Harold Brainerd Hersey was born March 29, 1893 in Bozeman, Montana. His father, Augustine Haynes "Doc" Hersey, was born in 1851 in Maine. His mother, Adelaide Carpenter Johnson, was born in 1868 in Minnesota. His parents married on August 21, 1887 in Billings, Montana, and had three children, Harold (b.1893), Lois (b.1896), and Catherine Frances (b.1899). The father was a career soldier, who served in the Indian Wars at Fort Custer, Montana, and remained in the National Guard. In 1888 he opened the first drugstore in Billings, Montana, after which he was known as "Doc" Hersey. He wrote a history of "The Crow Troubles," which was well regarded, and afterwards became an editorial writer for newspapers in the northwest.
The mother was an accomplished pianist and singer, who headed the music department of Bozeman Academy.
On May 15, 1897 The Red Lodge Picket of Bozeman reported "Dr. A. H. Hersey has gone to Washington, D.C., where he will correspond for a number of Montana newspapers." At that time the Hersey family left Montana and moved to Washington, D.C.
In 1898 during the Spanish American War "Doc" Hersey (age forty-seven) returned to active duty and served in the Army Quartermaster Corps in Ponce, Puerto Rico, from where he continued to send editorials to Montana newspapers. In January of 1899 the mother and children joined him in Puerto Rico.
In 1899 the father was sent to the Philippines, where he served with the Army Quartermaster Corps in Manila. While he served overseas, the mother stayed in Washington, D.C., to raise their three children and send them to public school.
In 1905 Harold Hersey (age twelve) left school and joined his father in the Philippines, where he enlisted and served as a clerk in the Army Quartermaster Corps. His enlistment papers falsified his age as fifteen, when a boy with parental permission was allowed to join the military.
On March 8, 1906 The Hawaiian Star reported the army transport ship, S.S. Thomas, had safely arrived at port from Manila and Nagasaki, en route to San Francisco, with passengers, "A. H. Hersey, clerk Quartermaster Department, and son, Master Hersey, clerk Quartermaster Department."
Five months later, on August 23, 1907 Augustine Haynes "Doc" Hersey died in New York City at the age of fifty-six. After this tragic death, the widowed mother, age thirty-nine, supported the family by working as a clerk at the office of the U.S. Census in Washington, D.C. One of her co-workers in the office was Lillian Koerth, whose daughter, Dorothy Koerth, became the girlfriend of Harold Hersey.
The 1910 census listed the Hersey family living in D.C., where Harold Hersey was seventeen, and worked as a messenger at the Library of Congress.
On July 31, 1911 The Washington Post reported the police had foiled an attempt by two underage teenagers, Harold Hersey and Dorothy Koerth, to marry without the consent of their parents. Dorothy Koerth was age seventeen. Her mother discovered the plan, and called the police to stop the marriage. Unrepentant, Harold Hersey insisted he would wait until his fiancée was old enough to marry without her mother's consent.
Six months later, on December 21, 1911, when the bride-to-be turned eighteen, The Washington Times sent a reporter to write a follow-up article on the amorous teens, "Elopement Spoiled Their Wedding Plans - The romantic attraction of Harold Hersey to Dorothy Koerth had quickly faded after last summer's police intervention. Hersey's mother regarded the whole affair as a youthful indiscretion, and said it was no longer discussed at home. When asked where his fiancée was, Harold Hersey replied, 'I don't know.'"
In 1912 Harold Hersey attended George Washington University. In June of 1913 he completed his freshman year, which was his highest level of education.
In 1913 Harold Hersey contributed an article to The National Review about the anti-semitic nature of the sensational trial of Leo Frank, a Jew who was accused of murdering a factory girl in Atlanta.
On March 1, 1914 the first issue of The Open Road - a magazine of the future, appeared in Washington, D.C. It was a literary review edited and published by Harold Hersey, who printed 500 copies.
In August of 1914 Harold Hersey married Ella Merle Williams. She was born July 27, 1888 in Oregon. Her father, Walter Williams, was born in 1859 in Oregon. Her mother, Ella Dorothy Royal, was born in 1864 in Oregon. Her parents had married on September 16, 1885 and had two children, Bernice Williams (b.1886) and Ella Merle Williams (b.1888). The father was a Presbyterian Minister. Ella Merle Williams attended Willamette Methodist College in Oregon, and graduated in 1909. In 1910 the father left the ministry and moved with his family to Washington, D.C., where he worked as a stenographer in the office of the Horticultural Board. In 1911 the father died at the age of fifty-two, after which the widowed mother, age forty-seven, and her two daughters remained in D.C., where they worked as government clerks. Ella Merle Williams worked at the Library of Congress, where she met her future husband, Harold Hersey, who was five years younger than her.
