Memories from the
Home is where the children are and love... companionship... security... ownership... and permanence.
From the personal notebook of Edgar Rice Burroughs
My father was born in a house in Massachusetts that was built in 1741. His father owned it. My father never owned a home of his own. He lived for forty years in the same rented house in Chicago, although he was a wealthy man and could easily have afforded to own a home.
I was born in that rented house. It was home to me in the real sense of the word, because my father and mother made it a home; but it lacked something - it could not impart pride in ownership nor a sense of permanency. One result was an ambition to own my own house.
I have lived in several houses in several cities. Two of them, in Illinois, I owned, and two in Southern California. But I have never lived long enough in one place to acquire a solid sense of permanency, which has always appeared to me to connote security. And home and security seem almost synonomous (sic), for home is sanctuary.
Yet my homes were real homes in every respect other than permanency. They had comfortable furniture, selected because it was what we wanted and not because it represented any period, nor because some interior decorator told us to get it. It represented us. Perhaps a lot of it didn't harmonize, but at least our home did not look like the show window of a furniture store.
Our home had children, and dogs, and white rats, and horses. It had books, and easy chairs in which to read them. Our friends and our children's friends were welcome there.
And so, to me, home is where the children are and love and companionship and dogs and security and horses and ownership and white rats and books and permanence.
Edgar Rice Burroughs
This short article was written by ERB in response to a request of the publishers of Perfect Home magazine in 1942, when ERB was in Honolulu. In a letter to his secretary Ralph Rothmund, ERB wrote: "Attached is a copy for French Stamats Co's Perfect Home magazine. Read it over. If you don't like it, can it; if you do, ask Mildred [Jensen] to make a clean copy and send it in. I might remark, in passing that that is a hell of a subject to ask a guy who ain't got no home to enthuse about."
In turning the article down, French-Stamats wrote, "Frankly, we don't think this article does Mr. Burroughs justice and we dislike very much to have it represent him. His writings are customarily so vivid and moving and individual. . . . "
- Mary Evaline Burroughs -
Describes Tarzana Ranch
~ March 12, 1920 ~
POSTMARK: LOS ANGELES CAL. March 15 ~ 8:30 PM ~ 1920
TO: Mr. George T. Burroughs ~ 102 S. Conaul Ave ~ Burley, Idaho
Van Nuys, Cal.
My dear Son,
Your letter of the 2nd (forwarded) reached me yesterday. I thank you again for the very generous draft -- which I had cashed before I left, and which will make me feel quite comfortable while away from Chicago.
The journey was not a fatiguing one as I found it might be. The road-bed is all that could be desired and as my bench was near the middle of the car there was little motion. We left Chicago in a dreadful blizzard as you know but had no delay on account of snow, which we soon left behind.
When we passed through N. Mexico, Arizona and Southern California thirty years ago, the heat was so stifling at many points, that the remembrance of it made me dread a repetition. As that journey was made in April, we evidently encountered greater heat than we would have done a month earlier. At least we had none of it on this journey. Francis proved a most enjoyable traveling companion; and she referred more than once to the trip you and she had together some years ago. I do not remember just how many.
I have simply been resting since I reached here; not even going for an auto ride until yesterday when we took the famous scenic route from Los Angeles to Santa Monica, returning over the more direct route through Hollywood to the San Fernando Valley on the edge of which stands Ed's magnificent hacienda. You probably saw this show place of southern California when you spent some time in Los Angeles one summer.
Words fail to describe the place and its beautiful setting. All I can think of is an old English estate, with its stately approach by a broad cement drive to the crest of a commanding hill, where the view from every direction is simply entrancing.
The family life too is not unlike what one reads of English life. Ed and the three children are up early and take a long ride over the hills every morning followed by their dogs. And you should see the astounding health which such a life has brought to them. As to the interior of the home, I will leave that until I see you.
There is quite a flourishing little dairy, supplying milk, cream and butter for the family and the eight or ten employees who have their mess room in the famous "Coonskin Cabin" where Gen. Otis used to entertain his male friends. A "piggery" is being constructed on hygienic lines and there are at present about fifty Berkshires, just a beginning as Ed says. Ed's experiments and losses last year cost him about eleven thousand dollars, according to his secretary. Now he is his own foreman and gives most of his time to the supervision of his employees.
