Official Edgar Rice Burroughs Tribute Site
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By October 1941 I had become a member of a much bigger clan than the TARZAN CLANS. I was caught by a tentacle of Uncle Sam's armed forces and spent four years in the army, most of it in the Pacific. I'm proud of a few things I did while in the service . . . I'll name some and you can figure the reasons. I rode in the last regiment of horse Cavalry to ever "pass in review" at Ft. Riley, Kansas. Overseas, I was with the 503 Rgt. Combat Team, and brought in the first Japanese prisoner taken by my outfit in New Guinea. I brought in one of 38 prisoners taken on Corregidor . . . there were over six thousand dead Japanese on that island not counting the ones in the condemned tunnels. I earned the combat infantry badge. I never earned nor wanted the good conduct medal! In short . . . I was a damn good paratrooper . . . but I was a lousy soldier!
My brother Everett served with the Marines in the Pacific, and Earl was in the first First Special Service Force.
When I got out of the service in late '45, fandom had become a big thing. But science fiction and all those atomic war and bomb stories in ASTOUNDING were a bore to me. The good stuff (and this is a matter of opinion) was in STARTLING, THRILLING WONDER, AMAZING, FAMOUS FANTASTIC MYSTERIES, etc. ARGOSY had turned into something like FIELD & STREAM and others, like BLUE BOOK and the pulp heroes, were dead or dying. Not a thing by Burroughs was appearing . . . I wrote to him . . . he answered . . . we started corresponding.
Every issue of FANTASTIC MYSTERIES had letters requesting the reprinting of Burroughs stories. I started writing fan letters again and they were published. I wrote articles for the zines and they were published. Resulting in my hearing from Darrell C. Richardson, an ERB authority and Fredrick Faust expert. I started hearing from and corresponding with John Harwood, Stan Vinson, Maurice Gardner, Al Howard and a host of others all starving for more ERB stories. I thought if there was such a great interest in Burroughs, why not publish a Burroughs fanzine. I wrote to Richardson and suggested that he do so. He answered that he was much too busy working on his Faust material and asked: "Why don't you?" I thought WHY NOT . . . if I was going to see the kind of Burroughszine I really wanted then it was up to me to publish it. I wrote to Burroughs and he gave me permission to publish the Burroughs Bulletin.
I did not know how to type, and still use the hunt and peck system, and I knew absolutely nothing about printing or publishing. But I bought a portable typewriter and a portable mimeograph machine (portable because I was still on the road scrounging a living out of what was left of show business) and turned out the first issue of the Bulletin in June of 1947. It was a cruddy effort . . . but cruddy only in appearance, not content. The first contained "AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS" by Forrest J. Ackerman; TARZAN AND THE HUNTRESS, a movie review lifted out of a tradezine; an item on NYOKA, THE JUNGLE GIRL comic book, which was based on ERB's JUNGLE GIRL; a new item that mentioned Alex Raymond was going to do the Tarzan strip for United Features (he never did, but the idea was exciting); and a piece about Burroughs' efforts to keep Tarzan in the family by producing books, plays, films and art. The issue was reviewed by Vincent Starrett in his BOOKS ALIVE column in the Chicago Tribune . . . which in turn was picked up by International News and the result was that I started receiving requests for the Bulletin from all over the world.
The Bulletin was distributed free of charge and I was on a monthly schedule. Needless to say, even in the days of 3 cent postage stamps, the free Bulletin soon became too expensive and by issue #7, I had to drop the monthly schedule. I had been using the hood of my Jeep as a desk and had turned out copies of Bulletins all over the country and once in a while in the wilds of Canada. I discontinued mimeographing the BB with issue #9 after Bob Tucker introduced me to planographing or offset printing. By #12 the Bulletin had become a large 48 page magazine and a luxury I could ill afford. But #12 was my pride and joy. It contained photos of ERB, original art by Bok and Russ Manning (who a dozen or so years later would be doing the Tarzan comic book and strip), articles by Samuel A. Peeples, Basil Wells, J. Allen St. John, Philip Jose Farmer, Gardner, Harwood, Al Howard, and a fella named Edgar Rice Burroughs. The same issue also contained a complete bibliography and checklist of ERB's works, films, radio, comics, novelties, and what have you. But the Bulletin had gone for broke! To carry on I started a newszine, THE GRIDLEY WAVE, to keep fans informed of the goings on in Burroughs' worlds. The Wave was cheap to produce but I made the mistake of turning it into a small size Bulletin for a few issues.
