to this type of printing commitment for my private press, in view of my interest in Howard and my bookish outlook in general. How many pages and how many copies do you anticipate? The enclosure will give you some idea of the kind of thing I do. Have also printed a couple of small books.

Glenn’s original plan had been to publish his bibliography as a chapbook, but when he started acquiring rare and unpublished Howard material, that changed. By April 1961, Glenn was ready. He sent a package to Fick, who responded on April 11, 1961:

Received your letter and sheaf of manuscript in the mail yesterday, perusing the former with pleasure and the latter with enjoyment mingled with a bit of misgiving at the amount of copy. Naturally, I had no idea your original plans had been altered to the extent that you now plan a periodical. Being a Howard fan myself, I am delighted by this change in course.

Fick’s letter goes on to describe the trials and tribulations of amateur printing and presents Glenn with several different options for printing—options that effect the speed and quality of the eventual publication. Whatever options Glenn decides on, Fick warns that Glenn “must not count on the first issue to be labeled ‘Spring 1961’—that I simply cannot do.”

The very next day, April 12, Fick sent his estimates on cost and speed: “The job done with machine set type would cost $123.50 for 200 copies, 5×7 size on a good quality text paper (cream white vellum) and a good quality grey cover. 150 copies for $113.50.” The other option, if Glenn was “willing to wait patiently,” was for Fick to “pick up each letter in the ancient one-at-a-time ritual” for a cost of $100 for 200 copies or $90 for 150.

A May 14 letter from Fick shows “some progress on The Howard Collector, with five pages in type” and this:

Sober second thoughts about the 60¢ price you have tentatively set for Collector have occurred to me. [. . .] I don’t see why you could not in all fairness ask 75¢. After all, this is to be a quality item, printed on good paper by letterpress from hand set type. So much for production. As to content, I can really wax eloquent. The information for those interested in Howard is priceless. Frankly, I would pay the price just to have the unpublished items by Howard which you are presenting. “The Sands of Time” alone is worth the price of admission. And the index is a permanent reference of real worth.

While Fick was building it, Glenn was promoting it by placing advertisements in various publications and writing letters. Starting in the spring, he began accepting pre-orders from all over the fan community. On June 11, Tevis Clyde Smith sent “$1.20 for two copies of the first issue.” And as the news of the Howard publication spread, other people began contacting Glenn, including Donald Sidney-Fryer, who wrote to Glenn on June 19: “This is essentially a letter of inquiry: I would like to know when your HOWARD COLLECTOR will be published, how much per issue or how much a subscription, etc. I am keenly interested in your project.” He goes on to praise much of Howard’s work, saying that his “favorite Howard character is Solomon Kane, a really original creation.”

On June 30, Roy G. Krenkel sent in his order, with the following: “I’ve never stopped hoping that you or some other active Howard admirer would succeed in talking some publisher into printing the other Howard weird tales (other than the already printed Conan tales that is). There must be enough to fill up several volumes.” Krenkel would later provide what some have called the finest illustrations of Howard’s work in the Grant edition of Howard’s The Sowers of the Thunder.

1961 06-30 Krenkel to GL

On July 4, Norris Chambers sent in “$1.00 to cover cost of the book, postage, and coffee for you.”

During the spring and early summer, Lord and Fick had settled on a print-run of 250 copies at a cost of $110, some of which Glenn paid by trading comics and books, which left him a total of $77.25. Finally, on August 21, 1961, Alvin Fick wrote to Glenn:

Yesterday wife Alma finished the binding of the last of the books—The Howard Collector Number 1 is finished. Tonight we are packing for mailing tomorrow 197 copies to add to the 55 already mailed a while back.

While Glenn was waiting to receive the shipment, news of Clark Ashton Smith’s death on August 14 was spreading through the fan community. On August 25, George Haas wrote to Glenn:

You may have heard the sad news by this time—of the passing away on August 14 of Clark Ashton Smith. He had had a series of light strokes, then suffered a severe one from which he could not recover. He died at home as he wished, in his own bed and not in a hospital. He suffered no pain and died in his sleep. I was with him all afternoon that day but he was not able to talk. [. . .] With his passing we have lost the dean of fantasy writers and, in my humble opinion, the greatest of them all. This is the end of an era—there will never be another like it.

Of some consolation to those not personally affected by Smith’s demise, The Howard Collector #1, summer 1961, started hitting mailboxes in late August. On August 27, Lenore Preece wrote to Glenn: “I am greatly impressed by your first copy of The Howard Collector. Its format is most handsome—and scholarly, too.”

On September 4, Fick wrote to congratulate Glenn and included the following:

I appreciate your thinking of me in regard to a possible second number of THC, especially since it must have seemed at some points that I would never finish the first one! I’d like to have a crack at it because it is the kind of thing I like to do.

