Contributed by Paul Herman

June 1, 2001

The following is the transcripts from a couple interviews I taped with Larry McDonough. Larry's family was close friends of the Howard family. They lived right down the street. Larry was around 12 years old when Robert E. Howard died. During REH's last couple years, Larry would regularly take milk, cheese, and meals down to the Howard House. Larry saw Robert regularly both in the house and outside working out. Larry's uncle, Dr. Dill, was good friends with Dr. Howard, and the two of them would regularly get together in the McDonough house to visit. After REH died, Dr. Howard moved into his house for a few months.

The interview has been edited, though I've tried to only cut out the slanderous and/or mindless noise, mostly on my part. Anyone wanting to contact Larry, let me know, he said he is willing to talk to anyone that wants to discuss REH.



Interview of Larry McDonough by Paul Herman

Tape Transcription of Conversation at Larry McDonough's Home

On October 23, 2000


H: I brought some stuff to show you, that you can look at when you get bored, or we can just start telling stories, if you like. I just wanted to bring a couple of things just to show you some stuff that was floating around. This is that little booklet from Carlton Stowers. [I handed him a copy of Doc Howard's Boy, by Carlton Stowers, 2000] This is a reprint he just did. It's a reprint of an article he did in the Dallas paper. He just sent me that a couple weeks ago and I was going to get another copy from him. You can have that one.

M: Old Billie Ruth. [Indicated picture of Billie Ruth Loving]

H: Yeah. That's a good picture though.

M: Yeah. She's about·

H: Yeah, I know, I know.

M: ·out of it.

H: The last time I saw her we were talking, and I know her pretty well, and we were shooting the breeze about something and she looks at me and she goes, "do I know you?," and I said, "yeah", and she goes "are we buddies?" and I said, "yeah, we're buddies" and she said, "well, you know·"

M: Her dad, whatever that disease she has, he had it. Yeah, and had both legs cut off above the knees, and he had a job. He ran the local weighing scales. They would take him down there in a wheelchair and he could run the weighing scales with the semis coming in with a load of peanuts and, you know, cotton, this, that and the other. And then she came down with it·

H: Yeah. There's a few photos in there. I was going to run some of that stuff by you to see what you thought about some of this stuff because a lot of the stuff he has is secondhand. He doesn't have a lot of it on firsthand basis to tell what it is.

M: I don't know how many people are bragging about it or so forth.

H: Well, that was part of it, I got the impression. I talked to the lady that runs the paper down there this last year. They are always running something special for Howard Day, which they have in June. I said, "Well, I've got this poem that was first run in the Cross Plains Review back in like 1923. It's real mild, there's nothing crazy about it and, you know, it's The Sea, and this might be something good to stick in there." She said, "Well, okay, but I'll probably bury it back on page 8 or something." We chatted and says, "every time I do this, I've done it every year for the last five, six years, and every year there's some people in town that come let me know that they don't like it and they don't appreciate it and we shouldn't be talking about him, you know. He was crazy and he was dangerous and, you know, and he was a messed-up person, didn't like the stuff he wrote and shouldn't be talking about him."

M: That's very true. My mom and dad got along with him fine. Of course, my dad was a rancher. But my mom helped take care of Dr. Howard and his wife and always sat together for years there and cooked for them. [Looking at another picture] Yeah, that's that old Underwood typewriter at the window out to the south of the house there. There's a wall right here with a hole cut in it and her bed was inside there because I'd been in there many times. We lived here, went over here two blocks down here and we were right here at the end of the street, in a great big place. And twice a week I'd take a gallon of buttermilk and a half pound of butter. We had our dairy cattle, this, that and the other and various sundry things, and every afternoon Dr. Howard would come up to our house for dinner and, after the things happened, we had him at our house for months. My mom fed him and she did a lot of, I don't know where that writing went to and, uh·

H: Writing for him?

M: They would go off in the front of the house and mom would sit there. My mother had taught school. And she didn't do shorthand, but she would write all this up and close the doors and they did this for weeks and weeks and weeks and weeks. And he stayed at our house quite awhile before he would go back down to the house. I saw some of his books and he brought some and gave Îem to my mom, that Robert had written. They may be in this stuff that I brought from Texas in 1975. Now we're not to try to dig through them and I've gotta unpack them. I haven't unpacked Îem since 1975 when I brought 'em back here. The lady that Howard, uh·

H: Dated?

M: Dated, who·

H: Novalyn Price·

M: Novalyn, yeah·and I saw her once or twice, but you were always quiet when you went down there. I'd always come in the back of the house, on the back side, and go in the kitchen.

H: Wasn't there a house next to it on that side over there?

M: Yeah.

H: Yeah.

M: ·an old, old house. Is it still? I haven't been back there.

H: No. They knocked it down a couple years ago. And the Project Pride people bought the lot, so now there's nothing between them and that little motel. And they leveled out the house and, then last year they got a concrete pad and put up a big metal roof over it so it looks like a 20' by 40' picnic area underneath, to get you out of the sun and the rain.

M: Yeah. I let my damn subscription to my Review lapse. I get in so much other stuff. The last time I was back there was in '93, I think, or '94, because I lost my wife in '93, because she used to go back with me because my wife was born and raised in Cross Plains too. And Dr. Howard helped her along when she was little.

Is his books being published now?

H: Oh yeah. His stuff has been published pretty much continuously ever since he wrote it. Right now, there's a pretty big boom going on. There's a company called Wandering Star in the U.K. that's printing deluxe high dollar pristine hardbacks. In fact, I've got one out in the car. I forgot to get it out. I was going to grab it and show it to you and let you see what a $160 book looks like, but they're doing a set of those. They've done, I guess, two or three of them so far. And then there is a company in the U.K reprinting the Conan stuff. There's a comic company called Cross Plains Comics that's doing almost all Robert E. Howard stuff.

M: Are you going to give me this one?

H: Yeah, you can have that one. Yeah. You can put that in there if you want to.

M: Well, I can return it to you, I just wanted to sit down and seriously read it.

H: I can get another one. I'll get another one from Carlton.

M: I just wanted to seriously read it.

H: Yeah, I would like for you to look at it and see what you have to say about·how much of it is a lie.

H: I bet you've seen one of those before. [I handed him a copy of Weird Tales, December 1936, with Fire of Asshurbanipal on the cover.]

M: Yeah. See, I think, I'm sure that Dr. Howard he had a bunch of this published and gave some to my mom and she was a hardcore Church of Christ goer.

H: Ohhh, she wouldn't like this stuff·oh my!

M: And she, I don't know way, way back, she graduated from ACC, Abilene Christian College. Abilene was just a two year school [laughing]. Made it to school teacher. And Dr. Howard brought some of those up there to the house and left'em and my mom covered Îem up and all in the house or something after he left and she was hustling hiding these suckers.

