Kin Hopes to Visit Burroughs' Homes
By Ken Manson, Contributor ~ August 3, 2005 ~ Oak Leaves Newspaper, Oak Park, Illinois
Danton Burroughs never has seen the Oak Park homes of his famous grandfather.
He was hoping to travel this month from his home in Tarzana, Calif., named after a famous creation of that relative -- writer Edgar Rice Burroughs -- to attend the annual convention of his grandfather’s fans.
The son of John Coleman Burroughs, who started illustratng his father’s books in 1937 and was an author, Danton Burroughs said he never has been in Oak Park.
The Burroughs Bibliophiles’ 2005 Dum-Dum, a "gathering of apes" according to a dictionary by Burroughs, also will be held for the first time in Oak Park. Burroughs lived in four different locations in Oak Park from April 1910 to January 1919 where he wrote books such as The Son of Tarzan, Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar and The Land That Time Forgot. He died in March 1950 at age 74.
Director and secretary/treasurer of Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc., Danton Burroughs said it would be a thrill to him to see his grandfather’s homes, "where his energy and creativity derived from. He was inspired in Oak Park (to write his early novels)."
About attending the convention hosted Aug. 10 to 14 by former Oak Park and Elmwood Park resident Jerry Spannraft at The Write Inn, 211 N. Oak Park Ave., Burroughs said, "I’m shooting for it."
He has some doubt because of his health. "I’m afflicted with Parkinson’s; it’s slowed me down."
His father had Parkinson’s, a degenerative disease of later life marked by a rhythmic tremor and muscular rigidity, before dying in 1979 at the age of 66. Danton Burroughs is 61.
Burroughs said he will decide, "probably at the last minute," whether to attend the Dum-Dum. He last attended the 2003 Dum-Dum in Louisville, Ky., where he was a guest of honor.
Among those hoping Burroughs will attend is Bill Hillman, webmaster for Tarzan.com, the official ERB, Inc. Web site and editor of ERBzine.com, the weekly ERB/Tarzan Webzine, who praises Danton’s wide knowledge about his grandfather.
Hillman is planning a two-day drive from Brandon, Manitoba, in Canada to Oak Park to attend the convention.
The Webmaster said he and his wife drove through Oak Park on the way back from Louisville in 2003, but it was a Sunday night and since any tourism sites were closed, they just stopped in a restaurant for Chinese food.
Asked about the number of Dum-Dums the couple has gone to, Hillman said, "We’ve attended a lot of them."
To the same question, Burroughs joked, "Not enough," adding he has attended five or six conventions. He also has attended a few gatherings of the Edgar Rice Burroughs Chain of Friendship, established by an English fan as a loose network of pen pals who shared his love of Edgar Rice Burroughs and his work, according to the ERBzine.com Web site.
Asked what he has heard about Oak Park, Burroughs replied, "It was a pretty exclusive area in the early days."
If he comes to Oak Park, Burroughs also plans to visit antique stores, looking for old rare watches and marbles. He also collects coin-operated machines, which is linked to a memory of his famous grandfather.
Burroughs remembers visiting his grandfather’s "little home" in Encino, Calif., with his father; brother, John; and sister, Dian, named after a "beautiful" character in Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Pellucidar series.
"I remember him taking time to keep me occupied," he said about his grandfather, who died when his grandson was only 5 years old.
Burroughs remembers his grandfather putting him on his lap and letting him put coins in a Mills Novelty Co. nickel slot machine. "I was mesmerized."
Photo from the Danton Burroughs Family Archive ~ Copyright ERB, Inc. ~ Not For Reproduction
Grandfathers: Danton Ralston and Edgar Rice Burroughs
Son: John Coleman Burroughs
Grandkids: Baby Danton Burroughs and Brother Johnny
His grandfather "was one of the early proponents of incorporating himself," which he did in 1923.
ERB Inc. is a licensing corporation, such as for those who want to use the name Tarzan, and involved with merchandise sales.
Burroughs said he is involved with matters that include licensing, documentaries and books.
Coming up in the spring is a stage musical based on Disney’s first animated "Tarzan" movie with new music by Phil Collins, Burroughs said. The preview will be on Broadway in New York.
Paramount also has until January to start production on a live-action film of Burroughs’ book A Princess of Mars, or rights revert to ERB Inc. The director will be Kerry Conran, who directed the movie "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow."
"There always seems to be a demand for something," Burroughs said about his grandfather’s works. With available photo negatives and letters, the company easily could do another book, especially a collection of photos, about its founder, he added.
