Challenger Logo by Alan White   A Science Fiction Fanzine   Summer 2009

HOW JULIE SCHWARTZ AND FORRY ACKERMAN

NEARLY GOT ME KICKED OUT OF A CONVENTION  -

A confession by Curt Phillips


I attended a con in Roanoke, Virginia  a couple of decades ago where Julie Schwartz and Forry Ackerman were the guests.  Entering the main hall just after Forry’s GOH speech had started (actually a moderate sized room holding only about 40 fans) I happened to wind up sitting next to Julie, whom I knew slightly.  I just happened to have brought along a copy of an issue of Fantasy Magazine, the fanzine that he edited in the mid-1930’s, for him to autograph and was holding it as we sat there listening to the speech. 

Forry’s giving his standard talk; “blah, blah, blah - …Bela Legosi’s ring… - blah, blah, blah, - the head of the Metropolis robot…” - and so on.  Don’t get me wrong, I liked Forry and his speech was fun – the first few times I heard it.  He just needed new material.  Well, Julie’s starting to snore and I’m nodding off myself, so I give him an elbow him in the ribs and hand him the fanzine with the idea that he’ll look it over and think, “My! What a bright and intelligent fellow this jerk must be for carrying my old fanzines around!”  Instead Julie – refreshed from his nap – guffaws loudly and starts telling me about the zine.  “SAY! THIS IS A GREAT ISSUE!  WE GOT A LOT OF GOOD RESPONSE ON THIS ONE!  DID YOU KNOW…” and so on.  Did Julie Schwartz ever know how to whisper?  The evidence I've collected suggests not.

Forry’s reaction to all this was fascinating.  He tried to ignore Julie and after a couple of loud “ahem, ahem”s he plunged gamely on about twice as loud as before.  By this time Julie was well launched into the story he’s telling me and he apparently interprets Forry’s added volume as nothing more than increased background noise.  I think you can see where this is going. 

Now, here’s the unfair part of the story: I’m sitting there not having said a single word, Forry’s whooping it up on stage, Julie’s whooping it up on my right, I glance around to my left and the entire audience is glaring at me!  For once in my life I’m the only entirely blameless person in the room and the audience is ready to pounce on me like raptors on a wounded tree-sloth.  Just as I’m thinking, “How could this possibly get any worse?” I felt an angry tug on my sleeve.  I turned to find myself facing a white-haired and very angry Forry Ackerman fan.  “Young man”, she snapped, quivering in fury.  “You and your grandfather are being very rude!” 

I can’t remember what happened after that, but I never did get my fanzine signed…

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