Bill Hillman's
Volume 7

ERB: What was he really like?

...I do not know how old I am. I recall no childhood. I have always appeared to be about thirty years old. I still do.... Perhaps I am the materialization of some long dead warrior of another age. Who knows?
                    ---ERB - (City of Mummies/Llana of Gathol, 1941) 
When I was young, I used to dream of living an adventurous life, and it may be that these youthful dreams more or less shape up one's later life. --ERB (The Living Dead/Escape on Venus, 1941) 
My father was very stern and military in our relationship. He used to tell me with increasing frequentness -- until I was thirty-six-- that I always would be a failure, and until I was thirty-six he was right. He urged me time and time again to come into business with him and although I did for a short time, this did not better our relationship. Whatever warmth and sense of humor I do possess, I owe entirely to my mother's side.

The youngster in the uniform of the U.S. 7th Cavalry wiped the sticky dust from his face and screwed up his eyes against the blinding Arizona sun. He was sixteen years of age, the youngest rider in the little detachment of soldiers patrolling the vast and lonely desert lands. He was too young, though the Army didn't know it when he joined in 1891, to be serving with the toughest cavalry division in the West.

All at once the humid air was rent with war cries and from the rocks to his left he saw a wildly-riding band of Apaches bearing down on him. Instantly, his carbine was out and he heard the sergeant shout: "Stand and fire!" Grimly he and his companions blazed at the oncoming Indians who retaliated with gunfire and arrows.

The youngster saw several companions fall, but coolly continued to shoot, firing at the leader of the band, a courageous warrior who was the finest rider he had ever seen. At last the Apaches retreated to the hills.

"Who was that?" asked the young man, admiringly.

"That sonny boy," said the sergeant, "was Geronimo -- the greatest War Chief in the Apache Nation."

Years later, the young man was to write about the Apaches in two books: The War Chief and Apache Devil, both sympathetically written from the Indians' point of view. But these were not to be his best known books -- for the youngster was Edgar Rice Burroughs, famous as the creator of Tarzan, lord of the jungle.

Burroughs was discharged from the cavalry when it was discovered that he was under age. He drifted to Idaho where he worked on a ranch, living the rough hard life of the cowboy without complaint. But there was too much routine and not enough thrills to suit him, so he moved on. The Bandit of Hell's Bend and other Westerns were the outcome of this experience.

He opened a store in Oregon, found the life monotonous and the profit small, so became a railroad policeman in Salt Lake City. Even this bored him soon, so he headed for the Oregon gold-fields to become a miner. It was all mining and no gold. By the time he was thirty-five, Burroughs regarded himself as a failure. While looking through some magazines one day, he decided to try writing.

He sold every story and in ten years had become a millionaire. He was capable of writing a full-length novel in a weekend -- he did so once for a bet. He built his own ranch called Tarzana, in California, and formed himself into ERB Inc., a company which still exists making big profits from "hiring out" the Tarzan name alone.

He'd flunked out of a half-dozen schools. He ran away and lied about his age to join the Army in the Southwest, when there was stilll trouble with Mexico. He got pretty homesick and Grandfather got him out when he thought he'd had enough of it to learn a lesson. He went form one thing to another...had a stationery business for a while and flubbed that. He was a dreamer, not practical at all.

He was selling pencil sharpeners for a living when he first talked himself into writing. By that time he had a wife and a daughter -- he would have three children.

He threw down and All-Story magazine in disgust one day and said, "If I couldn't write a better story than that I'd go jump in the lake." His wife said, "Well, if you can, why don't you?" And he did. Uncle Ed had a lot of faith in my father's judgment-- they were very close-- and he asked him if he should give up his job to write. My father advised against it. Fortunately Uncle Ed didn't take that advice. He sold every story he ever wrote, except one that the publisher said was 'too gory.' 

Niece Evelyn remembers that she and her mother read the longhand manuscript (of Tarzan of the Apes) aloud in the evenings and were "very much intrigued with the story." The improvident dreamer was on his way to becoming a millionaire...and with fond memories of outdoor life in Idaho, ERB bought a California ranch, which he named Tarzana, and a Malibu Beach home. When he turned Tarzana into a development, he moved to the coast. In World War II, he spent some time as a war correspondent in the Pacific. In the late '40s, a series of heart attacks put him in a wheel chair.

