get to it, but I know it’s there – buried
deep in our storage unit amidst the boxes of books and tubs of old
clothes and stacks of obsolete dot-matrix printers. When we donated
20 boxes of SFPA mailings to the SF collection at Texas A&M
University, I made certain – for sentimental reasons –
that I held it back. Considering that ours is a fannish storage
unit, the box containing it should exude a special … shine.
After all, SFPA 100 was, for all I know is, and probably will
forever be, the largest and the greatest apa mailing of all
“Apa.” If you’re
an old-fart/paper-slut like me, you know what an apa is. It’s
a term from another age, the pre-internet era when fans did their
thing on paper (and at cons) instead of on-line (and at cons). It
stands for amateur press association, an organization to which
members submit fanzines to be gathered into bundles, or “mailings,”
or “mlgs,” or “disties,” and distributed at
regular intervals. The fannish tradition extends ‘way back:
FAPA, the Fantasy Amateur Press Association, was founded in 1937.
SFPA, the Southern Fandom Press Alliance, was created in 1961. I
joined in January, 1971. Ten years and three months later –
April, 1981, if you have problems with calendars – SFPA put out
its 100th mailing. I was in charge, and it was one of the
epic fannish experiences of my life.
No one could comprehend why our
100th mailing was such a big deal without understanding
the vital place SFPA has in the history of the fannish South. Look
thee back upon 1961.
It seemed as if the Civil War
had worked after all. The Southern United States was as alien to the
rest of America as Outer Mongolia. The qualities of the Sun Belt had
yet to be discovered; the region was poor. The civil rights
movement, just building steam, underscored the antiquity and
injustice of Jim Crow. The righteousness of that struggle made it
easy to scapegoat the South for the whole society’s sin.
Socially, historically, economically, the South was isolate.
Science fiction, however,
knows no boundaries, and there were fans in the South. New Orleans
had Harry Moore and his Nolacon. Hank Reinhardt and the Jerrys,
Burge and Page, centered Atlanta’s ASFO (earning the splendid
soubriquet, “ASFOles”). Harry Warner’s “A
Few More Yesterdays”, in the Southern Fandom Confederation
Handbook, discussed the Columbia group publishing The Southern
Fan. But the South was wide, the fans scattered, the
Into this void came the
unlikely figure of Alfred McCoy Andrews. Al suffered from muscular
dystrophy and couldn’t travel much from his Huntsville home.
But this jazz and SF fan had the talent of drawing others to him, and
encouraging them to share his enthusiasm for fandom … and his
Al’s aim was to put
Southern fans in communication with one another. To do so, he
founded the Southern Fandom Group, along the lines of the fabled
National Fantasy Fan Federation. A young fan named Bill Plott,
remembering the N3F’s apa, N’APA, suggested that the SFG
create an amateur press association of its own. Andrews delegated
the job of organizing this apa to Bob Jennings, a Tennessee fan
experienced in fanzines. Bob sent forth a hectographed letter to
every fan in the South promoting “the SFG apa.” Response
was good; he did three zines hashing out the apa’s structure
and (first) constitution. Seven guys, including Andrews and Plott,
did zines, and in September, 1961, the first mailing of the Southern
Fandom Press Alliance went forth.
SFPA did its job – it
brought Southern fandom together. Its in-print camaraderie was soon
mirrored by in-person celebration – the DeepSouthCon. Starting
out as gathering of five, and then six (including a very young
William Gibson) in member Dave Hulan’s home, the DSC swelled to
19, then 60. The dual outlets of Southern fannish energy attracted
terrific, creative souls – Lon Atkins, Len Bailes, Joe Staton,
Hank Reinhardt. Southern fandom grew.
More and more people joined
SFPA and came to DSC. Fandom arose wherever either touched. In New
Orleans, a fan named Don Markstein was drawn into SFPA’s web –
and found it very much to his taste. He became Official Editor and
brought an influx of new SFPAns into the apa – among them, yhos
– infecting them/us with his love for the apa.
