Saturday, March 16, 2019

Alfred Hitchcock Presents-The Opportunity-J.W. Aaron Mystery Solved!

by Jack Seabrook

When I wrote about "The Opportunity" back in 2014 (see here), I was unable to find anything out about J.W. Aaron, the author who wrote the story on which the TV show was based. The FictionMags Index lists ten stories by Aaron, all published in the mystery magazines in the late 1950s:

"Pat Hand," Manhunt (April 1956)
"Death of a Tramp," Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine (December 1956)
"You Can’t Beat Routine," Verdict (January 1957)
"Golden Opportunity," Manhunt (March 1957)
"Kidnap Case," Trapped Detective Story Magazine (June 1957)
"Cut-Throat World," Manhunt (October 1957)
"The Snatchers," Guilty Detective Story Magazine (November 1957)
"Blonde in the Bathtub," Trapped Detective Story Magazine (December 1957)
"To Crack a Safe," Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, (February 1958)
"Mad Dog Beware!," Manhunt (October 1959)

"Golden Opportunity" was published here
I recently heard from Bob Bjorkman, who writes:

Regarding your blog, bare-bones e-zine, Thursday, September 4, 2014.

The blog topic that day was "Golden Opportunity," written by J.W. Aaron and made into a 30-minute Alfred Hitchcock television segment. There was some discussion about who the author was. I can tell you that J.W. Aaron was a pseudonym for my father, John D. Bjorkman, who wrote several short stories during the 1950s.

I attach correspondence between H.S.D. publications and my father for "Death of a Tramp," which was published in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine. The document identifies J.W. Aaron as John D. Bjorkman.

I queried further and received more information:

Dad was born and raised in Minneapolis. After high school, he enlisted in the army. He was in the 3rd Infantry division in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy. Coincidentally, James Arness, also from Minneapolis, and Audie Murphy were in the same division. After WWII he attended South Dakota State for a couple of years, then married my mother. He became an agent/ telegrapher on the Milwaukee Railroad and spent his career in small South Dakota towns along the railroad from Sioux Falls to Rapid City, while raising a family, finally retiring in 1984. He was about 35 in the picture I attach, which would have been about 1960. Which is about when he wrote the last of his short stories for the crime magazines.

Following are excerpts from his obituary:

John D. Bjorkman
Sioux Falls--John D. Bjorkman, 80, died at his home on Wednesday, October 13, 2004. John D. Bjorkman was born on May 14, 1924 in Minneapolis, to Alfred and Grace Bjorkman. After high school, in 1942, he enlisted in the United States Army, where he served as a combat infantryman and later as a military policeman. He participated in the North African campaign, the Sicilian campaign, and four amphibious landings on the Italian coast, including Anzio Beach, serving with a valor he never acknowledged in life, but for which he was awarded numerous medals, including the Bronze Star. Upon his return from the War, John attended South Dakota State College in Brookings. John was an agent and telegrapher for the Milwaukee Road in various towns in South Dakota from 1950 until his retirement in 1984. He was an ardent sports enthusiast. He coached his sons for many years in youth baseball and developed a passion for golf, which he continued to play several times each week, until two months before his death. He also authored several short stories, published under his pen name, J.W. Aaron, in magazines such as Ellery Queen's and Alfred Hitchcock and in hardcover in a compilation of best short stories. He was a member of the American Legion, VFW, and Elks.

I am grateful to Mr. Bjorkman for kindly sending along information about his father and for solving the mystery of the identity of author J.W. Aaron!


Peter Enfantino said...

Fantastic! This is why I pay my $29.99 monthly fee to read bare bones. Sherlock Seabrook!

John Scoleri said...

Nice work, Jack!

It's rewarding to receive this kind or correspondence, as it makes the effort of researching documenting these often overlooked topics worthwhile. And I'm sure for those people combing the web for information about their relatives, they're probably just as thrilled to find someone taking the time to write about these subjects.

Only thing Jack, is how we break it to Peter that his $30 a month is what allows him to write for bare bones? Should we even tell him that reading is free?

Jack Seabrook said...

I was keeping that under my hat for the time being.

Todd Mason said...

Very good work! Thanks to both you, Jack, and the younger Mr. Bjorkman.

Jack Seabrook said...

Thanks for reading, Todd! I wish more people like him would contact me.

Walker Martin said...

Thanks for this information Jack. As a collector of MANHUNT, AHMM, and the Manhunt imitators, I find this to be of great interest. I wonder why he stopped writing after ten stories?

noirencyclopedia said...

Fascinating -- many thanks!

Jack Seabrook said...

Thanks, Walker! Perhaps he just ran out of ideas. So nice to hear from you again in the comments section!

Jack Seabrook said...

Thanks, "noirencyclopedia"!