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"Ellis P. Butler, of 'Pigs Is Pigs' Fame, Is Dead" from New York Herald Tribune

by Ellis Parker Butler
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from New York Herald Tribune
Ellis P. Butler, of 'Pigs Is Pigs' Fame, Is Dead
by Ellis Parker Butler

Humorist, 67, Saw Classic, first Published in 1905, Go through 31 Editions

Was Business Man, Too

Headed Savings Association in Flushing Until Jan. 1

Houstatonic, Mass, Sept. 13 -- Ellis Parker Butler, author of "Pigs Is Pigs," died here this morning at the home in which he had been living since he became ill more than a year ago. Mr. Butler, who was sixty-seven Ellis Parker Butler, J. Will Hawes photo years old, formerly lived at 144-41 Thirty-fifth Street, Flushing Queens, and for many years had passed the summers here.

Mr. Butler was president of the Authors Club of America from 1933 until 1935 when he asked that he not be renominated because of his failing health. He also was a former president of the Authors' League of America. He was a tireless civic worker in Queens, an indefatigable toastmaster and vitally interested in such organizations as the Young Men's Christian Association and the Flushing Hospital. Although he made his living primarily by writing, he was also a business man and until the first of this year was president of the Flushing Federal Savings and Loan Association.

"Pigs Is Pigs"

None of Mr. Butler's later humorous writing quite came up to the level set by "Pigs Is Pigs," his first and greatest success, first published in the "American Magazine" in 1905 and a year later in book form. It enabled Mr. Butler to give up his job as co-publisher of an upholstery trade journal and to devote his energies to lighter literary work.

"Pigs Is Pigs" went into its twenty-ninth edition in 1935, the publishers then allowing it to go out of print. Last February, however, the demand for "Pigs Is Pigs" had become so great that they turned out another edition in a new format. At the same time a national magazine printed a condensed version of the story. By March the publishers ordered a thirty-first edition.

Two Become 4,064

The simple story of "Pigs Is Pigs" is concerned with two prolific guinea pigs which are shipped for delivery to an express company agent, Mike Flannery, in a small town. The consignee insists the pigs are pets and should cost only twenty-five cents each for shipping but Flannery, contending that "pigs is pigs," demands the thirty-cent charge usually collected for animals shipped under that classification.

While Flannery carries on a laborious correspondence with his main office, the guinea pigs and their progeny increase in numbers until the express agent has 4,064 of them on his hands. Then, ordered to deliver the shipment, he finds the person to whom the animals were consigned had left town. Flannery finally is told to return the animals and succeeds in shipping 280 cases only to find that 704 more pigs have made their appearance in the meantime. The story closes with Flannery still shoveling guinea pigs into baskets and giving thanks that they were not elephants.

Punishment Led to Career

Mr. Butler was born on December 5, 1869, in Muscatine, Iowa, the son of Audley Gassam and Adelia Vesey Butler. While attending elementary school in Muscatine, he was kept after class by his teacher one day because of poor deportment and was told to write a 500-word essay. Mr. Butler said later that he selected "Trees" as a subject "because there was so much to say about them." The teacher was so pleased with the result that she encouraged the lad to write more.

He had to go to work after his first year in public high school and at about the same time sold his first story -- an adventure piece -- to a boys' magazine. His pay was fifty penny postcards. After eight years as a bill clerk and salesman for the Muscatine Spice Mills and other firms in the neighborhood, Mr. Butler came to New York in 1897, hoping for a career as a humorous writer and supporting himself meanwhile by working on the staffs of the "Tailor's Review" and "Wall Paper News."

In 1899 Mr. Butler married Ida Anna Zipser, of Muscatine. Two years later he and Thomas A. Cawthra established a magazine called "The Upholstery Dealer and Decorative Furnisher," which later was simplified to "The Decorative Furnisher." His work in this line led him to publish his first book "French Decorative Styles." That same year he moved to Flushing. When "Pigs Is Pigs" swept the nation Mr. Butler relinquished his interest in the magazine and with his wife traveled in Europe for a year.

Other Publications

After his first great success Mr. Butler published "The Incubator Baby" and "Perkins of Portland," both humorous character studies in 1906. "The Great American Pie Company," a travesty on high finance; "Confessions of a Daddy" and "Kilo," recollections of his boyhood, in 1907; "That Pup" and "Cheerful Smugglers," 1908; "Mike Flannery" and "The Thin Santa Claus," 1909; "Water Goats" in 1910; "Adventures of a Suburbanite," 1911; "Jack-Knife Man," 1913; "Red Head," in 1916; "Dominie Dean," 1917; "Goat's Feathers" and Philo Gubb," 1919; "Swatty" and "How It Feels To Be Fifty," 1920, and "In Pawn," 1921.

These were followed by "Ghosts What Ain't" and "Jibby Jones," 1923; "Jibby Jones and the Alligator," 1924; "Many Happy Returns of the Day," 1925; "Butler Readings," 1926; "The Behind Legs of the 'Orse" and "Pigs, Pets and Pies," 1927; "Dorna," 1929; "Dollarature," 1930; "Jo Ann" (in collaboration), 1933; and "Hunting the Wow," 1934.

Stamp-collecting was a hobby of Mr. Butler's and in 1933 he wrote "The Young Stamp Collectors' Own Book."

Active In Queens Politics

Mr. Butler was active from time to time in Queens politics, being found occasionally in the Democratic ranks and again on the Fusion fence. He was formerly treasurer and member of the board of trustees of the Flushing Hospital and for years presided at the annual dinners of Troop 1, Flushing Boy Scouts, and of the Flushing United Association. He was a founder of the Dutch Treat Club, treasurer of the Tuscarora Fishing Club, and former president of the Authors League Fund.

Surviving are his wife, who was with him when he died, three daughters, Mrs. Jean Chapin, of Yonkers; Mrs. Elsie McColm Walker, of Chicago, and Miss Marjorie Butler, of Flushing, and a son, Ellis Olmsted Butler, of New York. Mr. Butler was sent to Flushing tonight. Funeral services will be held at 2:30 p. m. Wednesday at the Hallett Funeral Home, Northern Boulevard and 147th Street, Flushing. Burial will be in Flushing Cemetery.



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