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Volume 1456
Frank Frazetta: Girl from Farris's - FP same as cover - contains collection of related art
Trying To Find A Way Home
A Discussion Of
Edgar Rice Burroughs'
The Girl from Farris's

R.E. Prindle

     The decompression of ERB's psychology from his first book, The Princess Of Mars had progressed quite a ways by 1914.  He was writing out his frustrations.  He had written eight books or stories in 1913, each addressing a particular aspect of his problem.  He would write seven more in 1914 followed by six in 1915.  After that his repressed emotions had been largely freed.  His writing would turn from release to the business of writing.

     The length of time it took him to write Farris's would indicate a certain amount of trauma that it was difficult for him to vacate.  All of Burroughs' books reflect his life but Farris's may have been more painfully autobiographical.

     While this short book was begun in July of 1913 it was not finished until March of 1914, almost nine months -- the period it takes to be born or possibly reborn.  While he was working on this book Burroughs wrote and completed the following:  The Mucker, The Mad King Of Lutha, Nu Of The Neocene, The Beasts Of Tarzan, and The Lad And The Lion, thus the Girl From Farris's brackets these five novels.  It follows that they must all be related to the themes of Girl From Farris's although I am not prepared at this time to relate them.

     The Mucker, Mad King Of Lutha, and Nu Of The Neocene would all have sequels developing Burroughs psychology further.  The sequel to the Mucker, Out there Somewhere, would be instrumental in resolving Burroughs' major psychological dilemma while Mad King Of Lutha, Nu Of The Neocene, Sweetheart Primeval and Barney Custer Of Beatrice, Nebraska form a sort of quartet wrestling with ERB's relationship with his wife, Emma.

     So, to the Girl From Farris's.  This was the first of Burroughs' realistic novels.  It is also the first of his Chicago novels.  The novel, at least the first two thirds is very good.  A major failing of Burroughs' work is that his books frequently have a much too hasty and crammed ending.  It is as though he couldn't sustain his interest to the end, or maybe in his mind the climax came much earlier.  The first two thirds, however, are carefully crafted leading up smoothly to the denouement and then Burroughs more or less just ends it.

     The pivot of the novel is the bashing Ogden Secor receives at the hands of the burglars in his office.  This is, of course, reminiscent of the bashing Burroughs received in Toronto in 1899.  The incident made an indelible impression on him.  There is at least one comparable bashing usually several in each novel

     We should examine Ogden Secor to see what sort of composite he is.  Obviously one component is Burroughs himself. The patronymic Secor may refer to his sojourn at Sears when he wrote a poem extolling Sears Secoro pants.  That's about all I've been able to come up with so far and I don't want to speculate on the psychological implications of 'pants.' Suffice it to say that Jean Genet uses the prison term 'to defend one's pants.'  This means whether you will be able to wear them as a 'man' or otherwise in an obviously emasculated fashion.

All-Story Weekly - September 23, 1916 - The Girl from Farris's 1/4     Burroughs had Tarzan Of The Apes published by McClurg's in 1914 somewhat after Farris's, which was never published in his lifetime, was written.  However it was published in magazine form in the September-October issues of All Star-Cavalier Magazine of 1916 so that Burroughs could have rewritten it to include his experiences with McClurg's during 1914-16.

     By 1916 he would have been very unhappy with his treatment by the publisher.  Certainly after 1926 when Ogden McClurg met a mysterious death Burroughs seemed to gloat over it.

    Let us take a brief look at Ogden McClurg's career.  It is a very interesting career and one the ERB may have envied.

     Ogden was the son of Alexander McClurg, who renamed the firm after himself when he assumed control after the War Between The States.  The firm had been established in 1844.  MrcClurg's was primarily a book store which got into publishing on the side.  As a bookstore it was very successful as bookstores go.  Which is to say that any single store business, no matter how successful, can only produce a modest income compared to chain stores or industrial companies.  I doubt if Alexander netted more than ten to twenty thousand a year from it which while good is not fantastic compared to the Marshall Fields and Palmers or Sears, Roebuck.  Besides they kept burning McClurg's out.

