The Evans-Freehafer Award (by Al Lewis) PDF Print E-mail

by Al Lewis, originally printed in APA-L

reprinted in THE BEST OF APA-L

written in 1965 or 1966

[updated by Lee Gold in 2009]

photo of Al Lewis 


When Paul Turner presented Fred Patten with the 7th annual Evans-Freehafer Award, he was recognizing, on behalf of all of us, that Fred has done more to help this club in the past year than any other single person.  The award is a public "thank you," a statement that we cannot remember a service every week, but that service is noted and not forgotten, and the recipient of the award is one who has unselfishly given of time and energy to an extraordinary degree, not for his own personal glory but for the good of the club.  It is also a statement to the other members of the club that service is recognized, and that there is a quality and type of member, the selfless and devoted member, that is valued above all other sorts.  It says to the club, "This member has worked for the club; emulate him."  

Fred Patten's services are fresh in the memory of all here.  If any more proof were needed, I think it was given when Fred popped out of the back room where he had been collating APA-L to find out what the thunderous applause was all about, and was greeted by having the 1965 Evans-Freehafer trophy thrust into his hands; he had missed out on his own presentation speech!  APA-L has been a valuable adjunct to the club this past year, but the award was given to Fred not for his devotion to APA-L but for his devotion to the club; not for collating APA-L, but for his manner of collating it.  It was given to Fred because not only has he expended a great deal of energy and time, and no small amount of self-sacrifice, but he has constantly kept the good of the club in mind; he has refused to allow APA-L to become a tightly-defined in-group, has kept it loose, and has operated it for the benefit of those who attend the meetings.  He has kept it as an open line of communications, and he has thereby served the club well.

The first Evans-Freehafer Award was presented at the club's 25th anniversary meeting.  The genesis of the awards was a part of the general LASFS Renaissance that Bjo and the Solacon [the 1958 convention which combined the Worldcon and Westercon] had sparked off in 1958 and 1959.  The club had made peace with its past, had reconciled itself to accepting its most famous and bitter feud as a part of its history, and had rediscovered the valuable and interesting facets of both Charles Burbee and Walt Daugherty.  It was Walt Daugherty who first proposed the club establish a set of awards for the recognition of past services.  The proposal was discussed and debated, and at last a three-level system of awards was put into effect.  

The first was the Egobuck [now inactive] a piece of play money with Jules Verne on one side and Forry Ackerman on the other, to be given out quite liberally to those who had performed small services, such as organizing a party, cleaning the clubroom, or any of the other myriad minor things that make a club function well.  

The second award was the Certificate of Recognition [also now inactive].  Although originally no specifications were set up for the Certificates, in practice it has worked out that the Evans-Freehafer Award Committee has taken upon itself the task of handing out these additional awards to those who have served the club in significant ways.  

The third is the Evans-Freehafer Award, given each year at the club's anniversary meeting to that person judged to have contributed most to the club in the past year.  [LASFS doesn't mark yearly anniversary meetings any more, and the Evans-Freehafer Award is presented at Loscon.]  Originally, the award was made by the LASFS Executive Committee [the club officers], in consultation with such people as Forry and Walt; the second year, I presented the award after first consulting the most active people who I felt were not candidates that year.  Each year thereafter it has been awarded by a meeting of the previous winners.  In practice this has meant Rick Sneary, John Trimble, and I, and this year Paul Turner, since Virginia Mill and Lee Sapiro, the club's other two winners, ceased being active in club affairs almost as soon as they had won their trophies.   With the two most recent recipients active in the club, I hope that this year both Rick and I can retire from the awards committee, and that the awards committee can become what it ought to be, the three most recent winners.  

There are some very logical reasons for having a self-perpetuating group of awards winners.  Somebody must choose the winners.  This means either the LASFS Executive Committee, or a committee appointed by the Executive Committee, or a standing committee.  The present system automatically provides for a self-renewing awarding body.  It also avoids the awkward situation which might occur if a member of the awards committee or the LASFS Exec Committee were forced to consider one of their own number.  Since the Director [nowadays termed the President] if he is reasonably competent will be one of those under consideration for the award more often than not, this is important.  It also ensures that the award will not go to the same individual two years in a row -- something that can happen if a reputation is built on past rather than current works.  So far the situation has not arisen where the same individual has even come close to qualifying a second year, but it could -- and I think that person will not be without due meed of glory in awarding it to his successor.   This also has the interesting effect of establishing no criterion other than effective service; there has been no setting up of a standard stereotype of what that service must be.  

The physical award is selected and donated by Walt Daugherty each year; the club purchases the plaque that will one day hang in the clubroom upon which each winner's name is engraved, and Walt Daugherty's name is there, too, as donor.  There are seven engraved plates on the plaque now and five blank ones.  I think before those five names are filled in, the plaque will reach its proper destined place in a meeting hall of our own.  

