The First and Only Weekly Online Fanzine Devoted to the Life and Works of Edgar Rice Burroughs
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Volume 0532
Since the last days of the twentieth century, nothing has been heard from...

        ...beyond 30ºW

...until now
ECOF gathering, Baltimore 2003
By Laurence Dunn
The ERB Traveller
Reprinted from ERBapa 77
Well it had to happen sooner or later. I flew into Binghamton, N.Y. with my luggage still stranded in Philadelphia. It did not surprise me, Philadelphia is a disaster area for international travellers. Since that dreadful day almost two years ago, they are desperately trying to cope with all the security measures possible and failing miserably.

The day had begun badly with the air-conditioning on the aircraft not working properly as it stood at the gate at Gatwick Airport. For half-an-hour we sweltered in the heat until finally the Captain could turn on the main engines and the air-conditioning finally kicked in. Stowed in the luggage hold was my suitcase filled with first edition mystery books for Bill Ross. What few clothes I was taking with me was used as packing for the precious cargo. It only needed to meet me at Binghamton and the rest would be plain sailing.

The flight was enjoyable with a choice of films and TV shows. I was able to see Disney's Treasure Planet, an episode of Friends, and finally, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Mystery. But after having enjoyed the in-flight entertainment, the memory of it quickly disappeared as we waited a frustrating 45mins. for our baggage to reach the carousel. There were then long lines to hand in our customs declaration forms, a long line to place our luggage on the conveyer belt that was not moving for my connecting flight (this is where my case was left behind), and finally another line to go through a security check point to get into the main terminal. However, I noticed several people exiting through a side door and heading up the road to the next terminal. Time was running out if I was to make my next flight and if meant walking from one end of the airport to the other, then so be it. Fortunately there were no lines at the next terminal that is used for internal flights and I breezed through the remainder of the airport.

It amazes me at times just how small our world can be as I sat down in my seat on the commuter prop aircraft. It turned out that the young girl student sat next to me who was visiting her grand parents lives just twenty miles from me.

Elaine Casella was there to greet me. My luggage caught the next flight out of Philadelphia and arrived at Elaine's home at 12:30am and Bill's books were finally back in safe hands.

Shortly after 9:00am the following day, Elaine and I set out for Annapolis where Bill and Lois Ross live. They were planning a barbecue beside their pool for early arrivals. The water looked cool and inviting in the 97° heat but the local mallards had got there first and did not look like they wanted to share the oasis.

Many familiar faces welcomed us upon our arrival, some I had seen just two months earlier on my last visit at the April meeting of the Panthans. John Tyner was already busy at work taking registration. Fortunately I still had enough cash left over from that visit to take care of business.

Besides Bill's wonderful ERB collection, he has amassed an incredible mystery book collection in recent years. Several bookcases line the walls in their sitting room along with perhaps a dozen large boxes that contain many signed editions but have yet to find a home. Upstairs is a similar picture with the upper landing lined with shelves of yet more books. What makes this collection even more amazing is the fact that Bill only likes to collect first edition hardback mystery books and it would be hard to find its equal. Elaine had not visited our hosts' home since the ECOF event in 1999 and her face was a picture as she gaped in awe of it all.

Bill's timing was impeccable when he fired up the barbecue, as I had not eaten since an early breakfast. With a range of side dishes and dressings for our hot dogs and burgers, cold soft drinks and beer to quench our thirsts, we dined extremely well that day.