H: [laughing] Yeah, I bet.

M: And I think my mom destroyed them.

H: Probably.

M: Probably.

H: Yeah, this is from 1936, the latter part of the year. But you know it's got a Howard cover for the story.

M: This is what we're seeing now on TV.

H: Uh-huh.

M: That he did back in '36, Î33, Î34, Î35 and '36. And, it wasn't, I saw some of the other pictures there, nobody believed in outer space. Nobody believed in this, that and the other, other than this ball that we are on, the sun comes up, the moon comes up, and we're it. Well, Robert didn't think that way. And somehow in the corner of his head, he could dream up things that can totally, nowadays, you know, be true.

H: Yeah, he was real interesting. You know, he was a big fan of history, read everything he could find, learned a lot of history, learned a lot of archeology and everything else and would turn around and apply it and create, like all the Conan stuff was from a prehistoric time 12,000 years ago when civilizations rose and fell. I always was real impressed with that. He didn't think inside the norm of "I get up in the morning, I do my job, I go to bed and I get up and do it again". He didn't think that way. He was always seeing stuff way off in the distance.

M: Yeah.

H: [I hand him a copy of A Short Biography of Robert E. Howard, by Rusty Burke, Cross Plains Comics, August 1999] You never saw it, but there's a guy named L. Sprague de Camp that wrote a biography of Howard back in 1970 something and that was the only biography ever done. There is a guy starting to work on the next one.

M: Well didn't his girlfriend . . .?

H: And she wrote one too.

M: She wrote one.

H: She wrote one.

M: I didn't ever get to see that one or so forth. I was mediocre interested in it. A bunch of my family or all my family is from that area.

H: Yeah.

M: And Dr. Dill over in Rising Star that was my uncle, was his baby doctor there in horse and buggy days and this, that and the other, and he and Doc used to work together on certain, they'd have a oilfield accident and the two of Îem would work together and so forth and both of Îem loved poetry and they'd come over to our house and mom would feed Îem and they would set there and right out of the clear blue sky quote poetry that I was having to read in school.

H: Doc Howard and this other doc would?

M: Dr. Howard and Dr. Dill, from Rising Star, and they were good doctor buddies, and, you know, in the old horse and buggy days.

H: What kind of poetry was it? Was it like Chesterfield?

M: Well, they were quoting old poetry that's, you know, the big time original poetry that... I've got a lot of books around here that, my mom loved poetry big time, I'm not a poetry fan, not particularly. And I got poetry books, looked like she'd read umpteen times, certain places she'd underlined certain things in the poetry books.

H: Yeah, my mom loves poetry.

M: Some of that poetry was 100 years old that my mother was reading. Some of the high class of poetry.

H: I had always heard that Mama Howard liked poetry too. She used to read to Bob.

M: Seemed to. And she read the Bible and she read books and then she started getting punier, and I was going in there before she got real sick. In fact, every once in awhile, I'd get dinged up or something and they'd pick me up and take me down to the house and Doc would, you know, dope me up. There on the ranch I'm always getting, you know, running into a barbed wire fence or falling down or doing something and we used him. And then after things, after she got real puny and we were . . ., I'd call it good personal friends, extremely close. Doc Howard, he helped, rented or bought or something, a hospital bed that had·

H: Sit up and down, raise up and stuff·yeah.

M: Had two nurses that would come in and bathe her and do this, that and the other and take care of her and then Robert was in this room here next pounding the typewriter. He was always dressed clean and neat, and he'd sorta, sorta speak as I'd go in and that was it. But I would stand outside in the back yard . . . going back, maybe you heard about it·when Robert was a young kid in grade school, kids got to picking on him, and Dr. Howard didn't particularly like that. So he goes some place and finds some order books and ordered out dumbbells and pull chains and this, that and the other from, oh, that was famous back then·

H: Charles Atlas? [Actually, Charles Atlas materials were not available in REH's youth, but similar programs that were precursors to Atlas' were available.]

M: Atlas! Brought that stuff in there and started doing the stuff that our football players, our athletes do, exercising, built him, muscled him up, and then by the time he got out of high school, he could whip anybody [laughing].

H: Yeah, I heard he got to be pretty stout.

M: He got to be pretty stout. He contracted with somebody there to go out there and on the west side of town, and cut down oak trees and bring Îem in as logs, out there in the back yard between that house and where the garage was. He had a car and his dad had a car, and the last one I saw was about a '34 four door Chevy, black one, four door. And he would go out there in the afternoon with pants on a little below his knee and a T-shirt and they have a pile of these logs and he would take the spike driving axe and sledge hammers and spikes and split those oak trees up, muscle himself and get over there and do some pull up and down on his outside chinning bars, split all this up and give it to people for firewood. Every damn day! Just about, every day. He kept himself in shape. Didn't speak to you. You walk by, he'd sorta nod a little bit, but that was it, that was it.

H: Yeah. I always got the impression maybe once he got in the spirit of "You make yourself big and strong so you don't have to put up with people being rough to you", then he sorta kept that in his mind, you gotta have a gun, you gotta be in shape, you gotta be on the watch out, you know. Never know when something is gonna come your way.

M: Of course I left there in '41 when WWII started. Of course, that was after that, but there was never, when I was looking back at it afterwards, after, you know, this sort of started, he never got in trouble or do this, that and the other. He stayed at home·90% of the time. He had a car and I don't know where he went, but he never got in trouble, never rattled a cage. Stayed at the house and took care of his mom.

H: Did you ever hear about him doing boxing, bare-fisted, bare-knucks kind of thing, with the oilfield guys down at the ice house or?

M: Yeah.

H: Did he used to do that?

M: Well, he used to, yeah. I never did go down to see it.

H: Yeah, you're probably a little young for that.

M: I was a little young for that. But they had men sort of boxing, or semi, and so forth and he would go down there. You'd hear you had some of these farmers and ranchers and so forth that were pretty muscular, but he could whip every one of Îem. [laughing]

H: Oh yeah?

M: Yeah. Down at the ice house.

H: Yeah, he wrote a lot of stories about boxing. He really liked boxing.

M: Yes, he liked it.

H: He really liked it. He used to go to San Antonio to see a boxing match. And he used to tell a lot of stories about what it's like to be a fighter. And, even in some of his letters, he talked about going down to the ice house and getting in a fight with somebody. He never really talked much about whether he won or lost, he just said he'd get in there and get after it.

M: Yeah.

H: I guess some of the oilfield guys were pretty stout, too.

M: Well, a lot of those were. See, used to be a huge amount of oil there. It's in what we call the Ranger Sand. About 1300-1500 feet, and then there's another layer down at about 3200 feet. There was oil wells everywhere. In fact, that 82 acres that I finally sold, there's still 6 wells that belonged originally to the Sinclair Prairie Corporation back then. The government out of Austin came along and put this oil appropriation, we're gonna do this·So you got this piece of property here, somebody else has got this one and this one is on our oil lease. So we are going to shut this one down for so many years and conserve oil. Well, this one over here, they're letting this one go full blown. Well, everybody, including Howard Hughes, knows how to build a whipstock building machine.

