Archive for December, 2013

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On a warm Sunday summer morning while riding his Harley on a back road near Albany, Georgia, Marine Sgt. Alan Nabors struck an eighteen wheeler that was pulling out from a truck stop. The intersection where the accident occurred is notorious for accidents. Alan did not survive the injuries he sustained in the collision. He was only 26 years old and the grandson of Glenn Lord. The truck driver was arrested and charged with vehicular manslaughter, but this brought little solace to the Lord family. Here is Alan’s obituary:

NaborsLWRZ_t300Sgt. Ronald Alan Nabors II ,26, was taken from us on June 30, 2013 in a tragic accident in Albany, Georgia. He was born in Pasadena, Texas on December 14, 1986. He graduated from Deer Park High School in 2006.

Our marine went straight from high school to the United States Marine Corp. where he acquired many honors; two Good Conduct Medals, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Nation Defense Service Medal, Presidential Unit Citation-Navy, three Letters of Appreciation, Certificate of Appreciation, Meritorious Mast, NATO Medal-ISAF Afghanistan. He made us so very proud!

He is preceded in death by his beloved grandfathers, Glenn Lord and William Nabors.

He is survived by his father and step-mother, Ronald Alan and Frances Nabors, his mother and step-father, Glenda and Andy Felkner, his paternal grandmother, Marsha Conver, his maternal grandmother, Lou Ann Lord, brothers, Stephen Cupples and Ryan Smith, sisters, Danielle Smith, Rebecca Martin, and husband Greg, Jennifer Baker, and husband Patrick, Melissa Carrier, and Gus. He is also remembered with love and affection by aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews.

REST IN PEACE, we will always love you. We will honor our marine with visitation from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm and funeral services to be held Saturday, July 6, 2013 at 3:00 pm at Forest Park East Chapel located at 21620 Gulf Freeway in Webster, Texas.

His brother Marines held a tribute ride on their Harleys and erected a cross in Alan’s honor at the crash site. You can see the photos on a special Facebook page that has been established for him here.

EPSON MFP imageAlan was very close to Glenn they shared many common bonds, not the least of which was their military service. If you look at the photos of both Alan and a young Glenn in their uniforms, you can see the strong family resemblance. They were so close that after his granddad passed, Alan got a Glenn Lord tattoo on his arm to memorialize him.

At the time of Alan’s untimely death, a major event was on the horizon for the Lords. The family could have postponed the pre-planned July 26th ceremony donating Glenn’s vast collection of Howard manuscripts and letters to the Harry Ransom Center and no one would have blamed them. But Alan would have wanted them, in the Marine tradition to carry on, bringing his granddad’s wishes to fruition. So strengthened by their faith and their love for Alan and Glenn, the family proceeded with the scheduled event. While Alan was physically unable to be there, he surely was there in spirit.

I only had the pleasure to speak with Alan twice, once at Glenn’s 80th birthday celebration and six weeks later at Glenn’s funeral.  Both times his face brightened when he spoke about his granddad, saying how proud he was of him and impressed by all of us coming to see him, especially those who had to travel far. Alan also said he and other family members were reading all the tributes to Glenn here on the blog.

On January 22, 2013, Alan left the following comment for my “Gone but not Forgotten” post marking the first anniversary of Glenn’s passing:

I really appreciate all that you post about my grandad whenever I think of him I’ll come to your site and see what all you have posted and it helps. So again thanks for keeping his legacy alive.

I cannot express in words how much Alan’s comment means to me. I am certainly humbled by his words and that this blog was a place he could visit when he was thinking of his granddad. So while we pause today to remember our friend and mentor Glenn on the second anniversary of his death, let us also remember Alan, who was his beloved grandson and number one fan.

While I am certain Glenn was delighted to have Alan join him in the afterlife, he would have been happier if it was 60 years hence before he saw Alan there.

Semper Fi, Alan, Semper Fi.

 Photos courtesy of the Lord Family.
This entry filed under Glenn Lord.