In September of 1914 Harold Hersey and Ella Merle Williams moved to Bethesda, Maryland, where they were married. Two months later their daughter, Dorothy Hersey, was born on December 7, 1914.
On March 2, 1915 The Washington Times reported "Capital Literary Society to Hear Harold Hersey read a paper on Modern Tendencies in American Poetry this Friday Evening. The public is invited. Mr. Hersey plans to discuss at a subsequent meeting Modern Tendencies in American Prose."
In 1915 Harold Hersey had a short story, "The Bedside Manner," published in Smart Set Magazine, which was edited by Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956) and published by William Mann Clayton in New York City. Smart Set continued to publish Harold Hersey's next nine stories, including one written under the pen-name Helen Hersh.
In October of 1915 Harold Hersey left his wife and newborn daughter in Maryland and moved to New York City. According to his wife, "The marriage didn't last." He lived in the bohemian community of Greenwich Village, where he fell in love with Margaret Sanger (1879-1966), the author, lecturer, and radical activist of birth control. She was a regular contributor to Smart Set, as well as Physical Culture Magazine, which was published by the eccentric health fanatic Bernarr Macfadden (1868-1955).
As the world's leading figure in the growing controversy and popularity of birth control, Margaret Sanger had a hectic schedule to write magazine articles, public speeches, pamphlets, and her own publications, while constantly traveling to lecture and address rallies. Harold Hersey became her personal secretary, speech writer, and editor of her magazine, Birth Control Review.
In 1917 Harold Hersey and Arthur Moss (1889-1969) founded a satirical literary magazine, The Quill, produced in Greenwich Village. Arthur Moss was later an editorial associate of Sylvia Beach, Sinclair Lewis, Ezra Pound, and Ernest Hemingway.
In 1917 Harold Hersey worked as an editor for Britton Publishing Company, for which he ghost-wrote "Laugh and Live" for Douglas Fairbanks.
Like his father, Harold Hersey retained a connection to the armed forces by serving with the National Guard. In NYC he was a clerk at the headquarters of the 9th Regiment, Civilian Defense Corps. On June 13, 1917, during the Great War, he enlisted as a Lieutenant and served in Army Public Relations. He was assigned to Fort Hancock, New Jersey, Camp Eustis, Virginia, Jackson Barracks, Louisiana, and Washington, D.C. He did not serve overseas. He wrote articles such as "The Soldier's Idea of The Folks Back Home," which was published in Scribner's. He also wrote "Do's and Don't's of the Army," which was published by Britton. He was honorably discharged on December 23, 1918.
In 1919 Harold Hersey's second humorous book, "When The Boys Come Home," was published by Britton.
In 1919 he became an editor of Thrill Book, a pulp magazine from Street & Smith Publications. After the eighth issue of Thrill Book, which was dated June 15, 1919, Harold Hersey was fired because he had included too much of his own material, written under pen-names, and pocketed the fees.
In 1920 he became an editor at Clayton Magazines, which produced Snappy Stories, Live Stories, Pepper Pot, Ginger Jar, and Telling Tales. At that same time George Delacorte was a Circulation Manager at Clayton Magazines. According to Harold Hersey, "I already knew the rudiments of editing, preparing copy, reading proof, making up pages, and the like, but Clayton was my real teacher in the editorial trade. I really learned about magazines from him. Lordy, how that man made me work! A perfectionist in editing copy, writing blurbs, putting a periodical together, selecting covers. He never lost patience with me during the trying and early period when I was feeling my way." Hersey helped Clayton develop a new line of pulp magazines, which eventually included Ace-High, Astounding Stories, Clues, Cowboy Stories, Danger Trail, Five-Novels Monthly, Rangeland Love, Ranch Romances, and Strange Tales. Artists who painted covers for Clayton pulps included H. C. Murphy, Charles Wrenn, Gerard Delano, Elliott Dold, and Walter Baumhofer. Once every year employees of Clayton Magazines were treated to an Annual company picnic. Harold Hersey's busy schedule as Chief Editor of Clayton Magazines also included a weekly appearance as Guest Lecturer on WOR radio, where he would discuss current materials featured in Clayton Magazines.
