The Whaler by Ben Ames Williams (1924)

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Ben Ames Williams THE WHALER

Book 61 in the Garden City Publishing pulp digest-paperback series is The Whaler by Ben Ames Williams (1924).

The cover art was rendered by Anton Otto Fischer. However, I’m not sure where the artwork originates. All the illustrated covers in this series predominantly were recycled pulp covers or slicks. Anyone have an idea?

The novel was originally serialized in four installments as Once Aboard the Whaler in the All-Story Weekly (1918: Sep 7, 14, 21, 28).

Toppy Huggit is described as “a raw-boned, gangling youth of twenty…six feet tall, and scarcely more than six inches wide…” Having his parents die while he was young, Toppy resided on his uncle’s farm and was largely taken advantage. After Uncle Seth’s oxen won the stone dragging contest, he gave Toppy ten dollars. This he accepted and immediately he departed Rockingham and, boarding the train, arrived in Boston.

Here, he runs smack into a murder on the streets. Checking upon the dying/dead man, a portly figure runs out and begins searching the corpse’s pockets. Papers missing, he realizes that Toppy, innocent and naive young man and Johnny-on-the-spot, must have taken what he desires. Toppy, fearing the fat man, escapes from his clutches, runs into the first sailor’s restaurant upon the wharf, and seeks the company of fellow humans. The portly figure strides in and sits down near him, and begins to pester Toppy for the papers again. The waiter approaches and learns that Toppy is new to the area, and warns him against partnering up with the fat man, known as “Porp.” The waiter drags the youth behind the counter, out the back door, and introduces him to a man simply called “Cap,” and coerces him into signing a document.

That document lands him aboard the Cap’s ship, the Hartdown, as an unwilling crew-member. Worst yet, his fears are accentuated, learning that Porp is a mate aboard ship! The whole scene, signing the paper, etc, was entrapment! Stuck aboard the whaler, the ship pulls out with Toppy, a farm boy with zero sea-life experience, forced to learn the ways of the whaling vessel, or else.

Toppy suffers a variety of indignities aboard ship but quickly becomes infatuated with the captain’s daughter, Celia Mudge. Naturally no story is truly complete without the love interest, right? Right.

Toppy begins to grow stronger, learns the ship and terms, and soon takes charge of a whaling expedition when the person in charge dies. Giving orders comes naturally to Toppy, and he finds that even the numerous villains will obey, to a length.

All good things come to an end…eventually. The matter of the corpse’s missing papers are continuously introduced by Porp, pestering and threatening Toppy’s life. Turns out it is a crudely constructed treasure map. Several members of the current crew were part of another ship and wrecked upon an island. There, they found another derelict ship, and gold. Realizing the ship lost at sea for years, they decide to head for land and find a ship capable to haul the gold. However, given that none trust each other, they all stick together, fast.

Having joined the Hartdown, some of the villainous crew mutiny against themselves, when the innocent captain’s daughter boards the vessel. They intended to murder the original crew, but a girl is a different matter. Or is it? Half of the crew okay with murder have other plans for Celia, both sexual and material gain….

The crew convince the captain to drop anchor off an isolated island for supplies. While ashore, they attack the original crew and a battle takes place. Toppy escapes with Celia in one of the landing party boats, and while trying to board the parent vessel, finds that two villains left behind are wielding sharp objects. Another of the “good crew” escapes land and paddles out. The pair decide to split and take the ship from two sides. Unbeknownst to them, Celia took one of the boats and paddled quickly around the back side, boarded, and while Toppy is about to be murdered, she takes care of his would-be assailant!

They take the ship.

But if you think the plot remains a clear-case of rescue the rest on the island, etc, you would be wrong. Ben Ames Williams is no slouch on writing a thriller.

In negotiating the safe return of the crew, the villains under the cover of darkness send their best swimmers out to the ship, and wait in the water until Toppy and another paddle to a distant shoreline to rescue the surviving crew and Celia’s dad. They discover too late the attempt, but, manage to derail the plot. Taking the ship again, they have full control, learn the whereabouts of the gold, and return with a British warship (of sorts).

Arresting the survivors on land, the villains throw a wrench in the story by informing the Brits that they discovered gold, and that the Hartdown intends to steal it. The Brits end up confiscating the gold, eliminating one traditional happy ending!

Toppy DOES get Celia and they marry.

