Before breaking up part of it a few years ago, Walker Martin had one of the largest collections of pulp magazines in the world. It’s still large, and he’s in the process of building some of it back up again. Two of his favorite pulp magazines have always been Black Mask and Dime Detective. After he commented on my recent review of the Charlie Chan movie, The Scarlet Clue, I asked him if he’d seen the blog entries on Morton Wolson, aka Peter Paige:

  Hi Steve –

   Yes I read the Morton Wolson post but somehow missed the letter from his son. I think I mentioned to you a couple years ago how I had tracked Morton Wolson down and visited him in his furniture store in Manhattan.

   It was in the 1980’s and my wife was with me. We spent a couple hours talking about his pulp career, Ken White, who was the editor of Dime Detective, and Joe Shaw. I got the impression he was the owner of the store, which was quite large but empty of any customers while I was there.

   Wolson was amazed that anyone was interested in talking about the pulp days. He said he was paid quite well for the Peter Paige novelettes, most of which starred Cash Wale and his sidekick Sailor Duffy. He received around $500 per novelette which in the 1940’s was a big sum of money. His agent was Joe Shaw (which he referred to as Cap Shaw) and when the pulps died off in the early 50’s, an attempt was made to break into the paperback market but nothing came of it.

   He remembered all the Dime Detective and Black Mask authors and had nothing but good things to say about his pulp days. When nothing came of his attempts to write mainstream literature, he somehow got into the furniture business and was successful.

   I asked him about the other pulps that Popular Publications published but he said he had no interest in them because except for Black Mask, Dime Detective, Detective Tales, New Detective, Adventure, the other pulp titles were slanted for the teenage boy market. Adults did not really read the hero pulps like Spider, G-8, Operator 5, etc.

   This is an interesting comment that I have heard from other old timers that actually bought the pulps off the newsstand. Harry Noble, who I was friends with for almost 40 years, used to laugh to see the adult collectors of today making such a fuss over The Shadow, Doc Savage, etc. When these hero pulps were on the newstands, the main audience was kids, teenagers, mainly boys. The girls were interested in the love pulps.

   My wife’s father who died recently at age 93, often told me that he and the other blue collar working men bought the adult pulps like Blue Book, Adventure, Black Mask, Western Story, etc. It never crossed his mind to save the issues. They were read to pass the time and then thrown away.

   Anyway these were the things that Morton Wolson talked about. We kept in touch for a while, and then I guess he retired and eventually I mislaid his new address. One funny thing, a year or so later I came across some cancelled checks from the files of Popular Publications. I still have some showing payment of several hundred dollars to Morton Wolson for the Peter Paige novelettes. I sent Morton some copies of these checks and he was astonished to see such things still in existence.

   I’m sorry to learn he is no longer with us. I always enjoyed the Cash Wale stories.