In 1920 Harold Hersey (age twenty-seven) lived in a lodging house at 278 West 11th Street in Greenwich Village. He shared his rooms with a newspaperman, Milton Stoddard (age twenty-four), and a widowed artist, Edith Dorchester (age thirty-three). Three blocks away at the Marlton Hotel, 3 West 8th Street, lived his ex-wife, Merle Hersey (age thirty-one), his daughter, Dorothy Hersey (age five), and his ex-mother-in-law, Ella Royal Williams (age fifty-six). Harold Hersey provided family support, but Merle Hersey earned additional income as an anonymous writer of erotic fiction for Snappy Stories and La Parisienne Monthly Magazine.
Harold Hersey's younger sisters had married and left home, while his mother had remarried to become Mrs. Adelaide C. Turner of East Lexington, Massachusetts.
On May 17, 1920 the father of William Mann Clayton, Colonel William D'Alton Mann, died at the age of eighty. Colonel Mann was the power behind Clayton Magazines, so the settlement of his estate forced a reorganization of the company. The process took five years. The New York Times reported his widow and daughter owned over $150,000 of borrowed dividends on stocks of the New Fiction Publishing Company, which produced Clayton's Snappy Stories. In order to divide the estate between the heirs, all stock in New Fiction Publishing was sold to a holding company, the Metropolitan Credit Corporation. The January 13, 1921 issue of The Printer's Ink, a publishers' trade journal, reported that W. M. Clayton and his step-sister, Emma Mann, had sold their stock. This notice is interesting for several reasons. First, it publicly identifies the co-owners of Snappy Stories as Clayton and Mann. Secondly, it identifies the magazine's new business manager as George T. Delacorte, Jr., who was twenty-six years old at the time. Thirdly, it states that Delacorte had previously been the President of Snappy Stories Distribution Company. After a few months, Delacorte agreed to resign as Business Manager with a severance payment of $10,000, with which he started his own Dell Publishing Company.
After this move, Harold Hersey always admired George Delacorte's business brilliance, and struggled in vain to duplicate the success of his former assistant.
On March 15, 1921 Harold Hersey applied for a U.S. Passport before traveling to England, France and Italy. The witness who testified as to his loyal citizenship was Margaret Sanger. She stated she had known him since 1914. Both she and Harold Hersey listed their home address as 104 Fifth Avenue at sixteenth Street. He departed from NYC on March 29, 1921, which was his twenty-eighth birthday, and traveled to London, Paris, and Rome. He returned to NYC on June 23, 1921.
In July of 1921 Harold Hersey suffered a crippling attack of arthritis. He underwent an operation, after which he bought a small cottage in Poughkeepsie, NY, where he went to recuperate. He was accompanied by his ex-wife, Merle Hersey, and his daughter, Dorothy Hersey (age seven). All three continued to spend weekends and the summer months at the country home. When his mother's second husband died, she also moved to this cottage in Poughkeepsie, where she became the regular organist at the Presbyterian church.
During the era of Prohibition in the roaring twenties the national distribution system was taken over by organized crime. The largest distributor of periodicals was the American News Company (ANC). That consortium was dominated by William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951), on whose Executive Board the Director of Distribution was Moe L. Annenberg, who the FBI considered a top racketeer. To avoid federal prosecution for monopoly control and racketeering, ANC preserved the appearance of competition by creating "independent" distribution companies that were headed by loyal confederates.
In 1924 Paul Sampliner and Warren Angel formed Eastern Distributing Corporation located at 120 West 42nd Street near Times Square. They were both affiliated with Moe L. Annenberg, so they could do more than supply cigars, candy, and magazines to newsstands - they could also handle every aspect of publishing, from editorial content to production, printing, binding, warehouse storage, transportation, insurance, billing, and accounting. By handling massive volumes Eastern Distributing could reduce costs and control the overhead, as well as the final accounting, from which a percentage was paid to the publisher. Such an arrangement was only attractive to a publisher if it resulted in increased sales, but either way, it was hard to buck the system if national distribution was controlled by organized crime. Several publishers accepted this deal, including William Mann Clayton and Bernarr Macfadden.
In 1925 Eastern Distributing Company moved to 45 West 45th Street. This building was owned by the Longacre Real Estate Company, which also owned the building next door, 49 West 45th Street, as well as the corner building, 551 Fifth Avenue, where Moe L. Annenberg had the executive offices of MLA Publications. The President of the Longacre Real Estate Company was a real estate lawyer, Irving Maidman, who represented a private syndicate of Chicago-based investors that included Hearst, Arthur Brisbane, and Annenberg.
