The ten years between The Mucker and
Of The Doorstep were momentous years in the life of Edgar Rice Burroughs.
When one looks back on those years both from ERB's personal side and the
societal side one is astonished at the changes both were going through.
Both had changed greatly; neither ERB nor the world was the same as it
had been before 1920.
While ERB evolved rapidly on the psychological
side he was rather slow on the emotional side. On one level Marcia
records ERB's inability to handle money. The story will record in
metaphorical terms, 'highly fictionalized,' ERB's running through a fortune
to end in debt by 1924.
The story retells the history of the period
from say 1900 when he married Emma to 1924 or his present. He is
no longer the person who wrote The Mucker. That book had wallowed
in the low brow. The whole milieu of the story was set in low brow
locations from the beginning in the great West Side of Chicago to the boxing
milieu of New York City. The story is sort of an ode to the grungy
side of life.
The following two portions of what is actually
a quartet showed ERB evolving from a completely vulgar low brow guy through
the Bridge of Out There Somewhere tramping in search of himself
and the 'found' Bridge of Bridge And The Oskaloosa Kid who returns
to his aristocratic Virginian origins reunited with his Anima. Now
returned to polite society in Marcia Of The Doorstep ERB is writing
a high brow version of The Mucker. The coin has flipped from tails
The milieu has changed from Chicago streets
and New York gyms to the parlors of wealthy New Yorkers and the comforts
of middle class LA. ERB's alter ego is now the grandson of a wealthy
Whereas Byrne felt completely alien on entering
Barbara Harding's New York mansion Dick Steel, introduced by Marcia, perhaps
in the role of an alter ego of Emma, is quite comfortable, at ease,
and chatting amiably with no faux pas. I think ERB was struggling
to adapt himself to his new circumstances during the previous decade.
Perhaps Marcia was meant to create his new persona for him.
At the same time, if Marcus Aurelius Sackett
is a version of himself, as he certainly is, then he sees himself as an
impractical wastrel who even when handed the means for a prosperous life
manages to lose the money. This easily parallels ERB's own life as
he was on the edge of ruin in 1924 when he wrote the story.
He defiantly says of Sackett that he had never
learned the value of money and never would which was an accurate prediction
of his own future course. One has the feeling that despite present
hardships ERB thought the money would never run out and that Emma's financial
worries were unfounded. Indeed, this proved to be the case as phenomenal
income did continue to come in as comic strips, radio and a new lease on
movie life for his Tarzan in an improvement on the medium in the form of
sound which was unthinkable in 1924. Tarzan money came in at a pace
almost as fast as he could spend it. Until late in life when he became
too ill to spend ERB remained one step from the crest of the hill leading
to the poor house.
His preposterous attempt to make a fortune
as a hog farmer was ending in disaster. Rather than making money
on his grade Duroc Berkshires he lost as much as thirty-nine thousand dollars
in a single year.
At the same time he had managed to antagonize
Hollywood so badly that after a very promising start in films from 1921
to 1927 no movies of Burroughs novels were made. Thus ERB was cut
off from a very lucrative stream of revenue at this critical time.
Network radio was just coming on stream in the twenties while ERB would
earn nothing from it until the thirties. The comic strip which produced
a handsome income stream also came at the end of the decade. As these
forms of entertainment were incomparably more lucrative than publishing
ERB's income depending solely on books and magazines was severely curtailed
during this period. The twenties then were a comparatively lean period
I have never seen any evidence as to how the
Otis Estate was paid for. The price of $125,000 seems a bargain in
the burgeoning LA real estate market even today. Indeed, a friend
of Herb Weston's from LA speculated that ERB paid a half million for it.
Whether ERB paid cash or what period of time he made payments so far as
I know has never been revealed. Whether he had clear title to the
before he mortgaged it is unknown.
Originally looking for about twenty acres according
to his correspondence with Herb Weston within a couple weeks of arriving
in LA he had purchased 540 acres. Typical Burroughs. And what
an estate it was. In a letter of 3/14/19 to Weston ERB describes
the ranch which was apparently renamed Tarzan from the inception thusly,
p. 83, Brother Men.
Tarzana is a
delightful place. We have 540 acres on the State Highway (Ventura
Blvd.)- a boulevard running from Los Angeles to San Francisco- in the San
Fernando Valley foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains. The place
is 23 miles from L.A. shopping district and 13 miles from the ocean- by
auto road. The house stands on the top of a hill about half a mile
from the boulevard and has- as nearly as I can count them- eighteen rooms
& six baths. It is of Spanish architecture built around a patio
in which are many flowers and shrubs. The hill comprises some fifteen
acres set out in flowers, shrubs & trees. I think there are some
two thousand trees of several hundred varieties- many of which were brought
from Asia and Africa.
In addition, during prohibition, the estate came
with a fully stocked cellar of the finest liquors and wines.
Half a mile up the canyon
are the foreman's house, bunk houses, barns, corrals, etc. I acquired
five hundred head of pure bred Angora (mohair) goats, five horses, a cow,
forty hens and a bum dog, beside farm implements and & $8000.00 worth
of iron and concrete piping. There is an abundance of water and I
almost forgot a 12 acre grove of olive, lemon, apricot & orange trees,
beside 250 English walnut trees.
ERB kept telling Weston Tarzana had drawbacks
while Weston kept repeating incredulously: What drawbacks?
Within weeks of purchasing this garden of Eden
developers arrived at his door wishing to develop the City of Tarzana for
All the elements of prosperity were there for
him. He had five producing orchards plus a large herd of Angora goats.
Both the orchards and the goats should have been able to produce a substantial
income if managed wisely. Not only was Tarzana a bargain but it should
have been nearly self supporting from day one not including being able
to relax with a bottle of old vintage wine at day's end.
Within two years ERB was on the verge of bankruptcy
deep into schemes to develop country clubs and sub-divisions in an effort
to raise cash. Perhaps such efforts were merely schemes to display
his business talents. If so they were nearly as ill-advised as his
attempt to commercially raise hogs.
In his attempt to be high brow ERB seems
to have been highly influenced by F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Beautiful
And The Damned. The choice of the model is interesting.
ERB's first role model, Jack London, had died in 1916; his second, Booth
Tarkington was still going strong winning Pulitzer Prizes in fact, one
for the Magnificent Ambersons and another for Alice Adams.
But Tarkington's mindset belonged to the earlier era. After the sea
change of the Bolshevik Revolution and the end of the War a new mood characterized
society. The Flappers, the Roaring Twenties and the New Era were
coming into prominence.
I find this interesting. ERB picked up
on the change immediately attempting to adjust his writing to the New Era.
His earlier The Girl From Hollywood can also be seen in that light.
ERB also honed in on the writer who epitomized the era, F. Scott Fitzgerald
whose first novel This side Of Paradise appeared in 1920. The
Beautiful And The Damned was published in 1922. A short two years
later then ERB had recognized that Fitzgerald represented the new direction,
bought his book soon after its issue and immediately incorporated the book
into his work. Between 1922 and 24 then ERB had recognized that Fitzgerald
represented the new direction. Remarkably rather than condemning
the new or rejecting it he readily accepted it trying to emulate it in
Marcia. I don't know about you but I admire that.
If The Girl From Hollywood was a hybrid
attempt in 1922 in 1923 Marcia was conceived and delivered on the new model
a year later. Of course ERB was still ERB but Marcia is very interesting.
One can't say for certain how Burroughs saw
the progression of his writing career but by 1924 he was no longer stunning
the world with creations like John Carter of Mars and Tarzan Of The Apes
but was a more predictable quantity. Perhaps he feared that the Mars
and Tarzan series would lose their popularity. After all, how could
anyone actually know what the future held so he was trying to carve a new
niche. Originally McClurgs wanted only to publish the Tarzan series,
reluctantly beginning to publish the Mars series late in the second decade
so that none other of Burroughs huge output of the teens found its way
to book form until the twenties. Then McClurgs grudgingly put them
in print, then sneeringly sold the plates to him as worthless toward the
end of the decade as if to say, we told you so.
As publishers they may have evaluated the other
titles as too rough for publication which opinion has some merit.
Perhaps without movie revenues to flesh out his income during this period
ERB put a lot of pressure on McClurgs to publish the stuff in a desperate
attempt to boost his income. That could explain the developing friction
between the two.
Of all the titles published in the twenties
wasn't one of them. The book didn't see print until 1999 when Donald
M. Grant took the risk. I find the book fairly interesting, as a
Bibliophile I could hardly do other, and while not a great novel
I think that as a Burroughs title it would have made money without damaging
his reputation. There is a great deal to it. I like Out
There Somewhere and Bridge And The Kid better but I might give
the edge over The Mucker. In fact, I would. I didn't think
Mucker was among ERB's best.
Compounding Burroughs publishing problems was
the fact that he was impetuous in his reaction to the Bolshevik Revolution
rushing the condemnatory Under The Red Flag to publishers. The novel,
or possibly tract, was universally rejected. As originally written
the story may have been a polemic which was not suitable for the magazines
to which he submitted it. The story may have been too shrill in any
As if by magic
the Red/Liberal faction appeared from nowhere to dominate publishing, the
arts, education, religion and innumerable little rivulets of society.
All of a sudden the previously dominant Republican administration that
had been so solidly entrenched since the Civil War was in a minority.
They were able to hang on through the Harding, Coolidge and Hoover administrations
but then their ideology was completely overturned by the twenty years of
treason of the FDR-Truman administrations.
Thus Burroughs identified himself with the
minority counterrevolutionary party. Already ridiculed by the publishing
world he would find it increasingly difficult to publish over the next
two decades. He would be under constant attack both at home and abroad.
As he owned the magnificent intellectual property of Tarzan- and really,
all his other work pales beside the Big Bwana - he couldn't be completely
disposed of although it should not be forgotten that as the decade of the
twenties closed he turned to self-publication. This may have been
from greed as he publicly said but it should also be remembered that a
few blackballed writers like Upton Sinclair who were denied publication
over the regular channels also turned to self-publication at the same time.