     Nevertheless Alexander was prosperous enough to bring Latin tutors to Chicago to educate young Ogden setting the tutors up as the Chicago Latin School when Ogden had outgrown them.

     Ogden went off to college, graduating in 1901 returning to Chicago just after McClurg's had been burned out again.  One shudders to think of those wonderful books going up in flames.  Chicago must have been full of barbarians in those days.  Eugene Field the famous Chicago columnist and bibliophile used it as a clubhouse for his Saints and Sinners corner.  Alexander made an annual buying trip to England for the rare and beautiful.

     Just shows how downright ugly man can get, burning all those lovely books.  The arsonists probably lifted the choicest volumes before they torched the place.  At any rate this last fire may have been too much for the McClurg's finances.  The company was reorganized after the fire with the shares sold to the employees.  So this was an employee owned company when Ogden returned West from college with visions of becoming the playboy of the western world in his head.  One imagines the McClurgs retained a large number of shares for themselves but could no longer use the profits as their own.

     Nevertheless Ogden began work as an employee, being elected President only in 1911.  Therefore his income from the bookstore/publisher must have been too modest to support the lifestyle of the playboy of the western world.  By this time, as the saying goes, Ogden had been raised to champagne tastes.  I have been unable to learn how much Ogden inherited but it couldn't have been so much that he couldn't have gone through it in short order, especially as he was one of the premier sailors on the Great Lakes.  He was reputed to have owned more sailboats than any other Lake sailor.  His first wife too was a great sailor giving Ogden a match made in heaven.

     Ogden had a beautiful home in a prestigious neighborhood.  Obviously he needed more money than his income from the bookstore provided.  Ogden was an adventuresome sort.  He joined the Naval Reserve in which he rose to Lieutenant in 1909 when he inexplicably quit the Navy.  Or, is it inexplicable?

     Needing more money Ogden became a real estate developer of the more daring sort.  Details of his success are sketchy but one way or the other real estate development is a front loader with the return of capital and profits, if any, coming well down the road.  In the meantime Ogden's expenses for his high living kept running.

     In Burroughs' Farris's Ogden Secor was a real estate developer who ran into hard times as a result of his bashing.  If Burroughs rewrote Farris's in 1916 before magazine publication to include references to Ogden's troubles they could have been motivated by the, at least, inept handling of Tarzan Of The Apes by McClurg's.  It is absolutely unclear how many copies of Burroughs' magnum opus sold.  There seems to be little evidence to support the claim of millions in the first couple years.  The evidence indicates no more than a million but then the figures may have been lowered to skim off Burroughs' royalties which he thought was happening.

    Had McClurg's had confidence and promoted the book correctly it may have sold a million thus allowing Burroughs ten percent of 1.30 a copy.  Even at 1.30 the book seems to have been lowballed as a price of 1.50 or 2.00 would have been in line with the times.  At 10% of 1.3 million dollars Burroughs would have received the very princely sum of $130,000.  As it was the book was leased to A.L. Burt a discount house which returned a royalty of 4.9 cents a copy of which McClurg's as the lessor took half.  So if Burroughs had received his share from a million copies this would only have amounted to $25,000.  I would be angry, how about you?

     Now, it is said of Ogden that he participated in several Latin American revolutions.  These were the years of the organization of the Banana Republics by United Fruit and others.  These were years of US military intervention in the Central American States.  Harold Gray the author of Little Orphan Annie came from Chicago.  His Daddy Warbucks who always struck me as a strange character may have reflected something of the swashbuckling aura of this era.

     To participate in these revolutions Ogden would have had to have abandoned his Chicago interests.  Did he leave the Navy Reserve to become a secret agent of the US government in Central America?  Thus he would have no official connection to the US government while, one hopes, he might have been able to gain some wealth from the banana companies or wherever else he could obtain it as well as his agent's pay.

     During this period his first wife died.  Even though he must have been out of Chicago for extended periods of time he returned to his presidency of McClurg's.

     Somehow in this very adventuresome life he found time to court another woman while back East marrying her in 1916.  This might possibly have been a bad move.