In 1925 Eastern Distributing handled many magazines that featured pin-up photos of semi-nude starlets from Hollywood and Burlesque, along with rapid-fire jokes and ethnic comedy that reflected the popular irreverence of the roaring twenties. The titles included, Hay Rake, Jazza Ka Jazza, Jim Jam Jems, Pajammas, Pepper Pot, and Capt. Billy's Whiz Bang. At that same time pulp publisher William Mann Clayton, sold several of his risqué magazines, including Ginger Stories and Pepper Pot, to affiliates of Eastern Distributing, who repackaged them as Ginger and Pep! These digest-sized magazines were inexpensive to produce and sold for higher prices than most magazines. The indecency of their content also attracted the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, whose agents repeatedly brought obscenity charges against distributors, printers, publishers, and newsstand dealers, which led to arrests, fines, and convictions. To deal with this constant risk Eastern Distributing organized a fluid network of incorporated companies designed to dodge legal restrictions. Their group of affiliates included Max Marlin, Theodore Epstein, George Shade, Herman Rawitser, Joe Burten, John Mahon, John Edwards, Henry Marcus, and Harry Donenfeld.
In 1925 Harold Hersey lived at 193 West 4th Street in Greenwich Village. He traveled to England for the summer months with his future wife, Joyce Eleanor Post, a pretty young actress of twenty-two. She was born April 13, 1903 in NYC and lived in a boarding house at 246 West 46th Street. Her father, Wilmarth Hague Post, was born in 1867 in NYC. Her mother, Maud Eleanor Post, was born in 1869 in England. The father was a famous actor, stage manager, and playwright of popular musical comedies, such as "The Vagabond King," "Never Say Die," and "The Belle of Broadway." Joyce Eleanor Post had attended Hillside Academy in Connecticut. At age nineteen she had married a wealthy stock broker and then divorced him one year later.
In 1926 Harold Hersey left Clayton Magazines and become General Advisory Editor for Eastern Distributing. His new job included Supervising Editor for Macfadden Publications, where he oversaw production of True Story, True Romances, Dream World, True Detective Mysteries, and Physical Culture. According to Harold Hersey, "I had to work on circulation, promotion, and advertising problems too, so I knew my way about in every department of magazine publishing, and I drew a princely check every Friday!"
1926 Harold Hersey published "Singing Rawhide" with illustrations by Gerard Delano.
In 1926 Harold Hersey married his second wife, Joyce Eleanor Post, with whom he had traveled to Europe the year before. They moved to 188 Arlington Boulevard in North Arlington. New Jersey, which was four miles from his new father-in-law's home in Rutherford, NJ.
In 1926 Harry Donenfeld had a son, Irwin Donenfeld, in whose honor he formed Irwin Publishing Company, which produced Juicy Tales, Joy Stories, and Hot Tales. These magazines featured erotic photographs by Edwin Bower Hesser and Lejaren A. Hiller, as well as illustrations by Worth Carnahan, Adolph Barreaux, Otto Greiner, and W.C. Brigham. The editor was Merle Williams Hersey. Donenfeld soon changed the name of the company from Irwin Publishing to Merwil Publishing. That name combined the first syllables of the editor's maiden name, Merle Williams. Merwil produced Spicy Stories, La Paree and Pep.
On November 10, 1927 the trade journal Printers' Ink carried an advertisement for Eastern Distributing Corporation at 45 West 45th Street.
On February 19, 1928 The New York Times reviewed a poetry collection, "Bubble and Squeak," and reproduced the poem "The Gogs" by Harold Hersey - "The Gogs are good, the Gogs are great. They rule a realm of real estate. Their greedy little eyes are slits that vision beauty torn to bits, and when the night's aglow with stars, they stagger through the lupinars. The Gogs are good, the Gogs are great; We slave to rent their real estate; We toil in their behalf like fools, obey their customs, creeds, and rules, because each intellectual hog would like to be, and is, a Gog!"
In 1928 Eastern Distributing extended credit for Harold Hersey to launch his own line of pulp magazines. His company names included Hersey Magazines, Magazine Publishers, New Metropolitan Fiction, Good Story Magazines, Red Band Magazines, and Blue Band Magazines. His pulp titles included Flying Aces, Loving Hearts, Fire Fighters, Famous Lives, Underworld, Spy Stories, Western Trails, Suicide Stories,Murder Mysteries, Detective Trails, and The Dragnet Magazine. According to Hersey, "Wow! Them was the days! With Warren A. Angel as one of the backers and Business Manager of my company, Magazine Publishers, we were soon selling hundreds of thousands of monthly copies of Flying Aces, Underworld Magazine and twelve other titles. After Bernarr Macfadden and William M. Clayton, Warren A. Angel was the third and most brilliant of all my teachers."
The first issue of The Dragnet Magazine was dated October 1928, from Magazine Publishers at 120 West 42nd Street. It was edited by Harold Hersey and his Associate Editor was his wife, Joyce Eleanor Post, whose name was printed on the table of contents as "E. Post".
The first issue of the pulp magazine Flying Stories was dated November 1928. It was produced by New Metropolitan Fiction, with editorial offices in the Macfadden Building at 1926 Broadway.
In 1928 Paul Sampliner and Warren Angel of Eastern Distributing handled the many publications of Hugo Gernsback. As with Clayton and Macfadden, Gernsback also agreed to let Eastern manage all phases of production through their affiliated service providers. To supervise production, Eastern Distributing installed one of their Circulation Managers, Irving S. Manheimer, as Gernsback's new Business Manager. This arrangement soon produced overwhelming debts.
On February 21, 1929 Hugo Gernsback was legally forced to declare bankruptcy. His company was reorganized in cooperation with Bernarr Macfadden and split into several independent companies, whose names included Stellar Publications, Teck Publishing, Forward Publications, Experimenter Publications, Modern Publications, and Grenpark Novelties. The executive officers of these companies included Hugo Gernsback, Bernarr Macfadden, William M. Clayton, Irving S. Manheimer, Theodore Epstein, Harry Donenfeld, Frank Armer, and Harold Hersey, while the production and distribution continued to be handled by Eastern Distributing.
The July 1929 issue of Murder Mysteries included an emblem on the cover that said, "A Hersey Magazine - The Symbol Of Good Reading." The fine print on the contents listed the office of Magazine Publishers at 67 West 44th Street. The company president was John F. Edwards (Warren Angel's affiliate) and the company secretary was Robert J. Boyle, (Warren Angel's attorney). The cover illustration was by Onestus Kilpatrick Uzzell (1903-1955).
In October of 1929 the NYC Stock Market crashed and chaos struck the American banking system, which undermined the national economy. The ensuing hardships of the Great Depression affected workers and farmers, as well as industrialists. The established order of manufacturing collapsed, which devastated the advertising and publishing industries. One of the few businesses that enjoyed profits were pulp magazines, which sold cheap thrills to the idle masses from corner newsstands for pocket change. The first to recognize this trend were the distributors, including Paul Sampliner and Warren Angel, who swiftly moved to cast a wider net.
In February 1930 Eastern Distributing moved from 45 West 45th Street to the Albano Building at 305 East 46th Street. During this expansive phase Eastern employed Louis H. Silberkleit, Martin Goodman, Frank Armer, and Michael Estrow as Circulation Promoters.
On February 19,1930 The Herald Tribune reported that the Society for the Suppression of Vice had won assurances from Harold Hersey, the publisher of Gangster Stories and Racketeer Stories, that the magazines would be withdrawn from newsstands and their publication ended. This was a significant hardship, because these were among Hersey's best selling titles.
On April 14, 1930 the U.S. Census recorded Harold Hersey ("magazine editor" age thirty-seven) living with his wife, Eleanor Hersey ("magazine proof reader" age twenty-seven), and his mother, Mrs. Adelaide Turner (age sixty-one), at their home in North Arlington, NJ.
At that same time, his ex-wife, Merle Hersey (age 41), his daughter, Dorothy Hersey (age 15), and his ex-mother-in-law, Ella Royal Williams (age sixty-six), continued to live as guests at the Marlton Hotel at 3 West 8th Street in Greenwich Village.
Warren Angel and Paul Sampliner gained majority control of Macfadden Publications and reorganized the company under the leadership of their affiliate, Irving S. Manheimer, who charged the founder with having recklessly depleted company funds. Bernarr Macfadden was eventually forced to retire from his own company, with the stipulation that he not publish any rival magazines for five years.
On March 3, 1930 a Circulation Manager at Eastern Distributing sent a letter to inform wholesalers that The Dragnet Magazine would soon change its title to Detective Dragnet. That Circulation Manager was Louis Silberkleit. Eastern Distributing extended credit to ambitious entry-level publishers in exchange for partial ownership and the required use of affiliated printers, suppliers, and advertising representatives. This offer was soon accepted by Ned Pines, Aaron A. Wyn, Martin Goodman, and Louis Silberkleit, who started his own pulp publishing company, Winford Publications.
The May 1930 issue of Ghost Stories, which had been produced by Macfadden, was suddenly published by Harold Hersey of Good Story Magazine at 25 West 43rd Street. As with previous issues, the covers continued to be painted by Dalton Stevens.
By the summer of 1930 Warren Angel left Eastern Distributing to form Kable News Company with Samuel J. Campbell and the Kable Printing Company of Mount Morris, Illinois. Their new offices were at 67 West 44th Street. Warren Angel and Samuel Campbell also formed C&A (Campbell & Angel) Publishing Company. Warren Angel sold his shares in Eastern Distributing to Paul Sampliner and dissolved the corporation in October of 1930, after which Paul Sampliner ran Eastern as president and majority owner.
On August 24, 1930 Harold Hersey's father-in-law, Wilmarth Hague Post, died at the age of sixty-three in Rutherford, NJ.
The April 1931 issue of Model Airplane News, which had been produced by Macfadden, was suddenly produced by Hersey's Magazine Publishers, and the editor was listed as Harold Hersey.
The September 1931 issue of The Dance Magazine was published by Macfadden Publications, with Harold Hersey as the editor. The business office was at 45 West 45th Street. Dance Magazine was later sold to Richard Davis and Walter Socolow, who formed D. S. Publishing to produce magazines, such as Tune-In, Star Songs, and New Stars Over Hollywood, as well as comic books, such as Public Enemies, Exposed, and Gangsters Can't Win.
In 1931 George Delacorte produced Ballyhoo, a humor magazine that ridiculed exaggerated advertising claims. It was a big hit, so several publishers made imitations - Fawcett made Hooey, Clayton made Bunk, Donenfeld made KooKoo, while Hersey made Slapstick and Tickle-Me-Too. The December 1931 issue of Tickle-Me-Too Magazine listed Harold Hersey as president of Merry-Go-Round Incorporated, with offices at 570 Seventh Avenue. Advertising was handled by H. D. Cushing at 67 West 44th Street.
The first issue of Slapstick was dated February 1932. It was produced by Hersey's Red Band Publishing Corporation, located at 570 Seventh Avenue. It was edited by Hugh Layne and art editor, Raymond J. Kelly. Illustrations were drawn by W. C. Brigham.
In September of 1932 Harold Hersey suffered a second debilitating attack of arthritis. At the pinnacle of his career, he was suddenly bedridden with severe pain, after which he lost control of his publishing companies. Warren A. Angel passed the management of the profitable titles over to Hersey's editorial assistant, Aaron A. Wyn. Hersey spent the next three years struggling to walk with crutches and steel leg braces. He lived with his wife and mother in North Arlington, NJ. During those years of disability he wrote his memoirs, "Pulpwood Editor."
October 1933 his ex-wife Merle Hersey became the new publisher of The National Police Gazette, along with Harry Donenfeld. The revived pink tabloid had illustrations by Max Plaisted, Adolph Barreaux, and erotic rotogravures of topless women. Merle Hersey promised readers, "Lots of sex, underworld stuff with a sex angle, and plenty of pictures of semi-nude night club girls." The sporting aspect of the newspaper was edited by veteran boxing writer, Nat Fleischer, editor of Ring Magazine, which was also located at 45 West 45th Street.
On July 31, 1933 Time Magazine published an article on the revival of The National Police Gazette, which featured the eccentric ideas of the new publisher, Merle Williams Hersey. She still lived in Greenwich Village with her mother, Ella Royal Williams, and her teenage daughter, Dorothy Williams Hersey. The daughter eventually married to become Mrs. Dorothy Wiley of Wichita, Kansas.
The January 1934 issue of Gay Parisienne was produced by Merwil Publishing Company at 480 Lexington Avenue. The contents page identified the company president as Harry Donenfeld, while the Treasurer and Secretary was Harry's brother, Irving Donenfeld.
The February 1934 issue of Snappy Stories was produced by Merwil Publishing Company at 480 Lexington Avenue. The contents page identified the company president as Harry Donenfeld, the treasurer and secretary was listed as Irving Donenfeld. The editor was identified as Merle W. Hersey.