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Howard writes to Tevis Clyde Smith in November of 1931 about struggling to make sense out of the ending of “Blood of Belshazzar” and how he is not too fond of the story. He also mentions trying unsuccessfully to crack the Clayton Magazines (he eventually does) and bemoans the dwindling amount paid by the pulps for his stories:

I’m glad you liked the Oriental story; I take it you are referring to the Belshazzar tripe. Personally, I thought it was pretty rotten in spots, particularly towards the conclusion when I had to drag in so blasted much explanation. I’ve had nothing in Sport Stories lately. You ought to make Soldiers of Fortune; I don’t believe I’ll ever make the Claytons. I’m damned if I can solve their formula. Apparently they have a secret code which escapes the casual eye — and never crops out in the stories they publish. I sold Byrne a Costigan story recently — $60 this time. He’s been cutting my rates steadily. By God, if he falls below that, I’ll give the series to Street & Smith — and I suppose get it rejected. I thought when he hit the $75 level it was the limit

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The Claytons were a great market for Howard, paying two cents a word and up on acceptance.  So it is no wonder he worked so hard to crack the “Clayton code” and get his foot in the door with them.

In another letter to Tevis Clyde Smith, circa March 1932, he touts his success of getting Clayton to accept his weird fiction for their Strange Tales magazine and complains about having a historical story for a companion magazine, Soldiers of Fortune, rejected:

Glad you liked the Roof business and the Sowers stuff. I’ve had quite a few praises on the Sowers thing, but don’t know whether they’ll get into the Souk. Likely not. Those yarns I sold Clayton were to their Strange Tales. They turned down “The Road of Azrael” for Soldiers etc., and I seemed to sense a hint of irritation in their letter of rejection, as if they suspected I’d never read the magazine. Which I haven’t. But I hope to make it eventually.

But Howard never got a chance to submit anything else. About the time he wrote this letter, the last issue of Soldiers of Fortune’s four issue short run was rolling off the presses. The first three issues were bi-monthly, but the final edition was the first issue of a change to a quarterly schedule — a death knell for a pulp magazine.

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In addition to the contents, the covers were quite interesting featuring character studies rather than action scenes. The four covers were painted by Gerard Curtis Delano. All are really are really outstanding, especially issue number 3 with the Samurai on the cover. You just didn’t see authentic Samurais on pulp covers in the 1930s.

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If the Claytons had survived, I have no doubt Howard would have made it into the pages of Soldiers of Fortune. But it was not to be. Luckily Howard’s main market for historicals, The Magic Carpet Magazine (formerly Oriental Tales) was still hanging on by its proverbial fingernails. However, it eventually followed Soldiers into oblivion at the end of 1933.

A tip of the hat to Laurie’s Wild West website for the covers.
This entry filed under Howard's Fiction, Tevis Clyde Smith.
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On or about December 29,1932, Howard recounts in a letter to August Derleth the rather quiet Christmas he had (compared to some others):

Well, I haven’t given you much, or interesting, data, but maybe it’ll do for a beginning. I hope you had an enjoyable Christmas. It was pretty quiet in these parts, nothing out of the ordinary occurring. Personally, I did about as usual — ate too much rich food, drank a good deal of whiskey, and shot a few holes in the air, by way of celebration. But it was all mighty tame. I can remember Christmases when liquor flowed and gunpowder was burnt in appropriate quantities — but that’s neither here nor there.

Back in the days of the Great Depression money was tight, so everyone did the best they could to provide a Christmas for their family. Also, it was a much simpler time — Christmas was not as commercialized then as it is now. Of course the quality of one’s celebration was, as now, dependent on one’s level of income.

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In the 1930s downtown Cross Plains appears structurally the same as today. The biggest store then  and now is Higginbothams. Main Street was a bustling place in Howard’s day, with shops, restaurants, drug stores and car dealers. Today things are slower and sleepier in Howard’s hometown than they were eighty years ago. Back then I imagine most gifts were bought locally or in nearby Brownwood. Of course, catalogues such as Sears & Roebuck and Montgomery Ward provided another source.

In those days, folks had skills. Women could sew and knit, men worked in trades that required carpentry and mechanical skills, so those who could not afford to buy gifts, made gifts – dolls, sweaters, scarfs, wooden toys, tin cars and planes. Depending on a family’s income, a child’s gift might be little more than an apple, orange and a piece of candy. If one could afford a store bought gift, here is a sampling of prices for some of the more popular Christmas gifts of the 1930s:

  • Satin or “metallic” men’s pajamas: $10.95
  • Pullman men’s slippers: $4.00
  • Quart bottle of Monopole champagne: $5.00
  • Westinghouse radio: $21.00
  • Boys’ knickers: $1.49
  • Child’s wagon (red): $3.49
  • Doll, layette, and basket: $4.94
  • Dollhouse: $5.00
  • Toy airplane: 65 cents
  • Toy typewriter: $1.95

$_57

Board games such as Monopoly, Scrabble and Sorry were invented in the 1930s, were very popular, and provided hours of entertainment for a family. Of course the bane of every child at Christmas time —  gifts of clothing were found under the tree as well.

