Nick Carr has been one of the most notable, to say nothing of beloved, fixtures in pulp fandom for several decades, a familiar face at Pulpcon, a prolific contributor of articles to such collector's journals as Echoes and Pulp Vault, and a correspondent with many collectors, as well as several of the writers and artists who worked for the pulp magazines. So it's fitting that our first "We Salute" devoted to a member of pulp fandom should single out Nick for its honors.
On August 7, 1975, Wooda Nicholas Carr and his lovely wife Eunice, graced our home in Emerado, North Dakota with a visit. They could only stay for a few hours, but during that time I was very impressed by this couple, and I felt very close to both of them. Nick is very knowledgeable on the pulps and totally dedicated to the revival of interest in the magazines. Eunice and I had a long conversation about many common interests while Nick and my husband Tom retired to the den to pore over Tom's small and meager collection. They were like children, with beaming faces, as they went from shelf to shelf commenting on cover art and stories.
All too soon the visit came to an end. The Carr's schedule called for further stops in N.D., to visit relatives before their return home. Tom and I enjoyed their visit immensely and are looking forward to many future visits with these fascinating people.
Pen-names: Nick Carr and Dickson Thorpe.
Birth: Born 2 December, 1923 in Jamestown, North Dakota.
Marital Status: Married to Eunice Elizabeth Meyer, 30 May 1955 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Nick was previously married to Pearl Prentice, who passed away 13 December, 1954, from cancer. Both are R.N.s.
Physical Description: Height: 5" 9". Weight: 160 pounds. Hair: white. Eyes: brown. Wears glasses and has a scar on his upper lip from a childhood accident.
Parents: Dr. John D. Carr, M.D. Dr. Agnes Thorpe Carr, M.D. Both deceased. Nick has a younger sister, Carlotta Carr Brown.
Education: Graduated Springerville (Arizona) Round Valley High School, May 1941. Attended two years Phoenix (Arizona) Junior College prior to his induction into military service.
Military Service: Entered the United States Army on 28 October, 1942. Tours of duty include Europe and the Far East, and within the United States. Served with the First Cavalry Division in Korea as a Chief Psychiatric Technician. Made a career of the military, retiring 1 May, 1966, with the permanent rank of E-7.
Nick was raised in Jamestown, N.D. at the home of his parents, the State Hospital for the Insane, where his father was Superintendent and his mother was on the medical staff. In a sense he learned the 'abnormal' side of life before he learned the normal, growing up with mental patients.
The family moved briefly to Scottsbluff, Nebraska, then to Santa Cruz, California, where Wooda attended high school. His father joined the Civilian Conservation Corps as a physician in Springerville, Az., where Nick completed high school. The next move was to Phoenix where his father worked as a psychiatrist at Phoenix State Hospital. During his time living in Phoenix, Nick worked part-time at the Gorimshaw Mortuary and did night duty at the state hospital as night ward attendant. While attending Phoenix Junior College he majored in English, with particular attention to writing short stories and radio scripts. Because of his medical background, he was assigned to the Medical Department after his induction into the Army. His interest in writing, which had begun many years before, served him well also. During his tours of duty at various military hospitals he wrote newspaper columns and scripted two radio shows for the Armed Forces Bedside Network, "Tales of the West" and "Radio Workshop." He also wrote for the Medical Technician's Bulletin. He wrote throughout his military career. Perhaps his interest in writing began to blossom with the senior play he wrote for his high school: "The Old Post Office Stove."
Following his retirement he renewed his association with the old pulp magazines he read as a youngster. He began collecting not only the pulps but recordings of such programs as The Lone Ranger, Green Hornet, The Shadow and Little Orphan Annie.
This led to writing for many pulp collector journals and fanzines including Bronze Shadow, Pulp Era, The Mystery Reader's Newsletter, Xenophile, Echoes, Flashback and others. He published short fiction in Skullduggery Magazine and Classic Pulp Fiction. Beginning with "America's Secret Service Ace" and "G-8 the Flying Spy," from Pulp Press, he has published several books about the pulps.
