Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Lovecraft Hated Seafood

In the Shadow Over Innsmouth we read, "A sandy tongue had formed inside this {stone breakwater} barrier, and upon it I saw a few decrepit cabins, moored dories, and scattered lobster pots ... Once or twice I saw listeless people ... digging clams on the fishy-smelling beach below ... Pervading everythingwas the most naseous fishy odour {sic} imaginable ..."

I found this interesting ephemera to illustrate this scene. It is from 1906 and represents Lobster Field Point of Providence, Rhode Island. Lovecraft would have still been in High School.
It certainly is a weird ilustration and one wonders at the shudders HPL would have had seeing this in the corner drug store post card rack !

The Arkham Sampler

Here are some better images of the classic 1948 Arkham Sampler.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Lovecraft's Providence: Trains and Trolleys

^photo from which the postcard below must have been derived.^

It is stated, "The old Railroad station which burned to the ground."

^another view^

Providence RI New New Haven Railroad Station Double Image

Lovecraft road the trains often. In the background, one can see the First Baptist Church of Providence.

^Here, we see a trolley station.^
Lovecraft loved to ride trolleys. This portrays the Providence and Danielson Railyard, and shows cars 8, 16, 31 at the Rockland Car House in Provedence.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Lovecraft's Legacy: 1948

For the early years after Lovecraft's death, Arkham House kept HPL's memory alive. This, only a decade after Lovecraft's death, we have several featured memorials.

The Arkham Sampler of Spring, 1948 from Arkham House Publishers, Sauk City, Wisconsin
(originally sold for One Dollar)

A Group of Letters by H. P. Lovecraft
A Memoir of Lovecraft by Rheinhart Kleiner
A Damsel with a Dulcimer by Malcolm Ferguson

The Arkham Sampler Summer, 1948 from Arkham House Publishers, Sauk City, Wisconsin
(originally sold for One Dollar)

A Kink in Space-Time by H. Russell Wakefield
the Novels of M. P. Shiel by A. Reynolds Morse
Howard Phillips Lovecraft by Samuel Loveman

Saturday, January 27, 2007

GORHAM Silver Plated Knives," PROVIDENCE" Pattern from 1920. Lovecraft's Father worked at Gorham in the 19th century.

Lovecraft in the Midst of Controversy: Houdini On 3 February 1925

With much tedium, Chrispy is working to harmonize Houdini's chronology and see if Lovecraft intersected or at least had tangent with Houdini and his cursade on spiritualism. This one is close HPLblog-readers ... very close. This is how I've reconstructed it.

In Joshi, p. 108-111, Letters From New York, Night Shade Books 2005, we learn from a letter by HP Lovecraft to his aunt (on 10 February) that CM Eddy has come to New York unexpectedly. The date is Sunday, 1 February 1925. He states, "unexpected guest ... CM Eddy ... on literary business, interviewing magazine editors & stopping with Houdini up in west 113th Street ..."

[1 February is derived from the indication that it was "the next day" after "Saturday" before "February 5th ... Thursday" - thus we learn that it is on Sunday, 1 February, 1925 that CM Eddy arrives. Obviously it was prearranged by Houdini.

Lovecraft continues, "Eddy had an engagement at Houdini's house at midnight, so we had to hustle ... I piloted Eddy to Houdini's home via the Bronx subway, I then returned ...".

Did HPL stay? It was odd that it was to be at midnight, but no doubt it was the only time Houdini could see CM Eddy. It does have a clandestine shadow, though.

Then, we learn from that same 10 February 1925 letter that his wife, Sonia, arrived on Tueday, 3 February 1925, and a party was arranged.

"...I got Eddy on the wire..." and "I rested & proceeded to the restaurant - a very attractive Italian place which Eddy later learnt is a chosen haunt of Houdini & his wife ... Eddy then went to the Hippodrome to meet Houdini ...".

What could this all be about? Why is CM Eddy needed at Houdini's house? Did CM Eddy really need Lovecraft as an escort? Did HPL stay at the midnight rendezvous? The only clue is from
THE NEW YORK TIMES of Feb. 4, 1925 • Page 24, Column 2: HOUDINI GIVES A SÉANCE.

The headline read: Shows How "Spirit" Phenomena May Be Worked by Trickery.

At the invitation of the Greater New York Federation of Churches, Harry Houdini, the magician, gave a lecture and demonstration exposing the tricks of fraudulent spiritist mediums at the Hippodrome yesterday morning. [That is Tuesday, 3 February 1925, the day Sonia came to town - the day of the party.]

Several hundred persons, including many ministers attended. At the outset Houdini made it clear that he did not intend "to attack any religion in any way." "It is not my idea to hurt any one," he went on, "for I know there are real believers in spiritism."

He assailed the genuineness of the manifestations of Eva, Margery and others and showed how the feats they attributed to spirits could be performed by trickery. [Houdini had battled Margery under the umbrella of the Scientific American committee for months].

In the presence of a volunteed [sic] committee of clergymen and laymen on the stage he demonstrated "spirit" slate writing, bell ringing, table moving and other supposed phenomena. Of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Houdini said: "There is no doubt in my mind that he is at least sincere."

The week was eventful in that Lillian Clark (HPL's aunt) arrived to meet Sonia and had dinner witht he gang: CM Eddy, Samuel Loveman, George Kirk, and Rheinhart Kleiner. After the dinner, CM Eddy went to the Hippodrome, but GK, SL, RK went over to see Frank Belknap Long, and HPL, Sonia, and his aunt went back to make lemon tea at 169 Clinton.

Maddeningly, HPL makes no comment on the big Houdini event !

Friday, January 26, 2007

Lovecraft's Legacy: 2004

Chrispy was perusing books at the local Borders and spied Haunted Places in America: A Guide to Spooked and Spooky Public Places in the United States by Charles A. Coulombe, Lyons Press, 2004.

On page 187, in discussing haunted areas of Rhode Island, here is what it said, "Providence produced one of the greatest American Horror writers Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890-1937), Steeped in his state's and New England's weird legends, he married them to his own imagination and created a world of fright still compelling today ... in Providence's Swan Point cemetery every Halloween his fans gather at his grave to commemorate his life."

Lovecraft Centennial Issue: Fantasy Commentator

FANTASY COMMENTATOR, (ed. A. Langley Searles): Fantasy Commentator: Lovecraft Centennial Issue (Whole number #41).. 1990 (Fall). First edition. Oversize wrappers. Small-press magazine: "articles, verse and regular features": 76 pages. (#20053) VG copy with stained front cover and a little soiled rear cover (internally clean and unmarked).
Contents are stated to be:

4- 9 • Death of a Gentleman: Howard Phillips Lovecraft’s Last Days • R. Alain Everts • nf
9 • Deception •
Steve Eng • pm
10-11 • A Sheaf of Sonnets by Contemporaries of Howard Lovecraft
10 • Mad Dreams (for H.P. Lovecraft) •
Richard Ely Morse • pm The Phantagraph Oct ’36
10 • The Tavern •
Robert E. Howard • pm Singers in the Shadows, Robert E. Howard, Donald M. Grant, 1970
11 • Atavism •
Elinor Wylie • pm Nets to Catch the Wind, 1921
11 • White Death •
Clark Ashton Smith • pm The Star-Treader and Other Poems, A.M. Robertson, 1912
11 • Galaxies •
Stanton A. Coblentz • pm The Mountain of the Sleeping Maiden, 1946
12-30 • Bernarr MacFadden and His Obsession with Science-Fiction: Part Five— “Ghost Stories” Magazine •
Sam Moskowitz • nf
30 • The Skater of Ghost Lake •
William Rose Benét • pm The Forum Nov ’25; “edited for republication by Lee Becker.”
31-34 • Lovecraft’s Two Views of Arkham •
Edward W. O’Brien, Jr. • nf
34-41 • Book Reviews
34-36 • The Supernatural Tales of Fitz-James O’Brien •
Sam Moskowitz • br
36-37 • Rama II, by Arthur C. Clarke and Gentry Lee •
James A. Lee • br
37-38 • Lord of the Hollow Dark, by Russell Kirk •
Edward W. O’Brien, Jr. • br
38-39 • Sixty Selected Poems, by Joseph Payne Brennan •
H. R. Felgenhauer • br
39-41 • The Parents of Howard Phillips Lovecraft, by Kenneth W. Faig Jr. •
A. Langley Searles • br
41-48 • Father Images in Lovecraft’s ’Hypnos’ •
John McInnis • nf
48 • “Lovely, Dark, and Deep” •
Lee Becker • pm
49-55, 48 • Sons of Super-Science •
Mike Ashley • nf; noted as “slightly abbreviated chapter” from his forthcoming book on Gernsback; article continues from p.55 to p.48.
56-65 • The Lovecraft Centennial Celebration •
Sam Moskowitz • nf
65-67 • Lovecraft Psychoanalyzed •
Wilfred B. Talman • nf; ms. of this supplied by R.A. Everts.
68-72, 67 • Voyagers Through Eternity: A History of Science Fiction from the Beginnings to H.G. Wells; Part VI •
Sam Moskowitz • nf; mostly on Verne’s Moon stories; concludes on p.67.
72-74 • Open House: Letters from Readers
72-73 • letter •
Sam Moskowitz • lt; long letter on life and recent death of Don Wandrei.
74 • letter •
David A. Drake • lt
74 • letter •
John Francis Haines • lt
74 • letter •
Tom Cockcroft • lt
74 • Beyond the Role Reversal Sector •
Steve Sneyd • pm
74 • Under the Fluorescent Moon •
R. L. Boas • pm
74 • Illumination •
John Francis Haines • pm

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Lovecraft's Legacy: 1979

This rare ephemera has a few interesting historical points 42 years after Lovecraft's death.

FANTASY MONGERS, (ed. Paul Ganley): Fantasy Mongers #1. Weirdbook Press: NY. 1979. First edition. Stapled wraps. A separate small-press fantasy magazine from the editor of Weirdbook, mostly issued as a place for genre booksellers to sell (or at least advertise) their books - this 32 page first issue does include both front and back cover artwork by J. K. Potter, an interview with Robert Bloch, and a short Lovecraftian piece by L. Sprague de Camp ("H. P. Lovecraft And Edmund Wilson"). The item shown is declared to be in NF/Fine copy.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Black Swamp: CM Eddy And HPL Go Legend Tripping - and a Modern Parallel

On or about 4 November 1923 (1) CM Eddy and Lovecraft went on a trip to the Chepacet area. HPL and Morton had toured this area 6 weeks earlier. CM Eddy and Lovecraft - somehow on foot - follow the trail of "the Dark Swamp" of which CM Edddy had heard "sinister whispers from the rusticks".

They went to the town clerk who confirmed the rumors, but did not know where the place was. Farmers and others were contacted to no avail but collected rumors that "people entered the swamp but never came out".

Folklorists refer to this as legend tripping - an exhilierating expedition by (usually) a group of people to find some mysterious event or location steeped in mythology. It is also well known, by folklorists, that most of these are oral stories told as "having happened by a friend of a friend" and therefore are notoriously difficult to locate in real space and time.

They found a swamp on the farm of Ernest Law but were unable - because it was dark? - to enter and investigate. Lovecraft had nearly collapsed (2) and CM Eddy carried him back to a trolley stop. More Here.

Now, from Strange Maine & Michelle we read:

I was in the Strange Maine store the other day, interviewing Brendan Evans, the owner, for Angioplasty Media's upcoming re-launch, when a very pleasant older man came up to the counter. He was very happy to have found yet another classic horror film on Brendan's shelves, and proceeded to tell us a rural legend from his younger days.

He told us about a road that runs between Hiram and Cornish, Maine, that is partially unpaved, near the old Durgintown area. He swore that the locals from either town avoid that road when they are alone late at night. He claimed it ran through a bog, and that strange things would happen on the road from time to time, including the sensation that something was holding down the back of your car as you drove along in the dark, and that you were not alone.

Two of his younger coworkers had taken him up on his stories and had driven down the road very late one night (or early in the morning, as I believe it was after midnight). They thought they saw something in the bog coming out at them, and took off without a second look, terrified.Heck, sounds good to me!!!

Anyone else out there with any information about this location?

So !! here we have two wonderful FOAF legend trips over 80 years apart ! CM Eddy went on later to write a story based on this, and HPL did a poem shortly after this to commemorate the Fall setting.

1. H. P. Lovecraft: A Life, S. T. Joshi, Necronomicon Press, 1996, p. 307.
2. Chrispy has tried in vain to find out the weather report for this day. If it were cold, HPL could have been chiolled and collapsed - but it was likely NOT a frigid day

Lovecraft Loved Ice Cream

Here are vintage 1920's ice cream order pads ! Now, Chrispy does not know if HPL visited the Laurel Ice Cream Company, but Lovecraft did eat copious amounts of the stuff.

The seller states: The item you are looking at is 6 order or receipt books from the Laurel Ice Cream Co. in Providence, Rhode Island. These are from the 1920's. Across the top reads, "Laurel Ice Cream Co. 208 Laurel Hill Avenue Telephone West 3589 Providence, R. I. _______192. The line is for the month and day, and the 192 is for the year, so they could be used from 1920-1929. The top page is dirty on each pad, but the pages unde are not. The one in the top center is missing the white first page. Each book has 50 two part forms.