1930s Christmas Tree

By all accounts, the Howards better off than most and celebrated by exchanging gifts. It was a simpler time, no excessive buying of gifts — fun, family and faith took precedent over going into debt buying numerous extravagant presents.

While there weren’t many gifts exchanged, most families that could afford it put on quite a Christmas feast. As Howard mentions above, he ate a lot over the holidays. In a letter to H.P. Lovecraft in December of 1932, he describes what a holiday meal in the Howard household consisted of:

You struck a responsive chord in me when you mentioned turkey dinner. Thanksgiving! Baked turkey, with dressing made of biscuit and cornbread crumbs, sage, onions, eggs, celery salt and what not; hot biscuits and fresh butter yellow as gold; rich gravy; fruit cakes containing citron, candied pineapple and cherries, currents, raisins, dates, spices, pecans, almonds, walnuts; pea salad; pumpkin pie, apple pie, mince pie with pecans; rich creamy milk, chocolate, or tea — my Southern ancestors were quite correct in adopting the old New England holiday.

But not every family was a fortunate as the Howards. A large number of folks barely had food to eat, much less money for Christmas gifts. Living in the here and now, it’s hard to imagine those hardscrabble days of the 1930s. With all the creature comforts and electronic devices we have today, it is a world away from the times Howard lived in.

hatbob2Everyone who posted here the TGR blog this year (me, Brian, Patrice, Rob, Jeff and Keith) want to wish all the Howard fans that follow the blog a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Hopefully after you fall asleep tonight, Two-Gun Santa will come crashing through the front door, Breck Elkins style, bringing you all the Howard stuff from the list you sent to him.

And remember, when you celebrate this holiday season, do all things in moderation – partying, drinking and firing large caliber weapons – we want you alive to read the blog in 2014.

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

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It has been a while since we checked in with longtime contributor and friend of TGR, Charles Saunders.  While Charles has been away from his blog for several months, he returned to it last month with a post called “Catching Up“, which brings us up-to-date on his fiction appearances this year. As always, Charles has other writing projects ongoing such as his fifth Imaro novel.

As was the case with the first Griots anthology, Charles is heavily involved with its sequel, Griots II: Sisters of the Spear. In addition to contributing a new Dossouye story, Charles is co-editor of the book with Milton Davis and provides the introduction to the book. The cover is by Andrea Rushing. Here is Milton’s purpose statement for the collection from the writer’s guidelines:

The purpose of the Griots II: Sisters of the Spear anthology is to pay respect and homage to women of color and continue to expand the definition of Sword and Soul. Our hope is that the anthology will become an annual publication which will inspire more writers to take part and expand the readership. We also hope to increase the diversity of the Sword and Sorcery genre by publishing quality stories with rich characters that transcend the barriers of mainstream publishers.

Right now book is currently available only for Kindle, but a paperback version is slated for publication next month. Here are the contents of this sword and soul anthology:

Griots II: Sisters of the Spear
Contents:

Introduction: “Spearing Sterotypes” by Charles R. Saunders
“A Subtle Lyric” by Troy L Wiggins
“Blood of the Lion” by Joe Bonadonna
“Brood” by Balogun Ojetade
“Death and Honor” by Ronald Jones
“Ghost Marriage” by Phenderson Djèlí Clark
“Lady of Flames” by Treka Willis Cross
“Marked” by Sara Macklin
“Queen of the Sapphire Coast” by Linda Macauley
“Raiders of the Skye Isle” by Cynthia Ward
“The Antuthema” by D.S. Brown
“The Night Wife” by Carole McDonnell
“The Price of Kush” by Sylvia Kelso
“The Sickness” by Valjeanne Jeffers
“Zambeto” by J.C. Holbrook
“Old Habits” by Milton Davis
“Kpendu” (a new Dossouye story) by Charles R. Saunders

It is an amazing line-up of authors and stories all celebrating the bravery and tenacity of warrior women. Charles sums it up best in this excerpt from his introduction to Sisters of the Spear:

Our expectations have been more than fulfilled. Our modern-day griots came through with – not to belabor the point – flying colors. The fictional warrior-women and sorceresses you will meet in the following pages can hold their own and then some against the barbarians and power-mad monarchs and magic-users of both genders who swing swords and cast spells in the mostly European-derived settings of modern fantasy and sword-and-sorcery. The reach of sword-and soul has expanded greatly with Sisters of the Spear.

