Emanuel Haldeman-Julius : Pocket Series and the Little Blue Books

Historical Notes: A Few Words with Michelle Saxey

Photo of Michelle Saxey, 2009On September 2nd, 2009, Michelle Saxey, the great-granddaughter of Emanuel Haldeman-Julius joined our Fans of the Little Blue Books group on Facebook. Naturally, we couldn't resist the opportunity to make contact, and deluge her with a myriad of questions regarding her familial recollections of Haldeman-Julius, and his son Henry Haldeman (Michelle's grandfather). Lucky for us, Michelle proved most accommodating. For this we are most grateful, and are pleased to present some of the more interesting tidbits of this exchange below. Our heartfelt thanks to Michelle for her generosity and candor.

Us: In public forums, EHJ is often held up as an ardent socialist, and great advocate of personal empowerment. Private documents, such as the writings of his second wife, Sue, paint a more roguish picture of the man. How is he remembered by his descendants?

Michelle: EHJ is seen as a bit of both; rogue and leader. Mind you, to be a leader one must tread a new path, which is being rogue. I think different members of the family would have a fairly wide perspective on the topic as we all don't see eye to eye on political or spiritual views. I think my Uncle Doug would know more about him technically but what I gathered from my Mother was that he was amazing. Linda1 spent her summers in the plant learning how it worked and reading a lot. A core principal she learned was to develop yourself the best you can and that it is one's own duty in life to learn as much as humanly possible. EHJ taught the family ethics like standing up for what you believe in even if you're the lone voice in a world against you. I think he's heroic personally.

I believe his stand for individual power and enrichment resonates in the whole family, each of us unique in our own ways. We don't agree on many issues but we agree to disagree. We're stuck with each other, like all lives on this planet, so if we're up to listening to all the details on what we don't like then fine, but if we really can't stand the other opinion we take a break. It's best not to cause war. Who knows, if we're not arguing with each other, we may just find that perfect middle ground.

Us: Any particularly memorable stories you've heard about EHJ from your family that you might like to share?

Michelle: No, but I wish I had.

Us: Both your great-grandfather and grandfather had their fair share of legal battles over the publication of material deemed "obscene, lewd, lascivious, indecent and filthy". How are these incidents remembered by the family?

Michelle: Obscene or not is not the real issue. America, the land of the free and the home of the brave. If we are frightened of the freedom of speech then we'll perish as cowards. Considering all the many things that may happen in life, all the death, disease, accidents, and war (legal or otherwise), all that could possibly go wrong in existence that we may have to deal with, voluntarily reading something that may give clarity to a 'negative' situation shouldn't be an issue of concern.

I feel that everyone in the family would have their unique perspective on remembering a family matter like this legal battle. Most of us though never dealt with these legal battles directly.

I think that as Americans we are granted the right to publish just about anything. What that says on our moral character can be socially judged yet they are not to judge us on our spiritual livelihood for it is not their call. Considering that the materials in question were to help with psycho-analysis and physical trademarks for preventing harmful acts from continuing, it is in our best interest as intellectual beings to allow education to march forth.

Us: Randy Roberts of the Axe Library told me that EHJ's last will & testament requested that he be cremated, and that his ashes be buried next to his first wife, Marcet, in Cedarville, Illinois. Half of the ashes are said to have been delivered there, and the other half kept by your grandfather, Henry. Rumour has it that at one time Henry offered to sell them to Gene DeGruson, for the Emanuel Haldeman-Julius collection at Pittsburg State. Apparently the offer was declined. Can you shed any light on the validity of this rumour, and set the record straight as to the final resting place(s) of EHJ?

Michelle: Wow! This is the first I've heard of it. To my understanding they were buried near each other, both father & son. Maybe someone else in the family knows more.

Us: Your belief that EHJ and Henry are buried near each other would certainly fit with the notion that Henry held on to half of the ashes. Do you know where their burial plot is located?

Michelle: They were part of the family plot in Vernon, Utah.

Us: There are those who habour conspiracy theories regarding possible FBI involvement in the death of EHJ. What's your take?

Michelle: I think that many in my family died in radically uncouth and thought provoking ways. It all seems fishy to me. I'm not looking to get to the bottom of any details because that would drive me mad and I'd prefer to just have a normal life.

Us: Your grandfather assumed control of EHJ's publishing enterprise after his death, but it is said that he was less than enthusiastic about it. How would you describe his ambitions regarding publication of the Little Blue Books, etc?

Michelle: Henry wanted to do a lot of things and I think the plant put a damper on his ambitions. He was a little more wild at heart. My vague understanding is that he traveled, flew planes, and wore many hats throughout his life. He also had the voice of David Carradine.

Us: A great volume of EHJ's personal library, correspondence, and business documents were delivered to the Axe Library, and to the Lilly Library after his death. What materials remained in the family, and what mementos of EHJ have you had personal experience with?

Michelle: At one point we had a copy of every little blue book. We moved a bit after my parents messy divorce and my father sold all the little blue books on e-bay. As luck had it, another family member picked them all up. When my mother passed away most everything in the house was sold at an estate sale but looking back I wish I had the commemorative cups with EHJ on it, oh and t-shirts too. My dad may have them still.

My sister Emily has a few odds and ends. Emily had the very unfortunate case of going to Grandma's house (Donna Lou Bott aka Donna Hillman) and cleaning the mess up after Donna was murdered.2 Emily and her husband got the house cleaned up and ready to be sold. Unfortunately the state of Utah doesn't have victim support or specialty cleaning crews for a victims family. Donna didn't do well after her son passed away, so she changed her mindset probably from all the shock. After Henry passed away Donna was frightened to touch anything or throw anything away, including magazines. The house was packed with stuff floor to ceiling, mostly junk I'm afraid. But then again one man's junk is another man's treasure (personally, I think 40 year old playboys aren't junk, it's vintage! Sadly those went to the dumpster, sorry Hugh). If it's family related such as photos, it's still in the family. As for me, I can't get enough photographs.

Us: Have you every read any of the works penned by EHJ? If so, what were your impressions?

Michelle: No but I would love to. I need to acquire some because I have none.

Us: Thanks to Marcet Haldeman, there was a great connection forged between the Addams3 family, and the Haldeman-Julius family. Several generations later, is there any social interaction between their descendants?

Michelle: The Addams? I don't know them. But then again, other relatives that stayed on that side of the country might know them.

1Linda Karel Saxey (nee Haldeman), Michelle's mother and granddaughter of Emanuel Haldeman-Julius.
2Donna Lou Hillman was murdered by Floyd Eugene Maestas on 28 Sep 2004 during a burglary.
3(Anna) Marcet Haldeman was the niece of 1931 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Jane Addams, and granddaughter of Illinois State Senator (1854-1870) John H. Addams.