Markstein’s emphasis on
SFPA history showed itself in a fascination for statistics –
the “Coffin Scores”, delineating how many mailings a
member had hit in a row – and mailing pagecount records, which
he delighted in breaking. SFPA’s “Gala 50th
Mailing” was his masterpiece, coming in at over 600 pages. Its
contents contained a terrific history Markstein composed and a slew
of retrospective zines by others. Mailing no. 50 became the model
for SFPA celebrations. Mailing no. 73, edited by Stven Carlberg,
marked the apa’s 15th anniversary, and raised the
pagecount record to 880 pages. Markstein composed a definitive index
to what had gone before – The Fabulous Sesquidecadely SFPA
To the best of my knowledge I
was the first to mention SFPA’s 100th mailing,
when I ran for Official Editor in 1979. Within the next OE term,
SFPA 100 would be collated, a prize beyond measure in an apa so
devoted to history and personality. Even before the votes were
tallied, I declared my intention to run for re-election, for I
wanted that glory.
Being unopposed, I squeaked
through to victory. The bimonthly rebel apa had just endured a slump
wherein mlgs seldom topped 300 pages (we were used to twice that),
and member interest seemed in freefall. I wouldn’t dream of
taking credit for it, but after I became OE, the apa began to
recover. SFPA’s manic spirit – typically expressed
itself in wild faanfiction, intricate/intense interplay in mc’s,
and feuds more vicious than rat-fights – experienced a rebirth.
For a while, every mailing was
larger than the one preceding, with pagecounts swinging into the 600+
range. Our senior member, Lon Atkins, who had joined in 1965, began
producing huge handsome issues of Melikaphkaz of surpassing
quality and satisfying bulk. Faan fiction, pinnacled by Atkins in
his classic Travis McGee parody, Red as Flame, made a
comeback; I tried my hand at it through Safpa’s Lot.
In apa lore, the size of its
waitlist was always a key to an apa’s health – it was
alleged, for instance, that it would take five years to climb FAPA’s.
In the year or so before mailing 100, SFPA’s swelled to over
40 names. To tap and spark waitlister enthusiasm, Liz Schwarzin (now
Copeland) and Larry Epke had founded Shadow-SFPA, along the lines of
Shadow-FAPA; their apa-within-an-apa began a year-long boom. All was
inspired by the looming promise of something incredible: mlg 100.
I did run for re-election as
OE, and thought I had it made – until the only candidate arose
who could possibly top my qualifications. Bob Jennings had been
SFPA’s first “mailing editor”. In his second
membership he brought along many New England waitlisters, several of
them excellent zinesters. His campaign was based on the innate
niftiness of having the guy who sent forth SFPA’s first disty
handle the 100th – and t’was supported by some
The S.F.P.A. News &
Views was a faux tabloid devoted to Bob’s candidacy
– and my own evialness. It was rich with slander and lunacy,
and I loved it. Bob produced two classic issues. How could I answer
such funny stuff?
In GHLIII for SFPA OE,
my campaign zine, I did my best. I had good arguments on my side. My
own membership was … well, I’d never missed a mailing or
owed pages in more than ten years. With me as OE, SFPA had had a
great year, recovering splendidly from its slump. Enthusiasm, as
shown by pagecount and waitlist size, had risen and was still on the
rise. The apa had weathered an ugly experience with a hostile
member, whom I had talked into peacefully resigning (though it took a
threat of expulsion to do it). Ned Brooks said that this was the
equivalent of the Iranian hostages being released. Basically, I
argued that although Jennings had indeed gathered SFPA’s first
few mailings, experience with the current apa was a virtue of my
candidacy. Thinking to be noble, I declared that should I win the
rights to mailing 100, I’d offer Bob the rights to our 20th
anniversary mailing, which would come up the next September …
but Bob correctly recognized that as a silly idea and pshawed that
With a sensational prize like
mailing 100 at stake, I felt I should tap a neutral party top serve
as Official Teller. Pianist Mike Rogers agreed to handle it. The
better to insure a representative turnout, our official ballot was a
stamped postcard already addressed to Mike. I sweated a bit, but
finally, Mike’s call came, and I had won, 22-3. Well!
