I was born in December of 1939 and the world has changed in many then unimaginable ways since. But what's remained constant is that I love books, and most of the books (internet notwithstanding) I still find in real, brick-and-mortar used book stores. One of my most delightful recent finds was a book called At the End of a Texas Rope, by Caddo Cameron... an obvious pen name formed from the names of two small towns in Texas. Well, it was a very pleasant read throughout... Cameron had the veteran pulpster's gift of keeping the action fast, violent and constantly moving, whilst creating many loveable and (although larger than life) somehow believable characters. The focus of the novel was on the exploits of two “undercover” Texas Rangers, Blizzard and Badger. A bit of internet research revealed that Cameron's real name was Charles Beeler, and that he was born in 1888. He began contributing to the pulps in the mid 1930s, when he was in his late 40s. At first he published mainly in Short Stories, but as the pulps began to dwindle away in the late 1940s he hit other markets, including Triple Western, Texas Rangers, Range Riders Western, and All Western Magazine. He wrote five novels that I can track down, all serialized in Short Stories. These were Rangers is Powerful Hard to Kill (1936), It's Hell to Be a Ranger (1937), At the End of a Texas Rope (1938), Due for a Hangin' (1939), and Ghosts on the Range Tonight (1940).  Later novels about which I know nothing are Your Bones in the Brush (1949) and Spirit of the Feud (1955). These novels were at first published in hardcover by Doubleday Doran and Company, and immediately produced in cheaper editions by Sun Dial Press. But by 1940 his latest book was being issued only to lending libraries... usually the last publishing stage for an author headed for oblivion. [As in the case of Harry Stephen Keeler.] Most of his literary output consisted of short stories, mainly published between 1936 and 1952, when his pulp markets dried up as the pulps vanished one by one from the news stands. Only one of the Ranger novels was issued in paperback: the first, in 1950, under a new title, Two Rangers from Texas.

All the novels, as far as I can determine, feature Texas Rangers Badger and Blizzard. Badger is the Watson of the duo, Blizzard the Holmes. Blizzard is tall, thin, red-haired and his eagle eyes miss nothing, while his keen brain evaluates everything. Badger is younger, very strong and agile, is always ready for a fight with fists or pistol, but takes his cues entirely from Blizzard, who generally uses a rifle. It's a formula many dozens of writers used, among my other favorites being the “Hashknife and Sleepy” novels of W. C. Tuttle. Formula aside, it's what the writer does with the familar tropes that marks the true pulpster. Cameron has the gift of creating loveable characters... even his villains are often depicted as personable and attractive, at least at their initial appearance in the pages. Some of the characters he thought would be loveable don't really turn out to be so— for example, At the End of a Texas Rope features a grizzled old codger named Pizin Pete, who isn't half as funny and likeable as Cameron intends, and even worse are two brothers, Paint and Pinto (“them damned twins” as they're accurately billed in a whole series of stories spinning off from Texas Rope). In Texas Rope they aren't around often enough to spoil things. I have managed to find and read all of his first five novels.  By far the best is the fourth, Due for a Hangin', which has a magnificently constructed plot which puts our heroes in mortal peril by the bottom of the very first page, and keeps them there for every page thereafter until a hot-lead-slinging finale on the next to last page!

I'd appreciate hearing from anyone who has more facts about this very successful pulp wordsmith.   A Charles Richard Beeler, born in 1888, died in 1962 and it is likely this is our author. About the only web page I have turned up on him can be found here. I just learned of this interesting biographical sketch of Cameron, based on information from the man himself. Check it out. At left is a photo of Cameron from the very worn back-dustjacket of Ghosts on the Range Tonight. There's a well-organized bibliography of his pulp publications here.

Considering some of the incredible dreck being issued in the way of pulp reprints, Cameron certainly deserves a new look. But alas, while the Western pulps were the best sellers among pulps in their day, there is very little interest in them among pulp collectors of the present time. Indeed it is amazing how completely westerns have vanished from films and TV, after holding near-dominant sway for so very many years.

The SHORT STORIES Pulp— I can find very little information about this long-running and successful pulp (400+ issues) published by Doubleday, Doran. It was a general fiction title, publishing short stories and serialized novels, in a mix very similar to that of the more famous Adventure. Like Adventure, it was issued twice a month during its heyday. It generally carried works by “name” authors, and probably paid fairly high rates per word. That Caddo Cameron became a regular member of the established stable of Short Stories contributors is an indication of his mastery of the high-end pulp fiction formula. [Short Stories and Adventure, by the way, shared a number of authors in common... but very seldom Caddo Cameron.]