Memories of the Tarzana ECOF 2002
I had the pleasure of attending this years ECOF in Tarzana, CA. This was my first large ERB gathering, though I also attended Sinsoom in Las Vegas in November 2000, and the April 2002 Panthans meeting in Maryland. Thusly, I was not completely new to the world of ERBitis.
First, let me explain that I did not stay at the Holiday Inn in Tarzana, choosing rather to commute across the L.A. basin from Rancho Cucamonga, where my wife's brother and his family reside. This made for an interesting expedition in itself each day, as it amounted to a 118-mile round-trip (anything to save $80/day, which freed up funds to use at the huckster room!). We arrived in Cucamonga Thursday morning after a 5-hour drive from Las Vegas (it takes us longer, as at our advanced ages we have to make pit-stops more often). Enjoyed visiting with the kith and kin for a day, then I left their residence about 1 p.m. Friday to head for Tarzana. Didn't take quite as long as I thought it might, about 1 1/2 hours with holiday traffic. Believe it or not, over the next couple of round-trips, the worst traffic slow-downs were at every one of the Amber Alert signs, where everyone slowed down to read about the kidnappings. Once past the signs, the traffic zoomed again. Never did see any accidents, thank goodness. Arrived at the hotel about 2:30, and visited with Ghak, Steve Wadding, for a bit.
A group of us left for the ERB offices, where one had to push and shove their way through the throngs of ERB-addicts to view the magnificent paintings, drawings, statuary, books, Xerox machine (being operated in a somewhat frenzied manner by Dejah Thoris, Sue-On Hillman). Danton and his crew tried vainly to keep a semblance of order by rotating the groups in and out of the building. Outside, under the tremendous tree, fans gathered to honor the memory of OB, who was buried there in an unmarked site under the tree (not this tree, but the one that was there just before this one, we were told).
Around 4:00, everyone scattered to their cars to drive the short distance to the old Burroughs estate, where parking was fun indeed! Excellent "finger food" and drinks were provided for all. We were treated to old Burroughs family movies, narrated by Danton, while others just roamed around the grounds and the house looking at the scenery outside and the wonderful art inside. Met and talked to several folks whom it has been my pleasure to exchange messages with via the two Burroughs lists. For some reason or other, my inner ears became plugged, so I had to leave in the first wave of party poopers, to find our way back to the hotel, and then to brave the Friday Holiday traffic crossing the L.A. basin again.
Saturday began much better. My inner ear problem had vanished (don't know where it went, but I was glad it did!). Left early enough to get to the hotel by around 8:30. Visited with a few folks before the Huckster Room opened at 9:00. Now this was an experience, to say the least! I have been at Star Trek cons, with thousands of attendees in the sales area, where it was much safer and less life threatening than in this Huckster Room, with probably less than 40 - 50 people at a time maximum. Swords, radium pistols, fists, elbows and knees were all used liberally by heros and princesses equally in their individual quests for lost treasures and that "one" item that was needed to complete some part of their personal collections. I, of course, refrained from such activities, using the much subtler method of flashing a wad of dollar bills under venders noses to obtain a few precious items. This included copies of pencil drawings by David Burton of Dejah Thoris and John Carter, which he kindly signed, as well as a Flash Gordon poster that Tom Yeates signed for me. Next on the schedule for the day were the panels, which of more later.
From the huckster room I next went to the first of several interesting panel discussions. This first one had Bob Zeuschner and Stan Galloway reading their papers on "ERB and the Pulp Fiction Era", then fielding some questions from the audience. Finally it was lunch time, so I went with a couple other fans to a buffet across Ventura Blvd. from the hotel. At least to me, this wasn't such a bad choice, as the food wasn't too bad, there was lots of it, all despite the somewhat ragged appearance of the establishment. Back to the hotel for a question and answer session with Bruce Boxleitner, Lydie Denier, and Patrice Bonneyrat on the PBS documentary being filmed as the "Burroughs: Master of Fantasy". This is supposed to be a three-hour program, including portions filmed during ECOF 2002. I finally found Pete Ogden in the huckster room and picked up my bundle of back issues of ERBANIA that he had brought with him for me. Lots to read when I get back home. Also ran into Tintin and Kat, aka Wayne and Edie James wandering around with that "purchase it NOW!" stare from looking at all of the goodies in the sales venue.