     Shortly after the marriage the US entered the Great War.  Now, here's the catch:  Ogden left the Navy as a Lieutenant; he was now reinstated as a Lieutenant Commander being given very responsible positions which would have required some experience.  He could only have gotten the necessary training to be rewarded with this promotion as Secret Agent McClurg.

     Ogden has a new wife who is now left alone in Chicago while Ogden goes off to fight the war not returning until 1920. A woman of means can get pretty independent in that time especially as she has a husband she barely knows. It could have been inconvenient for the husband to return.  Or perhaps each saw the other with fresh eyes.

     At the same time Ogden had been absent from McClurg's for the several years he was at war plus who knows how much time when he was in Central America during the Banana Wars.

     The early years of the century were now over; this was the new world of the twenties; previous possibilities had vanished.  The swashbuckling years were over.  But, Ogden still had expensive tastes.  The bookstore/publishers could not generate enough wealth for both Ogden and the employee owners. He could no longer hope to raise money in Central American adventures.

     Still he was a resourceful man.  He redirected Mcclurg's from a bookstore/publisher to a wholesale house selling all sorts of things, refrigerators, radios, you name it.  The book store was sold to Brentano's in 1923 undoubtedly in order to raise money for the transition to wholesaler.  Still Ogden needed money while the transition to civilian life and to a homelife with a woman he now scarcely knew must have been excruciatingly painful.  He had to be wondering what had happened to his life.

     In 1926 Ogden participated in a scientific expedition to Central America.  Why would he have been selected by men he couldn't have known isn't clear.  Quite possibly the scientific expedition was a blind for some espionage and Ogden was once again a secret agent.  The pay must have been good because Ogden could ill afford to ignore his business and marriage.

(L-R) Gregory Mason, Ludlow Griscom, 
Odgen Trevor McClurg, 
Herbert Spinden, Francis Whiting

Ogden Trevor McClurg 
inspects the shore temple 
at Chakalal.

    Shortly after his return to Chicago, just a couple months, Ogden died the mysterious death over which ERB might have had some reason to gloat.

     A motorist found his car parked by the side of the road.  Ogden was found lying prostrate in a ditch with his feet in the water.  His head was cushioned by a folded car blanket.  While still conscious Ogden could only mutter:  'I am sick.  I am so sick.'  He was taken to an Oak Park hospital where he died without regaining consciousness.

     Who can say how he died.  I wonder who put the blanket under his head?

     The denouement of the tale couldn't have been known by Burroughs in 1916 but I believe that he believed Ogden stole his royalties for his real estate ventures.  One can't know whether he knew that Joe Bray, his editor at McClurg's was an owner as well as an employee.  It is possible that money was kept from him.  It all depends on how many copies were actually sold but Joe Bray could have been as guilty or more so than Ogden.

     In any event McClurg's who were not really serious publishers didn't recognize the appeal of Tarzan while they scorned the genre.  I'm sure that they learned their mistake too late.

     The story is set in the reform years from the 1905-13 period of ERB's life.  The gay old pre-twentieth century days were about over.  The nineteenth century had been a period when vice and criminals virtually controlled society openly.  There was New York with its Boss Tweed and Richard Croker of Tammany Hall.  San Francisco had its Barbary Coast and Chicago its Levee.  The vice districts attempted to segregate their psychological types in their own areas although the criminals were powerful enough to either influence or control city governments.  Bathhouse John and Hinky Dink Kenna had a thoroughly corrupt hand on the tiller of Chicago during the period of this story.

Boss Tweed
Boss Tweed
Richard Croker
Richard Croker
Tammany Hall
Bathhouse John and Hinky Dink Kenna
Bathhouse & Hinky Dink
     The reformers wanted to eliminate the vice districts, close down the Levee.  More far seeing criminals welcomed the idea as they saw it a an opportunity to broaden their base.  Sent out into the neighborhoods their prostitutes would quickly corrupt respectable women.  They would corrupt honest men by spreading their criminal doctrines.  Indeed, so it was foreseen and so it has been realized.

     When the Barbary Coast in San Francisco, a district one could easily avoid, was shut down the criminal element merely moved up to Broadway and North Beach where, more respectable than the Barbary Cost they began the absolute corruption of Baghdad By The Bay.  Nothing relative about it.

