Robert E. Howard Days 2014 Report

IMG_1269
An Arkham House original copy of SKULL-FACE AND OTHERS, from the collection of Jeffrey Shanks.

Searching through photographs, I realized that 2014 marks the 8th year in a row that Angeline and I have made our pilgrimage to that charming little town of Cross Plains, Texas.  I actually made my first trip to Cross Plains 12 years ago, in 2002 (note: the wife in the linked article from 2002, if you read it, is not Angeline).  Only after Angeline and I were married did we consider this something we should do every year.

We love the drive.  We love the area.  We love the event.  We have our favorite hotel, our favorite restaurants. We see old friends, meet new ones, and enjoy the company of people knowledgeable in the ways of everything from pulp fiction to barbecue. And man is there some awesome barbecue — nothing beats that final day of the event, the food, the gathering, and the sunset over Caddo Peak.

Patrice Louinet delivers his speech at the Friday night dinner and silent auction.
Patrice Louinet delivers his speech at the Friday night dinner and silent auction.

The year we joined fellow attendees at the Cross Plains Community Center for the silent auction to benefit Project Pride, the local organization that does such a wonderful job preparing the town for the event. They also shoulder the ever-sacred responsibility for the upkeep and maintenance of the Robert E. Howard House and Museum.

We saw a whole long list of friends at the Friday evening dinner, then went down to the site of the old icehouse at sunset for the ever-popular boxing stories panel, and finished up at the pavilion with a few cold beers and lots of catching up. I had great conversations with our friends Mark Finn and Chris Gruber, talented editors and writers in their own right, Rusty Burke, Bill Cavalier, Ethan Nahté, Larry Atchley, Jr. and so many more. I’d like to list all

Mark Finn and Chris Gruber, with Joe Lansdale in the foreground, at REH Days 2013.
Mark Finn and Chris Gruber, with Joe Lansdale in the foreground, at REH Days 2013.

of the folks we saw again this year, but inevitably I will forget to mention someone and feel bad about it later, so suffice to say — we saw a lot of our favorite folks! I also managed to make a visit to a bookstore in Brownwood that I’ve been stalking for years, hoping to catch them when they’re open.  The wait was worth it — I came away with some Marvin Albert mysteries and Jack MacLane horror novels. Add to that my purchase of the Del Rey edition of the Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard from the museum gift shop, and I’d say it was an overall win.

Once again, we met visitors from countries afar. Patrice Louinet made the trek from France to be guest of honor this year. We saw our good friend Al Harron and his charming family from Scotland, plus a couple visitors that were from Germany and Japan.

Jeff Shanks and Al Harron in the grub line.
Jeff Shanks and Al Harron in the grub line.

On Saturday, we took our annual tour through the house and spent some time catching up with writer extraordinaire James Reasoner. After a final panel at the Cross Plains Library, everyone made the group pilgrimage up to Caddo Peak Ranch for that barbecue and sunset I mentioned. (This was a particularly special year, since my 6-year-old son climbed to the top of the peak with me, and we overlooked that long horizon and rolling Texas hills together.)

Cross Plains has started to feel a lot like a home away from home.  It’s very much a family reunion in every way, except that we are united not by blood relation, but by love and admiration for the work of Robert E. Howard.  It’s a cool way to build a second family if you ask me.

The boy and I after his first trip up Caddo Peak.
The boy and I after his first trip up Caddo Peak.

We had another great time this year. Thanks once again to all the folks who make this event a success.

I took a couple of panoramic shots of the front and back of the house. Click and drag the pictures to the right or left to see the full 360-degree view. It was kind of an afterthought, but they still came out pretty neat. I thought I’d share something new this year, so here it is. Till next time…

 

Panoramic view from the front of the house

Click and drag the picture to the right or left to see the full 360-degree view.

Panoramic view from the rear of the house

Click and drag the picture to the right or left to see the full 360-degree view.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *