Friday, December 30, 2022

Willard N. Marsh (1922-1970)

Musician, Teacher, Author, Poet
Born March 5, 1922, Oakland, California
Died May 27, 1970, Guadalajara, Mexico

Willard Noah Marsh was born on March 5, 1922, in Oakland, California. His parents were Louis and Goldie D. (Greene or Green) Marsh. Louis Marsh, a native of France, died on May 13, 1928, in San Mateo, California. I don't know what happened to Goldie, but in 1930, Willard and his brother, Matthew E. Marsh, were enumerated in the Federal census with their aunt and uncle, Henry and Lenora M. Green, in Berkeley, California.

Willard N. Marsh graduated from Garfield Junior High School and Berkeley High School. A description of his papers at the University of Iowa Libraries notes Marsh's talents as a musician:

While in Oakland High School he displayed a virtuosity with trumpet and trombone which led to an era as musician-impresario--the launching of "Will Marsh and the Four Collegians" in an Oakland roadhouse--which subsequently financed his education at the State College at Chico.

Marsh was two years into his program at Chico State University when his country came calling. On September 18, 1942, he enlisted in the U.S. Army. He received his technical training at Scott Field in Illinois and served in the U.S. Army Air Forces in the South Pacific in the field of radio communications. The Oakland Tribune printed his letter, entitled "Life on an Atoll," on May 5, 1944 (p. 28).

On September 10, 1948, Marsh married George [sic] Rae Williams in California. She was a former actress with the Pasadena Playhouse. By then, Marsh's writing career had already begun to take off. His first work listed in The FictionMags Index is in fact his poem "Bewitched," which appeared in Weird Tales in March 1945. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Marsh wrote prize-winning stories and poems. In 1950, he was living with his wife in Contra Costa County, California, and calling himself a novelist.

Marsh studied at Chico State University, San Francisco State College, and State University of Iowa. From 1950 to 1958, he gave private instruction in creative writing in the United States and Mexico. He received his bachelor's degree from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop in 1959 and his master's degree in 1960. In September 1959, he began as an assistant professor of English at Winthrop College in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Marsh spent two years at Winthrop, three at the University of California, Los Angeles (1961-1964), and two more at North Texas State University, Denton (1968-1970). He retired to Mexico very near the end of his life and died of a heart stoppage on May 27, 1970, in Guadalajara, Mexico. He was buried at Municipal Cemetery, Ajijic, Mexico, a fitting place for him to come to rest, for Ajijic has been a place for writers and artists for more than one hundred years.

* * *

From 1945 to 1969, Willard Marsh wrote dozens of stories and poems published in pulp magazines, men's magazines, slick magazines, and literary journals. The FictionMags Index and the Internet Speculative Fiction Database list the following stories in fantasy and science fiction magazines:

  • "Bewitched" in Weird Tales (poem, Mar. 1945)
  • "Moon Bride" in Different (vignette, Sept./Oct. 1946)
  • "Astronomy Lesson" in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (short story, June 1955)
  • "The Ethicators" in If (short story, Aug. 1955)
  • "Machina Ex Machina" in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (vignette, May 1956); reprinted in Fiction #39 (1957)
  • "Poet in Residence" in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (short story, Sept. 1958); reprinted in Venture Science Fiction (June 1964)
  • "Forwarding Service" in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (short story, June 1964); reprinted in Wanderer durch Zeit und Raum (Oct. 1964)
  • "Everyone's Hometown Is Guernica" (or "Cuernica") in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (short story, Aug. 1965)
  • "Stay Out of Our Time!" in Worlds of Tomorrow (novelette, June 1964)
  • "Inconceivably Yours" in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (short story, Sept. 1964)
  • "The Sin of Edna Schuster" in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (short story, Feb. 1965)

His story "The Ethicators" was in SF: The Year's Greatest Science Fiction and Fantasy, edited by Judith Merril and published in 1956.

Marsh also wrote for:

Mystery, crime, and detective magazines: Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, Mercury Mystery Magazine.

Men's magazines: Adam's Bedside Reader, CavalierThe Dude, Gentleman, Rogue, Sir Knight, Spree.

Slick magazines: Esquire, Playboy, The Saturday Evening Post.

Literary journals: Antioch Review, Approach, Georgia Review, Prairie Schooner, Southwest Review, Transatlantic Review, University of Kansas City Review, Yale Review, and others.

And his stories were in: Best American Short Stories: 1953, Best Saturday Evening Post Stories: 1954, and Prize Stories, 1957: The O. Henry Awards.

He had at least two published books to his credit: a novel, Week With No Friday (Harper & Row, 1965; Avon Books, 1967), and a collection of stories, Beached in Bohemia (Louisiana State University Press, 1969). He also wrote drafts for an unpublished novel, Anchor in the Air.

Willard Marsh was born during the interwar period and was one from those generations that accomplished so much and helped to make America such a prosperous, creative, fun, and interesting place in which to live. His career perhaps encompassed what we might consider a golden age for writers and artists in our country, a time when there were workshops, university programs, correspondence courses, night schools, and so on in which to learn the crafts of writing, drawing, and painting; also contests and competitions, fairs, shows, and exhibits; writer's and artist's groups, colonies, conferences, and conventions; and perhaps most importantly, magazines, fanzines, journals, and newspapers, big, small, and very small, printed on pulp and slick paper and everything in between, publications to receive the work of so many talented, energetic, and ambitious people. What a grand time it must have been, though grand perhaps only in retrospect, as grand times usually are.

* * * Happy New Year! * * *

Further Reading
"Changing Trend in Reading Said Encouraging to Writers" [by Ann Blackmon] in The State (Columbia, SC), October 20, 1959, section B, page 15.
Description of Willard N. Marsh's papers, University of Iowa Libraries, here.

SF: The Year's Greatest Science Fiction and Fantasy (1956), edited by Judith Merril and with Willard Marsh's name on the cover. His story "The Ethicators" was inside. Cover art by Ed Emshwiller.

Willard Marsh's Week with No Friday was originally in hardback, but paperback covers are usually more interesting. That proved to be the case here in Avon's edition of 1967. Artist unknown.

