I was born a "cheese head" but in the summer of 1958 we loaded
up everything we had, into a small truck and a car, and moved to Colorado,
where I spent a good part of my youth trying not to learn to be a farmer
My step-brother, two sisters, and myself spent many an hour swinging
around in a make-shift jungle. We lived out on a farm in 1960 and 1961
and we rigged up some 2'x4's and a rope in a group of trees and gave ourselves
blisters trying to imitate Tarzan. I do not know where we got the idea,
because my first remembrance of anything related to Edgar Rice Burroughs
was attending "Tarzan Goes To India" at the theater in Holly (which could
not have been before 1963, as Holly was too small to show movies when they
first came out). I was really impressed with that dive from the plane.
Unfortunately the thrill of this adventure wore off and we moved on to
other interests, possibly due to the fact that winter in southeast Colorado
is just too cold to play in the "jungle."
We moved into Granada, a farming community of about 20 square blocks,
in 1961. In the summer of 1964 the town of Granada began maintaining a
library that was open on Thursday afternoons. This was a small three room
building that had bookshelves in all three rooms, a small desk by the front
door, and smelled wonderful. At the desk sat a "little old lady" who was
the volunteer librarian. I entered and found out that the only requirement
for checking out books was that the librarian knew who I was. No
problem. We had lived in town for four years. Most people knew us before
we moved into town, but now everyone knew us. (You get away with nothing
in a town like this, but that did not stop some of us from trying.)
The Granada Library Today ~ Now Closed
I was really into science fiction at the time and had already read all
the books of interest in our school library. Now I had found a new source
of books. True it was small, but they were different from the school's
selection. It did not take me long to exhaust this supply of new
reading material. The first book I checked out was "A Princess of
In those days it took me less than two days to read a book (I had time).
Now I had more than five days to wait before I could see if the next book
was available. When the next Thursday came I found "Gods of Mars." I also
found "Tarzan of the Apes!" What is this? I checked it out along with "The
Return of Tarzan."
This was great! On the next Thursday I returned to get more Edgar Rice
Burroughs' books. There was only one more Tarzan. It did not take me long
to exhaust the rest of this supply of new reading material. Now what?
And where was I going to get more ERB? Well this little southeast Colorado
town did have a grocery store, and in that grocery store was a paperback
book rack. You know the type! A square metal rack that holds two or three
columns of books per side and turns around with a squeak.
They actually had ACE paperbacks and comic books. I was able to start
a collection of paperbacks! As for comics, my step father would buy 10
comics (a dollar's worth) and we would all read them and then trade them
around town. It never occurred to me to keep them and now I am still trying
to complete my Gold Key/Dell set. However, everything was going great in
the paperback world. I managed to get most of the Tarzan and Barsoom books
from our local grocery store. I also found that I could get a library card
with the Pikes Peak Library District Book Mobile. The Book Mobile
came to town, from Colorado Springs, once a month. You could even make
requests for books and they would be brought the next month. Every
once in a while I would also get to go to Pueblo. Pueblo had lots of stores.
Some even sold nothing but books. What a concept!
During this period I purchased one of Werper's books. I read it, but
I could not figure out how it fit into the Tarzan books that I knew of.
I must not have liked it much, because I finally came to the conclusion
that it was not a true Tarzan book and threw it away. (I have since replaced
it, and found the other four.)
My collection pretty much stagnated until I joined the Navy in 1968
and was able to visit book stores in a variety of cities and towns. I hit
the big cities like San Diego, Providence, and Norfolk, Virginia. I hit
the little retirement towns like Newport, Rhode Island. I managed to travel
quite a bit in my four years in the navy, and never passed up an opportunity
to visit a book store. I found that I needed to make a list of the books
I had as I did not want to duplicate the books I already had. It
was also helpful to put the books I was looking for on the list.
For a long time my list was hand written, very small, on a single piece
of paper. I keep this list in my wallet and rewrote it when it started
to smear. It was really quite easy to maintain at first. Now it is about
40 full pages in a file on the computer, which I reduce to 3"x4" double
sided sheets for my wallet.
During my time in the Navy I bought what I wanted. I had no responsibility
other than to do my job and I spent my money as I saw fit. However, even
with this perceived freedom, I did not make much headway in my collection.
After the Navy I married and started attending college in Pueblo, Colorado.
Now I was back to a budget. In nice weather I walked home on a street full
of second hand stores (now called antique stores). I often spent a little
time in one of the shops looking through their used books. I did manage
to make a few additions to my collection, but again, not much.
After college we moved to California and life seemed good. I had a good
job and was able to spend a little more. I visited the book stores and
the library's used book sales, and the garage sales looking for additions
to my collection. I managed to collect most of the books that were out
at that time. I did have a few holes because some of the books were out
of print and I had no way to get them. Then in 1977 disaster struck. The
apartment below us caught on fire and spread to our apartment. We
lost almost everything we had. What was not burned up, was damaged
by smoke and water. My books were on a bookcase near where the fire entered
the apartment and all the spines were burnt off. I guess the fact that
I did not keep my comics, as a youngster, did not make any difference after
It was some time before I was able to start rebuilding my collection.
When I did it was mainly with the Ballantine paperbacks. Now I also started
to collect the comics. Marvel had stopped their run of Tarzan, but
they were still easy to come by. I completed my Marvel run and started
on DC and soon completed that. My Gold Key/Dell collection still has some
rather large holes but I work on it when I get time. At about this
time I discovered Porges' book and ordered it for $20 plus shipping direct
from Brigham Young University in Utah. I read the book in about a week,
staying up until the wee hours like I did in college, studying like there
was going to be an exam.