The Whaler by Ben Ames Williams (1924)

“The Oxbow Wizard” by Theodore Goodridge Roberts (1924)

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The Oxbow Wizard” (Garden City Pub, 1924) Theodore Goodridge Roberts

The Oxbow Wizard,” a highly popular young adult frozen north wilderness adventure novella, was the 1st of 3 experimental forays by Garden City Publishing into the “A Book for Boys” series. These were part of the even larger never-properly-define broader series of soft cover digest-paperbacks (similar to dime novels in format) for which I have already earlier blogged. Numbered “60” on the spine for the overall series, the rear cover adverts up to 62 titles, overall, and sports an internal copyright notice of 1924, and 1920 for the original, via Open Road’s publishers, Torbell.

No records to my knowledge has ever indicated where the novella originally was published, however, I have located serial installments of the novella in Torbell’s The Open Road. This was a magazine designed to encourage young boys and men to get out-doors, rather than remain indoors and idle. The serial begins the in December 1919 issue, with the installment titled “Up the Oxbow.”

Additionally, parts of this serial MIGHT appear in The Trail Makers Boys’ Annual (Volume 1, 1920) but I have never obtained a copy for confirmation, nor have I been able to ascertain the full contents of said volume, which contains “stories and articles for Canadian boys” by Canadian men.

These three boys books lack the reproduced covers from SHORT STORIES magazines that made the series initially so enticing to collect. Unable to trace all of the Open Road mags, I can’t be certain whether this cover image originates with the magazine or hails from an entirely different source. Hopefully one of our blog readers may one day solve that mystery!

The story introduces young men to the coming-of-age young Dan Evans. While cleaning out a boarder’s room, he stumbles across an abandoned green bound volume, later revealed to be the collected adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Having read various tales, he begins to apply the logic into his real-life adventures and solves small home issues. His father, never kindly disposed to his son, thinks he is acting “smart” and dislikes his good intentions. However, when a young lady mysteriously vanishes, he applies his newly aroused detective skills and inadvertently bumps into his “odd” uncle, whom is more than he seems. Realizing the young man is smarter than he looks, the uncle demands he continue on to his cabin, where he will meet him later. However, on arriving at the cabin, young Dan Evans discovers the place is occupied by the missing lady, being harassed by a hooligan. Evans takes out the interloper, and it is learned that she married and eloped with the uncle, secretly because the uncle is very shy.

Some time later, as a reward for his skill and assistance, his uncle, removed far and away from the wild and seated at a desk in the city, offers Dan the opportunity to take over his cabin and partner up with an older man, and trap the wild animals for their fur, etc. Dan gives up his lumbering job for the hardworking winter job of trapping.

Mysteries abound when the cabin is found broken into, supposedly by a bear, per his partner. However, Dan sees signs that a bear would not have caused. Time passes and Dan comes upon a woman whom imposes upon his good will to help her feed her starving babies. Her husband is at home, laid up. Dan discovers the man is actually heavily intoxicated, and notices bear claws under the bunk and, an extremely large bear fur on the ground, the dimensions for which match the assumed size of the mythical bear that broke into their cabin!

Realizing the drunk broke into his cabin (despite the girl claiming it was herself, with the good intention of salvaging food for her children) Dan decides to work in the family’s favor to keep them fed.

But when his traps are worked over, he realizes the drunkard is stealing his furs. Proof surfaces when the man, terribly drunk, is found by the partner. Unable to drag him to safety, he remains outside in the frozen wastes. Dan, upon returning to the cabin, discovers his partner missing, and quickly hunts him down. Finally realizing the man’s whereabouts, he is introduced to the drunkard, and they learn that he sold the fur(s) and bought mostly illegal liquor, rather than stocking up with food for his family.

When more of his traps are found disturbed, Dan is irked. Determined to best the drunkard, he utilizes his skills to bait the shiftless cretin, and tracks down the person peddling the illegal booze. With the aid of a policeman, the whole incident is nearly neatly handled.

Not the best story I’ve ever read by Theodore Goodridge Roberts. His other three entries, previously blogged about, better stood the test of literary time than this young adult farce. Overall, of the four titles via this publisher, “The Lure of Piper’s Glen” is undoubtedly the most entertaining.

“The Oxbow Wizard” by Theodore Goodridge Roberts (1924)

“Time Trap” by Rog Phillips (Atlas Publications, 1956)

ATLAS Time Trap
Time Trap” by Rog Phillips in the Science Fiction Library series, # 8, as published by Atlas Publications, 1956 in Melbourne, Australia

The first edition of TIME TRAP by Rog Phillips was originally published 1949 in America and featured cover art by Malcolm Smith.

