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Issue 0577

The Bio Section is by Mike Conran
From ERB-APA Reprint ~ Number 44 ~ December, 1994

Note: This page was created many years ago when Internet storage and speed were much more limited.
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I am a charter member of the ERB-APA and have had an article in every issue (currently Issue Number 68 -- Winter 2001), although it has often been a task to maintain this record.  For this, my forty-fourth contribution, MANGANI ZUGOR will follow the OE's suggestion to do an issue on ourselves.  Some of the enclosed material appeared in my first ERB-APA contribution in March, 1984


We live on the western side of Michigan in Jenison, a suburb of Grand Rapids - the second largest city in the state, behind Detroit.  I was born here in 1948, which makes me 52.   Linda, my wife of 28 years, met me after I had started collecting.  She is very understanding about the my hobby and knows that my family comes first!  We have three children, Chris, our oldest  son who is 23, and a senior in college.  Chris often attended conventions with me when he was younger.  Our second son, Nick is 21, who likes to travel and has made friends with members of our group.  Our youngest, Sara, is adopted.  She is 15 years old and has her Daddy wrapped around her little finger.  We adopted her from Korea when she was three months old.  She likes to attend conventions that are in locations that she wants to visit.

Linda and I take weekend getaways two or three times a year.  This allows us to be alone.  We like to have these getaways at different Bed and Breakfast Inns.  There are several favorite Inns and enjoy the time alone to relaxing and unwinding from the hectic pace of life.  The secret is to stay at least two nights --- it takes at least one night to unwind.  Walking along small town streets with bright Christmas lights and returning to the Inn to drink hot chocolate and roast marshmallows over the fire in the fireplace provide unforgettable memories.  Often, it is like stepping back into another era, sometimes the rooms do not have television sets or telephones, other guest say hello and are more likely to have a conversation with you, the Inn keepers are cheerful and smile at you!


For the last 23 years I have been employed by The Grand Rapids Area Transit Authority (GRATA), the city bus system, as an operations supervisor.

We also own an Adult Foster Care Home (AFC Home) about 20 minutes from our home in  the small town of Coopersville. Linda does most of the work with our employees, filling in on their days off, and taking residents to the doctor's and mental health appointments.  The home is a large house that looks like any other home on the street.  It is over 100 years old and often needs repairs, which means extra work for us. Recently we have had to do more work to the house since State regulations have become more strict.  We try to provide a home-like atmosphere for our residents and work hard to keep the house looking nice.  Our home is licensed for ten residents and we currently are full.

I also have a Sunday paper route that requires my getting up early every Sunday or finding a substitute when attending conventions.

 I also work part-time at Argos, a local comic and used book store.  This helps support my collecting habit.  This job also involves working the store's booth at Michigan's largest Antiquarian Book and Paper Show  every six months in East Lansing


Mike Conran and Johnny Sheffield in the Book Room

My introduction to the many worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs came during the summer of 1963 at a typical corner drug store that had spin racks of comics and paperback books.  I was 14 years old that summer and my prime interest during the early summer was forgetting about school and thinking about comics, dinosaurs, and having fun.  Later in the summer while checking the comic rack for issues with dinosaurs (especially like TUROK, SON OF STONE), a  book on the paperback rack jumped out at me.  There on the colorful front cover was a huge woolly mammoth being attack by a cave man.  Another cave man was running away while a cave woman watched.  The book was awful thick, but  the cover looked as it was going to be a good book.  Not realizing the significance of this  40 cent purchase,  I walked out of the drug store the proud owner of a new Ace edition of TANAR OF PELLUCIDAR by Edgar Rice Burroughs!

Just before reading the book it became apparent that it was part of a series of books  about a place called Pellucidar.  So, the search was on for the first book in the series.  AT THE EARTH'S CORE was found two days later at the same drug store.  It was then that something happened that amazed my parents,  this non-reader read a book and was out looking for the next book, PELLUCIDAR, within another two days.

When summer ended, my small collection of Edgar Rice Burroughs books consisted of the first three Pellucidar books, the three Caspak books, THE ETERNAL LOVER, THE LOST CONTINENT, and a Tarzan book, TARZAN AND THE LOST EMPIRE.  My interested in Tarzan books was minimal, after all, I knew all about Tarzan from the Johnny Weissmuller movies.  Throughout the fall and into  the winter a friend and I would walk my German Boxer on Friday and Saturday nights.  We started stopping at all the drug stores looking for other ERB books, but did not purchase any Tarzan books.

Christmas approached and ERB books were on my Christmas list.  My parents might have had second thoughts if they had know that a few years later I would spend over a year's college tuition ($500.00) for an ERB book collection.  But that is getting ahead of the story, on Christmas Eve my parents gave me six Tarzan books!  Tarzan!   Not Tarzan books, lost worlds yes, Tarzan no!  A couple of weeks later with nothing new to read, one of the Tarzan books with a Frazetta cover beckoned me to enter within its covers.  That was it!  I was a confirmed fan of Mr. Burroughs.  Now this new fan wanted to read everything Edgar Rice Burroughs had written!  My evening walks with my friend and our stops at the drug stores were no longer confined to looking for ERB's prehistoric novels, now we looked for anything with the name Edgar Rice Burroughs on it.