Other complimentary letters, orders, and requests for a second issue, starting coming in almost immediately from Tevis Clyde Smith, Lee Baldwin, Donald M. Grant, Kirby McCauley, Bob Briney, Norbert Sydow, L. Sprague de Camp, and others. E. Hoffmann Price sent his thanks on September 4 and added the following:

The Dr. Howard letter you published contained nothing essential new to me, but it did somehow give me a clearer insight into a situation which has for years nagged me: the situation after or at Mrs. Howard’s death, and the query, unanswered and unanswerable, “Could some close friend’s presence have prevented the suicide, if that friend had been briefed, by Dr. Howard, as to Robert’s long term trend of feeling?” The question of course isn’t answered, yet I seem somehow to get a hint as to Dr. Howard’s inability to forestall the tragedy.

Even as the first installment of his bibliography was being printed, Glenn’s quest for Howard material continued. The rest of 1961 was a continual trading of information and material from one fan to another, and the search for E. Hoffmann Price’s “tear sheets” was still first and foremost. On November 20, Price wrote to Glenn about a forthcoming trip to Houston: “Will be Kirk Mashburn’s guests 19-20th, leaving early Dec. 21 for New Orleans. [. . .] Will phone you from Houston. Will try meanwhile to dig up information as to spicies etc., things mentioned in your letters, and we’ll discuss missing REH letters.”

And Glenn was still trying to get copies of things from Oscar Friend. On December 7, L. Sprague de Camp had a suggestion:

The last I saw of those 2 unpub. REH mss., they were in a carton along with a pile of other REH mss. in Friend’s house in Flushing. (He has since moved to Levittown.) Oscar, I understand, has had strokes, and he was not the quickest correspondent even before. So the only way to unearth these mss. is to go to Levittown & do it oneself.

[Part 12 is here.]

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He is perhaps the greatest figure in Southwestern legendry. Hundreds of tales – a regular myth-cycle – have grown up around him. But his life needs no myths to ring with breath-taking adventure and heroism.

— Letter from REH to Lovecraft, circa October 1931

The ferocious hand-to-hand single combat of Bigfoot Wallace with an unnamed huge Indian, described last post, took place in the fall of 1842. That was a busy time for Wallace. His chronicler and former comrade John C. Duval wrote:

He was at the battle of the Salado … when General Woll came in and captured San Antonio. The fight began about 11 o’clock in the day, and lasted until night. General Woll had fourteen hundred men, and the Texans one hundred and ninety-seven, under Caldwell (commonly known as “Old Paint”). Between eighty and one hundred Mexicans were killed, while the Texans lost only one man (Jett).

General Adrian Woll was a remarkable character himself. Born near Paris in 1795, he had served in the defense of that city against Napoleon’s enemies in 1814 – not long before Waterloo. Woll later emigrated to the U.S.A. and then moved to Mexico, where he lived as a civilian until the War for Mexican Independence was won. After that, in 1830, when Spain invaded Mexico (not willing to accept the fact of Mexican independence), Woll was called into active service by the Mexican government. He served under General Antonio de Santa Ana in – among other actions – San Jacinto. The Texans defeated him at the Battle of Salado Creek in September 1842, and then at the Battle of Hondo River in the same month, effectively scotching a serious Mexican attempt to retake Texas.

In Robert E. Howard’s words, Bigfoot Wallace “was at the Salado, he marched on the Mier Expedition and drew a white bean; he was at Monterey.” Salado Creek was an engagement in which fifty-four Texans found themselves up against five hundred Mexican cavalry and a couple of cannon. Thirty-six Texans died and fifteen were captured. In retaliation for this and other raids into Texas, the Somervell Expedition, 700 men under the command of a customs officer, recaptured Laredo from the Mexicans in December 1842, and then took the Mexican town of Guerrero. They received no further official backing and their numbers were reduced, so Somervell thought that to proceed was not feasible in the circumstances. He ordered his men to disband. Five captains and their men, led by William Fisher, ignored him and pressed on to Ciudad Mier. They numbered 308 altogether. William “Bigfoot” Wallace was among them.

They didn’t know there were three thousand Mexican troops in the area.

The Texans killed 650 of the enemy before their survivors had to surrender. General Santa Ana, the ruler of Mexico, ordered them all shot, but intense political representation from the United States and Britain induced Santa Ana to give what he called a compromise. Only one in ten of the prisoners would die. The appropriate proportion of white beans and black ones were placed in a pot and the prisoners were compelled to take part in a life-or-death lottery. Seventeen men drew black beans and were shot by firing squad. One, James Shepherd, feigned death, and when left in the courtyard, went over the wall despite his wounds – but he was recaptured and shot again. One of the leaders, Captain Ewen Cameron, drew a white bean, but Santa Ana ordered him shot nevertheless.

Bigfoot Wallace was among those who drew a white bean and survived.

Coming back to Texas, he joined the Rangers in the division’s early days, serving under another of its legends, Jack Hays, until the Mexican-American War broke out in 1846. It lasted a year and a half. The Rangers played a significant part in it; they became General Zachary Taylor’s “eyes and ears”, in fact, and scouted the most desirable route to Monterey for their commander. Wallace was in the thick of it from the beginning, his desire to “take pay out of the Mexicans” no doubt even stronger since the black bean affair. During that war, he was a lieutenant with the Texas Mounted Volunteers. As REH wrote, he “was at Monterey,” like his fellow Rangers Jack Hays and Ben McCulloch.