My father [Harry Burroughs] and I read the manuscript of Tarzan of the Apes before it was submitted to the publisher, as Uncle Ed wanted my father's opinion of it, and Dad read it aloud to me while I was making a dress for a High School dance. We thought it highly interesting, but agreed in confidence that it was much too fantastic to sell. How often we laughed over that prediction in later years.

I sometimes think [Uncle Ed] might have tried to write earlier in life if his unusual imagination had not been somewhat blighted at an early age. I remember my father tell of an incident in Ed's early childhood which may... have had its effect on a creative mind.

Coming in from school one day [Ed] announced, wide-eyed, that he had just seen a cow in a tree. Perhaps it was a purple cow -- I don't recall that part of the story. At any rate, my grandfather, who was a rather stern man, with a very positive nature, heard the statement and punished his small son for lying. [Grandfather] was an unimaginative man himself, and to him there was only black and white, truth and untruth, and he didn't want his son to lie...

ERB worked at his writing -- he learned to compose on the typewriter and put in his dailly stint -- but h never took the results very seriously. "They're not anything I'm proud of," he would say.
                                  ---ERB niece Evelyn Burroughs McKenzie
                                        in the Charlotte Observer - early '60s 

A letter from ERB in Honolulu to new-born grandson Danton,
                                            in Tarzana, June 22, 1944:

Dear Danton: Just two years ago today your brother arrived when our world did not look too bright. But you came in on the crest of a victorious wave that is carrying us and our allies to successful ending of Word War II much sooner that we had expected.

If your generation shows more intelligence that past generations, perhaps there will be no more wars. but that is almost too much to expect. However, there is a chance. You have been born into the greatest nation the world has ever known. Keep it great. Keep it strong. If you do, no country will dare to go to war if we say no.

Put this letter away and read it June 21st 1965. You will be of age then. See then if the politicians have kept your country great and strong. If they haven’t, do something about it. If I’m around I’ll remind you.

Good luck, my boy! Your Grandfather, Edgar Rice Burroughs 

I found that the popular author was a man in his late forties, but he seemed younger. Broad shouldered, heavy set, erect, engaging, attired in natty whipcord breeches and leather boots, he looked for all the world like the hero of one of his own romances who had stepped for a moment out of the book. He moved with the undulations of a tiger, smooth and easy, as though steel muscles flowed beneath his skin. 
He’s decidedly cosmopolitan, a gentleman-author (they’re as rare as hen’s teeth these days of roughneck writers). He is tall, slim, and as carefully dressed as a picture in Esquire. He has a grand sense of humor, a genial manner, and his wife calls him “Ed.” He has the most soothing, the most bland, voice I have ever listened to, and it told me interesting things about the writing of books and stories that sell. 
Mr. Burroughs is a very rapid writer. That is one reason he is so prolific. He often works through the day without stopping for lunch. He dictates to a secretary and has found that best, after trying dictaphones, typing it himself, and various other schemes. He has a downtown office where he usually goes to work as punctually and steadily as any business man. 
It is much more believable to me that ERB’s son (John Coleman Burroughs) should paint as he does than that Mr. Burroughs should be a thorough-going cosmopolite, that he should live far from any wood in an ultra-modern apartment, and that there should be no literary props around...just his son’s paintings and Mrs. Burroughs’ grand piano standing in the sunlight of a great bay-window and bowls of garden flowers everywhere. Somehow I expected that the man who writes of jungle apes, of stone-age men, of life on Mars and Venus would be unconventional. 
In the summer of 1927 ERB took his two sons on a pack trip to Mono Creek in California’s High Sierra. One day while doodling in the sand on the bank of a stream with son Jack, he invented the personal symbol //. which he referred to as a hieroglyph or doodad. He later frequently used this symbol to sign personal letters and office memos...(and he also used it as a colophon on the dust jackets of his books). In 1932 he decided to include it on the cover of JUNGLE GIRL published by ERB Inc. that year. Thereafter, every first edition published by his company bore the colophon on the dust jacket. Six of the last eight books also have the doodad on the spines of the books themselves.

                                                --Hulbert Burroughs
                -- ERB’s Doodad -- January 6, 1972 - ERB-dom #61 
The reason my Dad referred to me as Bull Burroughs ... stems from my fascination with the character “Bull” in The Bandit of Hell’s Bend. When I was a kid I thought of myself as Hell Roarin’ Wild Bull Burroughs. ... (ERB sometimes) signed his name “OB.” This stands for “Old Burroughs,” as some long-since-forgotten resident of Tarzana once referred to ERB in a moment of anger. In much personal correspondence and office memos ERB thereafter signed his name thus.

