Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Eudora Ramsay Richardson (1891-1973)

Author, Administrator, Feminist, Public Speaker
Born August 13, 1891, Versailles, Kentucky
Died October 1973, Richmond, Virginia?

Eudora Woolfolk Ramsay Richardson was born on August 31, 1891, the daughter of a minister and college president, Dr. David M. Ramsay, and Mamie Woolfolk of Versailles, Kentucky. As a child she lived in Charleston, South Carolina, and Richmond, Virginia. Eudora married a banker, Fitzhugh Briggs Richardson, in 1917. The couple lived in Richmond and Manchester, Virginia, and had a daughter, also named Eudora Ramsay Richardson.

Eudora Ramsay Richardson was forceful and outspoken. The 1920 census gives her occupation as "war loan director" at a time when married women were discouraged from working outside the home. A decade later she was described as a writer of literature. (I guess pulp fiction is classified as literature depending on the person who does the classifying.) Eudora authored two stories for Weird Tales published halfway through the 1920s: "The Voice of Euphemia" (Mar. 1924) and "The Haunting Eyes" (Apr. 1925). She also wrote stories appearing in Ladies' Home Journal and Argosy All-Story Weekly.

During the Great Depression, Eudora acted as state director of the Federal Writers Project of the WPA. That project issued Virginia: A Guide to the Old Dominion and The Negro in Virginia. It also co-sponsored a radio show called "The Virginia Traveler," which she conducted. As a writer, Eudora was a jack-of-all-trades: she wrote radio and television scripts, provided a preface for Roanoke: Story of a County and City (1942), and prepared scholarly articles for journals such as Thought and the Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society. Her other works included Little Aleck (1932), a biography of the vice-president of the Confederacy, Alexander H. Stephens; The Woman Speaker (1936); The Influence of Men--Incurable (1936); Dinwiddie County: "The Countrey of the Apamatica" (with the WPA, 1942), Quartermaster Supply in the Fifth Army in World War II (1950), and Drink and Stay Sober (with Josiah Pitts Woolfolk, 1954). Her papers, located at the University of Virginia Library, include other manuscripts that may or may not have been published. She was a member of the Southern Women's Educational Alliance and in that and other capacities gave talks on women's issues, history, and other topics. Eudora Ramsay Richardson lived in Richmond late in life and passed away in October 1973. She was eighty-two years old.

Eudora Ramsay Richardson's Stories in Weird Tales
"The Voice of Euphemia" (Mar. 1924)
"The Haunting Eyes" (Apr. 1925)

Further Reading
An Internet search on the name Eudora Ramsay Richardson will yield abundant results. Her views on men are especially interesting and provocative.

The cover of E. Ramsay Richardson's Little Aleck, A Life of Alexander H. Stephens, The Fighting Vice-President of the Confederacy (1932). 
The cover of a later book, Drink and Stay Sober (1954), co-authored by Josiah Pitts Woolfolk, perhaps a cousin to the author.
Eudora Ramsay Richardson, circa 1936, in Richmond, Virginia. From the Richmond History Center.
Text and captions copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Walter F. McCanless (1876-1965)

Teacher, Author, Linguist, Musician, Composer
Born November 23, 1876, Guilford, North Carolina
Died November 28, 1965, Charlotte, North Carolina

Walter Frederick McCanless was born on November 23, 1876, in Guilford, North Carolina (1), and seems to have spent his life in the Carolinas, teaching high school in Smiths, Hayesville, and Unionville, North Carolina, and college at Clemson A & M College in South Carolina and Guilford County College and High Point University in North Carolina. According to his son, his subjects were English and mathematics. McCanless was also a linguist, played the violin and cello, and composed music.