Willard Marsh seems to have had high literary ambitions, but he wasn't above writing for men's magazines. Here is his name on the cover of Gent for August 1958. Those were the days.

Willard N. Marsh (1922-1970)

Original text copyright 2022 Terence E. Hanley

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Coronavirus Cover

I wrote late last month and early this month about British New Wave science fiction of the 1960s and '70s. John Brunner (1934-1995) is supposed to have been a New Wave writer. But then again, maybe he wasn't. Anyway, in his novel The Shockwave Rider (1975), he predicted the emergence of computer viruses.

Below is a reproduction of the cover of A Planet of Your Own (1966), another of Brunner's novels. And it depicts an alien life form that looks suspiciously like another kind of virus. We have lived with--and some have died from--this virus, the coronavirus, which maybe kind of sort of came about by a science-fictional process of human manufacture. We began this year still under the control of a worldwide coronavirus regime. Now here it is twelve months later and we are a little freer, but the regime wants its power back. It and its aims are also science-fictional. We should do our best in the coming year--and years, because it will take that long--to deny them.

Cover art by Jack Gaughan (1930-1985).

Text copyright 2022 Terence E. Hanley

Monday, December 26, 2022

Donald V. Allgeier (1915-1955)-Part Two

Donald V. Allgeier was a real fan of popular culture. You can tell that by the nearly three dozen letters he wrote to fantasy and science fiction magazines between 1932 and 1952. But there was another great fan of pop culture in his very extended family. Everyone knows his name. I have three of his very finely made books just a few feet from where I sit. He was Russ Cochran.

Donald Allgeier and Russ Cochran were related through their mother's families. I'll start with:

Jeremiah Van Wormer (ca. 1783-1851), who was a soldier in the War of 1812. He married Eunice Parke Wattles (1787-1878). Their son was:

Judge Aaron Van Wormer (1808-1881), a newspaperman and a member of Company A, 10th Missouri Cavalry during the Civil War. (One of the officers in that unit was Lt. Col. Frederick W. Benteen, who was at the Battle of Little Bighorn.) Aaron Van Wormer married Mildred D. Sutherland (1831-1864). Their sons were:

1. Andrew Van Wormer (1855-1940), who married Nancy M. Dixon (1858-1932).


2. Joseph Lawrence Van Wormer (1859-1933), who married Alice "Allie" Padon (1864-1927).

Andrew and Nancy M. (Dixon) Van Wormer had a daughter named:

Mary Francis Van Wormer (1891-1973). She married Russell Sage Cochran (1890-1967). They had a son:

Russell Van Cochran, Sr. (1914-1984), who was about the same age as his second cousin, Donald V. Allgeier. Allgeier visited with him in 1929. Russell Van Cochran, Sr., married Dulcie Anona Morrison (1915-1996). Their son was:

Russell Van Cochran, Jr. (1937-2020), physics professor at Drake University, musician, and most importantly for our purposes, fan, collector, and publisher of comic art. You can read more about him in a remembrance called "Russ Cochran: 1937-2020" by Steve Ringgenberg, from March 3, 2020, on the website of The Comics Journal, here. Another very fine and more personal and familial remembrance is in "Remembering Russ" by Michael Cochran, from March 24, 2020, on the website of the West Plains Daily Quill, here.

Joseph Lawrence and Alice "Allie" (Padon) Van Wormer had a daughter named:

Elsie Louise Van Wormer (1894-1973). She married Harry Vinson Allgeier (1888-1974). Their son was:

Donald Vinson Allgeier (1915-1955), who, in his youth, wrote letters to Weird Tales and other fantasy and science fiction magazines, went to war as a young man, and after the war became a college professor. If I have figured all of this right, he and Russ Cochran were second cousins once removed.

It's funny what you find when you start to look.

* * *

The Van Wormer, Cochran, and Allgeier families were a pretty amazing bunch. I would like to mention three more of their members:

First, William Dixon "Billy" Cochran (1913-1984), son of Russell Sage and Mary Francis (Van Wormer) Cochran, was a bit-player in movies. He was in It Had to Happen (1936) with George Raft.

Next, Katherine (Van Wormer) Chauvin, daughter of Andrew and Nancy M. (Dixon) Van Wormer, was a stage actress. She lived in New York and Paris.

And lastly, John Andrew "Jack" Van Wormer (1916-1939), a grandson of Andrew Van Wormer, was an aviator killed in the crash of a stunt plane in Shamrock, Texas, on August 27, 1939. Jetta Carleton's novel The Moonflower Vine (1962) is set in southwestern Missouri. One of the pivotal events in her story is a plane crash in which one of the daughters--the only fully fictional daughter--is killed. Could Jetta Carleton have been inspired by the story of Jack Van Wormer?

All things make circles: In the 1930s, Donald V. Allgeier wrote letters of comment to Weird Tales magazine. Ray Bradbury got his start in Weird Tales and was one of its mainstay authors during the 1940s. Weird Tales was an inspiration to EC Comics, which adapted many of Bradbury's stories in the 1950s. As a kid, Allgeier's cousin, Russ Cochran, was a fan of EC Comics. In the 1960s he came back to fandom. In the 1970s, he began publishing reproductions of EC Comics. An arc from within that circle: In Haunt of Fear #6 (Mar.-Apr. 1951), EC adapted Ray Bradbury's story "The Handler" from Weird Tales, January 1947. The cover art by Johnny Craig reminds me of . . .

This illustration for "The Artificial Honeymoon," the first in a series called "The Adventures of a Professional Corpse" by H. Bedford-Jones, published in Weird Tales in July 1940. The cover artist was Margaret Brundage.

Nineteen forty was the last year in which Donald Allgeier had one of his letters in Weird Tales. More important things were impinging upon him--adulthood, the beginnings of his teaching career, and, in 1941, enlistment in the U.S. Army and the starting of a family with his wedding on Christmas Eve of Martha Elizabeth Reynolds.

To learn more about EC Comics' adaptations of Ray Bradbury's stories, see "EC Comics & Ray Bradbury: There Will Come Soft Rains!" by and on the blog Mars Will Send No More, dated October 16, 2012, here.