                                                                    -- Hulbert Burroughs 
I am glad you are reading "Tales of Ancient Greece" and am not surprised that you enjoy it. I know I did when I read it. Now if you will take one of our Barnes General Histories that I asked Mother to send to us, and read up on the history of Greece, which you will find some what closely related to its mythology, that is the early history, your reading will be more interesting as well as instructional.

                            -- Letter to ERB from Brother George Burroughs 
Contrary to critics' suggestions, Burroughs was going against the social standards of his time by treating everyone with equality. Burroughs slandered Africans in his works, but he also defamed every other race, both real and imaginary. Burroughs was not, essentially, a sly or subtle man in personality or in his works. If he had intended to show his prejudice toward a particular race, he would have done so in a concerted and obvious manner.

                                                        -- Reverend Henry Hardy Heins 
ERB's apparent omission of religious commentary seems to suggest that a man who is raised in an uncivilized society has no need for organized religion--at least not early twentieth century America's concept of religion. Tarzan's character would have no need of the comfort religion provides, because he is the true master of his environment. Burroughs could have been suggesting through his omission of religious overtones in the Tarzan novels that civilized society uses religion as a "creature comfort" to help sustain them through difficult times.... Burroughs was ahead of his generation in his efforts to explore the questions that are answered by "blind faith" by those members of society who follow and practice a particular religion

                                                                        --Robert P. Greer 
(ERB implies in his description of Barsoomian religious beliefs) that people who support organized religion choose to be "slaves" to the whims of a small, elite group of individuals. Through this sleight of hand, Burroughs condemns society's ignorance in its reverence and support of those who are not deserving of this trust. It may seem that Burroughs is condemning religion as a whole, but that may not have been the case. As Henry Hardy Hines, a Lutheran clergyman and Burroughs' biographer, points out, although Burroughs had no great respect for organized religion, he respected those people who lived according to their beliefs and viewed with contempt those who lived by "sham and hypocrisy"
                                                                        --- Richard Lupoff 
Dad never discussed religion at home. He said he wanted us to choose our own church when we were grown up and possessed of sufficient intelligence to make our own decision. He did not go to church and we didn't either. He lived by his own conscience, of which honesty and humility were important.

                                                                -- Joan Burroughs 
Burroughs hated communism and took every opportunity to express his distaste for the communist way of life by drawing parallels between the race of green Martians and communists. He also seemed to suggest, numerous times in the Mars series, that a pacifistic and isolated stance in world happenings can only result in disaster. 
Comments About ERB in His Military Discharge Report 1896
- Fort Grant, Arizona --
<> Recommendations: A very intelligent soldier
<> Marksmanship: 3rd Class
<> Physical Condition when Discharged: Good
<> Battles, Engagements, Affairs or Skirmishes: None
<> Remarks: Service honest and faithful 
Because of ERB's military background, study of the classics, and his experiences as a middle class American, he was able to write novels that have become science fiction and adventure classics. The storytelling necessities that he learned early in life were the tools that made his social commentary so powerful. 
The opening chapter of Pirates of Venus, the first book in the Venus series, gives a revealing glimpse into ERB's personal life and affairs. Ralph Rothmund, his secretary, has a prominent role in the dialogue, and the physical plan of the ERB Inc. office in Tarzana is likewise reflected here. ERB mentions the fact that he was of Puritan stock (he was, on through the Rice family), and he also alludes to the real estate problems which he was actually having at that time in parceling his large Tarzana Ranch into residential developments. He also brings in Tarzan, Pellucidar, and his interest in Mars. 
Rain or shine, summer or winter, you may see him every afternoon with his family upon the Chicago boulevards or far out on some delightful country road beyond the city's limits. He loves the country, too, and the great outdoors, and every sport and game that needs the open for its playing. Yet in few such sports does he excel. In football and horsemanship he climbed close to the top, and if he should confide in you I think that you would soon discover that his greatest pride lies in his ability to ride anything that wears hair.