He says, "If there is any literary blood flowing in my veins it is probably due to the fact that I am related to the poet Robert Burns and my cousin is the noted mystery writer John Dickson Carr." His writing remains strictly a hobby and his dedication to the preservation of the old pulp magazines is beyond question. His influence on my husband and myself, as with many others, will carry through all our lives. The respect we hold for this fine human being can never die.
I first became aware of Nick Carr when I read BRONZE SHADOWS, a pulp fanzine published in the mid 1960s by Fred Cook. This was my first introduction to an amateur fan magazine, and I was fascinated by the publication in general, and the articles by a certain Nick Carr in particular. Nick was writing about pulp characters like G-8 and Operator #5, two series I had only recently discovered in paperback. His articles were teaching me a lot about the old pulps. I had been reading The Shadow and Doc Savage for a number of years, but this was all new to me.
In 1973, I was reassigned from California to North Dakota in June, and upon my arrival in Grand Forks, I found a letter waiting on me with a return address from someone named Wooda N. Carr. I was curious. At first, I thought Wooda was a girl's name, and wondered what a woman was doing writing to me. Well, imagine my surprise when I read the signature, "Nick Carr"! I recognized the name immediately, even though it had been years since I read BRONZE SHADOWS.
Nick had the kind of personality that grabbed you and wouldn't let go. We became friends through our letters, and it wasn't long before he and his wife, Eunice visited us in Grand Forks. Shortly after that, I was informed by Wooda that I was now a member of Pulpsters, Inc., a group he had just formed because "each of us had a love for the bloody pulps!" Seven men were selected for this group, and their wives were honorary members. Actually, I think Nick picked us because our wives were all blonds; he liked blonds!
As a young novice, Nick took me under his wings, and shared his knowledge of the pulps with me. Whenever I had a question, I would go to him first, and if he didn't have the answer, he knew where to send me to get it. But Nick always seemed to have the answers. From the first time we met, I think he mentioned working on a book about The Pulp Heroes. It was his desire to write a book completely profiling all of the pulp characters. The more I came to know Nick, the more faith I had that the book would eventually be written!
And it was. Wild Cat Books eventually published both "The Pulp Hero" and Nick's "Master of The Pulps", a collection of essays. Tattered Pages Press published his "The Other Detective Pulp Heroes", covering the secondary characters that mostly ran in short story magazines. Robert Weinberg's Pulp Classic Series published both "The Flying Spy" (a history of G-8), and "America's Secret Service Ace" (the story of Operator #5). Nick's initial research into the series began back in the pages of BRONZE SHADOWS in the mid 1960s. Without his dedication to the hobby, and his love for the pulps, we might still be running around in the dark about these characters.
If I were to pick someone as Pulpdom's Ambassador to the rest of us, that emissary to the pulp community would be Woody Nicholas Carr!
I was extremely honored when I was approached to write a little something about the Life & Times of Wooda "Nick" Carr, because I owe so much to him, not only as a frequent contributor to my publications, but as a very good friend as well.
Back in 1997, when I began "Secret Sanctum", I received a package in the mail, some submissions from this old man who had apparently been writing for pulpzines and other magazines for quite a while. Wooda Carr? Hadn't heard of him before, but at that time I was just a newcomer to the field, and after a while it hit me that I was dealing with a true living legend, and an Award-winning historian. Boy, was I embarrassed!
But Nick and I hit it off well, and he became a regular writer for my various magazines, and over the years, he named me his Official Biographer, mailing me literally everything he had written that he had copies of. Thanks to him, I was able to publish three books containing many of his articles, short stories, and correspondence with people who actually worked in the Pulp Fiction field in the 1930's, '40's and '50's... "The Pulp Hero", "Master Of The Pulps", and "The Pulp Magazine Scrapbook" are some of his best work, and belong on any fan's bookshelf.
