I was born in the State of Iowa, but left there at 2, moving to Florida with my parents. As an amateur Juvenile delinquent, I as 12 when a judge suggested it would be a good idea if I left the state. We moved to a horse ranch in South Dakota, then back to Iowa. At 14, I sold my first short story to the long defunct Wild West Weekly, published by Street & Smith. I was paid $5, the amount most grown men were making for a week in the grain fields in that Depression era.
I did a lot of things along the way, but I kept writing. I didn’t sell anything again until I was 21, but I’ve been at it ever since. In 1960 I started my own publishing company, producing outdoor magazines for international distribution. This cut into my freelance writing, while I ran the company for 37 years. Most of the staff were made up of former or retired Marines I had known somewhere along the way. One of the requirements for employment: the individual had to become a USMCCCA member.
In 1997, Bob Arsenault, my corporate vice-president and long-time Marine Corps buddy, died of cancer; that same year, one of my trusted employees was caught with his hand in the till. When the price of printing paper tripled virtually overnight, publishing wasn‘t fun anymore. I sold everything I owned, except my wife and my dog and came to Hawaii, where I already owned a beach home. I no longer have the dog or wife, but they do have each other.
I still write a monthly gun test article for GUN WORLD which I once owned, cover Marine activities in Hawaii for LEATHERNECK magazine, do occasional articles for the QUARTER HORSE JOURNAL, KNIVES ILLUSTRATED and GUNS OF THE OLD WEST, a quarterly. Most of my time over the past several years has been devoted to writing mystery and Western novels. One exception is an autobiographical tome that covers one of my five careers (including the amateur JD stint). It was issued in December 2002 by Scarecrow Press and is titled WHITE HORSE, BLACK HAT. Subtitle appearing on the book jacket is A QUARTER CENTURY ON HOLLYWOOD’S POVERTY ROW. I think that is self-explanatory.
Two of my characters in my mystery series are probably somewhat autobiographical. Charlie Cougar is a Mescalero Apache who has been a stuntman, a drunk and a rodeo rider. I’m a quarter Mescalero and I’ve been all of those things. Sam Light is a newspaper man who has been a Marine, a reporter, a drunk, an editor and a hobo. I’ve been all of those things, too. But at least, I’m writing about things of which I have a basic knowledge!
I am using the name C. Jack Lewis these days because there are now four other guys in the U.S. writing as Jack Lewis. One is even claiming authorship of stuff I wrote 30 years ago. There is also a Las Vegas hood named Jack Lewis. This change is an effort to cut myself out of the herd.
Incidentally, of the 1st MAW PIO team (that’s what it was called then) that beat the 1st Marine Division into Wonsan, North Korea in the winter of 1950, I understand that I am the only living member.
- 13 December 1942 — 6 September 1946 (active duty — stayed in Reserve.
- 15 July 1950 — January 5 1956 (active duty — stayed in Reserve.
- Discharged from Reserve in 1958 as captain
- Recommissioned as Reserve Major 1969 (special active duty assignment with III MAF in Vietnam during August/September 1970.)
- Under the Reserve program ended up with the equivalent (and pay ) for just over 15 years active duty service. This included numerous active duty stints with the Regular establishment of up to six months at a time. Since I had a batch of Marines running my publishing company, I could take that much time away from it.
- Retired the day before my 60th birthday, November 12, 1964. Jay Hubbard did the honors.
Wanderer & Occasional Author
Webmaster’s Note: Jack has also written under the name of Jack P. Lewis (Amazon.com listed 54 titless) Here are some of his covers: