Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The Shaver Mystery-Part Nine

P. Robert McKenna (1917-1990)

Patrick Robert "Bob" McKenna was born on September 8, 1917, in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, to Patrick Joseph McKenna and Elizabeth Mark (Flynn) McKenna. By the time of the 1940 census, he was already working as a radio announcer. In his career in radio, McKenna worked at WWSW, Pittsburgh (early 1940s), KDKA, Pittsburgh (mid 1940s), and WEDO, McKeesport (late 1940s). On September 10, 1941, just two days after his twenty-fourth birthday, he married Lenore A. Gedeon (1921-1979), a professional model and future president of the Pittsburgh Professional Models Society.

The Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDb) has just one credit for Bob McKenna, a story co-written with Richard S. Shaver and entitled "Cult of the Witch Queen." It was published as a cover story in the July 1946 issue of Amazing Stories. According to an item in the Pittsburgh Press (May 21, 1946, p. 25), "Bob 'met' Dick Shaver of near Philadelphia, through letters to the editor and thus developed a story-writing team." "Cult of the Witch Queen" was their first collaboration. Another item from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Oct. 3, 1946, p. 8) states that the lead story in the November 1946 issue, "The Return of Sathanas," was also co-written by McKenna and Shaver. Although the ISFDb has McKenna's name on that story in one place, it doesn't in another, where it counts in the entry for McKenna himself. Never mind about that. The second newspaper item above also states that McKenna and Shaver had, as of October 1946, "collaborated on several adventure tales."

In 1949, McKenna was involved in a minor scandal. That may have prompted his move to California. By 1953, the McKennas were ranchers in Mill Valley in Marin County, north of San Francisco. They started a family there and may never have gone back home. Lenore McKenna died in 1979 at age fifty-eight. Bob McKenna survived her by nearly eleven years and passed away on April 4, 1990, I believe in San Jose, California. Presumably, McKenna wrote just a few--possibly only two--science fiction stories, and he has received credit for only one of those. But because of them or it, he had earned his spot in the history of the Shaver Mystery.

Amazing Stories, July 1946, with a cover story, "Cult of the Witch Queen," by Richard S. Shaver and Bob McKenna. The cover artist was Walter Parke.



Text copyright 2018 Terence E. Hanley

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