A year later, the book was reprinted in Canada by Export Publishing via their News Stand Library Pocket Edition series, with a bland cover.

Seven years later (after the original) Malcolm Smith’s illustration resurfaced on the Australian edition (featured here). Unlike the American edition, the Aussie version is quite scarce.

It is part of the Science Fiction Library, via Atlas Publications. The series ran only eight titles from 1955-1956, and reprinted from American or British sources. Rather than paperbacks, these are side-stapled digests.

The titles (and original sources) in the series are as follows:

1 – The Echoing Worlds by Jonathan Burke, 1955
Original publication (UK: Panther Books, 1953)
2 – World at Bay by E. C. Tubb, 1955
Original publication (UK: Panther Books, 1954)
3 – From What Far Star? by Bryan Berry, 1955
Original publication (UK: Panther Books, 1953)
4 – Worlds in Balance by F. L. Wallace, 1955
Original publication (USA: Science-Fiction Plus, May 1953 – pulp magazine)
5 – Another Space, Another Time by H. J. Campbell, 1956
Original publication (UK: Panther Books, 1953)
6 – The Stars Are Ours by H. K. Bulmer, 1956
Original publication (UK: Panther Books, 1953)
7 – And the Stars Remain by Bryan Berry, 1956
Original publication (UK: Panther Books, 1952)
8 – Time Trap by Rog Phillips, 1956
Original publication (USA: Century Book # 116, 1949)

Without further rambling, let’s turn to the story itself, shall we…?

The tale opens with two radio-engineers working on a scientific device that permits them to “dial” into the future. Our primary protagonist is Ray Bradley, and his partner and close friend is Joe Ashford. Ray dials a phone operator whom immediately recognizes him as someone that had once prior called. Ray then, as now, with Joe as witness, asks the operator what today’s date is. She proclaims the date to be 1961, but asks first if he is the same person that called two years ago (in 1959). Ray and Joe’s current date is 1950.

Intrigued by the device’s possibilities, Joe suggests Ray phone their own number, and sets it to dial 24-hours into the future. Oddly enough, they learn that the number has been disconnected!

Disconcerted, he sets the dial for approximately 50 years into the future, and instead of the sensually young female operator, receives a male voice. Ray asks him what the date is, to which he receives 1999, and then coyly adds the “time.” But, when the operator flips the question back on Ray, chuckling, he provides the precise date and time as well. At that exact moment, in his head, he hears a female voice screaming for him to vacate the premises immediately, that his life is in imminent danger.

Without a seconds’ forethought, he orders Joe out and they flee. Moments later, the entire building explodes and debris smites cars and pedestrians, causing immediate havoc and destruction.

Ray and Joe abandon the scene, hop into a street dive, play music on the nickelodeon, and discuss the matter. More importantly, Ray stresses a female in his head issued the strident warning. Joe is impressed by Ray’s attitude, regarding the faceless entity, and realizes that Ray, without ever meeting or seeing this girl, is somehow in love with a voice that he received via telepathy.

Later, at home, while trying to sleep, he again is in contact with the girl, whom gives her name to be Nelva. She asks him to explain his device to her, and, with her assistance, she explains how to expand upon his rudimentary knowledge and create an actual time machine. Informing him to act quick and maintain anonymity, he and Joe vanish and after some experiments, travel to 1999. Unfortunately, they arrive days later than planned, but that is unavoidable.

While walking the streets, they find that not much has changed, and, clothing styles of the 1950s are apparently once more fashionable, to the point that they practically blend in. They later learn that while the styles are identical, the clothing materials are vastly outdated. While entering a store, they are immediately entranced by a sinister, beautiful blonde vixen depicted on the wall with a third eye. Staring at it leads to their undoing. Everyone else knows better than to stare and they are immediately spotted as either outsiders or rebels. Fleeing from the store, Ray and Joe find themselves briefly and frighteningly alone, but this soon changes as the police force their way in. Remarkably, they are whisked away into a secret panel behind the telephone booth (good thing these still existed in 1999, eh?) and run down a secret passageway.

Winding their way with this unknown helper, they are led eventually to a hideout and interrogated. Nobody believes that they are time-travelers, so they are forced to swallow truth-serum pills. While under, they confess the same, again, and those about them believe. They are further staggered to learn that Ray is searching for Nelva, whom they claim has been missing for a long time. Believed to be captured by the Vargarians (the aliens in charge of the United States), Ray is all set to explore the city and set her free.

