The Legend of the Trunk – Part 5

On October 7, 1956, another person interested in Howard’s unpublished works arrived on the scene. On that day Glenn Lord wrote to Oscar Friend in regards to the publishing rights for Howard’s verse and added “I would also want to know of any poems published in sources I did not mention and/or unpublished verse.” Later—November 15, 1956—Lord asked Friend “if a portrait of Howard can be obtained for the volume? The only picture I have seen is the snapshot that appeared in MARGINALIA [above].” Such simple requests . . .

On December 3, 1956, Friend wrote again to Dr. Kuykendall: “A young enthusiast of Bob’s now is trying to gather up all possible poetry of his and publish in one volume. This sort of thing has no real commercial value, and scarcely repays the original investment, but naturally I am for it. And again I ask you if you can’t dig up some halfway decent picture or snapshot of Robert to include in a volume of poems.”

Meanwhile, Glenn was getting impatient. Friend had sent two poems—“Chant of the White Beard” and “Rune,” both embedded in the unpublished story “Men of the Shadows”—but on May 3, 1957, Glenn wrote the following:

Did you ever hear from the Howard estate? If not, could you furnish me with the address as I have about decided to go out to Brownwood and Cross Plains in June. At Brownwood, I intend to look through the Memorial Library at Howard Payne College—that is, if the Library is still in the college library. May be able to find a picture of Howard there also.

Besides Oscar Friend, Glenn was also utilizing his connections in the world of fandom to help track down Howard verse. One such contact, Lovecraft scholar George Wetzel, may have provided the first hint that some of Howard’s papers were in the hands of E. Hoffmann Price. In his May 20, 1957 response to Glenn’s inquiry, Wetzel sent a list of possible contacts, including this:

I had somewheres here the first 3 issues of The Ghost but no Howard poetry was in it. In one issue there was a biog of Howard written by Price. Most of this was reprinted in the Arkham House Howard omnibus. But several letters plus a high school composition by Howard about wanting to be a pirate were omitted in the Arkham reprint.

The Ghost had appeared in 1945, not long after Price had received The Trunk from Dr. Kuykendall. Besides the essay referred to above (“Some People Who Have Had Influence Over Me”), Price’s memoir also included “The Wandering Years,” one of Howard’s letters to Farnsworth Wright, and three of Howard’s letters to Price. Both “Some People” and “The Wandering Years” were part of the “several bales” of school work that Price mentioned to Derleth in Part 3 of this series. The inclusion of the essays would have indicated that Price had access to rare, unpublished Howard materials, but in 1945, a year before Skull-Face and Others, there wasn’t a whole lot of interest in publishing Howard.

Whether or not Glenn knew about The Ghost, he was soon hearing a lot about E. Hoffmann Price, not all of it accurate. On May 29, 1957, Sam Moskowitz wrote this:

A man who knew a great deal about Howard was E. Hoffmann Price, one of his closest friends. I am not completely sure, but I seem to remember reading something about Price dying recently. Derleth might conceivably know where to locate Price.

But Glenn didn’t need Derleth for that. On May 30, Lee Baldwin asked, “have you tried E. Hoffmann Price, Redwood City, Calif?” Plus, Glenn was about to hit the town, so to speak. In early June he drove up to the post oak country to see what he could find; he described his discoveries in a June 13 letter to Oscar Friend, highlights included “a previously unpublished poem entitled THE TEMPTER,” which appears to have once been part of the Memorial Library at Howard Payne as Glenn found it “in the hands of the head of history department at Howard Payne.” He also acquired two snapshots from Lindsey Tyson in Cross Plains, and some information from Dr. Kuykendall in Ranger. Kuykendall “remembers Dr. Howard, shortly before his death, sending tear sheets and other material in a trunk to ‘Robert’s friend in California,’ he believes that it was E. Hoffmann Price of Redwood City.”

With the address in hand, Glenn fired off a letter. Price responded on June 15, 1957:

Somewhere I have—or think I have!—a few feet of microfilm, from the effects of the late Robert H. Barlow, containing some Howard poems. I also have some tear sheets of magazine material, or think I have—the doubt arises because of a vague recollection of having loaned some material to Stuart W. [sic: M.] Boland, of San Francisco.

I do have a studio portrait of Howard, taken during the final year of his life [sic.]. I also have a studio shot of Howard as a small boy.

Stuart Boland had apparently corresponded with Howard (and Lovecraft, too) and wrote an essay about his experience in 1945 for The Acolyte. Price responded to Boland’s article with a letter to the editor which intimated that he had access to rare Howard items: “Reading some pages, single spaced typing, of the letters Howard wrote Lovecraft make it clear that he met raw life in oil boom towns, in cow towns, and in travel about Texas.” Price also makes it clear that he and Boland are at least acquaintances: “Boland is quite some traveler. I once spent a number of enjoyable hours looking over his photos and listening to his reminiscences of far off places. One of these days I hope to repeat the meeting.” Apparently, he did.

In response to Glenn’s prodding, Price wrote to Boland on February 8, 1958:

Glenn Lord wants tear sheets of Howard yarns other than those published in Weird Tales. I wonder if you’d mind shipping him, at his expense, the tear sheets I handed you in the course of one of your final visits?

Also, those letters from Howard to Lovecraft: I think it’d be a grand idea to microfilm them, which I could now do, readily, and prepare a few duplicate 35mm. prints, to circulate among fans.

But Price was far from certain that Boland even had those papers. In a letter to Lord written the same day as the letter to Boland (which Price included as a carbon to Glenn), Price says “it does seem that I gave Boland a batch of tear sheets of non-weird yarns.” He later adds, “As to the letters, REH to HPL, that’s a shot in the dark. I do not know for a fact that I handed them to Boland. I simply can’t find them, and there is the lurking notion that I let him take them, six or seven years ago. He used to drop in quite often, during the final years of my writer career.”

It is hard to imagine someone handing “four boxes of REH relics” to someone. It seems clear that Price had been loaning them out, here and there, to interested parties. As he told Glenn, “rather than let the tear sheets crumble from age, I let this one & that read—and, you know how such things go. But I think Boland got the majority of the lot.”

[Part 6 is here.]