Original text copyright 2022 Terence E. Hanley

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Donald V. Allgeier (1915-1955)-Part One

Teacher, College Professor, Soldier, Writer
Born October 31, 1915, Mountain Grove, Missouri
Died February 19, 1955, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Donald Vinson Allgeier was born on October 31, 1915, in Mountain Grove, Missouri, to Harry Vinson Allgeier and Elsie Louise (Van Wormer) Allgeier. In 1929, a teenaged Donald Allgeier visited with his second cousin in West Plains, Missouri. You'll know his name--rather the name of his son. He was one of the most well-known collectors and publishers of comic art in America. I'll have more on him in the second part of this series.

Donald Allgeier was a smart, talented, and active young man. In 1929, he won a spelling bee. In 1933 or 1934, he matriculated at Southwest Missouri State Teachers College in Springfield. There he worked on the staff of the school newspaper, The Southwest Standard, and was vice-president the Commercial Club. He directed a one-act play, The Lady at the Window, with the South Street Christian Church youth group in Springfield in 1937. And in 1938, he graduated with distinction with a bachelor of science degree in education. After graduating, Allgeier taught at Springfield Senior High School.

Allgeier began his military training at a Citizens' Military Training Camp (CMTC), probably while he was a college student. He was commissioned as a reserve officer, presumably a second lieutenant, in 1938. He entered the U.S. Army in August 1941. Just four months later, his country was at war.

Things happened fast in those days. They had to. No one knew what tomorrow would bring, and they had to live while they could. After a short engagement, Donald V. Allgeier and Martha Elizabeth Reynolds (1919-2009) were married at South Street Christian Church on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1941. Eighty-one years ago today: an act of hope in a time of war. Following a brief vacation, Allgeier returned to his station at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana. By the way, his wife, who was called Elizabeth, was also a teacher.

I'm not sure that you can call Donald Allgeier anything but a great man. For forty-one months--from 1942 to 1945--he served overseas with the U.S. Army, in Northern Ireland, Scotland, England, North Africa, and Italy. He was a combat infantryman and liaison officer with the 34th "Red Bull" Infantry Division and with the headquarters unit of the 85th Infantry Division. As part of General Mark Clark's 5th Army, Allgeier landed in Italy on October 1, 1943. He was in Italy on the day Rome was liberated, June 4, 1944. I don't know that he was in Rome that day, but he saw Rome and called it the most beautiful city he had ever seen. Allgeier's brother Robert K. Allgeier was also in the war. He was a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Forces and served in the Pacific Theater.

Allgeier didn't seem to waste any time once he returned to civilian life. He received his master's degree from New York University in June 1946. From there he wandered through the academic world, teaching business administration and communications at: Packard Commercial School, Manhattan, 1946; University of Oklahoma, 1946-1947; Ohio State University, 1947-1950; Southwest Texas State College, September 1950-May 1953; University of Wisconsin; and Marquette University. He received his Ph.D. at Ohio State University in 1953.

Donald V. Allgeier had the fourth-most number of letters printed in "The Eyrie," the regular letters column of Weird Tales magazine. There were 29 in all by his hand, placing him between Gertrude Hemken (32) and Henry Kuttner (28). His first was in June 1932, when he was sixteen years old. His last came in November 1940. His letter of June 1934, subtitled "C.L. Moore Not a Pen Name," prompted the magazine to reveal that C.L. Moore was not the pen name of "some famous writer," as Allgeier had suggested. But then it didn't go so far as to reveal her true identity, which was, as we know, Catherine L. Moore of Indianapolis. Allgeier did business and educational writing, too, with articles in Journal of Business Education, Journal of Higher Education, Business Education World, and Collegiate News and Views. This was after the war.

In addition to his many letters in Weird Tales, Allgeier wrote letters published in Astounding Stories, A. Merritt's Fantasy Magazine (Oct. 1950), and Fantastic Story Magazine (Summer 1952). He had been to war and had fathered two children--he had received two advanced degrees and had taught for several years in a very matter-of-fact field--but in his heart, it seems clear, he was still a fan of fantasy and science fiction. If he had lived, maybe there would have been more letters--and maybe even a story or two.

But Donald Allgeier didn't live. Instead, he died entirely too young, at age thirty-nine, of a heart attack and pneumonia. The date was February 19, 1955, the place, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was buried at Wade Chapel Cemetery in Republic, Missouri. His wife survived him by more than half a century.

Donald V. Allgeier's Letters in Weird Tales & Other Science Fiction & Fantasy Magazines
Click here for a link to a list in the Internet Speculative Fiction Database.

Next: Donald Allgeier's cousin.

Donald V. Allgeier (1915-1955), from Ozarko, the yearbook of Southwest Missouri State Teachers College, 1935.
* * *

Merry Christmas to All!

Text copyright 2022 Terence E. Hanley

Friday, December 23, 2022

Gertrude Hemken (1912-1992)

Aka "Trudy," "Miss Hemken"
Letter Writer, Cook, Secretary/Stenographer, Columnist
Born September 10, 1912, Chicago, Illinois
Died July 21, 1992, Kankakee, Illinois

If you have ever read Robert Weinberg's history The Weird Tales Story (1977), you may remember what he wrote about frequent letter writer Gertrude Hemken. In his chapter on "The Eyrie," the letters column of the magazine, he commented:

Another regular was Gertrude Hemken, whose letters were disjointed patches of baby talk nonsense. [. . .] Strangely enough, Gertrude Hemken had a number of followers in the column who wrote in praising her letters and complaining when [Farnsworth] Wright did not feature one. He usually did, as she was one of the most prolific writers ever to The Eyrie. (p. 124)

With 32 to her credit, Gertrude Hemken wrote the third most letters printed in "The Eyrie." Only Jack Darrow (35) and B.M. Reynolds (33) had more. If B.M. Reynolds was a man, then she had the most of any woman, and she was the only member of her sex in the top ten. Her heyday came in the period January 1936 to July 1938 when she was referred to as "Trudy" or "Miss Hemken" and practically had her own column within "The Eyrie." One highlight: In a letter printed in February 1935, she heaped praise on C.L. Moore and her character Jirel of Joiry. Not nonsense at all.

Gertrude Carolina Hemken was born on September 10, 1912, in Chicago, to Henry Hemken, a bread baker, and Constantina (Haenel or Hanel) Hemken. Both were natives of Germany. Gertrude was an only child who lived with her parents into adulthood, as children of old-world families do. In 1936, Gertrude won one of seven grand prizes, a $635 Graham Supercharger Sedan, in the Gold Medal Nomination Sweepstakes Contest, sponsored by Gold Medal Flour. What a prize!

She was married twice, first to Erwin J. Schmidt, who died in 1949, afterwards to Ferdinand Berens (1897-1978), a widower, on June 12, 1971.  Gertrude was a secretary/stenographer, a member of St. Patrick's Church in Kankakee, a member of DANK, a German-American organization, and a columnist for Voice of East Peoria, a publication for senior citizens. She died on July 21, 1992, in Kankakee and was buried at Mount Calvary Cemetery in that city. She was seventy-nine years old.

Gertrude Hemken's Letters in Weird Tales & Other Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazines
(from the Internet Speculative Fiction Database and other sources)
Letter in Astounding Stories (Mar. 1931): "Or What Have You?" 
Letter in Astounding Stories (Mar. 1931): "Gr-r-r—She's Mad!" 
Letter in Weird Tales (Oct. 1931)
Letter in Weird Tales (May 1932)
Letter in The Fantasy Fan (Aug. 1934)
Letter in Weird Tales (Sept. 1934): "The Master of Souls"
Letter in Weird Tales (Feb. 1935): "Jirel of Joiry"
Letter in Weird Tales (Jan. 1936): "Enthusiasm Plus"
Letter in Weird Tales (Feb. 1936): "A Loyal Fan Comments"
Letter in Weird Tales (Apr. 1936): "Ooooh!"
Letter in Weird Tales (May 1936): "Here She Is Again"
Letter in Weird Tales (June 1936): "Eye-Widening Horror"
Letter in Weird Tales (July 1936): "Again!"
Letter in Weird Tales (Aug.-Sept. 1936): "Miss Hemken's Comments"
Letter in Weird Tales (Oct. 1936): "French Phrases"
Letter in Weird Tales (Dec. 1936): "Oogy-Woogy Tales"
Letter in Weird Tales (Jan. 1937): "Trudy"
Letter in Weird Tales (Feb. 1937): "Oogy! Oogier! Oogiest!"
Letter in Weird Tales (Mar. 1937): "Here She Is"
Letter in Weird Tales (Apr. 1937): "Comments from Trudy"
Letter in Weird Tales (May 1937): "Presenting Trudy"
Letter in Weird Tales (June 1937): "A Letter from Trudy"
Letter in Weird Tales (July 1937): "The Little Eaglets"
Letter in Weird Tales (Aug. 1937): "Concise Comments"
Letter in Weird Tales (Sept. 1937): "Miss Hemken Speaking"
Letter in Weird Tales (Oct. 1937): "Trudy Answers Our Critics"
Letter in Weird Tales (Nov. 1937): "Miss Hemken Again"
Letter in Weird Tales (Dec. 1937): "Here It Is"
Letter in Weird Tales (Jan. 1938): "Trudy's Letter"
Letter in Weird Tales (Feb. 1938): "Trudy"
Letter in Weird Tales (Mar. 1938): "A Letter from Miss Hemken"
Letter in Weird Tales (Apr. 1938): "From Gertrude Hemken"
Letter in Weird Tales (May 1938): "Oogy"
Letter in Weird Tales (June 1938)
Letter in Weird Tales (July 1938)
Letter in Golden Fleece (Mar. 1939)

A recipe by Gertrude Hemken, syndicated by The American Weekly in its "Housewife's Food Almanack" feature, January 22, 1939. 

Thanks to Randal A. Everts for information.
Original text copyright 2022 Terence E. Hanley

Thursday, December 22, 2022

S. Gordon Gurwit (1887-1955)

Newspaper Reporter, Cartoonist, Author, Poet, Playwright, Screenwriter, Painter, Pianist
Born December 14, 1887, New York, New York
Died March 11, 1955, Miami, Florida

Samuel Gordon Gurwit was born on December 14, 1887, in New York City. His parents, Isaac and Lucy (Rosenberg) Gurivit or Gurevit, were Russian-born Jewish immigrants recently arrived in America. Their surname is a variation of Gurevich or Gurevitch and related to Horowitz, denoting an origin in Horovice, a place in Bohemia, now in the Czech Republic. We have seen another variation of that name before: Richard S. Shaver's first wife was Sophie Gurvitch (1903-1936).

I haven't found the Gurivit family in the 1900 census, but in 1910, they were in Chicago. Isaac was a designer in a cloak and suit factory. Both Samuel G. Gurivit and his younger brother Peter S. Gurivit (1893-1971) were working as newspaper cartoonists. Also in the household was thirteen-year-old May Gurivit.

On May 11, 1917, in Chicago, Samuel G. Gurwit--note the change in spelling--married Ruth Stein (1894-1981). Their son, Montgomery Stanhope "Monte" Gurwit, was born three years and a month later, on June 13, 1920, in Chicago. No one knew it then, but a writing family was thereby formed. Many years later, a Florida newspaper columnist called them "the 'writingest' family in St. Petersburg." ("Your Pinellas: Writing Family" by Peter Pinellas, Tampa Bay Times, June 17, 1941, p. 2.)

S. Gordon Gurwit started selling his stories and poems at around that time. His first credit in The FictionMags Index is an item called "--The Harder They Fall" in The Parisienne Monthly Magazine for February 1921. Before the year was out, he had a story in Breezy Stories, a poem in Snappy Stories, and his first genre story, "The Ghost Plays a Hand," in Mystery MagazineGurwit had his first story, called "The Letter," in Weird Tales in March 1933. His next contribution was a letter to "The Eyrie," published in June 1933. In all, Gurwit had dozens of stories and poems in pulp magazines and story magazines from 1921 to 1941. And then his byline seems to have disappeared, or at least that's the story suggested by the list in The FictionMags Index. Gurwit had previously been treated for incipient tuberculosis. A newspaper photograph from 1941 (below) shows him to have been very slightly built. (He was also smoking a cigarette or cigar.) Could he have fallen ill?