There had been “Rangers” in Texas even in the 1820s, with Stephen Austin being the first to call them by that name. An ordinance of the General Council, in November 1835, had first called for a definite organization and command structure. It provided for three Ranger companies, 56 men in each, with a captain, first and second lieutenants. Overall command of the three companies was vested in a Major. Privates were paid $1.25 a day and were required to find their own horses and equipment. The “Texas Almanac” website comments, in the post “Texas Rangers: From Horses to Helicopters” with an understatement that seems more English than Texan, “… a lack of funding was a constant obstacle for the Rangers until well into the twentieth century.” Even Sam Houston, in the 1830s, was pretty niggardly with their budget from concern for the public purse of Texas. When Mirabeau Lamar became President of the Republic of Texas at the end of 1838, he saw the need to expand the Rangers considerably, and he did. Five more companies were raised. A large part of their function was to counter marauding Native Americans. As Wallace said of the year 1842, “A fellow’s scalp wasn’t safe on his head five minutes.” Wallace did his share of Indian fighting. REH commented:

When he settled on a ranch in the Medina country, he made a treaty with the Lipans that they would not steal his cattle. They kept that treaty until they decided to move westward. When they moved, they took Bigfoot’s stock with them – every head of it. Bigfoot was slow to anger; he was swift in vengeance. He went to San Antonio and was given charge of a ranger company of some thirty men. With them he hunted the thieves to the head-waters of the Guadalupe River. In the ensuing battle two white men bit the dust, but forty-eight red warriors went to the Happy Hunting Grounds, and the Lipans dwindled from that day, and in a comparatively short time, were but a memory of a once-powerful tribe.

— Letter from REH to Lovecraft, circa October 1931

Read the rest of this entry »

This entry filed under August Derleth, H. P. Lovecraft, Howard's Texas.

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[Part 9 is here.]

As the 1960s began, Howard publishing continued its sluggish pace. George Scithers published an excerpt from one of Howard’s letters to August Derleth (which Scithers entitled “On Astounding”) in the January 1960 issue of Amra; “Dreams of Nineveh” appeared in The Golden Atom’s 20th Anniversary issue; “The Challenge from Beyond” appeared in Fantastic Science Fiction Stories for May 1960; and the Wollheim-edited Macabre Reader, containing Howard’s “The Cairn on the Headland,” was re-issued in the United Kingdom.

For Glenn Lord, the beginning of the 1960s was the same as the end of the ’50s: he traded pulp magazines and information regarding Robert E. Howard with an ever-growing circle of fans, collectors, and professionals, as well as individuals who had actually known the writer from Cross Plains personally or through correspondence. This last group included people like E. Hoffmann Price, Tevis Clyde Smith, Clark Ashton Smith, Lindsey Tyson, Frank Thurston Torbett, Norbert P. Sydow, and Lenore Preece. The former group was of course much larger, but included some well-known individuals like Donald Wollheim, Joseph Payne Brennan, Darrell C. Richardson, John Pocsik (then only 16-years-old), L. Sprague de Camp, and others. And Glenn was still looking for more.

In a postcard postmarked January 28, 1960, Dale Hart tells Glenn’s a bit about one of his people-of-interest: “Alvin Earl Perry has been absent from his bookshop when I tried to contact him. I’ll keep working on the case.”

Another person Glenn was interested in was the co-author of “The Last Ride,” Robert Enders Allen (aka Chandler Whipple). In a February 14 postcard, Tevis Clyde Smith tells Lord, “As for Allen, I am sorry, but I am unable to be of assistance, as I have no recollection of ever having heard of him before.” On February 22, Lindsey Tyson checked in with the following:

You mentioned a Robert Enders Allen. I never heard Bob mention anyone by that name. I am of the opinion that there was no such person because Bob did not like partners in anything. Bob did speak quite often of H. P. Lovecraft and Otis A. Kline. Dave Lee informs me that he had never heard of Allen either, and I am sorry to say that he has none of Bob’s material.

Other information was obtained from noted CAS scholar George F. Haas, including the following from a March 1, 1960 letter:

Among the more precious items in my dusty archives is a hand-written letter from H. P. Lovecraft to Clark Ashton Smith. There are three sheets or six pages of closely written script. There is no date on the letter but the envelope is postmarked June 20, 1936. On the last page is this paragraph:

“Since beginning this epistle I’ve had a most depressing & staggering message—a postcard with the report that good old Two-Gun Bob has committed suicide. It seems incredible—I had a long normal letter from him dated May 13. He was worried about his mother’s health, but otherwise seemed perfectly all right. If the news is indeed true, it forms weird fiction’s worst loss since the passing of Whitehead in 1932. Few others of the gang had quite the zest & spontaneity of good old R.E.H. I certainly wish I could get a bulletin saying the report is a mistake! ’36 is certainly a hellish year!”