This entry filed under Charles R. Saunders, News, Sword & Sorcery.

This is the final post for 2013 of the online version of Nemedian Dispatches. This feature previously appeared in the print journal and is now on the blog. On roughly a quarterly basis, Nemedian Dispatches will highlight new and upcoming appearances of Howard’s fiction in print, as well as Howard in other types of media.

In Print:

1455099_698319006860121_1820056067_nWeird Tales (October 1936)
Just published by Girasol Collectables Inc., is the October 1936 pulp replica of Weird Tales featuring the third and final installment  of “Red Nails.”  Part 1 appeared in the July 1936 issue, Part 2 in the August-September 1936 issue, both of which are available from Girasol. 

Western Tales
The REH Foundation Press’ collection of Howard’s western yarns is now available to order. It is the most comprehensive collection of Howard’s straight westerns ever published, including his classic weird westerns. The volume also features a Foreword by western fictioneer James Reasoner, a cover by Tom Gianni and Notes on the Text by Rob Roehm.

Fight Stories  (December 1931)
Adventure House has released a pulp replica of the December 1931 issue of Fight Stories featuring Robert E. Howard’s Sailor Steve Costigan in “Circus Fists.”

41f6kD7xfsLUndead in the West II: They Just Keep Coming
This new scholarly collection kicks off with “Vaqueros and Vampires in the Pulps: Robert E. Howard and the Dawn of the Undead West” by Jeff Shanks and Mark Finn. And that’s just the beginning, the volume has sixteen other essays on topics related to the weird west. It comes at a hefty price, but it is a hefty book, clocking in at over 350 pages. The book is edited by Cynthia J. Miller and A. Bowdoin Van Riper, and features a foreword by science fiction author William F. Nolan (Logan’s Run).

 Robert E. Howard’s Savage Sword #6
WriterMatt Kindt  teams with comic-book superstar artist Keu Cha  to bring you a familiar Conan story with a twist! Paul Tobin and Francesco Francavilla deliver the second exciting installment of “Dark Agnes: Sword Woman,” while Ian Edginton and TGR contributor Richard Pace to illustrate why the Picts are such a formidable fighting force in part 2 of “Bran Mak Morn: Men of the Shadows.” This plus much more in this latest issue.

61RT9j1FMCL__SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The Colossal Conan
Finally, a collection gigantic enough for Conan the Cimmerian himself! This massive hardcover volume weighs in at 13 pounds and collects Conan issues #0 through #50 in 1264 pages. Beginning with the early work of Kurt Busiek and Cary Nord through the famous collaborations of Timothy Truman and Tomás Giorello, this huge tome features an introduction from Busiek and an afterword from Truman. It is truly a must have for any Howard comic collector. The many contributors include: Kurt Busiek (Writer), Timothy Truman (Writer), Mike Mignola (Writer), Cary Nord (Art), Tomás Giorello (Art), Thomas Yeates (Art), Greg Ruth (Art), Eric Powell (Art), Rafael Kayanan (Art), Paul Lee (Art), Leinil Francis Yu (Art), Joseph Linsner (Art), Ladronn (Art), Tony Harris (Art), Paul Lee (Art), Dave Stewart (Color), Richard Isanove (Color), JD Mettler (Color), Tony Shasteen (Color), José Villarrubia (Color), and Mark Schultz (Cover)

 Coming Soon: 

boxing2The REH Foundation Press
Fists of Iron, Round 2 is now available to preorder. This is the second of a four volume comprehensive collection of REH’s humorous and straight boxing yarns (volume one was published earlier this year) from the Foundation Press. Also in the works for the near future is a two volume collection of Howard’s humorous western yarns, a book of Celtic adventures (Cormac Mac Art, et al.), an autobiographical book of sorts consisting of Post Oaks and Sand Roughs and various articles and essays written by Howard with a biographical slant, plus several other volumes.

