Smuggler’s Island – Atwater Culpepper (1935)

sascoverYou give me four characters in the first three minutes, I’m lost unless their last name is Marx. Let’s get the dramatis personae out of the way: Eileen Curtis, Terry Dale, Dan Mayo [1] & Marcia Mayo.

Our cast is actually cast-aways from a liner that exploded three days earlier.  They awaken on the beach and in only a sentence or two, we get a feel for their personalities.

  • Eileen’s “white dress was hunched up about her hips, and below it extended snagged stockings, water-soaked lace, dangling garters.” So she is the hottie, and if the first seven stories are any guide, she is soon to be topless.
  • Terry Dale’s “face was crusted with salt and blistered with the torturing afternoon sun.  Searing agony seared through his wracked muscles.”  So despite his double girl names, he is the muscular, tough-guy hero and likely beneficiary of Eileen’s toplessness.
  • Dan Mayo is using their few miraculously surviving matches to light a cigarette instead of, say, a signal fire.  “They’re my matches and if there are any good ones left in the lot, I’m going to keep ’em.”  So he’s the jerk — you know, because he smokes.
  • Marcia Mayo seems much more likable than her husband:  “Down on her knees, she blew lustily.”  Actually she is being intelligent and resourceful, trying to start a small fire with the cigarette Terry knocked out of Mayo’s mouth.

On board the ship, Dale had lost a bundle to Mayo playing poker.  Once Dale caught Mayo cheating, there was a scuffle.  Marcia had tried to warn Dale.  Her effort was misinterpreted by Eileen who pulled off the engagement ring Dale had given her.

Marcia’s resourcefulness continues as she catches a crab for dinner.  Mayo does the manly thing — i.e. diminishes his wife’s achievement and takes credit.  Marcia soldiers on and pulls a metal clasp from her garter.  She gives it to Dale to fashion into a fishing hook because Mayo would just turn it into a roach-clip and use up more matches. I give credit to Eileen, though, for gamely chasing down more crabs.

After catching a couple of fish, Dale decides to explore the island.  None of the others leap up to join him, but Marcia does later catch up to him.  She finds that her clothes are being ripped up by the trek through the jungle, so gamely strips down to bra and panties to continue.  I have misjudged Marcia as she is the first to be topless.  She and Dale begin forming an alliance right there on a rock.  Unfortunately, Eileen and Mayo decided to follow them after all.

That night, Dale hears voices but doesn’t see anyone.  The next morning, he finds footprints and a cigar stub.  Down the beach, he sees a disturbance in the sand.  Dale begins digging and finds a bundle containing drugs.  Mayo is ready to destroy them, but Dale wisely points out that the men who left them might be back.

They do indeed come back three days later.  Eileen and Dale are able to circle back and board their boat.  In getting to the boat, Eileen’s sheer, wet bra splits open, airing out the last remaining breasts on the island. so the story is really over anyway. Yada, yada, the Coast Guard shows up, or maybe it is the Navy, and captures the smugglers.

Another quaint little story, but nothing special.  C’mon, I paid $.99 for this collection!


  • [1] Off topic, but Zack Mayo can go to hell.  When Sgt. Foley breaks him and he screams “I got nowhere else to go”, why isn’t he tossed out immediately?  This is treated as some sort of revelation, a turning point in his character.  In reality, this is like telling your wife you settled for her because you couldn’t do any better.
  • First published in April 1935 — like most of these stories.  Either this was the most lazily curated anthology in history or April 1935 was the 1939 of pulp.
  • Yet another story mentioning step-ins.  They must have been all the rage in the 30’s.
  • Thunder Island

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