Glenn even contacted Howard contemporary and Weird Tales regular Seabury Quinn, whom he reached through Arkham House. Quinn responded on August 7:

You are correct in surmising that I was an admirer of the work of the late Robert E. Howard, whom I considered one of the few really significant contributors to 20th Century American fantasy. Unfortunately, however, I never had occasion to exchange letters with him, or to meet him personally, so I’m afraid I can’t be very helpful to you in your projected compilation of his works. This is unfortunate, and I assure you that if I had any such material I’d be glad to let you have it. Fantasy writers of the early part of this century undoubtedly did make significant contributions to the sum of American literature, but except for a few interested people, such as you and August Derleth, their work has gone largely unnoticed.

1960 08-07 Quinn to GL

All the while Glenn was still trying to get copies of Oscar Friend’s inventory. In the above letter, Quinn told Lord, “I’m also not too much surprised at Oscar Friend’s lack of cooperation. I’ve done business with Friend.” And in a September 28 letter, L. Sprague de Camp has the following:

I don’t know what can be done to move Oscar Friend; I have had the same sort of trouble with him. The only thing that works is to call at his home in person and ask to be allowed to go through the stuff, and that’s not always practical.

Frustrated with Friend’s pace, Glenn wrote to the former owners of the Kline Agency and asked if they had anything. Kline’s daughter, Ora Rossini, responded on November 22: “I am sure that we no longer have anything of this sort. Probably the records went to Oscar Friend with any material, and the personal correspondence must have been destroyed.”

At the turn of the new year, Glenn had gathered enough information about Howard publications that he was almost ready to publish his findings. He wrote to George Scithers for advice on January 10, 1961:

Wonder if you’d tell me a few things. First, do you have to register (or anything) with the local authorities when you publish a fanzine? Secondly are any other steps necessary to copyright same except so stating in the fanzine? And what did you wind up having to pay Oscar Friend for the use of the Howard poem and fragment you used? Reason I’m asking all this is I’m seriously thinking of issuing a deluxe fanzine with material about and by Howard. Perhaps just a one-shot.

While Glenn was contemplating publication, 1961 did bring some Howard appearances: “Rogues in the House” ran in the British edition More Not at Night; “The Garden of Fear” was reprinted in Fantastic Stories of Imagination, May 1961 and “The Dead Remember” in the December 1961 issue. Fire and Sleet and Candlelight was put out by Arkham House—it contains two Howard poems.

Besides these appearances, Howard was about to crack the small screen. On March 23, 1961, MCA Artists sent Oscar Friend contracts for Dr. Kuykendall to sign “covering certain television rights in the story entitled PIGEONS FROM HELL, written by the late Mr. Howard.” Their offer of $400 was enough to get Friend moving for a change. He wrote to P. M. Kuykendall, unaware that he had died in 1959 and left the Howard rights to his wife and daughter. This caused some trouble with MCA for, as Friend put it in his March 24 letter to the dead doctor, “A TV sale always requires a lot of red tape because they get sued so much. In this case they require the signature of the administrator of the estate instead of the agent for estate.” This last requirement necessitated the new heirs sending Friend copies of Dr. I. M. Howard’s will and other documents related to their ownership. When the dust from the MCA deal had cleared, Friend wrote to his new clients, April 6, 1961:

First, please accept my belated condolence for the lost [sic.] of your husband which I was not aware of but which I should have suspected and written about, except that I myself have been incapacitated due to illness myself during the past two years (cataractal). [. . .] The Robert L. [sic.] Howard estate is growing rather complicated, what with the passing of Mr. Kline, and now with the passing of Dr. Kuykendall. Because of the revival of SF and Fantasy in literature, with the rather surprising continual existence of interest in the work of Robert Howard, it means that you and I should become better acquainted.

Friend no doubt envisioned future fat checks from production companies. “Pigeons from Hell” aired on NBC’s Thriller, June 6, 1961. Of course, for our purposes, the most important publishing that appeared in 1961 was The Howard Collector.

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[Part 11 is here.]

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[Part 8 is here.]

At the end of 1958, Glenn Lord was collecting, and seeking information on, Robert E. Howard’s published and unpublished material. He wrote the following to Oscar J. Friend on November 28, 1958:

I wonder if you might sometime supply me with the titles of the Howard stories that you have, signifying the ones that you believe to have been previously published. This would be very helpful in an otherwise uncertain indexing and would in fact be mutually beneficial as I am collecting the magazines containing Howard stories and would be able to loan you copies of stories not in your files should the need arise.

Besides Friend, Lord had feelers out in both the fan and professional communities. By the beginning of 1959, he was even receiving information from overseas regarding foreign publications, but it appears that his major interest was in tracking down unpublished material.

On January 12, 1959, Stuart M. Boland responded to one of Glenn’s earlier letters:

I corresponded with Bob for quite some time before his demise—also with his father. I have not located the missives, but if recollection and reminiscence will help, I can give you some rather colorful data concerning the letters we exchanged on European topics, art culture, archeology and anthropology, ecology and the Dark Ages. I was abroad for the goodly part of a year (1935) and wrote from Yugoslavia, Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Azores, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, England, Scotland, Ireland, Austria, Portugal, Belgium, Greece, Holland, Switzerland, and all the usual areas of the Grand Tour. I also wrote from North Africa, (Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, etc.) ditto Asia Minor, Turkey, Palestine, etc. He replied via American Express “post haste” and asked about Pompeii, Bosco Reali, Herculaneum, Rhodes, Olympus, Palmyra, Orvieto, Palermo, etc. I corresponded with H. P. Lovecraft also on Latin American cultures: Mayas, Zapotecs, Aztecs, Incas, etc.

