The Little Story Magazine have been wrapped in a haze of obscurity, largely because copies are extremely rare, even to the point that some speculate that this was not the magazine’s original title. When I originally prepared this blog in 2016 only two copies were known. Unfortunately, my copy completely vanished after I sent all vintage papers to a secure storage site for safety during a massive storm. Only recently did it resurface, having accidentally slipped inside the pages of a pulp magazine.
Editor Wm. H. Kofoed advertised in The Editor, noting that he was launching this magazine (see Volume 50, Page 167). In the 25 July 1919 issue Kofoed is asking for submissions: short stories of 500 to 1,500 words, paying three-fourths a cent to a full cent per word on the stories merit. Any subject, except lewd. Come the 10 December 1919 issue, Kofoed was asking up to 2,000 words. The 25 December 1919 issue begs for stories of the Black Cat magazine variety, known for their unusual nature.
Wm. H. Kofoed is a name any pulpster will readily recognize; the link I provide notes that in 1919 he edited Brief Stories magazine. That’s incorrect. The magazine featured here IS THAT VERY magazine, under its original name. More on that in a moment. Kofoed a decade later edited Fight Stories magazine (launched 1928, ceased temporarily 1932) which is largely remembered today for the many Robert E. Howard tales.
The earliest known fully indexed copy shown on FictionMags Index site is March 1920 (v2 #4). Three later editions have also been indexed:
- July 1920 (v3 #2)
- April 1921 (v4 #4)
- May 1921 (v4 #5)
The May 1921 edition is the only known copy of this magazine to be held by a library, located within the Harry Ransom Center (Texas) collection, originally owned by writer Tiffany Thayer. Why did he own this one issue? He’s not present within, unless under an alias. Tiffany later contributed when the magazine became Brief Stories, appearing the Oct and Nov 1922 issues.
With the July 1921 issue, The Little Story Magazine switched titles and became what pulpsters readily recognize as Brief Stories magazine but was still a side-stapled publication. A year later, it made the transition to standard pulp dimensions.
Here we have the October 1919 issue of The Little Story Magazine given to be “A Magazine of Very Short, Unusual Stories.” It was priced at 10 cents and ran to 32-pages. This tiny, stapled pamphlet measures 4.75 x 6.75 inches. The playful one-color cover art is illustrated by Schuyler Marx. Assuming it maintained a monthly schedule, we know when the magazine officially debuted.
The internal front cover (ifc) features the Table of Contents page and assorted other publisher’s data. Nine contents are given, but, in fact, there is a tenth item, located on the internal rear cover (irc) which I shall indicate shortly.
The contents are as follows:
- 1 – The Science Machine – E. Grissen Richardson (ss)
- 8 – The Bells – John M. Lynch (ss) (says “5” on ToC)
- 11 – On Pass – Cyril B. Egan (vi)
- 13 – His Own Hand – William E. Brandt (ss)
- 18 – Lucky – Will H. Greenfield (vi)
- 21 – The Better Half – Charles West Manzer (vi)
- 23 – Clove Pinks – Marjorie Charles Driscoll (ss)
- 29 – His Wife – Hilda Duane (vi)
- 31 – To Kill or Not to Kill – H. L. Deimel (vi)
- irc – Soliloquy of The Little Story Magazine –
E. E. Knight (pm)
The Science Machine is a gruesome weird tale. The elderly Mr. Lonsworth Lowe is on the verge of death. He explains to Mrs. Lowe, who is watching over him, that he wishes to donate his body to the American Institute for Medical Research. She’s totally against his being carved up. Mrs. Lowe has turned her eye to many of her husband’s interests, but she can’t swallow this. He collapses, and, seeing his gaping mouth, inert hands, proclaims him dead. Lonsworth was a scientist his whole life, and non-religious; she is the polar opposite. She has never understood him and is religious viewpoints. For the first time in her life, she disobeys his wish. Going into the basement, she extracts load after load of kindling and a box of excelsior. She lays the kindling all about the bed, lights it, and departs. She heads toward town, but, by some perverse instinct, halts, turns around, and waits for the vision of flame to rupture the house. She is soon rewarded. Inexplicably, she runs back toward and around the house, and then “like a frightened animal” up a hill behind the house. Then she hears a shrill holler that sounds like her deceased husband. A figure appears below and runs into the inferno. She collapses… The following day, a fellow professor informs Lonsworth he is lucky to be alive, but that his wife was found dead, likely of shock, up on the hill. Lonsworth says that she would be a prime candidate to be donated to the American Institute for Medical Research.
