Four Crucial Years
In The Life Of Edgar Rice Burroughs
Part IV of IV
By this time ERB would have been viewed as a real upsetter. Since 1890, except for a summer vacation or so, ERB had only been in Chicago from late Spring ’97 to Spring of ’98. Then he had gone away for a year and now he was back spoiling some other people’s plans.
Even after having deserted Emma Hulbert twice, the first time without notice for sure, and probably the second also, she was still waiting for him. Amazing! Ten full years when when the biological clock was ticking loudest she was still there. If that’s not true love I don’t know what is.
It must be that ERB took it for granted that she would always be waiting for him because he was still willing to leave her at the drop of a hat, if he could only get that coveted officer’s appointment.
As ERB walked down his street you could almost hear Alvin Hulbert say ‘Drat! that young man is not going to set foot in this house.’
Papa George T., quietly holding that three hundred dollar note, welcomed him back restoring his old job to him.
The following account is based on two letters, one from R.H. Patchin dated 3/21/1950 and the reply from Jack Burroughs dated 4/4/50. I learned of the letters which were quoted in part by Burroughs scholar Robert Barrett in the Fall 2003 issue of the BB. Danton Burroughs of ERB, Inc. subsequently was gracious enough to provide me with full copies as he had Mr. Barrett.
As of the time of the letter Mr. Patchin was from 68 to 70-75 years old. My guess is that Frank Martin couldn’t have been younger than Emma so was probably at least 25 to 30 years old in 1899. It is not impossible that he was older but as his exemplars in ‘W.C. Clayton and Terkoz in Tarzan Of The Apes and The Return Of Tarzan are approximately the same age as Tarzan Martin was most likely 25-27.
As Emma would be 23 at the beginning of 1899 which would be close to spinsterhood one may believe there was some anxiety on Papa Alvin’s part to get her safely married. Martin was about the most advantageous marriage possible. At, say 27, he was looking at one of the last unmarried women of his age cohort. If he failed with Emma he would have to find a much younger woman than himself or take a woman who had already been married. He has some reason to repent this man he could not have known well who not seeming to care that much for Emma yet stood between himself and her.
Patchin says a lot in his letter to Jack Burroughs. He mentions the three times his and ERB’s paths crossed. They were all unfortunate for Burroughs. In the first ERB got his head bashed in; in the second Patchin showed up just after ERB divorced Emma which divorce was national news; the third was the condolence letter at ERB’s death. Talk about an ill omened bird.
Sometime between ERB’s divorce and 1950 Frank Martin became a statistic. He didn’t survive his nemesis. I am guessing of course but Patchin’s meeting with ERB after his divorce must have been arranged by Martin. He may even have been watching from a distance. One wonders if he ever married.
I only mention the following as a point of interest. By the time John Dos Passos wrote the third volumeof his USA trilogy, The Big Money, Burroughs was already a major literary figure. As he didn’t seem to court publicity he can’t be said to have been a celebrity. In The Big Money Dos Passos cameos a number of interesting people among them Bernarr Macfadden.
It should be clear to everyone that nothing can be done in secret. Whatever passed between Martin, ERB and Emma must have been a source of gossip among Chicagoans. Somewhere along the way Dos Passos may have heard the gossip. In The Big Money he includes a story about a woman named Evaline Hutchins. A segment of the story bears some resemblance to the situation between the three under consideration. In the episode the Martin-like character takes the Emma character driving. He cracks up the car leaving the woman with some explaining to do to her husband.
I don’t say it’s so but suppose that in 1907-08 Martin, still seething at his rejection, in some way got Emma to go out driving with him with the above result throwing Burroughs into a panic. It was in 1908 that Joan was born to be followed immediately by Hulbert. Is it possible that after eight childless years Burroughs suddenly began a family as a defensive move against Martin? I can’t say but it is a hint I would dearly love to follow up.
At the time Patchin wrote the letter in 1950, judging from his stationery, he was down on his luck. His sloppy typing can’t be accounted for by age alone, or perhaps a lifetime of hard living had left him a wreck. My conjecture is that he had been drinking when he wrote the letter.
You will notice that the staionery bears only a street address- 555 Park Avenue- and no indication in the body of the letter as to what city. Burroughs’ reply provides the location. New York City. Patchin must have been clever enough to provide a return address on the envelope. The street address is printed rather than engraved so it is less expensive stationery. With no other address details provided it is obviously not Patchin’s personal stationery. The paper must have come from a mailing address. The stationery was probably available to anyone. 555 Park Avenue is a lower East Side address so Patchin was totally down on his luck. Probably drunk as he wrote.
He makes a glaring Freudian slip in the first paragraph when he says of ERB, ‘He lived his wife well. Wife for life! Hence the letter is as much about Emma as ERB. Emma meant nothing to Patchin so he must be speaking for Frank Martin. He then immediately relates the anecdote concerning ERB’s bashing in Toronto; thus Emma and the bashing are related. The one caused the other.
What follows now is extrapolated from Patchin’s virtual confession and Jack Burroughs’ reply. Burroughs hints that he knows more of the story than he is letting out. He and ERB had discussed this matter shortly before ERB passed over, he says. Obviously among the last things on ERB’s mind.
Martin viewed Burroughs’ return from Idaho with apprehension. Emma’s delight at Burroughs’ reappearance disconcerted Martin’s plans which he and Alvin probably thought were progressing well. Martin perhaps in talking with Patchin, if they were equals and friends, which I doubt, may have said, ‘How am I going to get rid of this guy?’ ‘Let’s think about it.’ Said Patchin. ‘What kind of accident could he have?’
Indeed, that’s how people get rid of someone they don’t like, the victim has an ‘accident.’ Murder is for amateurs. With murder the Law has to be paid, with accidents it doesn’t. No investigation. Perhaps he steps on a banana peel; gets run over by a car going the wrong way down a one way street, pushed in front of a trolley car. The next question would have been, where, how, when?
Better that it should be out of town rather than in town.
How to get Burroughs out of town? Now we’re talking old hat. You find a desirable reason for going somewhere, say New York City, then you make arrangements.
In Frank Martin’s case he had a perfect situation. Frank’s father, Col. L.N. Martin, was a multi-millionaire railroad man who had his own private rail car. In July of ’99 the Col. was going to NYC so Martin, extended an invitation to Burroughs to travel by private car to New York City. What a deal, huh?
Burroughs should have been surprised at the offer since the two weren’t that close friends while they were rivals for Emma’s favor. There should have been enough there to give one pause. Still, what a tempting offer.
The trip appears to have lasted at least three to four weeks, returning to Chcago at the beginning of August. Clearly ERB and Martin were not in the same economic league. Our Man was receiving fifteen dollars a week. Martin could spend that much for lunch every day of the week and take Emma to the theatre every night without a single concern for expense. There was no way ERB could have kept up so that the Martins had to have paid his way. Didn’t ERB wonder why they would do that for a comparative stranger?
There was no questioning expenses from the Martin point of view. They owned a luxurious private railroad car. It cost more than Burroughs made in a week to connect it to a train. Jack Coleman Burroughs recalls: ‘Dad also recalled on the same trip, a colored porter would knock on the stateroom doors the first thing every morning. The porter bore a silver tray upon which was a choice of ‘eye openers’. According to Dad, this went on over different parts of the private car during the rest of the days and into the evenings.’
Thus ERB was accepting lavish hospitality he couldn’t hope to reciprocate. This is a fairly humiliating situation. You cannot feel like an equal nor will you actually be treated as one. One the other hand he was kept tipsy, to say the least, for the whole trip.
When they got to New York ERB does not appear to have lived on the car. Once again with the Army fever on him he wrote to Col. Rogers who was then in Washington D.C. in the hopes of gaining an officer’s appointment. The return address Rogers was given was 11 17th in NYC. That is the lower East Side somewhere in the vicinity of the Bowery. Patchin was writing from somewhere in the same vicinity. Of course, the address could possibly have been a box of the railroad; the information is incomplete. At the same time the Martin party was staying on the posh Riverside Drive. There’s a degree of separation there.
ERB’s letter was sent on the 15th while Rogers very quick reply came back on the 22nd in the negative. He didn’t have to give his reply much thought. Now, ERB was ready to abandon Emma again. Marrying her must have been a low priority in his mind.
If Martin had been thinking, rather than preparing an ‘accident’ for ERB he would have gotten his father, ‘the Colonel’ who must have had some influence, to secure Burroughs an appointment and have him shipped to the Philippines. That would have made ERB eternally grateful while getting him out of Martin’s hair. Frank missed a chance.
Sometime after the 22nd the return trip to Chicago began. As is usual in attempts of this kind the hit was delayed until the last minute. In this case the assassination was to take place in Canada to which, if anything went wrong, Martin would have to be extradited as they would cross the river into the United States from Toronto the next morning.
More rounds of drinks were served as the train moved from NYC to Montreal and thence to Toronto. Probably a fairly lengthy trip as they might have had to switch trains a couple times while wating in the yards.
Neither Patchin nor Jack Burroughs gives a date for Toronto. As this took place in 1899 there were no motorized taxis. As Patchin says the railcar was parked in the Grand Trunk yards. These ‘three gentlemen songsters out on a spree’ would have had to walk into town or hire a carriage, probably the latter as Martin had the money.
At this point someone would have had to have previously hired the thugs to bash Burroughs. As I figure it the logistics were Patchin’s job. I don’t see him so much a friend of Martin’s as an accomplice or stooge. In his letter he does not claim to be a friend of Martin, he does not say ‘our’ old friend but claims to have been a friend of ERB while ERB was a friend of Martin. Stange circumlocution when he could have just said ‘our friend.’
Although Patchin describes the thugs as ‘Canadian hoodlums’ I wouldn’t be surprised if they had been brought from Chicago contracted by Patchin there. It would have been easier and surer.
If you study Patchin’s letter you will see that other than the slip of ‘He loved his wife well’ there are no other typos in the first paragraph. As he gets into his story in the second paragraph he begins to have difficulties. By the third paragraph when guilt seizes him he can’t even spell his last word or keep the words on the same line. He begins emergency with two Es, can’t spell the critical word ‘hospital’, crossing it out. Serious stuff.
Where did they go in Tornonto on that memorable evening. Probably to the red light and gambling district. Toronto’s answer to Chicago’s Levee. Where else could you arrange a fight with such hoodlums so easily. Patchin doesn’t say whether the fight took place indoors or outdoors, just that Burroughs took a smack to the head. Since the scalp was opened he was coshed with a sap or pipe.
Burroughs says that he didn’t lose consciousness but he must have been knocked flat on his back. He must have had time to get his arm up to partially block the blow or he would most likely have been killed by it. As I see it, then, this was an assassination attempt. Martin meant to permanently get Burroughs out of the way. Put him in a place from where he couldn’t come back.
As I see it Martin and Patchin faked the brawl. Patchin doesn’t say that he and Martin had a hard time of it. No. Just Burroughs got hit. Only Burroughs got hurt which is suspicious. After the first blow which could have been interpreted to be in the heat of anger which would still have been manslaughter, to have continued to belabor Burroughs would have been a clear case of murder which would have had to have been thoroughly investigated. The Law would have to be paid. Thus the opportunity was lost when the first blow failed. Martin and Patchin didn’t even report the incident to the police. The ‘Canadian hoodlums’ could still have legged it across the border though. It is not impossible that they weren’t Canadian but Chicago hoodlums contracted for the job before the private car left the Big Windy. Why not? Perfect job.
So at two in the morning when asked where he was staying by the hospital doctor ERB replied in our private car down in the Grand Trunk Station. Not Martin’s car but our car. He quickly got used to the luxury of a private car. Never forgot it either.
As he was able to walk he was released the party returned to the yards returning to Chicago the next morning.
One may ask is there any evidence to show that Burroughs after he had thought about it for a while ever came to the conclusion that Martin and Patchin had meant him harm? I think there is. In The Return Of Tarzan Burroughs puts these words into the mouth of Jane perhaps thereby admonishing more sternly who might, not unreasonably, be expected to be reading these books. He obviously would get more out of them than we might.
Jane says ‘…this terrible jungle. It renders even the manifestations of friendship terrifying.’
A manifestation of friendship was the invitation to NYC from Martin. This indeed had been terrifying. So that for the parties concerned if they read between the lines they had every reason to believe that Burroughs understood everything.
One of the consequences of the attempt on Burroughs’ life was that he rushed back home to propose to Emma. Within five months they were wed thus taking her away from Martin. Emma had had a choice between a prince and a pauper and by some miracle had chosen the pauper. Really a very romantic story worth of a movie on its own. Grand Opera the way I see it. Andrew Lloyd Weber should look into this one.
There were other serious consequences. Of the blow, Jack Buroughs says: “He suffered for a number of years with bad headaches from the blow he received in that fight, and attributed one or two short periods of amnesia to that rap. (Amnesia is a recurrent theme in the Tarzan oeuvre.) I remember the scar was quite evident on his forehead when we were children (Jack Burroughs was born in 1913 so the scar must still have been visible in 1920 although it doesn’t show up in photographs.) but it seemed to disappear in his later life. Mother used to jokingly attribute his success to that blow.”
Emma would be in a position to know.
So Burroughs suffered lasting injury from that blow– one doesn’t have periods of amnesia unless there is internal pressure on the brain. There is evidence that he suffered from such pressure. Perhaps brain damage is too strong a phrase in this case but here is a clinical description that seems to fit the case. Per Brodal: The Central Nervous System: Structure and Function (3rd. Edition, page 433):
A peculiar form or amnesia occurs together with confabulation; that is the patient invents stories (without knowing that they are not real). Most of the patients have a lesion involving the substantia inominata, the medial hypothalamus, and the orbito frontal cortex (usually caused by a ruptured aneurism in the anterior cerebral artery). The often bizarre stories can usually be traced back to real events, although they consist of various, unrelated fragments from memory. It seems the patient is unable to suppress irrelevant associations, and cannot chack them against reality.
That is pretty close to ERB’s situation although he doesn’t appear to have lost his connection to reality although his stories as fantastic as they come always relate to his own memories. The Corpus seems to form one gigantic web of psychological unity as Richard A. Lupoff has pointed out.
One could think that after such a fearsome blow he would have been kept at the hospital for observation for at least a day or two but as he appeared to have no more than an open wound the doctor sewed him up and sent him on his way. As Patchin says the doctor came down to the yards the next morning to check up on the private car story which may have seemed incredible to him causing him to the think the patient deluded perhaps being more hurt than he looked as, indeed, he was.
There seems to be no reason to doubt that the blow ruptured the anterior cerebral artery. Thus internal bleeding over the next couple days would have created a clot which would have put pressure on the prefrontal lobe causing cobwebs, headaches and obviously a faulty memory with periods of amnesia.
There must be a medical reason for all these.
The symptoms should have begun showing up within a week or so, so that the several months of faintness ERB experienced began then. It was in this mental condition that he proposed to Emma.
Disappointed by the quick rejection of Col. Rogers while at least intuitively understanding that he had been set up in Toronto, ERB quickly went to work to capture Emma from Martin. I see little reason to believe that he had intended to marry her any time soon before he went o NYC, if at all. Back in Chicago in August he proposed and he and Emma were married by the end of January. In terms of years he was twenty-five and she twenty-four but in reality ERB was only four months older than Emma.
The sudden wedding must have been disconcerting to the Hulberts. I’m sure they envisioned a magnficent society wedding for their daughter. There was now no time to plan one so they must have been bitterly disappointed.
ERB now had to face a reality he hadn’t planned for. His rough and rowdy days were over.
While solidly based on documentation the foregoing is at present somewhat conjectural but let us see if we can find some discussion by ERB of these events in his writing. There are four titles that go over these events in slightly different ways. Certainly ERB had to ask himself what had happened. He gave it a lot of thought. Beginning in 1909 his answers came pouring forth. Minidoka 937th Earl Of One Mile, Series M which was unpublished in his lifetime was the first of these efforts followed by Tarzan Of The Apes, The Return Of Tarzan and The Girl From Farris’s. As ‘The Girl’ is concerned with the early married years rather than this period I will forego discussion of that title although it should be read in sequence with Minidoka.
Minidoka, which actually began ERB’s writing career is directly concerned with this struggle between himself, Alvin Hulbert and Frank Martin. In the story the evil Brady represents Alvin Hulbert with the genuine thoroughbred godling, Rhi, representing Frank Martin.
The wars and battles represent Hulbert’s attempts to keep ERB away from Emma which ultimately fail. However the story may explain a curious situation in which ERB and Emma took up residence in the Hulbert home after marriage. Not a situation most newlyweds would want, but one that the Brady or Hulbert insisted on.