REH: Two-Gun Raconteur #17
After a one year forced hiatus, TGR is returning in 2014 with a new issue just in time for Howard Days in June. You can expect the usual stellar line-up of rare Howard fiction, great artwork and outstanding essays and articles from more Howard scholars than you can shake a stick at. Stay tuned for more details as 2014 progresses.

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Writing to Clyde Smith on May 9, 1931, Howard mentions two new pulps, Strange Tales and Soldiers of Fortune, and states he will be submitting stories to both of them and suggests Smith write something for Soldiers of Fortune, a historical story magazine:

I see where the Claytons are bringing out a new magazine dealing with weird subjects and another dealing with historical tales of romance and adventure— two cents a word on acceptance and up. If I can’t make both of them I ought to be ham-strung. You ought to re-read Dumas and crash the historical one — the ad says the tales should generally feature the Anglo-Saxon but that the gallant Frenchman and dashing Spaniard will have their place. I see where I dress Solomon Kane up in a nom de plume and let him thrust, parry and riposte for eighteen chapters.fictionhouse-fightstoriesv3n8-193101

In 1931, Howard was beginning to branch out into a number of new markets, so it only made sense that he wanted to crash these two new magazines, particularly Strange Tales, a pulp that that featured stories in the vein of those appearing in Weird Tales. From 1929 to 1932, Howard’s primary markets were Weird Tales, Oriental Stories, a companion magazine to Weird Tales which began publication in 1931, and Fight Stories. Howard yarns also appeared in Action Stories, Argosy All-Story Weekly, Ghost Stories and Sport Story Magazine. With this expansion to other markets, Howard’s income from his writings continued to increase. However, in the same year, two of Howard’s major markets were suspended or canceled. Fight Stories, which had published thirteen stories since 1928, suspended publication, and it was apparent that Oriental Stories would also soon cease publication. Unfortunately, Clayton suffered the same fate and did not survive long in the depths of the Great Depression, with Strange Tales and its entire line of magazines folding in early 1933.

However, Howard did manage to have three stories accepted for publication during the short life span of Strange Tales, though only two were published before the magazine ceased publication. A story he submitted in the fall of 1931 was returned by the editor for a re-write. Howard made the changes and re-submitted the yarn, which was accepted the second time as he recounts in this P.S. to a letter written to H.P. Lovecraft, ca. January 1932:

P.S. I almost forgot to tell you that I finally made Clayton’s Strange Tales with a yarn called, “The People of the Dark” a tale of reincarnation, pre-Roman Britain, Mongoloid aborigines, yellow-haired Britons, Irish pirates, and anything else I could lug in; I hope you’ve also made this market, and certainly, no weird magazine is complete without your magnificent tales.

But the Old Gent did not send them any stories. Despite never submitting a story to Strange Tales, Lovecraft did actually appear in the magazine’s March 1932 issue, albeit uncredited. Lovecraft was a friend and correspondent of fellow Weird Tales author Henry S. Whitehead and even visited him in his home state of Florida. While there the two collaborated on a story called “The Trap.” Lovecraft refused to take any writing credit for the story when Whitehead sold it Strange Tales, and it appeared solely under Whitehead’s name.

In March of 1932, Howard also recommended the magazine to fellow Weird Tales writer Wilfred Blanch Talman:

By the way, have you ever tried Clayton’s new Strange Tales magazine? It’s published every other month, and they pay well. I sold them a yarn dealing with the mythical Mongoloids of prehistoric Britain, and another using the battle of Clontarf for a background, though they rejected quite a few mss. before I ever landed anything.

Here Howard is referencing “The People of the Dark,” which appeared in the June 1932 issue (number 5) and “The Cairn on the Headland” from issue number 7, dated January 1933. But the magazine was in trouble and went from a bi-monthly to quarterly schedule in the summer of 1932, as Howard mentions in a letter dated May 24, 1932 to H.P. Lovecraft:

Sorry to hear Swanson has had to give up his Galaxy. As you say, the game was given a sock below the belt when Claytons changed the appearances of their Strange Tales and Astounding Stories. The change in Strange Tales hit me viciously in the pocket-book, because I’d apparently just got started good with them. Another of my regular markets — Fight Stories — was taken out of circulation entirely recently.