Barbary: San FranciscoLevee of Chicago
San Francisco's Barbary Coast  ~  Chicago's Levee District
    The Chicago of the Levee was transformed into the criminal wonderland of Al Capone and the Outfit covering the whole city.  Big Jim Colosimo and the bunch.  The criminal mentality never goes away it just reorganizes to times and conditions.
     ERB describes the goings on in the Levee with what seems to be fairly intimate knowledge.  His policeman Doarty is thoroughly convincing.  As the Irish controlled city hall they appointed their own to municipal jobs, hence all of ERB's cops are Irish.  They speak with the appropriate accent as ERB was always interested in dialect and speech patterns.  All of the characters in this story speak as would be appropriate to their social conditions. Thus ERB was no dummy but had had contact with a wide variety of people and experiences.

     Burroughs, who changes his writing style to fit the nature of his material, begins this one in the best journalese of the times. The ERBzine has reproduced several interesting articles from the Chicago Tribune of the era.  The journalistic style of the articles on Dr. Teed and inventor McDonnel are quite close to Burroughs' style here.  Compare those articles with this:

     "And anyhow what was an aldermanic drag compared with that possessed by "Abe" Farris?  No, Mr. Doarty had you questioned him would have assured you that he had not been born so recently as yesterday; that he was entirely dry behind the ears, and that if he "got" Mr. Farris at all he would get him good and plenty, for had he not a week before hearing that Mr. Doarty was no longer in the good graces of his commanding officer, refused to acknowledge Mr Doarty's right to certain little incidental emoluments upon which time honored custom had place the seal of lawful title?

     In other words - Mr. Doarty's words - Abe Farris had not come across.  Not only had he failed in this very necessary obligation, but he had added insult to injury by requesting Mr. Doarty to hie himself to the celestial nadir, and he made the remarks in a loud, coarse tone of voice in the presence of a pock-marked barkeep who had it in for Mr. Doarty because of a certain sixty, weary, beerless days that the pock-marked one had spent at Bridewell on Mr. Doarty's account."

     There's a nice bit of newspaper writing.  Sounds almost like Peter Finley Dunne's Mr Dooley without the dialect.  'To hie himself to the celestial nadir' is as nice a way of telling a man to got to hell as I've heard.  Beats the heck out of even grosser expletives with which literature - books and movies - are peppered today.  So it would appear that ERB is making a real effort to attain literary legitimacy.

     Not only would he have had to overcome the reputation of his earlier novels which the literati considered bizarre and strange but as Emma said he had a low brow style.  I'm sure he never understood why he was low brow although the charge hurt him as he complains about it in The Efficiency Expert while nevertheless writing a low brow story.

     I'm sure he felt he was telling the truth about society, which he was, but society doesn't want the truth told about it as an equally low brow writer named Sigmund Freud knew.  There are some things, as the saying goes, that one just doesn't mention.

Charles Lindbergh     That was the case with Charles Lindbergh when he was stumping for America First and baldly stated that the only three parties who wanted the US in the European war were the British, the Jews and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  He spoke the truth but it was a truth none of the three parties wished to acknowledge.  They probably thought no one knew what they were doing.

     In the upshot the Jews rushed forward with charges of anti-Semitism although what anti-Semitism is involved is difficult to see thus tarring Lindbergh with that particular brush from which his reputation has never recovered.

     In the same way, in a 'low brow' way ERB spoke the obvious about society  but facts which it preferred to ignore.  Strong meat for strong stomachs.  If you can't take the heat get out of the kitchen.

Stalin, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Winston Churchill.

     There is a problem in the story with the heroine June Latrhop.  Obviously an Anglo who appears to be working as a prostitute at Abe Farris's under the Irish name of Maggie Lynch.  She is introduced to us as the hard boiled Mag, while ERB later represents her as an honest girl from downstate who was openly married to John Secor who then tucked her away in this bordello while she only slowly recognizes it for what it is.  So how did this nice girl become so hard boiled?

   Secor died at the bordello leaving June at the mercy of Abe Farris.  There was then no reason for  June to assume the name of Maggie Lynch- she was pure as an Anglo but becomes a prostitute as a Hibernian- under which title she is introduced to us.