Which brings me to the one thing that has always stood out about his writings (well over 100 articles on the history of the pulps)... and which can tell you so much about the man himself: He has never... ever... taken any payment for his work! I've offered him royalties on his book sales. He declined to accept them. I offered him free copies of his books. He would only take them if he paid me the wholesale cost so that I wouldn't lose money. Of course, I would always sneak in a few extras without his knowledge so he could sell them to people who wanted them, but he has never asked me for any payment whatsoever.
Finally, I called him up on the phone (by that time we would talk regularly) and asked him "WHY?".... Why won't he accept money for all his hard work?
Love was the answer. He LOVED the pulps, and he loved writing about them. He told me that by accepting any form of payment, it would no longer be done out of "love" but for "money" and he plainly refused to do that. It was a matter of honor for him, and I respect him for sticking to his guns over these many years. He's a modest, unassuming gentleman who plays down his role in pulp fandom, but to me he's not only my mentor and good friend, he's a Fountain Of Knowledge that people should drink deeply from.
We'd meet several times over the years at Pulpcon, and we shared drinks and talks together. (Rum & Coke is his drink of choice, by the way.) And he would happily go around the Dealer's Room signing copies of his books... and bringing me the money from the sales. Wow... what a guy!
When his wife of many years, Eunice, became ill and confined to a Nursing Home, Nick would visit daily, spending 8 hours a day by her side, only leaving at the end of the day, and that's when he proclaimed that he was "retired" from writing, which was certainly understandable. Then, this year, I discovered the devious Mr. Carr hadn't "really" retired, rather he was working on 2 very long books, one a 600 page novel, and the other his Autobiography, both of which I plan to publish when he finishes up with them... The old Trickster was still pounding away on his trusty Smith-Corona typewriter, because he was born to write! Computers or word processors? Nah, none of that for him! He calls them "those machines", and he always goes back to the same manual typewriter that you probably can't even get ribbons for anymore!
I love Nick Carr, as does anyone who has ever had the pleasure of meeting him... And this little missive is my humble way of saying "Thanks!" for having him in my life... He truly is the Master of the Pulps!
The AMAZING Nick Carr. The WONDERFUL Nick Carr. The GREAT Nick Carr. I could go on and on. He is incredible.
I have known him for over 40 years, might even have been fifty years. I have enjoyed every second of his encounters.
I think he has published an article in almost every pulp fanzine in existence. He has published books on end about the pulps.
And he is a warm, generous human being. In the 80's when I had time to travel around the country, I would always stop in Arizona to visit Nick and his great wife. He had a list of some of the men who wrote for the pulps and he corresponded with them. He was delighted when I discovered that the great artist, Robert Harris lived near him.
He wrote a book about AMERICA'S SECRET SERVICE ACE in the seventies, which I had at one time but it has disappeared. I have let too many pulp fans into my house and allowed them to browse.
Then there is THE FLYING SPY in 1978, a book about the adventures of G-8.
THE WESTERN PULP HERO in 1989, a book about 50 western pulp heroes.
THE OTHER DETECIVE PULP HEROES in 1992, a book about 45 of the not so popular detective heroes.
THE PULP HERO in 2001, describing about 100 pulp heroes.
MASTERS OF THE PULPS in 2006, in which he describes more than 100 pulp characters.
The only people that come close to him are Robert Sampson and Robert Weinberg.
From his dear friend, Albert Tonik.
Nick Carr is one of my dearest friends and when I was asked to write a short tribute to him I could not pass up the chance to reveal some of the funniest stories that very few people have ever heard. Most people in the pulp community call him Nick which is actually his middle name. His full name is Wooda Nicholas Carr. I call him by his first name and through the years it has been shortened to just "Wood". Wood and I have been friends for many years and we have shared some very entertaining moments together.
