I was first
introduced to Tarzan sometime in the 1950s before I was nine years of age.
The neighborhood boys played Tarzan one summer at the instigation of Randy
Snyder, a friend of my older brother. Each boy in the neighborhood was
given a Tarzan story persona. I remember my brother was Gimla, the crocodile.
He was supposed to keep an eye on me, so, I was the tag-along and, by default,
was given the role of Jane. Not that I really did much. The boys didn't
want to be saddled with someone's little sister but I didn't care. I'd
rather be playing in the forest preserves than with dolls or other silly
things like that. Something about the idea of Tarzan made a very big impression
on me. I decided to find out more about this character.
Randy lived at the far end of the next block of our street. Just before
suppertime I went down to his house, rang the bell, and asked to speak
with him. He came to the door. I questioned him about where this Tarzan
character came from. He said Tarzan was created in a book. A book?!! Being
a voracious reader, I immediately asked him if I could borrow the book.
He said no. I asked again. He again said no. I whined, wheedled, cajoled,
just wouldn't take no for an answer. Eventually, he gave in and agreed
to loan me the book but only if I promised to bring it back the very next
I think the deciding factor may have been his mother calling him to the
dinner table and the only way he could think to get rid of me was to agree
to loan me the book. He went back into the house and came out with a beautiful
bright red book which looked as if it were brand new. I crossed-my-heart-hoped-to-die
promised to bring it back the very next day and raced home. And began to
read it immediately. In retrospect, I now know it was a red pre-WWII Grosset
& Dunlap reprint. I suspect it was the circa 1940 edition as I don't
remember any picture in the book. I do remember thinking the book looked
I could hardly get my nose out of the book to eat my own dinner. When
it came time to go to bed that evening, I snuck the flashlight out of the
hallway linen closet and took it and the book to bed with me. Needless
to say, I finished the book under the covers and dutifully returned it
to Randy the very next morning. And got yelled at by my mom for wearing
down the batteries in the flash light -- again. I was yelled at for that
at least 2-3 times every month! They should have just bought me my own
Being the baby of the family, I decided to act like one and whined and
moaned and pestered my parents to get me more books about Tarzan by this
Edgar Rice Burroughs person. And so began my own quest for the further
adventures of Tarzan. Bit by bit, books were found in used bookstores and
my collection began to grow.
Once a month
on a Saturday, my dad would take me into downtown Chicago to the 300 North
block of Clark Street. There were two immense used book stores in that
block, standing next to each other on the west side of the street. One
was named Central, the other Economy. One advertised six floors of books,
the other seven! They are indistinguishable in my memory. I don't even
remember which one had the Burroughs books at the top of the incredibly
tall (at least that's the way I remember it) staircase running up the side
wall of the building to the second floor. But up there, in whichever store
I was in, was a row of 3-shelf-high bookcases, fronted by an old burgundy
carpet runner on the squeaky wooden floor, containing tons and tons of
hard bound books by Edgar Rice Burroughs. And some of them weren't about
Tarzan either! Wow!
I would pull all the books which caught my eye that day off the shelves,
spread them out on the carpet runner, and read a page here, a dust jacket
blurb there, trying to decide which book was going to be the pick of the
day. That was the catch: I could only take one book home with me each trip.
Making that decision was really tough as I wanted them all!
In my second year of high school I met Don Kent, a senior, in my honors
biology class and discovered we were both readers of science fiction. He
had a collection of early sf pulp magazines that most collectors then as
well as now would give up their first-, second-, and third-born children
to possess. He also had quite a few beautiful hardbound Burroughs books
-- ERB Inc. first editions and G&D reprints -- in dust jackets. They
had been Christmas and birthday gifts to him from his aunt. Several of
them came to my house to live as birthday and Christmas gifts from him
to me. Don frequently had access to his father's car on Saturday afternoons
and every second or third Saturday we would go on a used book store crawl
all over the Chicago loop and north-northwest side. Don was on a first-name
basis with every single used book dealer in this area and soon I was too.
At one time there were eight used book dealers in the 400 North block of
Clark Street and many a Burroughs book was purchased by me in every single
one of them.
Indirectly, Don deserves the credit for introducing me to the Burroughs
Bibliophiles in 1963. He attended the World Science Fiction Convention
in Washington, D.C. that Labor Day weekend and wanted me to go with him.
My mother was scandalized. Let her 17-year-old daughter go in a car halfway
across the U.S. – alone with a boy! Never! So, off he went by himself to
a weekend of fun and frolic. Until he called me Sunday morning to gloat
about what a wonderful time he was having! My aunt answered the phone and
told him that I wasn't up to coming to the phone right then as my father
had just passed away. Don was shocked and spent the rest of the convention
approaching every pro he could track down to get his/her autograph in his
program book which he presented to me when he got home, hoping it might
put a smile on my face. I still have that program book today, though I
did lend it to Mike Resnick for several years.
Amongst the items Don brought back from that World Con were flyers advertising
Henry Hardy Heins' bibliography and the Burroughs Bibliophiles. I didn't
pursue either right away, but eventually did join the BBs. Also, didn't
purchase Heins' bibliography right away. By the time I got around to doing
so the book was out of print. I wrote Heins, and he graciously send me
a gently used copy (in dust wrapper) with a letter stating it was mine
for $35.00. Yes, I bought it right away and it's still in my collection.
Resnick and his wife Carol and daughter Laura and I first met in the early
1970s. When I joined the Bibliophiles, one of the items I got was a directory
of Bibliophile members. I looked in it for people in the Chicago area and
the only name and address I remember finding was some guy named Mike Resnick
with an address in Rogers Park, an area on Chicago's far noth side. I wrote
him a letter as I didn't find a listing for him in the Chicago phone book.
The letter came back, "Addressee Unknown."
Sometime later, I came across a reference to a Mike Resnick in Highland
Park, Illinois, in something ERB-related. I figured it was the same person
I had tried to contact several years earlier. I sent him a letter. It came
back, "Addressee Unknown." Finally, I saw an ad in a current issue of ERB-dom
where some guy named Mike Resnick in Libertyville, Illinois, was selling
some ERB books. This had to be the same person! So, I wrote him a letter,
included my unlisted phone number, mailed it early on a Tuesday morning.
The very next evening, I got a phone call from Mike. We spent about four
hours on the phone and I received an invite to come up Friday evening to
meet him and his family. It was like finding one's long-lost siblings.
We have been friends ever since.
A number of years back Mike decided he wanted a complete collection
of World Con program books. He was having trouble tracking down one from
1963. I had the one from Don Kent. I, on the other hand, was assembling
a complete set of ERB-doms, a fanzine Mike had been associate editor of
back in the 1960s and was missing number 30. We decided to make a semi-permanent
loan to each other. He got my program book, I got his ERB-dom #30. Each
of us could keep the other's publication until we were able to track down
one of our own, however long it took. Eventually, he got his ERB-dom back,
and I got my program book. Many years later we traded our Canaveral editions
of The Tarzan Twins. His was autographed by Hully Burroughs. He
didn't care whether he had an autographed one or not, so we switched. Thanks,
once again, Mike!