Runaway Boys Cause a Stir in the Rogue Valley in 1937

May 30, 2014

Two Rogue Valley brothers ran away from their Phoenix area home in 1937, attracting nationwide attention after local newspapers dubbed them the “Tarzan Boys.”  

The sheriff caught Robert Harris, 14, and his brother, David, 10, on the 13th day of their living in the mountains and subsisting on foodstuffs stolen from the area’s abundant orchards, hen houses and dairies.    The sheriff’s office was pretty mellow at the time.  Deputy Sheriff Henry Moore said, “We will just bide our time and sneak up on them when they are not looking.” And that’s what happened when someone spotted their camp fire.   Many years later, 86-year-old Robert Harris told the Medford Mail Tribune. “I don’t know why they called us ‘Tarzan Boys’ … We were more like Tom Sawyer than Tarzan.”  Harris said they preferred the freedom of the outdoors to the school room.  “We started playing hooky about one day a week and running around the country, exploring.  Pretty soon we decided not to go at all.”   Back in school, the two truants settled down and Robert graduated on schedule.  “They probably wanted to get rid of me,” he told the Mail Tribune.  

Sources:  "The Saga of the Dark Hollow Tarzans." Southern Oregon History Revised. Ed. Ben Truwe. Medford, Ore.: Ben Truwe, 2009. Web. 26 May 2014.  Miller, Bill. "The Tarzan Boys." Mail Tribune 14 June 2009 [Medford, Ore.] . Web. 26 May 2014.