Alvin Hulbert had thought little of ERB for several years. The Army episode and the Denver marching band stunt did little to improve his opinion of Our Man. How the New York trip was represented to him by Martin would be interesting to know. Probably Martin who had every incentive to slander Burroughs said he was drunk all the way to New York and back, drank continually, started the day with liquor. He may have said that they were in the red light district of Toronto at ERB’s insistence. In other words, he probably made the most of the situation.
Undoubteldly terrified at his daughter’s willfulness in marrying this ne’er-do-well Hulbert made it a condition of his consent that the couple live in his house where he could keep a close eye on ERB. I’m sure he was ready to have the marriage annulled at a moment’s notice.
In Minidoka Rhi by a very devious trick puts Minidoka/Burroughs in a situation where he is meant to be killed, a situation not unlike Toronto- then rushes to the heroine Bodine/Emma to inform her that Minidoka is dead proposing marriage to himself instead. It could have really happened that way.
As in real life Emma/ Bodine remains steadfast and true to Burroughs/Minidoka, all wool and a yard wide as Burroughs puts it.
Thus Minidoka mirrors the real life events in a fantastic manner as Per Brodal would suggest.
Minidoka was never published so the same material was available for a retelling. This was done in the first two Tarzan novels. Tarzan Of The Apes tells the story of Burroughs life up to 1896 with some interpolations from the later period. The Return Of Tarzan covers the four years from 1896 to his marriage with Emma in 1900.
Always bear in mind that Burroughs has to tell his story with commercial ends in mind.
The blow to the skull made an indelible impression on ERB as well it might. In Tarzan Of The Apes, Tarzan takes three serious beatings, one with a gorilla from another tribe, perhaps representing John the Bully, and with Kerchak and Terkoz of his own tribe. In all of them Tarzan is beaten about the head and shoulders. Terkoz/Martin rips his scalp open from above the left eye over to his right ear. Clearly an exaggeration of the true wound but that must have been how it felt.
Kerchak delivers a blow to the head that would have killed him had he not deflected its force with his raised arm.
Then when Tarzan and Jane are in the jungle Terkoz abducts Jane causing Tarzan to rescue her killing Terkoz in the process. Thus in Program A Tarzan kills his adversary.
Running concurrently in Program B Tarzan is a penniless jungle ape-man up against W.C. Clayton who is a genuine thoroughbred godling as was Rhi in Minidoka. Tarzan feels he doesn’t have a chance against Clayton so he magnanimously resigns Jane to him at the end of Tarzan Of The Apes. There must have been a sequel in mind because, as in reality Burroughs won Emma, Tarzan must win Jane.
The end of Tarzan Of The Apes may correspond to Burroughs joining the Army in 1896 while finding Clayton embracing Jane in the jungle may correspond to his second Idaho trip in 1898.
So that between 1896 and 1898 it may have appeared to him that he had lost out to Frank Martin. In ‘Return’ Tarzan retreats to Opar which is his fantasy world with the beautiful but unobtainable anima figure, La. At this early date she and Emma/Jane are fighting it out in his mind for his allegiance. He would rather have La, that is remain unmarried, but his rivalry with Martin is pushing him toward Emma.
Tarzan is captured by the Oparians destined for sacrifice to the Flaming God of which La is High Priestess. Burroughs reverses the situation and instead of squelching his imaginary La she is about to sacrifice him. Burroughs can’t renounce his Anima fantasy so rather than kill him which would end both Burroughs’ wish persona of Tarzan and his relationship with La, she releases him. Tarzan/Burroughs then triumphs over W.C. Clayton winning Jane/Emma. Jane/Emma leaves Opar never to return. La remains in Opar until Tarzan The Invincible when Burroughs is about to leave Emma and take up with his Anima figure, Florence Gilbert. La then comes out of Opar in the same way Burroughs leaves Emma for Florence. Opar disappears from the oeuvre, never being mentioned again.
Then as ‘Return’ ends Burroughs and Emma are married mirroring his fantasy where Tarzan and Jane are married. While not literal as Burroughs is writing for publication and must construct an interesting and, at least, nominally plausible story he confabulates events from his life into a fantastic and improbable tale.
The history of his slugging which closes this period was mysteriously obscured by his youngest son John Coleman Burroughs. These two letters were only discovered by Danton Burroughs, John Coleman’s son, recently. They were unknown to biographers Fenton, Porges and Taliaferro. For decades it was believed that Burroughs had been coshed in Idaho by a policeman as an innocent bystander in a saloon brawl.
In an interview with Porges Jack Burroughs told this latter story in 1970. Porges then dutifully reported the Idaho story in his biography. the question is why would Jack invent the latter story to replace the true one with which he was aware. As he himself replied to Patchin having previously discussed the event with his father I don’t see how he could have forgotten it. Nor was there any need for him to even tell Porges the Idaho invention.
Perhaps Jack knew details buried away in the archives wishing to lay down a false trail to disarm the curiosity of Porges.
In 1899 ERB had had the direction of his life changed by a rap on the head. He now had to face a life filled with heavy responsiblities which he had been able to avoid to this point.
We see a new Edgar Rice Burroughs emerge from his early married years.
Four Crucial Years
In The Life Of Edgar Rice Burroughs
Part 3 of 4
There was a tremendous rush of events at this time which would shape the future of not only ERB but of the Burroughs Boys.
The signficance of the first of these would have passed unrecognized by any of the Burroughs. This was the election of Frank Steunenberg as the govener of Idaho in 1896. Steunenberg brought the Burroughs Boys into an association with his name when he appointed them representatives at a mining conference. The boys were thus connected with the anti-Western Federation Of Miners forces.
In 1899 in Coeur D’ Alene up near the Canadian border a terrific showdown occurred between the mineowners and the WFM. This is an exciting story. For details see the autobiography of Big Bill Haywood, ‘Big Bill’s Book’, Clarence Darrow’s autobiography and Charlie Siringo’s autobiography, ‘A Cowboy Detective’. Very rewarding books, especially Charlie Siringo’s.
Steunenberg called in the Army to crush the union thereby incurring their hatred. On December 30, 1905 as returned home from Office he opened his mailbox and disappeared into thin air from the bomb blast.
There is yet no conclusive proof that the Burroughs Boys found it expedient to vacate Idaho for fear of the WFM but at any rate they chose to leave.
ERB formed a distaste for Big Bill and for the IWW which Bill headed after leaving the WFM as a result of the bombing. ERB never gives up lambasting the IWW. The character of the Sky Pilot in the ‘The Oakdale Affair’ is undoubtedly based on Haywood.
The second of these events was the really stupendous story of the discovery of gold in the Klondike in July 1897. By the beginning of 1898 a hundred thousand or so prospectors including Jack London set off the fabled Big Rock Candy Mountain in the Yukon. This last of the great gold rushes probably fired the imaginations of the Boys who were having a very difficult time of making their cattle ranch go. They would shortly abandon ranching, building a mammoth dredging raft to sift the bottom of the Snake River for any spare flakes and nuggets.
What effect this had on the mind of ERB is difficult to assess although the Tarzan novels are filled with episodes of found gold and diamonds. Most notably Tarzan uses the gold of Opar as his personal bank. He perhaps found his brother’s seach for gold curious. He didn’t seem to catch the fever at the time.
On top of these two items the Maine was sunk in Havana harbor on February 15, 1898. The legendary newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst had been beating the drums for war and now got it. The sinking of the Maine may have been the spur that caused ERB to petition Capt. Smith for an appointment. The Spanish American War agitated his military ambitions as he tried to get that elusive officer’s appointment.
As he left home again in 1898 ERB was 22 soon to be 23. Time was passing. He was no longer a boy but having been coddled as a youngest son and brother he was having difficulty making the transition to a responsible young man. Not unusual, but true. He was in that difficult learning period of 21-25 when great demands are made on one’s developing maturity. Somehow when one turns twenty-five one had better have learned enough to make it from there. How well I remember crossing that bar from youth to maturity. What a kick in the pants it was. Don’t know how I made it or, perhaps, if I have.
Unfortunately for ERB any maturity he was to experience was well in the future. Perhaps he never really made the transition. He had no money of his own. He would have had to ask his dad for fare and traveling money. He was used to being supported, just asking for the money he needed. We will now come on several examples.
Young ERB was one light headed son-of-a-gun. His route took him through Denver. There he met an Army buddy from Fort Grant who had been a member of his Might Have Seen Better Days Club.
This was apparently a joyous reunion as the two got roaring drunk, hired a brass band then marching behind it paraded through the streets of Denver. Always seemingly conversant with the seamy side of town he and his friend blew whatever money they had remaining in a gambling dive. Now broke, he blithely wired his brothers in Idaho asking for more money to continue his journey. As he already had his ticket this fifty dollars represented the equivalent of an easy five hundred today, perhaps a thousand. It was pocket money to him.
What effect this stunt had on his family’s evaluation of him is open to conjecture. ERB was no longer a kid; he ought to have been showing some sober responsibility. I’m sure the story reached Chicago where possibly the Hulberts heard of it thanking their lucky stars the ne’er do well had checked out of their daughter’s life leaving the way clear for Frank Martin. Wishful thinking.
I don’t think ERB gave it another thought, probably laughingly telling his brothers about it while I am sure they looked at him with puzzled astonishment.
As Porges notes they had little use for him on the ranch or could not afford to pay him wages, which is to say give him money which they had not factored into their expenses.
Events were now crowding fast on ERB. On April 19th, 1898 Congress authorized the war on Spain. Burroughs once again appealed to Colonel Rogers as his best bet to get him a commission. Rogers fobbed him off, nothing coming of his appeal. Hearing of Teddy Roosevelt’s formation of the Rough Riders Burroughs sent an appeal to him which was once again a rejection. The military was and would remain a mirage.
Had he been accepted either his father or his brothers would have had to provide transportation and incidental money. I’m sure one of them may have done it but there would have been no guarantee that ERB wouldn’t gamble it away en route, cabling for more.
The Boys were not flush, as Porges relates. They had borrowed a thousand dollars from their father, use your multiplier for today’s equivalent, on which they were unable to make the principal payment, instead sending their dad the interest only which was a fairly steep 8%. Technically since they couldn’t meet the obligation they were bankrupt. Nevertheless brother Harry, who seemed to be a much softer touch than brother George, bought ERB a stationery story in Pocatello. Porges doesn’t give any financial details but perhaps it was at this point that ERB gave Harry his note for three hundred dollars. It is quite probable that this money also came from George T. who wished to remain anonymous. Harry may just have forwarded the note to Chicago. The loan was never repaid; George T. presented the canceled note as a Christmas present a decade later.
ERB was to keep the store for six months. Those six months were probably very important to him intellectually. He later said he wasn’t cut out to be a retailer but he did keep the store for six months selling it back to the former owner at that time. If the owner bought it back for the three hundred then ERB kept the money never retiring the note.
The evidence indicates that Burroughs gave the business his best shot. He seems to have advertised well while developing contacts to the point that he could offer to obtain any book or magazine from the U.S., Canada or England. Although he advertised statewide, how much demand there may have been for any magazines other than the most common ones is questionable.
Once again, details of this period are tantalizingly lacking. Porges says that ERB made at least one trip to Salt Lake City in this period. One would like to know why. What need was there for him to incur the expense of such a trip. As impractical as he was he probably spent one or two hundred dollars out of the till which would better have gone to developing the business.
One would like to know what he read at this time. It would be of interest to know how many different titles of magazines he actually stocked. What books other than Capt. King’s he sold. He appears to have studied Darwin’s Descent Of Man at this time although the volume he used was twenty years old. It still may have been bought new for the store, I suppose. On the fly leaf he drew a picture of an ape labeled Grandpa which shows he was giving it some thought.
Darwin was being much discussed as ERB obviously incorporated later thought into his drawing.
One would like to know was the store making money? At any rate when the former owner returned to Pocatello at the beginning of 1899 ERB was only too happy to sell it back to him. What did he do with the money? I’m sure he could have found a poker game somewhere in Pocatello.
When he returned the store to the former owner he became superfluous to his brothers who couldn’t afford to pay him as a ranch hand. He now had no real place in Idaho. He began to think of returning to Chicago. Though he may have exasperated family and friends with his erratic behavior, behind his nonsense his mind was busily at work absorbing the tremendous range of influences occurring on a daily basis.
Important among these was the West’s relationship to the world. While the Spanish American war was intended to free Cuba, an unintended consequence was the acquisition of the Philippine Islands as a colony or ‘possession.’ Other countries had colonies, the US had possessions.
Rudyard Kipling who had toured the US in 1889 beginning in San Francisco moving East had formed some very definite impressions of the country and its inhabitants. In February of ’99 in connection with the Philippines he published his very famous poem The White Man’s Burden. The US had been traditionally anti-imperialist, except moving West, condemning England most severely but now faced with Philippine intransigence the country was involved in a brutal war of suppression. Perhaps reacting to taunts of colonialism against the English Kipling wrote what can be viewed as a mocking poem.
Anachronistic when published on the eve of the twentieth century, it was reflective perhaps of an earlier intellectual climate. Burroughs reaction was immediate reflecting a deep, if not long, he was only 23, reflection on the problem. The Pocatello paper printed his response shortly after the original appeared. This was apparently written in white hot heat.
As the response is a synopsis of his later views I will reproduce both poems for comparison with comments. If mocking, Kipling still presents a bright or positive side of the European invasion of Africa and the East.
The White Man’s Burden:
The United States And
The Philippine Islands, 1898
Take up the white man’s burden-
Send forth the best ye breed-
Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives’ need;
To wait in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild-
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half devil and half-child.
Take up the white man’s burden-
In patience to abide,
To veil the threat of terror
And check the show of pride;
By open speech and simple,
An hundred times made plain,
To seek another’s profit,
And work another’s gain.
Take up the white man’s burden-
The savage wars of peace-
Fill full the mouth of famine
And bid the sickness cease;
And when your goal is nearest
The end for others sought,
Watch sloth and heathen Folly
Bring all your hopes to nought.
Take up the white man’s burden-
No tawdry rule of kings,
But toil of serf and sweeper-
The tale of common things.
The ports ye shall not enter,
The roads ye shall not treat,
Go make them with your living,
And mark them with your dead.
Take up the white man’s burden-
And reap his old reward:
The blame of those ye better,
The hate of those ye guard-
The cry of hosts ye humour
(Ah, slowly!) toward the light-
“Why brought ye us from bondage,
Our beloved Egyptian night?”
Take up the white man’s burden-
Ye dare not stoop to less-
Nor call too loud on Freedom
To cloak your weariness;
By all ye cry or whisper,
By all ye leave or do,
The silent, sullen peoples
Shall weigh your Gods and you.
Take up the white man’s bureden-
Have done with childish days-
The highly proffered laurel,
The easy, ungrudged praise,
Comes now, to search your manhood
Through all the thankless years,
Cold-edged with dear-bought wisdom,
The judgment of your peers!
Originally published in
The New York Sun, February 5, 1899
The Black Man’s Burden
The dark side presented by
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Take up the white man’s burden,
The yoke ye sought to spurn;
And spurn your fathers’ customs;
Your fathers’ temples burn.
O learn to love and honor
The white God’s favored sons.
Forget the white-haired fathers
Fast lashed to mouths of guns.
Take up the white man’s burden,
Your own was not enough;
He’ll burden you with taxes;
But though the road be rough,
“To him who waits, “remember”
The white man’s culture bring you
The white man’s God, and rum.
Take up the white man’s burden’
“Tis called “protecorate,”
And lift your voice in thanks to
The God ye well might hate.
Forget your exiled brothers;
Forget your boundless lands;
In acres that they gave for
The bood upon your hands.
Take up the white man’s burden;
Poor simple folk and free;
Abandon nature’s freedom,
Embrace his “Liberty;”
The goddess of the white man
Who makes you free in name;
But in her heart your color
Will brand you “slave” the same.
Take up the white man’s burden,
And learn by what you’ve lost
That white men called as counsel
Means black man pays the cost.
Your right to fertile acres
Their priests will teach you well
Have gained your fathers only
A desert place in hell.
Take up the white man’s burden;
Take it because you must;
Burden of making money;
Burden of greed and lust;
Burdens of points strategic,
Burdens of harbors deep,
Burden of greatest burdens;
Burden, these burdens to keep.
Take up the white man’s burden;
His papers take, and read;
‘Tis all for your salvation;
The white man knows not greed.
For you he’s spending millions-
To him, more than his God-
To make you learned and happy,
Enlightened, cultured, broad.
Take up the white man’s burden
While he make laws for you,
That show your fathers taught you
The things you should not do.
Cast off your foolish feathers,
Your necklace, beads and paint;
Buy raiment for your mother,
Lest fairer sisters faint.
Take up the white man’s burden;
Go learn to wear his clothes;
You may look like the devil;
But nobody cares who knows.
Peruse a work of Darwin-
Thank gods that you’re alive-
And learn this lesson clearly-
The fittest alone survive.