This find seemed to renew my yearning for ERB material and I began seriously
searching again. I sent letters to any address that offered even
a slight chance of providing information about ERB's works. Most of the
letters went unanswered and most of those that were answered either did
not have any real information or wanted more money than I was willing to
part with for the little information they did have. I did try some
of the fan clubs, but I found most of them rather disappointing.
In the summer of 1980 we had an earthquake that registered a magnitude
of 5.9. Almost exactly a month later we had another at 5.8. We had had
a lot of small ones, but these two were more than my wife and youngest
son could take. If there was another earthquake, that made the chandelier
swing far enough to hit the kitchen ceiling on two sides, I could find
myself living alone. I began looking for a job that was not on the west
coast and we made plans to go to Disneyland before we moved.
It was an eight hour drive from Livermore and I had already made up
my mind that when we got to Los Angeles that we would have to take a side
trip through Tarzana. I had read that a museum for Edgar Rice Burroughs
was being planned so I wanted to see it. We could not find it so we stopped
in at the Chamber of Commerce to find out where it was. It was not! The
lady there told us that the plans had never been completed. When she found
out that we had driven down from the San Francisco area she started rummaging
through her desk drawers and closet and presented me with several souvenirs
of Tarzana. One of these treasures was a poster, for the 1976 Tarzan/IHOP
Yell Competition, by Russ Manning. She also suggested that we visit the
bank across the street because they had a fair amount of ERB material on
display. I managed to convince the bank guard to allow me to photograph
some of the pictures hanging on the walls as long as I did not point my
camera in the direction of the tellers. This lady and a sympathetic guard
made the drive worthwhile. Oh yeah, we did continue on and go to Disneyland.
In October we moved to Colorado Springs and shortly thereafter I found
a fan club that seemed to really offer something I liked. However,
The Burroughs Bulletin was about to cease. I had some difficulties with
Vern's methods, but I did want him to continue. It was not to be. There
were no major additions to my collection from 1980 through 1997. Oh, there
was the occasional find. A hard back found in some little out of the way
store. A toy pertaining to a loin-clothed man swinging through the trees.
A newspaper article or comic mentioning Tarzan. And the comics. In 1994
I lost my first wife and I spent most of my waking hours, for the next
two years, working at my job or on my masters' degree. In 1996 I made one
of the best finds ever. Edie! She knew I liked Tarzan, but she did not
know that I was a hard core ERB fan. She would soon find out because you
just cannot keep a secret like that.
In 1997 I found ebay and on ebay I found "Tarzan and the Tarzan Twins."
Now I had been watching for this book for a very long time. I had
found the book at public libraries, so I had read it, but I just could
not find one to buy. I haunted the book sales of the libraries, but somehow
this book always managed to permanently leave the library without ending
up in the sale. This is when Edie began to see how hooked I was.
The first couple ebay auctions, for this book, went too high for me.
However, one came along shortly that I felt I had a chance at. I
watched that auction right down to the wire, easily justifying another
$20 on my bid until I was up to $130. The auction was down to just
minutes and my bid was no longer high. I quickly decided that if I got
the book for $150 it would still be a bargain and I made the bid.
I got the book for $145 plus $3 shipping. The wait for it to arrive was
like waiting for Christmas when I was a kid. I finally had a complete set
of all the ERB books in print. Now what do I do?
About this time I also discovered that "The Burroughs Bulletin" had
been back in print for some time. I quickly subscribed and then began looking
for other fanzines. I am subscribed to most of the ones I know of. I have
had problems with a few, but now most seem, to me, to be of a higher calibre
than those of my earlier days.
Over the years, I have been fortunate to have family that supported
my habit. I have had Tarzan birthday cakes and special presents that were
searched out and/or specially made for me. I remember one occasion when
we stopped in a discount store and the boys wanted a toy. Well, I figured
that it was safe to tell them that they could if they found something related
to Tarzan for me. It did not take them long and they came back with a plastic
knife in a blister pack. It did not say Tarzan anywhere on it, but there
was the loin-clothed man swinging through the jungle. The knife has a plastic
leopard skin sheath. I suggested that since it did not say Tarzan it was
not, but that was not going to work and we all left the store with toys.
In 1999 we were able to attend our first Dum-dum. I thought it was very
appropriate that our first Dum-dum was in Tarzana and coincided with Disney's
release of Tarzan. For some reason I had always checked the Disney sections
of book stores on the chance there would be a Tarzan book. I knew they
had never done anything with Tarzan, but I thought they might. And they
did! I had attended science fiction conventions before so I knew what to
expect. However, this was the smallest convention I had ever attended...
and I loved it. I got to meet a lot of the people I had been communicating
with through email. This was truly a momentous occasion for me.
Edie was interested in the events of our first Dum-dum, but made plans
to drive a little further south to visit her mother while I attended the
talks and auction. Since then, however, she has discovered ERB is
contagious. She has become as enthusiastic as I, when it comes to collecting.
A good part of the treasures we find must now be purchased in pairs, and
sometimes in threes for future trading. When she finds something she thinks
I do not have she can hardly wait for me to see it. Her latest find was
the set of Russian Disney's Tarzan nesting dolls. This actually works
for both of us as I have found her many Guy Williams and Stephen King treasures.
She still does not have a great deal of interest in attending the talks,
but she does like the auction, the dealers' tables, the special guests,
and especially meeting all our friends.
. . . to be continued