However, he begins to develop ideas that the resistance is a false-front, and that they are actually in cahoots with the Vargarians. (And because the author lacks any ability to surprise the reader, Ray is naturally quite right.) Furthermore, daily, he fails to find or get in contact with Nelva. On his own initiative, he convinces the gathering to loan him a car so that he and Joe can explore the countryside, claiming that Nelva had in fact telepathically got into communication with him, and said to meet with Joe, alone, far away.

The faux-rebels report this to the Vargarians, and they suspect it is a false lead, but decide to let matters play out, and wonder just what the pair are up to.

While driving aimlessly, Ray decides to pull into a road-stop and grab a bite. Joe is the driver, and while parking, another car rolls up and disgorges a half-dozen youths. Stumbling in after them, Ray purposefully staggers against Joe and steals the car keys. Believing the car to be “bugged,” Ray decides to prey upon the kids somehow and unload the car, to lead the bad guys on a false trail.

Ironically, the youths are the faux-rebels, too. Set to track the pair, they decide to snatch the car from Ray and Joe, but the plan goes off without a hitch, admirably, for both parties. When one of the party approaches Ray, he stammers that he’s bored with the group and wants to borrow his wheels for a joy ride with his girlfriend. Ray obliges and the swap is effected! Ray is elated and the guy is nonplussed by the ease of the transaction.

Pretending to look about at the other dining occupants, Ray decides to falsely feign interest in two girls dining in a booth, but, despite never having seen them before, realizes immediately one staring at him is Nelva!

Sitting down with them, Ray expresses gruffly that they need to leave, they are in immediate danger. Nelva’s firmly aware of this, touches them, and the four vanish just as the faux-rebels jump up and turn their stun-rods on the quartet.

The novel then shifts to Nelva and Ray discoursing on the theories of time travel, multi-dimensional shifts, and the history of the Vargarian race being actually from another time stream from millions of years in the past. Furthermore, she and her friend, Nancy, are sisters, and related to the Queen.

But, asks Ray, why do they lack the third eye?

Sorry, my readers, but, I won’t cough up ALL the details. Go out and read the book yourself. Some mysteries you’ll have to discover the answers to you, yourself. I will say that the girls eventually slide into other parallel streams and Ray and Joe are subjugated to two surgeons whom attach wires in their skulls to allow them full access to all realms. The story rapidly comes to an absurd climax with Ray threatening the Queen with removal of all Vargarian’s third eye, unless they remove themselves back into their own time stream.

Fearing his threat, since he made a fine example of one Vargarian, the Vargarians flee en mass and, taking flight, the armada of ships vanish from the site, traveling back in time to their own era and time-stream. Some whom have chosen to remain, even with the loss of the third eye, do choose to do so, as do Nelva and Nancy. Nelva suggests that the four travel and explore the entire time and space, but Ray suggests they marry, first….

A fun novel, from start to finish, bogged only down by the technical jargon involving the explanations of various time theorems, time travel, dimensions, etc. Plus, and this may be just my personal perspective, but, I was baffled by how “juvenile” the entire novel felt. In fact, not just juvenile, but, “dated.” If I had never known it was printed in 1949, I’d have guessed it was written during the 1910s or 1920s. The novel honestly feels like a much earlier, unpublished pulp project that languished for several decades until Rog had more firmly established himself as a competent writer.

I would love to hear from other members of fandom or collectors, as to their thoughts on Rog Phillips’ “Time Trap.”

“Time Trap” by Rog Phillips (Atlas Publications, 1956)

Hardboiled (No. 2) – November 1936

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Hardboiled is a digest-sized pocket pulp magazine that began its life in 1936. The depicted edition is the second issue, for November 1936, with cover art by Ben Martin. Given the current election year, it only seemed fitting to read and comment on this copy, although the cover has zero to do with the short story content within. Further, if anyone has an ideas that the title infers gangsters, mobsters, guns and such, this magazine will disappoint. That was not the point of this publishing venture by Street & Smith.

I’m not altogether convinced as to WHY this publication came into being, but, I suspect part of the reason is that Street & Smith received too many “good” manuscripts to turn away, but, many of them simply had no proper home within their pulp markets, for various reasons. Many of the stories in this mag are good but just don’t quite hit the mark. Regardless of reason and rationale or my own opinions, fact is, the mag lasted only the 9 issues, and after the fifth edition, changed name, to become known as “The Popular.” Ultimately, this doomed experiment vanished less than a year after its creation, and today, is a scarce and collectible pulp publication.