See the Pocatello Tribune clipping
from ERB’s scrapbook at ERBzine 0291
Burroughs response to Kipling may also explain why he refused to join a Pocatello volunteer regiment destined for the Philippines and the assumption of the White Man’s burden. Burroughs is accused of an excess of pride in refusing to join the regiment because he would have to serve under a man he didn’t like, a good enough reason for me, by the way. One doesn’t know the details but possibly his fellow volunteers refused to make him an officer. His local reputation may have been such that his fellows had no confidence in him.
Also pertinent I believe is the fact that while the war in Cuba was to free the Cubans from Spanish tyranny, the war in the Philippines was to crush the freedom of the Filipinos. As Burroughs’ answer to Kipling clearly demonstrates he was opposed to the imposition of Western values on native peoples. The Tarzan novels should be read in the light of this answer.
While Kipling’s poem has been much derided by the moribund Liberal establishment with no attempt at placing it within a historical context it nevertheless does express certain truths. Whether misguided or not, unlike all previous conquests, the White Man with his superior scientific consciousness did try to uplift the peoples they conquered rather than merely exploiting them on their own established historical model.
The poem is an interesting example of evolution in progress before the reaction against the West began. Darwinian evolution, you know, does not only apply to the past and other species, it also applies to the present and humankind. Kipling himself does not appear to have absorbed the new scientific learning. He was eleven years older than Burroughs, but his parodist was thoroughly imbued with evolutionary ideas having, apparently, just read The Descent Of Man. The final quatrain:
Peruse a work of Darwin’s
Thank gods that you’re alive-
And learn the reason clearly-
The fittest alone survive.
While biographer Taliferro believs that Burroughs got no further in the Descent Of Man than drawing a picture on the title page the quatrain would indicate a much deeper familiarity. ‘A work of Darwin’s’, Darwin wrote several books, points to a wider reading of the evolutionary scientist than just the Descent.
So at some time before reaching the age of 25 ERB had obviously been immersing himself in evolutionary reading and speculation. He may have been flighty but he was industrious and intelligent.
The advice to the subject races is peculiar while being ambiguous. On the one hand he advises them to take up Western learning, which as they haven’t makes them unfit, while on the other hand he implies that they have not been exterminated because they are the fittest.
The bright side of the Western subjugation of the peoples is clearly and accurately presented by Kipling who had much more experience in the wide world than Burroughs. On the other hand one tends to underestimate Burroughs whose brief experience in Apacheria is still analogous to Kipling’s in India.
On an evolutionary basis the West’s conquest of the world represented a radical departure from the historical model. Prior to and outside the West the world’s conquerors had been mere freebooters who plundered and destroyed while contributing nothing to their subject peoples who were most frequently intellectually superior to the invaders.
Thus Attila was merely an incubus on Western civilization whose potential was wholly destructive. His reputation cannot be rehabilitated. Genghis Khan and his successors inhibited the development of superior civilizations dragging the subject peoples back toward more primitive conditions. The crimes the Golden Horde committed against the Russians are atrocious. But that is why the Liberals love them better than the West.
As Kipling states, athe West conferred solid benefits on the subject peoples. It imposed superior organization, scientific methods and standards although today, after several hundreds of years resistance, through the superior methods of the West certain areas are profiting. Not many though.
In the terms most people relate to, famine has all but disappeared- this through no efforts of their own- through Western medicine billions lead more comfortable lives, certain diseases have disappeared while most others can be treated- through no efforts of their own- these benefits have been a gift, a boon from the West.
The prevalence of fevers gave sub-Saharan Africa the name of the White Man’s Grave but in fact no people could prosper in the African climate. Even the native Blacks, who one would assume, should have acclimated themselves over their hundred fifty thousand year existence seldom lived past forty. They were incapable of creating medicine before the White Man arrived and they are incapable of even manufacturing the White Man’s medicine today.
So that, while Kipling’s poem is denigrated today as an example of ‘racism’ by the Red-Liberal ideology, apart from the insufferable condescension it is an accurate description of the altruistic role played by the West in civilizing the world.
Reacting to the poems apparent insufferableness as much as anything Burroughs counters it by listing the negatives which are as real as the positives but with no material value. Once again the negatives are inconsequential compared to the brutality of the Mongol conquests in the West. One has only to glance over the wars of Tamerlane to arrive at some sort of balance, one hopes.
Burroughs is ostensibly taking the side of the subject peoples but in reality he identifies with the defeated accepting their defeat at the hands of the West as analogous to his defeat at the hands of John the Bully.
This view would relieve the lines:
Thank gods that you’re alive
And learn the reason clearly-
The fittest alone survive.
of some of their ambiguity because what he is saying is that he has survived comparable conditions- he still lives as he has his characters say repeatedly. Therefore he is one of the fittest if not superior to his conqueror.
Thus beneath the foolery and compulsive failure caused by his 1884-85 confrontation the true Edgar Rice Burroughs is struggling toward Bethlehem and rebirth. It may in fact be no coincidence that the initials of both John Carter and John Clayton are JC.
In the Spring of ’99 he can only put together this parody of another man’s work where it touches his fixations most directly.
For the present, after the roundup our wandering boy pulled up stakes yet again to return to Chicago. Who bore the expense isn’t clear.
Continue on the Part IV and conclusion
May 26, 2010
Themes And Variations
The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs #23
Tarzan And The Madman
Tarzan novels seem more complex after repeated readings and just sitting and thinking about them. When I first read Tarzan And The Madman I Thought it was a throwaway. In the interim between that first reading and the present I’ve spent a fair amount of time in the Tarzan oeuvre and the Burroughs corpus while having written several hundred pages. One would think it would get easier but it doesn’t.
This novel was written by Burroughs in exile in Hawaii. He’d been run out of LA a couple years previously. Once the possessor of a magnificent collection of cars and planes and a vast estate becoming of the creator of Tarzan he was now living on 250.00 a month in the island paradise. He had returned to his poverty days at Sears, Roebuck in Chicago. Life’s like that.
On one level then Madman can be interpreted as a record of his feud with MGM and subsequent exile. Just look at the disdain on his and Florence’s faces as they board the plane for the last outpost of America. Tells a story in itself.
The MGM feud began with the release of Trader Horn. The book Trader Horn itself can be traced back to the Cave Girl. The movie of Trader Horn led to MGM’s first sound Tarzan. Thus Rand, the false Tarzan of the novel, can be seen as the Weissmuller portrayal of Tarzan in the MGM films. ERB was greatly offended by MGM’s notion of Tarzan hence this novel’s hero Rand is The-Man-Who-Thought-He-Was-Tarzan, a false god made to seem insignficant by the real literary Tarzan.
One should note that the real Tarzan is an intruder in the make believe Tarzanic world of MGM. The Mutia Escarpment on which the action takes place first came into existence in Trader Horn then was perpetuated through five MGM Tarzan films. The sixth MGM movie took place in New York City, of course. That one hadn’t been released as yet.
The opening sequence is even a parody of MGM’s Tarzan, The Ape Man in which an old coot shows up in Africa with his beauteous daughter who is then abducted by Tarzan who doesn’t know any better. There’s a certain amount of humor then when the real Tarzan of Mad Man wants to know who’s been abducting women in his name besmirching his reputation.
The false Tarzan who we may as well designate as Rand to make things easier, after a false start abducts the White woman, Sandra Pickerall, of the Scots Ale fortune taking her to the Mutia Escarpment. The ascent to the Escarpment is nearly identical to the ascent in both Trader Horn and Tarzan, The Ape Man. Burroughs adds his usual lion hoopla having a menagerie of them at the base of the Escarpment who are fed human flesh.
Once on the Escarpment Burroughs fleshes out his story with the usual Lost Civilization theme. In this instance the civilization is derived from Medieval Portuguese invaders of Moslem lands who were defeated in battle retreating to the Escarpment where they built their castle and established their life while becoming a milk chocolate hue. At one point Burroughs says they were part of a seventh century contingent, again Crusaders and yet again having been there four hundred years. So take your pick.
Rand has been there believing himself Tarzan for two years. He, of course, is suffering from amnesia caused when he was parachuting into the castle having been slammed against a wall causing his trauma. He and friend Bolton-Chilton were flying into Africa when in a replication of the MGM movies they entered a clowd bank to find themselves face to face with a mountain wall. In the ascent the plane malfunctioned so having cleared the Escarpment the men were compelled to bail out. Bolton-Chilton was captured by the Moslem/Galla rivals of the men of the Portuguese city of Alemtejo and enslaved. So, is this novel all roads lead to Alemtejo.
Since Rand descended from the sky Christoforo Da Gama, the king of Alemtejo, takes him for a god. I will deal with the religious aspect in the next section. If Rand is a god then Da Gama insists that Rand must have a goddess sending him forth to find one. Hence Rand abducts a number of Black women who prove unsatisfactory to Da Gama who insists on a White Goddess leading Rand to abduct the only possible candidate, Sandra thus besmirching Tarzan’s hitherto unsullied reputation.
After a series of adventures Tarzan arrives before the gates of Alemtejo. Both he and Rand are of the same general build and resemble each other enough to cause confusion but on closer examination their faces were not alike. As it chances when Tarzan arrives Rand and Sandra have absented themselves in the pursuit of freedom.
Interestingly Tarzan’s entrance into Alemtejo parodies the arrival of the Greek hero, Theseus into Athens. As Burroughs thought he invented the name Numa for lion, not realizing he had retrieved from memory the name of the Roman king, in all likelihood he didn’t realize that he was basing the entry of Tarzan on the entry of Theseus.
In the Greek myth Theseus dressed as a woman, don’t ask me, the scene is reminsicent of the Gilgamesh epic of Sumer in which a temple prostitute entices the wild man Enkidu into joining civilization who tears her garment in half giving half to the man, anyway as a transvestite, Theseus draws the jeers of observing workmen. To put them in their place Theseus picks up a bull and throws it over his shoulder. Like I say, I’m working on it but without the semblance of a clue.
Tarzan by replicating the feat wins the admiration of the Alemtejo general who proclaims Tarzan the true god, they overthrow the old order, march on the Moslem Gallas using new tactics devised by the new god and overthrow the Moslems.
The victory scatters all the protagonists who then have to come together.
As with the MGM movies there is a huge gold mine involved. In the movies there is a great seam of gold with huge nuggets lying on the surface so that all you have to do is pick them up. So in Mad Man the two villains Crump and Minsky in company with Rand discover the mine.
Here Burroughs depicts the worthlessness of gold in the manner in which he disparaged the Father of Diamonds in Tarzan And The Forbidden City. Overcome by their greed the starving and dehydrated Crump and Minsky gather more gold than they can carry killing themselves in the process.
Tarzan, Rand, Sandra and Bolton-Chilton as surviving Europeans come together. Sandra convinces Tarzan, who had vowed to kill Rand on sight, that he is merely deluded having lost his memory. Bolton-Chilton turns out to be the buddy who having parachuted from the same plane as Rand had been enslaved by the Gallas.
It turns out that Rand was so entranced by the story of Tarzan that he bet Bolton-Chilton he could live as Tarzan in the wilds of Africa for a month. He was on the way to do so when the two had to bail.
In their seach for the easy way down from the Escarpment the foursome come across Rand’s plane that had landed and coasted to a stop rather than crashing. Rand pumps up the the tires, fixes the carburetor and all four of them fly away. Thus Burroughs rewrites the MGM movie in a more plausible and entertaining way retrieving Tarzan from MGM in a sense.
As in real life Burroughs was exiled from LA so Rand, Sandra and Tarzan are exiled from Africa. Tarzan’s African adventures cease. Just as the Communists had driven Tarzan from Opar so now MGM drives Tarzan from Africa. The next adventure would take place on a mysterious island in the Indian Ocean while the last Tarzan adventure takes place in Indonesia during WWII. A sad ending for the Big Bwana.
Of course the Africa of Livingstone and Stanley on which the Tarzan series was based was also a thing of the past. The Tarzan stories couldn’t have continued to have been wirtten without becoming retrospective. Even the Lesser Tarzan films that succeeded MGM became exotic fantasies rather than African adventure. It was the end of an era.
Beginning in 1932 with the first MGM talkie the Big Ape man began to slip away from ERB’s control. Mad Man records the sad fact that the pale MGM imitation of the ape man had supplanted the real thing. It must have been a bitter moment for ERB writing in Hawaii.
We don’t know why he didn’t publish Mad Man. He placed the story in his safe where it remained until the early sixties when it was discovered and published. It seems likely that as of this date but few have even read it. Of those who have, most probably discuss it as a tired rehash of the themes of doppelganger, amnesia and perhaps the last of terrestrial lost civilizations.
I found it the culmination of those themes. ERB’s long examination of the nature of psychological doubles was drawn to a satisfying conclusion as the false Tarzan awoke from a long sleep to realization. Perhaps the same was true of Burroughs as he viewed his lost hero in the lost land of LA from his place of exile in Hawaii just beforfe the bombs from those airplanes began to fall.
Next an examination of the religious aspects of this amazing novel.
Four Crucial Years
In The Life Of Edgar Rice Burroughs
…presumptuous attempts to conquer the outer world of appearances by the inner world of wishful thinking.
–S. Freud, Letter To Arnold Zweig 5/8/32.
Quoted by Schur: Freud: Living and Dying
Now back in Chicago he had to consider what direction his life was to take. At least secure working for his Dad, ERB made a tentative move in the direction of an artistic career. During the summer he enrolled in the Chicago Art Institute.
Chicago is billed as America’s Second City but in many ways it is or was, America’s First, certainly West of the Appalachians. The city was much more important to the Southern States than New York City, while its importance to the West is shown by the fact that the Outfit- the Chicago Mafia- considers the whole West as its province. The Outfit ruled everything west of the Appalachians by the end of the fifties
At the time in question when Chicago’s population was a mill six the population of the country was about 75 million so Chicago represented over 2% of the total. West of the towers rising from the mud there was virtually no one and those that existed were rubes and hicks or living on the reservation. During Burroughs entire youth this most modern of American capitals stood a beacon of civilization, such as it was, on what was then known as the great American desert.
Burroughs was to approach this metropolis from the West several times so is it any wonder that when John Carter emerged from the deserts of the Green Men- read Indians- the towers of Helium rose from nowhere much like Chicago. The twin of Chicago was probably New York City in ERB’s mind.
As the capital of the Empire, Helium, like Chicago, reflected the racial and ethnic makeup of Mars.
Chicago was polyglot and the mix was troubling. Bruce Grant who wrote the history of the Union Club of Chicago entitled characteristically ‘Fight For A City’ in 1955 characterized the situation during Burroughs’ time in this manner, page 96:
The thousands of laborers and adventurers who were attracted to Chicago during the rebuilding era following the fire of 1871 were for the most part uneducated newcomers. Ignorant of the underlying spirit of American institutions. Chicago was the Western distributing point for a vast European immigration. With the good came the bad, and borne along with the stream were the scum and dregs of countries where despotism had made paupers and tyranny had bred conspirators. From Russia came the Nihilists, described by one newspaper as ‘the gift of centuries of Slavic slavery and cruelty.’ From the German states came the Socialists, the offspring of military exactions and autocratic government. And from Europe generally, including Great Britain and Ireland, Chicago drained the feverish spirit of human resentment against laws and life; of property and of conduct which it had no hand in making or enforcing.
This was the environment Burroughs was growing up in. I suppose he was getting his Russian and Jewish information from the newspapers. Therefore it was heavily slanted in favor of the Jews. But as he walked around Chicago he must have thought himself a Stranger In A Strange Land. I do today. No more than 10% of Chicago’s population could be considered native. The city had a larger Irish population than Dublin, was the most populous German city in the world, The Polish population could compete with Warsaw and on down the line.
The Socialists paraded shouting and screaming Revolution under the Red banner which may have made sense in Germany but made no sense to the native born. Anarchists unfurled the Black Flag with their preposterous social conceptions.
The remarkable thing about America is the extent that the Anglos went to accommodate the immigrants. Of course there were movements such as the APA- American Protective Association- and later the Ku Klux Klan, but these were scorned and ineffective in any event, regardless of how seriously some paranoid immigrant writers like Gustavus Myers might take them.
Then as now Liberals controlled the country. More typical of the reaction was this querulous little poem gleaned from the pages of ‘Chicago’s Public Wits: a Chapter In The American Comic Spirit,’ Edited by Kenny J. Williams and Bernard Duffy. LSU Press, 1983:
I Wish I Was A Foreigner
I wish I was a foreigner, I really, really do.
A right down foreign foreigner; pure foreigner through and through;
Because I find Americans, with all of native worth,
Don’t stand one half the chances here with men of foreign birth.
It seems to be unpopular for us to hold a place,
For we are made to give it up to men of foreign race.
The question of necessity and fitness to possess
Must never be considered- who cares for our distress.
