|Cotton Mill Worker circa 1900|
|Cotton Mill Worker circa 1900|
In THE PUPPET MASTERS, the Earth is invaded by slugs from Titan—or were they?—who attach themselves to humans by some delightfully squishy means and totally control their actions, though the humans are aware and screaming silently for help inside. A stalwart secret agent, working for the Old Man and his super secret agency, gets involved in the slug fight, falls in love with another agent, and deals with daddy issues, all while fighting this nasty invasion. The USA gets swarmed, and we don't even want to mention those behind the Iron Curtain—or, as Sam-the-agent asks in the book 'How would we know?' when the discussion of whether they were invaded as well comes up.
Ijoined the Boys Club and it became a home-away-from-home for me. It had a library and a workshop where I learned to make things on machines, a gym with lots of activities, and the employees saw to it that we had things to do every day. On Saturdays, they provided a buss to take kids to the Tower theater for the Saturday Matinee, but I never went. Across the street from the Boys Club was an orphanage with a fenced-in playground. I felt sad for the children inside, for they would stand at the fence and watch us playing outside, and were unable to join us. A block and a half from me was 8th Street Park - those further up the road called it 9th Street Park. It covered the whole block and had slides, swings, and merry-go-rounds; in later years, it was given the official name of Bellevue Park, the swings and slides removed, and million-dollar architecture was added. Ugly.
Me with Clinic in Background
Something else about the Memorial Auditorium, they brought shows to town. I'm sure they charged for them, but I was always given a free pass. We only lived in the mobile home about a year, and when my dad couldn't make payments on it, we had to move. So the time would be around 1951 when one of my heroes came to town. I was given a pass for the show that night, and onstage was Lash LaRue and Al "Fuzzy" St. John, western stars I had watched at the picture shows downtown on many Saturdays. Lash would pop that 15-foot long bullwhip, and Fuzzy would roll a cigarette with one hand, then they would put on a mock fistfight for our entertainment. I sat in wonderment, as only an eleven-year-old boy could throughout the show. Then when it was all over, Lash and Fuzzy visited with the audience, and spoke with us. I even got a pat on the head from Lash LaRue!
However, there is sadness even in such glorious times as this. Much later, I learned that in 1951 the B Westerns were dying, and all of the western stars were making the rounds trying to promote interest in a dying entertainment industry. Their contracts were up in 1951 and '52, and the studios were not renewing them. Westerns were growing up, and TV was taking the place of the Saturday Matinees. Cowboy stars like Lash LaRue were drifting away, their careers finished.
BTW, I too also had the honor and pleasure of meeting and shaking Lash LaRue's hand; he retired to Gaffney, SC, and I met him in the early 80s—over 30 years after Tom's first meeting with a hero.
Here's the incomparable Lash LaRue:
Here's the cover and ordering information:
NEW PULP HEROES now available in 280-page paperback from FADING SHADOWS, $12.00, plus $3.99 postage (US). Tom& Ginger Johnson compile 56 essays on new pulp characters, plus 2 essays on villains, plus much more data. Also included are new pulp fiction stories by grandma & grandpa Johnson: “The Mind Master” by Tom, and “The Origin of Mr. Minus” by Ginger. This will only be sold through FADING SHADOWS. This is very likely the first of several books that will chronicle the history of new pulp heroes, and their creators. Order from Tom Johnson, 204 W. Custer St., Seymour, TX or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
When I wanted to write something fairy tale-ish, I decided to retell this story with a bit of a gender switch. I wanted to see how a young man, smart but a little naïve, would deal with a strong woman who hides her face from him at all times. The result turned into a tragic love story with magical interludes and lots and lots of books.
My kind of guys.