All in all there is nothing very remarkable about Edgar Rice Burroughs except his imagination. He is a sane, healthy American gentleman, very much in love with his wife and children and inordinately proud of them. Of himself or his work he is never very serious....
                                          -- The Book News Monthly, August 1918

None are more delighted readers of their father's books than are the children of the author.... It was with difficulty that [Jack's] father and mother could persuade him to eat cooked meat. He wanted to eat it raw, for did not Tarzan prefer it so? One day the astonished father saw his son following him across the yard on all fouirs with his nose to the ground. "What in the world are you doing, Jack?" Mr. Burroughs questioned. "Why, father," replied the boy, "I am following your scent spoor...." 
Even when Dad was busy writing we used to bounce on and off his knee, at times, and he was always in good humor. Later, we used to vie with each other to see who would be first downstairs in the morning to read his writings of the day or night before. He told us bedtime tales every night, without fail. They were continued in serial form, and he always started off exactly where he had left off the night before. Two of our favorites were"Arabella, the Coyote" and "Grandpa Gazink and His Flying Machine."

                                                        --Joan Burroughs 
Later on he got into the habit of keeping the machine [Dictograph] at his bedside, and when he would awaken during the night he would talk into the machine. Only one draft was needed and very few corrections were made -- mostly typographical. Mr. Burroughs did extensive research and worked out his story lilne and characterizations so well that each character about wrote his own story. He never changed plot or story line once he started to dictate, and usually he was in a pretty good humor while dictating. His memory was fantastic, although, he enjoyed telling everyone what a terrible memory he had. I don't recall that he ever forgot a date, name or place.

                                                         --ERB Secretary Mildred Jensen 
What was so great was that Dad trusted us completely and gave us our independence as well as allowing us to use our own judgment. I was sixteen when I started going out on dates and he never once told me to be home at such and such an hour or to do this and not to do that. I recall his telling me that he thought I was capable of taking care of myself and that he had confidence in me.

But when he made up his mind on a subject he was stubborn about it and there wasn't anything to be said or done. He demanded one thing from us and he got it; this was respect. If we answered smart or stepped out of bounds, Dad would take us to another room and it was across his knee --

Every Sunday our family had a standing box at the Majestic Theatre in downtown Los Angeles and this was a special and exciting event to which we all looked forward. He never tried another Girl From Hollywood type of book, but he did try a detective story once called Marcia of the Doorstep [1924], but it did not work out and never was published.

I know that Dad never dictated love scenes. This seemed to embarrass him and all such scenes were transcribed from the Dictograph.
                                                                 --Joan Burroughs 

...the noted novelist is intensely a family man; in fact, when one leaves him after an interview, hs is likely to have many notes about Joan and her baby daughter (the first grandchild), Hulbert's writing and his love of digging for archeological treasures, Jack's art and his gardening ability, Mres. Burroughs' charm, but few aobiut the father. Modest, sincere, with a great love for his family, for all people, for gardens, and the out-of-doors, he looks at everything with a rare and wholesome sense of humor. He is a real person!
                                                --Better Homes and Gardens, August 1931

Ralph Rothmund, the corporation's general manager, swung the sale on his own [MGM film rights for Tarzan, the Apeman], and Mr. Burroughs celebrated by buying five cars the following day, one for each of his family. Rothmund was driving an old Ford at that time but he got nothing.
                                             --ERB Secretary Mildred Jensen 
My family in Chicago were friends of both the Burroughs and the Hulberts, and it was natural that I look them up in California. He had left his wife before our meeting -- it was one of the "depressions" he was fighting... but he enjoyed his kids.

                                               -- Florence Dearholt 
Florence and I became very good friends, and she was over at our house frequently... which made what happened worse for everyone concerned.

                                                    -- Joan Burroughs 
We all tried to talk Dad out of the divorce, but he was stubborn and wouldn't be talked out of it. It was obvious why she married Dad -- after all, they were thirty years apart....

                                                --Joan Burroughs 
Mr. Burroughs hated the thought of growing old and always surrounded himself with young friends....

                                                 --ERB Secretary Mildred Jensen 
Ed was the life of every party....he seemed ageless, and the fact that he was almost thirty years older than I never bothered me nor did it interfere in our pursuits. He never seemed his age....

