In the early spring of 1918, Mrs. Elsie Burns or T. A. Burns as she used when writing, met Robert E. Howard. Years later, she wrote an article for Cross Plains Review about their meeting.
Robert E. Howard as a boy, Cross Plains Review, July 10, 1936
By Mrs. T. A. Burns
’Tis early one Spring morning, accompanied only by current magazines. We take off across a nearby pasture for a walk, stopping occasionally to pluck an anemone or some other dainty pastel hued blossom which mother nature displays soon after the first robins return.
After a time we find ourself seated upon a rock, lost in musings, with the only disturbance a tinkling cow bell down by a wooded section near the water hole or the twitter of birds as they flit to and fro among the branches of an oak above us. Finally becoming so absorbed in reading we are unaware of any approach until a big black and white dog wearing a collar bounds down from a ledge of rock behind, startling us. The kind look in his eyes assures that he is at least friendly, when almost immediately a call “Come Patches, come Patches” is heard and looking up in direction of the voice we see a lad of about ten years crossing the fence wearily. Simultaneously each. Patches, in the meantime, seems to be investigating a small cave under a huge rock. As his master approaches our position he politely announces, “I’m Robert Howard. I’m sorry if we frightened you; Patches and I are out for our morning stroll. We like to come here where there are big rocks and caves so we can play ‘make believe.’ Some day I’m going to be an author and write stories about pirates and maybe cannibals.
“Would you like to read them?”
Assuring him that we would, he calls to Patches and they are soon out of sight over the crest of the nearby hill, where-up we resume musing and reading.
Sometime later Robert comes to live next door, we watch him as he and his faithful and beloved dog, Patches, play day after day until they are joined by a pet coon which Patches seems to understand is one of the family. Many romps and spills are enjoyed by the trio, Robert ever manifesting kindness and consideration for his pets. After a time the coon becomes so mischievous that the family hold council and agree with reluctancy to return him to his native haunts of Pecan Bayou.
Robert’s father, being a practicing physician, gives opportunity for the father, mother and son to spend much time together as they accompany him on long drives. Frequently they stop on their return at some shady spot near a stream and spread lunch, which had been carefully prepared and the little family
seem to live in a world of their own for a time.
During the father’s absence, while on duties made by an ever demanding patronage, mother and son keep close contact and are inseparable pole [sic.], portraying a devotion seldom known, even between parent and child.
Robert, ever studious and possessing an unusually vivid imagination, even as a child, possesses visionary ranches upon which roam spirited mustangs, long horns, and gun totin’ cowboys. In fancy the cattle and horses carry Roberts favorite brand X carvings of which are still to be seen in sand rocks, on trees where he played, even on the gable roof where he was want to climb.
True to his prediction that Spring morning, Robert wrote many and vivid stories, copies of which fill a large steel trunk at his father’s, gaining for him recognition and a certain amount of fortune at home and abroad. These writings and acquaintances will keep alive in our hearts the memory of this beloved author, Robert E. Howard.
This article, letters and other valuable information can be found in:
The article was posted in Cross Plains Review, July 10, 1936.
According to HOOD COUNTRY TEXAS GENEALOGICAL SOCICITY, the obituary of Thomas Allen Burns, Elsie was married to Mr. Burns. Elsie Burns used the name Mrs. T. A. Burns when she wrote she wrote articles for Coleman Democrat-Voice and Cross Plains Review.