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ERB  portrait by John Coleman Burroughs
Danton Burroughs
Family Archive Series

ERB: The War Years

Danton Burroughs
ERB at work in his Honolulu office
Ed and Hully
Excerpts from the Wartime Letters of 
the Dean of Correspondents in the WWII Pacific Theatre
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Lanikai, Oahu
1298 Kapiolani Boulevard ~ Honolulu
Prelude to War
Collated by Bill Hillman

The letters are to daughter Joan Burroughs unless otherwise stated
July 1917
Oct 21 1920
August 20, 1934
Sunday, April 7, 1935

February 14, 1936
August 25, 1937
August 30, 1937
September 20, 1937
October 1, 1937.
May 19, 1939
June 12, 1940
June 17, 1940
October 27, 1940

Letterhead: The California Limited ~ Santa Fe ~ enroute ~ Oak Park
July 1917
Dear little Joan -
Your letters and postal came today and we were very happy to hear from you & to know that you are having a nice time. We leave for home tomorrow morning - by "home" I mean Morrison's Lake.
Am glad the "cammah" is painted and hope Tom Ball has the engine in running.

It is raining here today & is quite chilly for July. Mamma could not find Theresa's note and is bringing the little "box" down to  Theresa. Hulbert, Jack and Mamma join me in sending you lots of love & kisses with 33 1/2 hugs. Give our love to Grandma, Aunt Jessie, Uncle Roy, Uncle Will, Margaret, Judson, Margorie, Edith and Theresa and be sure that you kiss Tarzan for me. Two collies called on us today. One was "Black" and we think he came to look for Tarzan. He and Tarzan used to play together -- do you remember?

Well, my little daughter, we will see you tomorrow night but do not be disappointed if we are late as I may have tire trouble again. We didn't have any trouble coming home except that I got "cost" twice in Hammond. We reached home about 5:40 P.M.
With lots of love,
Oak Park
July 16, 1917
"Papa looking at cabbage growing in garden at 700 Linden Ave, Oak Park"
("The big nut!"}

LETTERHEAD:  Two men in helmets and goggles in an open two-seater race car.
20th Century Motor Car & Supply Co. ~ Quick and Efficient Service ~ South Bend, Ind.
Wm. H. Nichols ~ Dealers in motor cars ~ Motor trucks
General Garage Business ~ Everything for your automobile
My dear little Joan-
We reached So. Bend a little after noon. Pleasant trip but awful bad roads.
We mis you & send bushels of kisses, love & hugs.
Tell Theresa to wash my brown "briches" so they will "shine"
Give our love to everyone.
Lots of love from
LETTERHEAD: Young Men's Christian Assciation of Campy Steever
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin ~ Military Training Camp for Boys
My dear little daughter -
I have a few minutes before next drill period so I though I would write you, Mamma & the boys; but as I will have time for but one letter this must be for all of you.
They called us out at ten last night and instructed us in night operations across country. We got back at 12:15 am. All pretty tired as we had had bayonet fighting & hand grenade throwing in the after noon -- the former very strenous.
I think we have trench work this afternoon; but am not sure.
I hope you had a pleasant trip home

LETTERHEAD: TARZANA RANCH ~ Ventura Boulevard at Reseda Avenue
Edgar Rice Burroughs ~ Members State and National Hampshire Swine Associations
Swine Department: C.J. Gilbert ~ Post Office, Van Nuys, California
Telephone, Van Nuys 100 ~ Tarzana Pure-Bred Swine

Well, we will have you all home together again next Friday.  In the meantime I think I shall have to put some rocks on the roof to hold it on the house when you are all here once more.

With best love to you in which Mama joins, and with love also to Marguerite, I am,
Your affectionate,

Miss Joan Burroughs
%Ramona Convent,
Short, California

LETTERHEAD: Hampshire Swine (above)
Oct 21 1920
Dear Little Girlie -
Well, here goes! Not a thing to say either -- except; Pete and the pigs are back; little Jack is laid up today with a bad tonsil, the doctor was out this morning and thinks it will be but a day or too before he is all right again.

