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I must back-step here, in this journal of my wandering journey through this life, to the spring of 1949. Before I graduated from Yale University, I attempted to line up some job prospects. I mailed my resume and a letter requesting a job interview to Ralph Rothmund, Secretary of the Burroughs Corporation. The most I had hoped for was an interview with him, and thus a chance to meet and talk to Edgar Rice Burroughs. My letter was not ignored. Almost two weeks later, I received a nice reply from Ralph Rothmund. He regretted that there was no position available for me and suggested I try elsewhere.
Many years later, while going through the files in the treasure vaults of Tarzana, I found that resume and application letter in the file they had kept of my correspondence with the Corporation.
Later in 1949 I moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where I did get a job. After I was settled, I searched for used-book stores and found a couple of excellent ones in downtown Cleveland. They had very few Burroughs books, but I went through their stacks of used magazines. I found only a few Burroughs tales, but many Amazing Stories and Fantastic Adventures with covers and illustrations by J. Allen St. John, including the great cover for Howard Browne's 1942 novel, Warrior of the Dawn. At first sight, I thought I had discovered an unknown (to me) Tarzan story. After I had read it, I thought that Browne was eminently qualified to write stories in the tradition of ERB, both in style and plot.
MARCH 19, 1950
That day is still vivid in my memory. Just as other people know what they were doing on December 7, 1941, or on V-E day or V-J day, or on November 22, 1963, I remember March 19, 1950. I was in my rooming-house room, listening to music on the radio that Sunday. At 1:00 p. m. the news came on, with a brief announcement that Edgar Rice Burroughs had died that morning at his home in Los Angeles. I was just as shocked to hear that as I was later when I heard about the deaths of my parents. I was speechless for a long time. I really wanted to talk with someone about how I felt, but I had no one who shared my devotion to Burroughs.
I was saddened to face the reality that there would be no more tales of wonder from that creative and imaginative brain. His typewriter would forever be silent. I did not know then that he had stopped writing a few years before. In 1949, when Vernell Coriell had visited Burroughs in California, he told Vern that he couldn't finish the Tarzan novel he had started after his return from Hawaii. Of course, we did see some "new" stories published in the 1960's, after Hulbert Burroughs found older unpublished ones in the office safe.
I can still see, in my mind's eye, that room and that radio. I just stared at the radio, unable to believe what I had heard. I realized that now I would never be able to meet him and would never hear his replies to dozens of questions that I had wanted to ask him. My heart was heavy.
I worked at Bryant Heater Company in Cleveland, where they manufactured furnaces and hot-water tanks. I had several jobs in the plant, and eventually one in the punched-card tabulating department. I met Alice in that department, and two years later we married. I then quit the job with Bryant Heater and obtained one with U. S. Steel Corporation at their steel mill in Lorain, Ohio. This job was in the tabulating-procedure section. Alice and I moved from Cleveland to Lorain. Marriage almost brought my collecting to a halt, but the spark was still there, just waiting to become a flame. However, that would not happen until a few years later. Since we lived in several different three-room apartments, my collection stayed packed away at my parents' home, where it had been since 1943, when I left home for service with the Navy.
(c) Copyright 1989 Clarence B. Hyde
Nothing great happened with my collecting hobby during the early 1950s.
I did find a newspaper in Mentor, Ohio that was printing the daily Tarzan strip, so I started once again to collect the dailies. I had continued collecting the Sunday Tarzan page without any interruptions. During this period I was receiving the Sunday newspaper from either Chicago or Denver, I don't remember which.
In 1954, U. S. Steel transferred me to the Pittsburgh, PA headquarters office to become a computer programmer on the first commercially available computer - the UNIVAC 1.
Alice and I moved to Pittsburgh and made arrangements to have a house built. Naturally, In the model homes we inspected, I checked for available library space. We both agreed on one model, a one-floor ranch style with an open area in the basement beneath the living room, dining room, and part of the kitchen. In my mind, this would be adequate space for my library.