McCanless wrote three letters in and one story for Weird Tales. The story is called "The Phantom Violinist" and it appeared in the magazine's first year in print, in November 1923. Apparently he was also the author of From Ballad and Chronicle to Historical Drama (University of North Carolina, 1904) and The Auxiliary Use of Get (University of North Carolina, 1922), which may have been theses or dissertations. McCanless died a few days after his birthday, on November 28, 1965, in Charlotte, North Carolina. McCanless should not be confused with the North Carolina textile tycoon, rancher, and booster Walter F. McCanless (1887-1958), although there might be reason for confusion: according to his genealogical research, McCanless shared the name "Walter" or "Walter F. McCanless" with ten other men.

Note
(1) According to a McCanless family member, the actual place of birth was Wadesville, North Carolina.

Walter F. McCanless' Letters and Story in Weird Tales
"The Phantom Violinist" (Nov. 1923)
Letter to "The Eyrie" (Nov. 1923)
Letter to "The Eyrie" (Feb. 1924)
Letter to "The Eyrie" (Mar. 1924)

Further Reading
I don't know of any further reading on McCanless.

Walter F. McCanless' story, "The Phantom Violinist," appeared in this issue of Weird Tales (Nov. 1923). The cover art is attributed to an artist named Washburn.
Walter F. McCanless (1876-1965)

Thanks to Randal A. Everts for the photograph and further information.
Text and captions copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Eli Colter (1890-1984)

Pseudonym of May Eliza Frost
Aka May Eliza Harvey, Eliza Mae Harvey
Author, Musician, Artist
Born September 30, 1890, Portland, Oregon
Died May 30, 1984, Los Angeles, California

May Eliza Frost went by the name Eli Colter, in print and in her private life. She adopted that name in the early 1920s and used it as her byline in hundreds of stories, serials, and novels, mostly Westerns, but also including what she called "problem life stories" and weird fiction. She was born on September 30, 1890, in Portland, Oregon, where she spent most of the first half of her life. She attended the Ladd School in her native city, but when she was thirteen, blindness struck. She regained her sight and--determined to become a writer--began a course of self-education. May Eliza played piano and pipe organ in movie houses to make her living. In 1922 she submitted a story to Black Mask Magazine. It was her first submission and her first published story. Over the next thirty years, the name Eli Colter became a fixture on the covers of pulp magazines and popular novels.

Eli Colter wrote a dozen stories and serials for Weird Tales, beginning with "Farthingale's Poppy" in July 1925. The fourth part of her serial "On the Dead Man's Chest" was voted second most popular of all stories printed in Weird Tales in April 1926. She was in good company, for H.P. Lovecraft came in first with "The Outsider," while Robert E. Howard's "Wolfshead" received third place. Eli Colter topped her previous mark with the most popular stories in January 1927 ("The Last Horror"), August 1927 (part three of the serial "The Dark Chrysalis"), and August 1928 ("The Man in the Green Coat"). "The Last Horror" fell into seventh place among all-time most popular stories behind works by A. Merritt, C.L. Moore, H.P. Lovecraft, Seabury Quinn, Nictzin Dyalhis, and Edmond Hamilton. It was also reprinted in the February 1939 issue and was voted fourth most popular story by readers of Weird Tales for that issue. Despite her popularity, Eli Colter never earned a spot as the author of a cover story for Weird Tales.

Eli Colter's last story for Weird Tales was called "The Man Who Died Twice" and it appeared in the November 1939 issue of the magazine. The following month, "The Crawling Corpse," the first of her four stories for Strange Stories, appeared. Almost everything else she wrote in the 1940s and '50s was in the genre of mystery or Western, including "Something To Brag About" from The Saturday Evening Post, which was adapted to the silver screen in The Untamed Breed (1948) with Sonny Tufts, Barbara Britton, and Gabby Hayes.