The Bulletin, however, had started a whole new branch of fandom . . . Burroughs fans were grouping! A new fanzine appeared called THE AMTORIAN edited by Wallace Shore. THE BARSOOMIAN edited by Joseph Miller . . . then came THE NEW AMTORIAN and THE SAFARI NEWS, and in 1956 Pete Ogden came out with his excellent ERBANIA and Mike Moorcock published BURROUGHSANIA, both published in England and both whom I helped find American subscribers. There were others, like Ron Haydock's APE, which unfortunately lasted only four issues. Ron later tried his hand at filming an unauthorized Tarzan script but ERB, Inc. landed on the production like Tantor, the elephant. I have not heard from Ron since!
Letter from TIME to Al Guillory concerning ERB
A young fan named Alfred Guillory, Jr., who was Pete Ogden's U.S. agent for ERBANIA, started corresponding with me requesting information and articles about ERB and his works. Al thought, and correctly so, that if a zine from England did well, why not publish one of his own. Al went into partnership with Camille Cazedessus, Jr. And ERB-dom came into being. A year later, Al was killed in a tragic accident and Camille became editor and publisher of the zine. Caz was a real live wire and did everything he could to make his zine financially successful and succeeded . . . even to the extent of reprinting and selling photocopy pages of my out-of-print Bulletins! I enjoyed the new zines as they came and went but I was a bit peeved about it too. All of these zines were being sold while the Bulletin had reached a stalemate because I as unable to sell it without breaking my word to Edgar Rice Burroughs . . . whom I had promised that I would never sell copies of the BB.
In BB #12, the late Tom Gardner's article, PROJECTS BURROUGHS, suggested an ERB club. I suggested the name THE BURROUGHS BIBLIOPHILES in the same issue. Al Howard, Stan Vinson, and a few other dyed-in-the-wool ERBites and myself had discussed the idea of a Burroughs fan club for several years. I had always been reluctant to start such a club because I was well aware of the friction and personality clashes such organizations are subject to. Also, publishing the Bulletin and Wave when and where and how I wanted to and distributing it free was beneficial to me because I could ignore the CRANKS and NUTZ that always clog the cogs of an organized machine. Yes, a club offered a solution to my problem and a way to keep the Bulletin alive. So in 1960 when the Pittsburgh World Science Fiction Convention invited me to hold the organizational meeting of the Burroughs Bibliophiles in conjunction with their convention, I accepted. I obtained permission for the formation of the club from Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. and it was born at the Pittcon. Would you believe that I wasn't even there! Due to my profession it was impossible for me to attend . . . . and in spite of efforts of one individual to usurp my position as editor, Bob Hyde (whom I had asked to take over in my absence), and others were quick to point out that as founder of the Burroughs Bibliophiles and publisher of the Burroughs Bibliophiles and publisher of the Burroughs Bulletin, the position was mine without question.
Dues that first year were one dollar and membership was not enough to support the cost of a single issue of the Bulletin. But we grew.
With the renewed interest in ERB's works, new fanzines sprang forth and old ones were reborn. Jimmie Taurasi revived the BARSOOMIAN . . . then Paul Allen continued it with annual issues for a while. William Dutcher, a former TV editor for the Bulletin, published a very down-to-earth ERBzine called the JASOOMIAN. Philip J. Currie's ERBIVORE is published in Canada and continues to appear on an irregular basis. Others came and went . . . THE ERB DIGEST, ZOR, THE OPARIAN, THE LONG SWORD, DREAM QUEST, etc. I enjoyed them all! If you love ERB and his works you just have to appreciate the efforts of all fanzine editors, even the mercenary ones, because it is a time consuming, energy draining, eye straining, giving of one's self, this business of fan publishing, and it takes a certain kind of dedication and perhaps something of a nut to continue it for so long a time. I've been at this Burroughs Bibliomania since 1927 and publishing Bulletins and Gridley Waves for thirty years, and soon we will be gathering in Miami for the seventeenth annual Burroughs Bibliophiles Dum-Dum Luncheon with Leigh Brackett as our Guest of Honor. As GHs in the past, we have had many celebrated authors, artists, and film stars . . . many of whom are now making appearances at various SF, comic art, nostalgia, and film cons for which the Burroughs Bibliophiles can take a little credit for breaking the ice for their availability.