With the OEship in hand, I
turned to the assemblage of the mailing. From the first, I didn’t
want to restrict the mailing to its current roster. As I’ve
said, SFPA’s past is important to the apa, and past members had
a lot to offer. I collected addresses and sent forth Once a SFPAn
to every former member I could find. One of the most important
names in the apa’s past was Larry Montgomery. A call to his
boyhood home in Anniston, Alabama brought his current location to me
– a radio station in Colorado.
I reached Larry at his disc
jockeying job – literally, on the air. And to my astonishment,
he knew me. My teen career haunting Julie Schwartz’
letter columns again paid off.
Larry not only agreed to do a
“catch-up” zine for the mailing, but volunteered a gift
that absolutely blew my mind. Cue “the Montgomery Papers.”
On her way to a January
Southern convention, a young lady stopped off in Anniston, Alabama,
and picked up a box from Larry Montgomery’s parents. I had
asked the girl to make the stop and met her in the hotel lobby …
where I spent hours with other SFPAns oohing and ahhing over the
contents: bound copies of SFPA’s first 20 mailings.
Larry had joined SFPA with
mailing 9 (September 1963). He had obtained copies of earlier
disties from Dick Ambrose, a charter member. All he bound into
volumes – along with the four mailings of Ala-Apa, an
experiment which lasted about a year. The early mailings were prize
enough, but Ambrose and Montgomery had preserved even older stuff.
Three issues of The Southern Apa Planning Zine, wherein Bob
Jennings and others debated organizational matters, and ...
I doubt that Howard Carter
gasped as sincerely when gazing for the first time on the treasures
of King Tut as did I when I recognized the dim, purple hectographed
sheet atop the first volume. “Dear Southern Fandom Group
Member,” it began. There it was … the original
come-on letter inviting Southern SFers to form a regional SF apa.
The slight little sheet had
never been seen by modern SFPA. When Don Markstein wrote his epochal
history of the apa, he mentioned its existence, but I don’t
think he’d ever seen it. It wasn’t listed at all in the
massive Index he assembled for mailing 73. Obviously, it had to run
in our 100th mailing – and first.
Taking great pains with the
flimsy, much-folded sheet, I took it to a local xeroxery and had it
clearly photocopied. I cleaned up the show-through and stains of age
with white-out, then ‘roxed it again onto the classiest stock
they had: champagne parchment. As this letter originally went forth
in late spring/early summer 1961, it was seeing a fine 20th
In the Official Organ for the
January, 1980 SFPA mailing, I floated an idea. “Who’s up
for a SFPAcon?” Considering SFPA’s lifelong
relationship with DeepSouthCon, where the roster would gather in
person as it bimonthly did on paper, the concept made sense. A
fannish event at which to boogie and, incidentally, collate mlg 100.
I reminded myself of Tom Sawyer and the whitewashing of a certain
But I hadn’t the time to
assemble a mailing and create a convention both, so a few months
later, I called SFPAcon “probably a defunct idea.” I
reckoned without the merry maniacs of Knoxville, Tennessee.
The headquarters of this
berserker klatsch was on Knoxville’s Jonquil Lane. Vern Clark,
Rusty Burke, and Bob Barger lived there, and others of their
persuasion gathered often within its environs to celebrate the life
fanatique. Well I remember an occasion when, in the midst of
a Hearts game, they called me – living 300 miles east in
Greensboro, North Carolina – to verify a rule. Most joined the
SFPA waitlist, and, with the phenomenal talent of Charlie Williams
lending savage swack to their satire, swarmed over Southern fandom
.... and my plans for our centennial mailing.
T’was they who found out
about Satyricon, a new convention planned for the spring of 1981, and
approached the concom with an idea. Invite me to be Fan Guest
of Honor, contingent only on my agreeing to hold my SFPAcon –
and the collation of mlg 100 – there. They prevailed.
When the call came, I debated
the issue with myself for perhaps half a nanosecond before accepting.
After all, I’d never been Fan Guest of Honor anyplace, and
though mlg 100 would be delayed a week, that was to the apa’s
benefit: more time to prep zines worthy of the event. And …
SFPA would get its SFPAcon.
In the next Official Organ of
the Southern Fandom Press Alliance, I announced that SFPA 100 would
be collated at Satyricon in Knoxville, Tennessee – the city of
its birth – on or about April 5, 1981.