Studley is coming out this afternoon to remain over Sunday and as it is almost time for him to arrive I must bring this to a close. Tell Young George that he is in line for the next letter. The children here are very anxious to know their big cousin.
With very much love to each one,
~ March 27, 1920 ~
Mother and Emma buy hats in Los Angeles
POSTMARK: LOS ANGELES CA ~ March 28, 1920 ~ 11:30 AM
To: Mrs. George T. Burroughs
102 S. Conart Ave.
March 27th 1920
In a letter which came from George yesterday he asked if I received a letter from you at the same time that he wrote asking me to pay you a visit. No my dear; but I thought you probably intended writing and possibly on account of the many activities of your busy life failed to do so at the time. I know of course that the initiative came as much from you as from George; and my reason for declining it at the time and then accepting later must have seemed strange to you both. I was feeling very miserably after the fire, and even with icienee help did not regain my strength and had no ambition to make the effort to get ready. And as I wrote George I thought the property was in the verge of selling and wished to remain until everything was cleared up.1 I did receive a letter from you written on February 22nd expressing pleasure at my to visit California and Burley, which I seemed to find no time to reply to before I left. I am looking forward to my visit with you, George and the big boy with more pleasure than I can tell. And also to reviving my relations with my old friends there.
The life here is very quiet and restful. The weather is about what we have in Chicago at this time of year, cold windy and rainy, and I have had to give up the long rides to Los Angeles which some of the family take almost every day. Each time I went I came back chilled through.
One rather warm day Emma and I went to town to do some shopping. When she was through with everything else, she decided to buy a hat. When she had made a selection, she said, "Now Mother don't you wish to try on some" I said I thought what I had would do me until I returned to Chicago. She insisted and after trying on several she said "Now Mother isn't that a beauty? and so very becoming." I had to admit her good taste. Turning to the young woman who was waiting on us she said "We will take this and the one I selected for myself." I tried to head her off but found she was determined to give it to me.
Upon our return I called her into my room to look at it again and tell her how much I appreciated the gift. I said "You and Ed are always sending me pretty things." The tears came into her eyes and she said "But Mother I never do anything for you."
I can hardly wait to tell you all about this wonderful place. Ed is going to try to get some good photographs of the prettiest views of the house for me.
With very much love to each one of you, always, devotedly,
March 27th 19202
1 On April 17, 1920, as a sale failed to materialize, Ed commented gloomily to Harry, ". . . I don't care very much one way or another as the distillery property has always been a hoodoo. It helped to kill Father and I am inclined to think it also helped to kill Mother. . . ." The sales efforts dragged on until 1923 when, in January Adelor Petit succeeded in selling the property for $88,000. ~ Porges, pages 333
2 To the busy and happy days at Tarzana Ranch, the invigorating days of outdoor living, came a somber touch. On April 5, 1920, Mary Evaline Burroughs died. She had been staying at Tarzana for a month prior to her death, and for a time had been under the treatment of a Christian Science practicioner. As her condition worsened, Mary Evaline asked that she be examined by Ed's physician, Dr. Egerton Crispin. The doctor found that her heart was badly affected and, in addition, discovered a tumorous growth on her kidney. Her death, at age seventy-nine, came shortly afterward. The Burroughs family had shown a preference for cremation, and this practice was to be followed with Ed's mother. The first plan had been to scatter her ashes, but it was decided to place them in a receptacle at the Los Angeles Crematory. ~ Porges, page 333
The ashes were stored at a crematorium for over 24 years. In response to a letter from ERB in Hawaii, John Coleman Burroughs moved the ashes to Tarzana. A memo dated October 13, 1944 states:
"Today the cremated remains of Mary Evaline Burroughs were buried at 18354 Ventura Blvd., Tarzana, California, in the ground at the south side of the walnut tree growing in front of the building at that location." It is signed "John Coleman Burroughs, Joan Burroughs Pierce, C. R. Rothmund."
Read Memoirs of a War Bride
by Mary Evaline Burroughs