Ron’s own verse from the late 1920s and early 1930s is of two types. First, of course, there was his free verse, typified by “The Sum of Man” and “Cold, Wet Decks,” reprinted here. The first, as the title implies, offers an incisive view of what makes up the emotional canvas of a human being, and is among those works found in Ron’s earliest diary -- specifically that accountant’s ledger apparently appropriated from his maternal grandfather.

The second, “Cold, Wet Decks” would seem to have been inspired by an LRH short story from the same period entitled “Grounded.” Appearing in the George Washington University Literary Review of April 1932, it tells of an embittered Royal Air Force pilot on an existential journey up the Yangtze in pre-revolutionary China. The story was years ahead of commensurate undergraduate work, and apparently drawn from Ron’s own extensive travels through a war-torn China. In any case, “Cold, Wet Decks,” serves as a kind of free verse synopsis.

Also included are two early ballads: “Custer’s Second Chance” and “The Sailor’s Song.” The first is reflective of a longtime LRH love -- native American heritage. Blood brother to the Blackfoot and keen student of Indian ways, Ron was eventually to author one of the era’s only accurate and sympathetic novels of the native American experience, his 1937 Buckskin Brigades. He was also one of the first to conduct an ethnological study of the Pacific Northwest tribes, while his appreciation of shamanic rites was decades ahead of its time. Although General George Armstrong Custer’s demise represented neither a high point for the United States Cavalry nor the Sioux Nation --the Little Bighorn actually signaled the beginning of their end -- Custer’s last stand nonetheless loomed large in many a western youth’s mind. In all probability, the work dates from March of 1924 when a rail trip from the nation’s capital to Helena, Montana took the 13-year-old L. Ron Hubbard very nearly through the Little Bighorn Valley.

“The Sailor’s Song” is likewise reflective of a lifelong love, in this case, seafaring lore. Quite possibly penned that same year in Seattle, Washington, the work says much about the young L. Ron Hubbard’s world. With his father serving as Supply Officer at the United States Naval Yard at Bremerton, and otherwise surrounded by things nautical, Ron was acutely conscious of what this early twentieth century meant in terms of seafaring advances; hence, his two ancient sailors, “who told of harder, wetter days on small and dirty whalers.”

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