The Night Operator by Frank L. Packard

The Night Operator

The Night Operator

Packard, Frank L. The Night Operator. Toronto: The Copp, Clark Co., Limited. 1919, pp. 320.

Packard’s 9th published book and his second of four railroad books.  The Night Operator is a collection of 10 short stories, all dealing with the Hill Division, that were previously published in The Popular Magazine.  The Hill Division was that section of track connecting the East to the West through the Rocky mountains.  Big Cloud was its centre.  Big Cloud was a rough town as if formed the hub for the labour that went into carving the track through the mountains and it continued to be the hub from which the construction camps and bridge gangs were provisioned.  Permanent trestles were being built to replace the temporary ones.  Cuts through the mountains were being trimmed and cleaned up, approaches and grades were being straightened and lessened all to make the route through the mountains safer and faster.  The town was a haven of dives, gambling halls, and bars. Mention of prostitution is curiously absent from the stories but I think we can all safely assume that it was present.

It is the world of Big Cloud that I find the most interesting.  It’s a hard world.  The men do tough work for not a lot of pay.  If you were single you lived in a boarding house.  Meals would then be prepared by the house keeper and eaten communally.  Laundry would be sent out.  The married men would live with their wives and children, if any.  To make ends meet the women would take in laundry or clothes to mend.  There were no other real options for them.  The men worked long hours at back-breaking labour for small wages.  If you got sick you didn’t get payed.  If you were injured you lost your job.  Most everyone seems to be perilously close to destitution.  And all of this was prior to the great depression of the 1930’s.  It was a world that very much seemed to be a “Life’s a bitch, then you die” sort of place.

1.  The Night Operator. Unknown, c1912.
An injured Toddles, a newsboy who desperately wants to be a railroad man, prevents two trains from colliding.

2. Owsley and the 1601. The Popular Magazine 1914 Jan
Explores a mystical connection between man and machine.  This is a frequently reprinted story with the most recent reprint being in Classic Trains magazine, 2002.

3. The Apotheosis of Sammy Durgan. Unknown, c1912
Durgan’s carelessness is always getting him fired.  On one occasion his carelessness prevents a train disaster.

4. The Wrecking Boss. The Popular Magazine 1912 Dec 15
A brutal and brutish man descends further into drinking until redeemed by a train wreck. “The Wrecking Boss” as made into the film “The Crash” by First National Pictures.  When the film was released it was found to have very little in common with the original story.  Packard’s agent and publisher sued the movie company but were unsuccessful with the suit.

5. The Man Who Squealed. The Popular Magazine 1913 Dec 15 (as The Squealer)
An old crook tries to turn it around.

6. The Age Limit.    The Popular Magazine 1914 Nov 7
MacCaffery is forced to retire because of his age.  How will he provide for his wife without a job?

7. “The Devil and All His Works”. The Popular Magazine 1913 Oct 15
A rather useless young man, Noodles, grows to hate Regan.  Noodles finally shows some sense during a station fire.  My least favourite tale.  It is overly sentimental and predictable.  Noodles is a trouble maker and his father is a rather useless old man getting by on the kindness of others.  Noodles tries to seriously hurt, or even kill, Regan.  Noodles saving of Regan from the fire would not have been necessary if he hadn’t been trying to injure him previously.

8. On the Night Wire. The Popular Magazine 1913 Dec 1
Dan McGrew’s past catches up with him.  He only keeps his job by the grace of Charlie Keene, the kid, who hates him.

9. The Other Fellow’s Job. The Popular Magazine 1913 Feb 15
A train wreck cures Jimmy Beezer of his envy of the other fellow’s job.

10. The Rat River Special. The Popular Magazine 1914 Apr 1
Martin Brodley falls from the straight and narrow.  He gets a chance to redeem himself and prevents a wreck.

Railroad Stories, July 1934

Railroad Stories, July 1934

Railroad Stories from July 1934, reprint’s the story “The Age Limit” from The Popular Magazine, Nov. 7, 1914 as
“Sixty Years, and Out.”

Most of the railroad stories are about individuals who, when the time comes show the true strength of their character.  They may have been shiftless, useless buggers or they may have been crooks but when the emergency arises they rise to the challenge.  The stories are generally moral and hopeful.  They are full of second chances and individuals grabbing those second chances and making the best of them.  It’s all about doing the right thing when it counts.

This is the tested in battle approach to life.  How can one’s worth be known until it is tested? It was a common view in Packard’s stories and a not uncommon view at the time. The world was at war in Europe and men were literally being tested in battle.  Those who broke were seen as having week characters.