The publication is loaded to the gills with vignettes, short stories, and poems. For my own self-serving purposes, I’m only concerned with the fiction stories….

First up is Marguerite Lindsey’s “Both in the Same Spot.” Now, don’t laugh at me just yet, but this is indeed a crime story. A crime syndicate decides to play hardball with a Senator, and he takes a heavy fall for a dame name of Trix. Thinking to entrap the Senator and blackmail him for countless funds, the Senator is caught in a hotel room and the crooks capture the moment with the bang and flash of a camera bulb. Soon thereafter, he is visited by Trix herself, to obtain the bribery funds. With the aid of his butler, it is fixed to look like the girl drank too much and fell off the balcony, to her grisly death, far below. When her crime lover later comes calling, he informs the Senator that he isn’t a sap and kept copies of the photograph. Rather than be “owned” by the mob, he calmly steps off the balcony and splats in the same spot as Trix.

Thrilled to read one by Captain S. P. Meek, a real pulp fiction contributor here! “When Kali Walked” involves an Englishman assigned to run a road through, yet, the local priest has the people convinced that Kali has appeared in the form of a man-eating tiger, to slay all those that assist the English in their assignment. Creighton, the English-man, with the aid of Durgan Dass, the local part servant and bodyguard, assists him to toppling the priests faux-reign of terror, and kills the tiger. In killing the tiger, he again regains control of the locals and proclaims the man a false priest. It’s a typical yarn of this time from start to finish, but Meek is a damned capable writer and makes even the standard stand out sharply.

Pick-Up” by Fergus M. Henderson appears to be the typical hoodwink game. Girl in a hotel lobby tries to get some nice soul to help her, give her money and food, etc, but in the end makes off with the guy’s wad. Months later, he comes across her again, in the same hotel lobby. She claims to have been coming there regularly, and repays his “loan.” Turns out she was dishonestly honest about her whole approach. She was destitute, after her husband had been run down by a truck and left her stranded with a toddler. With the stolen funds, she got on her feet again, and she and the baby were doing fine, but she needed to repay the stolen “loan” to everything right again.

Geoffrey Harwood supplies “Broadway Etching,” which is an unusual tale, given that the author had pulp leanings toward air stories. Famous Mann is the name our of protagonist, and his job is to get some fluff off the arm of a man that another dame is in love with. However, the first dame is no lady. She either wants the man’s arm, or, her Hollywood contract. Preferably the latter. Mann convinces the agent to take her back on again, thereby freeing the man to pursue the latter girl, and straightening out matters.

Another pulpster joins the rank in the form of Anthony Rud, with “Claws of the Catspaw.” This a tropical sea story involving murder and deceit. The rose of the sea is a murderous bitch but fucking hot with curves and lips and all in the right place. But, when she attempts to two-time Bunch Gurney, the ugliest man on the earth with a hump back and all working against him, she learns a painful lesson. Just because a guy’s face value ain’t worth looking at, doesn’t mean he isn’t “sharp” upstairs! Convincing him to murder her current lover over some rare pearls, she attempts to deceive him by making off with the goods while leaving him to face the music. However, Bunch Gurney is on to her plot. He gets the pearls AND then kidnaps the girl, taking her away out to sea to rape and pillage!

Next up is “The Black Widow” by Hazlett Kessler, an author best known for westerns. “Big Tom” Flint arrives in a remote town to pursue the love interests of local black widow beauty, Rose le Coigne. Rumor has it that this insatiable beauty has had more lovers walk into her loving embrace than walk out of her isolated cabin alive. Seeking to conquer her, he beats her when necessary and ties her up at night to keep her from killing him. She eventually breaks down his intelligence by coyly playing up sexually to him, over time. One day, she eventually runs him through with a long knife, makes off with his money and flees town, because, unlike prior occasions of murder, this time murder can not be concealed. For all its simplicity, it is a good story.

Red Ribbons” by Denslow M. Dade is a sea-horror story, of sorts, but simply doesn’t quite grip you. A fellow leaves a bunch of evil sailors to face death in the hold of a ship that catches fire. Rather than let them out and save their lives, he leaves the hold barred, in order to save a young girl that the kidnapped upon shore. Having saved the girl, the ship burns to a cinder but the man goes through life always hearing those screams, until, one day, he is found dead, frozen to death in a meat locker.