LASFS1-11 FTLaneyGlenn wrote back, apparently asking for copies of the letters, and Boland responded on February 1st: “All I can give you is a ‘Remembrance of Robert Howard’ based on what I recall of his correspondence. Laney had all the original papers and missives.” Of course, by this time, Francis T. Laney, publisher of The Acolyte, was dead.

Glenn wrote to Laney’s widow and received a letter back, dated February 6: “As soon as I can find a bit of time I’ll get into Francis’ files and see if the tear sheets of Howard’s material and the Lovecraft correspondence is there.” Two months later, April 25, she wrote again: “I have at last gone through all Mr. Laney’s effects. I did not find either the tear sheets or the Howard-Lovecraft correspondence. I am sorry. Neither did I find reference or correspondence which would have indicated where they might be.” This lead was a dead end.

Meanwhile, Lord continued his correspondence with Lenore Preece, telling her that former Junto contributor Truett Vinson was living near her in Austin. Preece replied on January 19, 1959, saying that it was “quite a surprise to learn that Truett is in Austin.” She is hesitant to contact him and adds that she thinks “it would be best for you to write him directly.” She closes by saying that of his friends, “Truett and Clyde knew Bob better than anyone.”

Glenn sent Lenore some information on Howard and she responded on February 2: “I shall be very happy when I can reciprocate to some extent by sending you copies of my remaining material.” And this:

I do hope you can get something from Truett. Bob wrote so voluminously, surely someone must have preserved a few of his writings or letters. I would be reluctant to turn loose of the letters I have unless I were quite convinced there was no chance of their publication in book form.

Preece wrote again on April 6, hoping Glenn would send her copies of Howard’s letters to August Derleth, which Glenn had discovered were in the State of Wisconsin Historical Society’s archives. [Note: Amra editor George Scithers had just found this stash as well; he and Lord joined forces to acquire copies and Scithers published several excerpts from the letters in his fanzine.] She also promised to keep looking for Howard material—“I sent several appeals to Norbert P. Sydow [a Junto contributor] to look through his (inaccessible) papers but was unable to bring it about. However, my sister is in touch with him; and I feel quite sure that if he ever goes through his souvenirs, he will loan me anything of Bob’s he has.”—as well as sending what she already has: “I am sending you copies of the Bob Howard letters you do not have. Also, two sketches. That about concludes the inventory except for a few sketches by Bob and his comments on The Junto. I do not think you would be particularly interested in them; but if at any time you are, let me know.”

The letters she sent were from Howard to her brother, Harold Preece. Lenore added a post script to the above letter:

You will note the letter of 9-18-29 contains some racial prejudice against the Negroes. After Buchenwald and Belsen it seems to me that racial prejudice is too robust a dish for civilized people. If you send anybody a copy of Bob’s letter, will you please delete this reference? Bob would no doubt have changed his views with more maturity.

At some point during this time, Glenn had contacted Tevis Clyde Smith. Glenn told me that his first contacts with Smith were not productive; Smith was guarded and standoffish. Glenn wrote to Lenore Preece about him and she responded on September 2:

I think Clyde’s idea of writing down his reminiscences very worthwhile. At one time in Bob’s life, Truett and Clyde were his closest friends. I wish Truett and Norris [Chambers] would also record their impressions. However, I can’t agree that Clyde was Bob’s only close friend with writing ability. Booth Mooney and Harold considered themselves close friends, and both have written books. Their concept preceded Bob’s death and posthumous recognition.

And Glenn wasn’t the only person acquiring rare Howard material. Earlier that year, George H. Scithers had visited Ed Price. On January 26, 1959, he wrote to Oscar Friend: “While going through some of Robert E. Howard’s tear sheets—now in the hands of E. Hoffmann Price—I came across a couple of unpublished fragments of Howard’s work:” these were “But the Hills Were Ancient Then” and the untitled fragment that begins “The wind from the Mediterranean . . .” He transcribed both pieces for Friend and then continued: “By now, you should have gotten a copy of AMRA, Volume 2 number 1, which, by an arrangement with George Heap, I am publishing for the time being. I would like very much to obtain your permission to publish these two fragments.”

Learning of these finds, Lord wrote to Scithers, who responded with a postcard postmarked May 28: “As far as I know, Price has nothing else of Howard’s.” The two items he’d found appeared consecutively in the November and December issues of Amra in 1959. The only other Howard publishing that year was a reprint of “The Cairn on the Headland” in the Donald A. Wollheim edited Ace paperback, The Macabre Reader, which appeared on Newsstands in or before April of that year.

