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Well shiver me timbers, matey, if it is not ol’ Two-Gun Bob himself all decked out like the scourge of the Seven Seas! Yes, your eyes do not deceive you – that is a young REH and two neighbors dressed as pirates, specifically Blackbeard, Jean Lafitte and Anny Bonny, who are in fact Howard, Faustine and Leroy Butler, and you are seeing this photo for the very first time. The house in the background is the Butler house, which means that this picture was taken in the Howards’ backyard, probably around 1923 to 1925. As anyone who has been to Cross Plains knows, the house is no longer there. On May 29, 1994, a Magnitude 2 tornado ripped through Cross Plains, destroying eighteen homes, including the Butler house, which was next door to the Howard House Museum. Amazingly, Howard’s home was relatively unscathed, through the roof had to be replaced. The lot is now occupied by the Project Pride Pavilion and Butler Park.
This is only the latest of many finds by Howard scholar and guest TGR blogger Patrice Louinet. As to the origin of this time-lost photograph, here is the lowdown from Patrice himself:
I was rereading some research material I have and stumbled upon a note from an interview with Mrs. Butler conducted by the de Camps at the time they were working on Dark Valley Destiny. Mr. Butler used to be Bob Howard’s neighbor at Cross Plains in his early years. Even before the de Camps asked their first question, Mrs. Butler mentioned that she remembered “seeing a picture of Robert with an old hat on, over in [the Howards’] yard.” She went on to say that “Robert had a bandanna handkerchief tied around his head, and had a belt … big old sword. And they [Howard, Mr. Butler and his sister] weren’t just little boys; they weren’t kids. They were in their teens.” Unfortunately, Mr. and Mrs. Butler hadn’t kept the photos, which had been given to a relative. But I decided to give it a shot. It took me some time, some broadband and some luck in the end, but I was eventually contacted by the son of the relative I was looking for. To say that he was a bit surprized by my request would be an understatement, but he searched for the pictures I described to him and sent me three of them. Yes, three absolutely unknown photographs of Robert E. Howard!
So there are more photos yet to be revealed. The two companion photos, along with this one, will be published in the next issue of The Robert E. Howard Foundation Newsletter. Considering there are only 33 known photos of Howard, the addition of three just increased that total by nearly ten percent. The next issue of the Newsletter is due out next month. If you are not a member of the Foundation, this should give you some incentive to join. There are three levels of membership, with Friend of REH and Legacy Circle members receiving the newsletter as part of their membership.
As for Patrice, he is not resting on his laurels. Aye, there are more treasures buried out there, more discoveries to be made, and the tenacious Frenchman is hot on the trail of of them. So you lubbers have more to look forward to if your scurvy-ridden hides don’t wind up in Davy Jones’ Locker first!