RARA-AVIS: RE: Hammett Update from San Francisco

From: Mark Coggins ( coggins@immortalgame.com)
Date: 25 Apr 2001

> What were they all like? I've seen Jo Hammett on TV and she seemed very
> pleasant. How old is the granddaughter?

They were all very nice ... and surprisingly knowledgable about the genre. I was at the signing table after the event talking with Richard Layman about the New Black Mask issue I had a story in when Loren Estleman's name came up
(he had the cover story in the issue). I didn't think Jo Hammett was listening, but she jumped right in and said, "I like his stuff."

I'm guessing the graddaughter is in her late 40's or early 50's, but it's a dangerous game guessing a woman's age! I note with interest that as co-editor Layman let the Library of Congress put his birth year on the Cataloging-in-Publication data, but Ms. Rivett did not.

> : - There are about 600 more letters that didn't make it into the book.
> 600! I hope they were very dull.

Well, they talked of doing other volumes of letters. It seems that Hammett wrote a ton when he was in the Aleutians and they had to be very selective.

BTW, Jo Hammett is apparently writing a book about her father with Layman's help. This might be the next thing to make it to print.

> Who was Peggy O'Toole? I don't think I've heard of her before. I wonder
> how closely Miss O'Shaughnessy was modeled on her. Might not be something
> you wanted to brag about.

She worked with Hammett at Samuels Jewelers when Hammett was writing ad copy there. There's a picture of her in the book and she looks "flapperish", but attractive. Can't say how closely O'Shaughnessy was modeled after her, but it's clear that Hammett enjoyed a similar relationship to O'Toole that Spade did to O'Shaughnessy. To quote from one of his letters to her:

"After several carful subsequent inspections, I've decided that you were--peculiarly--wrong in assuming that I think you lovelier now because I don't see you as often as I did. You are lovelier. If it were a glandular delusion, it would work the other way round: I'm not a Chipman. I love you more when I'm with you than when I'm away; and more when I'm touching you than when I'm merely looking at you; and most of all when I'm tasting you--but that's not happened often enough to be talked about very much."


he continues:

"So you must be actually improving; perhaps the doubtless considerable spiritual benefits of being loved by me are showing themselves physically. I'v always known I had a good effect on you."

Sounds a little like Travis McGee here ...

> Thanks for the report. I'm looking forward to picking up the Hammett
> letters.

You're certainly welcome. There's an exhibit of letters and other Hammett stuff at the San Francisco Public library. If there's anything worth reporting, I'll write again after I check it out.


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