Most people know him as a master pulp historian and prolific writer of books, articles and radio plays. I have learned through association with him that he is a master of a great many other things. Wood's mastery of humor and timing is inescapable. This story took place a few years back at Pulpcon in Dayton, OH in the bar of the Crowne Plaza Hotel where we could be found each night after a hard day of sifting thru pulps at the convention. We were joined by another pulp master and friend, Don Hutchison and my friend, John Wooley. Don and John had both consumed a couple of martinis from the bar and were buzzing along with a discussion about the greatest movies of all time. Movie title after movie title was thrown out there for discussion by all four of us when we finally landed on "The Grapes of Wrath". Don and John went on and on about the movie and reminisced about the most poignant part of the movie when the lead characters were moving away and discarding their keepsakes and memorabilia because there was no room to take it with them. Don and John were silent and nearly in tears as they watched the scene replay in their minds and concentrated deeply on the topic at hand. Then, without provocation, Nick chimed in, "So what do you think about King Kong?" I nearly fell off my chair laughing as I watched the other two get jarred back into reality. The affect on our two tablemates was like being slammed into a brick wall. I'll never forget it.
I visit Wood often in his retirement community. Nearly every visit he has a different girl in her 20's or 30's come running up to him and give him a kiss and a hug. I could not figure out how he managed to accomplish this until one day when I asked him and learned that he a master of the fairer sex.
The answer he gave me again reflects back to his sense of humor. He told me that on the days he takes a bath, he would check the apartment house work schedule to see who was working. If he found a girl who he liked was working that night, he would take his bath and when finished he would call down to his unsuspecting prey and pretend to need help getting out of the bath tub.
I remember one time we were walking down the hallway and he even told one of the girls that today was his bath day and she replied okay I'll be up. He's a sly one so girls beware! This next story is proof that even a master story teller like Wood needs help every now and then just like everybody else.
Wood was writing a radio script and was stumped on where to go with the story, so of course Don Hutchison and I had to help him out with this dilemma. We offered various ideas and most were just preposterously funny and meant to give Wood a hard time. I finally came up with the solution to the problem. He was writing a western and every good western needs a Mummy in it! Don soon jumped on the bandwagon with the Mummy idea and we in short time had the entire story figured out much to Wood's disliking and swearing at the both of us. We finally told him to use one of his characters from another story, Gort, in this story and call it, "Gort meets the Mummy". This soon became the running gag for the entire weekend while we were at Pulpcon and Wood would just swear under his breath when ever we mentioned it. He did not appreciate our assistance but Don and I sure enjoyed the whole process. Just for the record, "Gort meets the Mummy" was never written and Wood finished his story without our so-called help. On December 2, 2008, my friend turned 85 years young. He is still as vibrant and sharp today as he was many years ago when we first met. I wish him the best and look forward to our next visit when who knows what will happen.
What can you say about a guy who, as a young man, used to smuggle copies of The Spider home in his violin case? It seems that Nick Carr was destined to be one of the greats of pulp fandom. He was not only a dedicated researcher and enthusiastic chronicler, he was also fandom's great organizer. I first received a letter from him almost forty years ago, in which he introduced himself and invited correspondence. I was busy doing my own lonely research on the various pulp writers at the time. Nick generously passed on addresses for the likes of authors Frederick C. Davis, Norman Daniels and others, all happily living at the time and eager to pass on information about the pup era and their own participation in it.
Nick's letter was the beginning of a treasured friendship, not only with him but with others in his circle of pulp enthusiasts. He soon organized his various correspondents into a group known as the so-called "Bloody Seven," Frank Hamilton, Robert Sampson, Earl Kussman, Tom Johnson, Jack Deveny, Nick Carr, and myself. Honorary members included publisher Henry (Harry) Steeger and artist Norman Saunders. We shared anecdotes and research about the wonderful, lost days of the pulp era. I believe it is a tribute to Nick that all seven members of the original group have been recipients of pulp fandom's Lamont Award, a prize given for "outstanding effort in keeping alive the memory and the spirit of the pulp magazine era."
I can honestly say that Nick is one of my best friends in all this world, even if we do live many miles apart, in separate countries, and see each other all too seldom now. But I do remember the great days in Mesa, Arizona, sharing laughs and good times with the Arizona Kid. He is, in pulp Western lingo, "a man to ride the river with."
Happy trails, pardner.