Some time in the summer of 1929, probably around the time his friend Clyde Smith graduated from college, Robert E. Howard moved to Brownwood. According to Smith’s “Adventurer in Pulp,” Howard spent “several months” in the town while “he worked at his writing.” Since you don’t need to write letters to someone who lives in the same town, there are no letters from Howard to Smith from late-July until late-December 1929, when Howard wrote that he was back “doing business at the old stand” in Cross Plains.
During this period there are a few items from the Cross Plains Review that help to pinpoint the time that Howard lived in Brownwood. An August 9th report states that “Lindsey Tyson visited with Robert Howard, at Brownwood, the past week-end,” and another on November 1, “Robert Howard returned to Brownwood Monday after spending several days with his parents, Dr. and Mrs. I. M. Howard, here.”
While there are no letters to Smith from this period, at least one letter, to Thrills of the Jungle Magazine, survives. The letter is addressed “816 Melwood Ave., Brownwood, Texas.” The same address appears at the top of the typescript for “The Voice of the Mob”; clearly this is where Howard roomed in 1929.
As with the other Howard locations in Brownwood, nothing of the Melwood address remains. In 2010, the back portion of the Quality Body Works shop (top) occupied the location of Howard’s former rooming house. In Howard’s time, Austin Avenue did not go through; it terminated one block east at Booker Street. When Austin was widened and converted into a major thoroughfare, the home was destroyed. While doing some research on one of Clyde Smith’s former girlfriends, Gladys Brannan, I discovered that she had spent some time in the boarding house at 816 Melwood Avenue in 1923. This sparked my curiosity. What follows is more than anyone needs to know about 816 Melwood Avenue.
The Prism (Howard Payne’s student newspaper before Yellow Jacket): December 1, 1916
Brownwood Bulletin: March 8, 1918
I SHALL BE in Brownwood several days during which I must sell my new strictly modern 2-story residence, 816 Melwood Ave. To induce a quick sale I will take $600 less for the property than the price for which I have heretofore been offering it. Phone R-884.—A. E. Baten.
Brownwood Bulletin: March 27, 1918
Saturday the B.Y.P.U. of the First Baptist church enjoyed a social evening at the home of Mrs. D. L. McDurmitt, 816 Melwood Avenue.
The affair was in the nature of a welcome to the new members and a “get together” of the old members. A few visitors were welcomed guests. Pleasant indoor as well as outdoor games were planned for entertainment and the entire evening was one of pleasure. A short business session was held, as is the custom at the monthly meetings. Ice cream and cake gave refreshment to about fifty.
Brownwood Bulletin: May 23, 1918
FOR RENT—Nicely furnished, cool comfortable bed rooms; references. Apply 816 Melwood Avenue. Phone R-998.
Brownwood Bulletin: March 5, 1919
When somebody decides to move in Brown wood, something is usually started. Here is an illustration:
J. T. Allen has purchased the home at 816 Melwood Avenue, formerly occupied by Dr. R. L. Howell and family. When he got ready to move in Dr. Howell had to move out, and here is what happened: W. A. Robertson and family moved to the former Allen residence,
702 Coggin. Prof. T. H. Taylor and family moved into the house formerly occupied by Mr. Robertson at 1008 Fisk Avenue. That gave Dr. Howell his chance, and he moved to the home formerly occupied by Prof. Taylor, at 1419 Coggin Avenue.
Brownwood Bulletin: February 27, 1920
FOR RENT—one nicely furnished room, and two unfurnished rooms; all upstairs. 816 Melwood Avenue, phone J-623.
Brownwood Bulletin: February 25, 1921
FOR RENT—Three furnished bed rooms and sleeping porch with wide hall, front and back porch, all modern conveniences, upstairs. Can be used for light housekeeping. 816 Melwood Ave. Phone J-623.
1921 City Directory:
Latta, Ollie P, clk Adams Cash & Carry Grocery, rms 816 Melwood av
Patterson, Hellene Miss, student, h 816 Melwood av
Patterson, John P, student Howard Payne College, h 816 Melwood av
Patterson, John W (Fannie M), r 816 Melwood av
1923 City Directory
Pattersons still there, Helene at Howard Payne
Boatright, Roy W (Jessie) clk Adams Cash & Carry Grocery rms 816 Melwood av
Brannan, Gladys O student Howard Payne College rms 816 Melwood av
Brannon, Joy Miss student rms 816 Melwood av
Craven, Burnice Mrs student Howard Payne College rms 816 Melwood av
Cravens, Henderson L (Burnice) student Howard Payne College rms 816 Melwood av
Brownwood Bulletin: December 22, 1923
CHRISTMAS TREES—50 cents and 75 cts, come and get them.—816 Melwood Avenue. Phone J-623.
Brownwood Bulletin: August 25, 1924
FOR RENT—Three furnished apartments and one unfurnished apartment; each with glassed-in sleeping porch. Will consider renting my fourteen room house. Well located.
816 Melwood; Phone J-623.
1925 City Directory
Pattersons still there
Brown, Gladys Miss student r816 Melwood av
Burson, Chester clk Mallow’s Drug Store rms 816 Melwood
Harris, Hattie Miss sten J M Radford Grocery Co rms 816 Melwood av
McFadden, Henry C truck driver McCullough Gro Co rms 816 Melwood av
Parker, Mary S Miss student rms 816 Melwood av
Severe, Ed (Nellie) rms 816 Melwood av
Smith, Mary Miss student rms 816 Melwood av
Tanner, Leonard student rms 816 Melwood av
–Under “Boarding Houses” and “Furnished Rooms”: Patterson J W 816 Melwood av
Brownwood Bulletin: January 1, 1926
Mr. and Mrs. Paul S. Byrom of Whitney are here on their wedding trip and are guests of Mr. and Mrs. W. K. Byrom, 816 Melwood Ave.
Brownwood Bulletin: September 14, 1926
WANTED—Roomers and boarders. Excellent meals. nicely furnished rooms.—816 Melwood Avenue. Phone 1022.
1928 City Directory
Alexander, Forrest student Howard Payne College r816 Melwood av
Allen, Eltie J lab Prairie Pipe Line Co r816 Melwood av
Farmer, Roy C (Mary L) oil driller r816 Melwood av
Jaynes, Clyde T (Jettie L) reprmn Top Wheel & Body Wks r816 Melwood av
Linton, Arth G oil driller 816 Melwood av
Peters, Edith Mrs. furn rms 816 Melwood av r do
Rice, Walter H formn Prairie Pipe Line Co r816 Melwood av
Schupp, Norman J lab Prairie Pipe Line Co r816 Melwood av
Westbrook, Virgil lab Prairie Pipe Line Co r816 Melwood av
–Uder “Furnished Rooms”: Peters Edith Mrs. 816 Melwood av
1929-30 City Directory
Alton, Frank lino opr Brownwood Bulletin r816 Melwood av
Binnion, J Ernest printer Brownwood Bulletin r816 Melwood av
Burton, Jesse B driller r816 Melwood av
Cox, Marvin A lino opr Brownwood Bulletin r816 Melwood av
Cross, C Patk r816 Melwood av
Haines, Jack granite clk Brownwood Marble & Granite Wks r816 Melwood av
Howlett, J Knox r816 Melwood av
Keeler, Bernard appr Brownwood Bulletin r816 Melwood av
Keeler, Mertie E (wid John E) h816 Melwood av
Keeler, Norma Miss r816 Melwood av
Keeler, Wilma E Miss student r816 Melwood av
McIntire, Thos W driller r816 Melwood av
Russell, Roy eng r816 Melwood av