After WWII was over, Dad tried to put the troupe back together and we did OK for a year or so . . . but times had changed, and we soon discovered that we could earn more by breaking the act up and working different shows as trios, teams, and even single. In 1949 I accepted a contract for a series of fairs and celebrations in California for the sole purpose of meeting Edgar Rice Burroughs with the aid of John Coleman and Joan Burroughs Pierce, was able to do so. I had a ball in "sunny Cal" locating, meeting and interviewing past Tarzan and Janes of the screen, including the then current ones, Lex Barker and Vanessa brown. Elmo Lincoln and I became close friends and when we opened in Las Vegas in the spring of 1950, I had obtained a job for him as a feature attraction with Seal Bros. Circus.
One day, 25 years ago, I was making the rounds in Chicago and walked into the office of an agent I did not know. He was talking on the phone but when he saw me he covered the receiver with his hand and sez: "Hey, can you ride a unicycle? I can give you 28 weeks."
Well, 28 weeks work in show business is a lot of steady meals, so I asked "When does it open?"
"Right after Labor Day," he replied.
It was mid-June . . . Labor Day was more than two months away. "Sure, I can ride a unicycle."
The agent says into the phone: "I've got a guy who fills the bill right here in the office. I'll call you right back."
The agent's name was Mike Taflan. I showed him my folio and pix and he seemed impressed.
"But where's the unicycle?" he asked.
"You said it opened after Labor Day, by that time I'll be riding one."
"You can do that?" he asked dubiously.
I assured him that I could. Mike got on the phone and called back the party he had been talking to when I walked into the office. It happened to be -- although I did not know it at the time -- the Barnes-Carruthers agency. Mike said: "This man does everything except ride a unicycle, but claims he can do a unicycle act by Labor Day."
"Who is it?"
"Cor-i-ell," Mike pronounced phonetically.
"If a Coriell says he can do something, he can do it!"
Barnes Carruthers had been doing business with us since Dad was a young man. I got the job.
The job was for the University of Minnesota. It was for 28 weeks with option. The option was for an additional school year. It was, of course, picked up. After the first 28 weeks, the act was sought after by various Universities, Concert and Lecture Bureaus, in the then 48 states. It consisted of performing at assemblies in schools . . . all kinds of schools, from kindergarten through colleges and universities, schools for the deaf, the handicapped, correctional, and state prisons. Also hospitals of all kinds, civic organizations, and even PTA meetings. Well, with 12 and 16 programs a week lasting about 50 minutes each, I was doing every trick and routine in the book just to fill the time. And I still had to make the trips from one school to another . . . sometimes a few blocks away in the cities, and sometimes a hundred miles to another town.
I soon caught on. Kids would ask me questions and I soon answered them as part of the program by turning the act into an illustrated lecture. It did not take long to develop the whole thing into a physical education and gymnastics program. I stressed exercise at all age and grad levels and the difference between physical education and the sports events. The former is for all, while the latter is for the few who can make the team. And this was before the physical fitness fad started in schools. After 25 years working in schools as small as a little one out in the country with less than a hundred pupils and a small platform to perform on, to working gyms, field houses, and even in front of the bleachers on the football field (Dad used to say "To make it in show business, you have to be able to perform on top of a piano or in a ten acre field"), I take a little pride in seeing balancing beams six inches high in elementary schools, gym equipment in high schools, a school full of kids riding unicycles, high jumpers breaking records by doing running back "flops" over the high bar, because I know that my program performed in thousands of schools over the years has had something to do with bringing it about . . . making it happen!
I still play other engagements, a fair or celebration, park or some "bread and butter" date, but for the most part I work schools, etc., and enjoy it. I enjoy it because kids are the toughest audience in the world and I get a "boot" every time I hear them go "Ooooooooo!" when this old man gets his keister over the top of his head and lands on his feet to prove it one more time.
Just before Dad took the trip to Barsoom, he spent a few weeks working with me. The kids loved him . . . and screamed when he did leaps to shoulders, barrel jumping, and head balancing. Dad loved it too . . . because he loved people, and especially kids of all ages. We were talking one evening and Dad said: "You have a good thing (he meant my job), hang on to it."