As 1981 dawned, work began in
earnest on mailing 100. Lon Atkins circulated a questionnaire to
each of the nine other guys who had served SFPA as Official Editors,
querying us on how we handled the job. I gathered photos for The
SFPA Family Album, a collection I’d planned for years. To
supplement stats I had made myself, Jerry Proctor, husband to the
noble Charlotte, halftoned dozens of shots submitted by SFPAns past
and present (and waitlist). (Jerry was then an editor with The
Birmingham News, for which Bill Plott himself would later work.)
And I began my regular SFPAzine, Spiritus Mundi.
Numerologically, the issue was
blessed: I was the 62nd fan to ride the SFPA roster and it
was my 62nd Spiritus. I pulled out every stop. I
recounted the story of my membership. I reprinted an idiotic faan
fiction I’d written years before, “The OExorcist”,
parodying both the novel and movie and my fellow SFPAns. (Lon Atkins
liked it; I cast him as God.) I penned an article about the first
volume of the Montgomery Papers – SFPAs 1-5. I typed up a
confused and confusing work of fiction, “Turista”,
written before I realized that I have no talent. And, of course, I
did the usual apa business: mailing comments and natter about life
outside of the SFPA bubble. Fronted with the same “Laughing
Lion” etching as Challenger no. 26, and backed with
elegantly calligraphed lines from the Yeats poem that gave me my
title, SM62 came out at 112 pages.
Printing this lump was,
to say the least, a chore. Fans of today do not know the epic joy of
“slipsheeting” to blot up excess ink, but I was a
mimeographer, with my own – used – Gestetner, which means
I primed and inked and churned forth the pages myself, and the
occasion demanded slick bond paper. To assist with slipsheeting I
drafted the closest soul – my first wife, Beth. For days the
poor kid stayed up till midnight separating printed pages from
slipsheets. Beth slaved until her eyes were bleary and her hands
were stained fulgian black. The fanzine hobby, she decided, was some
sort of neurological disorder pursued by drooling lunatics.
It wasn’t until she began to hang with the Knoxville nuts a
year later that she started doing zines herself – and won
SFPA’s Egoboo poll.
One more note about Spiritus
Mundi: I had no stapler capable of penetrating its 57 sheets. A
call to mike weber (he prefers lower case) and Sue Phillips in
Atlanta solved that problem. They would bring their
heavy-duty stapler to Satyricon.
My efforts to draw
contributions from anyone involved in SFPA – past, present, or
waitlist – led to the only problem the mailing experienced.
“Handy” was a great apan. He had invited me into another
apa that, in its time, I enjoyed almost as much as SFPA. In return,
I convinced him to join SFPA’s waitlist and encouraged him to
contribute to mlg 100 … but there the problems began.
Handy noted that
I was interested in producing history’s largest apa mailing.
To this end, he offered his services as one of fandom’s
premiere frankers. He had access to reams and reams of NASA
material which he offered to collect and pump through. I freaked and
begged him not to foist this stuff on SFPA. True, we wanted a
majestic centennial, but we were people-based, and despite all
our fulminations, pagecount – even in #100 – was
secondary to personality.
Okay, he replied, what about
this: a zine wherein everything he wrote would be collated
into one gigantic zine. Without waiting for a response, he sent me
two volumes of 100 pages each. The first contained not only natter
about his everyday life but copies of every letter received and sent
from his household, including notes to his mother. The second volume
was far worse. It held NASA handouts and zines Handy had printed for
other people for other apas – mailing comments to and from
folks SFPA had never heard of. Having the idea that
Shadow-SFPA and its parent apa were in a pagecount war, he told me to
count his stuff as part of Shadow … and not to be “an
asshole of an OE.”
Reinforcements arrived as Lon
Atkins called. He’d heard of Handy’s activities and like
me, feared that SFPA’s centennial was in danger of drowning in
irrelevant paper. A former OE himself, Lon impressed on me the most
salient fact: asshole or not, I was in charge. Nothing
prevented me from deep-sixing Handy’s nonsense and returning
Emboldened, my manhood
restored, I held my head high and … asked Lon to call Handy.
