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Ralph Oppenheim and The House of Genius

Link - Posted by David on March 30, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

House of Genius

Continuing today with another chapter from Garrett’s book, The Golden Handicap: A Spiritual Quest.

The strain Garrett’s condition had put on their marriage and the increasing demands upon his time due to his writing led James to move out of their West 138th Street apartment in January of 1914 and into digs at 61 Washington Square South. In April 1914 he would publish Idle Wives—a novel about well to do women who have nothing to do and ignore their children while they themselves are ignored by their husbands. Lucy saw herself as one of these neglected women and filed for divorce which was granted in July of that year.

Lucy remarried the following year to a Dr. Meyer M. Stark who had been treating Garrett for some time while James eventually remarried one Gertrude (Smith) Drick—he called her The Golden Bird, she called herself “Woe”. When asked why she would reply, ” ‘Cause Woe is me.” She is only remembered now for the time she tried to declare Washington Square it’s own republic (Garrett mentions this in the chapter).

In 1921 James Oppenhiem moved to Glendale, California with Woe and Ralph. They were there for about two years returning in 1923 and resuming residence at 61 Washington Square South, a rooming house known as The House of Genius! The block had been dubbed genius row due to the creative geniuses that had lived there at one time or another, but number 61 was the house of genius.


The Row of Genius on Washington Square South. Number 61, The House of Genius, where Ralph lived and wrote his early pulp tales is the center house.

The house had been leased by a swiss woman named Madame Blanchard in 1886 and she in turn converted the single family dwelling into a rooming house and would only rent rooms to bohemian writers, musicians and artists. It is said that notable residents of the building included Willa Cather, John Dos Passos, Alan Seeger, Stephen Crane—and to this list Ralph Oppenheim!

According to Garrett, James and Gertrude had a room on the third floor which overlooked the park—from the window, you could see over the famous Washington Arch straight up Fifth Avenue. The walls of the third and forth floors of the building were said to be emblazoned with artistic murals and poetry etched by the former guests. Ralph occupied a smaller room where he wrote his blood and thunder stories!

The Golden Handicap: A Spiritual Quest
A Polio Victim Asks, “Why?” and Turns His Life Around


THE PICTURE OF WOE by John French Sloan, 1918. Oil on canvas, 24 x 20 inches

This time Garrett writes about visiting and then moving in with his father, step-mother and Ralph down in the village in a house commonly referred to as the house of genius, of the wonderful visitors—artists, novelists, poets, composers, even a well-known cartoonist—that would come; and of his step-mother who was more of a wonderful companion than a parent. In short: The Magical World of Daddy O!

Editor’s Note: If you are interested in reading Garrett’s whole book it can be found on used book sites and for as low as 90¢ used from other sellers on Amazon!

The Brothers Oppenheim

Link - Posted by David on March 29, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

TODAY marks the one hundred and tenth birthday of Three Mosquitoes scribe Ralph Oppenheim!

Ralph was born on March 29th, 1907 to James and Lucy (Seckel) Oppenheim. At the time of Ralph’s birth, James was a budding poet who would go on to become an author, poet, screenwriter, director and Jungian lay-analyst. Best remembered today as the founder and editor of the short-lived The Seven Arts Journal—”It’s not a magazine for artists, but an expression of artists for the community.”

In 1911, James and Lucy had another son and named him James. When James was born he was a golden boy—good-natured, healthy and beautiful; full of laughter and fat chuckles. He was the picture of health, but as he began to walk he was funny on his feet . . . until one day his legs didn’t seem to want to work. The doctor was called in. It was infantile paralysis—Polio.

Although this pronouncement may have been a burden to his parents, James Jr. tried not to let it get in the way. Ralph’s brother also tried his hand at writing, but was never the success in the pulps his big brother was. There are some verses and such in some of the Love pulps, but no blood and thunder stuff. When he started submitting poetry and verse to publications he decided it was best if he change his name so editors wouldn’t think his father had diminished in capacity—and so changed his name to Garrett.

Garrett found work as a journalist for the New York Herald-Tribune where he became acquainted with Dr. Leo Wollman, head of the New York Society of Clinical and Experimental Hypnotism. Upon the Herald-Tribune folding, Garrett became a hypnotist and counselor.

The Golden Handicap: A Spiritual Quest
A Polio Victim Asks, “Why?” and Turns His Life Around

In 1993 he wrote a book using his own life as case studies to help counsel the reader. In each chapter he would tell about a part of his life and then provide an analysis to counsel people in a similar situation. Garrett mentions Ralph throughout the early portion of the book as they’re growing up. Here we have chapter 9 from his book—sans analysis—My Big Brother and Me!

Editor’s Note: If you are interested in reading Garrett’s whole book it can be found on used book sites and for as low as 90¢ used from other sellers on Amazon!

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!