ERB's novels of the early twenties apart from
the Tarzan and Mars series were 1922's The Girl From Hollywood and
1923's The Bandit From Hell's Bend. He complained that The
Girl From Hollywood was sabotaged, taken off the market, and that it
was selling well and could have sold better which is undoubtedly true.
The novel, while not great, is on a par with Harry Leon Wilson's Merton
Of The Movies or the Graham Bros. Queer People.
All three novels were early examples of the
Hollywood novel at the time Tinseltown was in its infancy and did not yet
glory in its immorality. The movies were assuming a central place
in American culture. Novel after novel refers to the movies or Hollywood.
The Grahams' Queer People was a completely negative vision of the
movie capital and is still worth reading. The Queer in the title
does not refer to homosexuality but to strange and weird such as Weston
referred to ERB. The novel was the Grahams' way of saying sayonara
as they were run out of town after the book was published. There's
a tribute for ya'.
ERB's Girl From Hollywood falls in between
and Queer People. ERB's book may have displeased the moguls
but because of his standing he couldn't be run out of town. It is possible
they were the people who were interfering with the publication of Girl
behind the scenes forcing its discontinuation. The filming of Tarzan
movies did end about the time of Girl's publication. The hiatus
in Tarzan films may have been a result as a punishment. The second
half of Marcia which is also a Hollywood story is all sweetness
and compliments to the film industry so probably ERB was trying to make
His Bandit From Hell's Bend was the
first of his two Westerns. As Westerns go it is a good book.
Set in Arizona ERB was writing about country he knew. Contrary to
his protestations he wrote as well or better of places he had seen
than places he only imagined. You can't take public statements at
Then in 1924 he took up his pen to write Marcia
Of The Doorstep. This may have been an attempt to write a blockbuster
that would alleviate his financial distress. Also he tired of being
called a low brow and a hack writer. He put his heart and soul
into the book but he was never able to sell it. The book was rejected
by every publisher until he finally gave up. Once again, he was possibly
being denied publication as a punishment.
Is it any good? Well, it's characteristically
Edgar Rice Burroughs. He manages to compress what should have been
the final two hundred pages into fifty. Still, while perhaps not
great literature, after you've read a number of novels of the era I don't
think it compares unfavorably. I think the book could have been published
profitably which in business is all that counts. If the public liked
From Hollywood, Marcia should have sold OK. As it is it's
I don't regret having read it once nor as a
Burroughs scholar do I regret having read it four times. It does
seem to improve with each reading. Being no fan of Scott Fitzgerald
I don't consider it much inferior to The Beautiful And The Damned
on which the main frame of Marcia is based.
In discussing Marcia I would like to
break the book down into components. The first is the cast of characters.
The book is especially rich in vivid and well drawn characters. ERB
obviously intended the book to break him into the big slicks like Collier's
and the Saturday Evening Post. He had heard of fifty thousand
dollar paychecks to people like Zane Grey. The money would have been
especially welcome in 1924. I think the book was good enough for
those magazines myself but I wasn't the editor.
In writing about the New York theatre and Hollywood
it was inevitable that Jewish characters should have a central part. Both
the New York stage and the Big Screen were controlled by that ethnic group.
has a fairly large cast of Jews. Abe Finkel and Max Heimer, both early
bi-coastals. And their was Judge Berlanger the attorney from New
York. Jews are also discussed by Della Maxwell and the Sacketts.
Della is especially caustic.
The immigrant scene was in a state of rapid
transition. The dialect comedy had not yet disappeared although with
the cessation of unrestricted immigration and the establishment of the
ADL the type of story was in decline, however the dialect joke persisted
into my boyhood. In 1955-56 my class was assigned readings from Leo
C. Rosten's The Education Of Hyman Kaplan which is about a Jewish
immigrant in night school. Rosten not only wrote this book as late
as 1937 but he rather belatedly wrote a sequel The Return Of Hyman Kaplan
In Marcia ERB makes mention of the Jewish
comedy characters Potash and Perlmutter in relation to Finkel and
Heimer as movie producers. Potash and Perlmutter were the creation
of Montague Glass from 1909 to 1914. The stories appeared in the
Saturday Evening Post where ERB undoubtedly saw them. While no book
exists in ERB's library they were collected in a couple volumes of which
I have obtained one. For whatever reason Samuel Goldwyn revived the
characters for movies in 1923, 1924 and subsequently.
The first was titled Potash and Perlmutter.
The second was In Hollywood With Potash and Perlmutter. It
was undoubtedly this film which inspired ERB to bring Abe Finkel out from
New York and unite him with Max Heimer as movie producers. He either
reviewed the dialogue in Glass' stories or remembered it.
ERB grew up with dialect comedy as the immigrants
integrated themselves into American society. He would have been familiar
with many stage dialect acts including many Jewish ones. The stage
was full of plays from Abie's Irish Rose to Potash and Perlmutter.
These times of his youth were when immigrants
were especially greenish. they spoke with accents and characteristic
phrasing. They couldn't be accurately produced without replicating
the accents. The great story of the period is that when an Italian
push cart vendor was asked: You have no bananas? replied Yes,
we have no bananas today. The phrase was overheard, turned into a
popular song and for some reason caught the fancy of America.
The Jews of the period had their verbal mannerisms
and ERB copied them in the character of Max Heimer, a shyster lawyer.
He is careful to designate Max as 'Jews of this type.' His other
Jewish lawyer, Judge Isaac 'Ike' Berlanger, is meant to balance the Jewish
characterization as he is the epitome of respectability speaking perfect
English. But balance isn't the issue.
The Anti-Defamation League of the B'nai B'rith
had been organized in 1913. The organization then began to censor
the media to remove any comment that could possibly be considered derogatory
to Jews. It is not improbable that Montague Glass stopped writing
the Potash and Perlmutter stories because of pressure from the ADL.
He thereafter concentrated on other ethnic groups.
It seems remarkable that ten years later Goldwyn
revived the stage play for his movie. As Janis Garza in the NY Times
In 1923 he (Goldwyn) decided to make
a film of the play (also written by Glass and Charles Klein), which went
against the preference of most moguls of the day---they shunned anything
Jewish, although most of them were Jewish themselves. The ethnic
comedy was Goldwyn's first as an independent producer.
The moguls didn't so much shun Jewish subjects
as that the ADL was closely monitoring their activities. Perhaps
Goldwyn bucked the ADL because in his insecurity as an independent producer
he felt such Jewish self-deprecation would be well received by the gentiles
and his own people. If so, he was right.
Is it to be wondered then that ERB probably
thought he was on safe ground in his own comic characterization since he
was only doing what Jews were doing? After all the immigrant culture
in this diverse multi-cultural paradise was as much his as it was theirs.
What does multi-culturalism mean if the cultures can't be shared by everyone.
Exclusivity is not the way.
Still, as I said, balance isn't the issue.
One was supposed to depict Jews only of the Berlanger type. So I'm
sure one of the principal reasons the book wasn't published was the character
of Max Heimer along with his partner Abe Finkel.
At this time the concept of the Melting Pot,
which itself was a Jewish invention, was still the immigration ideal although
the vision had been all but shattered for the old stock side by the Great
War. The period through at least 1925 was that of 110% Americanism
as a reaction to perceived immigrant disloyalty during the war and since
the Bolshevik Revolution. The period also saw the flourishing of
the second Ku Klux Klan which was nearing its apogee at this time.
Great pressure was being put on immigrants to be 'American.'
The Jewish battle with Henry Ford had not yet
been settled so I imagine Max Heimer drew some unwanted attention to Burroughs.
The beginnings of the concept of Diversity
were taking form in a shift away from the concept of the melting Pot.
Elements of the immigrants who didn't wish to merge their ethnic identity
in a Melting Pot fought back to impose their ethnicity on the old stock,
which, after all, was only to be expected.
The leaders of the movement were the Jews and
Italians both of which the old stock had always feared were unassimilable.
Their fears were justified as neither group have been assimilated to this
day. Witness the Sopranos.
If one is to have a concept of diversity then
perforce each element must have a character of its own; they must be different
to a degree that is obvious. If no one is different then there is
no diversity. Ergo--don't you think? Therefore it shouldn't
be wrong to depict these differences. Well, it is. Except in
the movies for some reason.
At this particular time the Jews were especially
sensitive. Hollywood, as Neal Gabler said, was an empire of their
own. All the important studios were under Jewish ownership.
The American Jewish Committee, the B'nai B'rith and its terrorist unit
the Anti-Defamation League patrolled the corridors of publishers
and studios to prevent anything they didn't want published or filmed.
I think ERB's portrayal of the shyster lawyer Max Heimer fell within the
That ERB was innocent of any attempt to defame
the Jews, or anyone else for that matter, was irrelevant. However
in response to accusations his portrayal of the worthy Jewish gentleman
in the Moon Maid may have been an attempt to conciliate the AJC
ERB had previously been contacted by the AJC
on May 10, 1919. (See Hillman-Burroughs
Bio Timeline 1910-1919 ) The American Jewish Committee is a killer
watchdog outfit operating in conjunction with the ADL. The latter
was six years old in 1919 The AJC thirteen. The ADL was already
disliked and feared as the Jewish enforcer. The AJC isn't particularly
well known. My aunt who has been active in all kinds of Jewish protests
hadn't even heard of it when I mentioned the agency to her so I'm surprised
the AJC itself contacted Burroughs rather than the ADL. I wonder
The letter was not addressed to him in Tarzana
but forwarded from his old address at 700 Linden in Oak Park, so the contact
may have originated at the end of 1918 or the beginning of 1919.
These two years would have been critical for the Jews who became very active
in the wake of the Bolshevik Revolution.
The letter requests (read demands) that ERB
sign a card endorsing a 'Jewish Bill Of Rights.' I'm a student of
Jewish history but I had never heard of the Jewish Bill Of Rights before
reading of it in the Timeline. The Jewish Bill Of Rights was an appeal
to end the persecution of and discrimination against Jews. Now, in
fact, this 'request' was a threat. If you did not sign and return
it one must therefor be considered an 'anti-Semite.' As an anti-Semite
one would need your own Bill Of Rights.
Apparently the AJC sent a copy of the Jewish
Bill Of Rights for ERB to read which, according to Hillman and D. Burroughs
ERB, did in some detail. In his reply ERB was ambivalent enough to
mark him as at least a latent anti-Semite who bore watching.
On May 21, 1919, fairly promptly, ERB replied
that 'he had always been perplexed by the intolerance and inhumanity that
all religions - Jews, Christians, Moslems, Pagans, etc.- had exhibited
toward each other.' This was not the appropriate response.
First, he compared Jews to other religions as equals; secondly, he said
that Jews also were guilty of intolerance and inhumanity and thirdly, ERB
excludes himself from any religious category speaking down to them as some
misguided souls of an inferior mentality. As one of a Scientific
Consciousness ERB could do no other - he was above the Religious Consciousness,
but his reply must have branded him as a latent or real anti-Semite.
There is no freedom of conscience in the Religious Consciousness.
Let me repeat, the AJC is top watchdog.
While the ADL whose director is perforce high profile as the Enforcer no
one is aware of who the director of the AJC is. That ERB was contacted,
then, is significant. Either he wrote something the AJC objected
to or possibly the agency was winnowing out writers in its postwar offensive.
If the Jewish Bill Of Rights was sent to all writers then their replies
would identify them as philo- or anti-Semites.
ERB then compounded his error by objecting
to clause 6 of this Jewish Bill Of Rights. He found the clause unclear
'as he always believed that every alien should be expected to read and
write in the language of the country to which they were migrating.'
Every 'alien.' Oops!
Without having read this Jewish Bill Of Rights,
based on my studies I opine what clause 6 probably meant was this:
At that time, as now, the Jews were seeking complete autonomy in the US,
as they had been in Czarist Russia. In 1918-19 they thought they
had attained their goal in the Soviet Union. In Russia they had always
wanted to make Yiddish an official second language on a par with Russian
This meant that the Russians would have to learn Yiddish. Eventually
then Yiddish would displace Russian as the premier language. From
Yiddish to Hebrew would then be a short leap. Sound far fetched?
Consider, within a hundred years the Jews had wiped the name of Russia
from the map. The country was then the Union of the autonomous Soviet
Socialist Republics. Not bad work, huh?
They also hoped to make Yiddish the official
other language of the US, much as the Mexicans are working toward today,
which would eventually displace English to be replaced in turn by Hebrew.
In the long run then Yiddish would become the lingua franca of the West
eventually the whole world to be succeeded by Hebrew and the triumph of
the Revolution. Not as difficult as it might look.
This may be what ERB refers to as being unclear
to him. Once again, by questioning, even denying, Jewish goals he
made himself a marked man. He had failed the AJC test. He would
be carefully watched. Thus his characters of Max Heimer and Abe Finkel
probably made his book unpublishable. (See my ERB and FLA Exit The
Twenties on ERBzine.) As he never tried to publish Marcia under his
own imprint that would imply he finally got the message. The message
was, forget it.
As Max Heimer is the male protagonist, Dell
Maxwell is the female protagonist. She has an importance that might
go unnoticed by the casual reader. Della is actually a finely drawn
character integrated into the story in a meaningful way. Della represents
the Chicago aspects of ERB's origins. She was from Chicago although
her antecedents aren't too clear.
A significant category of books in the library
are Chicago novels. One that isn't there but which ERB may have read
is Theodore Dreiser's 'Sister Carrie.' In Dreiser's novel Carrie
was a young girl down from Wisconsin who was seduced by an older man named
Hurstwood. They left Chicago for New York where he slowly disintegrated
while Carrie became a star of the stage.
Della not only had an illicit romance with
a married man in Chicago but the fellow was a bigamist also marrying Della.
So while Marcia was a doorstep child she was legitimate after a fashion.
Della was only seventeen or eighteen when Marcia was born so she couldn't
have been older than fifteen or sixteen when she began her relationship
with her 'husband.' As Della was an experienced actress when she
hit the Big Apple she must have been on the stage at least by fifteen at
the time she was filling that long engagement in Chicago.
Learning that she was her husband's second
wife she left him going to NYC shortly before Marcia was born. Thus
Burroughs duplicates the story of Sister Carrie approximately
which could be just a coincidence or he might be influenced by Dreiser
It doesn't seem plausible that she could have
known the Sacketts before as Burroughs indicates but she apparently did.
Knowing them as the finest of the fine she left Marcia on their doorstep.
The next day she arrives as a long lost friend
to take rooms with them. Thus while she never identifies herself
as the baby's mother she lives with and has a hand in rearing her child.
While Max Heimer gets the story moving on the Animus side Della does the
same on the Anima side.
Now, Della bears a great resemblance to a number
of Burroughs other representations of his Anima figure, for instance, Maud
the nursemaid of The Outlaw Of Torn and Hetty Penning, the girl
thrown from the car in Bridge And The Kid among others who represent
the failed Anima of Burroughs. It is not surprising, then, that Della
gives birth to the replacement Anima figure of Marcia and is around until
Marcia is able to unite with the Animus figure Chase III. Della's
dying letter is responsible for removing the barrier to Marcia and Chase
In terms of Burroughs' psychology Della represents
the Anima betrayed in his confrontation with John the Bully. Marcia
then represents his new Anima (Barbara Harding, Gail Prim, Marcia to match
John Chase I, II and III) born from the dishonor of his old Anima- in other
words Marcia was born of an illicit romance between Della and a married
Marcus Aurelius Sackett as ERB then lives in
his house with his wife Clara (Emma) Marcia Aurelia, named after himself
and therefor an integral part of his existence as his replacement Anima
and his old Anima, Della Maxwell. An interesting solution to ERB's
This also brings up numerical problems.
Marcia is explicitly said to have been left on the Sackett doorstep on
4/10/06. the numbers add up to twenty. Twenty is the age ERB's
Anima replacements have to be. Why isn't clear. Thus Marcia
won't be twenty until 1926. On 4/6/27 when Marcia would have still
been twenty ERB began his play You Lucky Girl. The commencement
of the play coincides with his meeting with Florence Gilbert so Marcia
now twenty may coincide with Florence who may very well have been intended
as the "Lucky Girl."
I don't know but numbers in the corpus are
Della is the equivalent of the golden hearted
prostitute who first appears in ERB's work in 1913-14's The Girl From Farris's.
Della is a hard case but with the good sense Sackett lacks. Psychologically
this would be in keeping as, when John the Bully emasculated Burroughs
making him a dependent personality he lost the ability to act in his own
self-interest always deferring to the wishes of others at critical junctures.
Always the great good friend of the Sacketts
Della saves the day from the grave for Marcia and Jack Chase III.
The story's not bad although the execution
may not be up to the highest standards of literary fiction which this story
attempts to be. I've already given my opinion of Scott Fitzgerald's
influence and I might add that to Edith Wharton whose House Of Mirth,
also in Burroughs library, was another significant influence on Marcia.
The Sacketts while central figures in the book
are passive. Things happen to them but they do little to make things
happen. The couple is obviously based on ERB and Emma. ERB
accurately portrays himself as an unrealistic, good hearted, bumbling wastrel
without one shred of common sense. In the splitting of his personality
common sense remained with his old Anima which was no longer of any use
Clara Sackett is portrayed as his long suffering
but devoted and loving wife. It is easy to imagine that her worries
about financial matters were those of Emma herself. Beginning in
1913 when ERB first came into money the stuff had been water in his hands.
He had literally gone through a million dollars from 1913 to the time this
story was written and was actually deep in debt near bankruptcy.
If ERB really wanted to be a businessman he should have gone to night school.
In the story when Mark Sackett receives the
money from Chase I Clara is nearly beside herself in fear that he will
squander this very large sum. In fact the first thing Mark does is
draw out some old blueprints for a yacht which he has been cherishing.
Clara shudders when she comes upon him studying the plans. She is
desperate because the couple is getting older and they have no other savings
to fall back on.
Her worst fears are realized when Mark uses
the money to organize a Shakespearean touring company. I think we
can equate this with ERB's purchase of the Otis Estate. However the
tour is a great success but Sackett is cheated out of not only the earnings
of the tour but his original twenty thousand dollars by Max Heimer who
he had retained as his business manager. Thus, stranded in LA the
couple is again penniless.
This was precisely ERB and Emma's own position
in 1924 when Burroughs through his own mismanagement had all but lost Tarzana.
I think, then, that Clara Sackett is a fairly accurate idea of how Burroughs
perceived his wife.
As in real life the couple begins well but
a long decline in their fortunes begins which leaves them destitute.
Clara's jewelry is gone. Pawned and lost just as Emma's had been
in the couple's dark hour around 1910. The jewelry also figures importantly
in Tarzan The Untamed. Then Max Heimer extorts the twenty
thousand dollars from Chase I which at least gets the couple to LA.
Nineteen thirteen's The Mucker had been
a low brow novel dealing with low brow themes in low brow milieux.
Marcia, a decade later, psychologically light years later, is meant to
rehabilitate ERB as a highbrow. He has spent the last ten years trying
to realize his ambition to be a prince. However as he wrote at the
end of The Mucker: It takes more than one lifetime to travel
from Grand Avenue to Riverside Drive. ERB wasn't going to be allowed
to make that journey in this lifetime.
Thus he makes Sackett, which is to say himself,
a Shakespearean actor, the ultimate in high brow, of the old cultured school
who abjures the low brow flicks. In Chicago Emma had acquainted Our
Man with the stage which obviously completely entranced him. I don't
know for sure who ERB modeled Sackett on but in Marcia he trots out his
knowledge of the stage by mentioning such stellar lights as Henry Irving,
Forbes-Robertson, Julia Marlowe, E.H. Sothern and a few others. Wherever
he acquired his knowledge of the stage, I haven't been able to locate any
such books in his library, either the books have been lost or he himself
made use of the public library; no computers in those days. On the
other hand they're just names.
Of course, there is one other possible source,
always overlooked, that source would be his wife Emma. As a voice
student in Chicago Emma would have become steeped in the lore of the theatre.
