Henry Ferris Arnold.
When I looked at the various reviews of “The Night Wire” on Goodreads, I felt it was my duty to add. what I have learned during research for my book, Titanic’s Forgotten Movie.
Yes, there is a creepier theme in the story that relates H.F. Arnold’s little horror tale to the infamous sinking of the luxury liner in 1912.
Published in the heyday of short story writing when magazines were devoted to the art, now basically lost to writers, were genre-periodicals as well as major magazines that published stories. Of course, in those days, you had H.P. Lovecraft, J.D. Salinger, and B. Traven.
Then in the 1920s, out of nowhere came a young writer graduated from a mid-Western college. He only wrote three stories in his life, all of the supernatural vein. You may well ask why.
Arnold’s background has been called mysterious and murky, some even questioning whether he used a pen-name. No, he was Henry Ferris Arnold. And, he went to Hollywood upon graduation from college to work in the publicity and movie advertising business. He was not necessarily a denizen of tabloid journals where he worked the graveyard shift in the Morgue (old newspaper term for the library).
He actually started out in the Goldwyn Studios and quickly rose to the exalted position as Sam Goldwyn’s Director of Publicity. He was also elected to various positions of importance at WAMPAS (Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers).
His sister Pauline Arnold, aka Polly, moved to New York in 1926 and became a pioneer woman in the advertising business—and the east coast tie-in with her brother. She founded a company called MRCA, and it was a press agency that handled people who wanted their name dropped into columns of Walter Winchell or Ed Sullivan.
Polly soon became partners with a man called Percy White, Jr.
What has this to do with “Night Wire” and Titanic?
It is the backstory.
Percy White’s father and brother died on Titanic in 1912. He was a man haunted by their ends. Polly then married Percy—and she told her brother about his family history.
“Night Wire” emerged when H.F. Arnold started to use details from Percy as the basis for a story that kept the family’s name out of it, but might be a sellable story to movies. He knew many people in movies who wanted to make a Titanic movie.
After all, one of the famous stories of wire operators centered on the two heroic Titanic men who sent out distress calls for two hours. It is the basic plot of the story.
Where are they? In a place called Xebico. If you are a cryptographer, you may have done your homework. Most have not. Xebico is an anagram for Icebox.
The fog washing over the victims might well be the frigid North Atlantic as the ship sank, becoming an icebox containing hundreds of souls.
The narrator observes the wire operator named John Morgan. IN some Titanic circles, one of the controversial figures is John Pierpont Morgan, who had a first-class suite on Titanic—and bailed out of sailing at the last moment. Some said he knew something bad was imminent.
So, that is a little background information.