...He was interested in the moment and that was all. Ed never trusted many people but he had several large personal loans outstanding -- some for ten thousand dollars. After we were married, he told me that he didn't have a great deal of money -- that it was all in the corporation. He must have spent tremendous sums for his family. After his divorce, Emma got a good settlement, I know, and the kids always had everything they wanted.
                                                  -- Florence Dearholt 

Dad was a free enough spender when it came to dishing out for the family. He always seemed to anticipate our desires and it was rare when any of us had to ask for anything --even a car.
                                                  --Joan Burroughs 
We first met in May of 1927 when I was already a resident of the San Fernando Valley. Burroughs advertised for a secretary and I applied, thinking that it was the Burroughs Business Machine company. I talked to Mr. Burroughs and he said that he would let me know about the job. About one week later he pulled up to my house in a big, open Packard. I was up on a ladder, painting, and he yelled: "How soon can you come to work?"

Burroughs trusted his friends too much and he went wild on occasions... like the time he went out and bought two huge "land yachts" -- even equipping them with electric brakes, which was a tremendous added expense. They cost ten thousand dollars and he only used them for one trip -- to Oregon. (The second trailer was stuffed with servants and commissary supplies.) I got rid of them several years later. One, I managed to sell for fifteen dollars and the other I just had to give away during the depression. Later, I had to put a tight rein on his spending. He was a great one for detail -- he indexed and cross-indexed everything. He wasn't a great businessman but had a great asset in that he was very honest, and considered that a foremost quality. If he ever discovered that someone had lied to him -- no matter how insignificant the matter -- it was the end of that particular relationship.
                                                               --Ralph Rothmund 

The corporation was having a hard time financially, in the late thirties. Business was not good and everything seemed to be going downhill. Mrs. Burroughs was getting a personal allowance of several thousand dollars a month and the parties they were hosting cost a lot.

Finally, toward the end of 1939, Mr. Rothmund "ordered" them to Hawaii, with the idea that it would be less expensive. It really wasn't until the mid-forties that the corporation started to come back, financially.
                                                 --ERB Secretary Mildred Jensen 

He preferred to live alone. Ed regretted the marriage and felt that we would be much happier if we went our own ways.
                                                            --Florence Dearholt 1941 
"Golf's an awful bore. Let's not play today."

"Tiresome game, tennis."
"Ha! I have it! Great morning for a ride."
                                         --ERB -- The Man-Eater (1915) 
"Golf, is a mental disorder."

                                          --ERB -- Lost on Venus (1932) 
My tastes are uninteresting. I like ham and eggs, corned beef hash, fried chicken, plain hamburger on white toast. How they are properly prepared is more or less of a mystery that I have no desire to solve. Culinarily speaking, I am a washout.

                                           --ERB -- Famous Recipes by Famous People 
I am very sorry that I have no personal recollections of Zane Grey, inasmuch as I never met him. Sorry I didn't get around more.

                                           -- Yours, Burroughs 
Tarzan of ... Chicago

May 7, 1998

Maybe we should thank rotten Midwestern winters for Tarzan. Maybe the months of cold and snow sent Edgar Rice Burroughs' imagination fleeing to the steamy African jungle.

Not surprisingly, he started writing Tarzan of the Apes on Chicago's West Side on a winter night, Dec. 1, 1911 (and finished it May 14, 1912).

Heaven knows, our lousy weather is what caused Burroughs to pack up his wife and three children and leave Oak Park for good in 1919.

"Mrs. Burroughs and I are both very anxious to get back to California. This climate is simply abominable," he wrote in a Dec. 4, 1918, letter to his Los Angeles physician, Dr. W.H. Kiger. "We had a more or less rotten Summer and entirely rotten Fall and from where I sit it looks as though it is going to be a rotten Winter ..."

Some things never change. Midwestern winters are still rotten. And people still love Tarzan.

It's been nearly 86 years since Tarzan first seized the imaginations of American readers--it was first published in All-Story Magazine in October, 1912--and 80 years since the Lord of the Jungle first swung by a vine across the silver screen. Tarzan was the hero who lived Burroughs' philosophy, a bitter indictment of civilization's destructive and degrading effects on the environment and animals,
according to biographer Irwin Porges.

And interest in Tarzan continues today. The most recent evidence: A new Tarzan movie, "Tarzan and the Lost City," opened April 24, with Casper Van Dien of "Starship Troopers" in the title role.