Predictably, The New York Society for the Suppression of Vice charged Harry Donenfeld with producing obscene periodicals, Spicy Stories, Gay Parisienne, La Paree, and Pep Stories. Upon close inspection the prosecutor noticed one particularly offensive image in the January 1934 issue of Pep Stories. Harry Donenfeld was saved from jail when Herbert M. Siegel, an accommodating clerk, came forward to claim full responsibility for unilaterally inserting the objectionable material into the magazine without the knowledge of his employer. He was fined and sentenced to jail. After the trial Harry Donenfeld removed his name from all but his most wholesome publications. He then formed Culture Publications to continue producing pin-up magazines at 900 Market Street in Wilmington, Delaware, well away from the jurisdiction of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice. Herbert M. Siegel served his time as a model prisoner. He was released early and welcomed back to work by Harry Donenfeld. For the next thirty years he arrived at work every day to sit at his desk and read the newspaper until quitting time. He developed a nervous habit of pacing the office floor, which in some ways reflected the narrow confinement of his fate. One saving grace was a sincere brotherly friendship that grew between the faithful Roumanian clerk and the brash Roumanian publisher.
On November 18, 1934 The New York Times reported The National Police Gazette had filed for bankruptcy.
In 1935 the National Allied Newspaper Syndicate, located at 49 West 45th Street, produced New Fun Comics, the first comic book composed of original materials, rather than re-printed popular comic strips from newspapers. The publisher was Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson (1890-1968). The business manager was John Francis Mahon, an old affiliate of Eastern Distributing. The distributor was S-M News Company, the head of which was Joseph Ottenstein (1897-1973), an affiliate of Moe L. Annenberg. The printer was The Brooklyn Eagle newspaper, which was published by Millard Preston Goodfellow (1892-1973) another member of the Hearst Executive Board. The advertising was handled by H. D. Cushing, who was Advertising Manager at Eastern Distributing. The editor of New Fun was Lloyd Jacquet. His office stationery listed his executive offices at 45 West 45th Street, but in letters to artists he instructed materials to be delivered to his secondary space next door at 49 West 45th Street. The artists who drew these comics included Adolphe Barreaux, Henry C. Kiefer, W. C. Brigham, Lyman Anderson, Rafael Astarita, Ray Wardell, Joe Archibald, and Clem Gretter. The resulting "comic magazines," New Fun and More Fun, became sensationally profitable, and launched the comic book industry. As soon as the distributors saw the sales, the publishing company was taken over by Harry Donenfeld and Paul Sampliner, who eventually turned it into DC Comics.
In 1936 Harold Hersey's second marriage ended in divorce. He left Eleanor Post Hersey in New Jersey and moved to Waterford, Connecticut, where at age forty-five, he rented lodgings for $6.50 a week in a rooming house on Spithead Road.
In the summer of 1936 Harold Hersey returned to editing periodicals when he was hired by Warren A. Angel to work as a Supervising Editor with William Mann Clayton and Lloyd Jacquet on an innovative hybrid genre of pulp and comic book. They formed C.J.H. Publications. The name was derived from the initials of Clayton, Jacquet, and Hersey. The company was located at 49 West 45th Street. They produced pulp magazines based on famous newspaper comic strip characters, Dan Dunn, Tailspin Tommy, and Flash Gordon. The first issue of Tailspin Tommy Air Adventure Magazine included a story by Lloyd Jacquet under the pen-name "Jay Kay."
In 1936 Harold Hersey announced in The Author & Journalist Magazine that C.J.H. Publications was publishing a fourth title, Mystery Adventure, so aspiring authors should mail their prospective manuscripts to 49 West 45th Street. When Mystery Adventure finally appeared on newsstands the contents page identified Harold Hersey as Editor, but the address was 120 West 42nd Street, instead of 49 West 45th, and the publisher was listed as Movie Digest, and not C.J.H. Publications. Movie Digest was a Hollywood fan magazine published by Macfadden. The last pulp magazine produced by C.J.H. Publications, Tailspin Tommy (Volume 1 - Issue 2), had a cover date of January 1937, after which time the C.J.H. partnership ended, although Mystery Adventure continued. Subsequent issues of that pulp were edited by Harold Hersey and produced by Fiction Magazines at 49 West 45th Street. The cover artists were Norman Saunders and Alvin Pearson, and interiors were drawn by Ralph Carlson, Monroe Eisenberg, and Will Ely.
In 1937 Stokes Publishing House released "Pulpwood Editor" by Harold Hersey. It was well reviewed by critics. Hersey's literary agent arranged a contract with a lecture bureau to conduct nationwide speaking tour for three years at public libraries, rotary clubs, civic meetings, and women's groups.