There are many problems with this kind of philosophy.  If no emergency arises then the untested remain shiftless, useless or criminal.  The testing process, figuratively at war or literally at war is a pretty rough one.  In the context of Packard’s stories there is an assumption of the inevitability of train crashes.  When the crash happens, who will rise to the occasion. It’s pretty grim that people die and property is destroyed almost so that the metal of individuals could be tested.

After the emergency is dealt with the story ends so there is no real knowledge that the individuals have actually changed their ways.  They may well return to being useless buggers, now riding on the coat-tails of the one valid thing they have ever done.

The Night Operator was published by George H. Doran Co., New York and Copp Clark Co., Toronto for the Canadian edition.  Hodder & Stoughton printed the UK version.  A.L. Burt produced the reprint version for the North American market.  None of the North American publishers included edition information, so first editions are tough to determine.  Doran firsts may include the initials “GHD” on the copyright page, but they were not consistent with this.  I know of no way to determine a Copp. Clark first.

Doran first edition initials

Doran first edition initials

Inexpensive copies of The Night Operator are readily available on-line.  For those who don’t mind reading from a screen, the Internet Archive has a copy here.

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Stamps of the Arabian Nights, Part 20

In 1993 the Royal Mail produced a series of 10 Greeting Stamps featuring popular and well know characters with the theme of giving. Characters included Long John Silver and his parrot, Tweedledee and Tweedledum, Mole and Toad, Peter and Mrs. Rabbit and, among others, Aladdin and the Genie.

Aladdin and the Genie

Aladdin and the Genie

I find the stamp to be rather dull, although some of the others in the series are quite interesting. I especially like the Tweedledee & Tweedledum, Mole & Toad and Peter Rabbit stamps.

There are a large variety of First Day of Issue covers. A couple of the Aladdin & Genie FDC’s are more interesting than the stamp.

Aladdin and the Genie (Edmund Dulac, 1911)

Aladdin and the Genie (Edmund Dulac, 1911)

Supplementing the stamp is an illustration by Edmund Dulac of the genie first appearing to Aladdin. Edmund Dulac received his first big break in illustration from Arthur Rackham. It was Rackham who recommended Dulac to Hodder & Stoughton to do the illustrations for Laurence Houseman’s Stories from the Arabian Nights (London, 1911). Dulac produced 50 illustrations for the book. The book ended up being extremely popular and was reprinted for many years, although later versions did not contain the full suite of illustrations. (In fact, as far as I am aware, it is only the first editions of the book that contain all 50 of the illustrations. All subsequent reprints have only a subset.) Some of the illustrations themselves continue to appear in new versions of the Arabian Nights and on various other items, like stamp FDC’s, post cards, coffee mugs, etc.

The H&S Stories from the Arabian Nights may have been the first version of the Arabian Nights to use colour for its illustrations.[1] Dulac’s illustrations have a gem-like quality to them. He was also well aware of the techniques used in Arab miniature painting and used them in his own work. Housman’s Arabian Nights is an important work in the history of the Arabian Nights so it is fitting that one of Dulac’s illustrations is used to spruce up the rather drab Royal Mail stamp.

"Old lamps for new" (Monro S. Orr, 1913)

“Old lamps for new” (Monro S. Orr, 1913)

This next FDC is much scarcer than the Dulac one. The associated illustration is by Monro S. Orr. It is from Stories from the Arabian Nights. Based on a translation by Edward William Lane. Selected, edited and arranged for young people by Frances Jenkins Olcott. With illustrations by Monro S. Orr. London: G. G. Harrap & Co., 1913.

I don’t understand why this particular illustration would have been chosen. Orr is a serviceable but not especially important illustrator. The illustration in question lacks both the Genie and Aladdin as the subject matter. Additionally, it has little to do with the theme of Giving. Yes, the illustration is of the “new lamps for old” scene. The old man is trading new lamps for old ones. So that is a sort of giving, but he is the original magician’s brother and is attempting to recover Aladdin’s magic lamp for his own use. He plans to revenge himself on Aladdin. Not the sort of giving that should be encouraged.

 

[1] As far as I can tell, Walter Crane’s Aladdin illustrations first appeared in The Frog Prince and Other Stories (London: George Routledge, 1874.) The illustrations were in colour. Crane’s book was a collection of fairy tales, with Aladdin being the only story from the Arabian Nights. I believe that Aladdin was later released as a stand-alone book, Aladdin’s Picture Book, in 1876. Housman’s Tales of the Arabian Nights is one of the first, if not the first book devoted exclusively to tales from the Arabian Nights that has colour illustrations.

