Sunday, April 23, 2017

Friend of a Friend: Robert E. Howard and Frank Belknap Long, Part One by Bobby Derie

Frank Belknap Long
Robert E. Howard and Frank Belknap Long, Jr. never met, nor did they correspond directly. Yet they shared an interest in poetry; a profession, in pulp writing; markets in common, especially Weird Tales; a common agent, in Otis Adelbert Kline; a collaboration, in the form of the round-robin “The Challenge From Beyond”; and of course they shared a friend: H. P. Lovecraft.

It was mostly through Lovecraft’s chain of correspondence that the two men came to know something of each other, though Howard had relatively little chance to remark on it during his lifetime, and Long had several productive decades to cast back his memories to the image of the Texan transmitted through Lovecraft’s letters, and Howard’s own fiction. Reflecting on the period, Long wrote:
I’ve never ceased to regret that I missed an opportunity to correspond at length with Howard in the far-off days of my still stubbornly recurrent youth. HPL urged me to do so, many times, and sent me virtually all of “Two-gun Bob’s” early letters to read at my leisure and eventually, of course, return to him. And most remarkable letters they were, some running to forty or fifty single-spaced typewritten pages. [...] But I consoled myself with the thought that Howard had revealed so much about himself in his letters to HPL that I felt as if I had met and talked with him at great length and had become—yes, the most esteemed of friends. (RSF 5)
Robert E. Howard
There is evidence to support the idea that Lovecraft “lent out” several of Howard’s letters to him. Annotations to some of Howard’s letters are attributed to Lovecraft and bear out his lending, e.g. “Return this to Grandpa or incur the direst consequences!” (CL2.489, MF1.511) and “Fra Bernardus to Francis, Lord Belknap. Comrade Belnapovitch to Grandpa—or incur the direst consequences!!” (CL3.18, MF2.535) Long went on to say:
This feeling of close friendship was reinforced by my knowledge that HPL had relayed to him my praise of his stories and that he had read a great many of my stories and poems and had been most generous in his praise of them. [...] He was an extraordinary writer, and even if he had never created Conan, or Solomon Kane, and a half dozen other imperishable mighty men of legendary renown, his letters to HPL alone would have established him as extraordinary. (RSF 5-6)
Lovecraft’s first mention of Long to Howard was in an early letter, dated 20 July 1930, and includes Long’s praise:
Young Frank B. Long (a friend of mine whose Weird Tales work you have probably noticed) & I argue interminably on this point, he being a Smith-adherent. [...] In closing, let me add that my friends Long & Clark Ashton Smith (whose work you must know) have repeatedly praised your tales, Long being especially enthusiastic about "Skull Face". He also likes your verses exceedingly. (MF1.30-31)
Robert E. Howard’s “Skull-Face” was serialized in Weird Tales Oct-Nov-Dec 1929; the Texan had also published several poems in the Unique Magazine, including “Dead Man’s Hate” (Jan 1930), “A Song Out of Midian” (Apr 1930), and “Shadows On the Road” (May 1930). Howard felt obliged to comment on this warm reception to his friend Tevis Clyde Smith:
He says his young friend Frank Belknap Long, and Clark Ashton Smith have often praised my junk. Well, I’m very glad of it, naturally. (CL2.58)

Sunday, April 9, 2017

A New Discovery: Herbert Klatt's Personal Photo Album by Todd B. Vick

A few months ago, I received a message from a reader of this blog regarding Robert E. Howard and a friend of his named Herbert Klatt. Of course, I’ve written about Herbert Klatt here at On An Underwood No. 5 since he was not only a friend of Robert E. Howard’s but also of Tevis Clyde Smith's, Truett Vinson's, and Harold Preece's. It turns out the person who contacted me, Christopher Oldham, is a relative of Herbert Klatt’s. Christopher contacted me because he had recently come into possession through his great aunt Oleta Klatt (a sister of Herbert’s), Herbert Klatt’s personal photo album.

When Christopher mentioned the photo album, the only thought in my mind was that there might be a potential picture of Robert E. Howard no one had seen. Through correspondence, Christopher began to tell me some of the names of the photos that were labeled in the book. I recognized several of these names, especially Truett Vinson. I asked Christopher if any of the pictures were labeled Tevis Clyde Smith or Harold Preece. “No,” he said, “but there are a few photos that are not labeled.” So, there was hope. Out of sheer kindness and a tremendous amount of trust, Christopher offered to mail the photo album to me so I could scan the pictures. This, of course, made me a little nervous. What if the pictures were lost in the mail? A question that was in the forefront of my mind. We arranged a plan: send the pictures first class priority with delivery confirmation, then I’ll scan them and return them the same way. That way we could track the package as it was in transit between the two of us, both ways. The plan worked without a hitch. I received the package, scan the pictures, and sent them back. No issues.

What was the result? Several new pictures that have never surfaced have been discovered. Unfortunately, none of the pictures were of Robert E. Howard. Even so, two new pictures of Truett Vinson were present, and a possible picture of Tevis Clyde Smith. These will be revealed in my upcoming biography about Robert E. Howard. Moreover, several pictures of Lone Scouts who were also participants in The Junto—an "amateur press association created by his [Howard's] friends Harold Preece and Booth Mooney, both ex-Lone Scouts, which they had cooked up after a meeting in San Antonio."—surfaced. For the picture that is potentially Tevis Clyde Smith, I got Howard historian and scholar, Rob Roehm involved. After comparing the photos Roehm had on file of Smith, he agreed that the picture was likely Smith. Unfortunately, the picture of Smith is not labeled, but it was placed on the same page with one of Truett Vinson’s photos (the only two on that page), and the fact that it is in Herbert Klatt’s personal photo album gives it strong provenance.

Now that everything is said and done, I asked Christopher if he’d be willing to participate in a small interview about his family and the photo album. He graciously agreed and what follows is our discussion about Herbert Klatt and the photo album. (U5 - On an Underwood No. 5 & CO - Christopher Oldham)

U5: How are you related to Herbert Klatt?
CO: He was my Grandfather’s brother which makes him my Great Uncle.
U5: How did you end up with the photo album?
CO: It belonged to my Great Aunt, Herbert’s sister, Oleta Klatt.
U5: When did you realize that your great uncle, Herbert Klatt, was a friend of Robert E. Howard's?
CO: When I read Lone Scout of Letters – Herbert C Klatt by Rob Roehm
U5: How did you discover Robert E. Howard?
CO: I discovered Howard when I read Rob Roehm’s book, which piqued my curiosity and caused me to read works by and about Robert E. Howard.
U5: Oh, so you did not know about Robert E. Howard before reading Rob’s book?
CO: No, I was not familiar with him like I am now. Rob Roehm contacted my family but the other branch. He contacted my mother’s cousins and they gave him some information. My mother mentioned it to me but her information may not have been consistent and I thought she might be mistaken. So, at first I was a little skeptical. But, that’s how I found out about Lone Scout of Letters – Herbert C Klatt.
U5: What made you want to get in touch with me regarding the photo album?
CO: I found the album in my aunt’s things last year and thought someone might be interested in the pictures and of his fellow Lone Scouts and friends he corresponded with.  I reached out to you via your website. I believe we have a responsibility when we discover these things to do what we can to share them with those that are interested.
U5: Can you recall and share any family stories about Herbert Klatt?
CO: Unfortunately, I cannot remember any. My great aunt spoke of him, but my memory fails me. She wished she had his creative writing ability. I believe his illness and untimely death inspired her to follow a career path which lead her into Cancer Research at MD Anderson in Houston Texas.  I would say that was highly unusual for a woman born in 1914. My great aunt and grandfather seemed to be profoundly affected by the loss of their older brother. They were 7 to 8 years younger, so I imagine that would have fostered a different relationship than if they were closer in age, less completion and perhaps more mentoring?  I knew Herbert planned to be a lawyer, and my grandfather wanted to study law as well.  Sadly, my grandfather was not able to finish high school, because Herbert passed, and his father became too ill to farm and tend livestock, so my grandfather had to work on the farm to support the family.
U5: Do you have anything else you would like to add?
CO: My aunt passed in 2006. It’s hard to believe it’s been was 11 years since then. Time passes faster and faster. She would have delighted in speaking to you about her brother.

I’m so thankful Christopher contacted me regarding the photo album. His eagerness to share helps us add new information to our studies of Robert E. Howard. Thank you Christopher.