For instance while performing aboard ship Marcia sings 'The Jewel Song'
from Faust followed by Gottschalks 'The Girl I Loved.' I could be
wrong but personally I don't believe ERB knew Gottschalk from Yellin.
If he had ever heard 'The Jewel Song' from Faust it was from Emma's lips.
I will return to this topic in a moment but if this novel doesn't betray
an influence from Emma I don't know what does.
Yet, again Burroughs amazes by the range of
his knowledge. One should always bear in mind that nothing can come
out of your brain that isn't in it. Creativity doesn't mean you can
invent knowledge, knowledge is the substance of creativity, thus ERB had
to do some studying to be able to write this book as well as his others.
He must also have had an excellent memory without which study is useless.
In addition to presenting the great names of
the theatre ERB is allowed to present himself as a learned and cultured
high brow fellow. He has spent the last ten years attempting to shed
himself of his post-confrontation origins, to return to his interrupted
destiny as a prince.
You can feel his yearning for respectability,
for an entrance into polite society or at least the pages of Colliers or
The Saturday Evening Post. Hollywood, the then unofficial porn capital
of the world, now officially, was no place to look for polite society but
as there are affected people everywhere, it may have seemed so. As
the publishers tossed Marcia back in his face he wasn't going to
make any grand entrance into society as a result of this book.
After the rejection of Marcia Burroughs
would be allowed to write nothing but Tarzans and science fiction.
Even though his two Apache novels were published in this decade his second
Western, which is more than good enough for the genre, was rejected.
ERB was condemned to continue as a low brow
In 1923-24 ERB was treading financial deep
water as was Sackett not knowing whether he was going to sink or swim.
The move to LA was becoming a financial disaster. His ill-advised
plan of becoming a pig farmer was draining him of cash. The hiatus
in the production of Tarzan movies meant that he was cut off from the easy
movie money which made his intellectual property so valuable. During
this period he had to rely exclusively on magazine sales and book royalties
which were inadequate for his inflated life style.
As is common with artists who pursue the glamour
rather than the substance and as usual with ERB he had spent his earnings
as he had gotten them. As Hillman points out in his 1920 Timeline,
Burroughs incurred phenomenal expenses immediately after acquiring the
Otis Estate which was also immediately renamed Tarzana as though ERB had
been planning it a long time.
For the year 1920: Tarzana undergoes
major renovations: central heating, a three car garage, servants rooms,
workshop, a study that doubles as a home school room, a ballroom/movie
theatre/playroom, projection booth, swimming pool, golf course, lion and
monkey cages, riding trails, hen house, hog pen, dairy barn and horse stalls,
And that doesn't include three cars for the garage,
his pedigreed grade Duroc Berkshire swine, horses and other live stock
which consumed enormous amounts of money with no return as ERB knew little
or nothing about farming or stock raising.
ERB went into this with the romantic notion
of getting back to the land. Weston warned him about the attitude
advising him that if he were to go into farming he would run the farm as
a factory with strict cost/return controls. One wonders whether ERB
ripped out fruit and nut orchards to make room for the golf course.
I suspect so.
As was predictable by mid-year 1922 ERB was
seeking a loan to cover his losses. He realized he lacked the know
how and skills to run a profitable working farm so in January of 1923 as
per Hillman's Timeline he '...disposes of his livestock and farm equipment
in an auction.' It is also significant that a couple months later
on March 2nd he incorporated himself as Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.
The move may have been for the economical reason of reducing taxes but
perhaps an even more compelling reason was the defensive one of placing
his most valuable assets beyond the reach of his creditors in case he had
to declare bankruptcy. As all his copyrights and literary assets
as well as his future work was assigned to the corporation any future royalties
as well as the properties of the corporation were beyond the reach of creditors.
The strategic move may also have prevented
his creditors moving on him as what was left as assets was more trouble
than it was worth. His creditors may have thought it better to let
him try to dig himself out since the property would ultimately have been
theirs anyway than to incur the expense of disposing of the real property
However as Burroughs could no longer use the
income accruing to the corporation the question is where did he get the
money to retire his personal debts. You know, the problem really
needs some explanation.
Burroughs was desperate for cash. Looking
longingly across LA to Santa Fe Springs and Signal Hill with their spectacular
oil strikes ERB attempted to find oil in Tarzana. Unfortunately there
isn't any in the San Fernando Valley.
It is to be noted that Chase III gets involved
with oil schemes in Marcia. This aspect of ERB's finaglings
should be examined more closely also.
In what I would call near desperation ERB came
up with schemes for his El Caballero Country Club and subdividing Tarzana.
He was renting sites on the ranch to movie companies for productions.
This sort of income would have been separate from his salary as an employee
of ERB, Inc. All such oil or real estate income could be applied
to his personal debt.
Turning his home into a clubhouse necessitated
his moving from the ranch to LA. By early 1925 he was forced to borrow
$200,000.00 to stay afloat. Thus ERB could tailor John C. Fremont's
quip 'When I came to California I was penniless, now...I own two millions
of dollars.' to his own situation.
Incredibly ERB's magnificent earnings of the
last ten years of a million or so had been turned into a debt of 200,000
dollars. That's some work; not everybody can get it.
Marcia Of The Doorstep rather faithfully
portrays this course of events. The Sacketts begin moderately prosperous
sinking into some real poverty when they are rescued by the virtual gift
of Max Heimer. Sackett, like Burroughs, has little idea of the value
of money. He spends it as fast as he gets it then loses everything.
The Sacketts are broke.
Interestingly they learn of their impoverishment
in San Francisco the town from which Billy Byrne was shanghaied.
I am unfamiliar with ERB's connection with Baghdad By The Bay. While
Byrne went to sea the Sacketts find their way to LA. ERB talks of
leaving the land of fog for the Sunny Southland so he must have had some
experience with SF. How about that, Danton?
Sackett is too proud to go into movies so he
exhausts his few resources being ultimately turned out of lodgings by his
landlady in a fictionalized account of ERB's actual situation in Tarzana.
Now arises a problem with Emma that probably
contributed to ERB's divorcing her. P. 222:
Marcus Aurelius Sackett found that three
hundred dollars did not go very far in Los Angeles. Even a modest
room was expensive and food was as high as in New York- also Marcus Aurelius
Sackett had not yet learned the value of money. He never would.
After he had invited several old friends to dine with them at the Montmartre
Clara had taken what was left from him and put him on an allowance that
was barely sufficient to cover cigars and carfare. It was the first
time in their married life that Clara had taken the reins into her own
hands; but as she told Marcus, she didn't purpose being thrown on the charity
of a strange city any sooner than was absolutely necessary.
After having watched her new husband gamble away their
last forty dollars in 1904, gone through the first real money they had
seen in 1913 and now watching all their assets disappear in 1924 it appears
that Emma took matters in hand to take control of finances from ERB.
While ERB was probably confident that the money
would always come in they couldn't have been sure of it nor guessed at
the substantial amounts that would always be on the horizon. Are
to this day. Besides giving money to ERB was like giving matches
to a pyromaniac. The guy didn't even put it in his pocket before
he spent it. Also I'm not sure that Emma wasn't entitled to a little
more say than ERB allowed her.
Clara Sackett is portrayed by ERB as an inveterate
reader of novels. She is always putting a novel down. He makes
a point of indicating this. This was probably true of Emma also.
So, let us assume that Emma had good literary sense. ERB always gave
his stories to Emma to read before he submitted them. She was kept
on the payroll after the divorce as a reader. Further, let us assume
that an ERB manuscript looked something like Tarzan And The Forbidden
City which an uncharitable reviewer might say was a collection of notes.
There is a noticeable decline in the quality of ERB's writing after the
Now suppose that, while not actually taking
a hand in the writing, Emma provided editorial skills to whip a manuscript
into shape. Every writer can use a good editor and I suspect ERB
more than most. Thus if Emma had provided editorial skill and services,
I don't say she rewrote anything, over the years she may have had more
of a hand in ERB's success than one thinks. Bear in mind I don't
say she did any of the writing or affected the imaginative quality of the
stories, only that she was an active, possibly contributing, editor.
So, Marcia is a highly fictionalized account
of ERB's exodus from Chicago and the four year debacle to 1924.
I think that if you squint your eyes and let
your imagination view the story you will find a fairly accurate portrayal
of ERB and Emma. Of course he left out the squabbles. Emma
comes off extremely well. Perhaps ERB's subconscious appreciation
of the woman got the truth from him.
Within the context of Burroughs, Marcia
is really an incredible story. The amazing thing is that with all
these financial worries ERB was able to not only continue to turn out his
two books a year but to keep up on his reading. The library contains
a large number of books that were purchased in these years and read.
Apparently the strain was great enough that
ERB didn't have time to maintain his correspondence with Herb Weston.
From June 1919 to August 1926 there is a hiatus in the correspondence.
Either Weston lost the letters or ERB was too stressed to write.
Central to the story are the Chases-
John Hancock Chase I, II and III. The initials JC are the same as
both John Carter and John Clayton. Here we have a total of five Johns
so ERB's fixation with John the Bully is given a positive twist.
If ERB didn't change his own name to John he gave it to his supreme heroes.
John Hancock Chase I as the name implies is
of the fine old stock. John Hancock was one of the preeminent heroes
of the American Revolution who wrote his name large on the Declaration
Of Independence so that King George could read it without his spectacles.
Thus the Chases are connected with the Puritan founding fathers.
How old he is isn't clear. He lost his
wife in childbirth forty-six years previously which would have been c.
1875-76 depending on whether the story commences in 1922 or not.
If he married at thirty that would make him eight-nine in 1922. Probably
still had that old ramrod military bearing but definitely an Ancient Mariner.
In 1924 he would have been 91. If one assumes he married young at
twenty make it 81 which is also plausible. An element of Chase I's
character may be that of George T., ERB's father. He was born in
1833 so that if Chase I was born in 1833 he was eighty-nine. A little
old but I'm betting on a birth date of 1833.