(Well, they did live in the same city.) Perhaps our most
respected member could get our errant waitlister to understand.
Supreme SFPAtriot that he was, Lon gave it a try … and got
The final furious letter from
Handy ordered me to dump his zines and return his cash. That I did –
every cent, postage donation and waitlist fee. But I did exercise my
OE’s prerogative and kept the first of his zines in the
mailing. It was personal material, which is what we wanted,
and to tell the truth, I kind of liked it. His second volume –
NASA franks and other apas’ zines – ended up in landfill.
Except for a single copy, which I still have.
Looking back on this episode,
I felt bad. Wasn’t Handy simply responding to my
pagecount mania? Didn’t the rest of SFPA do the same? I sent
my first FAPAzine, Vainomoinen, through #100. But, I
reassured myself, Vain contained a mini-autobiography,
material of general interest. As for others, Ward Batty sent a
wonderful Fandom Calendar – which he had personally worked on.
The Nashvilleans sent through a genzine devoted to Fafhrd and the
Grey Mouser and Vern Clark a collection of Karl Edward Wagner’s
poetry, Songs of the Damned – each their own work. No
one could possibly complain about such gifts to the apa.
But Bob Jennings and his
Massachusetts Mafia shipped an issue of Green Lantern through
the mailing! Wasn’t that pure page-pumping?
I’d argue not. That GL
was penciled by Joe Staton. In his Tennessee youth he had been one
of the most vital members of early SFPA; his caricatures of Lon, Len
Bailes, Arnie Katz, Hank Reinhardt and others played an integral part
in creating the apa’s in-group mystique. (Katz still has one
of his portraits on his office wall.) Now he was a professional
comic book artist, so Jennings suggested – and I agreed –
that his work belonged in #100. Do wish Bob had found 50 copies of
E-Man, though; the GL art was just a job, but E-Man
was Joe’s personal creation, and every panel sang with joy.
Zines began to pour in. Our
mailman told me that ours was the only address that gave him muscles.
Larry Montgomery sent an inspired zine – with a naked lady on
the cover. Clint Hyde brought stencils and paper to our Greensboro
apartment for me to print, an account of a recent European trip.
Lon Atkins chimed in with a Melikaphkaz for the ages, a
magnificent Joe Staton cover (starring Lon and Hank) covering 140
great pages, including his Red as Flame pastiche. Dian
Crayne – SFPA’s first female member – sent a
special illo; that’s it at the fore of this article. (I
re-used it as the cover to my history of the apa ten years later.)
Weeks before Satyricon, I already had almost 600 pages on hand. When
Knoxville fan Connie Neal came to Greensboro for a media convention,
I entrusted her with carrying a huge boxful of SFPAzines home with
her. She delivered the goods straight to Jonquil Lane – not
the last service she would do for SFPA 100.
Despite this, I still had five
boxes packed with fanzines and a typewriter to load, with suitcase
and self, into my itsy-bitsy Honda Civic. On Friday, April 3, 1981,
I bid Beth so long, pointed my nose to the west and booked it.
I would like to say that I was
greeted by dancing girls and a 21-gun salute when I pulled up at
Knoxville’s Ramada Inn West, but not so. At the registration
table just inside the door, a volunteer asked me, “Have you
pre-registered?” “I’m the Fan Guest of Honor,”
I replied. Later, when Toastmaster Andy Offutt introduced notables
at Opening Ceremonies, he didn’t mention me at all.