A list of addresses in the back of one of the books told about fan magazines published  about Edgar Rice Burroughs.  Letters were quickly mailed and I discovered a crazy thing called fandom.  I was not alone, there were other people like me out there.  A whole world of collecting was opened to me.  My only activity in fandom for a long time was subscribing to fanzines and mail ordering items for my growing collection.

During 1964 I found a way to support my growing book purchases.  I placed handbills door to door to advertise weekly specials at a beauty parlor near my home.  It was not much, but at the time there were not many jobs for a fifteen year old. At times the owner of the beauty parlor would drive my brother and me to a different neighborhood to try and get new customers for his business.  While delivering handbills in one of these neighborhoods, one of the homes had a sign in the window - BOOKS FOR SALE.  The door bell was rung, a man came to the door and the question was asked, "Do you have any Edgar Rice Burroughs books for sale?"  He answered, "Yes, let me show you what I have."  He took me to the garage, and I could not believe my eyes.  Hardbound books, and there were new  titles: THE BANDIT OF HELL'S BEND, OUTLAW OF TORN, THE WAR CHIEF, THE APACHE DEVIL, and THE MUCKER.  Needless to say, my deliveries were finished with visions of new ERB worlds to be explored.  As soon as we were paid, it was home to have my Dad take me back to the book dealer's home.  All of my earnings and then some were spent purchasing a stack of ten Grosset & Dunlap books for the enormous sums of 50 cents, 75cents and even as much as a dollar!  Although none of the books had dust jackets, I was proud of my new acquisitions and  excited about being able to read new ERB stories without having to wait for them to be published.

Within two years of my finding him, the book dealer opened up a Used Book Store next to his house.  He later expanded his store and started a small press, reprinting Michigan history books under the Black Letter Press imprint.  Over the years he sold me many Burroughs books, including the last dust jacket I need to have a complete set of ERB hardbound books in jacket - - THE GIRL FROM HOLLYWOOD.  Forty-four issues ago, when this story was first told in ERB-APA No. 1, he was still operating his store and had recently sold me a 1920 Czechoslovakian edition of THE BEASTS OF TARZAN.  Since that first APA, Don Teats (the shop owner), closed up shop, retired to the upper peninsula.  This is a sad reminder that the cherished times in his store are memories of the past.

During the summer of 1969, while spending a weekend in Detroit with my college roommate, we found a used book store that also sold used comics, pulp magazines, and movie material.  The purchase of the day was a beautiful one sheet poster for TARZAN'S REVENGE starring Glenn Morris.  The store, Able-Man Used Books definitely would require a return trip (the sooner the better).  As it turned out, soon was not until the following summer.  Another surprise occurred during this return visit.  While upstairs looking at the Edgar Rice Burroughs books, another young man asked if I was interested in Edgar Rice Burroughs.  With my affirmative answer, he introduced himself as Ray Walsh and said, "You should visit my store in East Lansing, I have quite a few ERB books".  Since East Lansing is about an hour drive from Grand Rapids, a trip to his shop,  Curious Books was not long afterwards.  Over the next few years my car seemed to make  weekly trips to East Lansing and Ray and I became good friends.  The two of us attended our first World SF Con in Toronto (Torcon 1972).  In the early 1970's, I helped Ray open a second store (Argos), in Grand Rapids.

Through the years my collection has continued to grow.  There are now two full rooms of ERB material, much of it common, with many rare and unusual items, but the pleasure received from all of  it is unbounded.  There is a special aura in my Edgar Rice Burroughs rooms that transcends time and the pressures of everyday life. There are times going through the collection, I think of particular novel and end up pulling the book off the shelf and reading a page or two just to relive that old excitement.  Edgar Rice Burroughs comes through every time!


My involvement in fandom continued to grow over the years. It started slowly at first (by corresponding with other collectors).  My correspondence reached such a large volume after a few years, that I began including a list of news items it in my letters as an attempt to reduce my repetition in  writing.  EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS NEWS DATELINE was  born on September 26, 1979 when the first issue was typed.  The first two issues were only one page in length.  The next six issues were two pages long.  Issue No. 8 was the first issue to carry an official number.  Issue, No. 9, had covers and was twelve photocopied and  stapled pages. With issue No. 31 ERBND went to offset printing!  The 53rd issue was just mailed with a cover by Joe Jusko, reports and quality photos from last years ERB conventions. ERBND has become the fanzine that was envisioned by me years ago.  Looking back on the humble beginnings of ERBND, I am proud of my accomplishments and hope that ERBND has been able to give back to ERB fandom some of the pleasure the hobby has given me.