H: Oh, yeah. I know a lot about whipstocks.

M: [laughing] Whipstocks [laughing] came out of Houston out of the original. And, you can drill down here and go underneath this piece of people's property.

H: Yep!

M: Yep! [laughing]

H: That's the way it works. It's real simple. And that's stuffs been around forever. I've seen patents on that stuff from 1899. It's an old art. Cut off a chunk of pipe and just shove it down in there and, you know, cut a slant on it, shove it down in there, and away you go. Go for a drive.

M: Yeah, yeah. And I inherited that place and still had the wells, and they came in, they paid me so much, they had a cattle guard over there, and I don't know what company ended up buying that, but they would come there. They left the pump jacks there and shut off the tanks and pulled part of the sucker rods out and clamped Îem off and left the jack there and so forth and I've got paperwork from Îem that they couldn't be opened up until the year, that was in the 80's when I decided to do something there, couldn't be opened up and pumped until the year 2035.

H: [laughing] Man, that's a long time.

M: Yeah. Well, by that time the neighbors had already pumped mine dry.

H: Oh, yeah, yeah.

M: And there's not hardly any left, just a few down south of town. There used to be, be·in fact, if you've been roaming around Cross Plains very much, right over there in the middle of town back of where Higginbotham is, there's the Presbyterian Church, they had one in their backyard, the Church had a big oil rig, or the old wooden ones, you know, derricks, the old derricks [laughing] in their backyard. They were all over town·with the Ranger Sand and all that. It was just a funny town there I guess, but it's where I grew up. Every time I go back there they'd corner me to get some information about the Howard thing. We had good relations, other than my mother did not like·

H: That kind of stuff [pointing to the Weird Tales magazine].

M: That kind of stuff.

H: But, yeah, there's some of that stuff·that one has a pretty nice cover to it, some of Îem are a lot more risqué than that.

M: Well, I call them paperbooks, paperbacks, I know that Dr. Howard gave my mother some and she hid Îem and she'd go off, after he'd leave she'd go off pouting. My mother was great big, all her family were big people, and all sort of brainy, they were all either school teachers or attorneys or so forth. In fact, my mother's brother was a big time attorney in Texas. He's been dead for quite a few years now. Used to be Scarborough, Yates & Scarborough in Abilene. He had his accounts with like Southern Pacific or Texas Pacific, Greyhound Bus, all the oil companies and various and sundry things.

H: Nice, nice clients.

M: Yeah, nice clients. And with his son, it was then Scarborough, Yates & Scarborough. If you had a problem or so forth and you said well, Scarborough, Yates & Scarborough is my attorneys·[laughing]

H: Yeah, that's right. The way it should be. Good to have a couple of those tucked away.

M: After I got out of the service, my wife and I got married and moved out here. My wife and I were born in Cross Plains. Back then, my mother-in-law always told funny jokes about me in real big time public, that I'm 5-1/2 months older than my wife. They were in the same town and used Dr. Howard. My father-in-law, the man who ended up being my father-in-law, worked for Texas . . ., right there in the middle of town, when they had a railroad, what was it, Texas, bits and drills, . . .it was Texas Oilfield Supply, and he worked in there. Her parents adopted me and we were living out on a ranch ten miles out of town. And all the women liked to show off their babies. My mother couldn't have any, she had had problems and she had to have surgery way back and adoptions were not very popular then. But her brother, Dallas Scarborough, had strings and knew things. And they found me and adopted me. I had malnutrition and this, that, and the other. Well, they took me home. Of course that first Saturday Mom and Dad had to go to town, to show off the baby. [laughing] This is a story my mother-in-law would tell. She said "I looked over and you only weighed five and a half pounds and you had malnutrition and they changed you over to goat's milk", because they thought I was allergic to cow's milk. And Doc and my uncle figured that out. Said "I looked at you, a little old scroungy thing". And said leaned back like this and "laid you on my tummy, I was six months pregnant with Henrietta, and said here [laughing] twenty-two years later you got married". Said "I introduced you to Henrietta". Yep.

H: Man! This one here is, this is the next guy gonna write a biography, if he ever gets around to doing it. I'm gonna beat him if he doesn't do it. [We start going through the copy of A Short Biography of Robert E. Howard, by Rusty Burke, Cross Plains Comics, 1999] A guy named Rusty Burke up in Washington, D.C. He's from Tennessee, he's my age or a little older, nicest guy in the world. He is generally considered to be the world's leading expert on Robert E. Howard, just because he's talked to everybody he can find. Well, he's never talked to you obviously. But he's talked to everybody he can find. He's got copies of every letter he can find that Bob Howard ever wrote and every reference that he could find to find out every thing that Bob Howard ever read and he went and found all those books and read them himself.

M: Well, where did he find those?

H: The letters?

M: Yeah.

H: That was tough. He had four or five people he wrote to mostly, H. P. Lovecraft, and Clark Ashton Smith, and a few other people he wrote a lot to and some of the local guys he wrote to. When Tevis Clyde Smith was going to college, he wrote back and forth to Tevis a bunch. So it's all in private collections. Glenn Lord ended up with a bunch of the stuff. And so there's always stories that, oh gosh, there's probably some more letters still floating. They sold one of his letters, a one-page letter he wrote to somebody was on Ebay last month. It was on there for around two weeks. It sold for $1,700. For one page.

M: One page?

H: Which ain't bad. But anyway he went and read all this stuff trying to understand where Bob got his ideas and what kind of things influenced him in history that he read. He's put a lot of time and effort into it. Right now he's tied up working on the Wandering Star real expensive books. He's helping them proof the text out and making sure it's all pristinely restored to original and that's real nice, but that's editing work. I'm like "That's just editing work, shouldn't be doing that". But he doesn't listen to me. Anyway, he wrote a little preliminary piece. One of those Cross Plains Comics things they did. They threw in a lot of old Marvel artwork with it.

M: That was a good picture of him [pointing to the famous REH photo with the hat].

H: There's only about 20 photos of him known, actually. That was that one he did for Novalyn. She asked him to have his picture made in that hat and so that's the one you always see. He hated that hat supposedly, but he wore it for that picture. There's probably a few others in here I could show you. I don't know if you've seen it, they've restored the house. That's a painting. There's windows and about a foot gap and a solid wall, and that's a painting out there. It looks like, it looks like the out of doors. It's not, it's not really open to the out of doors.

M: The last time I went in there was in '93.

H: Yeah, yeah, that's about when they started.

