Two-Gun Bob: Earl Baker Ruminations

The furious round of discoveries about Robert E. Howard that Brian Leno — with Scott Connors close on his heels — turned up over the last couple of weeks got the attention of Leo Grin, editor and publisher of the excellent Howardian zine of yesteryear The Cimmerian and currently The Cimmerian Press (which has the distinction of releasing The Dark Barbarian That Towers Over All, at over 600 pages by far the largest litcrit volume on REH ever done — plus smaller bullet-like TriplePunchPacks by Brian Leno and Morgan Holmes).

Leo writes, “A few items below the REH coverage in that column Brian found, it mentions Dr. Howard and Earl Baker a few times”:

Dr. I. M. Howard of Cross Plains was a business visitor here Tuesday.

Dr. and Mrs. W. L. Hester of Loraine were Friday night guests of the C. D. Baker family while here for a visit with Dr. Howard.

Mr. and Mrs. Earl Baker of Ballinger were guests of home folks here Thursday and Sunday, following visits to the bedside and funeral of Robert Howard and mother.

“So,” Leo continues, “did Earl Baker make it to the Howard home before REH died on Thursday?

“Sounds like it. Too bad Glenn didn’t ferret out more info when he interviewed him decades later. De Camp talked to him as well.”

Glenn of course is Glenn Lord, and L. Sprague de Camp, among other things, did the first full-length bio of REH. Both got some nuggets of info on Howard’s life from his neighbors, but how much more might have been coaxed out?

Leo and I got to do interviews with Bob Baker and his sister, but as Bob told us (quoting myself from an article in TCV1n3 for August 2004) “his older brother would have been the one to get more personal details about Howard from, since he knew him much better, but of course Earl Baker is no longer among the living.”

I’m thinking it might be time to pull all that on-site dope we learned about REH in Texas into a new TriplePunchPack, for easier access for the new fans constantly coming in. . . .

(By the way, I usually don’t hold it against anyone if they can’t get the best details out of an interview, because some people don’t remember much and some just won’t spill.)

And while looking for specific historical info is the reason most people prowl through old newspaper morgues, you can have some fun along the way. Leo asked, “Did you see the joke at the end of the column?”

The tidbit that amused Leo was:

An official hangman in Europe tried to hang himself. Probably figured it was time to have one on the house.

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