Still another source may be that fine old Southern
gentleman portrayed by Thomas Dixon, Jr. in his novels. Chase I is
from Maryland so that he is from the South although living in New York
City. That ERB does not make him a Virginian may mean he was not
of the first water as was John Carter. However it is interesting
that his antecedents cover the Puritans, the Cavaliers and the middle colony
of New York. Thus in a Dixonian sense he has reunited the country,
Birth Of A Nation, in the person of Chase I; healed those Reconstruction
Another possible interpretation is that while
ERB professed to love his father there was enough resentment to demote
him to Maryland. As Baltimore appears frequently in the corpus while
there is no indication that Burroughs visited the city its importance may
be simply as the place Poe died. Burroughs would likely have been
familiar with the poem The Streets Of Baltimore by the ever prolific
The poem, by the way, is contained in a collection
entitled The Best Loved Poems Of The American People first published
Burroughs was probably familiar with most of
the poems, although perhaps not the book, as the poems are written mostly
in the galloping rhythmic style of Kipling ERB himself emulated.
While Burroughs was influenced by novels and non-fiction one should never
forget the cornpone verse and song lyrics he loved that may have had as
much or more influence on him than anything else. He indirectly references
many poems such as Will Carleton's Over The Hill To The Poor House.
At about the time he was writing this book he was honored by a visit from
'Uncle' Walt Mason who wrote prose rhyme in the same galloping rhythm.
He was apparently so infatuated with Mason's stuff that he visited the
writer at his home in Emporia, Kansas on his 1916 cross country trip.
Thus poets like Mason, also H.H. Knibbs, who he also made a point of looking
up - Robert W. Service, Kipling and others may have been as influential
on his development, or moreso, than writers like London and Tarkington
even. He could have looked up Zane Grey who had a place in Pasadena
but he never did. I am convinced he would have looked up London but
for his untimely death.
In Marcia he names the captain of the
Lady X "Danny" Dever after Kipling's poem of the same name. It is
quite possible that many of his characters can be traced back to well known
poems or those that are obscure or forgotten. Verse was everywhere
in those days from the pages of pulps to daily newspapers. ERB had
a copy of Edgar A. Guest's newspaper verse, which was syndicated, in his
library so the guy obviously loved paperly verse. Eugene Field.
Get yourself a copy of The Best Loved Poems Of The American People
and familiarize yourself with them.
The boy stood on the burning deck,
Whence all but he had fled;
The flames that lit the battle's wreck
Shone round him over the dead.
Think about it.
If Chase I was influenced by ERB's father while
being a Southern gentleman from Maryland where does this Southern influence
come from? Very popular at this time was Thomas Dixon, Jr and his
Reconstruction novels - The Leopard's Spots, The Clansman and The
Traitor. ERB had a copy of
The Traitor in his library,
while it would seem likely he had read the first two volumes of the trilogy
and certain that he had seen D.W. Griffith's 1915 movie adaptation of the
trilogy - The Birth Of A Nation.
A large part of Southrons still alive would
have experienced Reconstruction and its Jim Crow aftermath.
The victors hadn't yet written the censored history of the period so opinion
was as yet quite varied as The Birth Of A Nation indicated.
Chase I resonates the fine old Southern Gentleman
in Dixon's novels. It is quite possible then that Burroughs has moved
one of Dixon's Southern gentleman North to New York City. This may
possibly have been meant to humanize the Northern industrial magnate of
whom Dixon is as caustically critical as any Gustavus Myers. And on sounder
Chase I may then have been a portrait of the
type of father ERB would have liked to have had. Cultured, wealthy,
kind and generous but stern.
Chase II, who as a married man, lives in his
father's house along with his young son, Chase III, gets into a problem
with a woman that isn't explained very well. Chase III at some celebration
drank so much that he blacked out for nine hours. Max Heimer somehow
picked him up in this drunken condition taking him to his own apartment.
Heimer had apparently been living with the woman Mame Myerz for several
years. Although she later states that she wasn't home that night
Heimer concocts a scheme in which she was supposed to have conceived a
child by Chase II. Nine moths later Heimer returns to begin blackmailing
Chase II. Unable to bear the shame Chase II shoots himself.
Obvious Mame Myerz is Jewish. The correct
spelling of her name must have been Meyers or Meiers but perhaps ERB didn't
have the courage to make both her and Heimer clearly Jewish or perhaps
she changed the spelling of her name to avoid appearing Jewish as was commonly
Ever on the qui vive it is this story that
Heimer exploits sixteen years later when he learns Marcia was left with
the Sacketts on about the same date, 4/10/06. If you note, those
numbers add up to 20. Pretty Freudian, huh?
Chase II then, represents ERB's failed Animus
on the street corner with John the Bully while Mame Myerz blends with Della
Maxwell as his failed Anima. Burroughs despises his failed Anima
but as part of himself he can't hate it. His anima representations
always start out as 'bad' girls but he then rehabilitates them. Perhaps
by separating out Mame Myerz from Della Maxwell he can vent his hatred
Chase III born of his failed Animus represents
ERB as he would like to have been. Tall, clean limbed, clean living,
thoroughly clean. The emphasis on clean is probably because John
The Bully besmirched ERB's Animus making him feel dirty. Rather than
making Chase III an army officer, for some reason ERB makes him a Naval
officer. however, stationed in Hawaii. The islands were becoming
a fixation of Burroughs probably influenced by Jack London's stories of
the islands. The Islands will figure importantly in ERB's later life.
All roads are tending to Hawaii.
Thus, Marcia, his Anima replacement and Chase
III, his new Animus meet in paradise on the waters of the subconscious.
Marcia first sees Chase III rising from the waters, as it were, as he climbs
over the side of the yacht. I assume the yacht is anchored in Pearl
Harbor although ERB makes it appear to be on the open ocean. Chase
III then takes Marcia to the land for her first time. Thus ERB and
Florence honeymooned in Hawaii while they later lived on the Honolulu side
There is an interesting passage in Marcia on pp. 237-38 where the sailor
Crumcrow, the name indicates his worthlessness, soliloquizes as he spies
on the pirate camp:
"That's Bledgo...Say, that guy's
the toughest nut I ever seen. Talk about hard boiled! Gee!
Hard boiled is soft alongside o' him. I wonder what he'd say if I
walked in there right now. Probably knock my block clean off.
Wisht I'd dept my bazoo shut. They're havin' a good time there an'
we ain't never had a good time in our camp- nothing but watch and work.
I'm sick o'work. That guy Chase gives me a pain. Nothin' but
work and watch, an' you can't kick 'cause the damn boob does it himself.
I'd like to be an officer. You'd bet your pants I'd not work or watch
either. What do I have to work for him for? I ani't in the
army no more. And say, wouldn't it give you a swift pain the way
I say 'yes, sir' and 'no,sir' him an' salute him. Every time I see
that guy's mug I snap to attention. Gee! It make me sick. I
don't know what makes me do it, and he hit me once, too, knocked me coo-coo-
the dirty ------."
That's a quick encapsulation of ERB's life between
John the Bully an his brief army career. Bledgo here represents John
the Bully beside whom a hard boiled egg is soft. Forty years later
the memory of his confrontation with John is as green as the day it happened.
And rightly so, John changed his life.
ERB also changed the status of his own life
when he entered the Army forsaking his chance to be an officer.
Thus Chase III represents himself as he would like to have been who orders
the shadow of his former self around. 'You used to be in the army?'
Chase asked Crumcrow.
Crumcrow then deserts to John/Blego's side
passing out of ERB's life, hopefully.
By 1924 ERB was rebooting his life and able
to see his earlier character from a distance.
ERB put a lot of loving care into the
creation of Marcia. Late in the book he actually describes her as
Cinderella. That fairy tale figure began life well but was dispossessed
being turned into a servant girl who swept out the ashes from the fire.
Her innate role of a princess was discovered by the Prince because of the
unique foot which restored her to her true position. Something like
the unique birthmark that identifies the real prince.
As his Anima figure there can be no doubt that
ERB is recapitulating his own history. He makes Marcia impossibly
sweet and beautiful but then novels are filled with these sweet and beautiful
women who are so difficult to find in real life.
Everyone loves Marcia while she fits in everywhere.
Only sixteen when she is adopted by the Ashley's whose grown men like Banks
von Spiddle and Chase III fall head over heels in love with her.
Although she came from an impoverished stage actors background she is able
to adapt to high society manners in a trice without any glitches.
Born to the manner and manor as they say. The Ashleys invite her
to take a trip with them on their yacht where it seems as a tyro sixteen
year old she might be slightly out of place. Marcia however has the
social aplomb and sophisticated patter of a woman much older than herself.
As with Billy Byrne and Barbara Harding, Marcia
and Chase III are marooned on a desert island. Chase III and Harding
change places while Marcia ssumes in her relationship to Chase III that
of Byrne to Barbara.
The Samurai are replaced by Bledgo and the
IWW malcontents. Bledgo is the shadow of John the Bully who continues
to haunt ERB's imagination. He is knocked unconscious as Marcia and
Chase III try to evade him. The end is unknown as it is not known
whether he sailed with the pirate crew or not nor is it of any concern.
Thus ERB hopefully disposes of the hateful memory of John and his former
self in the shape of Crumcrow; maybe he has exorcised their files from
his memory bank. He hopes so.
ERB's Anima and Animus are reunited climbing
the slopes of the mountain and spiritually cleansed by the torrential driving
rain. This is terrific stuff; ERB has his moments.
Across the crest they are reunited with the
society people from whom they had been separated by John the Bully symbolically
represented by their taking separate boats. The people of his former existence
had landed on the other side of the island.
Marcia's seeming happiness is delayed when
in Manila she receives Berlanger's letter advising her that she and Chase
III are brother and sister.
Fleeing her lover on the eve of their reunion/wedding
she takes ship to California on which is a movie director who...
But I will save that for the play by play description
of the book in Part III, Part 2.
The essential of her role have been dealt with.
The writing of Marcia was a virtual financial
disaster for ERB. He had taken a whole year to write it while the
fifty thousand for which he hoped never materialized. The year returned
nothing to him at this very critical juncture in his finances. The
experiment was so costly he never tried it again.