The Gurwit family was in Chicago in 1930, Manhattan in 1935, Pelham Manor, New York, in 1936, and in St. Petersburg, Florida, in 1940. (Their name was spelled "Gurevit" that year.) By 1950, they were in Miami. Monte was a writer for magazines in 1950. Neither his father nor his mother gave an occupation.

S. Gordon Gurwit died five years later, on March 11, 1955, in Miami. He was sixty-seven years old. He was buried at Mount Nebo Cemetery in West Miami. Gurwit's widow married his brother, Peter Sherlock Gurwit, on June 11, 1957, in Alexandria, Virginia. Once employed with the Jahn & Ollier Printing Company in Chicago, Peter Gurwit died in 1971. Ruth Stein Gurwit Gurwit died in 1981, and her son Monte on July 8, 1993, in Lee County, Florida. Thus the writing Gurvits came to an end. They seem to have been a close and happy family.

* * *

S. Gordon Gurwit got his start as a reporter and cartoonist in 1909 working for the Denver Republican. In 1910, he moved to the New York Journal, where he was an assistant to editor Arthur Brisbane (1864-1936). From 1911 to 1914, he traveled in Europe while working for the London GraphicGurwit began writing fiction while he was working as a newspaper reporter. He also wrote poetry and at least one play, Other Men's Wives, which was adapted to film, possibly in 1919 under the same title. Gurwit may also have written movie scenarios, but I haven't found any credits for him in that realm.

From 1921 to 1941, Gurwit had dozens of stories in Argosy All-Story Weekly and Argosy, Breezy Stories, Five-Novels Monthly, Holland's Magazine, Liberty, Nickel Detective, Snappy Stories, South Sea Stories, Thrilling Adventures, Thrilling Detective, Thrilling Western, Wayside Tales, and other titles. He had three stories in Weird Tales and one in The Magic Carpet Magazine. He also had two letters in "The Eyrie." In its issue of August 10, 1938, the London Evening Standard published his "Law Is Law," No. 98 in its Six Minute Short Story series (p. 19). He also wrote a hardbound novel called Alias the Promised Land (1939).

Again, Gurwit led a writing family. Using the pen name Ruth Goodwin, his wife Ruth (Stein) Gurwit (1894-1981) wrote romances that appeared in Sweetheart Stories, Thrilling Love, and possibly other titles in 1941-1942. She was also a singer and worked in radio. The Gurwits' son, Monte Gurwit, wrote true crime articles as well as short stories, also for pulp magazines and story magazines. He was also a photographer and cartoonist and sometimes illustrated his own stories. He had true crime stories in Official Detective (Dec. 1940) and Intimate Detective. His name is not in The FictionMags Index. Maybe he wrote under a pseudonym like his mother. Official Detective and Intimate Detective are also not in that index, so no luck finding him in that way, either.

* * *

S. Gordon Gurwit's Stories & Letters in Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazines
(from the Internet Speculative Fiction Database)
"The Letter" in Weird Tales (Mar. 1933)
Letter to "The Eyrie" in Weird Tales (June 1933)
Letter in Astounding Stories (Jan. 1934)
"Speed Planes for Moscow" in The Magic Carpet Magazine (Jan. 1934)
"World Flight" in Astounding Stories (Jan. 1934)
"The Pistol" in Weird Tales (Oct. 1934)
"The Golden Glow" in Weird Tales (Nov. 1934)
"'G'-Trap in Secret Agent X (Oct. 1936)

Further Reading
"Writing Gurwits Only Triple-Threat Family in St. Petersburg" by Dick Bothwell in the Tampa Bay Times, September 7, 1941, page 16. By the way, Bothwell was one of the first artists to draw a picture of the Flatwoods Monster.

S. Gordon Gurwit's "Speed Planes for Moscow" was the cover story in The Magic Carpet Magazine in January 1934. The artist was Margaret Brundage.

Gurwit had another cover story, "The Masked Terror, or, The Voice on the Wire," in Nickel Detective, March 1933. The cover artist was Eric Lundgren.

Gurwit's "G-Trap," a "G-Man" novelette, was the cover story of Secret Agent X Detective Mysteries. This cover, executed by William F. Luberoff, has a weird component.

I always like to show foreign-language versions of American short stories and novels. Here's "Dubbel Dynamit" by S. Gordon Gurwit in Detektivmagasinet Number 30. I don't know the title of the original story. I'm also not sure whether this is a Norwegian or a Danish title. This image is a distorted version of the original that I found on the Internet.

The Writing Gurwits, left to right, Monte, Ruth, and S. Gordon Gurwit, from 1941.

Text copyright 2022 Terence E. Hanley   

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Monroe D. McGibeny (1911-1975)

Monroe Dryden "Mack" McGibeny
Aka Monroe D. McGibney
Né Rowe Dryden Draper
Draftsman, Architect, Kitchen & Bath Designer, Poet
Born March 3, 1911, Thomasville, Georgia
Died February 3, 1975, presumably in Decatur, Georgia

Here is how I found Monroe D. McGibeny, also known as Monroe D. McGibney:

From a court case, Draper vs. Van Leer, March 3, 1941, Parish of Caddo, Louisiana:

"Action by Rowe Dryden Draper against Mrs. Harriet D. Van Leer [his half-sister] to reduce an  excessive donation mortis causa. From a judgment for defendant, plaintiff appeals. [. . .]

"On February 19, 1940, the present suit was filed by the plaintiff, who alleges that he is the son of Charles Draper and Mary Louise Smith Draper, the second wife of Charles Draper. That he was born in Thomasville, Georgia, on March 3, 1911, and that Charles Draper and his mother were divorced July 8, 1911. It is also alleged that his mother died in 1912, and that thereafter he lived with his aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. C.D. McGibney and adopted the name of Monroe D. McGibney. Plaintiff attacks the validity of the proceedings in the Succession of Charles Draper. He avers that he received no notice of the death of his father or of the succession proceedings until December 1, 1939. [. . .]

