Interesting Tidbits


Erdman's autobiography, A Time to Write (1969), reveals that her prize-winning novel, The Years of the Locust, almost missed getting published. Her agent assigned an assistant to read the manuscript, and he reported that it was without merit and should be rewritten before being shown to any publisher. However, Erdman made no changes, neatly tucked the manuscript into a men's underwear box she obtained at the general store in her tiny hometown, and mailed it in for consideration for the $10,000 Dodd, Mead-Redbook novel competition. She won. (One may wonder what happened to the agent's assistant who first read the manuscript and deemed it worthless!)

People meeting Erdman often admired her personal charm. A writer for the Plainview Daily Herald at Plainview, Texas, attended an event at which Erdman spoke. The May 13, 1958, issue of that paper contained this description: "Miss Erdman spoke with vivacity and warmth that captivated her audience. Her down-to-earth simplicity and delightful wit turned at most unexpected moments, revealing a charming and sparkling personality as well as a skillful and brilliant writer." The Plainview Daily Herald; Plainview, Texas; (page number not available)

A student reporter who interviewed Erdman for the WTAMU campus newspaper, The Prairie, asked a friend on the faculty for information about the author in preparation for the interview. The article, which appeared in the November 19, 1946, issue reports that Erdman's colleague gave this vivid description: "Miss Erdman is a delightful and intelligent person--tall, handsome; has nice clothes and knows how to wear them. She will, no doubt, tell you what you want to know in a most enjoyable manner, and you will leave her, happy to have made her acquaintance.... She is a lively, humorous and most interesting person to know." The Prairie, vol. 28, issue 8, pg. 1.

Erdman's first Texas Panhandle pioneer novel, The Edge of Time, was selected to be number 11 in the prestigious Texas Tradition Series printed by the Texas Christian University Press.

Erdman was very active in the Panhandle Pen Women organization, which later became Panhandle Professional Writers. Established in 1920, it is one of the nation's oldest writing groups. On its "PPW History" page, Erdman is called a "great guiding light" for the organization.

Erdman was very active in the war effort during World War II, often working at the local USO. Her diaries for the war years describe her activities and observations.

In August 1938 Erdman went to an event at which Carl Sandburg read his poetry. Her diary gives her impressions: "He wore no tie nor coat--Sleeves rolled up, and collar open. Had a marvelous, poetic voice."

Erdman was a prolific, highly successful short story writer. Before she gained fame as a novelist, Erdman published a few anonymous stories in confession magazines to earn extra money. In fact one story won a $500 prize, but she was too embarrassed to tell her friends about her success in this genre. However, she did finally confess these writing endeavors in her autobiography, A Time To Write (1969).

Erdman recorded all her expenditures in her diaries. In 1947, the year Erdman won the $10,000 Dodd, Mead-Redbook prize for The Years of the Locust, her rent was only $35.00 per month. She had a dental appointment for $5.00 and a medical appointment for $2.00. She paid only $1.35 to have her lawn mowed.

Erdman's diary entry for the day she saw Lawrence Olivier on the New York stage seems lacking in enthusiasm. She wrote only: "His mannerisms seem to be the thing critics mention."

While touring England on assignment, Erdman attended the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, according to the August 12, 1953, Canyon News. She remarked during a speech to the Rotary Club that the English people criticized American television's handling of the event because commercials were included. Canyon News, no. 18, pg. 1.

Erdman started her book Many a Voyage about Senator and Mrs. Edmund Ross before John F. Kennedy started his book, Profiles in Courage, which includes Senator Ross. Erdman wanted to give up her book when she learned about Kennedy's project but continued at the insistence of her publisher. "As it turned out," she told her biographer, Ernestine P. Sewell, "the Kennedy profile is not accurate." She asked Ross' grandson if the "Kennedy men" visited Albuquerque to talk to them, and he answered, "No. They telephoned and used everything we told them exactly different." Sewell reported this incident in her article "An Interview with Loula Grace Erdman" that appeared in Southwestern American Literature, Spring 1972, vol. 2, no. 1., pp. 33-41.