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Volume 2724


Tarzan's Minidoka -- The dangdest thing you ever read
A Magic Valley News Column
Comments on the "ERB Country II" article by John Martin
By Andrew
Tarzan's Minidoka -- The dangdest thing you ever read ~ September 17, 2010 ~ by Steve Crump

If you're from these parts, you may know that writer Edgar Rice Burroughs forged his inner Tarzan in the turn-of-the-century Magic Valley, punching cows in Cassia County and dredging gold from the Snake River.

What you may not have heard is that his first novel was titled “Minidoka.” And even by Tarzan’s standards, it’s a whopper.

“Certainly, nobody figured Burroughs for a writer, not in 1903-04,” says John Taliaferro, a former Newsweek editor who is Burroughs’ biographer. “His wife and family could only shake their heads, and, if they were in an indulgent mood, smile, for now more than ever Burroughs seemed to have embraced shiftlessness. His niece and nephew loved his funny stories and cartoons, but as far as his brothers and their wives were concerned he was essentially a grown-up kid, unreliable when it came to prolonged or heavy labor. Most likely they barely listened when he announced that he was at work on something more substantial than the hasty nonsense poems or pen-and-ink caricatures he tossed off for the children.”

The book was “Minidoka 937th Earl of One Mile — Series M; An Historical Fairy Tale,” which Burroughs wrote when he was 28.

According to Taliaferro, Burroughs typed the first few pages on the back of forms of the Yale Dredging Company, which ran the Snake River gold dredge.

“Some of the most bothersome nonsense may be excused as family jokes no longer decipherable, but much of the manuscript is clearly just puerile wordplay,” Taliaferro writes in “Tarzan Forever: The Life of Edgar Rice Burroughs.”

The story is set in the Bradydom of Smith and the Connerdome of Bil in the land of Bray Pzvrijhk. The hero, Minidoka the Earl of One Mile, must battle a prehistoric monster called the Hookie-Dookie, and another creature — the Rhinogazarium — that lives in the Castle in the Air at the edge of the Earth. He slays both and rescues the damsel Bodine, whom Hookie-Dookie has transformed into a coyote, and Rhi — a prince who had been changed into the form of the Rhinogazarium.

With Bodine and Rhi in tow and guided by a monkey called Anthropop, Minidoka travels to the center of the Earth — a place called Nevaeh — where everything is backwards. Winged fish with halos, for example, angle in a lagoon for little boys, which are hooked through the cheek, reeled in and tossed into a bag.

Following their subterranean adventures, Minidoka and Rhi have a falling-out and battle for 14 days. The earl finally kills Rhi and turns him into a green-eyed monster named Jealously.

Burroughs never tried to published “Minidoka;” it was filed away, forgotten and discovered among his possessions after his death in 1950. But without “Minidoka,” Taliaferro doubts the creator of Tarzan would ever have become a writer.

“(‘Minidoka’) survives as proof that his decision in 1911 to write ‘A Princess of Mars,’ his first legitimate novel, was not simply the impulse of a desperate salesman,” Taliaferro writes.

Dark Horse Comics, a Milwaukie, Ore.-based publishing company, released a graphic-novel version of “Minidoka” in 1998.Though out of print, it’s still available on Rupert’s DeMary Memorial Library and the Twin Falls Public Library each have a copy.

Comments on the "ERB Country II" article by John Martin
By Andrew
In reading some of your articles, it appears that you might be the kind of person who would find the following content interesting. I had some spare time and thought that writing a few interesting tidbits--inspired by a single photo -- would be an enjoyable project for me to do. It does seem that these "tidbits" have turned into somewhat of an article of its own.

At any rate, I ran across your "ERB County" article (Edgar Rice Burroughs Country by John Martin) while re-researching the Burroughs/Sweetser efforts to dredge the Snake River.  I originally learned about from your website years earlier while then researching Edgar's southern Idaho ties. What prompted that research was that I had received a copy of the ERB's 'Minidoka' book. The book had aroused my curiosity as to why so many locations that are familiar in this area were referenced. Once I learned that he had spent time in this area it all made sense.

Anyway, when doing my research this morning, I nearly fell out of my chair when I saw the accompanying photo. Apparently I had missed seeing it the first time visited your website. Never in my life did I ever expect to see a photo of that location -- yet alone in an article. The fact that someone had made Minidoka a destination location while on vacation is almost equally as surprising to me. Though, I guess if one had never been there how would they know there isn't much there.  (Though it sounds like something I would do). You would have been better off to go to Albion.  It's a very nice little town right at the base of Mount Harrison.

I have a ton of great memories of Minidoka. I lived the first six and a half years of my life either in, or within a couple of miles of Minidoka. Actually, about four of those six and a half years I lived within a half block of the location in the photo. When I lived there it was a quaint, clean, and well kept little town. Then, an ideal location to grow-up. Unfortunately, now it's not much more than a modern day ghost town deteriorating by the year. There is some interesting history there however. It is said that the town of Minidoka once had a population of around 5000. This, I think, would have been around the turn of the century -- when ERB was roaming the area. I'm not sure when, but a fire pretty much wiped out the entire original town. The official population of the town when I lived there was 99. I still remember the sign as you crossed the railroad tracks as you came into town.