Below are photographs (not scans) of a few of the pictures from Herbert Klatt's photo album. More of these pictures will be revealed in my upcoming biography about Robert E. Howard. Several of the pictures are people Howard knew either personally or through The Junto.

J. Leland Gault, two poses
Roy W. McDonald (a Lone Scout &
a member of The Junto)

Various Lone Scouts
(each marked except the upper right picture)

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Travels with Robert . . . Clarksville, Texas by Todd B. Vick

On April 30, 1913, Dr. Isaac M. Howard registered his medical license at the Red River County Courthouse in Clarksville, Texas. It was around this time that the Howards relocated to Bagwell, Texas for a spell. However, Clarksville, Texas and Red River County had a hundred-year history before the Howards ever step foot in the area.

On my recent road trip to Clarksville, I discovered a few things about my home state’s history that I did not know.

First, five men who signed the Texas Declaration of Independence are from Red River County. These men include, Richard Ellis (1781-1846), moved to Texas from Virginia, owned a plantation on the Red River, and served as a Texas senator. Robert Hamilton (1783-1843), immigrated from Scotland, to North Carolina, moved to Texas in 1834 and eventually became Chief Justice of Red River County.  Albert Hamilton Latimir (1800-1877), settled near Pecan Point in 1833 and served two terms as a representative for Red River County, became the State comptroller, and was an associate justice of the Texas Supreme court. Samuel Price Carson (1798-1838), served as a State and U.S. Representative in North Carolina before moving to Texas, was elected Secretary of State of Texas ad interim government. Collin McKinney (1766-1861), was born in New Jersey, moved to Texas and served three terms as a Texas State Representative, and Collin County and the city of McKinney are named for him.

Second, traveling back home from Clarksville, about 10 miles almost due south of Bagwell, I visited a relatively recent discovered abandoned cemetery in the area. Because of the historical significance of who is buried in this cemetery, the State spent funds to clean up the area, gate the tiny cemetery in and strategically place several historical markers around the cemetery.

This cemetery is the William Becknell/Robbinsville cemetery. William Becknell, known as the “Father of the Santa Fe Trail,” was an American Frontier soldier, trader, farmer, rancher, and politician. Born in Virginia around 1787, he joined Daniel Morgan Boone’s company of U.S. Mounted Rangers and fought under the command of Major Zachary Taylor in the Battle of Credit Island, Iowa in 1814.

After the War, and the death of his wife, Becknell gathered a trading party to accompany him across the Great Plains to Mexico in 1821. He was the first U.S. Trader to arrive in Santa Fe after Mexico won its independence from Spain. He was the first to “open” (or begin) legal international trade in Santa Fe. In 1835, he moved with his new wife and family to Red River County in Texas where he spent the remainder of his life. Shortly after he arrived in Texas, he commanded a militia unit known as the Red River Blues to protect settlers from raiding Native Americans.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

He's Eleventy-One Years Today!

Happy birthday, Robert E. Howard!

Born January 22nd, 1906 in Peaster, Texas. 

REH with Patch

Robert E. Howard is 111 years old today! 

The general tradition in Howard fandom is to read a story by Howard and while doing so, imbibe your favorite beverage!

So . . . Here's to the first of all dog brothers . . . Cheers!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Updates and New Projects by Todd Vick

Hello, Readers!

Sorry for my absence. It has been a few months since anything has been posted here at On An Underwood No. 5. Even so, there are several things to announce and a few new projects on the horizon for those of you interested in Weird Tales, Robert E. Howard, H.P. Lovecraft, etc.

First, I've been feverishly researching and writing an upcoming biography about Robert E. Howard. I submitted a proposal for the biography to the University of Texas Press and met with the senior editor of UT Press last May in Austin, Texas. He told me they were interested in seeing two chapters from the work, so I was given the thumbs up to move forward. There's a whole story about how all this unfolded, something I'll save for an upcoming article here. Anyway, this project has had me traveling to various places all over the state of Texas. Because of this, a new idea for a series here at On An Underwood No. 5 about those research/biography trips has developed and hopefully the first in that series will be posted here relatively soon. A number of fun adventures have been had on these research trips, new places discovered, and lots of Texas history learned. So be expecting this series.

