Robert E. Howard House Museum, Cross Plains, TX

Aug 29

Robert E. Howard House Museum, Cross Plains, TX

For many readers worldwide the name of author Robert E. Howard is synonymous with greatness. The creator of such memorable fantasy characters as Conan the Barbarian and Solomon Kane, Mr. Howard’s stories have brought much joy and reading pleasure to the hearts and minds of both young and old.

I first discovered his works as a young boy when my dad took me to the corner store for ice cream. It was the summer of 1978 and yours truly had just purchased his very first Conan comic. I was only seven years old, but it was love at first sight.

Growing up I collected many other works based on Robert E. Howard’s creations. It wasn’t until I came across a short biography on Mr. Howard in an issue of the Savage Sword of Conan that my interest in learning about the man who had taken my mind on so many wonderful adventures was piqued. I devoured everything I could find about his life. I’ll never forget the moment I read how he’d died in June 1936. Because I’d come to adore this man so much through his writing, the feelings of grief were incredible, and I wept for loss of such an amazing mind.

500pxHoward House living space

Fast forward to present day, 3600 miles from that little corner store in Southwest Georgia. I stood at the front gate of 625 West Highway 36, the house where Robert E. Howard grew up in Cross Plains, Texas, and I felt like a kid again. I had dreamt of this day for years, but I never thought I’d live to experience it. And yet there I was.

While awaiting the arrival of our tour guide, Christina and I explored the property around the house. The house had belonged to Dr. I.M. Howard, Robert E. Howard’s father. It’s cared for and maintained by Project Pride who purchased the house in 1989. A sign placed on the front of the house by the steps reads, “Doctor Howard Residence”. White lilies grow just inside the front gate by the walkway and around back of the house is an oak tree with a small headstone at its base that reads, “In Memory of Patch, Howard’s Faithful Friend,” a tribute to Robert’s loving dog.

500pxRobert room

As we approached the rear of the house we were greeted by our tour guide, Arlene Stephenson, President of Project Pride. As she opened the back door and we stepped into the hallway I was immediately in awe. Arlene lead us through each room and told us about the history and restoration of the Howard House.

Our first stop was the bedroom which we were told had originally been the only bedroom in the house and looks much like it may have when the Howard family lived there. A picture of white roses, which Arlene told us was a favorite of Mrs. Howard, were among some of the Howard’s original possessions that had been returned to the Howard estate from the hands of private collectors.

500pxLast Words

When we crossed the hall and entered the living room I had a feeling of stepping back in time. The look and feel of this room was thrilling to me. There were beautiful antique chairs and a couch to sit on. And one of my most anticipated sights – part  of Robert’s personal library. Arlene told us that the doctor and Robert were always reading. I felt a sort of kinship
with Robert at that moment as I discovered similarities in not only our taste in books but in authors as well. I recall seeing at least one title on the shelf by Edgar Rice Burroughs, creator of Tarzan and John Carter of Mars, and a definite favorite of mine as well.

Moving through the dining room and kitchen, Arlene told us of Robert’s early days as a young writer, his relationship with his father and friends, and his mother’s love for her son. Crossing the hall once more, we stood before the sacred shrine of the Howard House, Robert’s closet-sized room, the room where his fertile imagination had given birth to all those courageous heroes that filled and fueled my childhood daydreams of adventure. Looking into the room, I could imagine Robert sitting at his desk, passionately pouring out the contents of his mind upon his Underwood typewriter, a literary alchemist before his crucible, creating stories of pure gold.

As we turned to leave I caught a glimpse of a note posted to the entrance to Robert’s room. Upon it was written this short repose, “These words were discovered in Robert’s typewriter after his death.

All fled, all done

So lift me on the pyre

The feast is over,

The lamps expire”

At the end of the tour Arlene gave us an opportunity to browse the gift shop. I would have bought one of everything that day had my loving wife but turned me loose like a carb addicted kid in a candy store, but I reigned it in and made a purchase of a wonderful little story I knew I didn’t already possess. Arlene made us aware of the Howard Days event, hosted by Project Pride and the Robert E. Howard United Press Association, held the second weekend in June and the Barbarian Festival, held that same Saturday. Both events shall ensure my eventual return to Cross Plains, Texas, to further partake in the legacy of a true literary giant of fantastic stories and poetry.

I wish to thank Arlene Stephenson, President of Project Pride, and Project Pride for helping to make my dream of visiting the Robert E. Howard museum a most splendid and memorable experience. I’d also like to recognize and thank Robert E. Howard United Press Association and the Economic Development Corporation of Cross Plains for their work and support of the legacy of Robert E. Howard. And lastly I want to say thank you to the city of Cross Plains. Ya’ll are some truly beautiful folks.

See the rest of our photos from the Robert E. Howard house and Cross Plains, Texas in our DropBox Photo album.

Have you visited the Robert E. Howard home in Cross Plains? What type of off-the-beaten-trail place would you like to visit? Let me know in the comments or get in touch on Facebook or Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

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