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One of the most exciting events of my life happened in the final days of 1963.
U.S. Steel had decided to purchase a new computer made especially to handle telegraph-message switching between some 300 different plant and office locations in the United States and Canada. This was not a general-purpose computer, but one made by General Electric especially for this type of operation. The plant manufacturing this computer was located in Phoenix, Arizona.
Four U. S. Steel computer programmers from Pittsburgh were to design and write the computer software to handle this task, before the Datanet-30 computer was delivered to Pittsburgh.
We wrote the programs in Pittsburgh, then flew to Phoenix to test them on the computer prototype at the assembly plant. Our usual schedule was to be in Phoenix for two to three weeks of testing, then return to Pittsburgh for a month or so, before going back to Phoenix.
I had corresponded with Hulbert and John Coleman Burroughs for several years, but had never met them. When I learned I would be in Phoenix in December of l963, I told Hulbert that I wanted to visit Tarzana. Hully had only recently taken over the management of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. after Ralph Rothmund, who had run the corporation for ERB, and later for the ERB heirs, had departed.
I made plans with Hully to visit Los Angeles at the end of the December testing period. The other three programmers flew back to Pittsburgh, but I wanted to see the beauty of the Southwest, so I decided to travel by bus through the Arizona and California desert.
We were late leaving Phoenix, due to the heavy passenger load close to Christmas. My bus was scheduled to arrive in Los Angeles about 6:00 p. m., and Hully was to meet me at the bus station.
Viewing all the different desert scenery in Arizona was an interesting part of the trip. My seat companion was very familiar with the area, pointing out aspects of it that I would have overlooked.
But, like many of my plans, unforeseen events changed things. The bus blew a tire about three o'clock in the afternoon and we had to wait for the bus company to send a truck to help change the tire. It got cold in the desert after dark, so the passengers stayed in the bus to keep warm. The truck came after a long waft and it was after midnight when we got on our way again.
The bus finally arrived In Los Angeles six hours late. I spotted Hully, surprised that he was still waiting for me. At the bus station he had learned of the delay and knew I would arrive eventually.
I picked up my bags and Hully drove us out to my motel in Tarzana, where I checked in and left my bags. We then drove to an all-night restaurant to finally get some food, before he took me to the ERB, Inc. office building. We talked for a while, then ventured into the warehouse.
Hully had not made a complete inventory of the contents of the warehouse, so much of this was new to him. I was thrilled out of my mind. We opened boxes and crates, finding many treasures. I was able to identify some of these gems for Hully, since at that time he was not as knowledgeable of the many facets of Burroughsiana as he later became. We uncovered large oil paintings by Studley Burroughs for Tarzan and the City of Gold that had not been used in the published book. J.Allen St. John, instead, had done the art work, after ERB decided not to use Studley Burroughs' paintings. We also found a large stack of St. John's paintings.
We found all the original artwork for the John Carter of Mars Sunday adventure pages drawn by John Coleman Burroughs, and I explained to Hully that the final three pages had never appeared in newspapers.
A CHRISTMAS PARTY at John Coleman Burroughs' home.
Seated: Dian Burroughs, John Coleman Burroughs, Hulbert Burroughs.
Standing: Bob Hyde, Mary Burroughs, Danton Burroughs.We also uncovered the John Coleman chapter-head drawings intended for Land of Terror, but which were not printed when the book was published. All these "found" items were new to both Hully and me, so we had a great time. In one area of the warehouse I could see the smoke damage from the fire that occurred in 1958, when some of the old nitrate films burst into flames.
There were files of letters from Burroughs fans from many years back. I searched and found my earliest letters to ERB, from the 1940s.
When the sun came up, I decided I had enough for one (long) day and night, and Hully took me back to the motel for some sleep.
I remembered the letter by Jack Daley questioning ERB's authorship of John Carter and the Giant of Mars, published in Amazing Stories, March 1941. (Jack reminded me before I left on this trip. (See my Odyssey - Chapter VII) The next morning I confronted Hully with THE question "Who really wrote "The Giant of Mars"? Knowing that he and John Coleman had collaborated on some science-fiction stories published in pulp magazines of that period, and that "Giant" was published first in Big-Little-Book format, and later in Amazing Stories, I asked, "Did you and John write it?"
Hully answered, "No, I didn't, but I will ask John."
The next day I received the answer. 'Yes, John said he wrote it - first as the Big-Little-Book, then, with ERB's permission, sent it to Ray Palmer, who had asked for a John Carter story for Amazing Stories. ERB collaborated to a small degree, but 90 percent of it was done by John."
Thus, I was the first one to uncover the fact of authorship, before it was brought out later by Vern Coriell in The Gridley Wave #14, and by Richard Lupoff, editor for Canaveral Press, in his introduction to their book, John Carter of Mars.
I spent three wonderful days in Tarzana. Hully drove me around, showing me the location of the ranch, and other homes where ERB had lived after returning from Hawaii in 1945. I was invited to a Christmas party at John Coleman and Mary Burroughs' home at Malibu Beach, where I met his family, including Danton Burroughs.
At that party I also met their (then) attorney, Robert Hodes, who was later appointed President of ERB, Inc.
I asked John Coleman for permission to have the Burroughs Bibliophiles publish all of his Sunday adventure strip of "John Carter of Mars," including the three pages never before printed. His permission was given, and Vern Coriell published these pages as a book in 1970.