Perhaps it is not wicked to be of foreign birth,
Or to mutter a mild protest when an alien wants the earth;
But the latest importation is sure to strike a job,
And be the sooner qualified to strike and lead a mob.
A Dutchman (German) or an Irishman, a Frenchman or a Turk
Comes here to be a voter, and is always given work;
A native born American is here, and here he must stay;
So it matters little how he lives, he cannot get away.
The Spaniard and Bohemian, the Russian and the Pole,
Are looking toward America with longings in the soul,
Because the politicians will receive them with open arms,
And the goddess of our freedom bid them welcome to her charms.
But the law abiding Chinaman from the Celestial shore,
Because he has no franchise, is driven from our shore;
Americans and Chinamen are not in much demand,
The one remains neglected while the other is barred the land.
So I wish I was a Dutchman, or some other foreign cuss
I’d lord it over the natives- who don’t dare to make a fuss,
But my blushes tell the story, I am native to the soil’
So the aliens hold the places- visitors must never toil.
With the real American response as above, the retiring Bill Moyer doesn’t have to worry much about ‘the thunder on the Right’ caused by a few radio announcers. The real threat to them is that the Liberal ideology will be shown to be false and ridiculous not that the ‘danger from the Right’ is pernicious.
One believes that if Burroughs were alive today Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly would find him an ardent supporter. One wouldn’t want to be called ‘an unapologetic Conservative.’ The Liberal oppression is that strong.
The resignation is fairly bitter in the above poem. The Chinese, the only nationality ever excluded, had been denied entry in 1882, which was shortly before the above poem was written; thus the writer laments that ‘Americans and Chinamen are not in much demand’ comparing natives with the excluded Chinese.
By the nineties the Irish had seized control of many municipal administrations, including Chicago’s, so that they were in control of political patronage. The boodle as it was known. All the sinecures, city and county, were theirs to distribute to friends and cronies. The Irish effectively controlled Chicago. As the poem indicates this privilege was obtained by the vote and votes were obtained by corruption thus the Irish and the Democrats, then as today, were the party of corruption. All Irish city administrations were corrupt.
The failure of the potato, of course, sent the Irish fleeing Ireland for more emerald pastures, but the Scottish emigration to the US and Canada caused by the Highland Clearances is virtually unknown. There were two clearances, one in the eighteenth century which sent the Highlanders to the colonies or US and second , 1800-1860 which populated Canada.
After the Union when the Scottish Lairds no longer had need of armed retainers they simply cleared the natives off the land in about as brutal a manner as the Americans cleared the Indians to make room for sheep. All these people who had lived in the highlands for centuries discovered they were mere squatters on land which legally belonged to the Laird. Past services were forgotten; they were literally thrown off the land. How do you like that? Matches any hardluck story you’ve ever heard, doesn’t it?
The Lairds then invoked the law to kick their former retainers not only off the land but out of the country. Dig that, and take heed for the future. Sheriffs burned down their houses around their ears. There was then no place for them in their homeland. They were ordered to emigrate. What was that Walter Scott said:
Breathes there a man
With Soul so dead,
Who to himself hath not said,
This is my home,
My native land…
Well, with a mere change of place you can that about Canada, too. That’s how the Scots came to the US and Canada.
The Irish supremacy in the US lasted until the thirties when the massive immigration of the nineties through 1914 wrested power from them. Fiorello LaGuardia, the Jewish-Italian politician, replaced Jimmy Walker in New york ending the long Celtic rule of that city. James T. O’Farrell in his Studs Lonigan trilogy has the Irish lamenting that the Slavs are swamping the Irish causing them to lose control of the boodle. The Irish of Chicago must have rallied because Mayor Daley put the Irish back on top but because of the huge Negro influx into Chicago the Irish have to share power with the Blacks.
If one makes an analogy of the present with the past it won’t be long before Mexicans and Moslems are directing the affairs of municipalities and States. A vote is a vote.
Be that as it may, in 1897 I believe ERB would have been in sympathy with the author of I Wish I Was A Foreigner. The Irish certainly figure largely in both his personal and political images of the time. David Adams writing in the ERBzine has come up with several possible origins for the name of the Mahars of Pellucidar. I think the most obvious is that the Mahars are intended to be a parody of the Irish administration of Chicago. Mahar is an Irish name.
Earlier in the century the city of Chicago which was built on slightly different gradients so that sidewalks had a lot of up and down stairs had been literally jacked up to one level making the sidewalks even. Entire huge buildings and city blocks were raised several feet above ground to make a level city. The resulting cavity produced an underground city which the indigent occupied.
This might suggest the image of the occupants as slimy reptiles into an imaginative mind. Putting the images together one comes up with an Irish administration of slimy reptiles. I haven’t figured out why they’re deaf and female yet unless ERB was unhappy with Emma who may have been deaf to his entreaties. For the present I’ll leave that one up to you.
I shall permit myself to send you a small book which is sure to be unknown to you. Group Psychoogy And The Analysis Of The Ego, published in 1921. Not that I consider this work to be particularly successful, but it shows a way from the analysis of the individual to an understanding of society.
— S. Freud to Romain Rolland.
Quoted by Max Schur: Freud Living And Dying
Working at the Battery Company, starting from the ground up, his father must still have allowed ERB flexible hours because Our Man found time to attend classes at the Chicago Art Institute. He was not a very cooperative student, refusing to accept any discipline. According to Porges he only wanted to draw horses and that without acquiring the fundamentals of drawing. As he couldn’t find anyone willing to drop some hints on the fine points of equine deliniation he lost interest dropping out of school
I for one would be very much interested in learning exaclty how he passed his time during this halcyon period. If he and Emma went to the theatre as Porges suggests I would like to know what shows or lecture they attended. Lecturers were a much more important adjunct to entertainment than they are today. Robert Ingersoll had a huge reputation and of course Mark Twain. There was also the Chautauqua Circuit.
In the much discussed issue of Theosophy in Burroughs’ life it is quite possible that he attended a lecture or series of lectures either in their own building or some other place. There undoubtedly would have been reviews of lecture in the papers. Chicago had at least a dozen, in which the tenets or beliefs would be discussed. In the crowd in which Burroughs associated I’m sure the fairly amazing doctrines would be discussed.
When the US government places its 30 million pages of newspapers on the internet by 2006 dating back to the earlyh nineteenth century we will be able to examine this pertinent period in detail.
At the theatre he and Emma would most likely have seen an actor by the name of John McCulloch who was a fixture of the Chicago stage. This would have struck ERB as quite a coincidence as his mother had a John McCulloch as an ancestor. If I am right in my surmise John the Bully was surnamed McCulloch.
Nor would this be such a far fetched coincidence. There must have been a couple dozen John McCullochs in Chicago at the time, probably hundreds in the United States. As I write, my phone book lists a half dozen John McCullochs in this area.
If Emma introduced ERB to the theatre at this time, there seem to be no reference3s to the theatre earlier, it held an attraction for him he never lost. The old actor in Marcia Of The Doorstep is probably based on John McCulloch while ERB wrote his play You Lucky Girl at about the same time for his daughter Joan.
Then at the beginning of the thirties ERB wrote his novelette Pirate Blood using the pseudonym John T. McCulloch which united the McCulloch references in his life. It is said that ERB capitalized too much in his writing on improbable coincidences which on the one hand may be true but on the other, life is just like that, isn’t it?
A near contermporary of ERB, Vachel Lindsay, who was born in 1879 in Springfield, Illinois, catalogs the influences to which he and his generation were subject. It might not hurt to look through the poem here to try to capture some of the essence of what it meant to be young during this period. The piece is entitled: John L. Sullivan, The Strong Boy Of Boston.
The poem may be especially relevant to Burroughs as it centers on boxing which was a special interest of his. During the period from 1892 to 1897 Burroughs’ idol, Gentleman Jim Corbett, was the heavyweight champion. Corbett had defeated the incredible hulk, John L. Sullivan, in 1892 by landing one on the solar plexus making that piece of anatomy a topic of conversation down to when I was a kid. In 1897 Bob Fitzsimmons took the title from Corbett.
In the poem, Lindsay lists the many influences on his young life centered around 1889. Pervading and overriding all is the ominous figure of Sullivan and the Irish. Both Lindsay and Burroughs were Anglos. The refrain ‘East side, West side’ refers to the Irish domination of New York City while the capitalized LONDON BRIDGE IS FALLING DOWN of the last stanza implies that the Irish were conquering the Anglos.
When I was nine years old in 1889,
I sent my love a lacy valentine.
Suffering boys were dressed like Fauntleroys,
While Puck and Judge in quiet humor vied.
The Gibson Girl came shining like a bride
To spoil Tennyson’s Elaine.
Louisa Alcott was my gentle guide….
I heard a battle trumpet sound.
Nigh New Orleans
Upon an emerald plain
John L. Sullivan
The strong boy
Fought seventy-five red round with Jake Kilrain.
In simple sheltered 1889
Nick Carter I would piously deride.
Over the Elsie books I moped and sighed.
St. Nicholas magazine was all my pride;
While coarser boys on cellar doors would slide.
The grownups bought refinement by the pound.
Rogers groups had not been told to hide.
E.P. Roe had just begun to wane.
Howells was rising, surely to attain!
The nation for a jamboree was gowned.
The hundreth year of roaring freedom crowned.
The British Lion ran and hid from Blaine
The razzle-dazzle hip-hoorah from Maine.
The mocking bird was singing in the lane….
“East side, west side, all around the town the tots sang: ‘Ring a rosie-
‘London Bridge is falling down.’
John L. Sullivan
The strong boy
Broke every single rib of Jake Kilrain.
In dear provincial 1889
Barnum’s bears and tigers could astound
Ingersoll was called a most vile hound,
And named with Satan, Judas, Thomas Paine!
Phillips Brooks for heresy was fried.
Boston Brahmins patronized Mark Twain.
The baseball rules were changed. That was a gain!
Pop Anson was our darling pet and pride.
Native sons in Irish votes were drowned.
Tammany once more escaped it chain.
Once more each raw slaoon was raising Cain.
The mocking bird was singing in the lane….
“East side, west side, all around the town
The tots sang: ‘Ring a rosie’
‘London Bridge is falling down.'”
John L. Sullivan
The strong boy
Finished the ring career of Jake Kilrain.
In mystic, ancient 1889
Wilson with pure learning was allied.
Roosevelt gave forth a chriping sound.
Stanley found old Emin and and his train.
Stout explorers sought the pole in vain.
To dream of flying proved a man insane.
The newly rich were bathing in champagne.
Van Bibber Davis, at a single bound
Displayed himself and a simpering glory found.
John J. Ingalls, like a lonely crane
Swore and swore and stalked the Kansas plain.
The Cronin murder was the ages’ stain.
Johnstown was flooded, and the whole world cried.
We heard of Louvain and Lorraine,
Of a million heroes for their freedom slain.
Of Armageddon and the world’s birth-pain,
The League of nations, the new world allied,
With Wilson crucified, then justified.
We thought the world would loaf and sprawl and mosey,
The gods of Yap and Swat were sweetly dozy,
We thought the far off gods of Chow had died.
The mocking bird was singing in the lane….
“East side, west side, all around the town
the tots sang: ‘Ring a rosie’
‘LONDON BRIDGE IS FALLING DOWN.'”
John L. Sullivan knocked out Jake Kilrain.
So many of the references which had an influence on Vachel Lindsay have lost their relevance but there are two which are important for our story. One is that: The Gibson Girl came shining like a bride to spoil the cult of Tennyson’s Elaine. Elaine came from Tennyson’s Arthurian poem ‘Idylls Of The King.’ She was sort of pale and wan. The Gibson Girl was created by the illustrator, Charles Gibson. The latter girl was a robust saucy temptation of the All American Girl. Emma made the choice between the two the Gibson Girl her role model which is why I find her so entrancing. In that sense Emma was forward looking heading into the twentieth century. The Gibson Girl may be said to epitomize the woman of the myth of the twentieth century. From the Gibson Girl the ideal progressed to the Vargas pinup girl of the heyday of Esquire Magazine and from there she degenerated to the sex fantasies of Hugh Hefner and on down to Larry Flynt’s Hustler. The story could have had a happy ending but didn’t. It’s gotten worse. I don’t want to go into that.
The second key point is the general regretful tone concerning the Irish. Just as in the poem I Wish I Was A Foreigner where the American complains …’the foreigner comes here to be a voter,’ so Lindsay notes ‘Native sons in Irish votes were drowned.’ This is serious. This was a major problem with the ‘democracy’ when its intended fairness was turned against itself. In a homogeneous society votes are used to determine an issue regarding the welfare of the whole people. In a heterogeneous society votes are used to advance the interests of one segment against the others. Thus the whole democratic process is subverted.
Thus while the Anglos were concerned with regulating the country and immigration for the benefit of all, the Irish put themselves forward as the benefactors of the immigrants against the Anglos taking moral shortcuts which undermined the integrity of the State. Immigrants then were brought in on the Irish side condemning the Anglos who were their true benefactors.
Hence the baffling undercurrent of condemnation and complaint that runs thorugh American historical writing.
Vachel Lindsay would also run afoul of the Diversity with his poem of the Congo which the Left portrayed as anti-Negro while it merely was an expression of Lindsay’s understanding of the culture of the Negro Group within the Diversity. The Negro deserves to have his own psychology and he does. We should value and honor that.
Such censoring of opinion will have its consequences. Burroughs himself was and is charged with racism merely for having prescient views. The man was a deep thinker. Viewing the world around him at this time he came to a remarkably accurate conclusion. I can’t tell what his thought processes were but analyzing history he came to this conclusion.
In his prophetic futuristic novel ‘Beyond Thirty’ of 1915, just after the Great War began, he has a post-war Europe ruled, as I thought improbably by Black Africans. In light of recent events this now seems not so improbable.
Life is not what we would have it: The world is not run on any principles we can cheerfully accept. The twentieth century was one of unprecedented disasters in their scope. Shiva and Kali rule whether we will or not. The twenty-first century will be even more destructive. Now, beginning in the fifteenth century Europe, in essence, began the invasion of the world. Scientifically far in advance of the rest of the world its success was dazzling. However, somewhere in these years, we are considering, perhaps specifically 1893, the Euroamericans, the West, lost its will to dominate. This lack of will was presciently picked up by a number of writers including Burroughs.
The way of the world is that one either conquers or one is conquered. Having begun to impose its will on the world there was no turning back for the West. However it has attempted to do so. The result is that instead of invading and conquering the West is now being invaded and conquered.
Any Freudian analysis of the ego of the various peoples or, Groups, will provide a record of their mental processes, objectives and desires, not mention, capabilities. The myth of the twentieth century was destroyed on 9/11/01 when the Moslems destroyed the religious symbol of the World Trade Center.
The West at the height of their confidence moved peoples about the world to satisfy their needs. East Indians were taken to all corners of the world while Chinese were moved into areas in the Pacific where their skills were in advance of the native populations. During the two wars Africans were recruited to fight from Europe to the Far East. A great deal of the consequences have been suppressed. Having set the peoples of the world in motion, the West withdrew from its conquests, the conquered peoples began to assert their Group egos realizing that it was either conquer or be destroyed. Then they began their invasions.
The Japanese attempt to expel the West from Asia was successful although costly for themselves. Nevertheless by the 50s the West had been expelled from Asia while the enclave in Hong Kong was allowed to live out the terms of their lease.
By the early sixtes the Africans had expelled the West except in South Africa. that fearful drama is not yet finished.
Africans had been dispersed throughout the Americas during gthe 16th through 19th centuries. Beginning recently they have begun to invade Europe from the North African ports especially from Libya.
At the same time the world’s population has grown so large that there are areas that can no longer support their populations. Whether by design or natural increase the Semitic States were so productive that they began exporting people throughout th world beginning in the seventies while their populations at home continue to grow.
As the Moslems invaded the world in this second Eruption From The Desert this narrow, bigoted, antiquated religious faith came into conflict with Western Scientific knowledge.
To accept scientific knowledge would destroy the Moslem faith in much the same way that the Christian and Jewish faiths in the West have been affected. There can be no compromise between the two; this is an either-or situation.
While Moslem proselytizing has never ceased since the seventh century there was now a renewed burst of activity combined with an all out assault on the West, well conducted within Moslem military limitations.
On 9/11/01 they were successful in destroying the symbol of scientific achievement, the World Trade Center in New York City. They aimed directly at the strength of the West- its economic system.
It is a mistake to think that anything can be achieved by fair minded discussion or concessions, otherwise known as appeasement. Appeasement didn’t work out so well in the thirties when another determined ideology asserted its will. This is a war to the knife; only one side will be left standing.
More remarkable still, having disturbed the Africans in their nest, the Africans are on the move having begun an invsion of Euorpe which is already over populated there being no room for vast numbers of either Africans or Moslems, unless…. Religious and racial intolerance began to take a vicious turn in the twentieth centgury when racial clashes began almost simultaneoulsy in Europe and Asia.
