MEET COLONEL DAVID TAYLOR
photos of Edgar Rice Burroughs as a WWII War correspondent in the Pacific
Theatre. I am the WWII historian (although I am a Vietnam War combat vet)
for the Americal (23rd) Army Division Veterans Association (ADVA). I have
spoken to many WWII vets in our association and ERB was quite popular with
the troops because they all grew up on his Tarzan books. I served with
the Americal as an infantry officer in Vietnam in 1969, was wounded twice,
served four years on active duty and 22 years in the Army Reserve Special
Forces ("Green Beret") branch.
As a child in the 50s I read the Tarzan books voraciously, I loved Burroughs'
writing style; his books seemed to tell two stories until the end when
he brought them together. Each chapter he would take the reader to a high
point of suspense on one plot, and then switch to the other plot, leaving
you anxious to read the next chapter to get through the next plot so you
could find out what happened to the first. But then, of course, you were
left anxious about the second plot as well.
I also collected Tarzan comic books (as many as I could find… the lady
at the comic book stand in a discount mall near our home would save them
for me). I also obtained Tarzan movie posters, including several Johnny
Weissmuller posters and got a signed autograph from Gordon Scott, the Tarzan
of the 50s. It's a shame he died before his time and virtually penniless
as I understand.
As a child my goal was to be a movie Tarzan; we had lots of woods around
us in Southern New Jersey where I grew up and, like Don Bragg, the pole
vault champ, I built a tree house and swung on vines and ropes in the woods,
giving the Tarzan yell. At about 12 I realized I would never grow to be
6'3" so I turned my attention to the Army Infantry. I entered the Army
in 1967, became an infantry officer, served in Vietnam and a total of 26
years on active duty and in the reserves, became airborne, ranger, special
forces qualified, retiring in 1993 as a Colonel.
Speaking about Don Bragg, he lived in Pennsgrove, NJ about 45 minutes
from me, apparently having the same childhood -- swinging from ropes in
the woods. Unlike me he grew to be 6 feet 3 inches tall and, of course
had a magnificent career as a pole vault Olympic champion. It is
very unfortunate he never got his wish to be a movie Tarzan. I think he
would have been excellent.
I think the town of Tarzana has missed out on a good opportunity by
not having a Tarzan Museum in their town. My civilian background was marketing,
serving as senior manager of advertising and public affairs for a $1.2
Billion plastics company. I hope some smart people in Tarzana will one
day reconsider the Tarzan museum. I am sure there are many people like
me around the country who could help make it successful.
But, for now, I will continue to relish my childhood in the 50s when
Edgar Rice Burrough’s brainchild – Tarzan of the Apes - helped make
my childhood so special.