That trip to Tarzana remains as one of my most memorable experiences.
Hully was a gracious host, and we became great friends during that first visit to Tarzana. I will always remember him.
I caught the red-eye flight out of Los Angeles, and arrived back in Pittsburgh to my family before Christmas.
(c) Copyright 1993 Clarence B. Hyde
My first visit to Tarzana, in December 1963, described in Chapter XXVI, deserves further comment here.
Asking more questions of Hulbert Burroughs, I learned that the present office building of Edgar Burroughs, Inc., was built in 1927. This was after Burroughs had moved out of the ranch home and was living in Los Angeles, before moving back to 5046 Mecca Drive in Tarzana. The present warehouse was an automobile garage when the family lived on the ranch.
Hully told me his favorite Burroughs character was John Carter, and his favorite story was Beyond Thirty.
I asked him if there were any plans to finish the partial Tarzan story that ERB had started before he became too sick to write any more.
Hully answered, "Jack and I would like to collaborate to finish it, if we could find an outline by ERB for it."
But as we now know, that never happened.
I asked him if he was still an airplane pilot, and he answered, "No. I crashed the Security Airster that Dad owned. I took my first solo flight on February 15, 1934 and crashed on February 16, just six days after Dad had acquired the plane. I did fly again for a short time after that, after I recovered from the crash, when Dad bought another Airster from Kinner. But then I decided not to do any more. He had the Doodad "T" painted on the rudder of that new one." I also asked Hully about the 75-cent edition of Tarzan and the Forbidden City, but he had none in the office collection, nor did he know about any such edition.
I saw Hully again in 1964, another year of travel for me. In March, I made the trip to Tarzana again, after a work session on the computer being built for U. S. Steel at the General Electric plant in Phoenix, Arizona. But this time, instead of taking a bus ride, I flew into Los Angeles from Phoenix. Again, Hully met me and drove me out to my motel in Tarzana.
In anticipation of my visit, Hully had brought out of the bank vault the original hand-written (in ink) manuscripts of Tarzan of the Apes and Dejah Thoris, Martian Princess (Princess of Mars). He had them in the office for me to examine. That was a thrill!
Going through the Tarzan manuscript. I found on page 71, the line where ERB first named him. Here were two other names he had tried but had crossed out before he settled on TARZAN for the name of his immortal character. To me it looked first like "zantar" and then "Tublat zan." In my opinion his choice of Tarzan showed his brilliance. That unique name was the perfect choice; the very sound of it denotes strength and distinction.
I could also see that for about the first third of the story, Tarzan's father was called "Lord Bloomstroke." At some later point ERB decided to use "Lord Greystoke," so he went back and crossed out "Bloomstroke" and wrote "Greystoke" above each of the former names.
One page 213, ERB wrote a different version of the note Tarzan left on his cabin door than that which is printed in the book. The original manuscript reads:
I AM TARZAN OF THE APES. THIS IS MY HOUSE. TARZAN IS A MIGHTY FIGHTER. HE HAS KILLED BOLGANI, AND TUBLAT AND KERCHAK AND SABOR, BESIDES MANY BLACK MEN.
DO NOT DESTROY THE THINGS WHICH ARE TARZAN'S. TARZAN IS WATCHING YOU.
Hully also allowed me to hold the original pen that ERB had used to write the manuscripts. I posed for a photograph, sitting at ERB's old desk, with the manuscript open in front of me to the page where Tarzan is first named. I held the original pen at the first written appearance of the name.
I asked if the Corporation had a handwritten manuscript for Outlaw of Torn, but Hully said, no, they had not found one. It had apparently been revised and was typewritten by the time it was finally sold to Street and Smith.
Hully explained the origin of the fancy 'T" Doodad, which first appeared on the spine of the Jungle Girl dust jacket (1932). This was originally a directional trail marker used when the family rode horses on the ranch, but had originated on a camping trip in 1924. The placement of the small circle in different locations indicated who had taken a trail, and the bottom line indicated the direction. ERB's small circle was on the lower right, John's on the lower left, Hully's below the line, and Joan's at the top between the two parallel bars. ERB then later decided to use his marker as the Corporation's colophon trademark.
I asked Hully which book ERB was most pleased with, and he answered, "The Mars stories, especially the first three. They were more fun than Tarzan."
That evening held another special event for me. Hully drove me to the home of Jim and Joan Pierce in Sherman Oaks for a great, friendly visit. There was picture taking and autographing. Joan showed me her collection of her father's books, inscribed to her. She kept them behind two locked doors. She said that dozens of her books had been stolen over the years, which is why she then had the remaining ones locked behind doors. It was very sad to hear that from her.
On the next day I made another visit to the office and warehouse (of treasures). Hully then invited me to join him for lunch with Sy Weintraub at the Beverly Hills Hotel. I cannot remember all the discussion with Weintraub, but I do remember him mentioning Sean Connery. He said he had paid Connery several thousand dollars to appear in Tarzan's Greatest Adventure. But now that Connery had been selected to be James Bond, Weintraub couldn't afford to pay him many millions of dollars to appear in another Tarzan film. After lunch, I left them alone for an hour so they could discuss Tarzan-movie business matters. Then Sy Weintraub drove off in his Mercedes, while Hully drove me to the airport in his Chevrolet to catch the flight back to Pittsburgh, with memories of a great visit.
But there were more travels to come in 1964. See Chapter XXVIII
WEBJED: BILL HILLMAN
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