We received your nice long letter a few minutes ago. Too bad about Pep. I suppose poor Sister Consolata is all broken up. We are very sorry for we have heard so much about Pep that we felt we knew him intimately even though we never saw him.
You sent quite a list and Papa is going to day to fill it down town this afternoon and as it is such a long list I shall have to stop writing and run along or I shall not be back in time for breakfast. Love and love & love,

LETTERHEAD: Edgar Rice Burroughs ~ Tarzana, California
August 20, 1934
Dear Joan,
Hulbert tells me that you and Mike are doing well and I am glad to know this.
He also says that Mike cries most of the time but that the **** saves the situation.
Am enclosing a couple of clippings I thought you would like to have.
There is nothing exciting going on. I am working hard interfering with Hulbert's and Ralph's work. I imagine they breathe a sigh of relief when I take myself elsewhere.
Am going over this afternoon to watch Jim Granger test his new ship that he is to fly in the London-Melbourne race in October.
All my love, my dear,
(Side note: Jim Granger died in same ship. Brakes locked & he crashed on the October 3rd.)

LETTERHEAD: MATSON LINE ~ San Francisco ~ Los Angeles ~ Hawaii ~ At sea ~ SS Lurline
Sunday, April 7, 1935
Dear Joan, Hulbert & Jack.
Nothing but rain and fog since we sighted San Francisco yesterday morning. It is now 3:15 pm. Fog horn going all night. Not very warm as yet. But we are having a good time.

Were invited to sit at Captain's table, and had our first meal there this noon. Have had our breakfasts on our own lanai (front stoop to you).

Met for of the six other guests at the Captain's table, a Mr. & Mrs. Barrett and their friends, Mrs. Mecchi and Mrs. Bouchignamir (or something). The other two will be Janet McDonald and her mother. Dr. Kurtz? and his friend visited us this morning. We were going to play tennis this afternoon but it rained. The pool has not been filled yet. This is a lovely ship and a restful trip.

April 8
Pretty rough yesterday. We did not go down to dinner although neither of us was actually sick. We played safe, for it is a long way from E deck, where the dining room is, to A deck and our cabin.
Went down to breakfast and met Captain Berndstrom for the first time. He is very pleasant.

We played tennis deck twice today. It is a lot of fun. Like tennis except that the court is smaller, the racket's solid like ping pong rackets, and the balls heavier than tennis balls.
We play with Carl Cooper?, a friend of Dr. Kurtz?, and a chap named Carter Galt? who lives in Honolulu and is descended from one of the original Missionary families.
April 9
Last night the Captain gave a beautiful birthday, dinner in honor of Mrs. Buchagnimi, who sits at his table. Lovely dessert, a present for Mrs. Buchagnimi, a birthday cake, a birthday cake, ice cream mould into two good sized miatures of the Lurline, and a decoration carved from a solid block of ice -- a lion; very well done and very striking -- about the size of Jack's tiger, perhaps larger. Jeannette MacDonald and her mother came down for the first time.

April 10
Played deck tennis in the morning and contact in the afternoon. There are horse races every morning at 11, movies at 8:30 pm and dancing afterward. Plenty to do. The sun came out for a while yesterday, and last evening was clear; but it is overcast again this morning (7:30 am).
Tomorrow we dock about 9. Shall mail this on the ship.
Lots of love to you all,