The second panel, which was on "Artists and ERB", included Bill Stout, Dave Schwartz, Christopher Schenck, David Burton, and of course Tom Yeates. Following this interesting discussion, most adjourned to the nearby TG its Friday food emporium for a delicious, if somewhat noisy, dinner. Several folks got "knighted" by the resident balloon expert. Since I was facing another long haul across town, I excused myself from interesting conversation with the Olsens, Chris, Pat and Erik (who was reading an ERB paperback, good boy!) and headed back to Cucamonga, arriving safely around 8:00.
Had to leave earlier Sunday morning to make the "Red Hawk Hike". We met at the hotel, where I had the pleasure of driving JoN and Dejah Thoris, Bill and Sue-On Hillman, and Prof. Porter, "Huck" Huckenpohler to the trailhead near the old Burroughs Ranch. The hike was ably (if somewhat rapidly) led by Tracy Griffin, the resident Iron Man competitor. It turned out to be a nice clear, but very hot morning, in the San Fernando Valley. Lots of fun, good company, but hot, HOT, HOT! Anyway, Bruce Boxleitner even broke out in a sweat on the hike (aside from his Tarzan yell!). Quite a few, if not most of the folks were huffing and puffing, drinking and sweating, all the way up to Mulholland Drive. Now, this isn't the Mulholland Drive you see in the Hollywood movies, with the exclusive shops and eateries, this was the primitive, no nonsense Mulholland Drive as seen by OB himself, mainly a dirt road, used mostly as a fire-break and a hiking-biking trail by locals. The views at the top were great, as was the breeze that eventually came up. After much picture taking, especially by Bill Hillman whose photos appear on this page, we started back down the trail. Somewhere along the way, most of us heard the Tarzan yell, which I later found out was Bruce Boxleitner stubbing his toe on a rock. Maybe he should have played Tarzan on TV? Finally arriving at the trailhead, we loaded up and headed out to the hotel again, my three guests, mentioned above, regaling me with tales of hiking prowess and derring-do. Guess I'll have to take their word for it?
That evening, back at my brother-in-law's place, we were watching an old-rerun station, and who should appear but Bruce Boxleitner! He was in one of his many episodes of "Scarecrow and Mrs. King". Nice coincidence! But, even better, was near the end of the episode, when he was fighting with the "bad guy" in a gym, he jumped up on a trampoline, bounced a couple of times and jumped up to catch a rope. He then swung, ala Tarzan, across the gym to knock the "baddie" down. Did this twice!. What fun! Interestingly enough, he didn't break out in a sweat in the program. Maybe because he was much younger?
Once again I ventured forth into the lands of the smorgasbord across the street from the hotel to satisfy my morning's energy consumption. After lunch (or dinner, according to which end of the country you're from) I went back to wandering through the huckster room. I just couldn't seem to stay out of there. Picked up a couple more tomes, a Roy G. Krenkel sketch book, Mike Henry movie poster (Tarzan and the Great River), a couple back issues of the "Panthans Journal", a Barsoom Sketchbook by David Burton, and another sketch book by Tom Yeates, "Twixt Two Worlds", and autographs from Bruce Boxleitner and Eve Brent. Missed out on Denny Miller and Lydie though. I wanted to get one of the few remaining copies of Barsoomian sketches by Bill Stout, but he had disappeared by then, darn!
The afternoon panel was on the "A Princess of Mars" movie that we all are wishing for. Chuck Pogue, Ted Elliot, and Marv Wolfman carried the discussion. Following this panel, the Burroughs Bibliophiles auction was held. I succumbed to picking up a couple of small tokens of the event, remembering that all of the proceeds would go to George McWhorter to support the BB's. After paying my auction bill, I said a few farewells, then dived back into the jungles of the L.A. freeway system to once more swing back through the trees to Cucamonga and the open arms of my loving family.
What a wonderful experience this all turned out to be. Good folks to meet for the first time, others to renew acquaintanceships with, the history found in the Tarzana area, goodies to buy, hot-trails to hike, and even good food. Now I know that I'm hooked! See ya in Louisville (and maybe elsewhere?).
Resting along the quiet banks
of the Grand Canal,
I got my first Burroughs book in about 1946, a rather beat-up copy of "The Warlord of Mars" that my brother gave me. I read it over and over, and tried to find more in the series at local libraries with no luck. I hate to admit it, but book stores were an unknown factor at that time in my life. When we moved from Long Beach to Cudahy (a suburb of L.A.) in 1948, I found a copy of "The Gods of Mars" on a shelf of one of our new neighbors bookcase. He kindly let me take it to read. Wow! This was even better than the first one, and I read it over and over. Finally he gave it to me! In the very early '50's, I found a book store in Huntington Park that carried several of the Burroughs books then in print. I found "A Princess of Mars" there, and now I had the trilogy! Boy, talk about reading it backwards. Actually, I believe that doing it that way whetted my appitite even more. I bought a few more Burroughs books from that store over the years, several Venus ones and a couple more Mars. Tarzan really didn't appeal to me, as I had seen most of the early Tarzan movies over the years, so didn't believe that I needed to read them also.
In 1954 I graduated from Bell High School, along with my Princess Jan and some guy named Mike Henry. I started into college at Long Beach State (first Freshman class at that school), continued to work and go to college over the next few years at East L.A. Jr. College, and finally at Los Angeles State. Then in late 1960, Uncle Sam decided that he needed my body more than I did, so I went into the Army in January of 1961. After training, I was assigned to the Army Chemical Corps Biological Warfare Station in Frederick, Maryland, aka Fort Detrick, of recent Anthrax scare fame. While there, I frequented the Blue Ridge News Agency store in Frederick, almost on a daily basis. There I came across the newly released Ace and Ballantine editions of Burroughs. Oh, blessed event! I bought everything in sight, and read almost all of them. Being busy with my military obligations, then finishing my degree in Biology after I was discharged, left me little time to consider joining one of the several fan sites that were listed in some of the books.
My training in college was to be a high school science teacher, but I landed a job with the National Park Service first, so stayed with them for 28-years. During this time I worked at Petrified Forest Nat'l Park in Arizona, Gila Cliff Dwellings Nat'l Monument in New Mexico, Zion Nat'l Park in Utah, Theodore Roosevelt Nat'l Park in North Dakota, Pipe Spring Nat'l Mon. in Arizona, and lastly, Golden Spike Nat'l Hist. Site in Utah. I retired in 1994 on the day of the 125th anniversary of the driving of the Golden Spike at Promontory Summit, Utah. My last official act, as Superintendent of Golden Spike, was to give a short welcoming speech to the 13,000 assembled visitors, leave the podium in better hands than mine, retire to my office to change into period costume, then reappear to play a part in the railside drama of the Golden Spike ceremony. Neat way to finish off a career!
Many years have gone by since that halcyon time right after my military service, and it wasn't until a few years ago that I found my interest in things ERB at such a level that I joined both ERBlist and ECOF. I haven't looked back since then. Actually, the only thing that I have to keep looking at is my checkbook, whenever interesting items of a Burroughs nature cross my path. No, I'm not an avid collector, but a busy one nevertheless. I do have nearly 200 books, figurines, posters, prints (these latter ones are all framed and hung on the wall). My prize item, other than a few first editions, is Clayburn Moore's statue of "The Princess." So now I find myself at an advanced age doing things that I wish I would have done many years ago. I have found that my association, via the Net, with Burroughs fans has been most stimulating, sometimes frustrating, but never boring. And now, I have found ECOF 2002, and have future Dum-Dums and ECOFs to look forward to, where I can meet some of you fans face-to-face and chat a bit about one of our favorite subjects. Thank you all.
...now sitting back against a tall tree alongside the infamous canal to sip a tall, cool one.
Tarzana ECOF 2002 features is displayed in