In 1066 and succeeding centuries the Norman
Conquerors enslaved the Anglo-Saxons of East Anglia which was an affront
deeply resented. Take a lesson.
In the sixteenth century when the printed Old
Testament became universally available the East Anglians identified with
the enslaved Hebrews of Exodus. They elected themselves a Chosen
People and developed the compensatory Utopian attitude of inherent virtue
as the Chosen People of God.
In the seventeenth century New England was
settled by emigrants from East Anglia. Not just English but East
Anglians. Virginia was settled by descendents of the Norman conquerors
of 1066. The Virginians once again chose slavery as method of labor.
First indentured White people then Africans.
While Utopian ideals developed in New England
the abolitionist movement began which resulted in the Civil War- War Between
The States, War Between Regions or actually the War Between Ideologies.
There was no chance the South was going to discontinue slavery anytime
soon no matter what anyone says.
In revenge for 1066 the Cavaliers (Whites)
of the South were absolutely crushed giving up all rights by surrendering
The nascent Liberal Party of Puritans elevated
the Africans over the Cavaliers thus establishing their protectorship
over the 'victims' which is characteristic of the faith while establishing
their power over dissident Whites. Thus the Liberals ultimately aligned
themselves with all colored revolutionary movements in the world against
White European conquerors.
Within the United States they viewed immigrants
as 'victims' of the Old Stock pathologizing the Old Stock as 'bigots'
no better than the Cavaliers of the Old South. All opponents to their
Liberal religious ideology which included the intellectual mindset
of Science thus became wrong headed vile 'bigots' who had no right to live.
After the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 the utopian Communist ideology became
their politics; call it Socialism it comes out the same.
As Edgar Rice Burroughs was not a Liberal,
not a Communist and not Religious but Scientific he unwittingly placed
himself in opposition to the Liberal Coalition. On that basis a serious
attempt was made to abort his career while subsequently an attempt to erase
his name and work from history is being conducted.
Thus the twenties ushered in a new changed
era fraught with new adjustments which were misunderstood or not understood
Burroughs career after 1920 has to be seen
in the light of this concealed antagonism that he had to counter without
being clear as to the causes.
Thus the contrast between the Mucker
and Marcia Of The Doorstep can be seen as a response to two different
challenges united by Burroughs personal psychological development.
He took the whole of 1924 to write this story
so it may have been a real struggle. Unlike his other novels he doesn't
record a beginning and ending date in Porges so we have no accurate idea
of how long it took him. It is possible that he had taken so much
time, felt the need for money so intensely, that he rushed the ending through
to try to sell his story. On the other hand he usually scamps the
An indication that Emma may have been an influence
in the planning and organization of the story is that it concerns matters
that are very familiar to her. Just as she was a voice student as
a girl, so Marcia. As Emma had to give up the studies so does Marcia.
The milieu of the stage would have been more
familiar to Emma, although having gotten involved in the movies ERB might
also have familiarized himself with the stage somewhat. I would have
to opt for more involvement from Emma though.
Unlike the other novels which feel as though
they were written from the top of the head, Marcia has indications of more
careful plotting. If that is true I don't think ERB would have been
capable of it so that would argue for more involvement by Emma, once again.
This is also a fairly complex plot which differs from ERB's usual style.
Unless I'm mistaken the novel, even though
unpublished, landed him in hot water with the AJC and ADL. I'm sure
the reason would have been a mystery to ERB. If you've read Part
II, Section 2 what I have to say will be clear, if you haven't read the
Part I recommend it.
According to the Religious Consciousness there
is no freedom of speech concerning the specific religion. The Religion
will control who is speaking, what is said and how expression is to be
allowed. ERB was not a member of this religion and as he was speaking
unacceptably he was perforce an anti-Semite as the religion he was discussing
was Judaism. Had he been discussing Liberalism he would have been
pathologized as a crazy bigot. As Judaism was part of the diversity
of the Coalition Liberals would have considered him a bigot anyway.
Bigot us the Liberal equivalent of anti-Semite.
The character in question is the shyster
Jewish lawyer, Max Heimer. Max is an especially well drawn character
from the viewpoint of the Scientific Consciousness, which is to say, Max
is accurately drawn. Whether from life or not is not yet known.
Max is the protagonist of the story.
That anything happens at all is because of him. He is not an admirable
character but on the other hand he is neither really malicious or evil.
The only thing that matters to Max, and this would especially offend the
sensibilities of the AJC and ADL, is the bucks. Max would probably
stoop to thieving but he is a blackmailer, a swindler and a cheat.
While what he does is criminal it is done in such a way as to escape detection.
Even if you know he's guilty the chances are you could never get a conviction.
But, he's not really a bad guy and by his lights
he's darn near a philanthropist.
Max is always on the qui vive. One has the
impression that he never lets an opportunity pass. Thus, one night
he came across a drunken gentleman on the street, John Hancock Chase II.
Chase II for some reason was totally incapacitated. Heimer took him
home sensing an opportunity.
Max had been living with a woman, out of wedlock,
named Mame Myerz. Although Mame wasn't there Max conceived the notion
to tell the married Chase II that he had had sexual relations with Mame
which he did nine months later when he showed up to tell Chase II he was
a proud papa. Max would keep this a secret for a fee. Unable
to sustain the blackmail Chase II shoots himself ruining a perfectly good
source of income for Max. This is no skin off Max's nose as he blithely
goes about his and other people's business for the next sixteen years.
That fine old gentleman, John Hancock Chase
I bears his loss stoically.
As it happened Della Maxwell bore her child
and left it on the Sackett's doorstep at about this time- 4/10/06.
If Max is finely drawn, no less can be said
about Marcus Aurelius Sackett and his wife Clara, the long suffering wife
of the air headed Mark, who is especially finely depicted. Just a
few deft strokes but she is always in the background worrying over her
man. Either I'm projecting from knowledge or ERB is able to portray
a large loving woman who accepts the foibles of her man, tolerating him
and perhaps even loving him for them.
Both she and Mark are overjoyed at the child
left on their step. They are no less overjoyed when Della shows up
next day to move in with them. Della Maxwell is a well chosen name.
Mark Sackett is ably portrayed as an actor
of the old school who while he fumes at the modern trash is nevertheless
the kind of trooper who doesn't leave his fellows in the lurch. At
this time in New York City he is working for Abe Finkel. Abe is obviously
another Jew possibly modeled on the producers, Klaw and Erlanger.
This is at the time of the development of the movies from 1906 to 1914
In 1919 ERB moved to Hollywood where he would
have been privy to all the stories of the origins of the studio owners
who with few exceptions were Jewish. Most were from New York while
Carl Laemlle was from Chicago via Wisconsin. They all had risen from
mundane occupations to real wealth. Samuel Goldwyn had been a glove
salesman, Harry Cohn had been a street car conductor, Louis Mayer had had
a string of jobs worthy of ERB himself so it will be historically accurate
for Abe Finkel to turn up in Hollywood as a studio owner.
ERB was very good at weaving real life stories
into his writing. There are probably real life models for many of
these characters and their stories may be based on true stories as they
say in Hollywood. For instance, Marcia's first boyfriend Dick Steele
goes to Hollywood as a stunt pilot where he meets his death, some might
say committed suicide, in a spectacular airplane stunt. As it turns
out ERB didn't make this story up from scratch but merely fictionalized
an actual event that occurred on a movie lot in 1920. William K.
Klingaman tells the story ERB used in his popular history '1919'
Locklear moved to Hollywood in February 1920, where he originated many
of the airplane stunts used in the movies. (He was the first aviator
charged with reckless driving in the air, when he looped the loop over
a public park in Los Angeles in April.) In the summer of 1920 he
was working on a film called, 'The Skywayman'; the last stunt was supposed
to be a shot of a pilot plunging to his death with the plane in flames.
Just before he ascended to film the sequence on the evening of August 3,
Locklear turned to friends and said/ 'I have a hunch that I should not
fly tonight.' Spectators on the ground watched and marveled at the
stuntman's skill. Then they suddenly saw the plane only two hundred
feet from the ground, struggling to right itself. It crashed in flames.
Locklear died instantly, the farewell letter to his mother that he always
carried with him when he flew was found undamaged.
As ERB had no experience with the theatre and as his
stage stuff seems fairly authentic and knowledgeable he may have borrowed
stories like the Locklear tale and adapted them for his uses or else Emma
had a fund of stories which she supplied for the novel. At any rate
these first 125 pages are full of charming detail about the theatre.
Now safe in LA ERB even takes a loving poke
at hometown Chicago. Della Maxwell explaining her breaking of an
engagement in Chicago says on p. 30:
stand (Chicago) any longer, Uncle Mark...It's a hick town, filled with
coal dust, wind and tank town talent. And slow, say, if I'd smoked a cigarette
on the street I'd a been pinched for sure."
Max Heimer keeps the story moving along when he
visits the Sackett household as the legal representative of some unpaid
actors. While there he notices the sixteen year old Marcia.
Learning that she is sixteen his mind clicks back to 1906 when his and
Mame's plan fizzled when Chase II committed suicide. Ever, ever on
the qui vive he learns Marcia was left on the Sacketts' doorstep on 4/10/06
which coincidence he can put to use.
Ever shameless and brazen, they call it chutzpah,
he contacts Chase I to advise him that he has found Chase II's illegitimate
daughter. He's picked the wrong man because the Senator, that fine
old example of early American manhood, refuses to have anything to do with
him however he has his Jew, that fine old exemplar of the race, Judge Isaac
'Ike' Berlanger contact Heimer for him. If his son's daughter is
out there the fine old gentleman feels obligated to take car of her.
Probably already in deep for selecting a chosen
person for a villain ERB begins here to really compound his error in the
confrontation between 'Ike' Berlanger and the wily Max Heimer. Wilson,
during his administration appointed the first Jew to be a justice of the
Supreme Court. This was Louis D. Brandeis of Louisville, Kentucky.
Just as the Liberal Coalition propaganda machine remorselessly pilloried
its victims so it equally exalts its favorites. Brandeis was one
of its favorites. The man has been depicted as a wise old saint for
so long no one questions it. FDR in his administration referred to
Brandeis as our 'Isaiah' whatever that might mean.