George Lowestoft presents us with a short tale involving a restauranteur siccing one of his useless staff upon an eccentrically wealthy woman. She is a raving lunatic and the owner likes to keep a proper, quiet atmosphere. She refuses to calm or leave, so he baits her with his staff member, a young, very handsome foreigner. They vanish, and the owner later receives a phone call stating that the fellow quits and the woman, well, “She Married the Bait.”

Special Pressure” is a one-page vignette by John Cogswell. Guy is hanging up coat in men’s closet at a party. Woman wants him to get her compact from her husband’s coat pocket. They look for it together and then they have an illicit affair right there. The husband walks in but only laments that his top-hat is squashed. Um, okay….

Jon Swan brings us “Hot-Water Baggers.” His wife drives his bonkers with hot water bottle requests. Eventually he divorces her for a hot young thing whom years later cheats on him as he did on his first wife and she puts him off repeatedly by lamenting the usual wife story to all us poor slobs of husbands, my back hurts, I’m tired, get me a hot water bottle, etc. So, the story repeats itself, until, she puts some detectives on him and catches him in a precarious position. Now he pays her a monthly alimony and continues her love affairs but is smarter than he was: she doesn’t marry!

Any pulpster knows the name Wyatt Blassingame, right? Maybe not, but he supplies “No New Answers” to no new questions. It’s the old story of a decent, innocent girl coming into a police station being evicted due to inability to pay rent and can’t get a job, but the landlord won’t let her back into her rooms to obtain her clothes, etc. The cops refuse to help her, since the landlord is within their rights! She leaves, disheartened. Many months pass, she is brought in, arrested, and no looks the part of a hardened hooker. On her heels, comes another young, decent, innocent girl, with the same origin story…we all know how THAT will end.

Bill Gray’s “The People’s Choice” is a clear bell-ringer for this mag’s cover art. A political story involving a man running for office finally realizes that he is dead broke and NOT going to win despite his backers lying to his face and assuring him that he will. Finally, he cracks and they send him to a hotel to rest up, before pushing his butt out the door to finish his bid for office. Waking up, he finds himself on the wrong end of a gun, and the dame is confused why HE is in THAT hotel room. Turns out the Senator (the backer) usually sleeps there on his hideaways, and the woman was one of his affairs! Wanting to plug him for ditching her, she got a job at the hotel. Leaving him at the hotel, she seeks out the Senator, and lo, what should happen? The Senator is a smooth talker, convinces her to take up with him again, and he’s in such a good mood, relinquishes his seat to allow the guy in the hotel run now for Senate!

Killed” is a simple yet ironic tale by Kenneth Andrews. While making out and proposing, Bill confesses to robbery and murder in a prior life but has mended his ways and that he is no good for her. She forgives him and informs that he is not the same man he was before and she loves him forever. But, when he flips the story and says it was all a lie, a “test” to see how much she really loves him, she drops him like a hot potato, stating that he has killed her love for him after that, swifter than a murderer could.

Thomas Edgelow supplies one of those smart-set sort of human interest stories with “Earth and Earthly,” in which a country girl in the city learns that just because a man claims to love you, and put you up in a house, doesn’t mean he really does love you or will ever marry you, especially if he already is.

Gerald Jenks rips the gut-buster with “One on His In-Law.” Horace is sent upstairs to stop his new neighbor, whom has a dog, from peeing on the balcony, which is slatted, and ruining his wife’s clothes. Upon knocking, the door is opened by the most startlingly young and beautiful girl ever. Truly, this ruins the story, as she is far from the focus of the plot. She could have been an ugly hag for all that she matters. He meets the dog, Bingo, whom goes out onto the balcony that moment, and sprays a fine gusher …. down on top of his mother-in-law’s head !!! He is now best friends with Bingo.

Fledging” by Eustace L. Adams, is slightly a weird ghostly tale. A young lady is in love with an aviator pilot that is old enough to be her father. She fears for his life, since he is a risk-taker and daredevil. Famous for his deeds, many rise for his autograph, etc. But, when she and he approach the civilian airport to pick up his son, whom is returning from school, she sees a younger version of her heart-throb and becomes emotionally confused. The father is upset because his son has a fear of flying, and prefers to be an architect. While his father is a way on the California coast, he secretly decides to prove his father wrong, by taking up flying lessons. The girl watches him from the ground. Deciding to take things to the extreme, and commits the plane through dangerous maneuvers and then decides to die a quick death by dashing the plane to bits on the ground, but in the end pulls her out of the uncontrollable spin and dashes up to safety, but only after his ghostly father shows him how to pull out of the death dive and right his plane. Believing that his ethereal father was with him in spirit, he finally lands, happy, knowing that he has conquered his fear of flying and that his father will be proud, even if he still intends to become an architect. But, his glee is dashed when the girl approaches with news that his father died in a plane crash and would never see the son fly, to which, he proclaims, “He–he did see it!”