But these were outsiders in
the great story of SFPA 100. The insiders were In Step. Waitlister
Jim Cobb helped me lug in the five boxes of SFPAzines and the box
Connie Neal had schlepped here earlier was brought in. Congivers
Burke, Clark and Co. escorted us, and our load, a small, featureless
enclosure just off the lobby, thenceforth known as “the SFPA
There I was joined by three
former Official Editors – Don Markstein, Stven Carlberg, and,
nattily attired in tee shirt and baggy pants, Bob Jennings. I had
met Bob at his comics shop in Massachusetts during Noreascon II.;
quite a trip to introduce him to his successors. Trying to figure
out how the members would wend their way through the walls of
fanzines we were erecting, we arranged collating tables, began to
stack zines thereupon, and sat back to watch more come in as SFPAns
We watched SFPA 100
accumulate, greeting our fellow members. A special delight came when
a slight fellow entered wearing a jacket emblazoned with a First
Fandom symbol. I’d never met him, but he was unmistakable, and
I leapt up to greet Lynn Hickman. I later presented him with River,
a book of poetry by Fred Chappell, my one-time writing teacher; Lynn
had driven the teenaged Chappell to Nolacon I. The volume includes
a poem addressed to me. Hank Davis brought zines, and a gift –
an autographed copy of one of his stories. Dennis Dolbear brought his
zines and Alan Hutchinson’s. mike weber and Sue Phillips
brought zines – and the heavy-duty stapler that would bind
Spiritus Mundi. In came Rich and Nicki Lynch, zines in hand.
The pagecount rose and rose – for a while, we figured, at a
page per minute.
Paul Flores, the Editing
Official of Shadow-SFPA, brought his contribution to the main
mailing, and the uncollated Shadow disty. Over 200 pages. The
pagecount record fell. It became clear that one member, Iris Brown,
would bring SFPA 100 to two milestones: 100% roster participation and
1000 pages. We waited and waited … and when the lady walked
in, her zines in hand, she was honestly puzzled by our whoops.
An incredible afternoon.
Friday night passed in
frenzied bacchanalia – or so I was told. Being a responsible
and respectable married man, I spent the evening studying
Ecclesiastes, the text thoughtfully provided by the Gideons. I did
venture forth on a couple of occasions, to play a new video game in
the con suite – Pac-Man -- gab with Justin and Annie
Winston, who had driven up from New Orleans – answer a kid’s
interview question about Star Wars. Who was my favorite
character? He was surprised when I said Darth Vader, since something
told me the whole series was about him.
I noted some of the
other attendees – Nancy Collins, long before Swamp Thing
and Sonja Blue – John Mayer, looking more like Jack Nicholson
than Nicholson himself – Donna Neslund, the con’s
beautiful chairman, reminding me so much of Bobbi Armbruster –
lovely and lanky Leslie Jones, short hours from the generous service
that would enshrine her forever in SFPA history – Karl Edward
Wagner, at the height of his powers, with his then-wife, the
unspeakably glorious Barbara Mott – present to celebrate not
only SFPA 100 but the record-length Shadow-SFPA mailing, waitlister
college beauties Elizabeth Stewart and Gretchen Fontenay. We made
frequent trips to the SFPA Room to gaze upon the rows and rows off
SFPAzines, six tables strong. Mindful of fannish temptation to
chaos, I kept the door locked. N.B., I was supposed to have the only
The next morning I was to chair
a panel on apas, featuring Jennings, Markstein, Carlberg, Nicki Lynch
(then OE of SAPS, the venerable Spectator Amateur Press Society) and
Brian Earl Brown, central mailer of REHUPA, the Robert E. Howard apa.
All gathered – but we were alone. No audience whatsoever.
Undaunted, we arranged our chairs in a circle and entertained
ourselves with a righteous discussion of the apa art form.
After lunch, I moved my
typewriter to the SFPA Room, opened the door to late-arriving zines,
and began work on the last and most important item of the mailing:
the Official Organ, The Southerner.
The Official Organ – go
ahead; we’ve heard all the jokes – had been on my mind a
long time. I had commissioned special lettering for its logos from
the talented calligrapher, Lynn Hodges, and Vern Clark had found a
Knoxville copy shop which stayed open Saturdays until 4PM. As for
content, I’d typed up the apa Roster, Constitution and Official
Rulings back in Greensboro, and now had to bring the Contents,
Treasury, Notes and Waitlist up to date. And add something special.
Together, Don Markstein and I made up the first listing ever of
SFPA’s OEs and Presidents.
It was probably the most
special moment of the entire weekend. Markstein and I had a long
history, much of it very unpleasant. If not the worst feud in SFPA
history, our seven-year in-print brawl was probably the meanest.
But on this day it was forgotten. SFPA came first.
