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Ralph Oppenheim—Boy Biographer

Link - Posted by David on March 23, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

I’VE been researching Ralph Oppenheim, creator and author of The Three Mosquitoes, for six years or so now and I’m always thrilled when a new lead shows up. Recently I did my usual Oppenheim search on newspapers.com to see if anything would show up in any new papers they had added since the last time I had searched. Lo and behold, there were a number of new search results with the top ones being from newspapers dating from 1926 and showing “Ralph Oppenheim—Boy Biog” in the preview window!

These new entries were all from the Haldeman-Julius Weekly. I clicked the link. The Haldeman-Julius Weekly was a 4 page weekly newspaper that was, in fact, an ad for Haldeman-Julius’ library of Little Blue Books with articles and ads for current and upcoming publications. Foremost among the upcoming publications was their new literary quarterly journal (they were also starting up a monthly to help cover all their bases). It was in the ad for the new Haldeman-Julius Quarterly that they referenced Ralph Oppenheim as a “Boy Biographer.”

The premiere issue of the Quarterly (October 1926) featured many articles from current and upcoming publications, including Ralph’s “The Love-Life of George Sand.” In some of the early press for the article, they refer to Ralph as being sixteen years old—and, although he could have written it when he was sixteen—he most likely wrote it when he was eighteen, since the hype for it started before he turned nineteen. Ralph’s “The Love-Life of George Sand” article is actually just a reprinting of the 64 page little blue book of the same name. Both the Little Blue Book and the Quarterly were published in 1926.


From the March 20th, 1926 issue of Haldeman-Julius Weekly

One big difference between the Quarterly and Little Blue Book versions is in the illustrations. The Little Blue Book is not illustrated, while the Quarterly version is profusely illustrated. Foremost among them is A full page portrait of George Sand drawn by Gertrude Oppenheim, Ralph’s Step-Mother. Fred C. Rodewald provided the spot illustrations that pepper the remaining pages of the article.


George Sand by Gertrude Oppenheim in a more straightforward style then her portrait of her husband, Ralph’s father, James Oppenheim from the frontispiece of The Sea (1924).

But, better yet, from the research angle, the article starts with a full page introduction for it’s author—complete with a photo of the nineteen year old Ralph Oppenheim! So let’s meet Ralph Oppenheim, boy biographer. . . .

Ralph Oppenheim

THE author of “The Love-Life of George Sand” is nineteen years old. Here is one of America’s future authors already at work, beginning to express himself with freshness and vigor, with finish and style; an artist to the tips of his fingers. It is one of the purposes of the Quarterly to bring out the best work of young America, and in accepting Ralph Oppenheim’s study we believe we are giving space to material of first-rate significance. This essay compares favorably with the best work we have ever accepted from mature, experienced writers. We did not take Ralph Oppenheim’s manuscript because he happens to be only a boy in years; rather were we influenced by the sureness of his touch. His age came up for comment only after we were satisfied that his work was well done. . . The Quarterly boasts that all in America is not jazz, noise and fury; a minority speaks vigorously and clearly, with intelligence, understanding, humor and craftsmanship. Ralph’s essay helps prove this assertion. Read young Oppenheim’s study and you will realize how important it is for the United States to have a magazine the purpose of which will be to go out and seek for the best from the talented and intelligent minority, bringing out new gifts, fresh viewpoints and sound work. First credit must, of necessity, go to Ralph himself; second credit must go to his artist-mother, Gertrude Oppenheim, and his poet father, James Oppenheim; third credit, in all fairness, must go to the Quarterly for opening its columns to a new voice. America will hear much from Ralph Oppenheim. He has something to say; he knows how to say it; he is a civilized human being, a complete answer to the charge that all of America has been reduced to stifling mediocrity, to unimaginative standardization. There is enough to complain about, in all truth, without crying that all is lost. Let us protest against the viciousness and stupidity of the superstitious majority, the hypocrisy and cowardice of its leaders, the mawkishness of our bunk-ridden millions—yes, let us aim our spitballs at our shams and fakirs, but let us, by all means, recognize worthy talent when we see it and lend an ear to the emerging youngsters who are breaking away from the herd and learning to stand as free individuals. Turn now to Ralph’s essay. At first you will marvel that it was written by a boy, but after a few paragraphs you will forget its author and fly along with his tonic and captivating work. . . . The portrait of George Sand was drawn especially for the Quarterly by Mrs. James Oppenheim, Ralph’s mother.

According to the ads in the Weekly for the the Quarterly, Oppenheim’s George Sand article proved very popular with the readers and was highly promoted each week in ads for the first issue of the Quarterly. This popularity led to another of Oppenheim’s books being included as an article in the second issue.

The second issue of the Haldeman-Julius Quarterly (January 1927) featured Oppenheim’s “The Romance That Balzac Lived: How The Great Interpreter of the Human Comedy Lived and Loved” (a reprinting of The Romance That Balzac Lived: Honore de Balzac and the Women He Loved (lbb-1213, 1927)). The article was nicely illustrated with a daguerreotype of Balzac and spot illustrations by Fred C. Rodewald, but no introductory page about Oppenheim.