In her fourteen months writing for Strange Stories, Eli Colter alternated with an author named Don Alviso in the pages of that same magazine. Alviso wrote four stories for Strange Stories. All eight of those stories--four by Eli Colter and four by Alviso--originated from the same address, for Don Alviso was actually Glenn FaGalde (1901-1957), husband of Eli Colter. Husband and wife were Oregon natives and married during the early 1930s after having divorced their previous spouses. The couple moved from Portland to Azusa, California, in 1935 or 1936 and set about building a rock house on their "estate." By the end of the decade, their household was the center of a writer's colony in Azusa. Others in the group included Edwin Williams (David Wynn), Earl Dow, J. Lane Linklater, Elizabeth Stewart Way, Mary Elizabeth Painter, and another writing couple, Thomas Barclay Thompson and Ruby LaVerte Thomson [sic]. Eli Colter's previous husband was John Irving Hawkins (1891-1981), a ranch hand and himself an aspiring writer. The couple met when Eli advertised for cowboys whom she could interview for material for her fiction. They were married in 1926 and divorced in the early 1930s. Hawkins should not be confused with the television writer and producer John Hawkins (1910-1978) or the painter John Franklin Hawkins.

The trail of Eli Colter grows cold after the mid-1950s. She lived another thirty years however, dying in Los Angeles on May 30, 1984, at the age of ninety-three.

Eli Colter's Stories and Letters in Weird Tales
Letter to "The Eyrie" (May 1925)
"Farthingale's Poppy" (July 1925)
"The Deadly Amanita" (Dec. 1925)
"On the Dead Man's Chest" (four-part serial, Jan.-Feb.-Mar.-Apr. 1926)
Letter to "The Eyrie" (May 1926)
"The Corpus Delicti" (Oct. 1926)
"The Last Horror" (Jan. 1927, reprinted Feb. 1939)
"The Greatest Gift" (Mar. 1927)
"The Dark Chrysalis" (three-part serial, June-July-Aug. 1927)
"The Golden Whistle" (Jan. 1928)
"The Curse of a Song" (Mar. 1928)
"The Man in the Green Coat" (Aug. 1928)
"The Vengeance of the Dead" (Feb.-Mar. 1929)
"The Last Horror" (Feb. 1939, reprinted from Jan. 1927)
"The Man Who Died Twice" (Nov. 1939)

Over the course of her thirty-year career, Eli Colter wrote hundreds of stories for dozens of magazines. With a name like "Eli Colter," she could be expected to have authored works full of Western action and gunplay, and that was the case. A catalogue of her magazine fiction would be lengthy; The FictionMags Index has made a stab at it, but I don't think even that long list is complete. It certainly doesn't include Eli Colter's work for Weird Tales and Strange Stories. Anyway, here is a cover for Popular Western (Mar. 1937) featuring Eli Colter's byline.
A decade later she was still at it, landing the cover story for Ace-High Western for December 1947.
Eli Colter's fiction wasn't limited to the lowly pulp magazine. It also appeared in slick magazines like The Saturday Evening Post. Her story "Something To Brag About" was adapted to film as The Untamed Breed in 1948.
Dubbed in French, The Untamed Breed became Brahma Taureau Sauvage. The movie featured a brahma bull, but there was no sign of Mongo as far as I know. 
Don Alviso was another popular writer of Westerns between 1937 and 1947.  His "Five Empty Holsters" appeared in Western Story Magazine in the February 20, 1937, issue. Don Alviso just happened to be the husband of Eli Colter. At the time this story was printed, the writing couple lived in a stone house in Azusa, California.
Eli Colter saw a dozen of her stories and serials printed in Weird Tales between July 1925 and November 1939. By her second appearance (Dec. 1925), she had earned notice on the cover. The cover art was by Joseph Doolin.
There was her byline again, right back on the cover the following month, January 1926.  Andrew Brosnatch was the artist.
Between October 1939 and February 1941, Eli Colter and Don Alviso alternated in the pages of Strange Stories. Each penned four stories for the magazine. Alviso's first appeared in the October 1939 issue and even earned a place for its author on the cover.
"The Crawling Corpse," Eli Colter's first for Strange Stories, was also a cover story (Dec. 1939).  Her last story for Weird Tales ("The Man Who Died Twice") had appeared a mere month before.
Don Alviso was back in February 1940 with "The Mask of the Marionette."
Eli Colter returned in April 1940 with "One Man's Hell."
Like clockwork: Don Alviso in June 1940.
Finally, Eli Colter's last story in Strange Stories, "The Band of Death," from February 1941. It may have been her final weird tale of all.
Eli Colter (1890-1984). Image courtesy of the Oregon State Library.