While I labored, the Contents
grew. Paul Flores and the waitlisters assembled and stapled
Shadow-SFPA – two volumes of approximately 100 pages each!
Markstein collected scribbles for The SFPA 100 Autograph Page.
Jerry Page borrowed a typewriter for a short zine to add to the mix.
We passed the bottle of white correction fluid back and forth –
remember, my younger readers, this was 1981, and word processors and
laptops were ideas straight out of science fiction. We had to do our
writing on paper.
The hours were growing short.
Much remained to be done. I sent Mike Rogers out to buy an extra
tape for my typewriter, sure that the one I’d brought would run
out in the midst of a word. I checked and rechecked the Treasury
figures on Beth’s calculator. The Contents continued to grow.
I began to panic. What if I didn’t finish before 4?
At 2:30 I declared the
Contents closed, and, with New Orleanian Doug Wirth reading out each
zine’s pagecount, toted it all up. The room sat stunned.
(Turned out that was wrong.
I’d missed a sheet in one of Dave Hulan’s zines. So SFPA
100, the grandest apa mailing of all time, was 1,750 pages.)
But I had no time to gloat.
Connie Neal was a Knoxville native and my guide to the printer’s.
She knew how far it was and how long it would take to get there.
“We’ve got to go!” she exclaimed, again and again.
But the 40-name-and-address waitlist had yet to be typed!
“How will I repro this
thing?” I screeched. Kindness personified, Rich Lynch
volunteered to run me to his house in Chattanooga – a 230-mile
round trip – to electrostencil and print the thing. But at
that moment, Page finished his zine, and I was able to put patient
and saintly Mike Rogers to work on his typewriter, typing the
waitlist – which had grown even as we’d sat there. He
hammered away. Connie came in again. “We’ve got to go!
We’ve got to go!” It was 3:15.
And lo, like the Lady who
shone before Bernadette of Lourdes in the Academy Award-winning
performance of Jennifer Jones in The Song of Bernadette, the
solution blossomed in my mind: finish at the printer’s.
I had Connie get our car
ready. Leslie Jones would be our driver; she had once made
deliveries in Knoxville for a living.
The instant that Mike
completed the last address on the waitlist, the paper was ripped from
the typewriter. I carried it atop my own machine as Connie led the
way towards the front door, where our ride was waiting. “Gangway!
Gangway! ” I shouted. “Hot organ!”
Leslie awaited us,
revving the motor. Gloomily we eyed the building Saturday traffic.
I carried my typewriter, the masters for the OO, the autograph zine,
Page’s contribution. “Drive!” I shouted, and
Leslie burned rubber taking us on our way.
The ladies argued routes.
Which streets would be congested, which passable? We had but
minutes! Zoom, zoom, around dawdling traffic we careened, Leslie’s
slim but sure hands steady on the wheel. Through intersections we
plunged at the last instant of yellow signal, beeping, swerving,
zooming, two-wheeling about corners and through gaps in traffic where
a shoe couldn’t fit. There is a God. He was on SFPA’s
side. We made it., and in one piece.
The printshop, as I recall,
was near Vanderbilt University, and it was a satisfyingly hang-loose
type of place. I found out later that Connie had called and alerted
them to our approach. I was given a bench on which to finish the OO.
While the Xerox man printed up the other zines, I pasted up Hodges’
logos, corrected an address or two, wrote up the last-minute notes,
cleaned up what smudges and mess I could find. I handed the guy our
masters, and in a few minutes, it was done.
Oops! I had little money and
no checks. So Leslie paid for everything. Of course, we paid Ms.
Jones back, as if anything could repay her for her heroic services to
SFPA … and she wasn’t even on the Roster. We took the
long, slow, scenic route back to the hotel, savoring the beautiful
overview of the Tennessee River.
I won’t say much about
the banquet that intervened between the completion of the Official
Organ and the actual collation, except that the buffet was good, the
Pro Guest (Gordon R. Dickson) was gracious, Donna Neslund was lovely,
and my speech was … magnificent. I bragged about our awesome
pagecount – the SFPAns in the room applauded, the others gazed
blankly – hailed Bob Jennings for getting SFPA underway in that
very city, praised P.L. Caruthers’ red hair (she poked her face
in at just that moment), told a Hank Reinhardt joke, and mentioned
that Joe Celko, seated nearby, had once thrown a dye bomb into a
Joe. “This is the hotel!”