ERB doesn't usually go far to find his models
so I'm suggesting that Louis D. Brandeis was the model for Judge Berlanger.
Alright. ERB probably thinks he's going to get away with portraying
'a Jew of the type' of Heimer by presenting a 'fair and balanced' picture
of a 'Jew of the type' of Brandeis/Berlanger. Doesn't work that way
as Charles Dickens, who was accused of being an anti-Semite, found to his
dismay when he balanced a Jew of probity against the villainous Fagin of
One should always bear in mind that the very
worst of a Chosen people is better than the best of the rest. Thus
all heroes must be from the Chosen while the villains must be from the
rest. So it is that all the villains currently have Anglo-Saxon/Teutonic
names while all the heroes are of the Liberal Coalition
Thus ERB was very ill advised to meddle in
these proto-Politically Correct matters. Even though the entertainment
industry of the twenties had been thoroughly Judaized he should have made
Heimer an Anglo-Teuton while he was on track by making Berlanger an element
of the Coalition.
The exchange between Berlanger and Heimer very
likely sealed ERB's fate for the next several years while he confessed
his error in his portrait of the wise old Jew in The Moon Maid and did
his penance. I can't recall any more references to Jews in the corpus
after this period. If you know of any, let me know.
The result of the conference between the two
Chosen ones is that Senator Chase I is to settle twenty thousand on the
Sacketts while providing Marcia with an income of a thousand a month.
Here ERB goes into some interesting ruminations
on the effect of coming into money when you've never had any. Probably
by 1924 he was wishing he had his finances to do over although he does
say of Mark Sackett that he would never learn the value of money.
The intention of Heimer was to receive the
twenty thousand from Chase keep fifteen for himself and give five to the
Sacketts. Berlanger is ahead of him giving the twenty directly to
the Sacketts. Don't rule out Max yet though; he's one canny Scot.
Watching Mark come into money provides some
amusing moments and an insight of how it had been with ERB. Mark
goes out and buys a car which allows ERB to work in his accident with the
taxi in Chicago. Charming passage though.
The old ham Sackett decides to use the money
to bring back the glories of the stage; he wants to organize a touring
Shakespearean company. There is some really nice word play as he
attempts to inform Max of his plans. Max on the qui vive. He
had not been denied that twenty thousand he had only been forestalled.
He appoints himself the tour's business manager so not only will he embezzle
the tour's profits but the original capital. But I get ahead of myself.
As far as Max and the Sacketts go in the first
125 pages of the book, that covers it. The first third is of very
nice quality, notwithstanding the 'Politically Incorrect' aspects.
If ERB could have sustained this level of concentration throughout the
book he would have had an excellent story.
Marcia is the other story line which has to
be followed. When this precocious girl comes into her money, and
twelve thousand dollars a year was nothing to sneeze at in 1922, her life
changes also. Prior to the advent of her wealth she had been virtually
betrothed to young Dick Steele. Marcia is troublesome as a character
because ERB portrays her with such incredible maturity for a young girl.
She's barely legal, completely inexperienced but handles herself so well.
Dick with quick prescience realizes this is
theend of the line for his hopes but he's going to hang on as best he can.
He immediately quits school and gets a job in an airplane plant to make
lots of money fast because he knows he's going to need it. This employment
leads to his job as a stunt pilot.
Marcia had been taking voice lessons for some
time where she had met a wealthy young socialite named Patsy Kellar.
When Patsy learns that Marcia is worth twelve thousand a year she invites
her to join her circle. Marcia snaps into place like a memory stick
in an electronic camera. Personally I think ERB is pushing his luck
here. The only thing that makes Marcia's ability to fit in plausible
is that she comes from a family of actors who may have aped the manners
of the well-to-do. Indeed, ERB has speeches coming out of Sackett's
mouth that prove his ability to use the king's English just in case anyone
thought he was an illiterate, ignorant fantasy writer. ERB shows
'em how to in this one.
The Ashtons, to whose circle Patsy belongs
are about to take a cruise into the South Seas on their yacht, the Lady
X. They think this sixteen year old flower of youth would be a delightful
addition to the party. Which, if fact, she turns out to be.
Patsy takes her on a buying trip for clothes
during which Marcia finds out how little a thousand dollars is. This
also allows ERB to build some female interest a la Zane Grey to appeal
to the lady readers of the Saturday Evening Post. So, they split
for Hawaii via San Francisco.
Now, when Chase Ii chose to exit rather than
face the music he had a little son, Chase III. J.H. Chase III is
now a twenty some odd Lieutenant in the US Navy and he is stationed in,
ready? Hawaii. Does he know Patsy Kellar and the Ashtons? Darn
right. Old buddies. Welcome aboard. Chase III could have
used his leave to go back to NYC to visit Grandpa but he opts for those
soft South Sea breezes instead. Who can fault him except Grandpa
and Grandpa doesn't. Alright. So now he's on board the Lady
X with Marcia. All sixteen lovely years of her. Now begins
the action of the middle part of the book.
ERB begins to fall back into his old ways although
he has two stories to keep going. In the story of the Sacketts everyone
considers Mark's dream of bringing quality theatre to America the height
of foolishness but, I'll be darned, America flocks to Mark's performances
to lap up the Bard. A little touch of culture really finishes off
the man, you know. The tour is a huge success playing to SRO houses
everywhere. The fly in the ointment is Max. The guy just can't
keep his hands off the money. He embezzles everything except for
pocket cash of 300.00 for the Sacketts.
Stranded in San Francisco again, Max got the
loot while the Sacketts got the hotel bill. The question is where
did ERB get the story?
I had the haunting feeling the story was familiar.
ERB didn't have any theatre experience, nor did Emma, so he must have gotten
the story, or combination of stories, really, from somewhere.
By 1924 he had been in LA for four years so
he'd had plenty of time to pick up theatre lore. The story of the
tour sounds very close to the tour that brought Charlie Chaplin West.
Chaplin wasn't doing Shakespeare on that tour, that tour may have been
another one ERB heard of. As I recall the Chaplin tour went bust
in Salt Lake City also with Chaplin finding his way to Hollywood.
In Salt Lake Max tells Mark that the jig is
up, the show has gone bust, financially that is. Mark is incredulous
as he has been playing to sold out houses but Max tells him there is no
money and that is a fact difficult to argue about. Mark accepts the
fact and, indeed, even if he knew Max had embezzled the money whatever
records Max kept he said he had sent back to New York while as Mark was
broke he couldn't afford to sue anyway.
Now, let's look to see if we can relate this
to ERB's life. ERB had had his best year ever after the move to LA
in 1921 in which he earned approximately one hundred thousand dollars which
might equate to the twenty thousand Mark received. While Mark lost
his money in this improbable Shakespeare tour, or rather it was embezzled,
ERB lost his on his pig farm. ERB had his income from 1919, 1921
and 1922 which must have amounted to from 200,000 to 250,000. Multiply
that by thirty or so for inflation and that is a tremendous expenditure.
It seems improbable that anyone could spend that much on a pig farm.
Perhaps ERB thought someone had embezzled from him. Probably could
use some investigation if for no other reason than to clear it up.
OK. Why Salt Lake City? If ERB
is following Chaplin's story then Salt Lake would logically follow.
However Salt Lake is one of ERB's critical geographical locations.
His interest in the Mormons hasn't been properly examined although Dale
Broadhurst made a stab in that direction. ERB made a special visit
to Salt Lake in 1898 just after he purchased his stationery store.
That was his first visit. Then in 1904 he and Emma resided there
for several months during a very crucial period in his life, even a terrifying,
desperate excoriating one.
One that had him at his wit's end shaking in his boots. While
it is difficult to actually pinpoint when his attitude toward Emma turned
sour the several months in Salt Lake as a railroad shack my have been it.
Thus the tour breaking up in Salt Lake may
represent the breaking apart of his marriage in 1904. The city certainly
held a lot of memories for him.
Mark and Clara are left high and dry in SF.
While Clara is out Mark turns on the gas and sticks his head in the oven.
I've read that exact story before too but I can't remember where.
Or, perhaps, it is standard theatre fare.
From the Land of Fogs Mark and Clara wend their
way down the coast to the sunny Southland, the mecca of all actors.
Mark is still too proud to work in the movies...but we'll leave the Sacketts
in Hollywood while we follow out the story line of Marcia. This one
is pure Burroughs.
While ERB has written Emma and himself into
the story as Mark and Clara Sackett Chase III and Marcia also represent
his Anima and Animus. This central section is essentially a retelling
of The Mucker ten years after. ERB no longer feels like the low brow
scuzzy Billy Byrne, who was nevertheless 'all man', but is attempting the
high brow in Chase III. He has changed back from the Pauper to the
Prince. His Anima presents a different problem. He didn't feel
up to Barbara Harding so he married her off to Byrne in Out There Somewhere.
In Bridge And The Kid he scaled down from a New York socialite to the daughter
of a big man in a small town. Gail Prim was apparently too much for
the beat up hommy he was so now he scales down even further to a girl who
is an orphan left on a doorstep to be brought up by strangers. Thus
the roles of Harding and Byrne are reversed. the Animus, Chase III,
now has social standing while the Anima, Marcia, does not. However
everybody loves her and she is acceptable wherever she goes. There
is some competition for her between the foppish socialite Banks Von Spiddle,
the humorous name is a giveaway, and the military officer Chase III while
the latter wins as might be expected. This very likely reflects the
competition between ERB and Frank Martin which ERB won and is a recurring
theme in his writing from his unpublished first story, Minidoka,
and this one.
Just as there was a shipwreck in The Mucker
so there is one here. Here ERB produces a variation in that there
are two life boats in one of which the best people were to go while in
the other the muckers. In the turmoil of the storm and sinking Chase
III and Marcia are separated from the first boat ending up with the muckers
including the terrible Bledgo who obviously represents John the Bully as
the storm represents the encounter on the street corner.
After the usual interval of several days adrift
on the sea the crew spots the inevitable desert island. Going ashore
the better people separate themselves from the worst of the muckers forming
two parties which sends Bledgo searching for Chase III and Marcia.