That summer, Lord and his wife vacationed in California and Glenn finally met Price face-to-face, as well as George Scithers and Clark Ashton Smith. On August 23, Price wrote to Glenn, thanking him for stopping by, and included the following comments:

My inclination is to divide the Howard tear sheets among the collectors & students I know. That would be better than letting the pages fall apart, from age & chemical deterioration, unshared by those who, like yourself, [are] as keenly interested in REH’s writings. The letters from REH to HPL must be in the hands of someone who prefers to keep rather than return. Totaling literally a ream of paper, those letters could not have remained hidden in the Lamasery, after all the reshuffling of recent months.

[. . .] Howard had mentioned Tevis Clyde Smith, either in letters or during my visits to Cross Plains. I wish that I could have met him.

Either during his trip or shortly thereafter, Glenn acquired copies of Howard’s letters to Clark Ashton Smith. Sometime in September or October, Smith wrote Glenn a note. On a card dated only “1959” Smith says, “The letters from Howard were all I could locate of his. I suppose they were formal because we wrote so few and had never met.”

1959 12-00 CAS to GL 2

Following his visit with Price and Smith, Glenn started contacting other members of the Lovecraft circle who might have corresponded with Howard, including Frank Belknap Long, Bernard Dwyer, and Wilfred B. Talman. On September 22, Talman responded to Glenn’s inquiry:

I never had any extensive correspondence with Bob Howard. Perhaps there were as many as two or three letters of any length and any consequence, other than what perfunctory communications might have passed between us when he submitted “The Ghost of Camp Colorado” at my suggestion to The Texaco Star. I remember only one letter that was of any length or significance and was at all personal. I probably still have it with all my correspondence I have saved in very general chronological order for close to 40 years, but it would be a chore to find it. You’re welcome to it if you think it would be any addition, but it would not be well to get your hopes up about its having any value as to content. It may or may not have accompanying it a snapshot he sent at the time—I think it was a simple picture in Western attire.

On November 24, he received the following from Dwyer’s brother: “I am sorry I mislaid your letter, but must tell you that my brother passed away some time ago, and I do not know about the correspondence you were interested in.”

Earlier in the year, Glenn had started wondering about how to disseminate the information he was acquiring. Through his collecting activities he had met an amateur with a private press, Alvin Fick. On October 8, Fick wrote to Lord:

Your Robert E. Howard bibliography project is very intriguing. I am certainly susceptible to this type of printing commitment for my private press, in view of my interest in Howard and my bookish outlook in general. How many pages and how many copies do you anticipate?

Eventually, Fick would become the printer of a new Howard publication.

Supernatural_Thrillers_003-01

Finally, 1959 marks the first hint (that I’m aware of) of Howard’s future comic book success in English language publications. Howard’s “Queen of the Black Coast” had earlier been spun into a lengthy, unauthorized series of Mexican comic books (see Jeffrey Shanks’ blog), but prior to Oscar Friend’s April 19 letter to Kuykendall, there’s not much mention of Howard in the comics. Friend’s letter has this:

I have just completed a two-year lease for $15 for THE VALLEY OF THE WORM with a Mr. Gilbert Kane to make a cartoon pix of it, and I herewith include my check for $13.50 in payment thereof.

Unless I’m missing something (I’m not all that up to date on the comics), this interpretation didn’t see print until the April 1973 issue of Supernatural Thrillers (#3) published by Marvel Comics.

[Part 10 is here.]

This is the third of a series of posts about Howard’s good friend Harold Preece and the lady poet Winona Morris Nation. This actually started as a one shot deal, but blossomed into something more when Winona’s son John Nation contacted me with new, previously unknown facts about the last 14 years of Harold’s life with Winona. Those earlier posts can be found here and here. I have to give special thanks to John for the information he provided for this post

In the beginning it was just Harold in love with her. She admired Harold; respected him; but love grew more slowly for her. One morning after taking care of Harold’s breakfast and cleaning his apartment as she did daily, Winona stormed up the stairs mad as a wet hen saying, “That Harold Preece thinks we are having a great love affair. Let me tell you we are not having a great love affair.”

But whatever got her riled, it passed.

Then fast forward about ten years to late 1990. John was then living in the Bahamas on a sailboat and he returned every year to the states to stay two months with Winona in her house. This is why John knows things about the pair his brothers don’t – he was part of their lives on a daily basis.

The first Gulf War had just started and John was troubled by all the sabre rattling and hoopla. One day at lunch he said to Winona, “I live in a country of eternal sun where wars never come — the Bahamas. With what we have together we could rent a small house and spend the rest of our lives there in peace and happiness.”

It was as if she didn’t see or hear John. She sort of looked right through him like he was transparent. “I could never leave Harold,” was all she said. So you see he had won her heart. And there are her poems to prove it “. . . one man alone has plumbed my depths” (from “The Vigil Keeper”).

Winona appreciated many different kinds of poetry, except for “beat poetry.” She had nothing against the style; it just didn’t appeal to her. Both John and Winona read some of Howard’s prose and John was impressed by its apparent effortlessness —  its flow and smoothness — its ability to express a mood or a description of something in what for a painter would be a few simple but elegant brushstrokes.

But John has no specific memory of Winona saying anything about Howard’s poetry — good or bad. She did write a poem about the day he died called “Storm Over Cross Plains,” which appeared in Simba #2 (Simba Reproductions, 1978).