Palm Springs
Feb 14 1936
Darling Joan:
Another paving stone for Hell    I wanted to send valentines to Joan II and Mike, and here it is Valentine's Day and nothing done. What a mind! If I ever get a spare hour in town we'll. have lunch together again. I am pretty sure I can make it next Tuesday. Will you get hold of the boys and ask them!    We can meet at The Berries at 1 o'clock. If that is not a good hour for you, telephone Ralph, or drop me a line addressed to Tarzana.   If, for any reason, you or the boys can't make it next Tuesday, let me know in the same way. I won't have to know until I reach the office Tuesday morning. I hope you are all well and that none of you drowned. Didn't it rain!   We were up Wednesday and drove back Thursday; and it rained nearly all the time, although it was perfectly clear here when we left and was not raining when we got back.    I'll be glad when it warms up here. The doctor told me sun baths would be good for me, but I've had only one since I got back. I'm getting back into shape slowly. I can see much physical improvement and some mental. I have been absorbing for so many years that my thinking apparatus was affected, and it never was any too good.   The doctor says it will come back 100%.  I hope he is right. At 100% I may even have sense enough to come in out of the rain - who knows! Lots of love to you all.   Am looking forward to seeing you Tuesday. I'd like to have Jim come, if he cares to.
August 25, 1937
Mrs. James H. Pierce,
10452 Bellagio Road, Bel-Air,
Los Angeles, California.
Dear Joan:
Florence has asked me to ask you if you will come to dinner next Wednesday, and, if possible, come early in the afternoon to swim. Will you please call her and let her know. The telephone number is CRestview 1-9145.
With love,
August 30, 1937
Mrs. James H. Pierce,
10458 Bellagio Road, Bel-Air,
Los Angeles, California.
My dear Joan:
I am so sorry that you can't come Wednesday, and I know that Florence will be when I tell her.

I can understand, though, how difficult it is for you to get away and leave the children.
With lots of love to you,

September 20, 1937
Mrs. Joan Burroughs Pierce,
10452 Bellagio Road, Bel-Air,
Los Angeles, California.
Dear Joan:
Sorry that I was not at the office when you came.
I am working at home now because I seem to be able to accomplish more there, and save the time of driving back and forth.
Am certainly anxious to see you.   I hope that we can get together soon.

October 1, 1937
Mrs. Joan Burroughs Pierce,
10452 Bellagio Road, Bel-Air,
Los Angeles, California,
Dear Joan:
Am glad you like BACK TO THE STONE AGE, and that you think CARSON OF VENUS starts out well. I hoped that you children would read it when I sent it over.

I don't know what sort of reaction Lesser is going to get from Eleanor Holm.   He tells me that he took the matter up with the Motion Picture Producers Association, or whatever they call it, and with the P.T.A., and that their reaction was favorable.

Wish I might see you oftener.
With lots of love, I am,

May 19, 1939
Dear Joan:
I was sorry to learn from your letter that Mike has mumps. I certainly hope that the rest of you don't contract them.

In the matter of the Tarzan Clan music. Ralph now vaguely recollects that it was in a large envelope with Schermer's name on it and that it might have been in the Spanish cabinet that stood in my office, and which your Mother came over and took, with some other things, while I was away. We thought it barely possible that the contents of the cabinet might not have been removed and that the music is still in it.

I wonder if you would be good enough to look the next time you are at Bel-Air, and see if you can find it. I also recollect that there were quite a number of my photographs in this drawer, and they may still be there. If they are, will you return them to me.
With love,

Mrs. James H. Pierce,
5714 Bantage,

Studio City, California.

Lanikai, Oahu, T.H.
June 12 1940
My darling:

Your letter of the let came to-day just after I had mailed a "Dear Children" letter to Jane in acknowledgment of one from her, so as I said all in that letter, which you will see, I haven't much news left for you.

I was tickled to death to learn how quickly the children learned to swim and dive.  It is wonderful that they have this opportunity.  I'll bet Hulbert gets a big kick out of instructing such apt pupils.   I have been sixty-four years trying to learn, and up to now have arrived nowhere.   I go in the ocean with the children and jump up and down as the rollers come in.  I'm too damned scared to swim out.  I don't know why.  Caryl Lee has been poisoned by Portugese Men-o-War only twice so far, and a next door neighbor of ours caught only five sharks in his net day before yesterday practically in front of our house.