After a long day, people began to drift home or head over to the Ramada Inn on the outskirts of Baltimore where the convention would take place over the next couple of days. Mike Conran and I tossed a coin for the spare bedroom that ended with Mike finding that he would sleep on the mattress - but one that was laid out on the upper landing floor. We were not the only guests as Jerry Spannraft and his lady friend Candy were also staying, as too was Bruce Wood. Bruce is currently producing dust jackets for the uniform set of ERB hardback editions being made available by Jerry Schneider and his Erbville Press publishing house. So far, four books are available: The Land That Time Forgot; The Girl From Farris's; Conquest of the Moon; and The Master Mind of Mars. In the coming months, The Mucker; Thuvia Maid of Mars; and Tarzan and the Huns will also be released. At around $41 each plus another $15 for a quality-produced jacket, these books are not within everyone's reach. But Jerry is going back to the original magazine versions that have not been seen in a long time and they do sit very well together on a bookshelf.

I slept extremely well that night - helped no doubt by the air conditioning that would otherwise have proved very uncomfortable. Elaine and I had both brought along a few items to try and sell at the event along with my notes for a talk that I had been asked to give in the afternoon.

Once again John Tyner was on hand for registrations and to give us each a package filled with goodies. Amongst the items included was a convention pin with new artwork by Mark Wheatley a bookmark with the same artwork with a full listing of Burroughs published works on the back (in an order that I could not quite fathom). There was also a portfolio of 10 new pieces of art by Harry Roland, five of which were in full colour. Inside the huckster room several people had already begun to display their wares. I happened to choose a table next to fellow APA member Bill Morse who immediately snapped up my copy of J.T.Edson's Sacrifice for the Quagga God that is the third novel in his Bunduki trilogy. When I told him that the other three books I had, JT's Hundredth, Mark Counter's Kin and JT's Ladies Ride Again also contained Bunduki short stories, he took those also. I was now almost out of items to sell before I had started but fortunately Elaine had brought along enough to make our table still look respectable.

The room soon began to fill with people and the tables piled high with all kinds of wonderful things. I managed to find a rare copy of Vern Coriell's Burroughs Bulletin #13 that begins with a great article on Jim Pierce and his work on Tarzan and the Golden Lion. I also found two studio stills that identify four of the actresses that played amazons in the film Tarzan and the Amazons.

After a quick visit to the bank to cash some travellers cheques and lunch in the hotel restaurant, it was time for the afternoon panel of Burroughs Bibliographies. It was at this moment that we discovered that our moderator J.G. "Huck" Huckenpohler, had been kidnapped by Bill Ross and Mike Conran who were on a visit to Second Storey Books. So without Huck to lead the way, the panel consisting of Cole Richardson (sitting in for his father Darrell), Tom Stock and myself, began our presentations.

Using his father's notes, Cole gave a history of the many bibliographies that have been produced over the years and this was followed by several questions. As the ever-present Englishman at these events, I had been asked to talk about the publishing history of Edgar Rice Burroughs in Great Britain. To help me along, and with the use of a large format colour printer at the office, I had scanned several book covers and printed them out on poster-sized sheets for everyone to see. Despite having my notes in front of me, I found that I could not stand, talk, hold up posters and read my notes at the same time. This meant that I forgot perhaps 20% of what I had planned to say but still managed to talk for approximately 20 minutes and also surprise the audience with a number of revelations. After numerous questions, I was asked what I had planned to do with my posters. I had intended just to discard them but after several people showed an interest in them, it was decided that they should be auctioned them off and the proceeds go towards paying for the Panthans upcoming publication of new articles on ERB. Tom Stock then took his turn to talk about the various bibliographies that are currently available through the Internet. Halfway through his presentation, our moderator Huck showed up to much banter and was able to say a few words after Tom had finished before the panel finally wrapped up.

A short time later the huckster room was closed for the day and we set off to have our evening meal. In a convoy of five cars we headed off to nearby Frederick - a town which made the news even in England a few months earlier as that was where the two Washington D.C. snipers were finally caught. After dining at a nearby Bob Evans restaurant, the group made its way to the Wonderbooks bookstore where I was able to find one of the three remaining Stuart Woods novels on my Want List. I also found a first edition of Porges biography of Burroughs but decided to pass on it.