M: Yeah, the fall of '93. I went back to homecoming and had a very difficult time doing it because I'd lost my wife on the 23rd of July and went through October. Took my motor home and drove back there. People were very nice to me but, uh, very difficult, and, . . .

H: Yeah.

M: I went down to this house with Îem, the whole group that was sorta involved in it. Some of them I didn't even really know, I knew what's her name there·

H: Billie Ruth?

M: Billie Ruth. And we went down there and looked around.

H: Yeah, yeah. There's one of his better pictures.

M: Yep. Muscle man. He didn't use an axe to bust those trees up. He'd slap axe in it and make a dent, then he'd drive a wedge in it, split that open physically, just drive the wedges in it, then he'd cut it in two and put it in piles and give it to the people that heated and cooked on wood. Then order some more trees brought in. There's a pile of trees there always.

H: When he was typing was he talking while he was typing?

M: To himself.

H: I was wondering. Novalyn told a story about the first time she went to his house. In her book, she talks about the first time she went to his house. She walked up, or she started to walk up to his house and she heard somebody yelling. And she listened for a second and she walked around to the side of the house and kinda looked in and there was Bob banging away on the typewriter doing one of his Conan stories. And he was doing it out loud, real loud, doing the story while he was typing.

M: Well, I heard that but I thought maybe he was reading or something.

H: Yeah. There's Doc Howard.

M: There's old Doc.

H: That may be the only picture I know of him.

M: You know, he had, he inherited some things from this man.

H: You think?

M: Dr. Howard, you know he read poetry all the time. These are classical stuff that I have hid around here. Primo. The good stuff. He and my uncle would stand there and both quote back and forth, and just rattle it off. But he could whistle, beautiful music. Whistle. Because he would walk from his house up to our house, instead of driving his car, walk up. He had the double-breasted and he had his watch fob and everything just exactly like that. We'd hear him coming and mom would start putting on meat and he wanted two great big slabs of pork and four eggs and he ate [chuckle] a huge amount. And you'd hear him coming, whistling. And I was at that time, I was old enough, I was a little bit into music. We had a piano and various and sundry and I got to singing in the grade school choir [laughing].

H: I think that supposed to be Cross Plains·

M: Let's see·I got store bought eyeballs. Yep, yep, yep, yep.

H: Did you ever see that thing? That was a sculpture of Cleopatra that Bob brought back from New Orleans. I think it was set on top of the piano or something like that. They've still got it. Somebody else locally got it and they gave it back. I don't know who it was, but somebody got it. Yeah, . . ."A huge fan of poetry, Howard sought out the verse of Robert W. Service, Kipling, Sidney Lanier, Poe, William de la Mare, Omar Khayyam, Robert Herbert Nibbs, G. K. Chesterson, Oscar Wilde, Tennyson," and Lovecraft's, of course.

M: Yeah, this type of stuff is what really threw my mom [laughing, pointing to some of the artwork in the Short Biography].

H: Oh, I know. It throws a lot of people. It's interesting·the people that get into Howard, really get into it. But it's not that many people, it really isn't. It's not that big a group. But the ones that do, really get fired up.

M: Yeah.

H: This is the one that they're talking about doing a movie of, Solomon Kane, a sixteen century puritan with a flintlock and a sword of course. He was kinda the Batman of his day.

M: Batman.

H: He did it cause "revenge was a good thing". He was the kinda crazy guy that considered himself as the right hand of God. If something bad happened, he was gonna, by God, he was gonna go kill the guy that did it. Pretty crazed.

M: [Chuckle]

H: A lot of art work. This one French guy, Patrice Louinet, has done a study talking about how he went through all these primary characters in Weird Tales and how each of Îem were the psychological development of the characters and plots and things. I don't know if I believe any of it, but it's interesting. He wrote for a lot of the other mags of that era. Weird Tales did probably half his stuff and then the rest was in everything imaginable. He was in Jack Dempsey Fight Magazine, Cowboy Stories, and Action Stories, and, gosh, Dime Sports Magazine, Argosy, which is still around, I guess. Some people think the Kull story he wrote, called "The Shadow Kingdom", the first Kull story he wrote back in 1930 or '31, somewhere back there, that it was the first true sword and sorcery story, combined elements of the adventure story with the horror story. I don't know if that's really true, but they get some press out it. Nice look at the house. Nice picture of Arnold (snicker), Arnold Schwartzernegger.

M: Last night I guess it was, I watched the damn ballgame until it finally tuckered out· [A World Series game that went more than four hours, between the New York Yankees and the New York Mets.]

H: That was a long game [chuckle

M: Oh, long game and I'm a football fan better . . .

H: Me, too· That's Novalyn.

M: Yeah.

H: "However his insistence upon personally caring for his ailing mother, who Novalyn felt would benefit more from services of a professional nurse, wrangled at her and refused to go" . . . I guess he wouldn't go to social things either, Bob wouldn't.

M: I doubt it.

H: Yeah, Bob thought marriage never did it. Have you ever seen the movie? Called The Whole Wide World?

M: No.

H: If you get a chance, you've got a VCR, go rent it. You have to go ask for it. Go over there and get The Whole Wide World. It's based on her biography·it came out about two or three years ago. It's really good. It was cheaply made in Austin, but they got a couple big time actors to come and·

M: What's, what's the title now?

H: The Whole Wide World. It was one of her students from when she was teaching down at LSU, I guess, one of her students read her book and thought it was great and he was going to do a movie project and he offered to do it. And she said okay and they got a couple of big time actors to come in and help. The lady they got to play her was a young girl in Austin named Renee Zellweger, who nobody had ever heard of, she was just an unknown little actress. And they took the film up and showed it at the Sundance Film Festival. It was one of those places where independent people go to show their stuff. It finished second at the Sundance and Tom Cruise was there and saw the movie and said, "I got to have her for my next film". So when he did Jerry McGuire, which is a movie he did a few years ago, he went and got her for that movie because he saw her in The Whole Wide World and thought she was great. And, you ought to see it, to see what you think of it. A lot of people that saw it, thought it was pretty close. There's a couple scenes they threw in there that people didn't think were real. There was one where Bob's upset about something and stomps outside·oh, there's Hester·goes stomping outside and is mad about something and gets in the car and it won't start and starts hollering, "Mama the car won't start, Mama the car won't start." That's not in her book. They just made that up and stuck it in the movie.

M: Stuck it in. [chuckle]

H: Then they also had one where he got mad about something and he took a machete he had and went out and started walking back through the tall grass out back of his place and started whacking away at it and just slapping and slicing, going crazy, and that wasn't in anybody's book either. They probably just made that up too. "Through 1935 and 1936, Howard's mother's health deteriorated rapidly. Increasingly, she had to be taken to sanitariums and hospitals and even though Dr. Howard received a discount on services, the medical bills began to mount. Robert was faced with a dilemma. His need for money was more acute than ever and he had little time in which to earn it. Weird Tales owed him around $800 and payments were slow. With his own meager savings exhausted, Dr. Howard moved his practice into his home which meant the patients were now coming and going day and night." Did you know about that?