Asked if people react when he tells them his last name of Burroughs, he replied, "Yes, they do on occasion." Those people talk about his grandfather and Tarzana and how it got its name, he said.
His grandfather bought the 540-acre country estate in the San Fernando Valley of Gen. Harrison Gray Otis, founder and publisher of the Los Angeles Times, in 1919 for $125,000 The author later subdivided the property and named the town after his most famous creation, according to the Web site. Today the town is a "bedroom community" of 40,000 to 50,000 people, the grandson added.
"A lot of fans are dedicated to my granddad. He’s inspired millions over the years," he said.
The Tarzana Estate
Dum-Dum events across village
More than 75 people already have registered for the 2005 Dum-Dum convention being held in Oak Park, according to organizer Jerry Spannraft, formerly of Oak Park and Elmwood Park.
Started in 1960, the Dum-Dum is a annual gathering to celebrate the life and work of author Edgar Rice Burroughs.
The convention will be based Aug. 10 to 14 at The Write Inn, 211 N. Oak Park Ave., where 30 rooms have been booked for attendees and buses will leave for various activities. No programs will be held in the hotel.
The only activities on Wednesday, Aug. 10, will be a 4 p.m. welcome party at Spannraft’s home in Palos Park and early registration at 5 o’clock.
On Thursday, Aug. 11, registration and an opening meeting will start at 9 a.m. in the First Baptist Church of Oak Park, 820 W. Ontario St. A bus will leave at 10 o’clock to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago to see Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle that has a miniature book, Tarzan Jr., in its library specially written by Burroughs. A 6 p.m. dinner will be held at the Oak Park Conservatory, 615 W. Garfield St., where Doug Deuchler will speak about the history of Oak Park from 1910 to 1919, when Burroughs lived there.
The convention will open up its dealers’ room from 9 a.m. to noon Friday, Aug. 12, in the gymnasium of the First Baptist Church. For sale in that room at $10 each will be a limited edition of 100 copies of a book written by Spannraft on the life of Burroughs in Oak Park.
Members will get back on the bus from 1:30 to 4 p.m. to see sites related to Burroughs: his birthplace in Chicago that now is an empty lot near the United Center; the home of a wife, Emma’s, parents; the Tree House Studio of famous illustrator J. Allen St. John; the W.F. Hall Printing Co.; and the building of A.C. McClurg that published his early books.
Convention members also will see the four homes in Oak Park where Burroughs lived: 821 S. Scoville Ave, 414 W. Augusta Blvd., 700 N. Linden Ave. and 325 N. Oak Park Ave.
Burroughs also had an office at 1020 W. North Blvd. and a plaque will be dedicated there between 4 and 5 p.m.
The day will end with a tour and reception at the Edgar Rice Burroughs Museum in a second-floor room at the Pleasant Home, Pleasant Street and Home Avenue. The guest speaker will be Gary Gianni, who illustrated, Tarzan: The Lost Adventure.
Author Max Allan Collins, who wrote The Pearl Harbor Murders that has Burroughs as a character (the "Tarzan" author was in Honolulu during the Dec. 7, 1941, attacks) will be at the convention on Thursday and Friday nights and sign autographs Saturday in the dealers’ room, according to Spannraft.
The dealers room will reopen Saturday, Aug. 13, from 9 a.m. to noon, followed by an auction at the chapel from 2 to 5 p.m. benefiting the Burroughs Bibliophiles. Admission is free to the auction and the dealers’ rooms both days, Spannraft said.
A cocktail hour will be held at 6 p.m. at the Avenue Ale House, 825 S. Oak Park Ave., followed by dinner at 6:30 and Collins speaking at 8 o’clock. A board meeting will follow at 9:30.
A farewell breakfast will be held from 8 to 10 o’clock Sunday, Aug. 14, at Thyme and Honey Restaurant, 104 S. Oak Park Ave., followed by a tour of the Ernest Hemingway and Frank Lloyd Wright homes and a barbecue at Spannraft’s home.
The convention costs $100 for registration and a check may be sent to Spannraft at 26 Brook Lane, Palos Park IL 60464.
He also is offering programs a la carte: $15 for the bus trip and admission to the Museum of Science and Industry; $25 for the dinner at the Oak Park Conservatory; $5 for the bus tour of Burroughs Chicago area sites; $8 for the wine and cheese reception at the Burroughs Museum; $30 for the banquet at the Avenue Ale house; and $5 for the Aug. 13 barbecue.
Spannraft asks people interested in the bus trips call him as soon as possible at (708) 361-2492 to leave their names and amount of people going.Copyright Ken Manson
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