On July 1, 1939 Harold Hersey's mother, Adelaide Carpenter Johnson Hersey Turner, died at the age of seventy-one.
On August 11, 1939 the same District Attorney and Federal Judge who had convicted Al Capone of tax evasion, brought similar charges against Moe L. Annenberg. Eight months later he was convicted to serve three years in Federal prison and ordered to pay a fine of $8,000,000, which was the largest such penalty in U.S. history. Before incarceration he installed his son, Walter Annenberg (1908-2002), as business successor to assure smooth continuity to the operation of his vast empire.
In 1939 Harold Hersey began to edit periodicals for H-K Publications. The name was derived from the initials of the co-publishers, Hardie and Kelly. Joseph Johns "Uncle Joe" Hardie was born March 21, 1897 in Pittsburgh, PA, and died on December 18, 1967. Raymond J. Kelly was born November 20, 1890 in Brooklyn, where he also died on October 19, 1964.
In 1940 H-K Publications produced Comet, a new science fiction pulp magazine. The editor was Frederick Orlin Tremaine (1889-1956). Covers were painted by Frank R. Paul and Leo Morey. Interiors were drawn by John Forte, John Giunta, and Jack Binder.
On July 20, 1942 Moe L. Annenberg died at the age of sixty-five.
During WWII Harold Hersey again reported for draft registration as required by law. He was recorded at that time to be age forty-nine, five-eight, 166 pounds, with brown eyes, gray hair, and a dark complexion. His employer was listed as H-K Publications at 215 Fourth Avenue. He listed his home address as 114 East 18th Street. He listed his closest associate as John Swahn, who also lived at the same address. John Axel Swahn (1893-1975) was Hersey's old Army buddy from WWI, who worked for the War Department in NYC during WWII.
During the war years H-K Publications produced Yoo-Hoo! Army Gags & Pin-Ups, G.I. Laughs, Khaki Humor, Jeeps, Khaki Wacky, World Famous Heroes Comics, Amazing Man Comics, Star & Stripes Comics, Man of War Comics, The Arrow Comics, Crosswords & Contest News, Dime Crosswords, Championship Crosswords, Fifty Crosswords, and All-American Band Leaders.
The 1941 NYC Telephone Directory listed five publishing companies, H-K Publications, Harle Publications, Centaur Publications, Comic Corporation of America, and Sermons in Brief Publications, all with the same telephone number and all in the same office at 215 Fourth Avenue. All of the periodicals from these companies were distributed by Kable News Company.
In a 1942 interview with The Writer's Journal, Harold Hersey said, "Warren A. Angel is now General Manager of the Kable News Company."
Some periodicals from H-K Publications were occasionally listed as Rajo Publications. That name was derived from the first syllables of the first names of Raymond Kelly and Joseph Hardie. At other times, the company was known as Harle Publications. That name was derived from combining syllables from the last names of Joseph Hardie and George Louis Aichele (1883-1943). He was the Circulation Manager at the Kable News Company. George Aichele had gone deaf in 1936, but he continued to work as a trusted employee until his death in 1943. Even after his death, the name of his wife, Claire S. Aichele, continued to appear on ownership statements of Harle Publications, where she represented the interests of Kable News.
On April 5, 1946 William Mann Clayton died at the age of sixty-one.
On January 21, 1949 Warren A. Angel died at age sixty-two.
In 1949 Harold Hersey married his third wife, Alexandrina Margaret MacGillivray. She was born in 1906 in Springfield, Illinois. She was a college graduate and public lecturer on the socio-economic philosophy Technocracy. They lived in his NYC apartment at 21 East Fourteenth Street in Greenwich Village, and also at his home in Poughkeepsie, NY.
In the 1950s Harold Hersey continued to edit periodicals from H-K Publications. Their titles included Melodyland Magazine, Flying Models Magazine, and Boat Sport. Kable News Company continued to distribute H-K periodicals.
In 1954 Merle Williams Hersey edited the "The 75th Anniversary of the Lily Dale Assembly." Two years later she died at the age of sixty-two.
On October 12, 1955 Bernarr Macfadden died at the age of eighty-seven.
In November of 1955 Harold Hersey's chronic arthritis again required hospitalization. He entered the NYC Veterans Hospital, at 408 First Avenue and 23rd Street, where after several months of failing health, he died at the age of sixty-two on March 17, 1956.
© David Saunders 2017