Since then genocidal wars of either a racial or religious nature have proliferated. The Moslems have opened a guerilla war on the world. In areas where resources are insufficient to support an Arab or Semitic population against other races the Semites or Arabs are conducting genocidal wars as in the Sudan where they are wiping out the Negroes or driving them beyond the borders.
As Moslems and Negroes flood into Europe this must result in a terrific struggle for survival of the Europeans, probably breaking out within the next ten or twenty years.
The resultant war must be genocidal in nature. If the European struggle is successful it must result in the death of alien populations or their being driven out of Europe the same as the long struggle to drive the Moslems out of Spain. Or the Europeans will be annihilated.
This is an unpleasant but inevitable prospect.
If the Europeans fail as I am sure they will then Burroughs remarkable prophecy of a Black Europe in ‘Beyond Thirty’ is almost certain to become a reality. Life does not give you any easy choices. Here in America you’re not even supposed to talk about this problem in a realistic manner so there is no hope of avoiding destruction.
ERB’s head must have been aswirl with all these thoughts that society forbade him to express directly.
Probably wrestling with all these macro thoughts he had the really important micro thoughts to deal with. Really, what to do with Emma who he wanted but didn’t want to marry, while still not losing her to Frank Martin.
In February of ’98 he once again for some reason decided to seek an officer’s appointment. He wrote to a former commandant at the MMA, Capt. Fred A. Smith, seeking his assistance. Smith, of course, replied that there was nothing he could do. ERB still didn’t understand the consequences of abandoning his post in 1896.
Shortly thereafter ERB pulled up stakes to return to Idaho abruptly abandoning Emma again. Why he should have done so is not clear although perhaps there is a clue in the Return Of Tarzan. Remember that dream displacement and disfiguration are in operation so that one cannot expect a literal representation of the incident. One has to demythologize it.l In the Return W.C. Clayton, Tarzan’s rival for Jane, and Jane have been stranded in the jungle.
Tarzan has chanced upon their camp. As he watched an aged, toothless lion was about to spring on a cringing W.E. Clayton as Jane watches. Tarzan transfixes the lion with his spear. He then sees Clayton get up to embrace and kiss Jane. Mistaking the import of the embrace and kiss, Tarzan turns sorowfully back to disappear into the jungle.
Burroughs himself may have seen Frank Martin kissing Emma. Perhaps he thought that a pauper like himself had lost out to a prince like Martin. Thinking himself cut out might have been the reason for his departure to Idaho much as Tarzan melted back into the jungle.. With no more thought for his Dad at the Battery Company than he had for Col. Rogers at the MMA ERB just up and left. Poor old Emma must have been wondering what she had done. Couldn’t have been anything she said.
Continue to Part III.
Four Crucial Years
In The Life Of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Pt. I
Every artist writes his own autobiography.
Even Shakespeare’s works contain a life of himself for those who know how to read it.
–Havelock Ellis as quoted by Robert W. Fenton
Eighteen ninety-six found Edgar Rice Burroughs confronting the first great crisis of his adult life. The weight of his childhood experiences pressed on his mind as he turned twenty. His subconscious mind was directing his actions while his conscious intelligence futilely struggled against it. He had no plans; nor could he form any. He was in a state of emotional turmoil. He obviously did not think out his moves nor weigh the effects of his actions on others. He was to burn many bridges as he flayed about like the proverbial bull in the china shop trying to find his way out.
Having graduated from the Michigan Military Academy he had been serving in the capacity of instructor for the previous year. All his heroes were military men. He fancied a military career as an Army officer even though he had failed the West Point exam the year before. Still, he was in a fine position to realize his objective. Men who could help him were nearby friends. Captain, soon to be General, Charles King, who had befriended him as a cadet, and the Commandant of the MMA, Colonel Rogers. All he had to do was to be patient and those men of some influence would surely have obtained an appointment for him.
They had given a mere boy a position of great trust and responsibility in making him an instructor. They were military men who judged others in the military manner. Then in the Spring of 1896 Burroughs did one of the most inexplicable things in a career of the inexplicable; he abandoned his post. Without notice to those career officers who were depending on him he resigned his post and on May 13th of 1896 he joined the Army as an enlisted man, a common soldier, a grunt. Within days he was on his way to his asignment.
As he was to say of so many of his later fictional heroes: ‘for me to think is to act.’ He oughtn’t have been so precipitate. He should have thought twice. He shouldn’t have had to think about it at all.
If he seriously wanted a military career as an officer he should have known that it is virtually impossible for an enlisted man to rise through the ranks. Even in the rare cases when this occurs, the enlisted man is always an odd duck between the officer caste and the enlisted men.
In this case he had not only forteited caste but as far as Rogers and King were concerned he had deserted, the worst crime that a military man can commit. Both men wrote him off at that time. Strangely he never understood that his precipitate act would be held against him by those he disappointed.
Apparently joining in a fit of despair- for me to think is to act- as the date of the 13th would indicate he requested the worst duty the Army had ensuring his desire to fail. On one level it is almost as though he did have his next move worked out. Not normally too receptive to the desires or needs of its grunts in this case the Army was only too glad to accommodate him. Burroughs was sent into Apacheria to a place called Fort Grant in what was then the territory of Arizona. Neither Arizona nor New Mexico became States until after the turn of the century so Burroughs had actually ‘lit out for the territories’ as Huck Finn would have put it. There was still some Apache resistance going on, thus ERB was a part of the Wild West.
According to Philip R. Burger, writing in the Winter 1999 issue of the Burroughs Bulletin, the standard term of enlistment at the time was three years but, as there would be no reason to join the Army except to make it a career, the reasonable assumption for those left behind in Chicago without a word of goodbye would have been that Burroughs was out of their lives. He was a dead man.
For those of you who have never joined the services, once you leave you’re out of the lives of those left behind. Your traditions have been broken. Even when you come back for leave you are only tolerated as a visitor who will leave, the sooner the better, so you don’t disrupt their lives any longer than necessary.
Burroughs didn’t even have traditions in Chicago except with a few people. From the sixth grade on he had a record of broken attendance at a number of schools, from the girl’s school to Harvard School and then back East, to Idaho and on to the MMA. He would have known but few people well, intimate with none except the lovely Emma Hulbert.
He could have seen her but rarely over the last years which included high school. He really had no ties in Chicago. His relationshlip to Emma dated back to Brown grade school. At sometime before he began his peripatetic education he began to propose to her. As he was gone from Chicago all this time it is very difficult to believe that Emma sat home pining. She must have been dating other boys, however, at the same time she must have been waiting for Burroughs since, at 24, when she married him she was only a couple years from spinsterhood. She must have been giving her parents some cause for alarm.
Thus when Burroughs appeared to walk out of her life in 1896 without a word about his intentions one wonders what her response was. Certainly it was about this time that Frank Martin began to pay his court. We will learn more of Frank Martin a little later.
For Burroughs, like so many of us once we were inducted, ERB speedily learned his mistake. For the men who don’t fit in ‘each fresh move is a fresh mistake.’ He regretted his decision immediately. For him to think was to act, so from his arrival at Fort Grant he began a petition for discharge.
As he had been under twenty-one when he joined, he had had to ask his father for his consent. He now asked him to use his influence to get him out.
Perhaps we do not have enough information on why he now so desperately wanted out. In later life this short ten month period of his life would be fraught with great significance in his mind. Just before he divorced his lovely wife Emma in 1933 ERB took a solo vacation to return to this scene of his young manhood. That would indicate that Emma and Fort Grant were linked in his mind.
Two of his Martian novels are associated with the Fort Grant experience. In his first novel, A Princess Of Mars, John Carter serves in the Army in Arizona, is discharged, then returns as a prospector. Under attack by Apaches he seeks refuge in a mountain cave in which he leaves his body while his astral projection goes to Mars. Viewed from one point that’s as neat a description of going insane as I’ve ever come across.
During his 1933 visit to Arizona, Carter returns to visit a trembling fearful Burroughs in his mountain cabin. One gets the impression that Burroughs felt like a whipped dog.
The Apaches made a terrific impression on the young man. So much so that he could see himself joining them as a Brave as is evidenced by his two Apache novels, The War Chief and Apache Devil. Then too his two cowboy novels are placed in Arizona rather than in Idaho where one would expect them.
In his Return Of Tarzan the trip to the Sahara is an obvious reference to Apacheria. The French government sends Tarzan into the desert rather than the US government sending ERB to Arizona. In the deseart Tarzan develops a strong liking for the Arabs, much as ERB did for the Apaches. Tarzan considered becoming a Son Of The Desert just as ERB thought he might become Apache.
A large part of ERB’s fascination for the military life was based on his respect for Capt. Charles King under whom he had served briefly at the MMA. King was, I would imagine, a boy’s dream of a dashing Calvalry Officer. In this wildly romantic period of the Indian Wars, not to mention the proximity of the Civil War, a man who had served at the same time and the same place General Custer must have been held in some awe. King had also served with and knew Buffalo Bill, a nonpareil hero of the time and one ERB may have met at the 1893 Columbian Expo.
Burroughs names two of his characters after Custer.
On top of all this King was a successful writer of military novels. He wote an excellent analysis of Custer’s defeat, which is available on ERBzine, as well as a first hand account of the resultant campaign to quell the uprising, Campaigning With Crook. the latter is a superb recreation of a time and place we’ll never see again. In just a few words King is able to recreate a Deadwood, South Dakota for which the movies have filmed endless miles of photographs with less result. His single reference to barbaric cowboys wearing their guns on their hips says more than dozens of Hollywood films. ERB was also able to capture some of this feeling in his two excellent Western novels as well as his two Apache novels.
King was prolific writing nearly seventy books in his long career. I have read only a few, which I find of only of journeyman quality. King has an emascualted precious style which is reflected in his photographs. Burroughs enthusiastically said he wrote the best Army novels ever, which may be true, I haven’t come across any other novels of Army life. among his many novels of Army life are three that deal with the Pullman strike when the Seventh was stationed at Fort Sheridan. One, An Apache Princess written in 1903 might possibly have been an influence on A Princess Of Mars.
At any rate King glorifies the officer’s life. He fooled a young green ERB. In any event ERB failed to notice the haughty distinctions King drew between the relative status of the officers and the enlisted men. King had all the prejudices of the officer class seeing the enlisted man as a subhuman species. Knowing this, as Burroughs should have, I am baffled by his enlisting.
Perhaps as at the MMA he thought that one entered as a buck private working up to officer rapidly as he had at the MMA. If so he must have had a very rude awakening. It couldn’t have taken him long to realize that advancing through the ranks was rare while at the same time a long process for such an impatient lad as he.
While he was cleaning those stalls he must have had plenty of time to think out his dilemma. As he thought back over his past actions it must have occurred to him that perhaps he erred in walking out on Colonel Rogers the previous May. Accordingly on December 2 of 1896 he sent a letter back to Rogers of which the reply is extant. We don’t know what ERB said but I imagine he was feeling Rogers out to see if he couldn’t get him an officer’s appointment. Rogers reply was, of course, polite but cool and distant firmly placing Burroughs as oneof the rest of Rogers’ students. Yuh. ERB should have thought twice about abandoning his post.
The many, many references to this period of his life point to a great regret later in life that he had left it. He associated this regret with Emma. Perhaps the visit of the officer, John Carter, to him in his lonely cabin in the White Mountains of Arizona represents his lost career as an Army officer but was one of the reasons for his wanting to get back to Chicago that he hadn’t dealt with his relationship with Emma? Did he now learn that in his absence someone else was playing his old love song to Emma? Someone who Papa Alvin Hulbert much preferred to ERB?
It would be interesting to know what Emma thought when her beau just up and removed himself to Arizona. Perhaps perplexed but still hopeful she sent him her picture on his birthday in September. Remember me, perhaps?
Unhappy with his life at ‘the worst post in the Army’, how one’s attitude changes when one’s dreams are realized, he petitioned his father to use his influence to return him to civilian life.
Surprisingly his father was easily able to do this. By March of 1897 ERB had his discharge papers in his hand. He was a free man again. How many tens of thousands of us would have appreciated such an easy resolution to the problem.
Our Man still didn’t have a plan. What we he going to do with his life? Apparently Colonel Rogers’ reply to his letter didn’t apprise him of the facts of life. Nor did he seem to realize that once you reject the military the Army has no use for you. At the time, the US Army was very small, perhaps seventy-five thousand men. The officer corps was about ten per cent or seventy-five hundred men. This is virtually a club. The officers would have known each other personally, by name or by reputation. The same was more or less true of the enlisted men.
Thus Porges records a letter ERB received in 1936 from one W.L. Burroughs of Charlotte, N.C. who probes:
This morning an old army sergeant whom I soldiered with back in the nineties dropped in my office and our conversation started at Fort Sheridan, ILl. when the 7th US Cavalry and the 15th U.W. Infantry left that post for Arizona and New Mexico. He asked me if I remembered Edgar Rice Burroughs of Troop ‘B’ Seventh Cavalry, said he was discharged during the summer of 1896 at Fort Grant, Arizona account of a ‘Tobacca heart’…will be delighted to know for certain that we soldiered with so distinguished a person back in the nineties.
Whether true or not these men remembered ERB as a malingerer who obtained a fraudulent discharge. I interpet ‘Tobacco heart’ to be a feigned ailment which would make ‘so distinguished a person’ a sarcastic and insulting remark. If W.L. Burroughs is correct then ERB got himself out by reasonable discreditable means rather than through the efforts of his father. Thus forty years on an Army reputation followed ERB.
Burroughs replied cooly a few days later ‘…seldom have been in touch with any of the men I soldiered with since I left Fort Grant.’ ERB didn’t say ‘AND GOODBYE.’ but I think that is implied.
So having committed blunder after blunder it would have been wise for Our Man to reevaluate his position. Strangely he didn’t do this, hoping against hope, as I imagine to pull that particualr rabbit out of the hat over the next few years. Good luck, Edgar Rice Burroughs.
For now he could only think of returning to Chicago. As we know the Burroughs Boys were ranching up in Idaho. ERB always wanted to prove that he was a businessman. Why, I don’t know. The fact of the matter seems to be that the Burroughs family was particularly inept at business. Papa George T. had been burned out of his distillery while his battery business was steadily running down, due for extermination about a decade later.
The Boys would turn to dredging for gold after failing at ranching. Perhaps one of the reasons they failed at ranching was just this operation coming up. They had bought a Mexican herd, apparently sight unseen. They were then in Nogales to receive and transship the herd to KC. I suspect they lost their shirt. In less than two years they would be gold dredging.
The world is full of sharpers. Out West so many salted gold mines were sold to greenhorns that it doesn’t bear telling. Frank Harris, the British magazine editor in his autobiography has a great story about how he and his outfit lifted a Mexican herd driving it back across the Rio Grande. I have no doubt that some Mexican sharpers took advantage of the Burroughs Boys. They would later buy a salted gold claim.
The herd ERB put on board the train he describes as no bigger than jackrabbits while probably being less well fed. The death rate of the cows on the trip back to KC was horrendous, while the survivors became starved and dehydrated. I don’t think the Burroughs Boys did well on that transaction. You gotta watch your back or, hopefully, see ’em coming.
Edgar Rice Burroughs came home. Perhaps he had now reached childhood’s end. At twenty-one perhaps he now realized that he had a life to lead. Perhaps. If so, it was slow dawning. But then ERB’s was not an ordinary mind, a normal bean as he would have put it. No, his was a slow ripening melon. But then, why should everyone develop at the same pace? If up to this point I seem to have been overly critical of Our Young Man it’s because there has been much to be critical of; just as there will be more, but he hasn’t done anything really reprehensible. Your record may not be much better; mine certainly wasn’t. He’s a good sort of guy; just a little on the goofy side. Slow to learn. He doesn’t seem to catch on.
However he’s watching. He’s observing. He’s ingesting and there out of sight he’s digesting all the information coming in. Plus, he will give it a brilliant interpretation when he egests it.
These four years would be of great use to him in his writing career. Always a subtle psychologist ERB was also a skillful employer of the Freudian concepts of condensation, displacement and sublimation and this before he could have read Freud. An attentive reading of any of his novels always reveals layers of hidden meaning. Simply put Edgar Rice Burroughs is the most poetic of novelists.
His poetic tastes weren’t always elevated. He did have a copy or two of Eddie Guest in his library. Edgar A. Guest. Perhaps forgotten today Guest was a people’s poet. In the 1950s when I spread out the Detroit Free Press on the floor one of the first things I read was the daily poem of Edgar Guest. Of course, I thought he had written each one the night before. I marveled at his facility. Nice homey thoughts though.