The above photo is of the front of what was once called "Vern's Bar" -- Verne was my dad. (If I remember correctly, the second 'E' of his name was left off of the sign that hung on the west side of the building -- don't know if the sign would have been there at the time of your visit.)  In the mid 1960s my dad decided to quit farming and go into the saloon business. He had run the other bar in town for a year, on lease. That bar and cafe was then called the Depot bar and Grill (this is "building that appeared to be a store" in your article -- and there was a store too -- but he didn't run it).  That bar had a definite old west "saloon" feel to it. It was just across the street form the UP railroad depot (which had probably been torn down by the time of your visit). He then decided to buy the vacant building at the location of the photo and turn it in to a bar of his own (1968 or 69). That vacant cinder block building had previously been an Assembly of God church. The fact that my dad was going to turn a former "house of worship" into a bar somewhat disturbed my mother -- who was the daughter of a minister -- but that's what he did and I guess she got over it. I remember when he was doing the renovation work, I would "help" (I was only 2 or 3 at the most) by picking up nails and wood scrap, etc. After the bar was opened, I would sneak over often to see my dad often, much to the dissatisfaction of my mother (I was supposed to be playing in the yard -- which was fenced/gated -- but I got out anyway) but my dad seemed to enjoy my visits. I spent hours in that place, but only when it was not too busy.

By the time I was six and a half, my mother had enough of Minidoka (she hated the location and the town in general, and I don't think the bar was much of a financial success) and she finally convinced my dad to move into Rupert (Jan. 1973). At that point he started leasing the bar to various people which pretty much ran it only during the farming months as Hispanic seasonal laborers were the primary patrons. This was the case when you snapped the photo. At some point after I had left the area, he sold the building -- I'm not even sure when (late '90s maybe). I moved back to the area seven years ago and still go to/through Minidoka frequently. Whoever purchased "Verne's Bar" renovated it into a house. I went through Minidoka just a few weeks ago and noticed a "for sale" sign in front of it. Interested? I'm sure the asking price isn't too high.

As for the "Beer To Go On Sunday" sign: My dad is who either painted or had that "interesting" sign painted. The story behind it is that there used to be a county ordinance (in both Minidoka and Cassia counties) that bars could not be open on Sunday nor could stores in any nearby towns sell beer on Sunday. But city ordinances in Minidoka and Declo allowed them to sell beer "to go" on Sunday. This was done through a drive through window (partially shown to the right in the photo) as the doors to the establishment had to remain locked. If people in the area wanted beer for Sunday they had to either plan ahead or make a Sunday trip to Minidoka or Declo. The ordinance was changed 20+ years ago and bars can now be open on Sunday.

One interesting bit of more recent (and perhaps ugly) Minidoka history took place nearly exactly where you must have been standing to take the photo (or at least the event took place well with in the span of the photo). I think it was in the mid 1980s. I know it took place at approximately 8 o'clock on a Sunday morning. Two men apparently had a showdown reminiscent of the old west days -- or at least that's how the story is told. I don't know that it was a "fast draw" type of show-down, but both men did point guns at each other and fired. In a way, it almost sounded like a duel. One man was killed and I'm not sure what happened to the other. I don't know that he was ever caught -- my guess would be that he fled back to Mexico. Apparently, the two men were members of rival families in the Mexican Mafia.

Unfortunately, my only real awareness of ERB's time in southern Idaho comes mainly from information gleaned from your website and couple other websites.  I, personally, have very little information about ERB that comes from local sources. Most people around here are unaware of his ties to the area.  However, I intend to further research his presence here as it is an interesting subject to me, at least ever since I received his 'Minidoka' book (several years ago).  The places referenced in this book are what made me realize that he had a history in the area.  Consequently, I was drawn to research the subject.

One project I thought would be interesting would be to put current-day photos to the many (at least 8 to 10+) places mentioned in ERB's Minidoka, 937th Earl of One Mile Series M.  It would definitely be a spring/summer project though. This is because southern Idaho this time of year is one of two colors -- brown or white -- the photos might all look alike.

Here are a couple corrections of erroneous content in your article.

>>>Minidoka is in Minidoka County, a county separated from its neighbor, Cassia County, by Interstate 84.<<<
Actually, the border between Minidoka and Cassia counties is the Snake River.

>>>Minidoka had a more dubious claim to fame during World War II. It was the site of one of the camps in which the U. S. government interned Japanese Americans.<<<
The Minidoka Internment Camp only shared the name with the town and county. The Minidoka internment camp was actually 30-40 or so miles southwest of Minidoka. It was actually in Jerome County just north of a town called Eden. I don't know why they named the internment camp as they did.

The Burroughs Brothers' Yale Letters
Tarzan of the Apes: ERB C.H.A.S.E.R. Encyclopedia
Tarzan of the Apes: 1918 Film
Edgar Rice Burroughs Bio Timeline
ERB's Personal Library
ERBzine Silver Screen
Minidoka 937th Earl of One Mile Series M. 
An Historical Fairy Tale: ERB C.H.A.S.E.R.
Charles King
Prindle's ERB, Religion and Evolution series
ERB Genealogical Notes
Major George T. Burroughs
ERBzine 2199: Ragtime Talking Eddie Burroughs:
Another Look At Minidoka by R.E. Prindle
ERBzine 0303: Nkima's Chattering From The Shoulder:
"The Wizards of California: Baum & Burroughs"
ERB: Cassia County, Idaho Years
Burroughs Sweetser Connection Part I
Burroughs Sweetser Connection Part II
Edgar Rice Burroughs Country by John Martin
Part I | Part II | Part III
Jeddak of the North visits Megadoka
(A Ratnaz Parody)

Gloria Draper Sweetser Collection
Irwin Porges: The Man Who Created Tarzan
The Burroughs Bulletin No. 19 article by Phil Burger
Assorted ERB Fan Club, Fanzine and Website Materials
ERB the Contactee: UFO
Minidoka County Official Website
Minidoka Concentration Camp
Minidoka Detention Camp
Pocatello Promo on YouTube
Pocatello Visitors Bureau Site

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