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Stamps of the Arabian Nights, Part 19

The Pantomime has been a part of the British Christmas and New Year’s tradition for some time now.  It is a performance that remains very British.  Many English traditions have been transplanted around the world.  The Christmas pantomime is one that has not really gotten off of the islands.  It certainly never became part of the Christmas traditions of Canada, USA, Australia or New Zealand.  I am not aware of any part of the Commonwealth outside of England, where the pantomime has taken root.  While performances of pantomime may be performed in other countries, it remains a British phenomenon.

Aladdin (1958/9) Streatham Hill Theatre

Aladdin (1958/9) Streatham Hill Theatre

The pantomime is a manner of presenting a story on stage.  Each show, despite the different subject matter, presents a stock set of characters: the Principle Boy (played by a girl), the Principal Boy’s lover/sweetheart (also played by a girl), the Pantomime Dame (played by a man), the Pantomime Villain, an animal character, a pair of labour characters.  The shows themselves are chosen from a set of about 20 stories.  The plot is basically thus: “The girl dressed as a boy who is the son of a man dressed as a woman, will win the other girl (surprisingly dressed as a girl), with the assistance of a person(s) dressed in an animal skin.”[2]

Ali Baba (1916) Hippodrome

Ali Baba (1916) Hippodrome

Three of the “standard” pantomime stories have there source in The Arabian Nights.  These are Aladdin, Ali Baba and Sinbad with Aladdin being one of the most popular.  There is a record of a performance of Aladdin in 1788.  It continues to be performed through to this day.  In 2004 there were 15 productions of Aladdin by professional companies in theatres around the UK.[3]

Sinbad (1892/3) Gaiety Theatre

Sinbad (1892/3) Gaiety Theatre

The Royal Mail has seen fit to recognise the pantomime with stamps a couple of times.  In 1985 a series of five stamps, commemorating the stock characters of the pantomime were issued.  Among them was the Genie from Aladdin.

Genie from Aladdin, 1985

Genie from Aladdin, 1985

In 2008 the pantomime was again recognised with Aladdin’s Genie again getting the nod.

Genie from Aladdin, 2008

Genie from Aladdin, 2008

While the Royal Mail does produce some very exciting and interesting stamps, I find these issues to be rather boring in their execution.

[1] Playbill’s from “Its Behind You, The Magic of Pantomime”  Its Behind You. http://www.its-behind-you.com/

[2] “The History of British Pantomime,” Limelight Scripts, 2005, http://limelightscripts.co.uk/history.html

[3] Sabbagh, Karl. “The Arabian Nights in British Pantomime” Scheherazade’s Children: Global Encounters with the Arabian Nights. New York: New York University Press, 2013, pp.266.

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On the Iron at Big Cloud. by Frank L. Packard

On The Iron At Big Cloud

On The Iron At Big Cloud

Packard, Frank L., On the Iron at Big Cloud. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1911, pp. 343.

The first of Packard’s 32 books, this is a collection of 15 railroad stories. All of the stories were previously published in the pulps.

Big Cloud is the headquarters of the Hill Division of the Transcontinental railway line. The Hill Division manages the toughest, most difficult and dangerous track on the continent, a track running though the Rocky mountains. The stories are set in the early days of Big Cloud, when the track was newly completed, a single track, shared by both east and west bound trains. A path had been cut and bridged through the mountains but it was still a very rough path with few sidings, steep grades with sharp turns and plenty of temporary trestles. It was a world of hard men. If a woman appeared it was as the worn, grey haired wives of equally worn men. It is also a surprisingly “clean” world with little swearing, plenty of card sharps and thieves but no prostitutes or ladies of easy virtue. The men may be rough around the edges but a surprising number of them seem to have hearts of gold.

Linking the stories together are the trains, the geography of Hill Division and a cast of reoccurring characters. “Royal” Carleton was the division’s superintendent, Tommy Regan the master mechanic. Regan was a tough man who had quite the soft spot for a hard-luck story. Regan and Carleton give more than one man a second or third chance to prove themselves. Regan is described as a man with a paunch. “A man with a paunch is a man apart and greatly to be envied, even when that paunch is of Irish extraction.”(69) Spence is the chief dispatcher, a job that permits not a single mistake. Mistakes cause wrecks and take lives. Train dispatcher’s were the aircraft controllers of their day. Finally Flannagan was the wrecking boss. The wrecking crews, actually the rescue and wreck clean up crew, see far too much action in the treacherous passes and switchbacks of the mountains.

