Letter on Clark Ashton Smith

Ethel Heiple

I am happy to here that the bibliography of the writings of Clark Ashton Smith will soon see publication. It is a wonderful gesture on your part and I know it will be a beautiful tribute to Clark.... I am reminded of the enjoyable times Clark and I had during the visits he would make in my home in the 1930's and 1940's.

I new Clark's mother very well, as she had been a local magazine agent for many years, working from their home in the suburbs of Auburn, California. One day when I took his mother home in my car, I stooped for a glass of cold lemonade served out in the front yard under an big oak tree. It was a hot summer day so that cold glass of lemonade proved a life-saver, not only for me, but for a little black ant that crept up on me when I wasn't looking and teetered on the rim of my glass, looking down in to the deep well, wondering if it should make a high dive and either end it all or land on a piece of lemon-peel that was floating on the top. Finally, curiosity go the best of him and he put on his skis and, whoosh! Down he went in to the deep YELLOW yonder! At this instant I spotted him and came to his rescue by slipping my drinking-straw slowly alongside of him, so he could crawl to safety. This episode seemed to amuse Clark no end, and, and from that time on, we were best of friends: Clark and I, I mean, NOT the ANT and I! I have that little insect, the ANT, to thank for his friendship. This was the first time that I had meet Clark, and, when his mother introduced him, she simply BEAMED. She was SO proud of him, and well she might be, because her son was a genius, and she knew it.

After the death of his mother in 1935 and his father in 1937 Clark was a very lonely man as he and his parents had been very close. It was at this time I became much better aquatinted with him; he need companionship; so he started dropping in to see me on his way home from town and would bring me a bag of self-picked wild mushrooms, and sometimes a bouquet of wild flowers. Then we would sit and talk over a spot o'tea and a sandwich or piece of cake. I remember there were times when his cheques in payment for some of his stories appearing in English magazines wouldn't arrive from the publishers in England when they should have, and he would get down to his last penny. This is when I would load his shopping bag with canned goods and other items from my larder, and send him happily on his way towards home.

One of the most amusing incidents of our friendship was the time I was selling Christmas cards and was supposed to submit verses for use on the following year's cards. I told Clark that if he was to write three and I was to write three, and one was accepted, I would split the prize of $25.00. In a very little while I received a cheque for $25.00, one verse have been selected as a winner - but even then, I didn't know whose verses it was that had one. I split the $25.00 wit him. Finally the box of Christmas cards arrived - I quickly opened it so as to see whose verse it was that had been used, and, what do you think! It was MINE. I couldn't believe my eyes. I never did quite finish kidding him about my being a better verses writer than he!

I could go on and on and on with my reminiscing, but let me close by wishing you all the luck in the world wit this project


From: Emperor of Dreams: A Clark Ashton Smith Bibliography, Donald Sidney-Fryer. Donald M. Grant, 1978.

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