Traffic was extremely congested on our return journey caused by a small construction crew drilling a hole in one of two lanes just after an intersection. As soon as we were clear of it, the traffic melted away to clear open roads.

We took our time the following morning before heading back to the convention hotel. The huckster room still promised a few surprises as I uncovered several issues of Norb's Notes that I was missing. Out of the 100 issues that Charles Reinsel produced (actually there were 101 issues with two variants of #15), I now have 81 in my collection. No mean feat for a fanzine that was published forty years ago and sent out haphazardly to subscribers such that no one ever received every issue. Elsewhere I also bought a second hardback copy of Richard Lupoff's: Barsoom, ERB and the Martian Vision still in mint condition.

The morning panel discussion consisted of just one person, Stan Galloway who teaches students at the Bridgewater College in Bridgewater VA. Through his position, every now and again he has the opportunity to get his students to read one of Burroughs novels and later is able to discuss the book in class. His presentation at the ECOF event was to share the views these academic students had of Edgar Rice Burroughs. The reaction amongst the students was very mixed and ranged across the spectrum from one of enjoyment to one of, “Why do we have to read this crap?” (the view anyway of one student). When asked whether the question of racism ever arose, Stan Galloway responded that as Burroughs work was followed by a book written by F. Scott Fitzgerald in which he treated blacks in a similar nature and then the theme was simply recognised as a product of its time.

The afternoon auction went down very well with many fine items going under the hammer. Al Gross sold off several helmets that had been adapted by the late Gray Morrow that he used when drawing his strips. My poster sized book covers did far better than I expected amassing a total of $87 that went to a good cause.

After the huckster room finally closed down and cleared, the hotel caterers took over to make ready the room. The evening banquet was a fine affair with excellent cuisine and enjoyable conversation. After a few words by John Tyner, the group finally broke up for the day. Jim Thompson had brought along his Jetan set and several games were then played. Eventually it was time for us to leave also and Elaine and I headed back to Annapolis with Bruce Wood.

Breakfast the following morning at the Ramada Inn was a chance to say our final farewells to everyone. The convention had been a huge success and enjoyed by everyone that attended.

On our way back to Bill's house, this time accompanied by Jim and Linda Thompson, we stopped off in Laurel to check out a couple of bookstores. Here I found one of my last two remaining Stuart Woods novels that I needed for a complete set. What had begun with listening to a book on tape has now reached almost the conclusion of collecting 26 first editions and have enjoyed reading every one of them.

Back at the home of Bill and Lois Ross, I was able to continue taking notes of Bill's British collection of ERB books for a bibliography that Frank Westwood and I hope to complete and publish one day. But all too soon it was time to head home. On route Elaine and I picked up Bill Morse at the hotel and drove to his home in New Jersey. Finally we reached Binghamton and the following day I flew home. Attending Edgar Rice Burroughs conventions is always a highlight for me each year. I get to meet so many wonderful people that I cannot imagine what would stop me coming. I just hope that I never find out.

ERBzine 0328: ERBapa Archive
ERBzine 0389 ECOF 2000: Elvis, Tarzan, Superman...! 
ERBzine 0391 ...beyond 30ºW: A Profile on an International ERB Fan
ERBzine 0439 Tales from an ERB Traveller - Greystoke Convention 1988 
ERBzine 0439p: Greystoke Photo Gallery
ERBzine 0462: ERB International
ERBzine 0529: Tarzana and Beyond: ECOF 1989
ERBzine 0551 Dum-Dum 2000 & Michigan Military Academy
ERBzine 0551m Large-Scale Map of the MMA Area
ERBzine 0603 Walking in the footsteps of a MMA cadet
ERBzine 0605 Dum-Dum 2001: Tampa Florida
ERBzine 0985 ECOF 2002: Woodland Hills, California
ERBzine 0952 Dum-Dum 2002: College Station & Brad Vinson Collection, Texas
ERBzine 0532 ECOF Baltimore 2003

Volume 0532

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