     This idea of the story may be based on the death of Marshall Field II who was shot in a bordello and then removed to his home to save his reputation.

Tacoma Tribune     She is escaping from Abe Farris's down a drain pipe in a back alley when she is pinched by Officer Doarty.  An interesting spelling of what I assume began as Doherty.  This Maggie Lynch is rather hard boiled making no bones about working as a prostitute.  In fact she tells Doarty that she had been offered a better crib at the competing Beverly establishment rather than saying something like:  Thank god officer, I'm June Latrop from downstate.  I've been imprisoned in there.

     Here the name of the Beverly bordello is very close to the real Everleigh bordello which was one of the most famous houses in Chicago.  It too was closed down about this time.

     Abe hadn't put her to work so she should have been innocent of any wrong doing believing herself to be married to John Secor, bigamously perhaps, but still legitimately married in a church.

Chicago's Everleigh Bordello: Entrance and Japanese Parlour

     She maintains the image of the prostitute- golden hearted to be sure- throughout the book until the last few pages when she shed her hard boiled aspect becoming nearly virginal.

     Doarty nevertheless pinches her and her case is put on the docket as the murderer of John Secor.

     The pages concerning ERB's discussion of the grand jury system were probably written early in the composition say, August of 1913.  During his years of excruciating headaches and floundering around to find himself, as should be clear, ERB was not idle.  He was alert, observant and studying his world.  His discussion of the Grand Jury system is intelligent and as cogent then as it is today.  Some things never change:

     "And the worst of it is," said one of the younger members of the panel,  (possibly ERB himself)  "it's all so utterly futile.  When I was summoned as a grand juror I had a kind of feeling that the state had placed a great responsibility upon my shoulders, that she had honored me above other men, and placed me in a position where I might help to accomplish something really worth while for my fellow man."

     One of the bank presidents laughed.

     "And the reality you find to be quite different, eh?"

     "Quite.  I hear only one side of a string of sordid, revolting stories, and I hear nothing more than the assistant State attorney wishes me to hear.  There are momentous question stirring the people of the  city, but when we suggest that we should investigate the conditions underlying them we are told that we are not an investigating body- that those questions are none of our business unless they are brought to our attention through the regular channel of our State Attorney's office.  We are told that the judge who charged us to investigate these conditions had never charged a grand jury before, and while doubtless he meant well he didn't know what he was talking about."

     "I understand," said another juror, "that we will get our chance at the vice problem today 'through the regular channel'- the Abe Farris case is on the docket for this afternoon."

     "And what will we do?"  asked the young man.  "We'll listen to such questions as the assistant State attorney sees fit to ask, and if we start asking embarrassing questions he'll have the sergeant-at-arms hustle the witness out of the jury room.  Then we'll hem and haw, and end up by doing whatever the assistant State attorney wants us to do.  We've done it on every important case- you watch."

     It's hard to believe that ERB wasn't called as a grand juror, that this isn't a first hand experience.  That was the way things were done then, it is the way things are done today and it is the way things have always been done.  It is always good to have the truth pointed out to us, basically ERB was wasting his breath, but he was right.

Anthony Comstock     The hearing allows ERB to introduce one of the reformers, the Rt. Reverend Theodore Pursen.  Well, if you're going to castigate the 'democracy' you might as well hit out at the reformers too.  These were the days of Anthony Comstock who was running down criminal uses of the mails.  The Comstocks of the world are good men doing a thankless job.  They are usually excessive in their zeal,at least their critics whose activities are threatened characterize them a such.  As a bystander watching the combatants I would rather see the Comstocks of the world triumph than the criminals but the crooks always seem to be able to nail the Comstocks pretty good.

     The Reverend Dr. Parkhurst of New York was still active at this time too.  He, too, had been vilified for his attempts to clean up his city.  You sit in a history class today and the prof will invariably side with the criminals against the reformers.  I had my troubles in school. Burroughs rips up Pursen pretty good too so I don't know who's side he was on in this argument.  Injured innocence, I guess, whatever that is.