Arkham House Collector 3: Summer 1968

The seller states:

Arkham House THE ARKHAM COLLECTOR Number Three Summer 1968 Limited Edition (Approx. 2500 copies) The Arkham Collector was a small periodical published by Arkham House starting in 1967. Each issue contained announcements of upcoming books, news clips, essays, poems, story segments, and much more. As such, they offer a fascinating historical insight to Arkham House and their work. Of note, is H.P. Lovecraft always plays a central role (as with the publisher). Some of the more interesting essays on Lovecraft, first appeared in the Collector. It was treated as advertising, and as such, issues were often thrown away, so even with a circulation of around 2500, copies are hard to come by. Remainder issues of The Collector were bound and sold in book form, again decreasing the number of individual issues.
This is issue number three of The Arkham Collector, published in the Summer of 1968 at 50 cents a copy. 36 pages.
Contents Include:
Arkham House vs. Mycroft & Moran
Back to Praed Street
Of Miles Pennoyer
Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos
Poe by Thomas Bailey Aldrich (1836-1907)
The Lemurienne by Clark Ashton Smith
Of Brian Lumley (Short piece on young Lovecraftians submitting stories)
The Cyprus Shell by Brian Lumley (10 pages)
Edith Miniter by H.P. Lovecraft (September 10, 1934)
Atlas in a Fourth Avenue Bar by Arthur M. Sampley
Revelation by Jack Hajdu
"The Shuttered Room" on Film. (Warner release in England)
Cthulhu in Celluloid by J. Ramsey Campbell (great six-page article by this up and coming talent on Lovecraft, Poe, and Horror on Film)
Mary's Ghost by Thomas Hood
Night by L. Sprague de Camp
Clifford M. Eddy (Obit -- friend of H.P. Lovecraft)
Anthony Boucher (obit)
Bibliographical Notes
The Chain by Frances May
The Vampire's Tryst by Wade Wellman
Coming Books
Pogo Cartoon by Walt Kelly with tribute to August Derleth

The publications measures 5.25" x 7.75". Arkham House, Sauk City, Wisconsin. Nice condition, no tears, just yellowing due to age, toning close to spine. According to Leon Nielsen in his invaluable reference book Arkham House Books: A Collector's Guide the value of this Collector is listed at $35.00.

The Tryout: April 1923

Again, Ebay comes through for HPL fans. Here is an image of a rare copy of the Tryout.

The seller, obviously not a keen HPL fan, states, "Up for auction is an April 1923 edition of The Tryout. We have researched this publication and this is what we have found so far. It seems to have been a popular publication for poets and science fiction writers of the early century. Howard Lovecraft is written about in this edition as he seems to have been fundamental to the publication and was a well known sci fi writer of the time. If any of this info needs to be corrected please notify us and we will gladly change or add to what we have stated. The booklet is in good condition with minimal wear and tear as evidenced by the photo. Please email us with ANY questions you might have before bidding. Thanks!"
Chrispy's best reading of the poem on the cover is:

The Tryout, Vol. 8, Plaintow, NH, April 1923, No.7

She comes! - the month of daffodils!
After the Winter's gray retirement
And whispers in the building boughs,
And bids the sleeping grass arouse,
With laughter on her lips!
She comes! the month of Daffodils!
The meltime, many mooded maid;
And with the torch of her desire
She sets the kindling clouds aflint
And watches till they fade!
Her gauzy dress in impish play,
The zephyrs clutch with hands unseen;
And where her fleeting feet have stood -
(As if responsive to mood!-)
The grass again is green!
And blithely chant the ballpind birds,
And blithely flows the singing streams;
While all the pulsing April rain
Is galding - galding everywhere -
And filled with waking dreams.
Arthur Goodenough

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Lovecraft's Daily Life: Fall 1935

De Camp relates that Lovecraft spent the Fall of 1935 on occassional trips around New England. (*) Cole, in Boston, went with HPL to Wilbraham, MA (i.e. Dunwich). Lovecraft often rode the rails. Here is a vintage rail schedule he might have used - or one much like it.

* p. 404, H P Lovecraft: A Biography, L. Sprague de Camp.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Lovecraft's Legacy: 1945

Here is an ebay (22 Jan 2007) offering os a seciond edition SUPERNATURAL HORROR IN LITERATURE- By H.P.Lovecraft- Ben Abramson Publishers, 1945 -160 pages plus index. Hardcover. The seller states. "that it was reprinted at least once in a Dover books trade paperback", and the seller states, "My research leads me to believe this is a second printing, because the color of the covers is wrong for a first. Anyway,there is some spotting on cover, but hardly noticeable, overall VERY GOOD-FINE no jacket". This would have been about 9 years after HPL's death, and a WWII era item.

Lovecraft's Legacy: 1960

About 23 years after Lovecraft's death, here is a rare, 1960 (Very Fine condition) British Science Fiction Pulp - Science Fantasy # 44 with cover art by Jarr. This issue features all original stories by John Brunner - All the Devils In Hell, John Rackham - The Black Cat`s Paw, Thomas Burnett Swann - The Painter & more. Also featuring a great article [Studies in Science Fiction #9] on H.P.Lovecraft by Sam Moskowitz.

Lovecraft In Marvel Tales: 1935

S T Joshi declares that (1) Willaim L. Crawford (1911-1984) whom HPL called Hill-Billy becauyse he was from Everett, PA. Joshi states that "The Doom That Came to Sarnath" appeared in the March-April issue.

This image is of an Original Marvel Tales vol 1 #4 from March-April 1935 sci fi/fantasy digest in GD condition with British semi-postal revenue stamp and HP Lovecraft/Clifford D Simak stories.

1. p. 334, HP Lovecraft In His Time: A Dreamer and a Visionary, Liverpool, 2001.

Lovecraft's Legacy: 1972

35 years after Lovecraft's death, the next wave of fandom exploded during the Vietnam War era. Chrispy recalls reading a lot of science fiction, espcially A. E. van Vogt - a mimic sometimes of HPL. In a high school biology classroom, a substitute teacher had a copy of Lovecraft - but Chrispy was not interested then. In college it was all Robert E. Howard all the time. Then, 30 years later I crossed paths with HPL and I was hooked.

Here is an image of a rare 'zine: SHADOW #18 (1972). 6 1/2 x 8 and 36 pages. It included articles about fantasy and horror literature, including about H.P. Lovecraft. Articles by Ramsey Campbell, Brian Stableford and others. Art by Alan Hunter and others.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Henneberger and Houdini: Testimony of Sam Moskowitz Part 1

Chrispy has tracked down a rare copy of Sam Moskowitz' essay on how Weird Tales was founded. In it, there is a clear statement about JC Henneberger and Harry Houdini.

"Among Henneberger's closets friends and a staunch admirer of Weird Tales was the famed magician Harry Houdini."

Here we finally here from a friend of Henneberger that Houdini was not only a friend but actively interested in Weird Tales. Houdini was not a mere "columnist" or "contributing writer". What Henneberger knew, there was every chance he would share with Houdini. This would include his "discovery" of HP Lovecraft.

... continued ...

1. Worlds of Weird, selected by Leo Margulies, introduction by Sam Moskowitz, illustrated by Virgil Finlay, Jove, NY, 1965. p.11.

Houdini and Lovecraft: Testimony of Muriel Eddy (1961) Part 5

In our last installment of our investigation into Muriel Eddy's testimony - this next pericope seems very true. (1)

When Harry Houdini came to Providence {20 September 1925} for the last time, we made up a theater party and attended the performance. It was a big production, and his wife Beatrice assisted him in his magic tricks and illusions. A niece, Julia, also was an assistant on the stage.
After the show, Houdini suggested that we go to lunch at a Waldorf restaurant. It was very late, and at the midnight hour we sat at a long table together, with Beatrice Houdini’s pet parrot perched demurely on her shoulder. Lovecraft got quite a kick out of watching the parrot … named Lori … sip tea from a spoon and nibble daintily at toast held by his polite mistress!

I remember that H.P.L. ordered half a cantaloupe filled with vanilla ice cream, and a cup of coffee. He was in great spirits and bubbled over with good humor, talking a blue streak about everything under the sun. Harry Houdini gazed at him admiringly. I am sure he liked H.P.L. as much as almost everybody did who had a chance to study and know him.

We know that Julia Sawyer (Houdini's niece) assisted not only with the show but as an undercover agent. (2) Prior to November 1925, Julia was dispatched to Lilly Dale - upstate New York - to discover information on Pierre Keeler a fraud and slate writer in residence there.

As to the parrot, this element is verifiable (3).

The Waldorf Restaraunt is a unique and verifiable element - and one that would only be relevant if she had truly been there. After some heavy research, Chrispy found (4) that the original Providence Bijou was razed in 1925 and immediately replaced by a concrete building which held a Waldorf Restaraunt franchise for years.

Lovecraft's love of ice cream is legendary, so that certainly seems correct. That he loved coffee (5) to this all his friends attested.

So, if we take this anecdote as factual, and there is every reason to do so, the implications are fascinating. Julia spent mid to late 1925 undercover in Lily Dale, NY. Muriel says C M Eddy did undercover work at Lake Pleasant, MA. We know that C M Eddy met (or told Lovecraft that he would meet) Houdini as early as 10 February. This is the height of Houdini's desire to go on the attack of the spiritualists. (6)

The distance of time gives us the question of who knew Houdini first - Lovecraft or C M Eddy. They both knew Baird and Henneberger and met Houdini within the same space of time. We can trace much of Lovecraft's contact with Houdini, and some of C M Eddy's contacts. Lovecraft was impoverished, and C M Eddy was more impoverished - exactly the kind of people that Houdini needed and had a passion to assist with his enormous wealth. Did HPL send work to C M Eddy form Houdini - or was it a natural progression of both men being cultivated by Houdini and C M Eddy having the broader amount of time to help?

Whatever the start of the game HPL and CME were at the end of it friends and there were few secrets from them that Houdini had created an espionage network. However, it seems that Lovecraft did not have the temperament to follow through as CM Eddy did.


1. The Gentleman From Angell Street: Memories of H. P. Lovecraft, Muriel E. Eddy & C. M. Eddy, Jr., ed. Jim Dyer, Fenham Publishing, Narangasett, R.I., 2001. “The Gentleman From Angell Street”, Muriel Eddy, 1961.
2. The Secret Life of Houdini, Kalush and Sloman, p. 465, "For three dollars, Julia got messages from a dead sister who never existed and from the spirits of two of her still-very-much-alive relatives." On line notes refer to "Central City Assembly No. 14, S.A.M., Syracuse, N.Y.", The Sphinx, November, 1925, 270.
3. THE NEW YORK TIMES • July 9, 1938 • Page 14, Column 7 HOUDINI’S PET PARROT PICKS CAGE LOCK, ESCAPES (Special to The New York Times. ) HOLLYWOOD, July 8 – Pat Houdini, 25-year-old parrot and former stage companion of Harry Houdini, emulated his dead master today by picking the lock to his cage and disappearing into the Hollywood hills.
Pat was reported to be “singing” as he soared away. // Edward Saint, who was Houdini’s manager, says the parrot learned to pick locks while watching his master during his escape acts with which Houdini fascinated audiences for years. // A few days ago Mrs. Houdini went East. She left the bird at a boarding home for pets, forgetting to tell them of Pat’s propensity for picking locks.
4. From www. , we read the following recollections: Roger Brett wrote in Temples of Illusion about Spitz and Nathanson's Bijou Theatre: // "With its unveiling on March 28, 1908, Abe and Max became the city's first showmen to operate three theatres at once. This was the original Bijou at the corner of Westminster and Orange Streets, nestled against the big UnionTrust Building. A rarity among Providence Theaters, it had only one name and policy, movies, from its inception until its closing in July of 1925. // "Like the short-lived Lyric, it was a converted store and took up the entire ground floor of a high-ceilinged wood framed building dating from the early 1800's. It was razed in 1925 and the present [1976] concrete building, for many years occupied by a Waldorf Restaurant, immediately replaced it. (...) When it became a theater a huge false front was erected and the roof appeared to be flat when viewed from Westminster Street." // In style, this façade can best be described as 'High Coney Island.' It was elaborate in the extreme, painted white, and contained 2000 light bulbs. These were not in a sign but were actually mounted on the woodwork and traced the curves, arches, and parapets in brilliant relief for the benefit of evening crowds. Grime, generated by the city's traffic and chimneys in the early 1920s, forced the management to abandon white paint in favor of green and the Bijou lost some of its amusement park glamour towards the end. // "The Bijou sat 407, all on one level. From the beginning the theater was very popular and consequently very sucessful. Although the term was not in use at the time, the Bijou, along with the Nickel, were Providence's first-run movie houses. Abe Spitz, improving upon Charlie Lovenberg's initial booking arrangements, had the necessary contacts with the right people to insure getting the very best films for his theaters. The policy here, as at the Nickel, was always movies and illustrated songs, but no vaudeville." // posted by Gerald A. DeLuca on Jun 26, 2005 at 6:50am
5. Sam Moskowitz, Worlds of Weird, Jove, 1965, "I called on him a few months before his death ... if liquor was the cause of the early demise of Dylan Thomas ... black coffee loaded with sugar surely helped Howard to an early end."
6. p. 454, The Secret Life of Houdini, Ibid. Vacca and Houdini met in 1921 in Chicago. He was put on staff in 1923. He did advance work for Houdini and filed reports to him prior to any engagement. p. 460, Houdini hired Rose Mackenberg and filed detailed reports on hundreds of seances. Also, Alberta Chapman, a showgirl was a spy. A friend, not on the payroll, filed reports. This was Robert H. Gysel. (p. 461). He also enlisted law enforcement professionals, Detective Joseph Greene and policewoman Elizabeth Michaels in Manhattan. In Cleveland, he and a reporter broke up George Renner's racket.