The Edgar Rice Burroughs Chain of Friendship (ECOF) Gathering was founded by Bill Ross and myself at the end of a weekend surprise party for ECOF founder Frank Shonfeld in Toronto, Canada. John Carson, Fred Lucas and Joe Lukes had arranged to surprise Frank by inviting all the members. Friday evening was the night we surprised Frank.  Saturday we spent time looking at Joe Lukes' collection, book hunting, then ending up at the home of Fred Lucas to view his collection and watch Fred's famous Tarzan home movies.  The year before, during the Constellation World SF Convention in Baltimore, Maryland, Bill Ross invited several Burroughs fans to his home Friday night.  Saturday night, Bill hosted a party for most of the active ERB fans attending the World SF Con.  These two evenings really set off the convention, because we became a group of friends who no longer walked past each other in the dealers room.  This allowed for a much greater  interaction among the ERB fans at the convention.  Bill and I often discussed the World Con and the party over the next year and what a good time all of us had.

The weekend in Toronto was the perfect place to proposed that we formally name these gatherings and continue to host them on an annual basis.  After much though from several of the ERB fans in Toronto, no unique name was picked, so we continued to call it the ECOF Gathering, in honor of Frank Shonfeld.


My first Dum-Dum was during the 1973 World SF Convention in Toronto.  It was a great experience meeting and talking to ERB collectors face to face for the first time.  Richard Powers, the cover artist for the Ballantine Books was a guest and had a special display of his Tarzan paintings.  Much of my time was spent in that room and Mr. Powers remembered me at later World Cons.  Over the years I corresponded with Mr. Powers and now have five of his original Tarzan paintings hanging on my walls.  Throughout the years I have attended several Dum-Dums: 1974 - Washington D.C., 1975 - Los Angles (Tarzan/Jane reunion), 1976 - Kansas City, 1982 - Chicago, 1983 - Baltimore, 1990 - Louisville, 1991 -  Chicago, 1992 - Louisville, 1993 - Pittsburgh and 1994 - Atlanta.


I have received three awards for my work in the hobby. In 1982 I received an Honorary Lifetime Membership in The Burroughs Bibliophiles from Vern Coriell.  In 1990 The Normal Beans of Chicago presented me with a Lifetime Membership in recognition of my "dedication to the life and works of Edgar Rice Burroughs".  In 1991, I received the prestigious  Edgar Rice Burroughs Lifetime Achievement Award. These awards look fantastic on my book room wall!

Who has not dreamed of tracking down an unpublished or forgotten ERB story?  Those of you who have seen ERBND No. 24 and have seen the photos and read the story TARZAN JR., know that for me the dream came true.  The trail was found while reading an article by G. M. Farley that appeared in TARZINE.   The article - "An E.R.B. Miniature - The Rarest of All", inspired me to find out what story was in that miniature book!  The story was especially written for silent movie star Colleen Moore and placed in her famous doll house (Fairy Castle).

The process was long, often appeared to be impossible and filled with adventure.  My first calls to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago were very positive and resulted in a scheduled a trip to view the book.  Then, days before the scheduled viewing date, the Museum informed me that the book was inaccessible at the present time.  After several attempts to  reschedule, it became apparent that they were not going to allow me to see the book.  Our local Museum Director advised me to write a letter and stress the research aspect of me project and ask to see a copy of their policies and procedures.  He also told me to send this letter to the director, not the exhibits coordinator, whom they had directed me to.  A few weeks later an 8"x11" envelope arrived, I knew the museum had sent me the policy and procedures document.  The contents was not the expected policy but a letter giving me permission to photograph the book.  My excitement level went sky high as I realized that there was a transcript of the book enclosed.  My wife watch in shocked amazement at my actions.  I bounced around the kitchen while attempted to read the transcript.  To think that no other ERB fan had ever read this little ERB story.  My efforts had brought to light an unpublished ERB story with illustrations by John Coleman Burroughs from where it had been hidden for over 45 years. The transcript was kept a secret for the next few weeks. The unveiling came at the 1986 ECOF Gathering in Jenison,  Michigan. If you are interested in more information on TARZAN JR., read ERBND No. 24 or MANGANI ZUGOR No. 12.


 Over the years my small collection has grown into a large collection, one of the best according to several collectors.  Still, it is always a pleasure to look at collections. One can always find unique items and items of interest be in every collection.   The bottom line is not the size of your collection, but the enjoyment and entertainment that Edgar Rice Burroughs has given you.   Even more important  are "the friendships that have grown between fans because of our common interest in ERB.  For me, it is these special people, the time that we spend together, and the concern that we have for each other that I really treasure.

Mike Conran - host of Dum-Dum 2000 and Johnny Sheffield - GOH

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~ photos by Rob Greer ~
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Volume 0577

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