Burroughs tastes ran to the likes of Rudyard Kipling, H.H. Knibbs, Robert W. Service and others of the jingly-jangly people’s school. Although he did know enough about a high brow like Robert Browning to consider him a bore. Rightly from my point of view. He liked Tennyson, who was considered a high brow, also I suspect Walter Scott, Shelley and Byron. He frequently hints at Longfellow’s ‘Wreck Of The Hesperus’ while he probably had to read Hiawatha in school
He knows all the popular stuff of the day like ‘Over The Hill To The Poor House’ too while he had probably read that anthem of doomed labor, Edward Markham’s Man With The Hoe, too. If that one didn’t gag him he’s not the man I think he was.
Song lyrics were big with him too. On his cross country auto tour he mentions three records by name that his family wore out- of course a battery operated portable played in a field with the plows they called styluses (well, cultured people called them styluses or styli, us near illiterates called them needles) in those days they might have worn out a record in two or three plays. One song was ‘Are You From Dixie?’, another was ‘Do What Your Mother Did; and the last ‘Hello- Hawaii, How Are Ya?’ I guess he liked songs that asked questions. I’ll examine the lurics a little farther on down the road but when we’re considering the literary influences don’t forget the poetry. After all ERB wrote a whole book around the lyrics of H.H. Knibbs ‘Out There Somewhere.’
Just before he returned to Chicago one of the great newspaper literary lights and poets of Chicago Eugene Field had died- 1895. Burroughs had a collection of Field’s writings in his library while Field, when alive, hung out at the McClurg’s book store. Perhaps there were sentimental reasons for Burroughs pursuing McClurg’s so ardently as well as practical ones.
Another Chicago writer among ERB’s collection of books who was reaching an apex at this time was George Ade. While these Chicago stalwarts are mostly forgotten now they were considered immortal at the time. Ade especially is a very clever writer with a real skill at turning a phrase. His ‘Fables In Slang’ would have knocked ERB flat. ERB’s own interest in the colloquial, which is very pronounced, may have been influenced by Ade’s style.
Another columnist of the period, Peter Finley Dunne, with his Irish dialect stuff written around his character Mr. Dooley doesn’t seem to have made much of an impression on ERB.
Thus while involved in his attempts to correct his mistake of enlisting he was very attentive and observant of the life going on around him in whatever milieu.
As I mentioned earlier, when you leave for the military your friends edit you out of their lives. Returning is not so easy. Even when I returned on leave, actually almost ten months after I left, people demanded almost belligerently, ‘What are you doing here? I thought you joined the Navy.’ After explaining I was on leave, nearly asking permission to hang around for a couple weeks, I was grudgingly given permission but let it be known that if I wasn’t gone I would have some explaining to do.
ERB has left a record of his reception by his friends in Chicago. He had sixteen years to let it run around his mind before he wrote it down. It came out in Return Of Tarzan which, I imagine might be read as the Return Of Edgar Rice Burroughs. Actually as Havelock Ellis hints in the opening quote, both Tarzan Of The Apes and The Return Of Tarzan can be read as autobiographical sketches from birth to the marriage with Emma in 1900.
Burroughs describes his reception in Chapter 23 of the The Return. The jungle is a Burroughsian symbol for society as in ‘It’s a jungle out there.’ Tarzan in the jungle can be read as ERB in Chicago. Tarzan is resting in the crotch of a great limb of a jungle giant when he hears a troop of apes approaching the clearing beneath the tree. The tree is a symbol of security or getting out of or above the tumult. Trees probably correspond to his imagination.
Tarzan recognized the troop as his old band of which he is still nominally king. Having been gone for two years he rightly thinks the dull brutes will have trouble remembering him:
‘From the talk which he overheard he learned that they had come to choose a new king- their late chief (the successor of Terkoz?) had fallen a hundred feet beneath a broken limb to an untimely end.
Tarzan walked to the end of an overhanging limb in plain view of them. The quick eyes of a female (Emma?) caught sight ofhim first. With a barking guttural she called the attention of the others. Several fhuge bulls stood erect to get a better view of the intruder. With bared fangs and bristling necks they advanced slowly toward him, with deep ominous growls.
‘Karnath, I am Tarzan Of The Apes,’ said the ape-man in the nernacular of the tribe. ‘You remember me. Together we teased Numa when we were still little apes, throwing sticks and nuts at him form the saftey of high branches.’
‘And Magor,’ continued Tarzan, addressing another, ‘do you not recall your former king- he who slew the mighty Kerchak? Look at me! Am I not the same Tarzan- mighty hunter- invincible fighter- that you knew for many seasons?’
The apes all crowded orward now, but more in curiosity than threatening. They muttered among themselves for a few moments.
‘What do you want among us now?’ Asked Karnath.
‘Only peace.’ answered the ape-man.
Again the apes conferred. At leangth Karnath spoke again.
‘Come in peace, then, Tarzan Of The Apes.’ He said.
So Tarzan and ERB returned to the fold. However there were two young bulls who were not ready to receive Tarzan back. We will find that two young men resented Burroughs’ return. The resentment of the principal young man would nearly cost Burroughs his life while forcing him to commit to a marriage against his will.
Thus Burroughs was received back into Chicago.
He would spend about ten months before he uprooted himself once again to make his second visit to his brothers in Idaho. I should think that this period in Chicago was perhaps the most idyllic of his life. He found gainful employment with his father at the Battery Company. However at fifteen dollars a week it was much less than his allowance had been at the MMA. However he was living and eating at home so one imagines it was all pocket cash which afforded a certain limited affluence. He could afford to take Emma out.
Emma appears to have preferred him but he was no favorite of Papa Alvin and the Mrs. If Frank Martin had begun to pay his court he was much the preferred suitor. The son of Col. A.N. Martin who was a millionaire railroad man he was to be much preferred to a penniless Ed Burroughs whose father had apostacized to William Jennings Bryan in the election of 1896. No, Martin should be given the inside track. Burroughs was forbidden the house in an attempt to disrupt his relationship with Emma.
The Hulberts looked askance at Burroughs patchy history. He was less than promising. While his father had gotten him released from his enlistment, people are wont to say there’s more to that story than meets the eye. Plenty of room for rumor, if you know what I mean. ERB probably had to explain a lot.
So while he could date Emma he couldn’t go hang around all evening every evening as lovers are wont to do.
So what did ERB do with his spare time. He obviously read. H.Rider Haggard was popping them out two or three a year at the time which is clear from the evidence ERB read. Jules Verne was alive and producing although much of his production remained untranslated.
There weren’t any movies or television, however there was the Levee, Chicago’s Sin City. In later novels ERB would show what appears to be first hand rather detailed knowledge of this area of brothels, saloons and gambling joints. Burroughs was certainly no stranger to drinking and gambling, whether he frequented brothels may not be known but, if you’re in the area….
In a city of a million six there were only about forty thousand library cards issued but it is probable that one of them was in the wallet of our investigator of curious and unusual phenomena. He sure knew a lot of odd details. One of the big intellectual questions is whether or not he knew of Theosophy. A volume of William Q. Judge, a leading Theosophist who died in 1896, is to be found among Burroughs’ books. His first story Minidoka 937th Earl of One Mile which is concerned with this period while unpublished until just recently makes mention in the descent to Nevaeh of the Seven Worlds which is a reference to either Theosophy, Dante or both.
Again, hanging around a library one might come across volumes of Dante and Theosophy. Shoot, Tarzan spent his afternoons in the Paris library becoming discouraged by the surfeit of knowledge to be covered.
And all around him floods of changes were rolling over him. The world was moving with breathtaking rapidity. If a guy wasn’t half crazy already trying to keep up would get him the rest of the way. Actually these four years were the intellectual bottom, in the musical sense, of the rest of Burroughs; life. perhaps sensory overload occured culminating with his bashing in Toronto and subsequent marriage to Emma so that he was no longer open to new experiences afater his marriage. Everything after 1900 was interpreted in the light of this experience. the interpretations were inventive enough.
His situation might be compared to that of Zeus and Metis of Greek mythology. Ordinarily when the Patriarchy took over a Matriarchal cult the event was comemorated in a myth of sexual union.
In the case of Metis, a Goddess of wisdom, she went down into the belly of the monster like a plate of oysters perhaps meaning the Patriarchy had attempted to stamp the Metis cult flat or eat it up as the Zulus would say. If so Zeus and the boys had bitten off more than they could chew or digest, as it were.
Metis lived on in his belly giving him unwanted advice until I would imagine the Patriarchy came up with a compromise solution. Thus Metis gave birth to Athene who was born fully formed from the forehead of Zeus, which is to say that the cult of Metis was transformed into the cult of Athene. Athene retained all the attributres of the goddess of Matriarchy but ‘she was all for the Patriarchy.’
So now with Burroughs; he ingested all this experience which he gave a ‘definite impression of fictionalizing’ to appear full blown from his forehead +- twenty years later.
Porges reproduces a political cartoon of Young Burroughs on page 68 of the First Edition in which Uncle Sam and John Bull are watching a scene. One or the other says: ‘How would you like to be a Russian?’
In the cartoon Russian soldiers are shooting and bayonetting obvious Jews while the Jews are bombing the Russians. The villains of the first four Tarzan novels, ‘The Russian Quartet; are two Russians Nikolas Rokoff and Paulevitch. Thus, if the cartoon was drawn in this period, twenty years later the Russians show up as villains.
Now, among all the ‘minor’ events like the depression after 1893, the Pullman Strike, Coxey’s Army, Altgeld’s pardoning of the Haymarket bombers, the Sino-Japanese war and such like trivia was the infamous Dreyfus Affair in France.
This minor event involving a Judaeo-French spy was magnified into an international cause celebre by accusations of anti-Semitism. Alfred Dreyfus was a Jewish French army officer who was accused of spying for the Germans or of selling information to them. Originally convicted and sent to Devil’s Island, a few year later after key evidence was tainted or disappeared and key witnesses had died or been discredited the case was reopened and after a terrific media blitz resulting in Zola’s article with the famous title: J’ Accuse, Dreyfus was acquitted.
The man convicted in his place, strangely enough, was probably also Jewish, one Walsin Esterhazy. Supposedly of Hungarian descent, at the instance of the chief Rabbi of Paris he was given financial assistance by the Rothschild family. It would be very unusual in that case if he weren’t Jewish.
Burroughs must have followed the Affair Dreyfus closely as it unfolded during the lat nineties. In 1913’s Return Of Tarzan he chose to fictionalize Esterhazy’s end of the Affair in the character of Gernois. Burroughs must have studied the Affair because Esterhazy actually served in North Africa where he came in contact with German agents. Of course, Gernois is compromised by our old friend Nilolas Rokoff, the Russian agent. Thus ERB combines his dislike of the Russians as eveidenced by his cartoon with sympathy for Dreyfus.
In real life Esterhazy led a dissipated life which, it is said, led him to be a spy. In ‘Return’ Gernois is led into syping because Rokoff, the hyper-arch villain had something on him.
In a sort of editorial comment on Dreyfus ERB has Rokoff tell Gernois: ‘If you are not agreeable I shall send a note to your commandant tonight that will end in the degradation Dreyfus suffered– the only difference being that he did not deserve it.’
Thus ERB comes down firmly on the side of Dreyfus.
For those who will misread racial and ethnic attitudes I believe ERB’s attitude in the Jewish-Russian conflict and the Dreyfus Affair should exonerate him, if the need exists, of any charges of anti-Semitism. Especially in the light of his portrayal of the worthy Jewish gentleman in ‘The Moon Maid’ trilogy. It would seem that all of ERB’s later attitudes remain consistent with these brought to fruition between 1896 and 1900.
Continue on to Part II
May 21, 2010
Flaming Ed Burroughs After The Divorce
…you make my heart sing!
…you make everything…
Somebody once said: The devil is in the details and so he is. Too many times we fly right over signficant facts without noticing their import, how they fit into the big picture.
Such is the case with the little Tarzan Jr story that Burroughs wrote in 1937 in a limited edition of…one. One copy? Yup! It was a special order. Today the copy is located at the Chicago Museum Of Science And Industry in the Colleen Moore Fairy Castle exhibit. Who is Colleen Moore and what did she have to do with ERB? That’s what I asked. Turns out that she is not an insignificant person in the history of the twenties. No, no, she was a a somebody, at least to the extent that she earned 12,500 dollars a week in the films.
Yes, she was an actress. She was the woman who invented the image of the twenties woman- the Flapper. The Flapper knocked Emma, an example of the Gibson Girl, out of the box just as the Gibson Girl had knocked Tennyson’s Elaine out. The Flapper knocked Emma right out of ERB’s imagination. Seems that Colleen was selected for the lead in the movie Flaming Youth. This was a big one.
The movie was based on Samuel Hopkins Adams novel of the same name written under the pseudonym of Warner Fabian. Although apparently epochal no copy of the movie has survived. Those racy scenes have disappeared forever. Miss Moore may be compared to Brooke Shields of the The Blue Lagoon of our day for impact. The tone of Flaming Youth may be learned from this quote from the novel: ‘They’re all desperadoes, these kids, all of them with any life in their veins; the girls as well as the boys; mayby more than the boys.’ Alright, man! That’s pretty good pulp style.
Miss Moore said she chose to play the part as a comedienne. She bobbed her hair, shortened her skirts and wore unbuckled galoshes that flapped as she walked, hence the term ‘flapper.’ Carefree, and careless and with the image of -easy. Flaming Youth eager for a roll and tumble. A thrill seeker at whatever cost. A role model dropped into the slot from eternity.
Perhaps Ed Burroughs sat through the 1923 movie two or three times muttering ‘yeah, yeah, that’s a what I want.’ Emma wasn’t quite that way, being a full figured woman with plenty of embonpoint, although reading inferences from pictures she may have tried a bob and weave in an effort to hold on to her man. There is a photo of Emma which caught my eye because she is so dfferent. She is leaning over the garden fence of ERB’s latest cottage, one of his umpteenth movies, with bobbed hair and a pleasantly flirtatious look on her face. ‘Hm, bobbed hair.’ I thought. ‘That’s different for Emma.’
By that time ERB had been flirting on the sly with Florence Gilbert, for a little while. I suspect Emma knew. She got her hair cut anyway.
ERB first met Florence in early 1927. Maybe he was still under the spell of Flaming Youth but something obviously clicked. A clandestine relationship was begun which would culminate in ERB divorcing Emma in 1934. He married Florence Gilbert shortly thereafter. I would have waited a bit myself. I’m not so impetuous. More of the cautious type.
The in 1937 he received a request from the Flaming Girl herself. Must have made his blood race. Maybe he and Florence should have waited. Having jumped ship once the second time gets easier. ERB, whether he knew it or not, had now gone Hollywood. He’d even checked into the Garden Of Allah, a hotel roues favored down on Hollywood Blvd., gone now, in between Emma and Florence.
If ERB kept all his correspondence as he is said to have done Danton Burroughs should have a Colleen Moore file in the archives. It would be interesting to open it to see what was up.
Miss Moore had begun building a Fairy Castle miniature doll house back in the twenties. She now asked ERB for a miniature book for her miniature library in her miniaturecastle. ERB complied, composing a suggestive little story which contains enough off color references to make one think he was trying to seduce the exemplar of Flaming Youth. Born in 1902, Miss Moore was 35 at the time, a most delectable age for a woman.
A quick review of the pictures of the book can be found on the ERBzine at www.erbzine.com/mag0/0042.html . I copy the text below.
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Illustrated y J.C.B. & E.R.B.
The little princess was walking in the garden when a bad thought sneaked up behind her and whispered in her ear, ‘Go into the forbidden forest.’ Hi! Lee! Hi! Lo! Oh, No! Oh, No! yodeled the little princess, my mamma said I mustn’t go into the forbidden forest and papa said she ought to know.’
‘But, but’ butted the bad thought, ‘Everything that you shouldn’t do, everything you mustn’t do, are in the forbidden forest, and they include about everything it’s fun doing. Think what a good time you could have.’
So the little princess put a nutty hamburger in a shoe box for her lunch, vaulted over the garden wall and went into the forbidden forest.
The little princess had not gone far into the dark and gloomy wood when she met Histah the snake.
‘Have an apple,’ invited Histah. ‘What for?’ asked the little princess. ‘It will keep the doctor away,’ replied Histah, pulling on his long black mustache. ‘But if I eat it, I may need a doctor’ countered the little princess with her left. ‘Ah, ha! Foiled again.’ hissed Histah. ‘Not so fast,’ cried the little princess. ‘Gimme that apple,’ for the bad thought had whispered in her ear.
The little princess was about to eat the apple when Tantor the elephant barged up and took it away from her. Beat it!’ he trumpeted at Histah. Then he ate the apple himself. ‘What have you in the shoe box?’ he asked.