The end came to Strange Tales in October of 1932 when editor Harry Bates returned “The Valley of the Lost,” a yarn that was to be published in the next issue prior to the magazine’s demise. Howard opines the loss of yet another market to H.P. Lovecraft in a November 2, 1932 letter:

Yes, a bulletin from the AFG [American Fiction Guild] announced the crumpling of Strange Tales, and on its heels came back a yarn the magazine had bought but hadn’t paid for. I wasn’t surprized. Strange Tales was too narrow in policy to have lasted long, though in good times the magazine would have stood up longer than it did.

Here is the letter from editor Harry Bates returning the manuscript for “The Valley of the Lost.”

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With his markets collapsing right and left due to the Great Depression, Howard turned to publishers in the United Kingdom. In June of 1933, Howard was putting together a collection of his weird stories to submit to Denis Archer Publisher, a London publishing house. He wanted to include the two stories published in Strange Tales and wrote to Clayton Magazines on June 13, 1933 to clarify if he held the overseas rights to his stories.

A few weeks ago I wrote you asking a release of the British Empire rights on my stories, “People of the Dark” and “The Cairn on the Headland,” published in Strange Tales. I have had no reply from you.

I note that in the Author & Journalist for November, 1932, your company is quoted as buying “all North American serial rights, but do not purchase and have no control over motion picture, radio, book, or dramatic rights.”

According to this, I have the right to offer the stories mentioned to the British publishing house which has asked to look at them, with the view of bringing them out in book form. But I would like to have some sort of writing from your company, showing that I own the foreign rights.

Or, in case some special conditions prevailed in the case of Strange Tales, by which you purchased book and foreign rights, I would appreciate a release on them. I see no reason why I should not be given such release, since the magazine has been out of circulation for some months now. I realize that things are not breaking well for your company, and I sympathize with you. But things aren’t breaking so good for me, either, and this may be a chance for me to make a little money through British publication. Please answer this letter, one way or another. I enclose an addressed and stamped envelope for your convenience.

But Howard did not waste any time waiting on a reply and submitted a manuscript containing eight stories, including the unpublished “The Valley of the Lost,” to Denis Archer Publisher just two days later on June 15, 1933. In January of 1934, Howard heard bad news from the publisher – they were passing on the collection of weird stories. But said they would be interested in a novel of 70,000 – 75,000 words. So this rejection letter gave birth to Howard’s Conan novel The Hour of the Dragon.

miller-valleyofthelostSeveral of the Clayton titles, including Astounding Stories, actually lived on after Clayton went belly-up. The titles were bought by Street & Smith and resumed publication in October of 1933. In the fall of 1933, Howard tried submitting “The Valley of the Lost” to Astounding, but received a rejection letter from the Associate Editor, dated November 16, 1933, stating the reason for the return of “Valley” was Astounding’s policy that “forbids us now to accept any stories of the weird type.” The editor suggested Howard try his hand at writing something more suitable for the pseudo-scientific genre. The story remained unpublished until 1975 when it was published in a chapbook by Charles Miller.

Wildside Press brought the Strange Tales title back in 2003, picking up with issue number 8, edited by Robert Price. Issues 9 and 10 appeared in 2005 and 2007, respectively, before the magazine folded a second time. A complete bibliography of the magazine, which includes the Wildside reboot, can be found here.

1922-05-05 - Cross Plains Review - REH

There were ten kids in the graduating class of 1922 at Cross Plains High School. Readers of this blog know quite a bit about the most famous student, Robert E. Howard, and I’ve posted a good amount of information on a few of the others, Winfred Brigner, C. S. Boyles, and Edith Odom. In June, I ran some biographies of the other graduates in my REHupa ’zine. Since then, I’ve found a little more information on Ruth Brewer. Pretty esoteric stuff, but some of it is quite interesting.

Ruth’s parents, Kate Cornelia Pledger and James “Jim” Hollis Brewer, were married in Tyler, Texas, on January 16 (maybe 17), 1900. That year’s Census shows the couple in Tyler Ward 2. James, 38, is a grocery dealer, 14 years his wife’s senior. Kate’s mother, Addie, lives with the newlyweds, her own husband having died sometime before. On Ancestry.com, a couple of people have Jim on their family trees and show him as being married to someone else, prior to his marriage to Kate; there appears to be at least one child attached to the new couple that was born before their wedding. Whether this child was born out of wedlock or was the result of a previous marriage, I don’t know. At any rate, Kate and James soon have children of their own: Hollis Ryan in 1902, Mammie Ruth in 1904, and Charlsey Kate in 1906. There may have been another after Charlsey, but that is unconfirmed. On May 16, 1908, James died.