Second, the new Dark Man: The Journal of Robert E. Howard Studies is soon to be released. According to Mark Hall on the Dark Man: The Journal of Robert E. Howard Studies' Facebook page:
Vol. 8, No. 2 is finishing up in layout and then off for proofing, so it should be available for purchase in a few weeks. Contents for this 70+ pages of Howard goodness is as follows: Gunter's Local Color and Its Underlying Meaning in Robert E. Howard’s Weird Western, Southern Gothic Horror and Detective Stories. Vick's The Mistaken Identity of a Barbarian: Conan, Hero or Anti-Hero? and a review by Jason Carney on a recent Karl Edward Wagner collection.
I'll certainly announce its release when that occurs, so be watching for that.

Third, if you have not already bought or subscribed to the recent Skelos: The Journal of Weird Fiction and Dark Fantasy, then I highly recommend it. It has a nice mix of new weird fiction, non-fiction essays, poetry, and books reviews. If you are interested, you can subscribe or buy individual copies at the Skelos Press website.

Fourth, have you tried to track down copies of the two volume set titled, A Means to Freedom: The Letters of H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard, only to discover it costs hundreds of dollars? Good News! Hippocampus Press will soon republish the set and you can now pre-order it at their website.

Fifth, if you are not a member yet of the Robert E. Howard Foundation, then you can become one for free or pay for a membership (which is now tax deductible and greatly helps the Foundation with funds to publish books, etc.) at their website.

Sixth, Howard Days in Cross Plains,. Texas is just a little over 4 months away. If you are wanting information about attending this year's event you get info here and here.

That's all for now. I'll also be attempting to get new guest writers and articles here for 2017. And remember, be looking for upcoming posts about my biography/research trips. Have a great 2017! Cheers!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Conan and the Dweller Part 4: Some Notes on William Lumley by Daniel Harms, Michael Lesner, and Bobby Derie

Despite his role in lives of H. P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, and Robert E. Howard, we know less about Lumley than most others of Lovecraft’s circle.  Six letters in Lovecraft’s Selected Letters were written to him (SL 3.372-3, 450; 5.207, 213-4, 273, 420), but none of them truly reveal anything other than that he was interested in occultism, mythology, and Lovecraft’s dreams; a bit more is revealed in scattered references from the letters Lovecraft, Howard, and Smith discussing their correspondence with Lumley, or the appearance of his work in print.

William Lumley’s most notable work is the short story “The Diary of Alonzo Typer,” as revised by H. P. Lovecraft and finally published in Weird Tales (Feb 1938). Lumley’s original draft, published in Crypt of Cthulhu #10 (1982) and reprinted in Price’s Black Forbidden Things and Medusa’s Coil and Others, has its interesting moments, but it consists mainly of an undated, rambling set of entries. No information was given for the author or the diary, save that it was “found after his mysterious disappearance.” The piece has no clear purpose or conclusion, and the only virtue is that this brings it a touch of authenticity.

Lovecraft did a considerable amount of work on the manuscript. He wrote the introduction setting the scene in Lumley’s New York state near Buffalo, describing the village of Chorazin and the history of the van der Heyl family, provided a chronological framework for most of the work, and introduced the idea of Typer being a relative of the van der Heyl family. This, of course, was in addition to dropping the names of a few Mythos tomes. Oddly enough, the insertions of Theosophical lore (the city of Shamballah, the Book of Dzyan) are Lovecraft’s.

Lovecraft’s finances were already running out, but as he considered this collaboration philanthropy (OFF 299), he accepted only a copy of E. A. Wallis Budge’s Egyptian Book of the Dead as payment for the revision (SL 5.208). Lovecraft supposed the story would land with William Crawford at Marvel Tales, but instead Lumley sent it to Weird Tales. (ES 2.711-2) When Farnsworth Wright accepted the story and inquired as to why it sounded so similar to Lovecraft, Lumley revealed to the editor that Lovecraft had revised many pieces that had appeared in the magazine under the names of others (SL 5.207). Despite this acceptance, Wright held on to the story for over two years.