The challenges of the Hill Division are evidenced in the fact that seven of the stories involve train wrecks or narrowly avoided wrecks. A further couple involve fires, one of which pretty much burns the town down.

Packard is a good story teller and his tales draw you into the life of Big Cloud. Many of the tales involve some element of personal heroism and personal integrity plays some role in all of the tales. A man, no matter how rough, is known by his deeds. Even the most shiftless of characters gets a chance to show what he is really made of.

1. Rafferty’s Rule. Colliers, c1908.
The new general manager, Dick Holman, has to win over Rafferty to win over the men.

2. The Little Super. Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine, March 1908.
An obvious, sentimental story. Regan’s young son, Bunty, prevents disaster.

3. ”If a Man Die”. The Popular Magazine, Aug. 1910.
Dispatcher Angle Breen may have made a mistake and caused a crash. Can he redeem him self by preventing another crash?

4. Spitzer. The Popular Magazine, Jan. 15, 1911.
A meek and unassuming man grows a spine. Shows what he can do by saving a train.

5. Shanley’s Luck. The Popular Magazine, 15 Dec. 1910.
Shanley is a lucky guy. His luck holds when he passes out by the track and prevents a wreck.

6. The Builder. Peoples Ideal Fiction Magazine. Feb. 1911. as Good Timber.
During a strike, a work gang is stirred up to kill the foreman and burn a trestle bridge. It’s up to the sickly Keating to prevent the wreck, if he can.

7. The Guardian of the Devil’s Slide. The Popular Magazine, Jan. 1, 1911.
Who wrecked the train one fateful night on Devil’s Slide, the most treacherous piece of track in the whole of the Hill Division?

8. The Blood of Kings. The Popular Magazine, Feb. 1, 1911.
Gilleen doesn’t take kindly to people mocking his claim to have the blood of Irish kings running in his veins. A rather stupid, male chest thumping sort of story.

9. Marley. The Popular Magazine, Mar. 1, 1911.
Mrs. Coogan needs money for treatment to prevent her from going blind. How will Marley get the money?

10. The Man Who Didn’t Count. The Popular Magazine, Oct. 15, 1910.
An objectionable tale of drunk Indians and a couple of men, Matt Perley and Faro Clancy, who hate each other.

11. “Where’s Haggerty?”. Pearson’s Magazine, June 1911.
Big Cloud’s new superintendent, T.J. Hale, has to win over Haggerty to win over the men.

12. McQueen’s Hobby. Pulp appearance unknown.
A respected engineer, McQueen, is tricked into supporting a strike. Lots of anti-union sentiment in this tale.

13. The Rebate. suspect this appeared in Munsey’s Magazine, 1910.
Dutchy Damrosch, who runs the lunch counter at Dry Notch, does not take kindly to a joke that is played on him, with repercussions for all the railroad men who patronize the place.

14. Speckles. Railroad Man’s Magazine, Feb. 1909 as A Hero With Judgment
Speckles, a shiftless young man, regains his job by an act of faux heroism.

15. Munford. The Outing Magazine. Apr. 1909.
Alan Burton stands up for Munford, even though the two despise each other.

Popular Magazine, Dec 1910 featuring Shanley's Luck

Popular Magazine, Dec 1910 featuring Shanley’s Luck

This is the most difficult of Packard’s books to find and when one is found it is ridiculously expensive.  There is currently one on offer on-line, a staggering $1800 being asked for it.  A signed first edition, in pristine dust jacket, might just be worth that much.  For those who do not care to patronize the POD vultures, a very readable copy can be found on the Internet Archive here.

Here’s a contemporary review of the title in question, from 1911:

Big_Cloud-review191111

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Stamps of the Arabian Nights, Part 18

Guinea produces stamps for internal use and produces stamps intended for the international collectors market.  For many countries, sales of stamps to collectors is an important revenue stream.

Modes of Transportation in Popular Culture, 2008

Modes of Transportation in Popular Culture, 2008

In 2008 Guinea produced a sheet of stamps celebrating methods of transportation in popular culture (moyens de transports dans la culture populaire.)  This sheet features six different stamps and references a variety of well known fairy tales and stories.  P. Puvilland is the designer. For our purposes, two stamps are of interest.

Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves

Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves

Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.
I’m guessing that transport by donkey is being illustrated here.  On this stamp we see Ali Baba leaving the thieves cave with a donkey loaded down with treasure.  This must be an incident that happens after all of the thieves have been killed.  Prior to that time, Mr. Baba was pretty circumspect with his plundering of the plunder, especially as he knew that the thieves knew that he knew about the treasure.

Sinbad the Sailor

Sinbad the Sailor

Sinbad the Sailor.

Aladdin

Aladdin

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aladdin only gets an honourable mention, with the lamp being illustrated in the lower corner of the sheet.  He does not get his own stamp.  A Magic Lamp is not what I would have considered as a means of transportation, but I suppose one could look at it that way.  You have no control over your destination though.

The theme of the collection is a different one and the execution is a bit puzzling.  I am familiar with all of the stories illustrated.  The Lockheed P-38 Lightning, referenced in the top of the sheet is not from The Little Prince (although Asteroid B612 is.)  Instead, I believe that it is supposed to  represent the plane in which the author of The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, was shot down in during World War 2.  Thus, an inauspicious means of travel.

The inclusion of Dorthey, in the form of Judy Garland, from The Wizard of Oz is different.  Travel by tornado is one method of getting around, but not recommended.  Le petit Poucet is known as Hop-o’-My-Thumb in English.

The Republic of Guinea is situated in west Africa.  France colonized the area in the 1890’s, making it part of French West Africa.  In 1958 Guinea declared its independence.  Since then, a continuous series of autocratic rulers has made Guinea one of the poorest countries in the world.

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Stamps of the Arabian Nights, Part 17

In 1980 Syria issued a series of five stamps with Arabian Nights theme illustrations. These include a depiction of Shanrayar and Shahrazad, the ubiquitous Sindbad, Ali Baba and Aladdin and, for the first time, Hassan. There are a number of Hassan’s in the Arabian Nights, so I’m not sure to which one this is being referenced, perhaps, “The Adventures of Hasan of Bassora.”

A troubled country, modern Syria was established after World War One. It came about as a result of the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire. In 1946 it gained full independence. Since then a number of military coups have occurred resulting in much bloodshed and unrest.

Shanrayar and Shahrazad

Shanrayar and Shahrazad

Note that this depiction of Shanrayar and Shahrazad is rather proper.  They are fully clothed and appear to be sitting down for dinner, rather than occupying a marriage bed.  We can safely assume that the two did eat, but for the purposes of story telling, it is pretty much assumed that they were in bed when the stories were being told.  Relating a story over dinner does not have the same element of peril that otherwise should be present. Dunyazad is no where in evidence.

Sindbad

Sindbad

An unusual portrayal of Sindbad. I have never seen another illustration of him playing a flute, or of any musical instrument. Neither can I remember this particular skill being mentioned in any of the stories.

Ali Baba

Ali Baba

Aladdin

Aladdin

Hassan

Hassan

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The Wire Devils by Frank L. Packard

The Wire Devils

The Wire Devils

Pachard, Frank L. The Wire Devils. Toronto: The Copp, Clark Co., 1918, pp. 318.

Up and down the line around Selkirk, a gang of robbers has been making a very successful living.  Moving with the trains and using the railroads own telegraph lines to pass messages and co-ordinate their attacks, the Wire Devil gang succeeds in one exploit after another, despite the best efforts of the railway detectives and the secret service.

Into this comes Harry Maul, aka The Hawk.  Newly released after a five year stretch in Sing-sing, the Hawk is looking to get in on the action.  News reports refer to the Hawk as an expert safe cracker, forger and a clever gentleman thief. (It was the era of the gentleman thief.  Raffles appeared in 1899, the Scarlet Pimpernel by 1905, the Four Just Men were up and about also in 1905, Jimmie Dale began his career the year before in 1917.  It would not be until 1920 that Bulldog Drummond would appear, followed by Blackshirt in 1925 and the Saint 1928. The thieves got nastier after that and the vigilante took over writing the wrongs that the law couldn’t.) The Hawk has no wish to actually join the Wire Devil gang.  Instead, he lets them plan the heist and then swoops in, snatching the boodle just before them.

It doesn’t take long before the whole Wire Devil gang is looking to kill him.  On top of that, the railway detectives, and the public, believe that he is the mastermind behind the Wire Devil’s deprecations, this despite the fact that Hawk was still in Sing-sing when the Wire Devils gang started up.  The gang is also very anxious to make his acquaintance.  MacVightie, head of the railway detective force, is hot on his heels.  Fortunately, no one knows what the Hawk looks like, or that the Hawk and Harry Maul are one and the same person.  Never the less, MacVightie is very suspicious of Harry Maul.