Lovecraft's Legacy: 1949

OK Bibliophiles, this blog post is for you. Details and Lovecraftiana meet.

^HPL as a boy^

Amazingly, on 20 January 2007 there were three copies of this rare book for sale on ebay at the same time !!!

Just 12 years after HPL's death, this was issued from Arkham Press. The war years had built a cult following driven by Lovecraft's friends and colleagues, the frequent publication by Farnsworth Wright of Mythos stoires in Weird Tales, and a general buzz about "the nest, now deceased Poe".

Gleaned from the notes by sellers here is a detailed description of this landmark publication.

Arkham House (Sauk City, Wisconsin) publication of SOMETHING ABOUT CATS AND OTHER PIECES by H.P. Lovecraft, was publised as a First Edition in 1949, Limited Edition (2995 copies). Another seller suggests it is 3,000 copies. 306 (one says 307 pp) pages. The original price was $3.00.

More details: It is declared to be printed from Intertype Garamond by the Collegiate Press, George Banta Publishing Company, Menasha, Wisconsin. The paper is Winnebago Eggshell. The binding cloth is Holliston Black Novelex." (Inscription found on page 307.)

The photo above shows it with dust jacket. Jacket art is the work of Ronald Clyne. The text of the dust jacket reads ... The final collection of the miscellaneous writings of the late great H.P. Lovecraft before the Selected Letters, yet to come, contains over a dozen poems, the provocative and controversial title essay, pieces from Lovecraft's little-known magazine The Conservative, the burlesque, The Battle that Ended the Century, and notes for such famous stories as The Shadow Over Innsmouth, At The Mountains of Madness, and The Shadow Out of Time. In addition, a round half dozen stories by other hands, in which Lovecraft took part, either by revision or suggestion, are included. Among them are The Invisible Monster, by Sonia H. Greene; Satan's Servants by Robert Bloch; The Last Test and The Electric Executioner, by Adolphe de Castro; and The Horror in the Burying-Ground, by Hazel Heald. Finally, friends of Lovecraft have contributed to this volume certain studies and appreciations, such as the memoirs by Rheinhart Kleiner and Samuel Loveman; the remembrance by Sonia H. Davis, who was for some years the wife of H.P. Lovecraft; the addenda to H.P.L.: A Memoir, by August Derleth; a portrait of Lovecraft as few people knew him, by E. Hoffmann Price; Fritz Leiber, Jr.'s study of Lovecraft's work; and poems in tribute by Vincent Starrett and August Derleth.

After nearly 60 years, even in the hands of colectors, the three editions are described:

1. Book is Near Fine Plus, just yellowing to pages, and minor board and shelf wear (very minor). Complete, no tears, no writing, no chipping. Tight, bright and square. Dust Jacket is Near Fine Plus (most booksellers would call this Fine -- we grade conservatively and extensively). Dust jacket has the typical yellowing/toning to edges. Some minor edge wear, primarily to heel of spine. Front panel is bright with little to no fading. Flaps are also in very nice shape with just the yellowing to edges. Truly a remarkable and very collectible copy.

2. Excellent Condition; virtually no fading to pages throughout; one faint stain in lower left corner of Contents pageBook Cover = faint smudges (fingerprints?) on outside of front and back covers; lower right corner on front cover is slightly bent; lower left corner on back cover is slightly bent Dust Cover somewhat stained and discolored paper cover with small rips at stress pointsOwner's name written in ink on first page of end papers (prior to frontispiece); bookshop sticker on same page Another bookshop sticker on inside back cover

3. A Very Good copy with bumps at top and base of spine, fingering to black Novelex cloth, name (science fiction publisher and author Jack L. Chalker) and address stamped on inside front board, light stain on fore edge of free front endpaper, bump with short tear on fore edge of portion of text block, top corner turn to two interior pages in a Near Fine dust jacket reflecting this bump at base of spine.


*A dozen poems (one seller says 13 poems)
*Seven Essays by H.P.Lovecraft (various topics)
*Note by August Derleth on Something About Cats
*Something About Cats
*Extracts from The Conservative
*The Battle that Ended the Century
*Notes by HPL for The Shadow Over Innsmouth, {Mispelled as Shadows}, At The Mountains of Madness, and The Shadow Out of Time.
*The Invisible Monster, by Sonia H. Greene
*Satan's Servants by Robert Bloch*
*The Last Test and The Electric Executioner, by Adolphe de Castro
*The Horror in the Burying-Ground, by Hazel Heald.
*Memoirs by Rheinhart Kleiner, Samuel Loveman, by Sonia H. Davis
*addenda to H.P.L.: A Memoir, by August Derleth
*Memoir by E. Hoffmann Price
*Fritz Leiber, Jr.'s study of Lovecraft's work
*Poems in tribute by Vincent Starrett and August Derleth.
*Illustrated with several rare photographs, including Lovecraft as a child, a photo of Mrs. Sonia H. Davis, Lovecraft's wife, and a Lovecraft satirical design for his own gravestone sketched on an envelope.

Currently, it is stated, that Leon Nielsen in his book Arkham House Books: A Collector's Guide (2004) lists the books value at $250.00 (on the various book sites it often sells for more than that, very desirable, especially in this condition).

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Houdini and Lovecraft: Testimony of Muriel Eddy (1961) Part 4

When HPL first met C M Eddy (we speculate about August 1923, though they corresponded prior) he was surprised by their East Providence condition. With two children, they lived in deep poverty. He stated, "I fancy poor Eddy will take much furniture off your hands - heaven knows he needs it, for his barren dump is the most meagre and destitute place I ever beheld! I must write him shortly, and attend to some of his manuscripts which I promised to revise. The longer I wait, the busier I'll be; hence early attention means best results!"

This echoes a pericope from the 1961 memoir by Muriel Eddy, " ...H.P.L. at this time was bogged down with countless revisions to do for people via mail...".

At some point, C M Eddy and harry Houdini made a contract for Eddy to research spiritualists. We read:

My husband spent some time investigating Spiritualism at Lake Pleasant, Massachusetts, for Harry Houdini, and when he came back home with much data about some of the mediums he’d met, Lovecraft came over to see us and seemed much interested in the subject. He scoffed at the idea of communion with the dead, and said that, in his opinion, death was the absolute end.

Here, Muriel Eddy mildly implicates Lovecraft. If the statement is true - and external evidence indicates that C M Eddy did work for Houdini and research mediums - then HPL did discuss the fraud and was incensed. This rings true.