As the Animus represents the spermatic side of the body while the Anima
represents the ovate Blego is really searching for the two aspects of Burroughs'
personality- the one he wishes to kill and the other to rape.
As the rest of Chase's party realize that Bledgo
only wants Chase III and Marcia they urge the pair to flee which they do.
Bledgo doesn't give up the search but pursues the pair up the mountain.
There is a fight during which Chase III brings the butt of his revolver
down on the forehead of Bledgo, reminiscent of ERB's bashing in Toronto.The
pair then continue their flight up the mountain.
In this sequence Burroughs takes vengeance
on John the Bully by defending himself as he felt he should have on the
streetcorner while retaliating the horrific blow to the head he received
in Toronto on his ancient enemy.
Thus as Chase III and Marcia continue up the mountain
in a torrential downpour ERB's Anima and Animus are reunited. He
is a whole person again.
Reaching the top of the ridge they discover
the best people singing, playing on the beach on the sunny side of the
mountain. Thus ERB rejoins the people he was supposed to be among
but was separated from by his encounter with John. How well this
squares with real life is uncertain. It may just be wishful thinking
especially as ERB is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.
Incest and cannibalism are two recurring themes
in ERB. The latter was a concern on the boat, the former now rears
its ugly head. Chase III and Marcia reach the Philippines where they
are to be married the next day however Marcia opens the mail waiting for
her which includes a letter from Judge Berlanger. The letter advises
her that Jack Chase is her half brother. Horrified and chagrined
Marcia steals away in the night to take ship for San Francisco. SF
and disaster again.
Aboard ship an entertainment is organized for
which Marcia agrees to sing and act in a skit. She's emaciated but
that can't mask her loveliness. Also aboard is a famous Hollywood
producer. Needless to say Marcia is 'discovered.' A movie contract
awaits her in Hollywood.
As I pointed out earlier there was a hiatus
in the production of movies from Burroughs' books from about the time 'Girl
From Hollywood' was written until 1927. Part was probably due to
ERB;s writing on Jews in this novel but part was also due to his very negative
portrayal of Hollywood in 'Girl.' Thus just as he portrays a venerable
Jew in The Moon Maid to atone for his portrayal of Heimer here in this
novel he lauds Hollywood as the home of the most wonderful people in the
world. He reverses his portrayal of the director Wilson Crumb in
the character of the kindly upright director Otto Appel, who also sounds
ERB has now told two thirds of his story and
is at page 295 of 351. He's got a lot of story to go that he crams
into the remaining fifty or so pages. Honestly, he needs at least
two hundred to flesh out his story properly. Perhaps he had been
at work on the story for most of 1924 during which he had generated no
new income and wished to get the story off to the Saturday Evening Post
for that fifty thousand dollar paycheck plus book rights. The amazing
thing is that ERB doesn't seem to ever have received advances from his
publishers. Also at this time things are getting strained between
McClurg's and himself. It won't be too long before he breaks with
them. We need more information on this aspect of his career.
So, Jack and Marcia are separated while Jack
has no idea where she may be. In the interval between their leaving
and returning the world as they knew it had broken apart. No one
was where they had been except Grandpa. Chase III runs into Pilkins,
one of the sailors in SF. Pilkins had taken the same ship back with
Marcia so he advises Chase III that she has gone to LA to be in the movies
where Chase III follows.
I can't think of a positive reference to San
Francisco in ERB's writing. Either he just didn't like the city or
something happened there. If so, it would be good to know what.
At this time we have a whole crew in LA:
The Sacketts, Marcia, Dick Steele, Banks Von Spiddle, Chase III, Max Heimer
and Abe Finkel. This may be the alternative version of how the West
I wish ERB had put more effort into this ending.
Fleshed out this would be a pretty good story of the exodus of the entertainment
industry from New York to Hollywood. This would be good first hand
history of Hollywood at least, of which ERB was actually a fairly significant
figure. I get kind of excited trying to piece together how it may
ERB had at one time been allowed on the lots so we
may assume that his production scenes are authentic as well as his depiction
of Poverty Row. The latter was real where the more impoverished companies
had their quarters. Mack Sennet had his quarters on the Row.
Sennet's autobiography is well worth reading. Poverty Row is where
F&H Studios set up business. Yes, after embezzling that thirty
thousand dollars from Mark Sackett Max Heimer ran into his old acquaintance
Abe Finkel. The two combined to form F&H. They are the
one's who give Dick Steele his start as a stunt pilot.
Max is about town where he runs into Mark Sackett
frequently. Max is not a bad guy, in the same circumstances many
another who had injured a man would hate him contriving to injure him further.
Not Max. Once he's got the money he's a congenial fellow. He
presses small loans on Mark who after all is only receiving his own again.
Max, who undoubtedly has developed some pull, gives Mark leads to jobs
that if Mark had taken them would probably have led to decent prosperity
if not more. As Mark is too proud to accept movie roles he doesn't
follow up but Max does his best by him.
As I pointed out in Part III, Section 1 Sam
Goldwyn had revived the Potash and Perlmutter stories of Montague Glass
filming the Broadway play in 1923 which was a great success. In 1924
he filmed In Hollywood With Potash And Perlmuttter which was an equal success
while probably charming ERB so much that he based the F&H Studios of
Finkel and Heimer on the movie.
Here ERB compounded his error of the first part of
the book by making the two Jews humorous and despicable. The inference
is that because of their cheapness they are responsible for Dick Steele's
Remember Mame Myerz? No sooner does Max
make a few dollars than he takes up with a gorgeous starlet. Mame
gets wind of this back in the Big Apple where she goes berserk. She
immediately tramps into Judge Berlanger's office attempting to sell
him the true story of Marcia. The old Judge doesn't give in that
easy so Mame spills the beans that she isn't Marcia's mother and she wasn't
anywhere near Chase II.
Thus the way is cleared for Marcia and Chase
III to marry; no danger of incest. Max hears of this putting the
screws to Mame to retract her statement which she does. Now there's
enough doubt in Marcia's mind that the marriage is off once again.
In Max's last scene, I kinda hated to see the
little guy go,Judge Berlanger, also now in LA, confronts Max with the theft
of Mark's money. Chutzpah deserts the wily little attorney.
Unable to brave it out with Berlanger Max accepts defeat turning his assets
over to Mark. He was forbidden LA and New York in which of either
places he hasn't been seen to this day. By stories end I kind of
liked Max Heimer although it would be best to go the other way if you saw
Marcia was lost track of after the Philippines.
She has lost track of everyone else. She becomes a star but as she
had taken another name no one knows where she is. Mark and Clara's
fortunes continue to decline because of his bullheadedness until finally
their landlady turns them out into the street. This was probably
how ERB and Emma felt when they had to leave Tarzana after only four years.
ERB's situation must have created a lot of
gossip. After all a famous author comes to town buys a huge estate,
c'mon, 540 acres? and within two years is in financial difficulties and
after four a virtual bankrupt forced from the estate. Tongues must
have wagged. I'd sure like to know what they were saying. Just
exactly how ERB's Hollywood contemporaries thought of him.
In the meantime, completely destitute, mark accepts
movie work. He is sitting on a lounge on the set when the star, Marian
Sands, walks on the set. She sees Mark who recognizes her as Marcia
and the family is reunited again.
Chase III arrives in LA in search of Marcia.
He apparently never goes to the movies so he doesn't make a connection
between Marian Sands and Marcia Sackett. He enters a career of dissipation
turning to drink and gambling. Too proud to contact granddad he runs
through his money.
He has some amusing encounters with oilmen
which probably reflect ERB's own as he floundered around trying to find
ways to make money fast. There's a lot to be done here in researching
ERB's business doings in LA. Later in the decade he will get involved
in the Apache airplane engine and airport development so it seems unlikely
that he wasn't trying to be a business success in the early and mid-twenties.
Dearholt showed up a couple years later with movie schemes that ERB bought
into so what was he doing in the business sense.?
Chase III who has been hanging around the studios
looking for Marcia rather than studying theatre marquees gets into the
movies finally locating his loved one. Some direct borrowing from
Merton Of The Movies here. Moving very rapidly and sketchily
ERB throws in a couple suicide attempts as the couple get together.
Resemblance between Edith Wharton and Scott Fitzgerald here.
Together again there is still no hope of marriage
because of possible incest, even though Marcia will never love another
OK. Della Maxwell. Remember her?
She's back in Chicago in the hospital dying a slow death. Well, you
know, she is Marcia's mother. On her death bed, I mean, the pen falls
from her fingers as she signs the letter to Marcia, she makes a clean breast
of it telling the story, sending the bigamist marriage license, birth certificate,
everything so there will be no doubt that Marcia is semi-legit and not
related to Chase III.
We're almost there do you think? Not
by a long shot and there's only ten pages left. The mail train is
held up somewhere in Arizona. The bandits disappearing over the border
with the swag which contains Della's letter and little metal box.
Wow! What next? OK ERB's got a
twist or two still hidden up his sleeve. Banks Von Spiddle- yes,
he's out there, too- has a ranch down in Mexico which the Revolutionaries
of 1914 or so failed to expropriate. A guy with a name like Banks
Von Spiddle ought to get lucky once in a while I should think.
He and his vaqueros go out coyote hunting.
They have a good day, getting a full bag. The last coyote tries to
hole up in a small cave where Von Spiddle blasts the life out of him.
While he's drawing the coyote from the cave he notices a decayed leather
mail pouch kind of thing. What do you suppose that might have been?
Yeh, right. Della's letter and little metal box intact. Von
Spiddle can be small or he can be big. He chooses to be big giving
the info to Chase III and Marcia so they can be married and live happily
for however long marriages last in Hollywood.
Thus ERB manages to compress a marathon into
a hundred yard dash in the last fifty pages.
Over all a good enough story. Neither
Collier's, Saturday Evening Post nor anyone else wanted it so ERB lost
a year with no income, or income from new work anyway. If he
was living on edge at the beginning of the year he was still on the edge
at the end. Whew!
How did he get out of that financial bind?