"It's not really show business, Dad," I replied.
"Do you know what show business is today?" he asked.
"No," I answered awaiting the punch line.
"It's 10 % talent and 90% bullshit! He did not laugh . . . just smiled, and I knew he meant working for assemblies services and universities. I'm no longer an entertainer and acrobat, I'm a lecturer and a gymnast. But more important, I'm founder and editor of the Burroughs Bibliophiles! Anyway, maybe now you'll understand why the BB & GW is not always in your mail box when it should be, and why I often miss a deadline or two or three.
Some of you have visited what I like to call the House of Greystoke. And you marvel at the collection of Burroughs that I have accumulated over the years . . . and the original St. John, Matania, Frazetta, Paul, Bok, Finlay, Corgen, Kirk, and other paintings that adorn the walls of home. . . but it was not always thus. My first library was a shoebox in which I saved Ed Wheelan's MINUTE MOVIES. When it was full, I'd sent it to "Granma's house" to be saved for me. As the years flew by, I had books, strips, magazines, and art stored all over the USA. It was not until I moved to Kansas City that I was really able to have all my collection in one place.
Life is not all a barrel of laughs. Tragedy strikes us all sooner or later . . . and it is not always in the grim form of death. Dad was the first to go, and my sister followed. Everett lost his legs in an accident and now lives at the old homestead with our mother in Pekin, Illinois. But he still visits me on the road sometimes and helps me entertain the kids by showing them what an old acrobat without legs can still do. Earl is married and has two boys. He works at one of the radio stations in Cincinnati. It was a pair of tragic events that brought Rita and me together. I'd lost a member of the family and she had just lost her father. Rita retired last year after 30 years with the Department of Labor. It was Rita who first got me to attend an SF convention . . . we even got married enroute to one! We have one monstrous golden cat named Jad-Bal-Ja.
When I finish a season's tour and return to the House of Greystoke, I still get a thrill out of seeing the pictures on the walls of every room of the house except the kitchen. And besides being greeted by Rita and Jad, with his back hunched up and hissing at the "stranger," Tarzan and Jane, Dejah Thoris and John Carter, La of Opar, Carson, and even Doc Savage and old Pete Rice, all seem to be welcoming me back. In the den and "weird room" an apt is charging me from the wall, but I'm not worried because JC is standing between me and it. In the Burroughs room it is four walls of ERB . . . then I head for Pellucidar (the basement). Down the stairway with a gallery of Foster, Hogarth, Rubimore, Jesse Marsh, Russ Manning, and Mo Gollub art surrounding me, then into Pellucidar! It is divided into five rooms by ceiling high, built-in book cases, with a recreation room and bar, two storage areas, a stock and mailing room, plus an office where the Burroughs Bibliophiles tries to keep up with all the requests that arrive here daily. Not just fans who want to receive information about the club . . . but fans wanting a list of ERB's complete works; the order in which they should be read; biographical material for school papers; libraries, schools, prisons and prisoners, all wanting free ERB works. We have brochures that we send in answer, but it goes without saying that it is impossible for us to fill these requests even if we could afford to do so.
The fact that the Burroughs Bibliophiles is a nonprofit organization. We are not professional publishers, book dealers, nor is the House of Greystoke a business of any kind whatsoever! We get gripes, and sometimes they are justified . . . but we make every effort to correct any mistakes we make. I have been a performer for almost sixty years, and that is dealing with the public and I have had it ground in me to give every audience the best that I can deliver. I have been a fan for as long as I can remember, a Burroughs fan for fifty years, an active fan for forty-five years, a fan publisher for thirty years, and founder of the Burroughs Bibliophiles in 1960. I think that means something but I'm not sure what! All I know is that when a writer, researcher, or student seeks my aid to help them with a project, I feel committed to do so. And when I hear from an 8 or 10 year old fan with some outlandish request he or she may want filled, I feel obligated to answer the letter . . . because I remember when I was 8 or 10 and what it meant to me to receive a letter form Charles Chaplin and to meet Tom Mix the first time, and when I was a much bigger "kid" to receive a letter from Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc., and then Edgar Rice Burroughs, himself, and finally even getting to meet him. My jaw still drops when I meet people like Theodore Roscoe, E. Hoffman Price, the late Edmond Hamilton, and others I've admired for so many years.