For his entire life, Lovecraft advanced an atheistic materialism, a purely scientific way of seeing the world (with the exception of his racist streak), often attacked in writing astrology and superstition, and we know he worked on the Cancer of Superstition for Houdini with C M Eddy. Frank Belkanp Long in his 1977 memoir tells a story of how Lovecraft debated him - in a cemetery - that there were no such things as ghosts. Upon appearance of a wisp in the shape of a specter, Lovecraft scoffed and deconstructed the incident as an optical illusion coupled by imagination. (2)

The latest book on Houdini states that C M Eddy not only spied on mediums but filed field reports.

1. The Gentleman From Angell Street: Memories of H. P. Lovecraft, Muriel E. Eddy & C. M. Eddy, Jr., ed. Jim Dyer, Fenham Publishing, Narangasett, R.I., 2001. “The Gentleman From Angell Street”, Muriel Eddy, 1961.
2. Frank Belknap Long, Dreamer on the Night Side, 1975, pp. 148 & Chapter 17, pp. 192-197 (a ghost at Newburyport cemetery) and pp. 198-203 (Morton, Long and Lovecraft see "3 witches" at the Bernard Cloisters".
3. The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America's First Superhero, "Kalush & Sloman, 2006, p. 502 online footnotes at

Lovecraft's Legacy: 1944

Only seven years after his death, this WWII era book exhibited a few of HPL's stories. Notice the typos (or enhancement) on the cover for "The Whisperer in the Darkness" and "The Weird Shadow Over Innsmouth

Houdini and Lovecraft: Testimony of Muriel Eddy (1961) Part 3

This long passage shows Muriel's years as a story teller. It is crisp, personal, and captivating.

(1) I remember Mr. Eddy’s painstaking revision of Houdini’s “Thoughts and Feelings of a Head Cut Off” … an experience which the master magician had undergone in his youth. Harry Houdini said in his story that somewhere in his travels he came across an ancient superstition that if a head was severed quickly and unexpectedly from a body, the brain in the head kept on thinking for several seconds!

According to Harry, the natives of Aden-Aden were eager to test this theory, and when he visited that remote island, they ganged up on him and almost succeeded in amputating his head from his body. They must have been anxious to hear what the brain of a magician would think of, after it was separated from the body!

I am quite sure this story was never offered for sale by Harry Houdini, as it lacked the ring of veracity, … or perhaps it was somewhat exaggerated! When we told H.P.L. about it, he exclaimed, “Oh, what I could have done with that story, but perhaps Houdini wouldn’t have liked it if I’d changed it too much. I took a lot of liberties with his ‘Pharaoh’ story and he seemed satisfied, but this one!” And a far-away look was in his eyes …

Later on, we were discussing the possibility of the truth of a brain functioning after death, and Lovecraft averred that perhaps the brain did function … for a few minutes after the death of one’s body. I sometimes wondered what Lovecraft’s true feelings regarding this matter really were.

We have seen that S T Joshi is suspicious of this memoir, so we must deconstruct this and see if if it can be verified. The first point is that there seems no evidence of a manuscript ever published, "Thoughts and Feelings of a Head Cut Off". But, then, Muriel explicitly states it is lost to history. It certainly seems to be fiction like Lovecraft's "Under the Pyramids".

As to the discussion of whether a brain survives for a few moments after decapitation, we also have no extant evidence of this.

The sitz im leben of the anecdote has to be after the writing of "Under The Pyramids" (after February 1924) and prior to Houdini's death (October 1926). Lovecraft was in New York nearly continuously from March 1924 to April 1926. Therefore one suspects that this would have been been between April 1926 and October 1926.

There is no obvious reason to deny the veracity of Muriel Eddy's report, thus it shores up the idea that Lovecraft, C M Eddy, and Houdini were in close communication.

Despite what HPL may have thought or said (see Part 1) about C M Eddy, we know that he was very, very close to C M Eddy in later years. On 6 February 1929, Annie Gamwell and C M Eddy went to a lawyer with HPL and witnessed that Sonia had deserted Lovecraft to certify evidence for a divorce. (2) The fact that he chose C M Eddy indicates the closeness HPL felt and perhaps - since this was a blatant falsehood on HPL's part (3) - a telling indication of whom he could trust to pull this trick.


1. The Gentleman From Angell Street: Memories of H. P. Lovecraft, Muriel E. Eddy & C. M. Eddy, Jr., ed. Jim Dyer, Fenham Publishing, Narangasett, R.I., 2001. “The Gentleman From Angell Street”, Muriel Eddy, 1961.
2. p. 276, A Dreamer and a Visionary: H P Lovecraft in His Time, Liverpool, 2001.
3. Sonia worked hard to reconcile and actually proposed that she could move to Rhode Island and start a business. This seemed to horify the family - that HPL might be publicly supported by Sonia in their hometown. They were mortified at the possible and perceived humiliation. New York was New York, but not in Providence!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Houdini and Lovecraft: Testimony of Muriel Eddy (1961) Part 2

We turn to Muriel Eddy's 1961 memoir (1) to see what we may learn - and discern - of how C M Eddy and Lovecraft met and worked together - and their unique relationships with Henneberger and Houdini.

In August 1923, after some kind of series of phone calls and correspondence, Lovecraft walked over to the Eddy's house; they met; hit it off, and established a friendship.

She states:

Shortly after his visit, we moved again, this time to a cottage on Pennsylvania Avenue. H.P.L. came over often, and gave my husband a note of introduction to Harry Houdini, who was then playing at a Providence theater. Houdini wanted someone to do a little ghost-writing for him, also to help him expose fake spiritualists or mediums. Lovecraft thought (correctly) that Mr. Eddy would fit right in, in this category. H.P.L. at this time was bogged down with countless revisions to do for people via mail, and he admitted he had no time to ghost-write Houdini’s somewhat rambling manuscripts.

Let's deconstruct this paragraph.

We find that Muriel says
(A) Lovecraft gave to CM Eddy a note of introduction to Houdini.
(B) This happened when Houdini was playing at a Providence theater.
(C) Houdini wanted someone to ghost write.
(D) Houdini wanted someone to expose spirtualists.
(E) Lovecraft felt that C M Eddy was perfect for both jobs.
(F) Lovecraft was busy doing revision work by mail.
(G) Lovecraft had not timeto write a Houdini story.

Some of this (A) & (E) (see 4, 5, 6) we have no evidence to weigh in on the veracity of the statements. We are sure that HPL had revision work [Bush, for instance]. He may have been busy (F, G) (5)- but he had time to rewrite C M Eddy's stories in late 1923.

However, it is (D) we want to focus upon. Clearly Muriel states that Houdini wanted a spy. She also says that it is Lovecraft who recruits C M Eddy. Howard Lovecraft writes a letter of introduction for C M Eddy !!

The problem with this is that Lovecraft gets a commission from Houdini from Henneberger at the end of 1923. C M Eddy already knows Edwin Baird - and likely J C Henneberger - prior to Augist 1923. Henneberger surely knows Houdini - he is soliciting an article and a story.

