Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Cross Plains Journey

I’m going to be leaving on a jet plane very early Thursday and will be getting home late Sunday. I probably won’t get to post again or check other folks’ posts until the following Monday. I’ll be in Cross Plains, Texas for the annual Robert E. Howard Days celebration and a meeting with some of my friends from REHupa, the Robert E. Howard United Press Association. That’s a fancy name for a group of amateur ziners who put together a private publication on Howard every two months.

Cross Plains is very small and I’ll be very busy so I doubt I’ll even have a moment to check email. That is assuming I could find a computer available there that was running internet. But I wish everyone in the blogosphere well while I’m absent. I’m sure the internet won’t come to a standstill, and I promise to catch up on everyone’s blogs when I return.

Today is a rather special day for those who remember Robert E. Howard. June 11 is the day that he killed himself. It was back in 1936, a Thursday morning in that year, and he’d just been told that his mother, who was in a coma and dying, was not likely to regain consciousness. Robert went out to his car, in the driveway of the small house in Cross Plains where I’ll be standing in about a day, and shot himself once in the head. He actually didn’t die until hours later, but he never regained consciousness either. His mother, Hester, died the next day and the two were buried at the same time on June 14. His father lived on for quite a few more years, and I always think of him around this time of year as well. Imagine losing your wife to illness and your son to suicide at virtually the same moment.

Robert E. Howard was gifted with a tremendous imagination, but it was hard work that made him a successful author. Not many of the pulp writers of the 1920s and 30s are remembered today. But Howard is far more famous and well known now than he was then. He, along with J.R.R. Tolkien and Edgar Rice Burroughs, transformed the landscape of fantasy. They built what is today my favorite genre.

I mentioned the other day that there are differences between storytellers and writers but that some people combine the two abilities. Of the three, REH, ERB, Tolkien, I believe that Howard combined the two skills the best. Here’s to him.

-----
-----

41 comments:

Bernita said...

A pilgrimage.

Miladysa said...

*raises a virtual glass*

Safe journey Charles and best wishes for an enjoyable expedition.

Lana Gramlich said...

The house will seem too big & empty. <:(

SQT said...

Now that's devotion to your mama.

Hope you have a great trip.

Charles Gramlich said...

Bernita, in a way it definitely is.

Miladysa, thanks.

Lana, I'll miss you badly, sweetness. Already missing you.

Avery DeBow said...

Safe journeying.

I'd never heard that story about Howard. Terrible thing for his father to deal with.

Travis Erwin said...

Whereabouts is Cross Plains?

Just curious as I don't believe I've ever been there or even driven through. Have fun.

Charles Gramlich said...

SQT, a lot of it may have been sheer mental exhaustion because he had been doing almost all the care for his mom during her last months.

Avery, yes, his father was a rather hard man but that would be tough for sure.

Travis Erwin, it's in Callahan county, about three hours south of Dallas. Closest towns are Brownwood and Cross Cut and Ranger.

Anndi said...

Have a fun and safe trip!

Quite a bit of poetry to his end. But very sad.

Danette Haworth said...

Wow, what a sad story. But I hope you enjoy your trip. (Those two sentences do not seem to go together.)

Lana! You guys are so devoted to each other!

Merisi said...

I have heard that story, about Howard's suicide, and I would like to know more about why he was so devoted or dependent on his mother, that he decided to kill himself rather than go on living without her. Do you know anything about the reasons?

Safe travels, Charles!

laughingwolf said...

salute, reh!

safe journey, charles, and have a great visit with buds, old and new

Steve Malley said...

I raise my morning coffee to you, sir, and to the memory of a truly impressive writer...

Shauna Roberts said...

Have a great pilgrimage!

Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

Well safe trip and have a wonderful time. Perhaps your trip will allow me time to read up on your blog as well.

T

Charles Gramlich said...

Anndi, Howard was a great poet in his own right, so I'm sure his ending reflects that in a way.

Danette, I always do enjoy getting together with good friends with similar intersts.