Storm Over Cross Plains
by Winona Morris Nation

Celtic chieftans rode the wind.
Lightning sharpened the fearless swords,
Of Conan, Conar and Glek and Dork
All the dark avenging lords.

Their mythical steeds rearing wild with power
Their voices shouting with primal glee
He heard them calling in the cosmic storm
And said “My own have come for me”.

Nearer they came, their fury growing
The thunder of their summons rolled.
And he looked above the little town
And felt the fear in him grow bold.

“From this night on I ride with them,
I will fight against our bitter foe.
Seeking the monsters of the mind.
To vanquish them; to bring them low.”

His answer sped across the night.
Swift and certain was his reply
And the Texas town slept on not knowing
What was happening in the sky.

Winona’s best friend was fellow poet Betty Shipley, who later became Poet Laureate of the State of Oklahoma. The pair wrote in two totally different styles of poetry. Winona’s was of the classical style, while Betty’s’ poetry was off the cuff, witty, modernist and often hilarious. Betty and Winona were sort of the “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” of the Oklahoma Poetry Society. They cleaned up at every poetry contest each year, leaving pretty slim pickings for everyone else.

As a student, Winona would place third in the National Collegiate Poetry Contest, behind poets from Princeton and Yale. As a professional writer she received the Lasky Literary Award and has been chosen as one of the top twenty poets in America by Atlantic Monthly.

The Y ChapelBetty was John’s friend in those bleak days when he was cleaning Winona’s house and putting her things and Harold’s in big storage boxes. She’d make him stop and take him to lunch a couple of times a week just to get him out of the house. The two of them attended a memorial service  for Winona on November 10, 1992, in the Y-Chapel of Song on the campus of the University of Central Oklahoma. The memorial was conducted by her mentor, Dr. Cliff Warren. According to John, Betty is gone now, which is tragic since she would have been a great source on Harold and Winona.

John wants to start something similar to Howard Days for Winona — some sort of annual celebration of her life and works. Her century old childhood home is still standing, a big two story farm house out on the prairies of Stephens County, Oklahoma. Winona’s hometown is Comanche, just north of the Red River on US 81. Indeed, there was some talk a few years back in her community of converting the elegant old mansion into a museum, one room of which would be devoted to Winona. When John returns to Cisco, Texas later this year, he plans to go to Cross Plains for a the tour of the Howard House Museum. His goal is do something akin to what has been done to the Howard House to Winona’s old homestead.

The next step for Winona is Oxford, England. She is basically unknown now even in her home state of Oklahoma, which has a very poor record of promoting its artists. So gaining a following, even a small one in England, would be a victory. John and a writer friend are going to “beard the English Poetic Lion in its den” and get a verdict once and for all on the enduring artistic merit of her work — if any.

Here is another example of Winona’s poetry from Fantasy Crosswinds #2 (Stygian Isle Press,1977):

The Red Rain
by Winona Morris Nation

The wet red rose
Drips blood, and I stop.
Alerted by a possible ominous meaning,
I can not define or correlate.

I know of no precedent that would establish
The likelihood of such an occurrence.
It exists in the mind as a bizarre explosion of disbelief.
An idea for which there is no antecedent.

Yet, I see the rose drip red.
And there is no acuity in the mind that can convince
Me it is not so.Cyrano de Bergerac

Like Howard, Winona never saw a collection of her writing in a book during her lifetime. Eight years after her death, If I Still Hold Earth As Dear, a volume of her poetry was published by Vantage Press. Additionally, all of Winona’s works have been put on computer disks in a year-long effort by her sister-in-law Fredrica Morris, Winona’s brothers wife, now an incredible 97 years young and looking to make the century mark. As for Harold’s writings, Winona told John that Harold had sold the copyrights of his books (there are five that John knows of), years before he passed away.

John is currently writing an account of his mother’s life as seen through his eyes. He expects the volume will run over 500 pages and has written 200 pages so far. When the book is finished, John is returning to the USA to get some things sorted out —  particularly related to Harold and Winona, their writings and their lives together.

Winona once told John that Harold’s wish for an epitaph for a possible memorial was: “He loved the purity of his white plume.” Of course, the white plume Harold referred to was from Edmond Rostand’s famous play Cyrano de Bergerac:

All my laurels you have riven away… and my roses; yet in spite of you there is one crown I bear away with me. And tonight, when I enter before God, my salute shall sweep away all the stars from the blue threshold! One thing without stain, unspotted from the world in spite of doom mine own and that is… my white plume.

The plume represents purity and love that have not been ruined by external forces.

 Winona’s poems courtesy of John Nation.
This entry filed under Harold Preece, Howard Days, Howard House Museum.

Yes, Bigfoot Wallace was really a gigantic figure in the old days of the Southwest, when individual prowess and courage meant so much in the development of the frontier. Wallace was well qualified to rank with the more widely known Indian fighters, such as Wetzel, Kenton, Boone, Kit Carson, and Buffalo Bill – if you might call the last an Indian fighter, one of the most over-rated and over-advertised figures west of the Mississippi.