Hollywood Friendship” by Lawrence Bowen insinuates that you can’t trust anyone in Hollywood. When Sigmund divests himself of New York interests to pursue a directing career in Hollywood, he learns that New York play conquests mean nothing in the home of the silver screen, and friendships are hollow.

Walter Brooks supplies the time-worn beaten-to-death classic “The Worm Returns.” In this tale, Petheridge is under the ruling tyrannical thumb of his wife, whom, despite all things, he truly loves. He caves in to her every desire in his interest toward keeping her happy. But, when she tosses his newly acquired affection for a certain musical instrument out the window, he becomes enraged and leaves her. Leaving a note of abandonment behind, she informs the local society that he went big game hunting, rather than face the fact that she has been dumped. Years pass, Petheridge went to Europe to become properly trained in the instrument. Returning to the United States a changed man, both inside and physically in appearance (sporting a messy beard, etc), he purchases a home behind hers and watches through binoculars as suitor after suitor make plays on her. However, this once quiet man of society knows all these rich men, and knows intimately their digressions. He writes each one letters of warning, threats, etc and each one vanishes to parts unknown. Eventually, he comes across his estranged wife at a function, and they “date,” sort of, then he informs her that she will marry him, whom, by the way, lives under the name of Protheroe. He takes things too far when he commits the ultimate mistake: he takes out the musical instrument and plays “Onward Christian Soldiers,” a song that only HE would play. She immediately discerns his true identity, laughs in his face, and tells him to cough up the instrument, with the intention, clearly, of tossing it out the window. He nearly caves, then, pockets the piece, bends her over his knees and spanks her repeatedly. Initially she laughs but when he ceases to relent and continues, it is she who begins to break down, begging Mr. Petheridge to stop. Mister WHO? he says!!! Protheroe, she corrects. Yup, he beats into her that Petheridge is no more and that he is now Protheroe. Weapingly, she begs forgiveness and prays that if he still loves her, play something nice for her. So, he tortures her, by playing the same song, again, and again, and again, and again…..

The mag wraps up with “Hey! Hey! Hotcha!” by C. Douglas Welch is a vignette filler that should never have been included, let alone, hardly as the last piece to this mag when the prior tale by Brooks was sensational enough, even if redundant in nature. This tale is a short narrative of a guy trying to convince a woman to dance the rhumba with him then decides she is better suited for something safer, like a waltz.

 

Hardboiled (No. 2) – November 1936

Short Stories – October 1924 – Australian Edition

Recently, I purchased a bunch of miscellaneous pulps, booklets, and assorted magazines, purely for my reading pleasure, at $1.00 each.

When the box arrived, I paused and took a gander at the pulp Short Stories. Something about it struck me as funny; I immediately compared the contents against FictionMags. Well. The contents were identical to my copy, on the inside, which was a relief, since mine lacks a Table of Contents page.

Short Stories 1924 October front cover

However, much to my chagrin, I noticed that the cover was NOT the same as the American original published by Doubleday (Garden City Publishing) nor the UK Edition (The World’s Work). I traced my cover to the American July 25 1923 edition. Same cover art, different text layout. That is when I noticed that my copy stated October 1924.

Was there a date under that infernal Aussie 1/3d sticker on the cover? Placing it beside a high-powered lamp, I found that the only thing under the sticker was a 1/- cover price. No, this pulp, unlike the American and British Editions, was issued MONTHLY. One might ask: why did you not look at the spine for confirmation? I did. The upper spine is missing, leaving me only the last few letters of the month.

Short Stories 1924 October spine

So, I had a mystery on my hands that might appear to be cooler that reading the pulp. Okay, maybe not.

To recap: different cover (art recycled from an issue entirely different from the USA and UK edition), a monthly (instead of twice-a-month), and the Contents page missing.

Well, I sincerely doubted that this magazine was re-issued with a new cover, altogether. Here is what I suspect: the UK publishers, World’s Work, stripped off the covers and Table of Contents page(s) to all remainder stock, and recycled a different cover that they still had available and slapped on fresh text. The American publishers would hardly have troubled with this task (in my  opinion). I do not think that a new contents page was issued for foreign distribution. Furthermore, it is entirely possible that this edition was distributed to Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and anywhere else World’s Work did business, abroad.