Tarzan never goes out of style because "he appeals so much to the kind of male macho image that every 10-year-old guy has, and that doesn't change," said Ron Falzone, artist in residence in the department of film and video at Columbia College. "No matter how politically correct we try to be, there is still this 10-year-old in every guy."

Burroughs knew that.

When he was about that age, he attended the Harvard School at 21st and Indiana. He rode his pony from his West Side home and kept it in a livery stable near the school. He was a poor student who bombed there and also at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass. His greatly annoyed father promptly sent him to Michigan Military Academy northwest of Detroit, according to Porges' 1975 biography Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Man Who Created Tarzan.

Burroughs enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1896 and tried his hand at a number of jobs before returning home in defeat to work for his father's American Battery Co. in 1899. He married his longtime sweetheart, Emma Hulbert, the following year.

In 1903, the young couple struck out for Idaho, then Salt Lake City, where Burroughs worked as a railroad policeman. They sold their belongings to buy tickets back to Chicago in 1904 and moved in with her parents.

Burroughs finally found success as a manager at Sears Roebuck & Co. But eight months after his first child was born, he left Sears to start an advertising agency. He began writing at age 35; he was working as a $30-a-week office manager in 1911 when he sold his first story, "A Princess of Mars."

The family, which by now also included son Hulbert, was living in an apartment house on what is now Maypole Avenue when Burroughs wrote Tarzan of the Apes. He sold the story to All-Story for $700.

Over the next two years, living in Chicago and wintering in San Diego, Burroughs wrote The Gods of Mars, The Return of Tarzan, At the Earth's Core, Part 1 of The Cave Girl, The Monster Men, The Warlord of Mars, The Girl from Farris's, Part 1 of The Mucker, Part 1 of The Mad King, The Eternal Lover, The Beasts of Tarzan and The Lad and the Lion.

Son Jack was born in 1913, and in May, 1914, the family bought a house at 414 Augusta in Oak Park. In late summer of 1916, the family set off on a cross-country drive to Los Angeles, returning the following spring and moving to a larger house at 700 Linden Ave., on the corner of Augusta, which still stands.

This final stint in Oak Park was for patriotic reasons: The United States had declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917. Burroughs was too old for active service but was appointed as a captain in the reserves here in July, 1917. A photo of the uniformed Maj. Edgar Rice Burroughs, Commander of the First Battalion, Second Infantry, Illinois Reserve Militia, appeared on the cover of the Oak Parker in 1918.

More Tarzan titles were produced on Linden Avenue--also The Oakdale Affair and The Land That Time Forgot--before the family left for California for good on Jan. 31, 1919. There, Porges writes, Burroughs purchased 540 acres in the San Fernando Valley, a spread he named Tarzana.

Burroughs eventually wrote 26 Tarzan novels, which have been translated into 56 languages and have sold more than 25 million copies. The Tarzan he created for pulp magazines became a syndicated comic strip in 1929, a radio show in 1932, and had its own fan club. But movies would ignite the fever that put Tarzan's name on products from ice cream to board games to bread.

The figure of Tarzan has remained relevant by filling different needs that have changed with time, Falzone said. In the '30s, he represented an "ability to make do in a tree house based on what he could find, not money."

"During the war, men were looking for a different kind of strength, the kind that could always overpower the enemy,'' he said. ``Men today are enormously confused about their place in the world. This is a way to dive back into our 10-year-old selves, a way of winging back to a more elemental self."

The Historical Society of Oak Park and River Forest has a small display of photographs of homes where Burroughs lived and plans to do more in the near future on his local connections.

The rest of Burroughs' life played out away from this area. His 34-year marriage to Emma ended in divorce because of her drinking. He married former actress Florence Dearholt in 1934. She was 30, divorced with two young children. He was 59. They moved to Honolulu. Burroughs continued making movies and writing, though he suffered from recurring bladder problems and a bad heart. That marriage disintegrated when Burroughs took up drinking (or possibly vice versa).

At 66, Burroughs volunteered for service in World War II, writing a daily column for distribution to local newspapers and press services. He later was a war correspondent for United Press.

"I know that, at my age, it is probably a fool thing to do," he wrote in his diary. "My decision, then, is not based on faulty judgment. I want the experience. If I don't come back, I am at least definitely expendable. So it won't make any difference."

In 1950, at age 74, Burroughs died in bed on a Sunday morning as he sat reading the comics in the newspaper. His ashes are buried under a tree outside his study at Tarzana.

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