S. T. Joshi's Blog

January 3, 2019 — Some of the Presidents’ Men

Mary and I had a most enjoyable holiday season, highlighted by a trip to Carmel Valley, Calif., to see my two sisters (Ragini and Nalini) and some members of their families. There was quite a haul in terms of presents, including some new slippers as well as sundry chocolates. But the choicest item was nothing less than some of the figurines of the U.S. Presidents that I had so fondly played with as a boy! Ragini found nine of these gents on eBay; I shall now have to find the rest.

Those who have read my memoirs will recall the passage in which I discuss this matter:

One very curious type of solitary play I devised for myself involved a set of tiny (about 2 inches high) porcelain figures of all the American presidents from Washington up to Lyndon Johnson. I have no idea how my mother obtained these objects, but they fascinated me from the start. The pedestals gave the dates of each president’s term in office, so that to this day I know the entire sequence of all the presidents and the years in which most of them served.

But I went beyond merely absorbing dry information about these august figures. I began concocting games in which the presidents figured as players—notably what I called “Presidents’ Baseball” and “Presidents’ Football.” For the former, I used a marble (I played with marbles quite a bit) as a (rather large, proportionately speaking) ball and used the pedestals to propel the ball crazily all across my room. (This was, I suppose, closer to kickball than baseball—but I didn’t care about such a trivial detail.) I am astounded that I didn’t break mirrors and other delicate objects in my room, but somehow I didn’t.

I have subsequently learned that these presidents were given out by the local grocery store (I believe it was the IGA) in Urbana, Illinois. I now own nine of them:

Nine porcelain figures of U. S. presidents.
Nine U. S. Presidents

For those who are having a hard time making out the figures, they are (from left to right): John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, James Knox Polk, Chester Alan Arthur, William Howard Taft, Herbert Hoover, and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

In terms of work, I have now nearly finished my compilation of the weird tales of May Sinclair. I am currently reading some biographical and critical material on her for my introduction.

I am happy to announce the completion of His Own Most Fantastic Creation, an original anthology of stories using Lovecraft (or a Lovecraft-like figure) as a fictional character. Here is the list of stories:

I hope PS Publishing can get this book out late this year. My own story was scheduled to appear in my fiction omnibus, The Recurring Doom (due out later this year from Sarnath Press), but it fortuitously fit the theme of the anthology so well that I have placed it there.

I expect 2019 to be a productive year from me, if for no other reason than that I expect to self-publish as many as 12 books of H. L. Mencken’s essays and journalism (2 per month). If you look at the Sarnath Press page, you will see that six of these volumes are already out, and I intend to get two more out this month. This will complete the eight volumes of his writings in the Smart Set, which will then be followed by miscellaneous magazine articles, prefaces and introductions to various books by others, and then the first of many volumes of his newspaper journalism. I don’t imagine these books are exactly flying off the shelves, but I will take personal satisfaction in their appearance.

With the advent of the new year I expect Hippocampus Press to issue several books that have been slightly postponed: the Clark Ashton Smith bibliography; the compilation of the letters between Smith and August Derleth; Lovecraft’s Letters to Family and Family Friends (a 1200-page book!); Letters to Wilfred B. Talman and Helen V. Sully; Letters to Donald Wandrei and Others; etc. etc. etc. In addition, there will be fiction volumes by Stephen Woodworth, John Langan, and perhaps others; poetry volumes by Jessica Amanda Salmonson and D. L. Myers; an immense assemblage of the writings of Leah Bodine Drake; and some projects that I am not at liberty to mention as yet. I pity the pocketbooks of my legions of fans!

Entries from 2018…