71. The Doc Savage Super-Fan

Bob De Haven was a sports announcer for WTCN in Minneapolis, Minnesota. De Haven first contacted Lester Dent in February 1938 requesting some biographical data on Dent for his radio show “Writers and Readers.”

In early March, Dent sent Bob De Haven a reply to his earlier letter. Dent churned out a four-page letter filled with details for De Haven’s radio show. Dent referred to the data as obituary material. The entire writeup is written in a self-deprecating and humorous manner.

De Haven appears again with a letter dated February 27, 1939. He writes Dent letting him know that he has left Tulsa, Oklahoma. He is still working on his radio show “Writers and Readers.” He thanks Dent for the postcard he sent from Paris, France. There is also an attached letter from a young man named Billy Hutchison who is a great admirer of Dent. De Haven met Hutchison through his “Writers and Readers” radio show. De Haven states that Hutchison has a scrapbook on Dent that “would choke a rhino.” Fortunately, the letter from Billy Hutchison is in the archive at Columbia. It is a great piece of humor and a tribute to Lester Dent.

Central High School Junior Class, Bill Hutchison – 1939

The letter from Bill Hutchison is dated January 4, 1939. In it, he writes to Bob De Haven about Lester Dent’s visit to Tulsa, Oklahoma on Saturday, December 17, 1938. The letter starts out at 7am with Bill’s dad walking into his bedroom, shaking the newspaper, and noting that “LUS-a Dent” was in town. Bill Hutchison, who was still in bed, achieved full consciousness upon hearing this news and sprung out of bed.

The local newspaper article stated that Lester Dent and his wife had arrived in Tulsa on Friday and planned to spend the weekend in the city.

Hutchinson then put forth some detective effort that would have impressed Doc Savage and located Dent at suite 907 at the Mayo Hotel. He called and left a message. A short time later, Lester Dent called and talked with Bill. It quickly developed that Dent was coming to his home in the next thirty minutes.

Bill noted that the current appearance of their home looked like the work of a “malicious” child. There was a lot of sin of sloth to rectify. A whirlwind of cleaning activity went into motion to fill closets and drawers to make the home presentable for the Dents. In an afterthought, mom calls dad who had already departed for work to work. Dad arrived back home five minutes later through the courtesy of a fast taxi ride. Lester and Norma Dent arrived, and the visit began. Talk turned to Doc Savage and Crime Busters. Dad mentioned that Bill keeps a Doc Savage scrapbook which was brought out for inspection. Bill was writing his own book and he and Dent talk about writing. Bill ends up accompanying the Dents on a drive around Tulsa. The Dents were in town to look at homes and get ideas about the house they plan to build in Missouri. Bill concluded his letter to De Haven noting that he is working on his own book, “A Writer’s File.”

Bill graduated Central High School in Tulsa in 1940.  He was sixteen years old when Lester Dent visited his home.

Senior picture – 1940

The 1940 Federal Census tells us that the Hutchison family was living at 709 South Houston Avenue in Tulsa and that they had been living there since at least 1935. Bill’s father, William Cook Hutchison, Sr. (1895-1969) was an accountant for an oil company. His mother, Cora Lucille Mamion (1897-1963) was a homemaker.

His draft card, dated June 29, 1942, notes that he was five feet ten inches tall with blue eyes and red hair.

Bill served in the military during World War II.

We spring ahead two decades and find a letter dated February 26, 1958, in the archives.

William Hutchison, Sr. of Tulsa, Oklahoma writes Lester Dent about his story in the Saturday Evening Post. This is the same Hutchison family whom Lester and Norma Dent visited in Tulsa back in 1939. Hutchinson expresses his joy at Dent’s previous visit and his current story. We learn that his son graduated from Oklahoma University after military service in World War II. He is now a captain in the air force and married to an Australian girl with five children.

The records show that Bill enlisted in the U. S. Airforce in 1957 and remained until 1970.  Bill was born on September 6, 1922. He died on October 21, 1998, in Colorado Springs, Colorado.