Thursday, November 23, 2006

Houdini, Lovecraft, and C. M. Eddy: Part III

Two incidents in November 1923 are mentioned. One seems apocraphal, the other substantiated. However, even apocraphal tales can be elucidating.

A lengthy passage (1) can be summarized here. On 4 November 1923, Eddy and Lovecraft go legend tripping (2) to the Chepacet area. HPL and Morton had toured this area 6 weeks earlier. Eddy and Lovecraft - somehow on foot - follow the trail of the Dark Swamp which Edddy had heard "sinister whispers from te rusticks". They went to the town clerk who confirmed the rumors, but did not know where the place was. Farmers and others were contacted to no avail but collected rumors that "people entered the swamp but never came out". They found a swamp on the farm of Ernest Law but were unable - because it was dark? - to enter and investigate. Lovecraft had nearly collapsed and Eddy carried him back to a trolley stop.

Joshi rightly claims this does not seem to hold water. HPL often made many mile treks and wore his fellow companions out by walking for hours. In addition, HPL would have never believed a fanciful tale, but may have went along for fun.

However, Eddy could have been very interested in making a report to ?? Houdini on some local group or groups at this time. If , indeed, we could ever find that one piece of evidence that linked Eddy and Houdini in a Rhode Island spy group.

The second event, on 28 November 1923, Eddy and HPL went walking through Providence south of the Great Bridge (3).

(1) H. P. Lovecraft: A Life, S. T. Joshi, Necronomicon Press, 1996, p. 307.
(2) A legend trip is a pursuit to locate the origin of a weird, supernatural, or mythical word of mouth story. It could be to find "George Washinton Slept Here", but mostly it is an attempt to find a location reported by a FOAF (a friend of a fiend) and often results in a non-happening. However, in many cases an actual location is found and becomes a focal point of many people being attracted to it. Mercy Brown's grave is such a place.
(3) Confirmed in an anticapatory HPL letter to Maurice Moe of 24 Nov. 1923.

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