In his letters, Lovecraft gives little biographical data on his correspondent. Lumley is described regularly as “old,” and while described as living in Buffalo, New York in 1931 (ES 1.339), the only full address given is in 1933, which Lovecraft lists as 742 William St. (LRBO 55) L. Sprague de Camp quotes a letter from Lovecraft to Robert Bloch stating that Lumley:
who claims to be an old sailor who has witnessed incredible wonders in all parts of the world, & to have studied works of Elder Wisdom far stronger than your Cultes des Goules or my Necronomicon. (HPL 407)
However, de Cramp but provides no source, and the quote does not appear in any of Lovecraft’s published correspondence. Yet, the possibility that Lumley may have been a seaman is valid, for in another letter Lovecraft says that Lumley: “has been at sea & seen odd parts of the earth[.]” (LFO 153)

Lumley was a common name in Buffalo in the early-mid 1930s, and four or five William Lumleys can be found in the city directories for the period, but only one lived at 742 William Street. The directories list a William Lumley who had lived in this building for a few years (having moved there from 450 Niagara Drive). The building in question stood at the corner of William and Smith Streets in Buffalo, but has since been demolished. It appears to have been a business and attached carriage house, the second floor of which was let out to lodgers. When Mr. Harms visited the site around 2000, the building was abandoned. A paint store had been the last occupant of the storefront on William St. The bulk of the structure, extending down Smith Street from the intersection, was painted deep green and had a decided tilt to one side.
Weird Tales Feb. 1938

Lumley dropped in and out of the city directory over the years.  He never appeared again after he left 742 William St. The only other information given was an entry that he worked as a “watchman” at an unspecified business.

A systematic search of the cemeteries in Buffalo found one record of a “William Lumley” in the French and German Cemetery, and a search of the plots turned up Lumley’s unmarked grave.  The cemetery records stated that Mr. Lumley was born on March 20, 1880, and died on May 31, 1960 of coronary sclerosis.  His death occurred in Alden, New York (a town to the east of Buffalo where the Erie County Home and Infirmary is based), and welfare paid for his burial expenses.  The dates appeared to be right – Lovecraft implied that Lumley as an older man – but it was difficult to say whether this was the Lumley who lived at 742 William St.

In “The Diary of Alonzo Typer,” Alden, New York, south of Attica, is Typer’s last stop in civilized areas before walking to the town of Chorazin. If Lumley’s character followed the actual geography, it is likely that Typer would have walked to the van der Heyl mansion in this direction, as the landscape is much hillier than that elsewhere in the area. The region’s legends include mentions of Native American mounds in this area, as well as at least one mysterious stone structure, most likely the remnants of a former house, which could have provided some inspiration for Lumley’s handwritten draft. Still, no town named Chorazin exists in the area, and no one ever built a house in this region that has dates near those of the van der Heyl mansion: these were elements that came from Lovecraft’s imagination.

In the Alden Town Clerk’s Office is the death certificate for the Lumley buried in the French and German Cemetery, who was listed as a watchman for the American Agrico Chemical Company.  Because of the profession and name, we can be fairly certain that this Lumley was our man.  The certificate noted that William Lumley was born to Edward Lumley and Isabel Johnson in New York City, and that he was single. His last address in Buffalo was 8 Park Street (within a few miles of the two addresses already mentioned), but in 1958 he was moved to the Erie County Home and Infirmary in Alden, where he passed away two years later. Any records at that institution would have been destroyed in a fire, according to a clerk there.

This is where the trail went cold. While we now know Lumley’s whereabouts for the end of his eighty-year life, the man himself remains an enigma. Did he stay in Buffalo all of his life, or did he move about the country in search of work before returning home? Were his trips to China and India that Lovecraft mentioned products of Lumley’s (or Lovecraft’s) imagination, or did they really occur?

Writing the John Hay Library, we discovered that a few letters by Lumley – totaling six pages – had been preserved. Lumley’s letters, for the most part, discuss his favorite tales in the pulp magazines and fan journals. In addition to Lovecraft, his two main correspondents seem to have been Smith and C. L. Moore, both of whom encouraged him in his fiction. Lumley submitted many pieces of fiction, including the titles “The Phantasy” and “Dread Words,” to Marvel Tales and other magazines, apparently to no avail. He and Lovecraft shared a love of cats, and one of Lumley’s letters discusses the worship of Bast at some length. Those looking for more clues as to Lumley’s past are given only a few items of interest – a brief mention that Lumley had been in Port Said in Egypt, and that he had once owned a black panther from Sumatra who had been given to a circus. (The most likely candidate, the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus, has no record of any such transaction.)