1908 05-22 Brewer

Mr. Brewer’s death is a bit of a mystery. I’ve found a few clippings from newspapers that identify him as a grocer in Tyler. One story references a bad fire at the business a few years prior and states that there wasn’t enough insurance to cover the loss. The cause of death is listed as “Strychnine Poison” and at least one member on Ancestry.com hints that his death was a suicide. Whatever the case, the remaining Brewers drop off the record until 1920 (I can’t find any of them on the 1910 Census or information on Addie Pledger’s 1913 death).

The 1920 Census has widowed Kate and her two daughters, Ruth and Charlsey, in Cross Plains as roomers in the home of Edith Bond. Kate is a music teacher at the public school; her daughters are students. In 1921, Ruth and Charlsey sang together at meetings of the Epworth League and were featured in a play put on at the high school.

1921 05-06 CPR Brewer

Ruth was awarded “Honorable Mention” upon her 1922 graduation from CPHS for her yearly average of 88%; she was third in her class. Sometime between November 1922 and June 1923, she married a local farmer’s son, Edwin Glenn Adams, who, in an August 8, 1924 item in the Cross Plains Review, is mentioned as “Our efficient Printer” and by the end of the year is listed as one of the paper’s owners.

Probably in 1925, the couple had their first child, and on November 21, 1926, their second: Wayne Laneire Adams. Wayne’s birth certificate has two interesting items: first, it reveals that Ruth’s first child had died sometime before Wayne’s birth; second, Wayne was delivered by a certain local physician:

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In 1930, the Census has Ruth’s mother living in Abilene, working as music teacher. In the home is divorced daughter Charlsey Davidson (occupation: “advertising”; industry: “theatrical”) and son, Harold. Back in Cross Plains, the Census has Ruth at home with her son; her husband is a “manager” of some kind in the publishing industry. The family life didn’t last much longer. On October 24, 1932, Ruth’s husband died at the Sealy Hospital in nearby Santa Anna of an “intestinal obstruction.” He was buried back home in Cross Plains.

Less than a year later, on August 2, 1933, while visiting her sister-in-law in Gregg County, Ruth shot herself “through [the] breast” and died. On the death certificate, the cause of death is listed as “Suicide by gunshot.” She is buried with her husband in the Cross Plains cemetery. I imagine Robert E. Howard knew most of this sad story.

Mackenzie's Raiders at Palo Duro by Michael Gray

In a letter to H.P. Lovecraft, dated December 5, 1935, Howard details a trip he took with his parents to the Texas Panhandle in late July of 1935. One of the places they visited was the historic Palo Duro Canyon, site of the last battle in the Texas Indian Wars:

Returning to Amarillo we ate breakfast and then started on our homeward journey. At Canyon, eighteen miles south of Amarillo, we turned eastward and drove several miles to the Palo Duro canyon, the eastern-most of the great gorges of the west. A narrow road, a mile long, meandered down into the canyon, which is a thousand feet deep and perhaps eighty miles long, and we drove along the canyon floor for several miles, seeing some of the most vivid and rugged scenery I have ever seen anywhere, even in the Rocky Mountains of New Mexico. A small creek twists along the floor, and the road, which workmen were even then improving, crosses it repeatedly. Near one of those crossings was fought the last Indian fight ever to be fought in Texas — that is, the last formal engagement, if it might be so-called, when scouts and soldiers surprized and captured the Comanches who had taken refuge in the canyon, in 1874.RSMackenzie

Early on the morning of Monday, September 28, 1874, a battle between Kiowas, Comanches, Cheyennes, and 400 troopers of Colonel Ranald S. Mackenzie’s Fourth U.S. Cavalry was waged. The opponents fought deep in the Palo Duro Canyon of the Red River, some 1,000 feet below the flat plains of the Texas Panhandle. Some troops of the Tenth and Eleventh U.S. Infantry assisted Mackenzie’s command from a nearby base camp. The Colonel’s command consisted of a five-pronged campaign against several bands of Native Americans who either had left their reservations in Indian Territory for hide-outs in the Staked Plains or who had not yet surrendered to reservation life. The battle was the largest engagement in the Red River War and signaled the end of the Southern Plains Indians’ military resistance.