M: Yeah.

H: Yeah. "Father and son finally hired women to nurse and keep house, but this further filled their home with people and provided Robert little opportunity to be alone and concentrate on his writing. This combined with the despair he felt of his mother as she actually slid toward death placed enormous stress on the young writer and he resurrected an apparent long-standing plan not to outlive his mother. This was not an impulsive act. For years he had told associates, such as Clyde, that he would kill himself were it not that his mother needed him. Much of his poetry, written during the 20's and 30's, unfortunately reflected his suicidal frame of mind. He was not at all enamoured with life for its own sake, seen only as a weary slog at the behest of others with scant chance of success and precious little freedom. On one occasion, in 1925, he had written", I'm not going to read the whole thing, it's a letter where he talks about how life just stinks. And he wrote a few others like that. Of course, he wrote some letters where he says how great things are and how wonderful life is too, but, then wrote some about being strangers or outcasts in a hostile land. "One wonders if his childhood experience of being uprooted on a regular basis and his father gambled on one boomtown after another may have contributed to this sense of himself as an outsider." And of course he always talked about how he thought he was born out of the proper time and, gosh, he wished he had been born back in the old barbaric days. And he didn't like the idea of getting old. He's talking about how old he was. Why do you think he killed himself?

M: Uhhhhhhhh, from our standpoint and so forth, he was a little bit, uh·

H: Atypical?

M: Well, typical momma's boy . . .

H: Yeah.

M: He worshipped his mother. And I think that worship went a little bit too far. I've known some other suicidal people and so forth. And I think that Robert knew things were happening. He was very smart. And he stayed right behind her, his mother, holding onto her apron strings. He knew he was going to lose her, and, because that was very evident. Because I was there in the middle of the afternoon, that afternoon and my uncle was there and Dr. Howard, his dad, was there sittin' on the front porch there on that swing, discussing it, they'd had an accident over at Rising Star. Somebody was using a big circular saw cuttin' logs and when they cut one of the logs there was a rock in the crotch of the tree. One of those big ole saws that they used to use for firewood for the wintertime. In fact, I was there [on the porch]. I didn't see that [the accident] happen. We were all sittin' on the front porch and one of the ladies and a nurse was in with Mrs. Howard, she was right inside in the front there, and Uncle Robert, Dr. Dill, and they were talkin'. And, there was a kid over there around where they were sawing and this saw when it hit this rock, those old spikes on those old saw blades, you know, used to be about this big around, and this long, broke off, went out and hit in this kid's head. We called Dr. Dill and he had a great big, he always drove big Buick cars. He loaded the kid in his Buick car and hightailed from Rising Star straight north up to Cisco to the hospital. They got him in there and, my uncle and a couple other surgeons got that blade outta that kid's head·saved him. They were sittin' there discussing it. And, Robert sorta perked up. He had been standing there, sorta walk around a little bit, and he was listening to that. He asked my uncle, a person who was gonna kill themselves, whereabouts in the head, if that blade went in here, whereabouts would they do it. I heard that.

H: Yeah.

M: That was the day before he did it.

H: Yeah. Some people talked it up that it was a moment of grief thing. You know, that he just went out there and did it. I say, nah. I saw some conversations that were had with one of the·with that last nurse he had·and,

M: What was her name?

H: What was her name?

M: Alice Balcom [sp?]?

H: No·

M: No. She was one of the local nurses that did that.

H: What was her name? Mary? No, it's been too long since I picked that up and looked at it. That was one of the people Sprague de Camp interviewed for his book and he never quoted her because he didn't want to talk about it. Either Bob's room was already a mess or·I mean, was his stuff neatly stacked up or did he have papers everywhere?

M: He had papers everywhere.




M: I got hit in the head. It was, with all that rain and various and sundries, we had to have lots of refrigeration. We had these portable refrigerators, it was 2200 cubic feet. it had a gasoline engine and an electric engine to drive the compressor and they had ears on Îem, you could pick Îem up with a crane and physically move the whole damn thing.

H: Yep.

M: They had 26 of those walk-ins. They were about the size of my kitchen there and it was huge maintenance because it was so wet, so damp there they had to be defrosted and checked for freon leaks once a day. That was my job to do all these damn things. I learned refrigeration there. And we had a little trailer that had four cylinder, wasn't a Briggs, four cylinder V4 gasoline engine and somebody got the bright idea and converted it and split it, split the intake manifold and so forth and made two cylinders air compressor and the other two cylinders gasoline engine. But they did it slightly wrong. If you didn't do it right . . .it didn't have a electric starter on it, you had to crank it. Well, like back with the old Model T's, used to kick back and break people's arms. I'm cranking this thing. About two weeks before that, one of the other electricians there, he was working, they had these big Caterpillar generators everywhere, banks of three of them for power, had Îem all under sheet metal to keep Îem dry, and he was cranking that thing and it backfired and kicked back and broke his arm, right here and right here, so they had to send him to the hospital and finally put him on a boat and shipped him home. I guess it was three or four weeks later I was working and had to have the air, and we just had one air compressor portable, and I was out there cranking it, whack, kicked the crank off and hit me in the side of the head, loosened a couple of teeth up here and sprained my wrist. I wasn't that bad. So we fired up the jeep and came back to our shop there, a big Quonset hut, and the First Lieutenant was in charge of our group there. I came walking in there with blood all over me and this, that and the other, and he asked what happened, and I said that damn air compressor kicked me. So he tossed me in his jeep and took me over to the hospital right there and they patched me up and got me back and so forth, threw me back in the jeep and went back to our Quonset hanger. And he said come here, go with me. We went out there and he said to one guy, said hook that damn air compressor on the back of my jeep. I got in there and I sat down and we headed down to the beach. We had a place there, a pier sticking out there, that they could take the garbage trucks and pull up there and dump all the garbage, because we wanted to put it in a different spot out in the water. They'd steam all night long and dump this garbage because some of it would float and the Japanese would think, oh, they're out there. [laughing] When they turned around, we shoved that air compressor in that damn barge...[ laughing]

H: [laughing] Call requisition and say, we need a new air compressor.

M: We need a new air compressor. And they sent me back and I'd had, it wasn't yellow fever, it was another thing if you get bit by the mosquitoes down there. You run about a 2 degree temperature and it doesn't really hurt you after you get used to it. But a lot of Îem have it, and I had that at the same time but I wasn't letting it bother me. I didn't want to come back. I wanted to wait and stay and come back with the whole bunch I went with.

H: Yeah.

M: But they sent me back and I went up to Pacific Beach, Washington, and had to stay six months on R&R. Requisitioned myself and went back and caught that destroyer [pointing to picture on the wall].