The author is Esther Grissen Richardson.
Her only other known pulp contribution is
“One Way to Judge” in Young’s Magazine (May 1916).
I believe she was born as Esther Grissen in November 1890
in Oregon to Charles and Jennie. Her father per the 1900
census states he was born in Germany and is a bookseller.
Son Karl (age 17) is a clerk at the bookstore while sister Muriel (14)
is at school. Per the 1910 census, Esther E. Grissen lives with her
widowed mother and stenographer Muriel, while Esther is 19 and jobless.
The Bells is something like the infamous old Paul Revere tale. It involves a Russian scene set in 1917, during the revolution. A man is in hiding, lacking an arm. His brother, a priest, will sound the bells, once, if no troops are in sight, and twice, if spotted. If not sighted, then under the cover of darkness, Ivan may slip away and perhaps, escape. However, two bells sound and he remains hidden, to accept his fate. A knock at the door, and the priest is mortified to see Ivan still there. He came to wipe all evidence of Ivan’s presence. Ivan proclaims he heard two bells. Then, the door is flung open, and a soldier proclaims, that the Czar is overthrown, and political prisoners are free.
John M. Lynch has also contributed three times to
Snappy Stories magazine, each in 1916.
On Pass is a weird tale, involving the return of a soldier that had not been seen since fighting in France. Inexplicably, he tells his friend at 4am that he must depart. Leave? Why? Headed west. Says he went West some time ago after a scrap at Argonne-Meuse. He’s only on pass until morning, then must ship out in his new berth. Then he says he has met St. Peter and St. Patrick. Our narrator then asks, “…what of Him?” The soldier leaves with that one unanswered, only to say that he will know, himself, one day.
Cyril B. Egan has contributed to Brief Stories,
Snappy Stories, Live Stories, Argosy All-Story Weekly,
The Saturday Evening Post, Life, Judge, Liberty,
and the Catholic World.
His Own Hand involves the lovely Clara, who is beset by two suitors. She cleverly explains to one of her suitors that the other is a nuisance and wants him to write them a letter, explaining that she does not wish to see them any further. Our suitor writes a slightly malicious letter; she reads it, and she finds it somewhat disturbing, but acknowledges that all is true, but she wouldn’t have written it so awfully. He states that you have to be solid on your convictions, and a deep thrust like that remove his competition. She says she will post it in a lavender colored envelope. He follows it around and waits for it to be delivered. Oddly, it isn’t. Going home, he opens his mailbox to find a lavender letter. She explains that his competitor’s letter was less cruel than his own!
William E. Brandt contributed to the pulp and slick mags
from 1920-1931. Barely more than a half-dozen
entries are recorded on FictionMags, and
most of those are articles, not stories.
Lucky is about a man who is far from lucky. When he spots a dollar bill flutter down the road, he tries to run it back to the owner, only to learn that the person in the taxi is a bookmaker, who he is nearly neighbors with. That evening, he tosses the bill out at him, and the bookmaker takes the bill with effrontery, then laughs, and walks away. Next we know, there is a knock at his door. Seems another fellow that nearly intercepted the fluttering bill is on his doorstep. He hands $50 to Lucky and explains that the bill had a secret female name penned on it as a code, as part of a cipher to swing a big deal. While Lucky got the bill, he saw the name and knew what to do with it. Later that night, the bookmaker hands him an envelope with $100 inside, and says “…hereafter don’t write your bets on the money!”
