Missions Unknown Looks at REH and San Antone

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Sanford Allen, over on the Missions Unknown website, wrote up a piece regarding Robert E. Howard and San Antonio. The article is the third in a series called “S.A.’s Place in the SF Universe.” Missions Unknown is a site devoted to the fantasy/sci-fi/horror scene in San Antonio, so any such series as Allen’s could not well afford to ignore the influence San Antone exerted upon REH. Rusty Burke was kind enough to stop by and post some pertinent citations from Howard’s letters in the blog entry’s “Comments” section. I’ve taken the liberty of reproducing those quotations (and Rusty’s introductory paragraph) below…

San Antonio was Robert E. Howard’s favorite city, rivaled only by El Paso (which he did not visit until about 1934). His mother had good friends there, and the Howards were frequent visitors through the years. REH spent a good bit of time in the public library, which apparently had a pretty good genealogical section. His letters contain a number of mentions of SA, including such things as the Fiesta and Battle of the Flowers, the opening of the Spanish Governor’s Palace, and so on. Here are just a few brief quotations from his letters:

“Most of the trade of West Texas – with the exception of that region dominated by Amarillo, high up in the Panhandle – goes to Fort Worth. Personally, though, I like San Antonio, and spend much more time there than at the former city.” (REH to August W. Derleth, 12/29/32)

“Of all these northern [Texas] cities, I like Fort Worth best, though for color and historical glamor none of them can compare to San Antonio and other towns of the south.” (REH to Derleth, 7/3/33)

“You ask about San Antonio. It is without question the most interesting and colorful city in Texas, possibly in the entire Southwest…” (REH to Carl Jacobi, summer 1934)

As for him finding inspiration in stories of old-time Texans, here’s a specifically SA reference:

“San Antonio is full of old timers – old law officers, trail drivers, cattlemen, buffalo hunters and pioneers. No better place for a man to go who wants to get first hand information about the frontier. The lady who owned the rooms I rented, for instance, was an old pioneer woman who had lived on a ranch in the very thick of the ‘wire-cutting war’ of Brown County; and on the street back of her house lived an old gentleman who went up the Chisholm in the ‘80’s, trapped in the Rockies, helped hunt down Sitting Bull, and was a sheriff in the wild days of western Kansas. I wish I had time and money to spend about a year looking up all these old timers in the state and getting their stories. (REH to Derleth, 5/33)