The latest Cross Plains Review contained an unexpected delight: a picture of 96-year-old Lois Garrett enjoying herself at the Cross Plains High School Homecoming. The paper says that she was the homecoming queen for 1928, which was the year before Robert E. Howard finally kicked his pulp writing career into high gear. A bit later that same year, in December of 1928, Howard’s story “Drums of the Sunset” ran in serial form in The Cross Plains Review. Perhaps Lois read it — she once sat down with me and showed me her scrapbook, and among the very first pasted entries was a 1920s Review article that talked of the naming of the school mascot as The Buffaloes, a name still used by them today. The person who chose the name back then? Lois Garrett.
Those of us lucky enough to have attended Howard Days in past years were privy to meet and talk to Lois and her “partner in crime,” the late great Zora Mae Bryant, mother of Jack Baum and heir to the Howard estate. Both were always full of stories and good humor. Lois has been ailing over the past few years, so it’s nice to see her out and about at such a function. She is one of the last living embodiments of the time and place in which Howard lived.
Cross Plains resident James Nichols, in his fascinating look at the history and personages of Cross Plains, On the Banks of Turkey Creek (a book available for purchase at the Cross Plains Library) describes Lois and Zora Mae as living legends in town. Mentioning their ages, he quips “there ain’t enough fingers and toes in the whole family to figure that one up!” The entire book is filled with such folksy humor tied to numerous stories about Cross Plains, including a bit on Howard and several details about some of REH’s closest friends. If it’s not a part of your collection, you need to grab a copy.
PS — In other news, Era Lee Hanke reports that visits to the Howard Museum are still going strong into the fall, with three separate groups in the last week alone. Everyone in Project Pride is looking forward to the visit by attendees of the World Fantasy Convention on November 1. If you are one of the people joining the bus trip and visiting Cross Plains for the first time, you are in for a heck of a treat. Brings lots of pazoors, as the gift shop is pretty packed and you may find yourself dropping a lot of dough on Howard items.