"The plaintiff was born in Thomasville, Georgia, but his mother immediately returned to Kalamazoo, Michigan, and made her home with Mr. and Mrs. C.D. McGibney. Shortly thereafter she committed suicide. The child continued to live with his aunt and uncle and became known as Monroe McGibney. In 1921, the McGibneys moved to Detroit, Michigan, where they lived until 1930, when they returned to Kalamazoo. The plaintiff in this suit was living with them during this period and continued using the name of Monroe McGibney."

Click here to read the full text of the case. 

So, Monroe D. McGibeny or McGibney was born Rowe Dryden Draper on March 3, 1911, in Thomasville, Georgia. His parents were Charles and Mary Louise Draper. As the text of the court case reads, his parents were divorced in 1911, his mother died by suicide in 1912, and he went on living with his aunt and uncle thereafter. C.D. McGibney was Clyde Duane McGibney. His wife was Natalie Dryden McGibney. McGibeny kept his middle name, adopted his aunt and uncle's surname, and took (or was given) the Christian name of Monroe.

In 1930, Monroe D. McGibeny was in Detroit with his adopted parents. At age twenty, he was working as a draftsman.

On December 18, 1937, he married Virginia Baker, a waitress, in Wood County, Ohio.

In 1940, he was living alone and working as a draftsman in Detroit.

On November 8, 1947, McGibeny, allegedly an employee of the secret A-bomb base at Los Alamos, New Mexico, was arrested for firing a high-powered rifle from his room at the Kings Hotel in Albuquerque. He said he was shooting at a pigeon. Police found his rifle, still warm and equipped with a telescopic sight, plus "a number of blueprints," in his room. "[N]o one could be reached at Los Alamos who could give any information concerning McGibeny." That all sounds really suspicious and intriguing, but we don't know what it was all about or how it all turned out. It makes for the beginnings of a story plot, though. Hmm . . . (Source: "A-Bomb Employe Arrested Here" in the Albuquerque Journal, Nov. 9, 1947, p. 1.)

On July 17, 1948, McGibeny married Joan Veronica Loranger in Fort Wayne, Indiana. She was descended from a founder of Detroit, attended Wayne State University, and worked as a realtor and a kitchen and bath designer. Their only child, a daughter named Ann Nora McGibeny, died in 1975 at age twenty-five.

The McGibenys lived in Mobile, Alabama. In 1969, they moved to Decatur, Georgia, and worked together as designers of kitchens and bathrooms. McGibeny was by profession an architect and a member of American Institute of Architects.

Monroe D. McGibeny died on February 3, 1975, presumably in Decatur, Georgia. He was buried at Decatur Cemetery.

Monroe D. McGibeny's Poem in Weird Tales
"Death-Gate" (Nov. 1929)

Note: Jaffery and Cook spelled McGibeny's name correctly in one place in their index of Weird Tales but incorrectly in another, depending, of course, on what you think is the correct spelling.

Further Reading
The court case I cited above.

Central Avenue, Albuquerque, New Mexico, with the Kings Hotel on the right. Date unknown, but it looks like the 1940s. Note the movie marquee on the left. It could read "Crimson Ghost," a movie serial released in 1946. My dad would be able to tell us the year. He recognized every car, by year, made from the 1930s through the 1950s. He would have turned eighty-five last week. We miss you, Dad.

Original text copyright 2022 Terence E. Hanley

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Julia Boynton Green (1861-1957)

Poet, Writer, Artist, Public Speaker
Born May 25, 1861, South Byron, New York
Died July 10, 1957, Los Angeles, California

Julia P. Boynton was born on May 25, 1861, in South Byron, New York, to James T. Boynton, a farmer, and Emily L. Boyton. She was descended from Maj. Gen. Nathaniel Greene of Revolutionary War fame. Her education was off and on. She studied at Ingham University, Le Roy Academy, and Wellesley College, as well as at the Art Students League in New York City and in London. I'm not sure that she ever received a college diploma. Nevertheless, she lived a life of accomplishment in an accomplished family.

Julia married Levi Worthington Green (1858-1932) in June 1890. The couple lived in Rochester, New York, then in Redlands, California, where L. Worthington Green was an orange grower. He was also an author. His works include two juvenile novels, Boy Fugitives in Mexico (1914) and Two American Boys in the War Zone (1915), as well as a number of poems and articles published in newspapers and magazines. Green was also a special agent for the Pala Indian Reservation in California. The Greens had three children, Gladys Green, Boynton M. Green, and Norman G. Green. Gladys was a librarian at Los Angeles Junior College and the University of California at Los Angeles, while Boynton was a professor of mechanical engineering at Stanford University and Norman was a structural engineer in San Francisco.

Julia Boynton Green wrote three volumes of verse, Lines and Interlines (1887), This Enchanted Coast: Verse on California Themes (1928 or 1929), and Noonmark (1936). According to a description of her papers at Huntington Library, she also had three unpublished books.

Holidays, seasons, and special times of year appear to have been of special interest to Julia. She was also a lover of her adopted home state of California. She read her poems and spoke in front of clubs and groups and was a member of the Southern Branch of the League of American Pen Woman.

From 1893 to 1925, Julia had poems in Argosy All-Story Weekly, The Atlantic Monthly, the Boston Transcript, The Century Magazine, The Christian Science Monitor, The Cosmopolitan, the New York Times, The Pacific Monthly, The Smart Set, Sunset, and other titles. Then she began something new.

Julia turned seventy in 1931. In that same year she began writing verse for fantasy and science fiction magazines. It's one thing for a poet born out the outset of the Civil War to write for Weird Tales. It was after all an old-fashioned magazine. But Julia Boynton Green also wrote for Amazing Stories! I would like to read her poems and to put them together in a little book.