A 14 February 1924 letter to Long states (2) "Yes, child, WEIRD TALES is certainly shovin' a lot of work at your aged Grandsire! Entire new job - to rewrite a strange narrative which the magician Houdini related orally to Henneberger; a narrative to be amplified and formulated to appear as a colalborated product - 'By Houdini and H. P. Lovecraft'.

We lastly examine (B). I can only find two significant incidences of Houdini playing Providence. Lovecraft alluded that he saw Houdini perform in 1898 (when HPL would have been 8 and Houdini 24) (3) and most importantly the week of 26 September 1926. Chrispy will continue to research if there were other opportunities to explain when HPL would have passed a note to C M Eddy from Houdini during a performance engagement in Providence.

At this point, without further evidence, the statement seems to be either apocryphal, conflated by poor recollection, or deflective for some reason. (4, 5, 6) It seems clear that Houdini and C M Eddy knew each other no later that 2 February 1925. (6)

...continued ...

1. The Gentleman From Angell Street: Memories of H. P. Lovecraft, Muriel E. Eddy & C. M. Eddy, Jr., ed. Jim Dyer, Fenham Publishing, Narangasett, R.I., 2001. “The Gentleman From Angell Street”, Muriel Eddy, 1961.
2. Lord of a Visible World, ed. Joshi, Ohio University Press, 2000, p. 124.
3. p. 105, Letters From New York, ed. Joshi, Night Shade Books, 2005, "I joined S{onia} H at the Hippodrome - a pleasantly immense house -$ saw Houdini go through the same tricks he shewed {sic} in Providence about 1898."
4. While this is not meant to be rude, HPL had a clear opinion of C M Eddy at this time of his life. In frankness, he seemed to be friendly with C M Eddy, yet held him at arm's length. On p. 99 (Ibid. Letters from New York)dated 29 November 1924, "{crossword puzzles} the first I heard of them was just a year ago, when honest (more or less honest) Eddy shew'd {sic} me one in the Boston Post.
5. p. 102, (Ibid. Letters From New York) dated 29 November 1924, "All litterateurs have their troubles. Poor Eddy is down & out again, as you may see by the enclosed epistle - which you might return, since I haven't answered it. He has his "Deaf, Dumb & Blind" back without any revision from me - in answer to the very peremptory telegram which I emclose for your amusement. A tough case, these easy-going tassels on the fringe of literature!"
6. p. 108, 109, (Ibid. Letters From New York)dated 2 February 1925, "P.S. C. M. Eddy, Jr. has just blown in! On business in N.Y. to see Houdini & some editors."

Ladd Observatory

Lovecraft was very fond of his youthful days of hanging out at the Ladd Observatory.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

In The Vault

Here is an image of the very rare November, 1925 Tryout. The 1st appearance of "In The Vault" . The amateur magazine has . "In The Vault" is printed here as a fifteen-page tale. There is an HPL preface, "Dedicated to C. W. Smith, from whose suggestion the central situation is taken". C. W. Smith was the printer and publisher of The Tryout.

Background on Houdini and Lovecraft: October 1926

I know, I know, this is the HPLblog not the Harry Houdini blog, but bear with Chrispy. I'm trying to build a trail of circumstantial evidence in my quest to determine if Houdini REALLY wanted HPL as an ally to expose spiritualism.

The quest of Houdini to break the mediums and spiritualists got a great deal of popular press. Here is an example at the very last month of Houdini's life. This is the month that Houdini (according to at least L Sprague de Camp's biogoraphy of HPL) wanted Lovecraft to come help him in Detroit.

Houdini in Providence, 20 September 1926

This very rare image is the poster advertising Houdini's appearance in Providence, Rhode Island at the Opera House on (Monday) September 20th, 1926. This week Houdini met with C M Eddy and H P Lovecraft.
Note that Houdini's show consisted of magi, illusions, escapes, and an expose of spirtualists.

Lovecraft's Legacy: 1947

Below is a rare image of a late WWII era book. Nearly a decade after his death, HPL had a growing fan base fascination. The book's details are: Lovecraft, H. P. THE LURKING FEAR AND OTHER STORIES. Avon #136, 1947. First Edition. 223 page paperback collection of 11 stories.

Lovecraft's Legacy: 1945

Below are images of a very early, WWII era collection of Lovecraft stories. The book's details are Lovecraft, H. P. THE DUNWICH HORROR. Bartholomew House, 1945. First Paperback Edition. 186 page paperback collection of "The Dunwich Horror," "The Shadow Out of Time" and "The Thing on the Doorstep."

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Houdini and Lovecraft: Testimony of Muriel Eddy (1961) Part 1

In the pursuit of whether Harry Houdini pursued Lovecraft to assist with espionage on spiritualists, our attention continues to focus on Clifford M. Eddy, Jr. How did Lovecraft meet C M Eddy? The answer is far from clear.

Muriel Eddy wrote two memoirs of Lovecraft - one in 1945 and the other in 1961. The latter mentions Houdini and how the Eddys met Lovecraft. S T Joshi questions the historicity of the claims.

He states (1) , "The first memoir seems on the whole quite reliable; the second, written in a gushing and histrionic manner makes many statements not found in the first, including the claim {that Susan Lovecrat and Grace Eddy (CM's mother) met at a suffrage group meeting}. ... I am frankly sceptical of it. ... Lovecraft does not .... mention the Eddy's in correspondence prior to October 1923 at which time he refers to Eddy as 'the new Providence amateur'. (2) My feeling, then, is that the whole story {about the early connections} is a fabrication, made by Muriel so as to augment the sense of her and her husband's importance in Lovecraft's life."

This does not gain Mr. Joshi points with the Eddy family. However, when the veracity of of one element of a memoir is claimed to be apocryphal, we must tread cautiously with all of it.

So, in this series of posts, we will explore the testimony of Muriel Eddy for insight for evidence that HPL might have been persued by Houdini for more than revisionist writing and scholarly conversation. Did Lovecraft meet Houdini (directly or indirectly) through Eddy and Henneberger?

1 A Dreamer and a Visionary: H. P. Lovecraft And His Time, S T Joshi, Liverpool University Press, 2001. p. 172,173.
2. Ibid. p. 401, quoting from a letter from HPL to Frank Belknap Long of 7 October 1923. Original citation Select Letters I.254
3. The premier Lovecraft scholar, Joshi, states (1), "C. M. Eddy was already a professionally published author by this time ... working on stories to submit to Weird tales {and already knew} Edwin Baird. Therefore we are safe to say that C M Eddy - who knew Edwin Baird and probably J C Henneberger - had a possoble peripheral connection to Houdini prior to meeting Lovecraft in person.