‘A nutty hamburger,’ replied the little princess. ‘Mercy me!’ swore Tantor. ‘What’s the matter with it? – Dementia Praecox?’ No, just plain nutty,’ replied the little princess.
‘Well, you never can tell when it might develop a homicidal mania,’ said Tantor. ‘Give it to me.’ So he took the nutty hamburger and ate that too. Then he went away from there to the land of ptomaine.
The little princess was very hungry; so she went deeper into the dark, damp wood looking for another snake with an apple. But she didn’t see Numa the lion stalking her. Numa, too, was very hungry; and as there are not many callories (sic) in stalks, he planned on eating the little princess. With a terriric roar he leaped for her. The little princess turned, horror stricken; when, to her amazement, she saw a bronzed giant, naked but for a G string, leap from an overhanging branch full upon the tawny back of the carnivore. It was Tarzan Jr.!
Once, twice, thrice his gleaming blade sunk deep into the side of the great cat; and as Numa sank lifeless to the mottled sward, the Lord of the Jungle placed a foot upon the carcass of his kill, raised his face to the heavens and voiced the victory cry of the bull ape.
The little princess was still hungrey. ‘Let’s eat the Lion,’ she said, unless you happen to have an apple in your pocket.’
‘I haven’t a pocket,’ admitted Tarzan Jr.
‘All right then’ said the little princess, ‘Let’s skip it.’
So Tarzan Jr. uncoiled his rope and they skipped and skipped and skipped and skipped and skipped; and then they got married and lived happily for-ever after- and that is what the little princess got for disobeying her mamma and going into the forbidden forest.
It’s not hard to see what the sly old ERB was angling at. the dark damp forest is, of course, the symbol for unbridled desires toward which the princess is prompted by a ‘bad thought.’ She was naughty but nice. The apple is a symbol for sexual intercourse while the snake with the apple was when Adam and Eve realized they were naked hence discovering la difference.
It will be remembered that the only exhibit at the Expo of ’93 ERB ever mentioned in his stories was the Concourse of Beauty 40 Beautiful Girls 40. On his cross country trip of ’16 one of the records athe family wore out was ‘Do What Your Mother Did.’ An early Work With Me Annie. Here the song lyrics are rendered into: My mamma siad I mustn’t go into the forbidden forest and papa said she ought to know.
Which leads to a denouement which comes as no surprise. ‘Unless you’ve got an apple in your pocket.’ The princess says obviously pointing to the bulge in Junior’s G string. Reminds you of Mae West’s quip: Is that a roll of nickels in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?
Junior was glad to see the princess so he reached under his loincloth and uncoiled his rope. Rope is a symbol for…well, he said coyly, it’s a symbol. And then the two new sweethearts did a lot skipping up and down which is to say they conjugated that verb.
I would interpret the nutty hamburger to mean ERB was sensitive about being considered a dumbkopf fantasy wirter so he wanted to display a little learning, thus he jokes his way through nutty>dementia praecox>homicidal mania. For those who insist that ERB was just a simple writer from the gut I again point out that time after time the Man shows an active interest in psychological matters. He just didn’t boast about it, that’s all. When you do you depreciate the entertainment value to nil.
The little story quite cleary is intended to convey the message: I’m ready if you’re willing. Flamin’ Ed Burroughs was ready tgo swing and he didn’t mean through the trees this time. Was marriage an issue? Well, Junior and the princess married and lived happily ever after.
Once again I say there should be some correspondence in the archives that might throw some light on this issue which is probably much more complex than it looks at first glance.
As 1937 began the titillating star of Flaming Youth who had also starred in Naughty But Nice and other woo-woo flapper epics was between marriages. Her last movie The Scarlet Letter- A for Adultery of 1934 had indeed been her last. Having no longer a career in Hollywood she had retreated to Chicago.
Her Fairy Castle which had been nearly ten years in the making was finished in 1935. At that time she took it on the road to raise money for deprived children which she did successfully. She later would write a book on investing.
The Castle was complete with its own miniature library so the request to ERB was either an afterthought or the proverbial request for a cup of sugar and he poured on rather thick.
Perhaps the marriage of Florence and ERB might have ended right there as ERB ran after the even more attractive Flaming Girl of his dreams. It would be nice if Danton found that correspondence.
Whatever Colleen Moore’s intent was or whether ERB ever consummated his burning desire may be forever obscured from our sight. In any event later in 1937 Miss Moore married a Chicago businessman thus closing the door she had left ajar. After panting up that flight of steps on his hands ERB was blasted.
As the little book was intended only for the eyes of Colleen Moore the only two things we can be sure of is that she requested the little volume which she was willing to receivew and that ERB was ready to provide a very seductive one.
In 1937 ERB had come a long way from the righteousness of 1922’s The Girl From Hollywood. Now he was Hollywood panting after them.
Tales Of Space And Time:
Love, Lust And Edgar Rice Burroughs
A Short Story
As they say in Hollywood, this is based on a true story. Only the facts have been changed to make a better story. Just as in Hollywood the tale is wholly fiction. Well, not wholly, there is one true fact included. I’ll highlight it at the appropriate time. I have used real names and places so as to cast an aura of truthfulness about a story that never happened. No matter, just as in the movies you won’t be able to tell the difference. Fact and fiction blend. It’s just like your memory.
Perhaps the time is March of 1934 when a now has been actress who had once, in the days when acting really counted in silent movies, been at the top of her craft earning 12,500 smackaroonies a week. Not small change in those pre inflationary days.
Sound and the depression had changed all that, plus advancing maturity. She was no longer in demand. After her last, The Scarlet Letter the studio head had nearly thrown her torn up contract in her face. As unpleasnt as that may be life contains such humiliating moments. Still as Hank Williams song says:
My hair is still curly,
My eyes are still blue,
Why don’t you love me
Like you used to do?
Love is like that, fleeting. Box office. Demand. Transient things like that.
Angry at the treatment and now having no future in the film capitol and the hearts of the multitude, with a stamp of her pretty little foot she turned her back on Tinseltown, if not her fans, returning to home town Chicago.
There she was fondly remembered and even lionized. She had been the original flapper girl, Colleen Moore, who had created the type for her starring role in 1923’s Flaming Youth. Twenty-one at the time her success had been exhilarating but she was a tough minded practical young woman; she hadn’t let it go to her head unduly. She she thought, she had gotten to the top at an age when others were still gazing at the distant snowy crests; she was on top and she would do what she had to do to stay there.
In creating the role of the Flapper in Flaming Youth she had created a new woman displacing the former ideal of the Gibson Girl. She had bobbed her hair, raised the hemlines of her skirts, given voice to a careless, carefree, thrill seeking easy party girl who liked to go skinny dipping. True she was following the script but she had been the archetype of a newer sleazier morality.
Quickly typecast in the new role her whole career had evolved into the naughty but nice type of girl. She was the image of the girl who would go all the way. It had been a burden to bear. She had quickly retreated into unreality. Using her new found wealth she had begun building a very expensive doll house which she called the Fairy Castle. Five hundred thousand dollars worth of Fairy Castle.
Colleen was not as carefree and careless as the image she had projected. She was a hardnosed investor who turned her own money green. The five hundred thousand dollar doll house hadn’t actually been made with her own hands but for her. She employed experts to design and construct it. Even as she was paying for it she was providing against an uncertain future. The house was modular with each room having its own separate container for easy transport. The Fairy Castle could be broken down and reassembled with ease.
And now as 1936 approached, just imagine the ’34 and ’35 flipping off the calendar and floating away across the screen, the reason became evident. No longer a star but still craving the limelight Miss Moore announced that she would take the Fairy Castle on the road to raise money for needy children. This was the Depression. There was a sure fire attention getter; she knew how to appear concerned for the young after having been responsible for corrupting flaming youth.
Over the next couple years she was very successful. The Castle would eventually raise over six hundred thousand dollars which in today’s equivalents would be several tens of millions. How much of it actually got to underprivileged kids wasn’t carefully recorded.
If she wasn’t quite as in the spotlight as in Hollywood, which place she still preferred to drab Chicago which for personal reasons she couldn’t leave, she didn’t go unnoticed.
On this occasion in mid-1936 she was gathered with the lights of Chicago for the reception of a rare book collection donated to the Newberry Library by one Mr. Frank Martin. In truth Mr. Martin would have given much more than a few old books to meet the Flaming Girl but this was unnecessary. As a reward for the books at his request he had been seated beside Colleen. He’d been a handsome rogue, you can accentuate the rogue, in his youth and now although almost seventy he still retained refreshing youthful features, full bodied but not stout, a head of glistening silver hair and no paunch, altogether a prepossessing figure of a man. Much better preserved than Edgar Rice Burroughs as he would comment to his mirror.
A dissipated life hadn’t hurt him any. It was true that Miss Moore was half his age but I think I mentioned earlier that Miss Moore was a practical woman; Frank Martin was rich, while at seventy he couldn’t live forever. After him there was room for one more.
On the other hand Colleen liked older men. She herself was Irish, knowing a great many Irish proverbs, which are the most amusing kind, she had selected as her favorite: ‘It is better to be an old man’s darling than a young man’s slave.’ Alas, in her first two marriages she had erred in this dictum much to her regret. Life, being a little forgiving in this instance, was giving her another chance.
She waited for Mr. Martin to be seated and then made her grand entrance. Never truly beautiful, what nature had denied art had supplied. She passed for beautiful in any man’s eye although the camera would have been less forgiving. As she approached Mr. Martin an electric spark worthy of a Tesla experiment flew between each as each realized their desires were to be met unless things went terribly wrong which I assure you they didn’t.
Frank raised his imposing 6’3″ frame from his chair with a grace that was warmly received by Colleen. They were nearly fast friends before their derrieres touched bottom.
‘I can’t tell you how much I admire your efforts for those poor children, Colleen. May I call you Colleen?’ This was a few years back when manners were different.
‘You may call me Darling if I can call you Frank, dear.’ She replied sweetly in her most flaming manner.
‘By all means Darling.’ Frank smiled back realizing he was in like Flynn before even Flynn discovered the way in. ‘Colleen, that’s a grand old Irish name.’
‘I am an Irish girl, but Frank, I’ve heard so much about you.’ Colleen ventured, who had, indeed, wasted no time in catching up on the gossip of the last thirty years or so. As an old roue Frank had left more than a paper trail in the memories of many. But, that’s gossip, on with the story.
‘Thank you Colleen.’ Already Martin who was also Irish had discovered a new love for the grand old name of Colleen. He put that emphasis on the pronunciation that Miss Moore blushed with pleasure. ‘We’ve certainly heard here of your wonderful success in the cinema.’ He used the word cinema to raise the cultural value of Miss Moore’s contribution to the developing world capitol of porn. then he compulusively blurted out: ‘Did you know my old friend Eddie Burroughs out there?’
‘Do you mean Edgar Rice Burroughs? No, I’ve never met him but I’ve heard his antics discussed a few times.’
Antics struck the right note with Martin.
‘What antics are you talking about?’ Martin followed up, eager for dirt.
‘Well, you know he bought the Otis estate? Apparently he bit off more than he could chew because no sooner had he bought it than he tried to turn it into a movie location for the studios. Said he wanted to be a businessman. He was raising pigs, cows, sheep, whatever, in what we thought was a madcap attempt to salvage the place. Then, of all things, he developed a golf course and something called the Caballero Country Club. I guess he thought we would all rush to join, and that after he defamed us all with that horrid book he wrote called ‘The Girl From Hollywood.’ What a time we had to get the publisher from continuing to print that. I was sure he was talking about me.
Next, this was really incomprehensible, he decided to start some Bohemian Free Love community. He sold lots and advertised for people who were like minded to him who minded their own business and lived and let live. You know what that’s a code for and this after writing his horrible Hollywood story condemning the rest of us for practically the same thing.’
‘Yes, Ed always was eccentric although he had charm for some people. Fell a little flat with me. You never could tell what he was going to do next. First he was here and then he was there and then he was back again. Wouldn’t stay home and wouldn’t stay away although we all wished he would.’
Martin’s eyes set on a scene of the distant past as his brow lowered and lower lip quivered in bitter remembrance.
Colleen had heard many of the rumors and stories concerning Burroughs. Martin and Emma Hulbert from 1896 to 1910 and beyond and especially the famous murder attempt in Toronto. It appeared the gates were open in Martin’s mind. Without trying to disturb his thought processes Colleen gently insinuated: ‘Yes, I understand you and he were rivals for the same woman.’
Martin wasn’t that far gone. He looked at her sharply but then as he had already conceived in his mind the notion that he was going to marry this woman he thought it perhaps best to get the story of Emma out in the open. Thus, wheareas he had been before truly speaking from the soul he now feigned the same expression crafting his evidence for his object.
‘The man, it hurts me to call him a man, had no use for Emma but as an adornment to his ego. He had no intention of marrying her he just wanted the comfort of knowing that she was there waiting for him, she was true blue all wool and a yard wide too. I was already thirty, hadn’t been married yet, and she, at my age then,’ he wanted to leave a path open to Colleen, ‘seemed an ideal choice. She was the perfection of the Gibson image, not like…’ Here Frank was about to make a derogatory reference to the Flapper but caught himself in time. ‘…the pale bloodless Elaine of Tennyson. Quite a wonderful girl really. You must have heard that Ed divorced Emma for a tramp half his age. Disgusting.’
Colleen was half Frank’s age but both seemed oblivious to the incongruity.
‘Yes. There was a lot of merriment over that one in Hollywood. Dearholt brought home his mistress to live with he and Flo. Of course Flo would have nothing to do with it. She already had her net around Burroughs so I don’t see why she ca…’ Here Colleen had to catch herself from seeming too liberal in sexual matters. Chicago was no LA and while the same sexual misdoings might have gone on there they were spoken of in a different way. ‘…red whether he had a mistress or not. Naturally she wouldn’t have wanted a menage a trois. But wasn’t there something about Burroughs being almost killed in a barroom fight?’
‘Oh, you mean Toronto. What a trip that was. The Colonel had business in New York so he was taking the car out of the yards for the trip anyway so I asked Burroughs if he wanted to tag along.’
‘I hadn’t heard you were that close friends at the time. I mean, Emma…did he go along with a rival?’ Of course Colleen knew the whole story but led Martin on to hear him tell it.
‘Did he? He jumped at it. ‘That’s what I mean, what was Emma to him? He didn’t even consider her feelings. And then he was disgustingly drunk from the moment he stepped in the car. Drank nonstop from the first thing in the morning to the last thing at night. We almost threw him off in Cleveland.’
Characterization is the thing. It should be clear that Martin is exaggerating for effect while the truth was Burroughs himself drank
only because everyone else was as was the order of the day. The booze was provided courtesy of the Martins and pushed on Burroughs. A careful selection of facts produces the desired effect.
‘Then by the time we got to Toronto all the sot wanted to do was to go to their version of the Levee looking for whores. Far a guy who seemed pretty well acquainted with the sleazy side of life he hadn’t learned to keep his mouth shut. He antagonized a couple degenerate brutes and before Patchin and I could make a move one of them flashed a sap that would have crushed Ed’s skull if I hadn’t grabbed the slugger’s arm deflecting the blow. Had to run him down to the hospital to get him sewed up. Bloody mess he was; served him right too.’
‘Who was Patchin?’
‘Dick Patchin. He came along too.’
‘Patchin. Patchin. The name doesn’t ring a bell.’
‘He wasn’t anybody. Just a guy I knew so I let him come along.’
Martin considerably expurgated the story. In fact Patchin was a go between who knew a number of unsavory characters, being a borderline thug himself. At Martin’s request he had hired a couple Chicago thugs to travel up to Toronto to meet the party in the Yellow Dog Saloon. There while Martin and Patchin stood one on either side of Burroughs to identify him words were exchanged followed by the assault with the spring loaded blackjack.
Martin’s intent had clearly been to murder Burroughs which the blow would have done if Burroughs himself hadn’t been able to get his arm up in time.
‘Ed wasn’t anybody then. Just a bum not much better than the guy who hit him. You should have seen the excuse for a suit he wore. No one could have figured he’d become so famous.’ Martin added in self-defense. ‘Then we came back and before I knew it he and Emma were married. Cut me out, just like that.’
‘And that was that.’ Colleen smiled. The comment made Martin realize she knew more than he was letting out as why shouldn’t she, the story had been all over Chicago for decades now.
‘I’m not saying I’m not a sore loser.’ Martin sulked. ‘I gave him hell until he fled Chicago to the wilds of Idaho where he belonged although he took her with him.’
A passion seemed to seize Martin at this time carrying him along on a flood of reminiscences.