It has been tough sometimes . . . but Dad made it possible, by running away with a circus, for me to enjoy a life and the special kind of freedom that most people spend their life searching for. I've only had two bosses in my life, Dad and Uncle Sam, and I respect them both in that order. Even when I've been flat on my kiester, I've been as independent as "a hog on ice" . . . wasn't that what 1776 was all about?
Publishing the Bulletin has been tough sometimes, too. But for every crank letter or complaint received, we get dozens of others that are heartwarming, encouraging us to continue the club and the Bulletin. And whatever our efforts have cost us, we have reaped a harvest of wonderful happenings in return. I have had the pleasure of meeting Edgar Rice Burroughs, the grand Wizard of Tarzana. Almost all the Tarzan film stars and the Janes too. Elmo Lincoln was a good friend who, Toby Tyler like, spent ten weeks on a circus with me in 1950. I've met dozens of famed people connected in various ways with the Burroughs legend . . . many who can truthfully be called friends: J. Allen St. John, Schoonover, Rex Maxon, Hal Foster, Bill Juhre, Herman Brix and so many others. It has been great fun . . . and I'll continue to plug away as long as I can poke the typer and paste up the master sheets for another issue . . . as long as there are really devoted fans . . . Burroughs fans! But one can understand those thank you speeches at the Academy Awards when one is in the position to be grateful. The Bulletin and Bibliophiles would not exist if it were not for the invaluable aid of friends like Stan Vinson, Bob Hyde, Rita, who puts up with my living in Pellucidar, Forry Ackerman, who helped launch the first issue, Frank Brueckel, who helped write and edit, Bob Tucker who showed me offset printing techniques, and those three Burroughs Biblioteers, Gardner, Harwood and Howard, and on and on and on . . . but most of all, our eternal thanks must go to Edgar Rice Burroughs, who started it all, and to John Coleman and Hulbert Burroughs, and to James H. And Joan Burroughs Pierce, and all the Burroughs Bibliophiles, who allow us to continue . . .
"WE STILL LIVE ! . . . "
Vernell W. Coriell, 68 of 261 Geraldine Dr., Cincinnati, Ohio, formerly of Pekin, died Thursday morning, Jan. 15, 1987, at his home.
The Fredericks Funeral Home, Cincinnati, is in charge of arrangements.
Born Sept. 22, 1918, in Pekin, he was the son of Vern and Edna Hooper Coriell. He married Lawrence Dupree June, 1979. She survives at Mount Holly, N.C.
Also surviving are one stepson, Thomas DuPree of Urbana; three stepdaughters, Linday Ballard of Greenville, N.C., Patsy Barrow and Shirly Amburgy, both of Raleigh, N.C.; one stepgranddaughter, Maria Ballard of Greenville, and two stepgrandsons, Lee and Brian Butler, both of Raleigh; and one brother, Earl of Cincinnati; and an uncle and aunt.
One brother and one sister preceded him in death.
Mr. Coriell served in World War II with the 105th Parachute Battalion. He worked as a performer with various circuses and he also originated the House of Grey Stoke club.
I just today opened up your screen on CORIELLS. Much of the matereial I have in my possession (some reprints). The author was Vernell, son of Vern and my first cousin. Vern was my father's brother, and his sister Vin is still living in Pekin, Illinois. Other first cousins still living are Danny Toel, Darlene Ball of Pekin and Earl (Vernell's brother) who lives in Cincinnatti, Ohio. I live in Kansas City Missouri, and Vernell's widow Marguerite also lives here in Kansas City.
Grandmother Coriell, Verns Mom, lived in the home place at 1301 Ana Liza, Pekin, Illinois long after Grandpa Coriell (Postmaster in Pekin) passed away in 1932.
I am forwarding this URL to my cousin Danny who will be able to show his mother Vin.
Clyde R. Coriell
Vern Coriell's Original Burroughs Bulletins
House of Greystoke Publications
House of Greystoke Publications - Pt. 2
Rita Coriell Tribute
The Hillmans Visit the House of Greystoke
The Burroughs Bibliophiles New Series
The Burroughs Bibliophiles