Shortly after moving to Pittsburgh, I searched out the local National Screen Service office. I visited there and discovered that a supply warehouse was also located in Pittsburgh. This proved to be a gold mine of collectible material. After a few purchases from the office staff, I became friendly with Jake, the warehouse manager. Then I could buy all the movie collectible items I wanted, at their original theater cost. This was a real bargain. If Jake didn't have the items in stock, he would order them for me.
Sometime in 1956 I finally brought all of my collection from my parents' attic to our house. I had packed everything away there in 1943. Each item I unpacked and examined brought back memories of my youth. Since I had not yet built my basement library, I set up a library in one of our empty bedrooms. It was great to see the collection again, all the books lined up in sequence. This inspired me to obtain some of the missing titles. I looked for used-book stores in Pittsburgh, with little success.
In November of 1956, I was in New York on a business trip, and had some free time. So I visited Burne Hogarth again at his Art School, and learned from him the home address of John Celardo, who then was the artist for the daily and Sunday Tarzan strip. He had taken over from Bob Lubbers early in 1954. This time, I called ahead and received an invitation from him to visit. I spent a very pleasant couple of hours with him, and he gave me an original black-ink drawing of Tarzan. This also is part of the artwork that graces the walls of my collection room. Celardo was most friendly and generous with his time. I asked him about his drawing methods and schedules. I found that each of the Tarzan artists had different methods. John Celardo was not a fast worker. He would spend 10 to 12 hours each day at the board, trying to get one day off each week to spend on the golf course. His pencil work was done in great detail, not just the roughed-out sketches that some of the other artists used. He took 50 to 60 hours to do a week's worth of daily and Sunday strips.
I also managed to find time in New York to visit some bookstores, and I carried home a box of Burroughs books on that particular trip.
Early in 1957 I happened upon something new for me. The book department of the city's largest department store had a service of locating out-of-print books. I tried their service for a couple of titles I wanted, but without success. But I became acquainted with the store's book buyer, who showed me something I hadn't seen before: the Edgar Rice Burroughs Biblio, compiled and published by Bradford M. Day (Science-fiction & Fantasy Publications) in 1956. It presented a listing of ERB's books by American and British publishers, and the American magazine appearances of the stories. Also included was a list of all the Big-Little-Book editions, and a list of the Spanish-language Tarzan books not written nor authorized by Burroughs. Although this contained a few errors and omissions, it was the most extensive listing of all those books and magazines that I had ever seen.
The book buyer agreed to lend me his copy, which I studied thoroughly. I then ordered my own copy from Brad Day.
Now the collecting mania was being fanned into a small flame.
What I did in 1957 proved to be a major milestone in my life, although when I decided to do it I could not have imagined the results.
For a couple of years, I regularly got off a street car (remember those?) and walked past a Mellon Bank building in downtown Pittsburgh, to my job at U. S. Steel a few blocks distant. At Mellon Bank, one large display window facing the sidewalk had been set up as "Hobby Theater." Inside the window, several examples of hobbies, such as handicrafts, paintings, dolls, or models had been displayed. An individual display would remain in the window for several weeks, and then be replaced with a different hobby.
After viewing these for some time, I decided to ask about setting up a display of my Burroughs collection. I figured that my hobby was as interesting as those I had seen. So, in the spring of 1957, I visited the bank and spoke to the man responsible for selecting the hobbles to be displayed. He had some others scheduled to be shown, but said that my idea sounded good to him. He told me he would let me know when the window would be available for my use.
In July, 1957, I set up a display in the "Hobby Theater" window. I used a couple of original drawings by Tarzan comic-strip artists Hogarth, Maxon, Reinman and Dan Barry, some autographed photos of movie Tarzans, and daily and Sunday Tarzan pages, In English and foreign languages. The window also contained a printed message with a short description of my hobby and information about me.
Without any prompting from me, the display received a notice in the morning newspaper.
