HIH and his boys

From Steven Levine on Facebook today, this vintage image he found in his explorations at flea markets, used book stores, estate auctions, and the like:


An ad for two of the H. (for Harrie) Irving Hancock book series for boys. Yes, the hero of the two High School Boys series is named Dick, there’s “Hard as Nails” and “Laying Tracks”, but the books themselves seem to be earnest, innocent, and manly.

The cover of one of HIH’s books from the Grammar School Boys series, also from Steven:


On HIH, from Wikipedia:

Harrie Irving Hancock (January 16, 1868 – March 12, 1922) was an American chemist and writer, mainly remembered as an author of children’s literature and juveniles in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and as having written a fictional depiction of a German invasion of the United States.

… A prolific author who liked to work at night, Hancock wrote for the New York Journal, the New York World, and Leslie’s Weekly. Much of his writing was the kind of “Boy’s books” initiated by the famous Stratemeyer Syndicate [producers of the Tom Swift, Hardy Boys, and Nancy Drew books], based on the assumption (which proved hugely successful) that “boys want the thrill of feeling ‘grown-up'” and that they like books which give them that feeling to come in series where the same heroes appear again and again. However, the bulk of Hancock’s works in that genre appear to have been handled by publishers other than Stratemeyer.

… His output included westerns, detective stories (set in New Orleans and in Asia), and historical adventures. China and Japan were the setting of such stories as ‘The Great Tan-To; or Dick Brent’s Adventures in Up-to-Date Japan’.” Hancock was, however, charged with perpetuating racial stereotypes in his depiction of the Chinese “Supervillain” Li Shoon in a series of stories published between 1915 and 1917″.

Hancock’s experience as a war correspondent provided inspiration for books about the Spanish–American War. He also published books on physical fitness and an Encyclopedia of Knowledge and Manners, and served as the editor of a “History of West Point”. In a magazine article he warned of the dangers of smoking, at a time when such dangers were not widely known. He was also apparently a sports writer and an early Western expert on Jiu-Jitsu.

Much of Hancock’s writing had a patriotic character, his books and stories having a considerable proportion of military heroes placed in settings ranging from the American Revolutionary War, through the Spanish–American War and the First World War, and up to an imaginary German invasion of the United States

… Juvenile Series: Motor Boat Club Series, The Grammar School Boys/Dick & Co. Series, The High School Boys Series, The High School Boys’ Vacation Series, West Point Series, Annapolis Series, The Dave Darrin Series, Young Engineer (or Young Engineers) Series, The Invasion of the United States Series, Uncle Sam’s Boys Series

In The High School Boys Series:

The High School Freshmen: or, Dick & Co.’s First Year Pranks and Sports
The High School Pitcher: or, Dick & Co. on the Gridley Diamond
The High School Left End
The High School Captain of the Team; or, Dick and Co. Leading the Athletic Vanguard

Oh those first-year pranks and sports with dick.

HIH turned out dozens of boys’ books, probably hundreds of books in all. I suspect they would not survive the test of time, though they might be (unintentionally) funny.

Bonus. One reader of Steven’s Facebook page suggested the 1942 Looney Tunes cartoon “The Dover Boys at Pimento University” (“Good old P.U. … A pox on Yale / Pooh-pooh, Purdue”), which you can watch here.


The Dover Boys: Tom, Dick, and Larry

The cartoon is a parody of the Rover Boys, a popular juvenile fiction book series of the early 20th century. [Chuck] Jones would later remark that The Dover Boys was the first cartoon of his he found funny.

About the Rover Boys, from Wikipedia:

The Rover Boys, or The Rover Boys Series for Young Americans, was a popular juvenile series authored by Arthur M. Winfield, a pseudonym for Edward Stratemeyer, and published by Stratemeyer Syndicate. Thirty titles were published between 1899 and 1926 and the books remained in print for years afterward.

More detail, and some pointed critique, from the seriesbooks.info site:


The Rover Boys were old hands at camping

In the original series, the Rover Boys consist of brothers Dick (the eldest), Tom and Sam (the youngest). They are the sons of wealthy businessman Anderson Rover and live on a Hudson River valley farm with their uncle and aunt, Randolph and Martha Rover.

The Rovers have the distinction of being the most high-handed and obnoxious series book “heroes” ever. Brother Tom, the “practical joker”, is a borderline psychotic who indulges in “jokes” so cruel, mean and dangerous that they would no doubt land anyone else in jail or, at least, in civil court. Wherever they go, the Rovers are snobbish, haughty, condescending and downright mean to all they meet. What is even more amazing is that these people accept the Rovers’ obnoxious behavior with an obsequiousness normally reserved for Oriental potentates and extremely rich, superannuated relatives.

In the first 12 volumes, the Rovers were students at Putnam Hall, a military academy run by family friend, Captain Putnam. Their adventures while attending this institution took them far and wide on land, sea and in the air. After leaving Putnam Hall, the boys went on to college and eventually into business and, finally, marriage – an event which triggered the Rover Boys Second Series.

The Rovers were a lusty lot and wasted no time making the acquaintance of Dora Stanhope and her cousins Grace and Nellie Laning. Their “friends” included would-be poet John “Songbird” Powell, the dudish William Philander Potts (who was subjected to the brunt of Tom’s practical “jokes”) and the fat German Hans Mueller (subject of much low ethnic humor) among others. Handyman Alexander Pop, one of the typical shuffling, eye-rolling Negroes so prevalent in early Stratemeyer works, also bore the brunt of much low humor.

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