     At this juncture the story is moved forward when Ogden Secor, a juror, sees something of value in young Mag.  In awe at his innate virtue Maggie decides to go straight as he suggested.  She was supposed to meet him but she lost his name.

    Nevertheless she does go straight although she has to avoid terrible temptations.  Check out what she rejected:

     "Hah!  What does (May Beverly) care?  She ain't got no love for Farris, and besides a chicken with an angel face like yours can get in anywhere in this burg.  But on the dead, Mag, you're a boob not to get your hooks onto some rich gazimbo.  I know a gink right now that'll pass me out five hundred bones for a squab like you.  Say the word and I'll split with you."

      The girl looked at the man for a moment, and then turned and gazed out the window.

     "That's right; think it over," said Eddie.  "It's a good proposition and that ain't no dream.  He's not exactly pretty, but he's there with a bundle of kale that would choke the Panama.  He'd set you up in a swell apartment, plaster sparklers al over you and give you a year-after next model eight-lunger and a shuffer.  You'd be the only cheese on Mich. Boul."

     How's that for slang.  Bunch of people I know couldn't understand it.  Imagine what's going to happen to the language when the English as a second language crowd meets that.  Whole catalogs of literature are going to slide into the abyss.  It'll be like trying to read Chaucer in the original.  But our young lady was made of stout stuff.  She turned Eddie down and learned stenography instead so she could get a twenty dollar a week job with the John Secor Company.  Weird huh?  ERB skims right over that one.

     It was a rough road to the top however.  Check out this exchange after she'd turned down Eddie.  She'd been working for eight or nine dollars a week.  The boss calls Mag into his office:

     "I have been noticing your work-and you." said the man.  "I think that you are not getting enough wages.  I believe that we can fix it up so that you can earn ten dollars a week- how would that strike you?"

    The girl's eyes narrowed but the man did not notice.

     "I should be glad if I could earn ten dollars a week," she replied.

     "Well, suppose you take dinner with me tonight and we'll talk it over- I'm too busy just now.  Well, what do you say?"

     June looked him straight in the eyes, and then she laughed.  She thought of the apartment on Michigan Avenue, the eight cylinder touring car, the chauffeur and diamonds- of all that she had refused seven months ago.

     "You poor boob," she said.  "you poor, cheap boob you!"

     The man turned scarlet.  He tried to say something, but the words stuck in his throat.

     June rose from her chair.

     "Give me my time, please.  I've heard there were men like you are.  If you had the nerve to come right out and say what you wanted of me I might at least have had a little respect for you: but to try to work that old cradle-robbing dinner-game on me!  And offering me ten dollars a week and work all day in the bindery to boot!  Give me my four dollars and let me out of here!"

     June must have been taking some English as a second language course to be able to speak out like that.  If you'll notice her English has improved a great deal since we were introduced to her at the beginning of the story.  Notice also how ERB translates eightlunger, shuffer, and sparklers for anyone who has been puzzling over the terms for the last several pages.  Nice guy.  Altogether a nice passage, well handled.

     June goes to work for the John Secor Company only to find that she has found Ogden Secor again.  He doesn't recognize her but as she is a whiz as a stenographer he is duly impressed.

     Here also ERB gets to introduce a favorite character, in this incarnation, Sammy the Sleuth.  Sammy is the office boy who wants to be a Pinkerton.  Hence his taking a Correspondence School course on how to be a detective.  Whether this is good literature is a matter of taste but it is great pulp fiction without a doubt.  Sammy actually holds the story together from here to end.  A very happy creation on the part of ERB and cleverly handled too.

     Enters now also the villain, Stickler, the office manager.  It falls out that Doarty is selling tickets to the policeman's ball, notices June who he knows as Maggie Lynch, informs Stickler of her past.  Stickler has been slavering over June for some time; he now makes his move.  She quits.  Stickler hires a couple guys to rifle the safe meaning to pin the blame on June who along with him has the combination to the safe.

     There's a very interesting detail here.  Ogden goes to New York.  On his way back from New York he stops at South Bend.  This stop adds nothing to the story yet ERB mentions it. Why?  Sometime about 1909 he had gone to South Bend from which by letter he advised Emma that it was a nice town.  What exactly was he doing there and why did it make such an impression on him that he  has Ogden Secor stop over?  Unsolved mysteries from the Burroughs vault.