Here are Julia Boynton Green's magazine credits from the Internet Speculative Fiction Database:

  • "The Evolution of an Ace" in Amazing Stories (Mar. 1931)
  • "The Night Express" in Amazing Stories (July 1931)
  • "Evolution" in Amazing Stories (Aug. 1931)
  • "This Mechanical Age" in Amazing Stories Quarterly (Fall 1931)
  • "Radio Revelations" in Amazing Stories Quarterly (Fall/Winter 1932)
  • "The Return" in Weird Tales (Sept. 1934)
  • "Painted Cave" in Weird Tales (Apr. 1936)
  • "Science and the Saucepans" in Amazing Stories (June 1936)
Two of these were reprinted in Sisters of Tomorrow: The First Women of Science Fiction, edited by Patrick B. Sharp and Lisa Yaszek and published in 2016. It might be well worth it to look for other science fiction and fantasy-related poems in her earlier work.

Julia Boynton Green died on July 10, 1957, in Los Angeles, California. She was ninety-six years old.

Julia Boynton Green's Poems in Weird Tales
"The Return" (Aug. 1934)
"Painted Cave" (Apr. 1936)

Further Reading
Julia Boynton Green's papers are at the Huntington Library in California. You can read a description by clicking here.

Julia Boynton Green (1861-1957), from the Los Angeles Herald, May 28, 1905, page 26.

Original text copyright 2022, 2023 Terence E. Hanley

Monday, December 19, 2022

The Twa Corbies by Anonymous

"The Twa Corbies" ("The Two Crows") is an old and anonymous poem, anonymous in the truest sense of the word, meaning that its author was not trying to hide his or her identity. Instead, the author's name was never recorded and will simply never be known. It seems likely to me that, being a traditional ballad, "The Twa Corbies" is not in its present form the work of just one person but the result of being passed on from one to another. Call it a case of transcription error except that no one knows what was the best version of the poem. Maybe we have the best version after all.

From the Wikipedia article "The Three Ravens":

Written in the Scots language, there is no record of how early "The Twa Corbies" [was] first performed. [Francis JamesChild (I, 253) quotes [sic] a letter from Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe to Walter Scott (August 8, 1802): "The song of 'The Twa Corbies' was given to me by Miss Erskine of Alva (now Mrs Kerr), who, I think, said that she had written it down from the recitation of an old woman at Alva." [W]hich [evidence] indicates it was already known in Scotland at that date. It was first published in Walter Scott's Minstrelsy in 1812.

"The Twa Corbies" was reprinted a century later in Ballads Weird and Wonderful (1912), illustrated by Vernon Hill (1887-1972). Maybe that was the source for its reprinting in Weird Tales in February 1926.

Below is an illustration for "The Twa Corbies," made by Arthur Rackham (1867-1939). Below that is a reproduction of the original page from the February 1926 issue of Weird Tales.

It's a grim and bitter and ironic poem. It appears to have been based on an earlier ballad, "The Three Ravens," from 1611 or before.

Original text copyright 2022 Terence E. Hanley

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Weird Tales in Alabama

As you look into the lives of the men and women who contributed to Weird Tales, you start to see connections and patterns. I'm almost certain there was a connection between Weird Tales and writers in California, but then Farnsworth Wright was a native Californian who had worked as a critic and journalist there and in Chicago before becoming editor of "The Unique Magazine" in 1924.

I also sense a connection to writers in Alabama, but I can't say what that connection might have been, who created it, or who maintained it. In any case, I have listed below all of the tellers of weird tales that I have covered so far who were born in or worked in the Yellowhammer State. More than a couple of them were newspapermen. That seems like the connection. Still, it's not clear. And now that the Weird Tales files and correspondence are gone--their destruction happened about half a century ago--we may never know.

Ethel Morgan-Dunham (1880-1960)--Born in Ohio and a teacher in Iowa, Ethel Morgan-Dunham moved to Alabama in the early 1930s with her husband. They lived in Loxley. She was buried at Fairhope.

Marion Heidt Mimms (1882-1972)--Marion Heidt Mimms was born in Selma, Alabama, and attended the University of Alabama, where her uncle was a professor. Later she lived in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband.

Artemus Calloway (1883-1948)--Artemus Calloway was born in Pineapple, Alabama, and worked for the Birmingham Ledger and the Birmingham News as a reporter, feature writer, columnist, and editor. He was well connected and possibly a conduit for communications to and from the editorial offices of Weird Tales.

Howard Ellis Davis (1883-1951)--Howard Ellis Davis was born in Florida but lived and worked in Oak Grove, Alabama, as a writer. His main job was as an engineer, although he sold plenty of stories to fiction magazines and pulp magazines. He died and was buried in Alabama.

Pettersen Marzoni (1886-1939)--Born in Florida, Pettersen Marzoni lived and worked in Alabama for most of his life. He was with the Birmingham News and Birmingham Age-Herald for several years and presumably knew and worked with Artemus Calloway.

Tarleton Collier (1888 or 1889-1970)--Edward Tarleton Collier was born in Mobile, Alabama, and though he was editor of the Selma Journal, he spent most of his life and career on newspapers in Georgia and Kentucky.

Stewart Van der Veer (1893-1966)--John Stewart Van der Veer worked for the Birmingham Post for many years, but he knew Artemus Calloway of the Birmingham News as early as 1926. I suspect the journalistic fraternity in Birmingham was a fairly small one. But here Calloway's name has come up again, with the implication that he was, again, a conduit, perhaps almost like an agent, for writers seeking to get their work into the pages of Weird Tales.

Jack Kytle (1906-1971)--Elvyn Jackson "Jack" Kytle was a native Alabaman and worked for the Birmingham Age-Herald, the Birmingham Post, and the Birmingham Post-Herald. Maybe he knew and worked with all of the other newspapermen listed above.

Suzanne Pickett (1908-1999)--Suzanne Pickett was a writer and reporter for a small-town newspaper in Alabama, but she also had her first story, at age ten, in the Birmingham News. So we keep coming back to Birmingham newspapers. I can only assume that it was through one or more of those papers and one or more writers or editors for those papers that Weird Tales was in touch with tellers of weird tales in Alabama.