— Letter from REH to Lovecraft, circa October 1931

The Texas Rangers, like the Mounties, have become a legend. Their best known fictional icon is the Lone Ranger, who before he donned the mask and began using silver bullets, belonged to that doughty band and was one of a posse ambushed by outlaws. The sole survivor, he was accordingly the Lone Ranger.

Tales of the Texas Rangers, like The Lone Ranger, began as a radio serial and later became a TV series. Interestingly, it was presented more as a police procedural drama with a western flavor than a horse opera. It featured a fictional Texas Ranger, Jace Pearson. There was also a comic book, Jace Pearson’s Texas Rangers. The consultant for the series was the very real – and extraordinary – Captain Manuel T. Gonzaullas, one of the Ranger Division’s real life legends. Since his nickname was “The Lone Wolf,” he might even have contributed something to the origins of the Lone Ranger.

(There was also Walker – Texas Ranger with Chuck Norris, about which the less said the better. It did provide one good use, though. In the funny Will Ferrell movie Talladega Nights – the Legend of Ricky Bobby the none-too-bright racing car driver names his two obstreperous brats Walker and Texas Ranger.)

The Valley of the Lost - Greg StaplesCaptain Gonzaullas served in the Rangers in the twentieth century. Bigfoot Wallace, another brave and famous member of the corps, came much earlier; he was among the first Texas Rangers. Robert E. Howard wrote a good deal about him in his letters, and also mentioned him in his story, “The Valley of the Lost.” The protagonist, Reynolds, at one point remembers the story of a band of Kiowas who settled in the accursed valley of the title, after “fleeing the vengeance of Bigfoot Wallace and his rangers.” Their story didn’t have a happy ending. Nor did that of six white brothers who had settled there, or that of Reynolds himself. The Kiowas would have done better to stand and face Wallace, hard man though he was.

He came by it honestly. According to REH, he was a namesake and “direct descendant of William Wallace of Scotland,” hero of the movie Braveheart. The original William Wallace also believed in killing his enemies where he found them – in his case, the English. The Texan frontier of the 1840s and the Anglo-Scottish border of the thirteenth century were regions which had a good deal in common for no-holds-barred violence, raiding war parties and gory feuds. Nor were Comanches, Kiowas and Lipans too dissimilar to the Kerrs or Musgraves.

Wallace had his exploits recorded by a “quondam messmate” of his, John C. Duval, in Georgia in 1870. Duval modestly admitted to a “rather limited education,” but remarked that his work could claim “at least one merit, not often found in similar publications; it is not a compilation of imaginary scenes and incidents, concocted in the brain of one who never was beyond the sound of a dinner-bell in his life … told, as well as my memory serves me, in his own language.”

Duval’s account begins, “William A. Wallace was born in Lexington, Rockbridge County, Virginia, in the year 1816. He went to Texas in 1836, a few months after the Battle of San Jacinto, for the purpose, he says, of taking pay out of the Mexicans for the murder of his brother and his cousin, Major Wallace, both of whom fell at ‘Fannin’s Massacre.’ He says he believes accounts with them are now about square.”

Goliad Massacre“Fannin’s Massacre,” also known as the “Goliad Massacre,” occurred in 1836. Over 300 captured Texans under the command of Colonel James Fannin, were shot by the direct orders of General Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana. Those not immediately killed by the bullets were clubbed or knifed to death. Colonel Fannin was the last to be executed. Even his request to be shot in the heart and not the face was ignored.

Bigfoot Wallace’s own words, as recorded by Duval, declare that he came out to Texas in 1837, as an Irishman would say, “green as a red blackberry.” He found a job with a surveying expedition, the single greenhorn in the party. He had “brought from Virginia a good rifle, a pair of Derringer pistols and a Bowie knife (that you know was before the days of six-shooters).” The party consisted of sixteen men altogether. Wallace killed his first deer early in the trip. When they stopped at a little settlement called Burnt Boot, and Wallace went to the home of a family named Benson to see if he could purchase some vegetables, Mrs. Benson came to the door with a gun in her hand and told him harshly to “stand.” Wallace says dryly, “She was a tall, raw-boned, hard-favored woman … and I stood!”

Well, I always kind of thought the realities weren’t much like Little House on the Prairie. Her suspicious reception of Wallace had reason behind it. According to her, a group of Tonk Indians, dressed as white men, had gained entry to a house not two miles away, only a week before, “and killed and sculped the whole family.” When Wallace told the lady they were going up to the headwaters of the Brazos to survey lands, she said, “You’ll be luckier than ‘most everybody else that has gone up there, if you’ll need more than six feet apiece before you get back.”

For Wallace, her prediction nearly came true. He went off to explore on his own, found a grove of pecan trees laden with fine nuts, and was eating some when a band of twelve or fifteen mounted Indians caught sight of him and gave enthusiastic chase. He threw them all off his trail by taking to country that a horse couldn’t cover, knowing he was a good runner, but one stubborn, persistent brave kept after him. “The perseverance of this rascal in following me up so long, ‘stirred my gall,’ and I resolved to make him pay dearly for it, if I could,” said Wallace. He did make him pay. He shot him.

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This entry filed under H. P. Lovecraft, Howard's Fiction, Howard's Texas.