Assisted by Tonkawa scouts, sworn enemies of the Comanches who often fought alongside Anglo troops, Colonel Mackenzie marched his men all night, arriving at the rim of the canyon at dawn. They made their way down to the floor of the canyon and attacked. Indian women and children fled up the canyon, the men remained behind, standing their ground and engaging the soldiers in combat to allow their families to reach safety. The Kiowas were led by Mamanti; the Comanches by O-ha-ma-tai, and a small band of Cheyennes were commanded by Iron Shirt.

Iron ShirtWhile the various tribes were in the canyon for mutual protection, their leaders made a strategic mistake by having their camps scattered over a large area on the canyon floor. This became a disadvantage when the troops attacked since the Indians were unable to assemble a united defense and fought a series of skirmishes against the Anglos, lacking the combined strength of their numbers to defeat them.

By mid-day the Indians had retreated, leaving behind their lodges and horses. Mackenzie ordered the lodges searched, and then put to the torch. The following day he instructed his men to slaughter 1,048 horses to prevent the Indians from recovering them. Rifle and pistol fire echoed through the canyon until the last horse fell. The sun-bleached bones of the massacred horses were visible for many years after the battle.

The Southern Plains Indians were fearsome opponents on horseback, but without horses or food, the proud “Lords of the Plains” were helpless and at the mercy of the Anglo troops. The Indians, resigned to their fate, trudged reluctantly into the reservations, having been left with no supplies for the coming winter. The only saving grace of the battle was the low casualty count — three Indians and one cavalry trooper died.

The battle of Palo Duro Canyon is important because it was the Southern Plains Indians’ desperate final, but futile effort at military resistance against the encroaching Anglo settlers who were moving further and further west into their territory.

Navajo Ponies for Comanche Warriors

Art credits: “Mackenzie’s Raiders at Palo Duro” by Michael Gray and “Navajo Ponies for Comanche Warriors” by Frank McCarthy
This entry filed under H. P. Lovecraft, Howard's Texas, Howard's Travels.

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The shopping frenzy of Black Thursdayfriday is over and Cyber Monday is here. I hope followers of this blog did the right thing and spent time with their families rather than partaking of the Thanksgiving Day shopping madness this year. I hope you sat in the warm comfort your home listening to an elderly family member, who may not be around next Thanksgiving, relating tales of their childhood rather than being a barbarian, pummeling a total stranger on the cold hard linoleum floor of Wal-Mart in a fight to the death over the last of the $98.00 flatscreens.

If you are doing your online Christmas shopping today, either for yourself or another Howard fan, there are all kinds of Howard related gifts to be had. And the best part is no one gets hit, stabbed, shot or tazed in the process.

For the true Howard aficionado, there is nothing like getting a membership to the Robert E. Howard  Foundation. There are three different levels of membership:

  • Supporting Membership: you will receive a 10% discount on REHF and REH Foundation Press (REHFP) books and merchandise.
  • Friend of REH Membership: you will receive the member discount above as well as the REHF newsletter, and your name posted (if wanted) on the website.
  • Legacy Circle Membership: members will receive all the above, along with invitations to special events, plus a yearly REHF pin. Legacy Circle members might also get other additional benefits during the year.

Obviously, the way to go is with the Legacy Circle membership — you get a whole lot of Howard for your buck.

As for Howard prose and poetry, a good buy are the Del Rey volumes, which will get you the lion’s share of Howard’s best work at a reasonable price.

Western TalesFor the rarer Howard material, your best bet is the REH Foundation Press, which has a number of books in print, including the just published Western Tales.

Of course, eBay is a good place to find everything Howard related under the sun.

For the Conan comics fan, just out is The Colossal Conan, a 1300 page hardcover that collects issues 0 – 50 of the Dark Horse Conan comics.

If you are into collecting pulp replicas, Girasol Collectables, has a ton of them for sale. If art books by the likes of Frazetta, Jones, Brundage and Krenkel is your forte, check out Vanguard Productions.

And you can even shop right here for the current and available back issues of the REH: Two-Gun Raconteur print journal.

But no matter where you shop or what Howard items you purchase today and throughout the Christmas shopping season, I hope you get everything you want and make sure you give a gift of Howard to someone who has never read his works. Making someone else a Howard fan is a gift in and of itself.