I haven't written yet about Mary Elizabeth Counselman (1911-1995), but she was an Alabaman, too, a native of Birmingham and a reporter with the Birmingham News.

There were almost certainly more tellers of weird tales from Alabama. I'll add to this list as I discover them.

Text copyright 2022 Terence E. Hanley

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Stewart Van der Veer (1893-1966)

John Stewart Van der Veer
Singer, Author, Newspaper Reporter & Feature Writer, Soldier & Ambulance Driver, Advertising Man
Born June 27, 1893, Frankfort, Kentucky
Died December 27, 1966, at home, Odenville, Alabama

John Stewart Van der Veer was born into a distinguished and long-established family in America, on June 27, 1893, in Frankfort, Kentucky. His father, John McLelland Van der Veer, was a businessman in Frankfort, later in Enid, Oklahoma; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Birmingham, Alabama. His mother, Rosalie (Stewart) Van der Veer, was a diarist and a "belle of the Bluegrass" before her wedding in 1892. (1) Stewart Van der Veer attended public schools, Episcopal Academy in Philadelphia, and the University of Kentucky. He studied to be a singer and appeared in "The Pirates of Penzance" at Tulane University in 1914, but his singing career appears to have been brief or at most only an avocation.

In 1916, Van der Veer went to the Mexican border in service with the 141st Field Artillery Regiment, a unit of the Louisiana National Guard better known as the Washington Artillery. In 1917-1918, he was an ambulance driver and sous-chef with the Red Cross in Italy. For his service, he was awarded the Croce al Merito di Guerra. In July 1918, Van de Veer delivered one of the men in his unit to a hospital in Milano. That man had been badly wounded by the explosion of a trench mortar shell. He survived, but his experience shaped his life and art. That man's name was Ernest Hemingway.

Stewart Van der Veer worked as a feature writer for the New Orleans Times-Picayune and a musical and theatrical reporter for the Kansas City Journal. Other newspapers with which he was associated were the Enid Daily News (he and his brothers were part owners of that Oklahoma newspaper) and the Kansas City Post. He established an advertising business in Kansas City but removed to Birmingham in the fall of 1924. Again, he worked for a newspaper, the Birmingham Post, and started his own company, Van der Veer Printing and Direct Mailing Advertising Company. His brother, John McClellan "Teddy" Van Der Veer (1895-1961), was also a newspaperman, as well as a radio commentator. The two sometimes worked together.

Van der Veer had a long career and retired in 1953 to Odenville, Alabama, where he established his own 200-acre Lazy V Ranch and built a popular fishing resort called Lazy V Lakes. He died at home in Odenville on December 27, 1966, at age seventy-five. By then most of his family were gone. He died without issue.

* * *

Stewart Van der Veer was the author of the novels Death for the Lady, a murder mystery set in New Orleans (1939); Remembered April, a romance of Kentucky (1941); and Interlude at Pelican Bend (1947), an adventure story, again set in New Orleans. Near the end of his life, he sat down to write an autobiography. Entitled Walk in My Moccasins (ca. 1966), it has apparently never been published. Remembered April was syndicated in newspapers nationwide. Interlude at Pelican Bend was reviewed by a fellow Alabama newspaperman, Artemus Calloway. (2) As it so happens, Calloway was also a contributor to Weird Tales. The two had known each other since at least 1926.

In addition to his novels and newspaper work, Van der Veer wrote poems and stories published in outdoor and adventure magazines, including pulp magazines. Here are all of his credits listed in The FictionMags Index:

  • "The Yellow Specter" in Weird Tales (Apr. 1926)-Reprinted in More Not at Night (1926)
  • "The Beckonin' Trail" in Triple-X Western #95 (poem, June 1932)
  • "Rimrock’s Ghost Killer" in Triple-X Western #98 (Sept. 1932)
  • "Bandit Trap" in Triple-X Western #101 (1934)
  • "Long-Range Posse" in Dime Western Magazine (Sept. 1, 1934)
  • "The Smokin' Fool" Pete Rice Magazine (Jan. 1935)
  • "Killer of Blind Valley" in Doc Savage (Apr. 1935)
  • "Powderhorn Law" in Street & Smith's Western Story Magazine (Apr. 27, 1935)
  • "Goin' Up" in Hardboiled (Dec. 1936)
  •  "Romance Comes to Jericho" in Western Romances #68 (Jan. 1937)

He also had poems in the Enid Daily News. Titles include "Trail to the Setting Sun" (Mar. 27, 1921, sec. B. p.1); "The Ledger of Life" (May 1, 1921, sec. B, p. 1); and "The Drifter" (May 15, 1921, sec. B, p.1)

As you can see, his first known pulp fiction story, "The Yellow Specter," was in Weird Tales. A long time ago, I noticed what I think might have been a pattern or a connection between Weird Tales and writers in Alabama. I'll write about that next in "Weird Tales in Alabama."

Stewart Van der Veer's Story in Weird Tales
"The Yellow Specter" (Apr. 1926)

Further Reading
"About Birmingham: Stewart Van der Veer Is Our Town's Latest Addition to Who's Who, Supplement Reveals" by Lily May Caldwell in the Birmingham News, May 21, 1942, page 10.
"Burros Here, Hinnies to Come" by Lane Carter in the Birmingham News Magazine, September 13, 1952, page 5.
John Stewart Van der Veer Papers, 1909-1966, Birmingham Public Library, Archives Department, description accessible by clicking here.

(1) From "'So Much in Love . . .': The Courtship of a Bluegrass Belle--Rosalie Stewart's Diary, December 1890-July 1891" by Virginia Van der Veer Hamilton in The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, Vol. 88, No. 1 (Winter 1990), pp. 24-44 (21 pages).
(2) "Stewart Van der Veer, Birmingham Writer, Has New Book Out" by Artemus Calloway in the Birmingham News, June 1, 1947, page 52.

"The Yellow Specter" was also reprinted as «El espectro amarillo» in Narraciones terroríficas #13, published by Molino Argentina in 1939.

A poem by Stewart Van der Veer, "Romance of War," from 1920.

John Stewart Van der Veer (1893-1966)

Original text copyright 2022 Terence E. Hanley