H: Yeah, which one's that?

M: DD687 Uhlman and, some of the destroyers in the squadron were running escorts with the Yorktown, the Cowpens, the Ticonderoga, the Belleau Wood, the Bonhomme Richard, various and sundries. I got aboard it, cause we was doing shore bombardment and I went aboard it. We was staying between the flattops and Iwo Jima, where they put the flag up. And we were in there throwing shells in while the boys were trying to land the Marines. I stayed right on and went right on in and went to the occupation·saw that signed.

H: Yeah. You got to see the signing of the, of the, for Iwo Jima?

M: See the Iwo Jima?

H: Yeah, you said you got to go in and see the signing of something.

M: Well, we came in, this is off of that destroyer after we came back in. We didn't come back on that following January. But this is a destroyer, and I saw it go down [pointing to a picture in an album].

H: Where'd you get those photos? Those look like standard issue from the Navy.

M: Well, you see none of us were allowed to have cameras.

H: Yeah.

M: We had Navy cameramen. You know, rate, cameraman. Give him a ration of beer and he'd give you some pictures. [laughing]

H: Well that's pretty good. Man! I remember seeing some of those big guns on one of the big ships, I can't remember which one it was, one of the big ships I got to go on once and I was just amazed at the size of those things.

M: We went along, when we got up to Tokyo, Japan, we were running back and forth, because we could run in fifty feet of water. We had 5" 38's, you can see Îem, five, 5" 38's, we'd run back and forth and just lay the ammunition in there, 2 o'clock in the morning we would head back out, go out to the ammunition barge, ship out there, and load up, turn around and come back.

H: Man! [pointing to picture of listing warship]

M: Now that was a typhoon!

H: Man!

M: We don't know how bad, how fast the wind was blowing because we had the little three cup thing on top of the mast.

H: Yeah, yeah. Spin around?

M: And it only went to 100 miles an hour.

H: [laughing]

M: That thing would sit there and peg it, giving us the air speed, the wind speed and we were looking at our other tachometer that was our engine speed seeing how much we were losing. See that up there, it's stayed pegged. When you get like that, you're in a world of damn trouble.

H: Yeah, that's not good.

M: Yeah, you take these big guns, I think that's the Missouri. We'd pull along and when we got up there close, the Missouri and two or three of the big battleships, those projectile bullets, 16" in diameter, are about this long, and we would be out here and she's out here and they're heading for the beach and this thing'll be firing and you can actually see these damn bullets·

H: Yeah, [laughing]

M: Hey! [laughing]. Some of that commed out ... this was when I was in the South Pacific in the jungle.

H: Which one's you in here? [a group picture of sailors, with jungle as the backdrop]

M: Uhhhh, that's me right there.

H: Yeah, wow! They say it was a hell of a place to fight.

M: Yeah. This is pictures that I got from another Navy photographer, that right off that island, that's Esperito Santos, these were the natives. We saw them live!

We went in on the occupation, to Sagami wan, which is outside of Tokyo Bay. We had destroyers right up on the bow of the Missouri. Admiral McMahon, all the admirals, and General McArthur, and all the big wheels, we were standing there watching them sign the armistice with all the Orientals. Plus everybody that was off duty, we were standing around, all the way round that ship. We were sitting there with the engines running, (but in neutral, we could troll, we could sit in one spot), because they hadn't really given up, and we'd already sunk some one-man kamikaze submarines. Look like a big propane tank. So we was watching for them because we figured they were going to try to blow up the Missouri and we sat up there and went through that nonsense and got that done. And then about four days later, five days later, they pulled us out, just that destroyer, and we had on the fantail. They gave us a box about this big square and about that deep. But see these Navy life rafts right here?

H: Yeah.

M: They had Îem in Europe and over here, anywhere in the water. They're made out of balsa wood and rope and they're unsinkable.

H: Yeah.

M: That thing was mounted on top of that, had a chain and an anchor and a flag stuck in the top with the letter E for emergency. We went around here to Nagasaki, went into downtown Nagasaki up in the bay where the bomb had hit. It was still on fire and smoking.

H: Yeah, I bet!

M: Stuff on the water about that deep. We started way back in here, Skipper and the doctor paged me to go to the bridge immediately, because I was in charge of the evaporator for all the fresh water, drinking water, boiling water, and paged me to go up there, and said shut down the evaporator right now and back flush it twice and lock it. Because I had locks that nobody else had a key so they couldn't turn it on and get this bad water into our drinking water and everybody get everything because of dead stuff, the people·on the water.

H: Yeah, a fair amount of radiation floating in there, too.

M: But this is what it looked like [pulling out some copies of pages from an older book]. We were hanging right out in the middle of that Bay.

H: Yeah.

M: We were real close to the beach·there'll be a picture·Mistuboshi Iron Works, Mitsuboshi automobiles now.

H: Yeah, that's them.

M: We saw this happening LIVE. Now these pictures, the Japanese came in and took Îem. But I got Îem outta that book. But this is what it looked like. You didn't see a man anywhere·they had all been, you know, killed and so forth and the women were running all the machinery at Mitsuboshi. And this is what Mitsuboshi Iron Works looks like.

H: 700 meters from the epicenter. That's pretty damn close, too damn close.

M: Yep. Like at San Francisco, you've been in the harbor there? You go in, and you get into the big part of the harbor. As we started in, there was mountains on both sides. Japan's real mountainous, real mountainous. Things were sitting at an angle. The further you went, things went like this, and when we got into there, everything that was wood and bamboo, was flattened. And people were flattened, were dead everywhere and stinking and rotten. And right downtown, we didn't see a live person walking around. It was still certain places fires were burning, and that was six, seven days after the bomb was dropped. But after the armistice was signed.

H: There's not many people left alive who have seen the aftermath of the real use of an A-bomb. It's impressive!

M: They're mean!

H: It's an impressive thing. Ain't no subtlety involved there. Ain't no discrimination involved there, everybody gets obliterated here. Nasty, nasty toy.

M: . . . The big city of Cross Plains, pretty nice little ole town. I still know several of the people, Jack Scott, you know, big wheel, Jack Scott·

H: Everybody knows Jack.

M: Yeah, Jack Scott. Everybody that's still there, I know, except the new kids. Jack Tomlin, used to be president of the bank. I call Jack back and forth all the time. And he was flying the B29's, from Iwo Jima airstrip after we got it flattened out. They were flying and taking incendiaries and dropping them on Japan, and he had some wild tales. They were coming over us and going out and they were dropping these bundles, they looked like bamboo, bombs and incendiaries, as soon as they dropped out, they burned. We burned Japan down except the capital. Went through the capital and there wasn't a scratch on the damn thing.