‘And then he came back with her again. the son-of-a-bitch wouldn’t stay away. Like a bad penny he had to keep turning up. A kind of madness got me in its grip then. I couldn’t leave her alone. Damn, she was true to him. I couldn’t control myself. They never had kids you know, so I thought I still had a chance, like maybe she was waiting for me. They never had kids until after that night. She was visiting some friends and I just happened by as she was on the way to the streetcar. I offered her a ride home and she accepted.’ Here what Martin means is he got out of the car forcing her in which as Emma knew him well she allowed rather than embarrassing him by screaming for help. ‘Then, I don’t know, something took possession of me. Happens to everyone. Rather than driving her home as I intended I drove out into the country. I just wanted to talk to her. She told me to turn around but I hadn’t said what I had to say yet. Then she tarted yelling at me and she hit me. I lost control of the car. It took the ditch but fortunately we were thrown clear landing in some new plowed furrows. Neither of us was hurt. Somebody came along and I got us a ride. I got her home all right.
I guess she must have convinced Ed but right after that after eight years of marriage they had two kids in a row, I mean right after each other. That took care of her figure. After that I didn’t bother her anymore. I knew he wouldn’t do right by her though. I’m just surprised it took so long. Patchin went to see him after the divorce. The self-centered son-0f-a-bitch was blithe about the whole thing. After thirty-five years of marriage and three kids he was glad he’d done it, like she had it coming. He asked Patchin with a sneer and laugh how I was doing. He was doing OK. Hah!’
Colleen put her hand on his meaning to comfort him but coming across cynically: ‘Hollywood is full of hundreds of the same kind of story. Life is like that a whole lot, isn’t it?
With the suspicion of a tear in his eye and a deep wavering sigh Martin actually more than a little embarrassed by his outburst smiled bravely and said: ‘Well, enough about me. How about you? Where did you go to school in Chicago?
‘Oh Frank, I wasn’t born in Chicago. I was born in Port Huron, Michigan, a grim little town I was glad to get out of. Dad and Mom moved to Florida which I liked a whole lot better.’
‘But I thought you were from Chicago?’
‘My uncle Walt Howley was the editor of the Examiner who used his influence to get me a screen test with D.W. Griffith when I was fifteen. The rest is history. Over the years I’ve come to consider Chicago my second home so when I left Hollywood I came here.’
And so the evening wore on very agreeably.
Frank, who was a real candy and flowers man, proved a most charming and romantic suitor. Just right for the woman whose ideas of romance were reflected by her Fairy Castle. In the back of his mind Martin obsessed on his old rival Edgar Rice Burroughs. He had written finished on that particular book but slowly an idea formed in his mind to finish the job he had begun in Toronto.
To succeed he would have to lure Colleen into using her charms to lure Burroughs back to Chicago. Prostitute herself after the fashion of a temple priestess. People always put different names and constructions on their heart’s desires so one evening in September over a candlelit dinner Frank Martin put it to Colleen Moore like this: Honey…remember when we were kids and we used to set up a chump by having a message sent to him to meet some girl for a hot date then stood and laughed while he waited in vain?’
Uh huh, Colleen had heard of such things.
‘Ed has married this young woman who isn’t half what you are. When Patchin was in LA to talk to him he said that Ed just raved about the Colleen Moore of Flaming Youth and Naughty But Nice. I’d like to play a trick on him but I’ll need your help.’
‘What kind of help, Frankie?’
‘Well, if you were to send him a letter asking for him to make a miniature book for the miniature library of your miniature castle and make it sound like you were really interested, you know, hot for him, he might come back to Chicago to see you and then we could stand him up and have a real laugh at his expense.’
A little of the romance went flat as Colleen interpreted the request to mean that as Burroughs had once taken Martin’s girl now Martin would take Burroughs’s girl. Certainly this was part of Martin’s plan but the years had passed since those golden years at the turn of the century. With the coming of prohibition the Capone Mob ahd virtually seized the streets of Chicago staging murder and mayhem on a daily basis. The recent Century Of Progress Expo of 1933 had been practically controlled for the benefit of the Outfit. The thugs of 1893 were real amateurs compared to the professional assassins of the incipient Outfit. It mgiht cost a little bit but Martin thought a drive by shooting with typewriters might be a fitting end to his nemesis. He didn’t mention that part to Colleen though.
Unwittingly Frank had thrown a chill on their relationship. Romance had flown. In truth Colleen had had enough of Chicago. Those mobsters were not pleasant to fend off and they were attracted to the Flaming Girl like moths…naw, that’s too corny. She now longed to get back to Hollywood but wished to return as a conqueror rather than as a dog with its tail between its legs. It would never have occured to her otherwise but now as she thought about it, yes, she believed she could take Burroughs away from Florence. Martin waiting with hope and expectancy didn’t notice the change in Colleen’s voice as she said: ‘I think I see what you’re after. I think I could do that, Frank Martin, yes.’
As Martin left Colleen’s apartment he smiled to himself. ‘Nearly forty years to get that bastard back but it will be worth it.’
Colleen composed a very nice letter asking Burroughs for a little Tarzan Jr. book for her miniature library. The letter breathed romance terms like ‘long term relationship’ which were mixed in such a way to imply more than just an enduring friendship. You didn’t have to be born at the bottom of a wishing well to get your hopes up.
When Burroughs received the letter in the future Porn Capitol Of The World he was somewhat puzzled to receive a letter from Colleen Moore. ‘That’s the Flaming Girl herself.’ He thought. A faint whiff of pleasing scent was emitted as he slit the envelope open which made him raise his eyebrows. When he read what he read his eyebrows went way up. To say that he was steamed would be an understatement. The man had had a smoldering crush on the image of Flaming Youth Colleen had projected in 1923. He had seen most if not all her pictures. Separating a movie image from the real person is not always as easy as it seems espcecially as Colleen had reinforced the image in picture after picture. Naughty But Nice had all but sealed the image for Burroughs. He failed to note the romantic allusions in the letter as his sexual fantasies ran away with themselves.
He imagined himself as the legendary sixty minute man rolling and tumbling all night, night after night with the Flaming Girl. Who can blame him but that wasn’t how it was.
He should have studied the Fairy Castle a little more closely. Instead he put together a fairly salacious little volume dedicated wholly to sexual fantasies without a hint of romance. I told you this piece of fiction was based on a true story; this is the true part. If you want to see a copy of the little book, Tarzan Jr., go to www.erbzine.com/mag0/0042.html . It’s right there.
So Our Man wrote this up, he and his son John Coleman drew some fairly rasty pictures, and posted it back to Colleen.
Colleen received the little book which she perused thoughtfully. ‘Why the old buzzard is just a dirty old man.’ She thought, deeply offended. She put a mental cross through the name of Edgar Rice Burroughs and tossed the little book in the fireplace. She stood looking after the little book for a few moments then went over to retrieve it. Romance was romance but the practical Colleen overrode the romantic Colleen.
When Martin got the news that Burroughs had taken the bait he was overjoyed. ‘Verily, I shall smite my enemy hip and thigh.’ He said to himself.
He left Colleen stepping blithely. Then he bethought himself to have some nice pasta at this little Italian restaurant not too far away. He didn’t pay much attention to the gentleman who entered a the same time to also enjoy a nice pasta dinner. This gentleman was Jackie Inglese who had shown too much independence in intra-mob matters. Jackie was a marked man and this night was his night to be rubbed out.
Frank emerged from the restaurant just ahead of Jackie Inglese. He was standing there contentedly digesting his dinner with roseate thoughts about those typewriters. ‘Rat-a-tat-tat.’ He said lifting a finger in imitation of a Tommy gun.
He was so absorbed in his reveries that he didn’t hear the screech of the tires of a big touring car careening around the corner with a young Sam Giancana behind the wheel. Jackie Inglese did. Seizing Frank he pulled him in front of himself as a shield beginning the drop to the ground as a battery of Chicago typewriters poked through the open windows of the speeding auto opened up. It wasn’t the St. Valentine’s Day massacre to anyone but Frank as two slugs found their to his heart and one went through his brain. Rather amazing that three Tommy guns unleashing about a hundred rounds of ammunition could only get three into Frank but that’s the way it was. The earthly career of Frank Martin was ended. Edgar Rice Burroughs would have to go unavenged in this world. Tough luck.
Inglese with a deep sigh pushed himself up from the ground. Without even a look or a thank you to his savior, Frank Martin, he casually dusted himself off, sought a train for the Coast and stayed there until he cooled off.
Colleen read the news in the papers with a misture of disgust and relief. She made no further effort to contact Edgar Rice Burroughs who had disgusted her. Within a month she had married a local businessman named Homer Hargrave. She lived happily for a while until the old geezer topped off, she really did like mature men, then with the combined fortunes made her successful entry back into Hollywood taking up a residence on Sunset Boulevard.
As for Ed Burroughs? He didn’t go on to bigger and better things. Like Colleen’s his day was past. It’s possible he might have done something but the big WWII intervened which was probably more rewarding for him than any woman. He realized his desire to be a war correspondent. And then after the war was over disease and old age carried him away.
His dying thought though was of the fabulous Flaming Girl and what could have been. It is the kind of thought to hold on to when the lights go out.
May 18, 2010
The Last Days Of John Lennon
Review by R.E. Prindle
Seaman Fred: The Last Days Of John Lennon, A Personal Memoir. Citadel Press, 1991.
The Ghost Of Elvis Presley
In order to understand the zeitgeist of the sixties one has to go back to the fifties. The central event of the fifties was the annunciation of Elvis Presley. The post-war world was a grey world of fear. The country and the world had emerged from the greatest of all catastrophes, the Second World War. WWII itself was fought in the shadow of the Great War of 1914-18, afterwards known as WWI.
Most of the older generation had lived through both wars which was a terrifically horrifying experience. In 1950 those who were seventy or older had memories of the Indian Wars of the late nineteenth century also. In addition perhaps the most terrifying memory of the pre-WWII generations was that of the Great Depression of the thirties. From 1945 to 1960 they lived in terror that the Depression would return. There was thus a great generational divide between them and those of us who had no memory of the Depression and only vague memories of the second world cataclysm.
The older generations were struggling to restore the normalcy of the period between the wars as they wished it might have been. Technology had made this impossible. Not only had the Atomic Bomb come into existence but almost immediately after the war the sky was filled with the most extraordinary of phenomena- the faster than the speed of sound jet plane. The pilots of this wondrous piece of technology delighted in flying low over cities breaking the sound barrier as they did and sending a sonic boom shimmering down. If you’ve never experienced a sonic boom you have yet to be there.
The miracle of the age however was television. (Some people call it the boring fifties but they obviously weren’t there.) Television made the greatest threat to civilization yet known to man possible. That threat was Elvis Presley. Elvis simple announced by his presence that the pre-war world would not be returning- ever. The younger generation would fashion the world in his image.
More than that Presley wasn’t an image of the upper class college youth like Pat Boone but the avatar of the downtrodden and suppressed not unlike Jesus the Christ himself. They took one look at Elvis and realized that he was the Atomic Bomb that would blow up their world. And he did.
Every move Elvis made was an insult to them. Things that had no relevance to them they took as a personal insult. One such was the innocuous anthem by the songwriters Leiber and Stoller originally written as a Negro ghetto sex anthem, Hound Dog. When Elvis sang You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog, for some reason they projected it as a reference to themselves and they deeply resented it.
Of course every attempt to suppress Elvis deepened the generational divide. Not only did Elvis himself exist but it seemed as though every upcoming rock n’ roll singer wanted to be Elvis. Before the Presley clones of Vegas there were the Elvis imitators in every family’s living room like Gene Vincent, Ricky Nelson, Eddie Cochran and nearly the whole roster of Sun Records, plus, plus, plus….
For most of the old folks rock n’ roll itself was a mystery. They thought it was a Communist plot, might have been I don’t rule it out, but if so we were not conspirators but dupes. We just reveled in it. They almost succeeded in destroying it. Elvis got drafted, in his absence the great rock n’ rollers were driven out, discredited and in some cases killed. When Presley returned in 1960 he was different from when he went in. He had been contained.
John Lennon famously said in 1977 after Elvis died that he died the day he went into the army. While a relevant statement it was not quite true. The first stage in Elvis long immolation was when he fell under the control of his manager Col. Tom Parker, the second stage in his demise was when Parker delivered him to RCA Records, the third stage in his death was when RCA assigned Steve Sholes as his producer.
For those of us who were there the real Elvis Presley ceased to exist when he left the Sun record label. RCA was in no position to understand rock n’ roll values. It wasn’t that they willfully sabotaged Elvis it was just that they didn’t know how to rock. Their idea of rock was Neil Sedaka. Sholes himself was antipathetic to rock ‘n roll no less than his crosstown rival Mitch Miller over at Columbia Records. Both men hated the concept. This was made evident in Sholes arrangement of Gene Austin’s Are You Lonesome Tonight with its plodding guitar riff and Elvis’ imitation of the thirties crooner. Sholes failed to ruin Elvis’ career but it took Mitch Miller one LP to trash the career of the great Dion of the Belmonts.
Very few if any of the great rock records were produced by the majors. Nearly everything of value was produced by independent labels, many of them one shot efforts. Gene Vincent and his Be-Bop-A-Lula was a notable exception although his label, Capitol, soon had him singing Somewhere Over The Rainbow.
After the first run of actual imitators Elvis and rock worked their way into the subconscious of the next wave that included Lennon and the Beatles to produce an extension of rock.
Upon Presley’s return from the army his manager, Parker, removed him from recording and put Elvis into the movies almost exclusively. The movie Elvis was an extension of the personality of Tom Parker. Elvis was Elvis and his appearance was always galvanic. His charisma could be diminished but it couldn’t be destroyed. I was as disappointed by his movies as much as anyone dropping in only occasionally over the sixties to see if anything had changed. It hadn’t.
Thus as we all moved into the sixties while Presley still lived it was only as the ghost of the Sun Records innovator.
The Ghost of Elvis Presley was captured by the artist Andy Warhol in a number of renderings.
He presented Elvis in various single screens or multiples of two, three and up to the eight as in the image above. He ignored the musical Elvis in favor of an image taken from a Western movie. As Warhol was a homosexual he rendered Elvis as a gay cowboy. In truth Elvis had an ambiguous persona. Many people thought he was queer. Any male fan felt himself under the accusation. Elements of his persona indicate a severely emasculated personality that lend credence to at least a latent feeling of homosexuality. Elvis’ fellow students called him ‘squirrel.’ Indeed, the use of eye shadow, pants with a stripe down the leg and pink shirts in 1951-52 and ’53 would have led to open accusations of homosexuality. And yet, even though I identified with his obvious emasculation when I was only sixteen and seventeen it never occurred to me that he might have been one. I don’t think he ever was. Had he been his more than macho entourage would have had nothing to do with him. Nevertheless his portraitist Warhol perfectly captured his ambivalence and androgyny.
The number of portraits by the artist clearly betrays Warhol’s own hero worship. Perhaps his own gay cowboy movie owed some reverence to his idol. Oddly enough Warhol never designed a record cover for Presley even though he designed over fifty during a career from 1949 to 1987.
Andy had always been a pop music fan. This was very unusual for a man born in 1928. This would have made him 26 if one assumes ’54 as the birth of rock and 28 in ’56 when Presley exploded onto the scene. Anyone older than 18 in ’56 rejected rock. It is true that Warhol was dualistic, capabhle of listening to opera and rock at the same time, I mean simultaneously, so he may have had his personality split by the times. At any rate Warhol who apparently wished to excel in all the arts attempted to enter the music field by managing a band, while establishing a rock venue. In 1965 he took The Velvet Underground in as his house band while setting up a venue called The Dom. Not stopping there he also created an ambient experience, or light show, he called The Exploding Plastic Inevitable. The combination of music and light was innovative and widely imitated. Unfortunately Warhol didn’t have a secure lease and the venue got away from him. Perhaps realzing he was spreading himself too thin he never followed up letting the Velvets go their own way.
Warhol nevertheless established close bonds with other musicians. His attempted connection to Bob Dylan failed. Whether sour grapes or not he comitted this thought to his diary in July of 1985:
Watched the Live-Aid thing on TV. Bobby Zaren’s office had been calling, wanting me to go down there, but with that many big celebrities you never get any publicity. Later on that night Jack Nicholson introduced Bob Dylan and called him “transcendental.” But to me, Dylan was never really real- he was just mimicking real people and the amphetamine made it come out magic. With amphetamine he could copy words and make it all sound right. But that boy never felt a thing- (laughs) I just never bought it.
Warhol did succeed with Mick and Bianca Jagger and the Rolling Stones. While his cover for the first Velvet Underground album was considered innovative (read: weird) his cover for the Stones’ Sticky Fingers album with its functional zipper was as the term of the time went, mindblowing.
While Warhol never established contact with the Beatles, when his fellow artist Yoko Ono led her trophy husband, John Lennon, from London to New York in 1970 another firm connection to musicians and the inheritor of Elvis Presley’s mantle as the Savior was formed. Over all floated the Ghost of Elvis Presley.
Part II: John & Yoko In New York follows.