At this point, our research into Lumley’s life has to be put on the back burner, yet we hope that someday more investigation into this fascinating figure’s life will be done. What we have now is merely a skeleton.

Works Cited

CL       Collected Letters of Robert E. Howard (3 vols. + Index and Addenda)
ES        Essential Solitude (2 vols.)
HPL     H. P. Lovecraft: A Biography
LFO     Letters to F. Lee Baldwin, Duane W. Rimel, and Nils Frome
LRBO  Letters to Robert Bloch and Others
MF      A Means to Freedom (2 vols.)
MTS    Mysteries of Time & Spirit
OFF    O Fortunate Floridian!
SL        Selected Letters of H. P. Lovecraft (5 vols.)
SLCAS Selected Letters of Clark Ashton Smith

Thanks to E. P. Berglund, Monika Bolino, Derrick Hussey, Cheri Lessner, Donovan Loucks, and Mason Winfield.  Special thanks to John Stanley and the John Hay Library.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Cannonballs, Boxers, and Music Halls: Robert E. Howard's Stay in San Antonio by Todd B. Vick

Robert E. Howard certainly loved San Antonio, Texas. On several occasions he declared it was not only his favorite city in Texas, but boasted that it was probably the greatest city in the country. Back in early 1931, Robert E. Howard and his parents stayed in San Antonio for several months. While there, Howard worked on genealogy research, took in the city, enjoyed a few prize fights, frequented a number of bookstores, and visited a few pubs. Periodically he would write his friend, Tevis Clyde Smith, to give him an account of the goings on in the city.

These letters are some of the most interesting Howard wrote during this small stretch of time. In one of the letters, circa March 1931, he told Smith that George Godfrey was in town for a heavyweight prize fight. That particular evening Godfrey was apparently at one of the local music halls publicly taunting carnival and vaudeville performer, Frank "Cannonball" Richards. Godfrey was a mountainous figure for the time, standing six-three and weighing around 250 lbs of pure muscle.
Jack Dempsey & George Godfrey
Publicity Photo

Godfrey had a reputation, due to his enormous size, of being not only a braggart, but sometimes a pompous wind-bag. On several occasions this got Godfrey in hot water. A prime example, the Langford/Godrefy fights. Sam Langford was dwarfed (standing only five-eight) and substantially out-sized by Godfrey, and because of this Godfrey taunted Langford before their first bout. Langford, a legend in the sport of boxing, didn't much care for the attitude and preceded to hammer Godfrey in their first of three bouts, knocking him out. Godfrey would later win the World Colored Heavyweight Championship twice and would eventually fight heavy weight champion Primo Carnera.

Frank "Cannonball" Richards had spent years traveling with carnivals and vaudeville shows demonstrating his enormous abdominal strength, letting people punch, kick and swing sledgehammers at his belly. He also had a special twelve-foot cannon rigged to shoot a 104 lbs cannonball into his stomach. This feat would toss him back about 6 feet into a safety net. He then would stand up, unscathed, causing the onlooking crowds to burst into applause and awe.

Frank "Cannonball" Richards
"Well, pretty soon I'm going down to a music hall, I think, and watch the big smoke George Godfrey do his stuff." wrote Howard. Godfrey was challenging onlookers to punch him in the stomach and Howard declared, "they have a 212 pound smoke for the job." Word had apparently got around that Godfrey was not only taunting Richards, but challenging onlookers to punch his stomach. Someone had found a 212 pound man who was up to the challenge, and Howard didn't want to miss the hoopla. In response, Howard writes, "Frank Richards, the man with the iron belly is in town and raging. He says George is trying to steal his stuff and will probably raise some kind of hell at the fights tonight."

There is surviving film footage of Frank Richards performing his feats in various locales which has circulated widely and been used in various television shows and documentaries, it has become somewhat of a pop sensation. The Simpsons even parodied Richards on one of their episodes. Homer Simpson, on a stage in front of thousands of people, humorously performs the exact cannonball stunt Richards did so many decades ago.

It's not known whether Howard went to the music hall, he never writes a follow-up letter to Smith. It is also not known whether Frank Richards showed up at George Godfrey's fight, as Howard had heard that he might. Even so, Howard's letter gives us a nice peek into the pop culture of his time.