H: Yeah. Didn't help that the Japanese built everything out of wood, paper and bamboo. Everything was made real easy so that, since they had earthquakes all the time, it'd rattle and knock it down, and they could put them right back up. Didn't cost Îem nothing. You know, but boy it burned.

M: Jack was piloting one of these. It was making night runs and gets one of his crews. It was running 60 big bombers, the B29's. He sent one of his crew over, what you did you drew a number out for your takeoff position. And he let each one of his crew do it. And, that particular run, they drew the last position. Somebody has to, you know. Well, he said he went over the target, and said up in front us there was nothing but smoke. We were flying 6,000 feet, which is not too damn high, 6-7,000 feet. Everybody was dropping incendiaries, and it was fire in every direction. He had his co-pilot to open the bomb-bay doors, and he had the crew in the back and so forth, and he says everything was jumping and bouncing and so forth. And he says all of a sudden I can't tell what's going on. They had pocket watches instead of wristwatches, and he says my damn pocket watch was hanging down in my face, and I got to looking back at the ground and this updraft had turned him upside down. And he started screaming over the PA what to do and so forth and at that the incendiaries that were already lose were falling back in the plane. And everybody had a safety harness and was tied to the bulkhead and he said, somehow, he doesn't know how, because theoretically you do not do a rollover and a backup with a B29, somehow with the updraft that they had, he got it back then, and one of the engines was out and all these damn bamboo sticks in there rattling around and they kicked them out, got most of those out, and headed back for Iwo. Told Îem that he had to come in emergency because he had one engine out and he didn't know it, too, he also had one batch of tires down. And crashed landed it and nobody got hurt. We sat there and had a beer at that patio and that's it. Well, you made it.

H: That's it. That's what counts·got out.

H: Yeah. I just thought of this and I thought I'd ask you, who do you think was responsible for the relationship between Bob and his mom? You think his mom encouraged that kind of thing or do you think that Bob just sort of became that way because of the way his life was and he chose that path and she didn't cut him off?

M: Well, I think, of course when all that was happening, I was born in '24, and we were around Dr. Howard and all them, and I don't remember exactly when she got sick. Of course he was there doing that before she got puny, splitting those logs and various and sundries, and some of the local people, you know, looking at him sort of, you know, [laughing] funny. Didn't bother me. I really wasn't thinking about it. But I think Robert totally worshipped his mother. My own opinion. Because he was, at that time, he was fairly successful and he had his places to go, because I know he traveled because he was back and forth and did his own driving and various and sundries, and I talked to him a little bit. Even with people that he knew that came over to the house, he wasn't overly talkable, kept quiet, pounded the typewriter. He would speak to you, and always stayed neat and clean and go out and just chop wood, and I think he was really attached to his mother.

H: Yeah.



2nd Conversation between Paul Herman and Larry McDonough

Tape Transcription of Telephone Interview

On October 17, 2000


H: I wanted to follow back up on some stuff that other people had asked, I'd mentioned this stuff, they'd written back saying what about this, what about that, I'd said "I don't know", so I thought I'd go back and cover a few things again. One of them was one that you'd talked about at length, and I'd managed to screw up cause I didn't get it on the tape, was your opinion of Doctor Howard.

M: Of the Doctor himself?

H: Yep.

M: Great guy, great doctor, friends with everybody, and whether they could pay their bills or not. Ya know, that was farming country, ranching country. Some people that could and some people that couldn't, but ol' Doc would never turn anybody down, he'd patch them up, broken arms falling off of horses, you know, that normal, you know, country stuff. Well liked, never any problems. And he was our doctor. And we had an uncle, Dr. Dill, over in Rising Star, which is what, 15 miles East of Cross Plains. They worked together on accidents in the oilfield, and this, that and the other. But no, he was a great man. You know what I mean? He'd get up at two o'clock in the morning, and come charging out to anybody's place to help out, deliver babies, you know, the whole nine yards.

H: Yeah. What about Mrs. Howard?

M: See, I was only about, see, 13, 14, that happened in '36, didn't it?

H: Yep.

M: Well I was born in '24. And she was sorta puny, and I'd been in and out, I'd get a cut or something, and then Dad or Mom would take me down to Dr. Howard's, it was just three blocks from where we lived. And he'd patch me up, and this, that and the other. My Dad got burned real bad with a pressure cooker, and Dr. Howard took him under his wing and came every morning and changed his dressings and everything right there at our house. That's the type of person he was.

H: Yep. Um, what do you think the rest of the town thought of, I mean, obviously they weren't crazy about Bob, but how'd they feel about his Mom?

M: I guess that she was reasonable popular even at that time. See, she was already in bed, I call it. I don't know exactly what was wrong with her. But I was going over there all the time, and she would be in the front bedroom in a powered, well, hand-cranked, hospital bed. And had a part time nurse, a woman that came in, a practical nurse that would come in and bathe her, and you know, change her clothes and do all that thing. Course Doc was doing his work also. But I didn't really know her, other than to speak to her. But, um, knew Doc and knew Robert.

H: Yeah. You said you knew Lindsay Tyson?

M: Sure.

H: Cause I guess he was running the, uh, it wasn't the ice house, it was the, um, deep freeze . . .

M: Well, Lindsay and another one, I was thinking about it this morning, that was butcher at one of the grocery stores there. A&P, or something like that. And they got together, and I don't know what he was doing, but they started up the first frozen food locker in Cross Plains. And both of them were butchers, and they got enough money together to get all that refrigeration, and this, that and the other. "Ol' Butch" we'd call him. What you'd do, you take your heifer or pig or so forth and kill it, and bleed it, and then throw it in the pick-up, or whatever you had for transportation, bring it up, they'd haul it in the back door and dress it out, do it whichever way, you'd have your freezer locker, then they'd put that stuff in the freezer, and that was yours. And Ol' Butch would say, "You stick em and we'll slice em." [Laughing]

H: [Laughing] Yeah, that covers it. Did you ever see how he took it after Bob died? I heard he didn't take it very well.

M: No he didn't, he didn't. I can witness that. After Bob died Mrs. Howard died what, the next day or the day after that?

H: Yeah, the next day.

M: Yep. Doctor Howard moved up to our house, and lived there. And Mother did a lot of writing for him and so forth. And fed him and this, that and the other. My mother moved me out of my bedroom, which was quite large, back to our den, and, which we had spare beds there for company and this, that and the other. Didn't bother me. And she took care of him for, I'd say looking back at it, several months. And he'd stay at night, eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. And he would go in and write and write and write, close the door and write and write and write. They'd get together, my mother was a real good handwriter, and she would transpose things for him, and go over things. I didn't pay much attention to it, other than when I came in the house and if Doc was there I always made it real quiet and didn't interrupt or anything cause it was, I felt bad about it, you know, his problems.

H: Yeah. Well did he just leave his house sitting down there?