Yes  I keep a diary - just a notation of happenings without comments or philosophizing.  It helps me remember the names of people I meet.  The trouble is that I usually can't remember them over night, and so don't get them all in my diary.  There are many "Met Commander ______"    "Mr and Mrs were also there."   Quite informative.

Am glad that you have had some of the work you like and that Jim is doing so well.  Shall look forward to seeing Spring Parade and Boys From Syracuse. Hope you can make Mike stick to the piano until he is sufficiently proficient to give pleasure to himself and others all the rest of his life.  I have always regretted that I could not play the piano.  My fingers are too damn big - one of them would slop over three keys.  Otherwise, I am quite musical.

I can't tell you how much I enjoyed your letter.  Please give Joanne and Mike a lot of love from me.  I can't get used to "Joanne". but I think it was a sensible change; and it is a very pretty name.

Wish you could meet the Hallidays.  They are lovely people, and they seem to like us.  They are always dropping in or calling us up to come over there.  Jack is out now with our children and his little Laddie to take them swimming down at Lanikai Beach with some other children he wanted our to meet.   I first saw him in Tovarish while Florence and I were in New York several years ago; then Carl Haerle wrote me at Beverly Hills that Halliday was coming to Hollywood to make a picture and asked me to phone him.  We arranged little party with people we thought he'd like, and then phoned that he had to leave at once.  After we got here the Haerles invited us to a dinner to meet the Hallidays.  We went through a blinding rain around Koko Head way and got there, but the Hallidays tried to come over the Pali and couldn't make it; but a few days later they phoned us and asked us to lunch; so we finally met. He is a very interesting man who has been everywhere and knows everybody.  She is equally as nice, a former actress with many anecdotes.

Well, Dear, it has been a lot of fun gossiping with you; and, speaking of gossip, there was plenty of it after the parties on which we met Luella Parsons and Harry Martin.  I have known Martin since the early days of the old Breakfast Club and Luella for two or three years.  I must say that when she has mentioned me in her column she has always been very kind.  I can be no less. Lots of love to you all, or, in other words,
Aloha nui nui!


Lanikai, Oahu, T.H.
June 17 1940
My Dear Children:

Thanks a lot for your Father's Day radiogram.  It was very sweet of you to think of me.   It was telephoned to me yesterday afternoon shortly after I returned from a week-end fishing trip at Waianae, which I have marked with a red circle on one of the enclosed maps.

We fished all Saturday afternoon and got up before sunrise and fished all Sunday morning.  During all that time no one got a strike.  We were out in Dudley Lewis' 33' sampan hoping for a marlin or a broadbill.  There are terrific ground swells on that side of the island, and with a choppy sea the boat lunged and rolled constantly; so Jack Halliday got seasick and about two hours before we came in I followed his example.

I was wet and filthy and hot and sick, and I ain't never goin' fishin' no more.

We saw hundreds of porpoises, which played around the boat.  That was interesting.  A Portuguese along with us said to me, "There is an Eva."   I finally located it - a trim black bird faced with white - a Man-0'-War Bird.  Thirsting for knowledge, I asked how they spelled Eva, knowing full well that it wouldn't be Eva at all; and it isn't - it's Iwa.  If you will look southeast of Waianae you will see the town of Ewa.  This is pronounced eva.

I sent a map to one of you; Joan, I think.  The two enclosed are for the other branches of the family.

The Waianae district is as different from the rest of the island as Arizona is from northern California.  That side of the Waianae Range is as barren as Arizona mountains; the grass and weeds along the highway are burned and brown.  It rains there only a little and just during the winter months, whereas it rains five or six times a week on our side of the island.  The rains, brought by the northeast trades, are stopped by the Koolau and Waianae Ranges.

Again, thanks a million for the radiogram.
Aloha nui nui!


1298 Kaplolani Boulevard
October 27 1940
My dear Children:

I just received a nice letter from Jack. dated Oct 16th; and I was pained to note how he is flinging his money about and setting a bad example to the purveyors of foodstuffs by that offer of his of 75 cents for a cake which, including labor, couldn't have cost more than $2.50. Both he and Jane are wildly extravagant that way.