ON EXHIBIT in Grant Street's "Hobby Theatre" window is a selection of items relating to Edgar Rice Burroughs' character, Tarzan -- original drawings, autographed photos and foreign language comics. They are from the many hundreds collected by Clarence B. Hyde, of Elaine Drive, Pleasant Hills, over a period of 23 years.
Monday Morning, July 29, 1957
By Charles F. Danver
What proved to be the outstanding result of this was a telephone call from Bob Troetschel, a member of the Pittsburgh Science-Fiction Club, who had seen the window display. He suggested that I attend one of their meetings, and also that I visit him to see his science fiction collection. I shortly did both, and joined the Science-Fiction Club.
Troetschel's collection contained many Burroughs books, but most importantly, he had copies of Vernell Coriell's The Burroughs Bulletin, No. 12, and also copies of Pete Ogden's Erbania. This opened up the universe of Burroughs fandom to me. Until this time I thought I was alone. I was surprised to learn that Vern had already published 12 issues of The Burroughs Bulletin, and that Pete had published three issues of Erbania.
I sent to England for all of Pete's issues, which started a long friendship with him. Also, I wrote to Vern to acquire a copy of that great No. 12 Issue, full of articles and facts, a real tribute to ERB Especially interesting to me was Vern's listing of all the magazine appearances of Burroughs' stories. I knew that they had been published in magazines, but here was a complete listing of all the magazine titles and publication dates. The collecting disease really caught hold of me when I saw that list. I checked the telephone-book yellow pages of large cites such as New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, and mailed out photocopies of that magazine page to dealers as my want list.
The response was surprising. I hadn't thought that very many of those old pulps were still available. But I managed to buy hundreds of copies over the following years on the basis of that listing. At the same time I was also acquiring many books for my collection by writing to book dealers listed in the telephone books.
An exchange of letters with Vern led to his visit to Pittsburgh in October of 1957. He and his brother were touring the Eastern part of the country with their acrobatic and juggling act, so Vern added Pittsburgh to his tour list in order to meet me.
Alice and I saw the Coriells' act at a local club one night and made arrangements for Vern to visit our home the next evening. It was a memorable visit. We sat for hours talking about collecting Burroughs, and Vern looked through the items in my collection. I listened to his tales of visiting Burroughs and Tarzan-movie actors when he was in California in 1949. When I showed him my autographed picture of Elmo Lincoln, he told me how he had seen Lincoln the day after Elmo had mailed the photo back to me (see Chapter XIV), and had heard about me then. Vern also told stories about touring with Lincoln in the Seal Brothers Circus that summer, with Elmo getting star billing as "The Original Tarzan." At this time, Vern's collection was much larger than mine, but he still found some items in my collection that he hadn't seen before.
At that first visit he told me that he wanted to get a Burroughs fan club organized, and that he had ERB's permission for such an organization. He also described how he had received permission from ERB to use his name for The Burroughs Bulletin. The club was still just a dream as it had been for years, and he hadn't decided yet how to get it started. He wanted my opinion and suggestions on how to start it. I got the impression he had been asking these same questions of other Burroughs fans he met in his travels. However, we didn't come up with any plan then.
Late in October, I finally started building the library room in my basement. It took five years to complete, but at least I was getting started, probably given some inspiration by Vern's visit. I had to begin by framing in some walls and building a wall of bookshelves and storage cabinets.
As a result of my display in the Mellon Bank window, someone who had seen it asked me to present a program about my hobby to a fellowship group at a local Unitarian church. I put together a group of Tarzan items and took along the 16mm film of the 1918 Tarzan of the Apes. This was my first exposure to 'show business,' but it would not be my last. In future years I would be called on for other programs. About 20 people attended that meeting and appeared interested in my work and pictures. At least I had the impression that they were, from the questions they asked. For me it was an important step, not only talking to a group about my hobby, but getting feedback from them.
As I said, the Mellon Bank "Hobby Theater" display was a major event for me, one that was to influence my life for many years.
Copyright (c) 1990 Clarence B. Hyde
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