I know I should have posted this almost two weeks ago, but I’ve been pretty swamped. I’m teaching a class at the moment that’s taking up most of my time. But since I don’t feel like grading exams on a Friday evening, I’ll blog instead.
This year’s theme was “Howard Detectives: The Ongoing Search for Undiscovered Information”. Since there weren’t any anniversaries this year, things were a little low key compared to recent years. That was fine with me. The attendance was down a little, which was disappointing.
I got in on Thursday afternoon. Like I did two years ago, I stayed at the isolated farmhouse down the hill from the cemetery. There weren’t any creepy things this time, but then I had a better idea of what to expect. There also wasn’t a working air conditioner. I slept with the windows open. At first I thought about going to a hotel, but if Two-Gun Bob could sleep without AC all his life, I could do it for a few nights.I went to the fish fry Thursday night and then hung out at the Pavilion for a while visiting with folks. Friday morning, I set up some books I’d taken to sell. Some were anthologies in which I have stories, but I also had some things I wanted to get rid of, mostly stuff I’d gotten in grab bags that were either duplicates or things I had no interest in reading. This year’s Howard Days was almost a pulp convention. There were a number of people selling pulp related items, much of it out of my price range. Those of us with more economical items didn’t do so well.
The first panel of the day was about all the things the late Glenn Lord had in his collection. Glenn had the most complete collection of Howard typescripts. Paul Herman, Rob Roehm, and Patrice Louinet discussed how they organized everything and went through it, cataloging the different versions of the poems and stories. Howard had a tendency to type on both sides of the paper when working on drafts. It’s common to find two different stories on a single sheet. This makes cataloging fun. That’s Paul, Rob, and Patrice in the picture, discussing Glenn’s collection. Or maybe a presentation on the benefits of Rogaine.
One of the highlights of the weekend involved the panel on collecting Howard. Howard’s first book was A Gent From Bear Creek. It was published in the UK by Herbert Jenkins in 1937. There are only 17 copies known to exist. It is the Holy Grail of Howard collecting. Your only of finding one is in an estate sale somewhere, because you can’t afford a copy, assuming one went on sale. Seven copies are in libraries. The remaining ten are in private hands. One of those is Cross Plains, property of Project Pride. Patrice pulled off a major coup when he managed to have five of the copies in private hands on display. He pulled them out one at a time, baiting the audience. I had been with him when he went to get one of the copies from his room before the panel, so I knew what was coming. It was great to watch the audience’s reaction. Those of us with cameras rushed the table to get pictures. You’ll notice that only one copy has a dust jacket. Those are extremely rare. If my memory is correct, that was Glenn Lord’s copy.
I didn’t go to the other panels on Friday. Paul Herman was the guest of honor and gave a great speech at the banquet. The chicken fried steak was excellent as always, and I did pretty well at the silent auction terms of both not spending too much and getting some good items. See the pictures of the loot at the end of the post. That evening I hung around at the pavilion for a while. Saturday morning I got some writing done before I headed into to town.
Saturday included an interview with Paul Herman, and after lunch there was a panel on photos of Howard. That one got kind of lively. There’s a picture from August Derleth’s collection that is, generally referred to as “The Dude on a Rock”, labeled as being Howard. Not everyone believes it is. I don’t have a copy of it and can’t find one online.
Saturday’s formal activities ended with the traditional barbeque at the Pavilion, followed by hanging out. Rather than staying overnight, I drove to my parent’s house so I could get a head start on the long drive home the next morning. This year’s Howard Days was much more laid back than some of the more recent ones, but I had a great time. It was good to reconnect with friends. The regulars who weren’t able to make it were missed. Hopefully we’ll all meet back up next year.