Text and captions copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Louise Van de Verg (1906-1973)

Author, Poet, Playwright
Born July 11, 1906, Los Angeles County, California
Died May 26, 1973, Los Angeles, California

Louise E. Van de Verg was born on July 11, 1906, in Los Angeles County, California. She lived in Ballona and Los Angeles as a child and attended the Manual Arts High School. There she was a member of the MA Studio Club and the staff of her school yearbook, The Artisan. Her stories and poems for that publication may have been her first work in print. (Louise contributed a story, "All's Well That Ends Well," and two poems, "Wanted: A Phonograph" and "Like Vision in a Cloud," to the annual in 1923.) Louise matriculated at the University of Southern California. Once again, she was drawn to her school publications. "Louise Van de Verg is one of the most talented of the campus literati," her yearbook wrote. "Short plays, short stories, and poetry are the medium of expressing her gift." Louise was a contributor to and staff member of The Wampus, the campus literary magazine. She was also a member of the Quill Club. Her play, "Thesus [sic] and Ariadne," was performed in 1928 at the annual Apolliad at USC, held at the Touchstone Theater on campus.

Louise Van de Verg was among the class of 1929 at USC, but she appears to have remained on campus after that. In the final session of her undergraduate career, Louise's story, "The Three," was published in Weird Tales (Feb. 1929). She also authored a story called "Afternoon of the Pedagogue" for Harper's Magazine (Dec. 1937) and a play, "Once Upon a Prom Night: A Comedy of Girls in One Act," published in 1951. Her married name was Louise Gomez. Louise passed away on May 26, 1973, in Los Angeles.

Louise Van de Verg's Story in Weird Tales
"The Three" (Feb. 1929)

Further Reading
"The Three," a Twilight Zone kind of tale, was reprinted in 100 Tiny Tales of Terror, edited by Robert Weinberg, Stefan R. Dziemianowicz, and Martin H. Greenberg (Barnes and Noble, 1996).

Photographs of the University of Southern California Quill Club, 1928. Louise Van de Verg is at the lower right.
Louise's poem, "Wanted: A Phonograph," from half a decade earlier when she was a student at the Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles.
Text and captions copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Lilla Pool Price (1848-1914) and Lilla Price Savino (1883-?)

Lilla Pool Price
Composer, Musician, Poet
Born April 20, 1848, Washington, North Carolina
Died September 2, 1914, Portsmouth, Virginia

Lilla Price Savino
Poet and Housewife
Born November 1881, Elizabeth City, North Carolina?
Died ?

Lilla Pool Price and Lilla May Price Savino were mother and daughter, both native to North Carolina and both contributors of verse to Weird Tales. Lilla Pool Price was born on April 20, 1848, in Washington, North Carolina. Her grandfather, Joseph Bamford, was an English immigrant and a professor of music. Lilla's mother, Laura Bamford, was also a musician and played the organ at Christ Church in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Like her mother and grandfather before her, Lilla Pool was an accomplished musician. She also composed songs, including the music for "Carolina" and "The Banks of the Old Pasquotank" by her cousin Bettie Freshwater Pool. Lilla Pool Price's poetry was published in a book called The Chant of the Seasons and Other Poems.