Lovecraft's Everyday Life: March 1924

On 9 March 1924, Lovecraft wrote to Aunt Lillian breaking the news of his marriage. In that letter he asks for a tin box with his unpublished mauscripts; his magazines including the Weird Tales and Home Brews; his dressing gown; his old Webster's; postal scales; a tin box of Gillette blades, a special cabinet; a blue jumbo drinking cup; and finally some calendars.

Always intensely interested in HPL's surroundings, I wondered about those calendars.

One was "a daily Dickens", another was "colonial doorways", and the last "Paul Revere's Ride". Clearly two of the claendars were of antiquarian subject. Dickens is a bit of a surprise, since one sees virtually no Dickensian influence in HPL's letters, poems, or stories.

While the 1924 Dickens' calendar (2) is not yet found in my research, we have a close match with the 1922 example from ebay. And the colonial doorway (3) calendar will probably never be matched, but here is an image from a 1920's postal card of an RPPC Colonial Doorway in Thomaston, Maine.

1. Letters from New York, ed. Joshi, p. 43
2. The image of the calendar lacks clarity, but it shows January 1 and the center quote is from Sketches by Boz.
3. Notice the classic "Cross" and "Bible" of the doorway. Even as a child, Chrispy found the Cross and Bible doors at his grandma's farmhouse. The Cross is formed by the top four panels, and the Bible (or book) is formed by the lower two panels.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Lovecraft's Legacy: Ray Bradbury's Early Tribute

One has to love the time machine called ebay. It is part historical museum and part quantum dimensional rift to the past !

This rare item was seen recently. The seller says: THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION Winter-Spring 1950. Vol 1 no 2 is actually the first issue to have the full title, as Vol 1 No 1 was just called THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY. ... The really interesting thing in this issue is the earlier version of RAY BRADBURY's "The Exiles," which is not the same as the one in "The Illustrated Man." There is a long scene, cut out of later versions, featuring H.P. LOVECRAFT, who is confronted by the other ghosts of dead authors (on Mars) & found in an overheated room, scribbling away with a quill pen while gorging on ice cream.

Lots of classic stuff in this issue, by R. Bretnor ("The Gnurrs Come from the Voodvork Out", the first Papa Schimmelhorn story), "Not With a Bang" by DAMON KNIGHT, the original "Gavagan's Bar" by L. SPRAGUE DE CAMP and FLETCHER PRATT, "Postpaid to Paradise" by ROBERT ARTHUR (this reprinted from a 1940 ARGOSY and reprinted several times since), and even a story by Anthony Hope the author of PRISONER OF ZENDA.

July 1925: Lovecraft at ... Coney Island !

By the 1920s, Coney Island was extremely crowded in the summer. Perhaps 1,000,000 people would come to the island on a busy Saturday. The beach would be so crowded one could barely find a place to sit. Couples would be surprisingly affectionate, on the beach and elsewhere. In fact, many people thought the whole environment was rather dirty.

The rich were more likely to go somewhere exotic by automobile than go to such a popular place, where class differences were minimized, and which many immigrants (and people of all races) fancied.

But some people who hated Coney Island in the daytime admitted it had a charm after dark. The bright lights of all the attractions were enchanting, even to some who disliked the island's daytime image. Late at night, clubs might have bands or even dancing. Sometimes musicians played outside, too. Day and night, crowds would talk, and barkers would stand outside shows, trying to draw audiences in. It was a loud place.

What did Lovecraft think? He was brutal in his comments about Pelham Bay Park (1) so one assumes the same applied to Coney Island.

On or about 22 July 1925 HPL (2) visited Coney Island at evening. He indicates this is his second trip (the previous was 3 weeks prior). He entered with his party into Luna Park and saw the open air circus and wandered over to the "Room of Wonder".

It galled him that it stated that it was "advertised to upset all known principles of gravitation." He found the optical illusions clever, but "I understood it at once". "A series of eccentric passageways with walls futuristically painted & floor inclined in many different ways so that one had the effect of treading tortuous rising & falling & tilting avenues in some analogue of the Mammoth Cave ... one felt at once that something must be radically wrond with the force fo gravity; for though the floor was fairly level. one was impelled irresistably forward & downward in certain direction - so that hand rails were needed to steady the traveller."

He describes other disorienting illusions ( a bowling ball that goes uphill) and sketches them to Aunt Lillian.

"We left by passages as circuitous & cleverly confusing ... noting as we so the amazed conjectures of other voyagers."

That's not all, so proud he deciphered the illusion, he shows Sonia who beams prroudly and tells the game keeper that HPL has deciphered the riddle. The gateman studies the quick sketches and is amazed that HPL has deduced the mystery - "that dignitary professed a respectful surprise upon seeing my pencil diagram ... admitted I was right, inquired what my profession was, & stated that he had seldom seen soultions produced so completely on the spot."

Old reminisceses of Luna Park have recalled Lovecraft's locale "a large fun house", "The Pit" or "Luna Funhouse". One site mentions Lovecraft's experience as being built about 1923. It claims that management didn't have a clue what the public wanted or what might be successful so they changed things often. For the fun house they built a walk in, walk around crazy house called "Thru the Falls" and a high slide dubbed the "Down & Out Slide". A figure eight slide called the "Soft Spot" was just for kids. About 1923 the management poured $100,000 to revamp the fun house into "The Pit" and billed it "A kaleidoscope of Fun."

1. p. 148, Letters from New York, ed. Joshi, Lovecraft is at his racist worst here. Since this is a public blog, I will not repeat verbatim the denigrating and derogatory racial epithets Lovecraft used, but he states, "My Pete in Pegana, but what crowds. And that is not the worst ... for upon my solemn oath ... full nine of ten were {black}. Help! ... wilted by the sight we {took} a side path {to} the subway."
2. Ibid. pp. 150-153.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

To HPLblog fans ... an experiment

OK, Chrispy is experimenting with some technology here. If all goes well, I should be able to embed a video of the comet (see blog post below).

16 November 1906: The Wanderers Of Our System

This comet would have gotten HPL very excited ...

Comet McNaught, discovered last year by Australian astronomer R.H. McNaught, was visible throughout the Northern Hemisphere until Friday, when it came within 16 million miles of the sun and became obscured by the sun's glare.

^Oconomowoc, Wisconsin^

About 100 years ago, young Howard (age 16) wrote in his column for the Pawtuxet Valley Gleaner *, "Comets, those strange astronomical nonentities, are members of the solar system that revolve in very elongated and uneven orbits. ... While most comets are visible only in a telescope, a few are very bright. ... These celestial wanderers were formerly regarded as precursors of calamity, but modern progress has destroyed such gross superstition, and comets are now welcomed rather than dreaded."

* pp. 38,39 of Collected Essays, Volume 3: Science, ed. S. T. Joshi, Hippocampus Press, NY, 2005

Lovecraft's Providence

^Elmwood and Reservoir Ave circa 1911^
HPL would have been 21, and deep into amateur journalism and writing a great volume of poetry and fiction.


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