Merisi, quite a bit has been written about Howard's death actually. Only part of it was likely due to his mother's death. Howard had been writing about suicide for a long time and had expressed a desire to go out in the full tide of his strength. I think exhaustion was also a big part of it, and other things such as a final break up in a long term romantic relationship. A movie "The Whole Wide World" captures much of the story.

Laughingwolf, thanks.

Steve Malley, that he was, my friend.

Shauna, thankee.

Tara, Good to see you around. I hope you've been well.

Lisa said...

Have a wonderful trip. You will be missed around here :)

Barbara Martin said...

Take care on your trip, and have a memorable time. Thank you for sharing this with us.

Scott Oden said...

Wish I were going this year.

Safe journeys, Charles!

Charles Gramlich said...

Lisa, thanks.

Barbara, you're welcome.

Scott, too bad. It would be nice to meet you. Well, we'll all have to hoist a brew for you.

Erik Donald France said...

Mein Gott, had it already been a year?????????????????????????????

More to come -- catching up here, too, though hardly suicidal at this juncture ;->

Scott Oden said...

Actually, I recall meeting you at one of the REH Days of yesteryear . . . I think the year Gary Gianni was the GoH. "Meet" is perhaps too generous; it was more of a "hi, how you doin'?" at the Caddo Peaks BBQ ;)

If I recall correctly, that was the year I was very bitchy over the price of the Wandering Star collections . . .

Christina said...

Sounds like a fun trip. It's always nice to visit with friends.

Have a safe and wonderful journey!

the walking man said...

It would seem writers, substances and guns just have a symbiotic relationship.

Ah well a tip of the glass to someone you admire Charles.

travel well and safely

ironmammoth said...

Charles,

Very good post, said with feeling!

I wish I could join you in Cross Plains, oh well maybe next year...

Greg Schwartz said...

wow, I never knew he committed suicide. that's a sad story.

on a happier note, have a fun trip!

Sidney said...

One of these days I'm gonna remember that's coming up and meet you there! Hope it's a good trip.

Barrie said...

I'll look forward to hearing about your trip next week. Safe travels.

benjibopper said...

Hear hear! a sad ending, mimicked much later by one hunter s. thompson of gonzo journalism fame. enjoy the pilgrimage and see you again soon.

ivan said...

Oh goodie.

I think I would have loved to take a junket like that.

Hey, now we can all cavort around here and write all kinds of scurrilous stuff.

Paul R. McNamee said...

Someday I would like to attend Howard Days.

Jack said...

I hope you have a good pilgrimage to Cross Plains. I have yet to make the journey to Howard's hometown. The words, one day, haunt me every year when I realize that I will not be able to make it to Cross Plains, once again. One day...

Monique said...

Oh, what a sad story. It seems that too many gifted people, writers, musicians. actors etc, are going prematurely. Why is that I wonder sometimes?

Poor Lana will miss you to bits Charles.

Have a lovely time.

Monique said...

Oh dear, so engrossed I was with that story, I completely forgot to tell you that episode 15 of MD is now online.

laughingwolf said...

no books arrived as yet... :(

Christina said...

Hope you're having fun! Just wanted to come by and let you know that I was thinking of you.

laughingwolf said...

assuming you made it back in one piece, charles... happy fathers' day!

X. Dell said...

I'm going to scout for Howard on the web. If he wrote that long ago, perhaps something of his work is in the public domain?

I took a look at some of his titles. It wouldn't have occurred to me that people would have written about such topics before WWII.

Live and learn.

Michelle's Spell said...

Hey Charles,

Have lots and lots of fun! I've been away and am glad to be home.

Charles Gramlich said...

Thanks everyone for your best wishes. I'm back and have just started posting some stuff about my trip. And I'll get caught up over the next couple of days on my blogging visits. Until then, thanks again for visiting.

Mary Witzl said...

You are right: how sad for his father.

Now I'm thinking about all the other famous writer suicides. Hemingway. Hunter S Thompson. John Kennedy O'Toole. Romain Gary. Yukio Mishima. Virginia Woolf.

Sigh.