Originally billed as Dum-Dum '97 it was later decided to keep the annual gathering of the Burroughs Bibliophiles, within the United States. However, for many of the British ERB fans who cannot afford the annual pilgrimage across the pond for such an occasion, their time had come at last.
Frank Westwood had been trying to host another convention for several years but for one reason or another the timing was never quite right. In the end it was the unfortunate passing of Burne Hogarth that finally prompted him into action. Frank's admiration for Burne is unsurpassed and he wanted to give a lasting memorial to this man who raised the comic strip to an art and form.
Some years ago a tree was planted in honour of Frank Shonfeld, founder of ECOF (the Edgar Rice Burroughs Chain of Friendship) who for many years, corresponded with Burroughs. Frank Westwood wanted to honour Burne in much the same way but in a setting better fitting for a person of his stature. In many ways, the village of Greystoke was the idyllic place and it was with this notion in mind that he called upon Neville Howard, owner of Greystoke Castle to ask if he could suggest someplace where a tree may be planted. Without a moment's hesitation, Mr. Howard suggested a spot within the inner gardens in full view of the castle.
As for myself, I had just stepped off the plane only a few hours beforehand after attending the ECOF gathering in Holt, Michigan when I was making my way to the City University Halls of Residence on a wet Thursday afternoon to meet those attending the London/Greystoke convention. The attendees from the United States were: Bob Hyde and his lady friend, Margaret; Bill Morse who had just flown into London that morning; Marci'a Lincoln Rudolf surviving daughter of the first adult screen Tarzan, Elmo Lincoln; Bruce Salen from Brooklyn NY and Deanna Ayres who I had met briefly in Tarzana at last year's Dum-Dum. However, the Americans were not the only ones flying into London. Jan Sissener came from Norway, Isabel Anguino-gil was from Spain and French ERB fanzine editor Michel DeCuyper completed the international contingent.
To some it may seem strange to some that only a dozen or so English fans attended the festivities at Frank and Doreen's home. But for a convention that would take place in two locations nearly 300 miles apart, others would be joining us the following day. Over the years, I have seen many collections and I never tire of looking because while many have similar items, each have an individuality which make them unique. Others obviously felt the same way as they passed much of their time perusing through Franks' collection that consists of many British editions unseen elsewhere. For those that could not fit into the book room, Frank put on a couple of videos one of which was a compilation of ERB related items that he had gathered over the years. The second was the first screening in England (those at Michigan got to see it first) of the British documentary 'In Search of Tarzan'. This documentary is unlikely to be screened in the U.S. since two earlier programmes entitled 'In Search of James Bond' and 'In Search of Dracula' have never made it across the Atlantic to the best of my knowledge. In both Michigan and London the show was well received and considered better than the 'Investigating Tarzan' recently shown during the AMC Festival. It will finally be given its official British premiere this coming Christmas.
Fortunately the rain had cleared by the time it came to leave and I guided everyone safely back to the Halls of Residence although we almost mislaid Michel at one of the ticket barriers on the underground rail system. I even went as far as walking Marci'a back to her hotel as well before making my own way home, missing my last train in the process but eventually getting to bed around 1:00am.
By 9:00am I was back in London greeting everyone with tales of how I jogged the 10 miles home the night before (I didn't, but who was to know otherwise?) and was fit and ready for the weekend to come. The coach arrived on time and we all got on board for the trip to Greystoke located in the Lake District. As those that attended the convention in 1988 well remember, travelling together in a fairly confined (but not uncomfortable) space does have its advantages - most notably it turns the conventioneers into a captive audience and therefore everyone (including the hardiest of loners) are given the opportunity to shed off any reticence and enjoy the occasion.
Armed with his video camera, Roger Clements, a long time friend of Frank Westwood, captured the events on film as we sped away from London leaving the rain behind and clear skies ahead. Marci'a Lincoln Rudolf had brought along the working copy of her biography on her father which she began shortly after the Dum-Dum in Tarzana last year when she brought along various pieces of memorabilia and which gained a great deal of interest.