     The crux of the story occurs here when Secor returns to his office on reaching Chicago to interrupt the burglars in process of opening his safe.  They leap up using offensive weapons to bash in Secor's head.  This recapitulates ERB's own situation in Toronto in 1899 which apparently traumatized him for life, as why not?  Just as he was bashed in the forehead so Ogden Secor and if you check the myriad other bashings in his stories,  ERB never ceases discussing this. I think you'll find his characters are always bashed in the forehead and not from behind as in detective stories.  Should tell us something.

     ERB was treated at a Toronto hospital and released although there were short, medium and long term effects.  ERB has Ogden laid up for sometime with severe memory loss and an inability to concentrate on matters at hand.  He fails to recognize long time acquaintances thus losing his friends.  He associates with his fiancee for a year after the bashing without realizing that he is engaged to her.  Naturally his office manager Stickler takes advantage of him eventually selling him down the river to a competitor.

     It is likely that ERB suffered many of the same symptoms from 1899 to 1903 when he went to Idaho as he has his hero Secor do.  Speaking to a chance acquaintance in a bar Secor is reminded that he owns property in Idaho which was not included in his bankruptcy.  Following Greeley's advice he went West.

     June/Mag had been set up to take the fall for Stickler.  She escapes this fate when Secor from his hospital bed refused to press charges.  Doarty advises her to get out of town which advice she acts on considering the advice timely.  She precedes Ogden to Goliath, Idaho where she takes a job as a waitress.

     Ogden first goes to Ketchum which, after a few unflattering remarks about the place by ERB, he leaves for Goliath.  These must have been the days before the movie stars discovered Sun Valley.  ERB might be surprised at the changes to Ketchum.

     After a fine start ERB compresses the ending into thirty pages of predictable actions.  Ogden sinks into the pit, is rescued by June/Mag and redeems himself by hard but unrewarding labor.

Placer mining area on the Snake River
Placer mining area on the Snake River

Burroughs Brothers Gold Dredging Operation on the Snake    He takes up placer mining on the shores of the Snake.  ERB condemns the lust for gold as demeaning by which I suppose he condemns his brothers for the folly of operating gold dredges on the river.  Like Secor, but on a grander scale, they too had labored mightily only to end up broke as expenses overtook rewards.

     Ogden and Mag are good pals but their pasts prevent them from confessing their love.  Then they run into Pursen and his wife who was Secor's former fiancee.  Right behind them comes that wide ranging Chicago Police force.  Doarty shows up in Idaho to pinch June?Mag, this time for the murder of John Secor.

     One is reminded of the Chicago officers who followed Billy Byrne and Bridge of 'Out There Somewhere' from Chitown all the way to El Paso before the boys escaped across the border.  Even then the Chifuzz was waiting for them in Brownsville when they returned.  My advice is: Never commit a crime in Chicago although it has been rumored that many do.

     Then begins one of the more improbable endings in literature.  Saved by the correspondence school sleuth, Sammy, who is now a full fledged detective Secor suggests to June that now they can be married. 

     June is horrified at marrying the son of the father she had been married to.

     Stop! Stop, that's not the way it was, that's just the way we thought it was because we didn't ask the right questions along the way.

     "My father!" (Secor) exclaimed.  "do you mean that you do not know- that John Secor was not my father?'

     "Not your father?"

     June was no more surprised than I was.  I'd been reading along pretty carefully and I thought John was Ogden's father.  Talk about the luck of Horatio Alger, listen to this:

     I was the foster son of John Secor's brother. When he died I went to live with the John Secors, and after the death of their only son I entered Mr. Secor's office, taking the place of the son he had lost, later inheriting the business."

What an incredible stroke of luck for a little orphan boy.  Secor's brother even adopted him or he couldn't have been a Secor.  We used to to hear stories like this around the orphanage but nobody ever believed them.  I certainly didn't 

     Foster son of the brother?  Genetically safe anyway you look at it.  Are all the obstacles now removed?  Not yet.

     There's still the lingering doubt Ogden may have abut her loyalty concerning the safe and skull crackers.  Well, rah, rah, rah Correspondence school.  Up steps Detective Sammy:

     "That's what I wanted to tell you about, Miss Lathrop,'  he said excitedly.  "It wasn't her at all" he went on, turning to Secor.  "It was that smooth scoundrel of a Stickler.  I was hiding under his filing cabinet when he tried to make Miss Lathrop go out with him, and I heard her turn him down.  Then I followed him, for I was just studying to be a detective then and I had to practice every chance I got.  He went straight to Abe Farris's saloon and there I saw him talking low and confidential-like to a couple of tough lookin' guys for about two hours.  He handed one of 'em a slip of paper, explaining what was on it.  I couldn't see it, but from what happened after I knew it held the combination to your safe for I seen the robber that was shot when he was put on trial, and he was one of the guys that Stickler met in Farris's.  I was so scared I didn't dare tell nobody."

    OK.  Are all the obstacles removed?

     Ogden turned toward June with a faint smile.  "You see," he said, "that one by one your defences are reduced- aren't you about ready to capitulate?"

     "I guess there is no other way," she sighed, "but it seems that the world must be all awry when hope of happiness appears so close within my grasp."

     So ends the tale which from its inception to its end bracketed five others must of which had sequels carrying ERB's though processes beyond this one.

     One of them, The Mucker, evolved into Out There Somewhere and then into Bridge And The Oskaloosa Kid which resolved a number of psychological problems for ERB including he Anima and Animus with which this story is concerned.

     In this, as in many Burroughs' stories the hero is a prince who through adverse circumstances becomes a pauper then redeems himself in the end.  In this manner ERB retells his vision of his own life which begins as a little prince.  He is disinherited by John the Bully as well as his father transferring him from school to school.  His attachment to his first school, Brown, remained with him throughout his life.  His wife, Emma, was a classmate at Brown. 

     After years of tribulations ERB was realizing his potential as a prince.  This book was begun in his anno mirabilis of 1913.  He began writing it with only the prospect of success before him.  He was about to take his first extended visit to California so that the story was begun in Chicago and completed in San Diego after had successfully negotiated the trials of 1913. 

     Like June, after many bitter years of disappointments, he could hardly believe such happiness was his.

     As in Bridge and The Kid the characters represented by his Anima and Animus are reunited.  Both had failed him miserably on that street corner with John the Bully.  His years of failure were undoubtedly caused by this fracture of both sides of his personality.  As they were degraded so was he.  Thus he represents his Anima as a prostitute who had started out poor but honest while his Animus goes through a period of extreme degradation before he finds himself.

     This theme would be repeated very closely ten years later in his Marcia Of the Doorstep with the roles of June and Secor reversed.

     Thus ERB struggled with this problem of his Anima and Animus throughout his life.  Farris's may be seen as a first failed attempt at reconciliation.  Bridge And The Oskaloosa Kid actually resolved the problem but apparently not to his complete satisfaction. The follow through must have been missing.  He might have needed some outside guidance.  Marcia Of the Doorstep must have been a futile retelling as it was never published anywhere during his lifetime.

     Farris's is not a great success as a novel but it is nonetheless a good story.  There would have been little pulp writing any better.  Once again ERB crammed the ending.  If he had put as much care into the end as he did the beginning he would have had a pretty decent novel.

     Whatever its shortcomings I like the book.  A better glimpse of the Chicago of the period would be hard to find.  I am as entranced by slang and speech patterns as was ERB, thus the novel has other attractions to me than story.  I felt like I was there.  I recommend you go there too.  Read the book if you haven't.  Read with care and attention to detail, there are a lot of hidden beauties.

Charter edition: John Rush cover art ~ June 1979

The Girl From Farris's: e-Text Edition
The Girl From Farris's: ERB C.H.A.S.E.R.
The Princess Of Mars
The Mucker
The Mad King Of Lutha
Nu Of The Neocene
The Beasts Of Tarzan
The Lad And The Lion: ERB C.HA.S.ER.
Tarzan Of The Apes
Bob Connelly Film Project with Ogden Trevor McClurg

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