William Henry Greenfield was a pulpster,
churning out stories for the red-blooded readers
of Railroad Man’s Magazine, Top-Notch, Argosy,
Brief Stories, and many more.
The Better Half is love affair stuff. Wife is cheating on her husband. Wishes her decent husband was more like this other fellow. Goes home, and falls asleep, feeling guilty, while her husband is out, slaving for her. Her husband is out, cheating on his wife, and comes home to find her asleep, and feels guilty, for she is good and wholesome, and he calls himself a cad and falls asleep.
Charles West Manzer was apparently
a professor, and this may be his only known
literary piece (at least, the only one indexed) and
An Experimental Investigation of Rest Pauses (1927).
Clove Pinks is a humorously morbid tale involving a Dear Abby columnist, under the non de plume of “Madame Juliette,” whom in fact is a middle-aged grumpy bachelor, the original female wearer of said name having long-since retired. Kelly, the newspaper’s police reporter, is heckling Finley, after learning that the M.O. is putting up a love story contest. Finley must sort through the riff and raff, separating the fact from the fiction. Kelly laughingly departs, and disheartened, a nearby secretary, having received a bouquet of flowers, takes pity on him, and leaves him a clove pink blossom. He picks it up, inhales, and we are transported back to his youthful college years. He types up a story…. Three days later, Kelly is ribbing Finley over the hundreds of letters pouring in. The trash bin has overflowed. The floor is a walking hazard. Kelly randomly picks up a letter (Finley’s letter) and reads it aloud. It is a letter from the point of view of Finley’s girl, and details her romance, and that one day, her would-be lover disappeared. Kelly remarks it might be a fake, but…gonna print it? Under the desk, Finley’s hand is clinching a flower, tightly. No, he isn’t going to run it. He then nabs a railway timetable, to take a weekend off…. (what are his plans? elude the office for a spell? chase this forgotten girl?) We’ll never know.
Marjorie Charles Driscoll mostly wrote poems.
These appear in the “smart” magazines, such as:
Telling Tales, Snappy Stories, and Brief Stories.
She has also cracked Top-Notch, The Outing,
Ainslee’s, and Everybody’s Magazine, to
name a handful more.
His Wife involves a man making frequent trips. One day, he ends up in an automobile accident. His wife arrives, and in a fit of delirium, he calls for another woman’s name. That other woman enters….
Hilda Duane is a complete mystery to me.
Searches for this name yielded nothing of use.
If anyone can trace this author’s identity,
I would love to know.
To Kill or Not to Kill is a war story. John Pierson is worried. He is enlisting, and his friend, three years earlier, had departed America to join the German army. What if he should one day crest a hill, fight it out in a trench, etc., and find himself face-to-face with his old friend, Herman Schmidt. Would he be able to run him through with his bayonet? Blow his head wide open? Finish him off? Or would he be the dead party and Schmidt gazing down upon him. The war ended, and riding home on the train, Pierson finds all his worries were for naught. He never ran into Schmidt. We are never given to know whether Schmidt survived.
H. L. Deimel would appear to the very
same gentleman that helped to found
Deimel Linen-Mesh Underwear. He was a
doctor (of sorts) that attended Bennett (1884-1885).
To my knowledge, this is his only literary contribution.
Soliloquy of The Little Story Magazine is just that, a poem.
It was written by E. E. Knight, and I have
zero data on the identity of this person.
And here I leave you, my dear readers, with a full scan blow-up of the rear cover. The mag has a slight tear to the lower front cover, spine splits at top and bottom staples an inch apiece, age mottling, and this inscribed notation on the bottom of the rear cover, which appears to inform one Roland Nelson to depart at 8 for a meeting and arrive Friday morning. I’m not great at reading signatures but looks like J. A. Henney. Anyone else have a better stab or guess at this? Love to hear your thoughts.