And much more of the same.
“You’re an eloquent son of a bitch!” Ken
Moore observed. I didn’t argue.
I had scheduled the collation
of SFPA 100 for the next morning, but a hassle immediately arose. A
member of the concom – not a SFPAn – had messed up the
checkout time for the SFPA Room. We would have to do the deed …
now. Before unleashing the assembled multitudes onto the centennial
mailing, I made one more scan of the six zine-packed tables.
Puckishness abounds in Southern fandom and I smelled a prank. It was
bad enough that an unsigned, unclaimed page, The SFPA
TimeTravelCon, had appeared (its author asserted himself after
the collation). But I would not allow anything else to gum up
Right away, I spotted it.
Someone, somehow, had talked the hotel into opening the room, and
slipped a single page right where most people wouldn’t have
noticed. But they reckoned without the GHLIIIOE Eagle Eye. I
grabbed The Screw Guy Lillian Oneshot, by Bob Jennings, etc.
and held it for mailing 101. It was followed on the contents by The
Screw Bob Jennings, Etc. Oneshot. This carried a single line of
text: “Ha ha, I found it.”
I opened the SFPA Room,
banished all but SFPAns from the vicinity, and began. I asked Bob,
our first mailing editor, to lead the way. From The Southerner,
in one corner … down the backs of two tables, then along the
fronts to Melikaphkaz … a 90-degree turn, progressing
down the back row of two other tables, back along the front …
to the table in the center of the room, up one side, down the other …
thence to the final table, capping all with the two volumes of
Shadow-SFPA. Crowded? Stven Carlberg, a musician, had tried to fit
an upright piano into that room! No wonder he’d been forced to
move it to the con suite!
Don went through. He passed
out buttons: SFPA 100, read Alan Hutchinson’s drawing, I
WAS THERE. Stven went through backwards. We collated
P.L.’s copy for her, redheadedness deserving every such
courtesy. Rich and Nicki, and mike, and Lynn … I asked each
to take their mailings back to their rooms and check it against the
OO for completeness. Dave Ryan, bless his soul, went through, and
Jim Cobb, and Sandy Barger. Rusty. Vern. Iris. Cliff Biggers.
Deb Hammer-Johnson. Rich returned to help collate extras. 50 trips
we made about that maze of tables, those walls of fanzines. It was
When all of the SFPAns present
had their mailings, it was nigh upon midnight. The extra mailings
threatened to collapse the table they sat on. After all, each
weighed ten pounds! I locked the SFPA Room and went to help judge
Sunday morning, as
Satyricon went the way of all conventions, I loaded the mailing
copies of SFPA 100 into boxes for Burke and Clark to mail. We gave
some wicked thought to disguising Lon Atkins’ copy as computer
manuals. Other mailings were addressed to Larry Montgomery …
and Bill Plott. Just before I drove away, I seized Nicki Lynch and
danced the elfin charmer about the parking lot.
SFPA 100 drew appropriate awe
from the membership. mike weber’s response was adapted from
Olive Oyl’s impression of Bluto in the movie version of Popeye:
“It’s … large.” When I mentioned SFPA 100 in
LASFAPA, one member replied, “A 1748-page apa mailing? My head
In time, I left Greensboro,
and Beth and I went separate ways. The Knoxvilleans scattered and
moved on from fanac. Gafia worked its evial will on Leslie Jones.
Bob Jennings and the rest of the “Massachusetts Mafia”
left SFPA eventually, as did Lon Atkins, Stven Carlberg, and many
others. Dave Ryan, P.L. Caruthers and Lynn Hickman, alas, joined the
great convention in the sky. But SFPA abides, well past 260
mailings now … Markstein is still there, Rich Lynch is still
there, mike weber is still there, and I am still there, borne
along not merely by glorious memories like Satyricon I and SFPA 100,
but by the community of the rarest critters in life: like souls.
The button passed out by Don Markstein at
Satyricon differed from this illo in one respect. Illo by Alan