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Volume 1534
Presents
A Burroughs Biblio-Pro-Phile

JOAN "J the V" BLEDIG
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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 day.


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 brand new.

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 flashlight!

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.

Mike 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!

Once, when the Resnicks still lived in the Chicago area, Mike and I were on our way to meet Carol at Mike's favorite Italian restaurant at the time, D'Oro's, located on Rush Street. As we walked east on Maple, we came upon a used book store. We were talking at that very instant about how Mike found the first of his several first edition copies of A Princess of Mars. We walked past the store, then both stopped in our tracks at the same time -- looked at each other, turned around, and went back into the book store. I inquired as to where Burroughs books might be found. Mike asked about something too. I went over to the bookcase containing ERB books and the very first one I found was a first edition of A Princess of Mars, marked $15 dollars! I snatched it up. Mike also found something he wanted so we both left that store happy!


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I'll narrate one more ERB collecting story here and then I'm quitting. JoN is a tough task master. He's got me chained to his kitchen table and he won't unchain me till I finish writing this bio for him. I'll call this the tale of The Chessmen of Mars. Once upon a time..., now, don't groan. All good fairy tales start out this way you know. Once upon a time, my mother (who really hated my ERB collecting until she sold two of my firsts for $100 and bought herself a new TV with the money -- I got nothing) had orders to buy any ERB hard bound book if the price was reasonable and the book was in good condition. 

Well, since my mother's idea of a reasonable price for an old book hovered around 25 cents, she didn't buy too many ERB books for me. She went to a rummage sale at her old church where hardback books were labeled two for a nickle or three cents apiece. She found a copy of The Chessmen of Mars in dust jacket but couldn't find another book for either me or herself. She wasn't going to buy the Mars book since she didn't want to pay three cents for something she could get for 2.5 cents! Eventually, she did find another book for herself, and brought the Mars book home to me, making sure I knew how close she came to NOT purchasing it. I really only gave the book a cursory glance. As the dust jacket was a G&D, I assumed the book was a nice reprint copy. Stupid me. Teach me to not look at a title page.

About five years later, when I was in one of my periodic fits of collection cataloging (none of which have ever gone through everything in my collection) I picked up this very book and took off the jacket to determine what grading I'd give its condition. Only then did I notice that magical imprint on the spine: A.C. McClurg! The first edition I almost didn't have!

So, now you've gotten a bit of my ERB history. Maybe the Jeddak of the North will now let me escape my kitchen prison.
 

Part II: A Virtual Tour of part of JtheV's ERB Collection

Joan Bledig is currently Mistress of the Mailing List for the Burroughs Bibliophiles.
She was awarded a lifetime membership for service to the organization in 1994 and
received the ERB Lifetime Achievement award at the 2004 Dum-Dum in Fort Collins, Colorado.


THE JOAN BLEDIG BIBLIO-PRO-PHILE
NAVIGATION MAP
MEET J the V
BLEDIG COLLECTION I
BLEDIG COLLECTION II
BLEDIG COLLECTION III
BLEDIG COLLECTION IV
Joan's OkaR 'n' R Mission
MEMORIES OF DUM-DUM 2005
FAIRY TALE CASTLE TARZAN JR.

WEB REFS
More Dum-Dum Photos at ERBzine
Others in the Burroughs Biblio-Pro-Phile Series
and
The ERBzine Biblio-Pro-Phile Page
New revised Burroughs Bibliophiles Website

J  the V now has her own personal Website at:
www.JtheV.com



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From

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Danton Burroughs Website: Tarzana Treasure Vaults
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Burroughs Bibliophiles
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John Coleman Burroughs Tribute Site
JohnColemanBurroughs.com
Tarzine: Official Monthly Webzine of ERB, Inc.
Tarzan.com/tarzine
John Carter of Mars
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ERBzine Weekly Webzine
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Pellucidar
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