M: He would go back and forth. For a while he came up, oh maybe I'd say a month after the funeral, guestimating, and sorta moved into our spare bedroom. And looking at it, he just couldn't stand it to go home.

H: Yeah, I can understand that.

M: Yeah. And he would go home in the daytime and so forth and come back and bring papers and sometimes he'd walk and sometimes he'd drive his car. And he finally got to where he would go back to his house, but it took a while.

H: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

M: Cause he had a double whammy . . .

H: Yeah, no kidding. Well, it was his whole family too.

M: Yeah, the whole family.

H: That's hard, you know, that's hard. Um, how did Bob Howard talk, did you ever hear him talking to people? Was he loud, or was he quiet, or was he . . .

M: Ahh, mediocre, he didn't scream, mediocre, in that he was well built physically and had a good voice, and you could hear him talking to his Mom and various and sundries. He talked with the neighbors out there some.

H: I guess kind of a typical bass voice for a man his size?

M: Yeah, yeah, bass voice. And very legible.

H: Yeah, could talk well I bet.

M: Yeah, you could understand him, he didn't talk real fast like some people, you get lost [Laughing] in the mess.

H: Yeah, did he have a pretty good Texas accent, or did he . . .?

M: Ahhh, well Hell, its same as us!

H: Well that's a pretty good Texas accent then! [Both laughing]

M: Just the same as us. You know, anybody else was a foreigner.

H: Yep, yep. Did you ever see his dog Patch?

M: Yeah.

H: What kind of dog was it, do you remember?

M: Umm, just a spotted, um, I'd call it a spotted mongrel, it wasn't a registered dog, I don't remember it that way. It was just a friendly dog, it was chasing cats away or this, that and the other. Just a house pet. And had access to the back section of the house. But he was around, and I had petted him, and he was a friendly dog. After he saw you a time or two, you coming to the house, he didn't bark or anything, he'd just wag his tail and follow you, cause, about every third day for a long time before this happened, we had more stuff than we needed. We had dairy cattle and this, that and the other, and we had De Laval cream separators, and separated and made it, the curds and various and sundries. And about every third day I would take a gallon of fresh right-out-of-the-crock fresh buttermilk, and a pound of fresh butter out of the old big original, you know, butter molds, all wrapped up and take it down to Doctor Howard's. And if they were busy, I would just take it in the kitchen and put the butter in the refrigerator and set the stuff on the kitchen drain board and they'd do whatever they wanted to with the milk. And I think part of the time I would go make another trip and take fresh milk. And just leave it, and come back home.

H: Yeah, that's good. Um, Bob's reputation for being a good fighter down at the ice house, you didn't see that stuff, was that just like general knowledge that everybody had, or did you hear that . .

M: Yeah, yeah, general knowledge, everybody knew everybody else's business. That town was about 1500 men, and there wasn't, other than the oilfield people, there wasn't anybody that would move in and out. From the time that I got there, they called them the "old nesters", they lived there. The people involved with Sinclair Prairie, and few of those oil companies there, they would be transferred to Ranger or Breckinridge or someplace. And that was the only people that moved in and out.

H: Yep, yep. Doc Howard getting Bob started working out to keep from getting beat up by the other kids at school, where'd you hear that from, did you hear it from Doctor Howard?

M: He had done started this before I really got to paying attention to it. But then I got to hearing the stories and so forth, then that was true. I don't know what kind of trouble he would get into in school, but other kids would pick on him. And push him around, and so forth. So Doctor Howard got ahold of a Charles Atlas book, bought a bunch of dumbbells, which I had never seen one before. I went to school with some. [Laughing] And this that and the other, and started weightlifting, and doing body-building. And built himself up. He would be out there in back in the afternoons lifting, particularly in the summertime, just a pair of short Levis on, and a t-shirt, be lifting, standing up and breathing hard like you're suppose to do in that exercise. And his other hobby was having those logs brought in there, and would split them up with a sledge hammer. And then give the wood away.

H: Yeah. Did you say he had a chin up bar too?

M: Yeah. He had a chin-up bar and all kinds of, the one handed, you know, left hand, right hand, small dumbbells and the big ones that you pick up with both hands, and then put it on your chest and then press em, then put your feet back together. I watched him do that.

H: Yeah. Did he have a big punching bag to work on?

M: Ahhh, I didn't really notice too much of a punching bag. He had a few things out there in the garage that he didn't have to move into the house. But he could have had one out there. He had some stuff that he worked on, and some of his dumbbell stuff he took out to the garage there, cause if you put them on the ground they're easy to trip over, and he'd take those and put them back on a shelves in the garage there, cause he had a car, and Doc had a car, and they had a pretty good size garage, a place to store stuff.

H: Yep, yep. I never did figure out where the car went, I tried to track it down once, but didn't have no luck.

M: Well, I don't remember when Howard's car disappeared. Doc kept his own car, his original one. And I think both of them were Chevies, four doors. Doc kept his car with his little bags for going on certain calls, helping people out, doctoring, delivering babies, people falling off horses, and this, that and the other. All of his pill bags, and all that stuff.

H: Yeah. So, I guess you left Cross Plains for World War II, is that right?

M: Yeah.

H: Yeah, World War II is what got you out, and I guess you saw California and decided you liked it.

M: Yeah. I graduated from Cross Plains, and had to wait a little longer, the war had started, but I wasn't old enough. And that Fall I was. My Mom put me into college, end of August or first of September, ACC in Abilene. And a bunch of us got in there. They reduced the age a little bit, and I think I there, well I went there, it'd be September, October, and a bunch of the guys in the dormitories there were bailing out and going into the service. I did the same thing. And went in and resigned at the college office. Went down home. My mother had a crying fit. I had the paperwork to go in the Navy. They had to be signed by my parents, my mother she finally signed it, but she cried and cried and cried. Dad just signed it cause he'd been in the service in World War I. Then I left and did my four years with the Navy. Then came back and got married to a girl that lived there in Cross Plains. Her Dad worked in the oilfield and he moved to California during the Depression. Her grandpa had a blacksmith shop there. Their family lived there all their lives. Mrs. Saunders, if you've ever heard that name. She was a practical nurse. But I came back there and my wife and her uncles and aunts and grandmother and grandfather still lived in Cross Plains, and they'd come back in the Summertime after the war was over and visit, familywise, and my parents knew them for ages. We had a pretty good size place. And we'd take them down to one of the big places. Had a private lake, fish. You could just catch fish and throw them back, catch fish and throw them back. Soon as they'd get there, when they'd come over to the house, OK let's go fishing. That was July of '46, and the wife and I were married in October of '46. Didn't take long.

H: Yeah. That's the ones that seem to last the longest are the ones that don't take long to get it done. That's a good thing, that's a nice thing.


[One important piece of information that came out in an earlier telephone conversation was that Bob was a two-finger, hunt-and-peck, typist. Larry personally saw him typing this way.]







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