Frank Packard’s first published book was a collection of railway stories:  On The Iron at Big Cloud was published in 1911.  It gathered 15 railway stories previously published in various pulp magazines.  The Wire Devils was his second railroad book and the only full fledged railway novel that he wrote.  This was followed by two more collections of railway short stories: The Night Operator (1919) and Running Special (1925).  Packard worked for the CPR during the summers while he was at university[1].  This experience served him well and he is considered to be one of the foremost railway story writers of his time.

The Wire Devils also falls into another very small sub-genre, that of the wire thriller.  Mr. Busty, over at The Dusty Bookcase has previously written about The Wire Devils and wire thrillers here.

In our highly connected world of instant communications it is almost impossible to comprehend another less connected world.  In 1918 the options for long distance communications were very limited.  Letter writing was very important, but a relatively slow way of passing on information.  Telephones existed but were not wide spread, operators could listen in on a conversation and a long distance call was very expensive.  Even by the 1960’s long distance calls were considered to be expensive and a luxury.

In 1918 telegraph was still king.  A message could be sent pretty much anywhere in the country and be delivered speedily right to your door.  The telephone was challenging and would eventually replace the telegraph, but even into the 1970s a telegram could still be sent.  It is now considered to be an obsolete technology.  At the time, it was critical for rapid long distance communications.

In The Wire Devils, the telegraph plays a key role.  There were miles and miles of telegraph wire from which the gang could tap into to transmit or receive messages.  Attempts by the railway to track them were met with threats by the gang to shut down the whole telegraph line.  This would have a very significant negative impact on train operations, so the rail authorities were severely handicapped.  The gang was able to use the telegraph with impunity to pass its own coded messages and to listen in on any other telegraph traffic that might be happening.  The coded message permitted the gang to pass information to its members, who could be dispersed geographically.  It also permitted different parts of the gang to co-ordinate their efforts towards the latest heist.  Unfortunately for them the Hawk knows their communication methods and the key to their code. This is what permits him to stay one jump ahead of them.

A plot device that Packard uses in may of his novels is that of the over heard conversation.  Hero’s in Packard stories are always able to eavesdrop on someone just when vital information is being revealed.  It is a major weakness in The Wire Devils.  Hawk is always hanging around telegraph offices to overhear coded messages.  He frequently was found outside of the window of the room in which MacVightie was want to discuss his plans and strategies to capture said Hawk and the Wire Devil gang.  It is sometimes a wonder that he had any time go actually go off and do something.

The Popular Magazine, 20 March 1917

The Popular Magazine, 20 March 1917

The Wire Devils was serialized in six parts in The Popular Magazine starting 20 March 1917.  George H. Dorian Co. published the book in 1918 with Copp, Clark handling the Canadian market and Hodder & Stoughton covering the U.K.  A.L. Burt Co. came along later with the reprint edition.

There was a Spanish edition, Los diablos Del Telegrafo published in 1940.

The Wire Devils remains the only Frank Packard in print.  It was recently re-released by The University Of Minnesota Press.  It is not entirely clear to me why a university press would be publishing Packard.  But, a look through their catalogue shows that they have quite a varied collection of titles, including quite a number of fiction titles.  These include a number of Sherlock Holmes pastiches, other rail story collections, and folktales from various countries.  Packard appears in the Literature section.

For those that don’t care for paper, an online copy of The Wire Devils is available from the Internet archive.

[1] Some sources state that Packard was employed as a civil engineer with the Canadian Pacific Railway for much of his adult life. Contemporary newspaper accounts and an unpublished biography of Frank Packard by his son indicate that he only worked for CP during the summers while he was at university. Packard graduated from McGill in 1897 with a BSc in Engineering. He then took advanced electrical engineering at the Institut Montefiore of Liege University, Belgium in 1997-98. In 1898 he began work in the U.S. as a civil engineer. He was working in Georgia converting the city’s power lines from overhead to an underground system. By 1902 he was working as the general manager of the Packard Dressing Co. in Boston. He married, for the second time, in 1910. Frank and his wife, Pearl, moved back to Canada that same year. He purchased a house in Lachine and remained in Lachine for the rest of his life. By 1910 Packard had published 38 short stories. His first book would be published the next year and by 1914 his name and reputation would be made with the publication of The Miracle Man.

Hodder & Stoughton

Hodder & Stoughton

Copp, Clark Co.

Copp, Clark Co.

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