Oppenheim seemed to be a role with the Haldeman-Julius Quarterly readers (or at least their editors), for the third issue (April 1927) once again featured an article by Oppenheim. This time it was his treatise on his generation: “The Younger Generation Speaks: An American Youth Tells About Its Attitude Toward Life” (a reprinting of The Younger Generation and Its Attitude Toward Life (lbb-834, 1927)). In addition to numerous spot illustrations and photos, the article also featured an introduction to the author, once again using the same photo of Oppenheim as before.

The Spokesman of Youth

RALPH OPPENHEIM, the young writer who lives in New York—in storied Washington Square, with his father, James Oppenheim—is, in this issue of the Quarterly, a spokesman for American youth. Ralph Oppenheim is someone to be reckoned with, for he is a part of the younger generation in America and one of its thinkers who is now standing up to speak for it with a voice that surely must be heard. Ralph does not idealize and he is not enough of a cynic to color his assertions too much on the bitter side. He looks at youth and their present attitude toward modern life with clear eyes, and makes a fair estimate of what youth is doing and what may be expected from the young people who will soon be leaders among us. Some of the things that this young man has to say about himself and his fellows are harsh, and some of them are quite complimentary, but through all of his work you can depend upon it that Ralph Oppenheim is deeply sincere. Although not yet twenty, Ralph’s viewpoint has the compelling tone of maturity: he is not to be idly brushed aside as of no consequence. You will find that what he has to say is well worth reading, and considering; you will find yourself agreeing and disagreeing with him, and giving a great deal of thought to the ideas and facts which he offers you—and the degree of attention which you will give his work will after all be the best test of Ralph Oppenheim’s success as a spokesman for his generation.

By the time this third issue hit the stands, Oppenheim had already published five titles in Haldeman-Julius’ line of Little Blue Books and had switched gears—writing tales of daring pilots in the hell-skies of The Great War from his attic room in the House of Genius!

His first published story was a taunt tale of aviation and death he titled “Doom’s Pilot” in the pages of the February 1927 Action Stories! His second printed story—”A Parachutin’ Fool”—was another aviation tale, printed in the April 1927 issue of War Stories! He followed this up with—”Aces Down!”—in the July 1927 issue of War Stories—this was the story that introduced the world to that inseparable trio—The Three Mosquitoes!

The rest—as they say—is history.

 

Here is a facsimile copy of Ralph Oppenheim’s article on “The Love-Life of George Sand” from the premier issue of the Haldeman-Julius Quarterly:

“Down from the Clouds” by Ralph Oppenheim

Link - Posted by David on March 6, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

MARCH is Mosquito Month! We’re celebrating Ralph Oppenheim and his greatest creation—The Three Mosquitoes! We’ll be featuring three early tales of the Mosquitoes over the next few Fridays as well as looking at Mr. Oppenheim’s pre-pulp writings. So, let’s get things rolling, as the Mosquitoes like to say as they get into action—“Let’s Go!”

The greatest fighting war-birds on the Western Front are once again roaring into action. The three Spads flying in a V formation so precise that they seemed as one. On their trim khaki fuselages, were three identical insignias—each a huge, black-painted picture of a grim-looking mosquito. In the cockpits sat the reckless, inseparable trio known as the “Three Mosquitoes.” Captain Kirby, their impetuous young leader, always flying point. On his right, “Shorty” Carn, the mild-eyed, corpulent little Mosquito, who loved his sleep. And on Kirby’s left, completing the V, the eldest and wisest of the trio—long-faced and taciturn Travis.

Let’s get things off the ground with an early Mosquitoes tale from the pages of the August 19th, 1927 issue of War Stories. A new C.O. has been assigned to the squadron and he can’t stand pilots who “grand-stand” which is the Mosquitoes stock-in-trade and boy do they catch hell when they get on the C.O.’s wrong side—that is until the C.O. gets in a jam and it’s trick flying that’ll save him when the Boche come “Down from the Clouds!”

The C.O. of the flying field was sore—the Three Mosquitoes, dare-devils supreme were doing their “grand-stand stuff” again. But when the C.O. found himself in difficulties, with Boche planes swarming all around him—things were different. The best flying story of the month.

And check back next Friday when the inseparable trio will be back with another exciting adventure!

The Three Mosquitoes in “Devils of the Air” by Ralph Oppenheim

Link - Posted by David on March 3, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

THROUGH the dark night sky, streaking swiftly with their Hisso engines thundering, is the greatest trio of aces on the Western Front—the famous and inseparable “Three Mosquitoes,” the mightiest flying combination that had ever blazed its way through overwhelming odds and laughed to tell of it! Flying in a V formation—at point was Captain Kirby, impetuous young leader of the great trio; on his right was little Lieutenant “Shorty” Carn, the mild-eyed, corpulent little Mosquito and lanky Lieutenant Travis, eldest and wisest of the Mosquitoes on his left!

Yes! The Three Mosquitoes—the unseasonably warm weather has brought the Mosquitoes out of hibernation to help get through the cold winter months, at Age of Aces dot net it’s our third annualMosquito Month! We’ll be featuring that wiley trio in three early tales from the Western Front. This week we have their third tale—the classic “Devil in the Air” in which Kirby is determined to take on the Boche’s new Fokker all by himself to prove it can be done only to realize there’s no beating the Inseparable trio!

Here again is Kirby, the great leader of the “Three Mosquitoes.” The pilot of the new Fokker knew every trick, and Kirby matched him—then went into straight fighting. A brilliant air story—and one that is totally different.

If you enjoyed this tale of our intrepid trio, check out some of the other stories of The Three Mosquitoes we have posted by clicking the Three Mosquitoes tag or check out one of the three volumes we’ve published on our books page! And come back next Friday or another exciting tale.

Ralph Oppenheim and Little Blue Books

Link - Posted by David on March 29, 2016 @ 6:00 am in

MARCH 29th is Ralph Oppenheim’s birthday! To mark the occasion we have an example of Oppenheim’s pre-pulp work. Oppenheim had his first pulp story printed just before he turned twenty in 1927, but he had been publishing work starting in 1926.

Ralph Oppenheim’s father was James Oppenheim who himself became a published author around the time of Ralph’s birth. James Oppenheim was a poet, novelist, editor and self-confessed Jungian. He is probably best remembered now as the founder and editor of the short-lived but ground breaking Seven Arts Journal. In addition to his own books, James had been contributing material to Haldeman-Julius’ LITTLE BLUE BOOK series of publications. Haldeman-Julius’ LITTLE BLUE BOOKS were an extensive series of small, pocket-sized booklets of generally 64 pages covering every topic under the sun. There were classics of fiction, drama, history, biography, philosophy, science, poetry and humor all in a 3½x5 inch package that was designed to be easily portable so the common man could improve his mind by reading in odd moments of the day.

James Oppenheim had compressed his own seminal volume, Songs for a New Age as well as a number of books on psycho-analysis and and some self-help titles. Ralph also got involved with Haldeman-Julius’ line of LITTLE BLUE BOOKS. He authored five titles in all, the first seeing publication in 1926—while Ralph was still 19!

His five titles in the LITTLE BLUE BOOKS line are:

  • The Splendors and Miseries of a Courtesan (No.1067, 64p. 1926)
    Oppenheim compresses Honore de Balzac’s story of a brilliant criminal who manipulates other people’s lives to his own satisfaction into a mere sixty-four pages.
  • The Love-Life of George Sand (No.1085, 64p, 1926)
    Oppenheim delves into George Sand’s love life—but narrows it down to a period when she conducted “experiments,” as she term it, with love as her test tube and her true object being to prove that a woman could live and love successfully on the same independent basis as a man. It is through the stories of these “experiments” that we can best study the character of this remarkable and exceptional woman.
  • Wagner’s Great Love Affair (No.990, 64p, c.1926)
    Oppenheim explores the story of Richard Wagner and the great love of his life Mathilde Wesendonck giving it a significance much greater than personal interest—for it is due to this tragic affair that Tristan and Isolde became what critics generally acclaim Wagner’s most perfect opera.
  • The Romance That Balzac Lived: Honore de Balzac and the Women He Loved (No.1213, 64p, 1927)
    The title says it all—Oppenheim presents a biography of Honore de Balzac—highlighting the romances that wove through his life and influenced his writing.
  • The Younger Generation and Its Attitude Toward Life (No.834, 64p, 1927)
    Oppenheim lays out a strong argument for why the younger generation of the day—1927—is the way it is. The difference here is that this is written by a member of said younger generation rather than a study by an outsider, i.e. adult.

Oppenheim states his credentials up front in his book on The Younger Generation thusly:

I am nineteen years of age, born in New York city, educated in public schools, out-of-town boarding schools, and High School. It is true that in my case I have been met with understanding, so that although my problems have been similar to those which confront the American youth of today, their handling was easier. I have made numerous acquaintances among my contemporaries, not only here but in various other parts of the country, and these associations have given me a fair conception of the situation. I am going to try my best to describe this situation with sufficient clarity and logic to convince the reader that there is another side to the question.

Here now as a bonus is Ralph Oppenheim’s The Younger Generation and it’s Attitude Toward Life!

“Patrols of Peril” by Frederick C. Davis

Link - Posted by David on September 14, 2012 @ 8:00 am in

This week we have a short story by renowned pulp author Frederick C. Davis. Davis is probably best remembered for his work on Operator 5 where he penned the first 20 stories, as well as the Moon Man series for Ten Detective Aces and several other continuing series for various Popular Publications. He also wrote a number of aviation stories that appeared in Aces, Air Stories and Wings. “Patrols of Peril” was published in the premiere issue of Air Stories magazine in 1927.

Tragedy and spitting lead fly swiftly in the wake of a joke with a startling climax on the brink of Eternity.