Currently, this is the only known example of a possible Australian edition, from this period. Three decades later, we know of a handful, but, are they related? Doubtful. This publication will intrinsically remain a mystery until another period-sample surfaces with further data “intact” for comparison.

 

Short Stories – October 1924 – Australian Edition

WANT TO BUY: Chicago Ledger newspapers

I am hunting hundreds of issues of a newspaper
that changed names a few times in the 1920s.

Chicago Ledger (1901-1923)
Illustrated Story Weekly (1923-1924)
Weekly Ledger (1924-1925)
Blade and Ledger(1925-1938)

I am interested in the following years.
Quote all issues.
I often buy spare copies as upgrades.

1901, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1905, 1906, 1907, 1908, 1909,
1910, 1911, 1912, 1913, 1914, 1915, 1916, 1917, 1918, 1919,
1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1928,
1929, 1930, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1936, 1937, 1938

This illustrated story paper predominantly reprinted fiction
from popular novels, magazines, and other newspapers.
It was distributed all across the United States and in Canada.

Please feel free to contact me anytime.
These are permanent wants I’ve been collecting for many years.

WANT TO BUY: Chicago Ledger newspapers

“Treasure Trail” by Robert Russell Strang

79-16 Treasure Trail

This is Book 79 (Spine # 16) in the New Western Series, published by Garden City Publishing, issued 1st May 1927.

It, to my knowledge, is also the very last title actually published in the series, despite 8 further titles having been announced. After over 20 years of hunting, I have never seen evidence to support that the series continued beyond this one…. If anyone can debunk my assertion, please do so!

The story, “Treasure Trail” by Robert Russell Strang, and the cover art, both originally appeared with the 10 December 1925 edition of Short Stories magazine.

In spite of the Western-themed cover, it is anything but; in fact, if you are a fan of James B. Hendryx wilderness and frozen north novels, this novella isn’t exactly up to Hendryx level of quality, but sure as hell will hold your interest throughout.

Phil is a loafer. He isn’t exactly a loser, however, he is sustained on the monthly allowance permitted him, as heir to a fortune, when he comes of age. However, approaching that age, he is fast to learn that the lawyer handling his affairs has absconded with all his inheritance, and the will has gone missing from courtroom document files.

Pretty-boy Phil, as I said, is no loafer. He learns of the gold rush up in Alaska, and decides to put his body to work. He hires out aboard a steamer, and quickly learns the first mate has a penance for kicking the shit out of newbies and beating up on them with his boots. Phil is no laggard in the fists department, and holds his own amply well.

Landing in Alaska, Phil hunts up a job and earns a one-night position as bartender in the most ruthless haunt in town. Noted for the death of many bartenders, Phil makes himself aware of the most dire threats, and when two bastards pull guns, he smashes bottles into them and takes them down. He also wins some thousands of dollars playing the wheel, which he turns over to a lady name of Kate, to keep, for saving his life.

Making his way further inland, he stakes out various land-plots and works the land but doesn’t make much good on becoming rich, until…the ill-fated captain of the steamer he took crosses his path. Phil is nonplussed to discover Capt. Brant blind, his eyes ruined by the first mate and one of the evil gunslingers from the days when he worked that first night tending bar. The slinger is out for Phil’s blood and joined forces with the first mate, in search of a lost gulch that hasn’t a claim on it yet.

Rumor mill earlier stated that the Captain’s brother had discovered millions in gold, but, when he came into town, he smartly had written a letter to his sea-voyaging brother, in case things went awry. And boy, did they! He was murdered! (gasp)

Obtaining the aid of Phil in securing the lost gold, he is soon competing down the mushing pathways of the frozen Alaskan wastes against two other vile, rival teams. The first includes the aforementioned first mate and gunslinger. The second includes the lawyer whom originally wronged him back in the United States!

The two groups eventually merge into one gang, with the sole purpose of slaying Phil and securing the land. However, Phil stakes his claims first, but, he is cornered in a cave, buffeted from all directions by a pepper of rifle fire. He eventually gives up when Kate and the love of his life appear on the scene, having been a third party chasing him, after they learned that the wretched varmints were on Phil’s trail. They end up catching the women and Phil throws down his gun.

They are all absurdly rescued by…well, to tell you would be to ruin the plot, wouldn’t it? Suffice to say, he gets the girl, they all become millionaires, and Kate, yeah, she gets her man, too….

“Treasure Trail” by Robert Russell Strang