Pluck and Luck

Young readers could purchase this slim booklet for 7 cents in August 25, 1920 and enter a world of homespun virtues, captive maidens, secret passages, and happy endings. On the cover, the melodramatic double title competes with the bright illustration of dashing Captain Ray leading a double-quick charge across the open space between the two armies in the forlorn hope of overcoming the heavily fortified enemy. Within, the yellowed pages are devoid of illustrations with the exception of advertisements in the back for bikes and offers of fabulous prizes for selling sheet music. After reading the feature story, current news, and several short stories, the young adventurers could anticipate another escapade in the next week's issue titled The Ten Treasure Houses of the Tartar King.

Dime novels, in fact priced from 5 to 25 cents, included stories about pirates, bandits, train robberies, saloon duels, adventure, and romance. Book lovers took in stride a complex and rich vocabulary that did not take into consideration age level and authors who did not hesitate to use three words where one would suffice. They were considered a forbidden thrill and condemned as injurious to public morals by crusaders for the public good. Nevertheless, hundreds of stories were printed and reprinted in weeklies such as Secret Service, Pluck and Luck, Fame and Fortune, and Wild West Weekly during the late 19th and early 20th century.

Jenkins Garrett Collection, Special Collections, The University of Texas at Arlington