It is to be hoped, for the sake of the neighbors, that Hully has succeeded in getting rid of his puppies. I hope he doesn't have any more - he is getting too old. I wish. when his are gone, that he would come over here and auction off all the dogs in our neighbor-hood; also several of the radios, and most of the children.

The people here are dog crazy. We were at a dinner for twelve or fourteen last night at the Pfluegers. and their two big cows of German police dogs were wherever we were - on the lanai, in the living room. in the dining room; and the women were all in evening gowns. Some other friends are keeping Jane Shattuck's three dogs - two enormous Danes and a police dog. The other day one of the Danes started to eat Caryl Lee; later on, I inadvertently failed to latch the front gate and they all got out and ran down a boulevard almost comparable to Sunset - and it was on a Sunday afternoon, too; so three of us had to go out and look for them. Unfortunately, we found them.

I remember Edith Thorpe and Tom Bonynge - at least I think I remember Edith.   Wasn't she the girl who told Jack about the facts of life one day?   Something tells  me that being married to Edith would be much like spending one's life on a Merry-go-round; but a very beautiful Merry-go-round.

It's funny how I always miss conscription in peace time. Jack says the last one was 80 years ago, so I just missed that; and I'm just a little too old for this one.

I'm enclosing a clipping to show you what my fellow citizens over here look like; the Samoan bus driver is not so bad.

I went to lunch the other day with Al Karasic, the fight promoter here - his other guests were three sports writers and Prince Ilaki Ibn Ali Hassan, the Persian Whirlwind, who wrestles for Al, Jarasic was a wrestler for seventeen years - and looks it, with cauliflower ears and all the other trimmings; but he is a very bright fellow and extremely witty. He is a cousin of Rubinoff, the violinist. Prince Ilaki is a highly intelligent man. and very goodlooking.  He is a lifelong Burroughs fan, and used to write me from San Francisco eight or nine years ago.  He told me his father owned 6000 goats in Persia  and that made him a prince.  He writes for the pulps, and has not had a rejection slip for years.

I like to meet people like these. Here's an entry of Oct 9th in my diary:  "God but it's hot.  Wrote 4000 words today."  Then Oct 10th: "Still hot," and Oct 11th: "Hotter."

I hired a new "janitor" the other day - Peter Duenas; he is in 10th grade at McKinley High School, near my office.  I asked him what nationality he was, because by looking at him I couldn't quite make out.  He said he was part Hawaiian, part Chinese, part Spanish, and part haole (haole, pronounced how' lee, means white man).  A friend of mine was telling me the other day, apropos of the above, that when he had asked a boy what nationality he was, the kid said, "Half Hawaiian and half soldier."   Peter comes once a week and cleans up the office, for which he gets 50.  As it takes him about 20 minutes. he is paid at the rate of $1.50 an hour.

Caryl Lee and I went to the circus the other day.  I paid $1.50 for two "reserved" seats, and we had to sit in the shavings down in front of the boxes, with the elephants nearly treading on us; but we had a swell time.  It was really a very good little three-ring circus.

My car is promised for Wednesday.  I have been without it since Sept 19th: but. thanks to Mickey Owen. I have had transportation - Ford. Did I tell you about the big centipede that crawled out of its upholstery while Florence was driving Caryl Lee home from the doctor's? Florence says that Caryl Lee went right straight up to the ceiling and she nearly climbed a telephone pole with the Ford.  The centipede crawled back into the upholstery, and Florence drove all the way home; then they "Flitted" it out and killed it.  I saw the thing; it was about six inches long.

Now I must go to work, but I have enjoyed this visit with you.  I can't tell you how much I miss the happy times we used to have together.

A great deal of love to you all.


Source: The Danton Burroughs ~ John Coleman Burroughs ~ ERB, Inc. Archives
Copyright 2003 ~ Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.

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