The language barrier between ourselves and Michel DeCuyper was minimised with the help of Jan Sissener who had a good understanding of several languages besides his native Norwegian with English, French and Spanish. However on the return journey, Jan and Isabel would not be joining us and we were left to the mercy of a French/English dictionary that Michel had brought along. I don't think I can ever remember such a simple conversation taking so long - but it was fun in the making.
Upon arrival in the small village of Greystoke - there cannot be more than 100 houses, a church, school, swimming pool (open air!) and of course, a castle, we were dropped off in two's and three's at our various lodgings for the weekend and a chance to freshen up after the long journey before meeting up at the Boot and Shoe pub. As Roger took some shots of the main square and Bruce wandered around, captivated by the tranquillity of his surroundings, I walked up towards the pub taking little notice of the car or its occupants parked outside. But as I approached closer, the window wound down and a face appeared, "Are you Laurence Dunn?" said the stranger. Slightly bemused by the question, I moved closer to the car and the stranger continued, extending his hand, "I'm Malcolm Henderson." Malcolm's name I knew through Frank and his fanzine Fantastic Worlds of ERB, but this was the first time we had met and like others before him, had seen my photo appear in fanzines over the years.
Before long, everyone who was coming to the convention had arrived and we headed towards the Clickham Inn for dinner. It was quite a party mood for many of those that had never been to an ERB convention and probably deep down, wondered why they had never gone to one before.
A Greystoke Coat of Arms
On Saturday morning we reconvened outside the Boot and Shoe Inn and in a convoy of cars, headed by the coach, we entered the grounds of the castle through the narrow archway, past the small wooded area, rounded the bend, and there on top of the hill stood Greystoke Castle. The castle has gone through many changes over the years, not nearly as much as shortly after the English Civil War, Cromwell in his wrath against the crown, tore down the castle because it was loyal to the King. But the family survived and the castle rebuilt, remodelled and stands today as a testament of its time.
Neville Howard greeted us at the door and we entered the castle out of the drizzling rain. Unfortunately the weather caused the biggest disappointment of the convention with the cancellation of a tour of the grounds, but since no one was dressed for walking on soft, wet ground, there were not too many groans. Neville then led us out of the castle to the spot where three trees (a Dawn Redwood, Acer Drummond II, Acer Crimson King) had been planted in Burne's honour with a plaque between them all. It reads : In memory of Burne Hogarth, Tarzan artist supreme, 1911-1996, The Edgar Rice Burroughs Society, June 1997.
Frank then read a eulogy to Burne...."We are gathered here today to remember and pay homage to one of the great artists of our time. Like Edgar Rice Burroughs who was once accused, rightly or wrongly of producing stories from 'his dreadfully fluid pen' so Burne Hogarth can also said to have possessed that inescapable capacity to create beautiful artwork with a similar pen, crayon or brush.The ceremony over, we returned to our vehicles and headed into nearby Penrith. However, a couple of the group were feeling under the weather and decided to return to their lodgings in Greystoke. Deanna Ayres also wanted to return because she wanted to buy some postcards of the village and get them stamped GREYSTOKE at the local post office. It sounded like a good idea so I went along with them, plus we had seen a signpost welcoming us to the village which as every good tourist knows, must have their photo taken beside it. The cab driver was slightly bemused by our antics, but we weren't the first and most probably not the last.
Those of us who knew the Man and talked and discussed and argued with him, realised that here was an extraordinary human being with wisdom, insight, innovation and creation, driven on in an ever ceaseless quest for the ultimate in perfection of artistic adventure, the knowledge of which he would impart to his students and anyone else who cared to listen. He was at times pugnacious, exasperating, obstinate and irrepressible. You had to admire him for his most honest concern and love for his family, friends, colleagues and fellow man, his fight for conservation and his deep concern for the environment and future of our world. He was honest, thoughtful and generous to a fault, he had integrity and professionalism, and what's more, he always spoke straight from the hip and never minced his words.
It is with these thoughts in mind that the Society organised a collection so that trees, a living memorial, could be planted to commemorate his life and works. I want to thank Neville Howard for his kind suggestion for the planting of the trees in the grounds of Greystoke Castle. Where else, but in the grounds of the ancestral home of Lord Greystoke, Tarzan of the Apes, who Burne so magnificently portrayed in his works in the Comic Strip and the Graphic Novel.
Burne will be remembered, and whenever good artwork is seen, flowing lines and dramatic shapes will once again bring to mind Burne's mastery of the craft.
Burne is now in that Great Studio in the sky, where his mind and soul has the Creation at his disposal and Eternity in which to explore it."Frank H. Westwood. June 1997
After getting our postcards stamped, Deanna and I returned to Penrith where we ran into Bill Morse. Bill had just left Frank and Roger who had spotted a board outside a local pub advertising a live music band entitled 'Tarzan's Nuts'. As Roger began filming, the landlord came rushing out crying, "What's wrong?!" Worried that he was the subject of some investigation, he soon calmed down after explanations were made. Upon our return to Greystoke, we took a tour of the local church but this time without Canon David Ellis who has since moved on, to guide us around as he did back in 1988. David had discovered for himself the connection between Tarzan and Greystoke and wrote a small booklet titled 'The Ancestry of Tarzan of the Apes, Lord Greystoke' going back some 900 years!
By early evening, it was time to return to the castle for the evening banquet. Jeans and t-shirts were swapped for jacket and ties and the girls put on their party frocks as we entered the great hall. Neville Howard was there to greet us once again and drinks and appetizers were served as we took in the beauty of the hall lined with ancestral portraits and up the huge staircase to the balcony above interrupted only by the stained glass windows with the family crest in each. In the centre of the hall, tables were set in the shape of a 'T' for Tarzan and we sat down for an enjoyable evening ahead.
After a four-course dinner, several speeches were made and then Frank surprised our special guest Marci'a Lincoln Rudolf by presenting her with a plaque he had commissioned from George McWhorter. Marci'a, taken by total surprise and overwhelming emotion, just about managed to say a few words of thanks and how much she had enjoyed the trip. Martin Smiddy read out three letters he had received from Micheline Keller, Eve Brent and Denny Miller who with typical humour, began his letter with, "Dear Gracious Howards of Greystoke - Please accept my humble apologies for the group of unruly ruffians that have invaded your home..." and finished with, "...I would have attended but am still recovering from their last gathering. The doctors say they'll be able to take my jacket off any day now." Neville Howard finished the proceedings by giving us a history of the castle, its ups and its downs and how on several occasions there seemed little likelihood that the castle would ever remain standing.
We left the castle at around 11:00pm and took refuge at the Boot and Shoe Inn which apparently was going to be open most of the night as the Mike Tyson / Evander Holyfield fight was on TV that evening. However not everyone stayed up to watch Iron Mike spit out his food, but we did stay long enough to recount our stay in Greystoke which was by far a more pleasant pastime.
It had been a wonderful few days and Frank and Doreen did a great job in its organisation. At times I thought of those who had made it the last time but could not this year. To Mike and Linda Conran, Bill Ross and John McGuigan, to George McWhorter and Bobbie Rucker, to Pete Ogden, Rich and Joan Dumont I am sorry you were unable to attend, your presence was sorely missed.
Another Time . . . Another Place - Back in the USA: The ERB, Inc. Tree in Tarzana
George McWhorter ~ Pete Ogden ~ Frank Westwood ~ Bill Ross ~ Mike Conran
GREYSTOKE PHOTO GALLERY
Greystoke Convention 1988 by Laurence Dunn
Laurence Dunn's Greystoke Photo Album
Laurence Dunn: The ERB Traveller:
Navigation Guide to the Dunn Convention Reports: ERBzine 0458
See the Dum-Dum 2005 Photo Galleries at: ERBzine
See the Guide to Past Dum-Dums: ERBzine 0839
Visit the Dum-Dum /ECOF Dossier: www.ERBzine.com/dumdum
EXTERIOR WEB LINKS TO GREYSTOKE
History of Greystoke Castle: Greystoke, Penrith, Cumbria
"The Castle stands in about 6000 acres,
which is said to be the largest enclosure in England without a road or right-of-way running through it."
Welcome to Greystoke Castle Estates
York and Keswick
Greystoke Castle Jazz
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