Lilla Pool married Charles C. Price of Pennsylvania. The couple had one daughter, Lilla May Price. Born in November 1881, presumably in Elizabeth City, the daughter Lilla married an Italian shoemaker, Frank Savino, in 1906. The Savino family lived in Portsmouth, Virginia, for many years afterward. During those years, Lilla Savino began reading, then writing letters to Weird Tales. The first appeared in the March 1925 issue. Seven more followed before the decade ended, as did the two poems by women of the Price family. Lilla Pool Price's poem, "A Grave," came first. It was published in the June 1926 issue of Weird Tales. "The Haunted Castle" was Lilla Price Savino's contribution. It was published in the April 1928 issue.

According to Literature in the Albemarle by Bettie Freshwater Pool (1915), Lilla Pool Price's husband died young, leaving her a widow with a daughter. The 1900 census however shows Charles C. Price, age forty-four, living with his daughter, Lilla Price, in Elizabeth City. His wife is absent. I can't say why. Bettie Freshwater Pool offered what might be a clue:
She was for a number of years a recluse, and possessed many of the eccentricities of genius, [Bettie wrote]. The people of Elizabeth City will long remember the old house on Main Street, shaded by old trees—the house where the Banshee walked and the piano talked. Here dwelt the recluse, the musical genius of North Carolina. How often in the silence of the night that old piano under those skilled fingers would "make the welkin ring," and all along the street people would stop spellbound, listening to the witching music.
Perhaps when the census taker came around, Lilla Pool Price was hiding away in her house or some other place. In any case, by 1910, she was widowed and living in Elizabeth City. That census was her last, for she died on September 2, 1914, in Portsmouth, Virginia. I presume she went there to live with her daughter. Unfortunately, I don't know anything more about Lilla May Price Savino. The 1930 census record is the last I have found for her.

Lilla Pool Price's Poem in Weird Tales
"A Grave" (June 1926)

Lilla Price Savino's Poem and Letters in Weird Tales
"The Haunted Castle" (April 1928)
Letters to "The Eyrie"
Mar. 1925
June 1925
Nov. 1925
Mar. 1926
Feb. 1928
Dec. 1928
Aug. 1929
Nov. 1929

Further Reading
You can find an excerpt from Literature of the Albemarle on the wesbite Find-A-Grave, here. The entire text of the book can be found on the website of the Eastern North Carolina Digital Library, here. You can read about Bettie Freshwater Pool (1860-1928) at the website Documenting the South, here. Incidentally, Bettie's first book was called The Eyrie and Other Southern Stories (1905). She could not have known that her young cousin would one day write to a letters column of a very similar name.

Author and songwriter Bettie Freshwater Pool wrote about herself and her cousin, Lilla Pool Price, in Literature of the Albemarle. She also authored a collection of tales called The Eyrie and Other Southern Stories (1905). Almost two decades later, after she and her cousin had passed away, Weird Tales began using the title "The Eyrie" for its letters column. 
A little to the southeast of Elizabeth City and across the Albemarle Sound lies Roanoke Island, the setting for one of the first weird tales to take place in America. Established in 1585, the English colony at Roanoke disappeared mysteriously, its members never to be seen again. The Roanoke Colony was in the news again last week when researchers from the British Museum revealed that they had discovered an image of a fort on a 425-year-old map of the area. The image has been hidden for centuries under a pastedown and shows a fort in what is now Bertie County, farther up Albemarle Sound. Maybe someday soon there will be other clues as to the fate of the Roanoke colonists.

Among those colonists was Virginia Dare, first English child born in America. A romantic myth has grown up around the girl with the improbably symbolic name. The image is of a young European woman living in the wild, perhaps even transformed into a white doe. The statue shown above is from the Elizabethan Gardens in Manteo, North Carolina.    
Virginia Dare's image has been used in commerce and popular culture for more than a century. This postcard from the 1907 Jamestown Exposition and showing the baptism of Virginia Dare is one example.
Virginia Dare has also been used as a brand name for wine . . .
And tobacco. Here she looks a little more coquettish. The image of the swan evokes the myth of Leda and the Swan.
The image of Virginia Dare has also been used on postage stamps. This one was issued in 1937, thirty years too late to use it on your Virginia Dare postcard.
Finally, if wine is a little out of your league, you might try Virginia Dare Ginger Ale, part of a line of soft drinks that included root beer, lemon soda, and grape soda. 
Text and captions copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley

Monday, May 7, 2012

Victoria Beaudin Johnson (1899-1976)

Teacher, Poet
Born April 3, 1899, Wisconsin
Died February 1976, Detroit, Michigan

Teacher and poet Victoria Beaudin Johnson was born on April 3, 1899, in Wisconsin, daughter of a French Canadian father and a mother from Wisconsin. In her youth (1900 and 1910) she lived in Colburn, Wisconsin. In 1920 she was located in Pepin, Wisconsin, where she taught in the public schools. She married another teacher, Howard L. Johnson, in the 1920s and by 1930 was living in Detroit, Michigan. She is counted among Michigan poets and had verse published in a book of that name in 1936. Her one poem for Weird Tales is called "Disillusionment." It appeared in the December 1935 issue of "The Unique Magazine." Victoria Beaudin Johnson died in Detroit in February 1976.

Victoria Beaudin Johnson's Poem in Weird Tales
"Disillusionment" (Dec. 1935)

Further Reading
If you can find a copy of the anthology 1936 Michigan Poets, you can read the following poems by Victoria Beaudin Johnson: "A Dialogue," "Open the Windows," "Understanding," "Experience," "Fidelity," and "Dreams."

Another poem by Victoria Beaudin Johnson:

The Second Crucifixion

They crushed the thorns into His brow and struck harsh blows that day.
O Lord, I would not treat Thee so–I only walked away.

They drove the nails into His hands and raised the cross on high.
O Lord, that men could be so vile–I only passed Thee by.

But blinded eyes and heart of stone will spurn a love like Thine.
O Lord, I struck the cruelest blows; the sharpest thorns were mine.

"Disillusionment," a poem by Victoria Beaudin Johnson, appeared in this issue of Weird Tales, December 1935. The cover art was by Margaret Brundage, another female artist of the Great American Midwest. The skull looks like it's gnawing on poor Conan's shinbone.
Text and captions copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Irvin Mattick (1891-1969)

Author, Businessman
Born October 22, 1891, St. Louis, Missouri
Died September 1969, St. Louis, Missouri?

Irvin Mattick was born on October 22, 1891, in St. Louis, Missouri, and was orphaned in his youth. He lived for a time with his aunt and with his widowed mother. Mattick married Lenore Weissenborn, daughter of a German immigrant who was president of a coal company. The couple had two children. By turns Mattick worked as a linoleum salesman, a clerk, and a writer for a telephone company. He also wrote on the side for pulp magazines. The credits I have found for him are few enough to list here in their entirety:
  • "The Mystery at Eagle Lodge" in Detective Tales (novel, Feb. 1923)
  • "Red and Black" in Weird Tales (Jan. 1925)
  • "The Headless Spokesman" in Weird Tales (Nov. 1925)
  • "Jade" in Breezy Stories (short story, Feb. #1, 1926)
  • "The Gold of Feather Canyon" in The Popular Magazine (short story, Aug. 20, 1926)
I believe Mattick was also a member of the Burns Club of St. Louis and the Oklahoma Historical Society.

Irvin Mattick died in September 1969.

Irvin Mattick's Stories in Weird Tales
"Red and Black" in Weird Tales (Jan. 1925)
"The Headless Spokesman" in Weird Tales (Nov. 1925)

Further Reading
I don't know of any further reading on Irvin Mattick.

Detective Tales, J.C. Henneberger's companion to Weird Tales. This is the February 1923 issue, Volume 2, Number 1, dated the month before the first issue of Weird Tales. Inside: a novel by then thirty-one-year-old Irvin Mattick. 
Four years later, Mattick had a story called "Jade" printed in this issue of Breezy Stories
Text and captions copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley