World War II, Books for Soldiers, and MARION HARGROVE

Yesterday’s post was partially about a mystery author from the early part of the 2oth century who appears now to be virtually unknown. Fame doesn’t last and a writer’s work can soon be forgotten except by the devoted fans who must search out used editions. Makes me continue to wonder about books in the future on digital devices. There won’t be books to pass down to family and friends. No books found at thrift stores. What will even be in libraries?

Authors, such as Anthony Berkeley, could actually enjoy a resurgence if a publisher chooses to reissue the books digitally, but first there needs to be a demand and how will that happen if he’s forgotten? In this respect I really like what Google Books is attempting to do. The writing from the past will not be forgotten. But again it will all be ultimately determined in this country by supply and demand. If there isn’t a profit to be made the words of a deceased author may simply vanish. I happen to like the fact that I will always have books in my life and hope to be gone before everything becomes digital. Which brings me to today’s post...

This book was found on a table at my post office where they used to allow a book and magazine exchange. The current postmaster has stopped this practice, turning what was a fun and friendly place into just another boring post office I rarely visit.

See Here, Private Hargrove_tatteredand lost

See Here, Private Hargrove__bk_tatteredandlost

I have not read this book, but eventually will having now found out some interesting information about the author (I will also be reading the one from yesterday). And isn't it interesting that the author's name does not appear on the cover except as part of the title?

Again, one of the things that drew me to the book is the fact it too was published during war time, World War II, just as yesterday’s book was.

First, let us deal with that little black box on the back cover. In yesterday’s post it was noted that the publisher, Pocket Books, encouraged readers to “share” the book with someone in uniform. Today’s book, published in 1944, a year before yesterday’s, asks you to “Send this book to a boy in the armed forces anywhere for only 3 cents.” Now we’re talkin’! This makes sense. Why did things change in ’45? Did they sense the war was coming to an end? Had too many people taken them up on the 3 cent deal and they’d found their profits dropping? Had the government stepped in and changed the rules? I haven’t a clue. Probably something worth researching.

Take a look at the following pages and try to imagine a company today asking anyone to give something of themselves for the country. We are told on a daily basis to take, take, take and buy, buy, buy. We are not asked to put ourselves second by any corporation, or for that matter even by many in the government. The war and those serving are someone else’s problem. Unless we are constantly reminded about the fact we’re at war we conveniently forget it.

help win the war_tatteredandlost

paper drive WW2_tatteredandlost

list of Pocket Books 1944_tatteredandlost

Marion Hargrove, the author of this book, which was originally published in 1942 by publisher Henry Holt, is a man who left his mark on many of us, even if we don’t know it.

Did you ever watch the much loved movie The Music Man? Mr. Hargrove wrote it. He wrote for the tv shows Maverick, The Rogues (a show I loved during its brief run), I Spy (LOVED that show), 77 Sunset Strip, even The Waltons. So most likely at some point you’ve seen some of Marion Hargrove’s work.

As to this book, here’s a bit of a piece posted at AMC’s site that explains how the book came about:
Marion Hargrove was an author, Hollywood screenwriter, and writer for television whose initial success came through a series of accidents, including numerous experiences in military training. Born Edward Thomas Marion Lawton Hargrove, Jr. in Mt. Olive, NC, and later raised in Charlotte, he developed an interest in journalism while in high school. At age 20, he took a full-time job with the Charlotte News as a features and women's page editor as well as a writer and rewrite man. In July of 1941. Hargrove was drafted and, through a combination of physical ineptitude and an individualistic approach to following orders, achieved an astonishing level of incompetence as a rookie soldier. He became a legendary incompetent at Fort Bragg, the camp where he was stationed, and he wrote about some of his experiences for his old newspaper.

Fate took a hand in early 1942 when, by sheer chance, he was assigned to show playwright Maxwell Anderson around the base. He presented some of his writing about his comical exploits to Anderson, who, in turn, passed it along to publisher Henry Holt, who was impressed enough to assemble Hargrove's columns into a book, which was published as See Here, Private Hargrove (1942). The book enjoyed combined hardcover and paperback sales of over two-and-a-half-million copies and also earned the blessing of the War Department, which wisely saw Hargrove's gently self-deprecating, humorous vignettes of army life as a way of reassuring prospective draftees and their families that military service wasn't all danger and hardship. (SOURCE: AMC)
Click on the source link above to read more of their column. And click here to see his listing at IMDB.

Wikipedia provides the following information:
Marion Hargrove (October 13, 1919 – August 23, 2003) was an American writer noted for the World War II bestselling book See Here, Private Hargrove, a collection of humorous newspaper columns written mostly before the United States entered the war. (The book was made into a 1944 movie with Robert Walker as Hargrove and Donna Reed as his love interest.) During the war, he served on the staff of Yank, the Army Weekly. After the war he wrote two novels: Something's Got to Give (1948) and The Girl He Left Behind (1956). He also wrote for various popular magazines, and served as feature editor of Argosy.

In 1955, Hargrove settled in Los Angeles and began writing television and film scripts. His credits include Cash McCall (1960), The Music Man (1962), and television episodes of Maverick (1957), The Restless Gun (1957), Colt .45 (1957), Zane Grey Theater (1957), the pilot script for 77 Sunset Strip entitled Girl on the Run (1958), The Rogues (1964), I Spy (1966), The Name of the Game (1969), Nichols (1972), The Waltons (1975), and Bret Maverick (1981). Collaborator Roy Huggins discusses Hargrove at length in his Archive of American Television videotaped interview. Hargrove was one of three Hollywood writers interviewed and analyzed at length in Prime Time Authorship (2002), by Douglas Heil. While working at Warner Bros. in 1959, he was the center of a successful grass-roots letter-writing campaign to acquire a suitable couch for his office on the studio lot. A selection of these letters was published in Playboy Magazine under the title Hollywood Horizontal (1959) and anthologized in The Playboy Book of Humor and Satire (1965). With characteristic modesty, Hargrove never publicly claimed to be their sole author. (SOURCE: Wikipedia)
Click here for another column with photos of Mr. Hargrove.

And you can click here to read a rather touching post from his son following his father’s death.

All in all I’m quite happy I took this little old paperback off the shelf today.


  1. I don't often spill the beans. Unlike Stephen with his father Marion, my experiences with my father were not memorable in the same fashion. The time I spent with mine involved work, and I appreciate the skill set (sign painting and lettering) that he passed on to me, but he was always cold and aloof. We didn't have a lot to share, even towards the end of his life.

    Stephen's story reminded me of what I missed, and you are correct - his anecdote was touching.

  2. I have spent the better part of 2 hours reading about Mr. Hargrove from the lnks you shared. He had a huge family!! He seemed like such a kind an intersting man. Something new learned today and remembered tomorrow. Thanks.

  3. Thanks. I was happy to find that a book that's been on my shelf for years took me down such a path.