The Evans-Freehafer Award is named in honor of two of the most-loved LASFS members.  Paul Freehafer, in the early Forties, was the first club member to die.  He was a Caltech student, a Director [President] of the club, a publishing fan, and one who found himself not merely tolerated but welcomed among both the LASFS regulars and the splinter group of the feud of that day, the Knanves.  He suffered from rheumatic heart, and though he knew that his life would be short, he never let it affect his cheer.  In 1942 he resigned his Directorship to return to his home in Idaho.  He never came back.  He was dead in his early twenties. [Harry Warner, Jr.'s All Our Yesterdays states taht Freehafer died in 1944 at the age of 27.]

 

[Al Lewis's Notes to the LASFS Album, published May, 1966, states that LASFSian Alvin W. Mussen was "dead on the Bataan death march" which occurred in 1942 , a couple of years before Paul Freehafer.]

 

E. Everett Evans arrived in LA right after World War II.  He had been a member of the original Slanshack crew, had been long-time president of the N3F, had been a leading light of the Galactic Roamers, and was the No. 1 E. E. Smith fan in the country or out of it.  He became a valued and dynamic member of the LASFS, and with Forry and Daugherty formed the center of the LASFS party in the great Insurgent blow-up of 1947.  In 1948 he organized the first Westercon, and it was in his honor that the first Fanquet was given in 1949.  Ev and his wife Thelma used to host the weekly poker parties that formed the major post-meeting attraction of LASFS in the early and mid-Fifties.  Ev's death by a heart attack late in 1958 was a blow that saddened us all.  

In memory of Paul Freehafer and E. Everett Evans, Walt Daugherty initiated the Evans-Freehafer Award.  I was the recipient at the 25th Anniversary meeting, held for that special occasion at the Commodore Hotel, a hotel which had served as home to two Westercons [in 1953 and 1958].  Some 160 were in attendance that night as Bernie Cook called the meeting to order.  Bob Bloch gave as fine a speech that night as he gave on our most recent anniversary, and then they called me up, quite flabbergasted to receive the award.  I was surprised to get it, but I quite immodestly think I well deserved it.  That was the year I had done most of the labor (though not the inspiration) on reviving SHAGGY.  I wrote about half of Issue 39 myself, and with Bjo edited the magazine for the next year; I organized the Fanquet, as Senior Committeman [Vice President] wrote most of the Constitution that is still in effect (a record for LASFS Constitutions), hosted a couple of Halloween parties and generally was dynamic as hell.   I deserved the award that year; I would not have deserved it any year before or since.

The second winner was Rick Sneary.  Rick had taken over the Treasury in the palace revolution that had ousted Barney Bernard from his job of five years' standing, and he was a better Treasurer than any I have seen before or since.  He began a set of records that included a roster of how many meetings each member had attended, and also served as representative to the Gestetner Association, in the period when the LASFS Gestetner was turning out nearly every publication being produced in the LA area.  He served a full year; he did a fantastic job, and all the financial records LASFS keeps today are there because Rick set them up.  

John Trimble won the third award, and if Rick was the best Treasurer I remember since I have been in the club, John was the best Director [President] with the possible exception of Ed Clinton.  With that difficult mixture of humor and firmness, he guided a fine set of meetings -- and ended them promptly if people had nothing useful to say.  He edited SHAGGY for two solid years and pubbed each and every issue right on schedule.  John was also landlord of Fan Hilton and Mathom House when the club was meeting there, and it is typical of John's conscientious attitude toward the club that when Fan Hilton was torn down to make way for an office building, he made it a point that the next fan home would have space for LASFS.  This attitude of selflessness toward the club is the attitude that in each case has marked the winners of the Evans-Freehafer Award.  

Virginia Mill won the award in its fourth presentation in 1962.  Virginia was never a very popular member; she dragged a terror of a child with her to all the meetings and had an infallibly bad sense of timing; she would come out with a recipe for haggis or a long, earnest ban-the-bomb plea after everyone else had been sitting still for two hours and was faunching to end the meeting.  But it was Virginia who scouted the city and found us our present home at Silverlake Playground.  (see http://www.lasfsinc.info///index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=307&Itemid=570)  This was after we had been forced from Mathom House by the zoning regulations and spent one perfectly horrid month in a little concrete locker room ("the bunker") at Alpine Playground.  Virginia also took over the job of Program Director and came up with some fine items.  She returned the club a great measure of good for some years of a fairly explicit cold shoulder.  Almost immediately after winning the award, personal affairs forced her to become inactive.  In 1964 she was involved in an auto accident from which she never thereafter recovered.  This past June she died of a brain tumor.  

Leland Sapiro is the fan who once flew all the way to Ohio to punch a fellow in the nose.  He succeed Virginia as Program Director and gave the club an extensive series of very interesting meetings.  Leland is a serious science fiction fan (currently editor of RIVERSIDE QUARTERLY) and provided a welcome antidote to the purposeful unbearability of the comic book fans which had marred the earlier part of the year.  Lee dropped activity when he acquired a night-teaching job at USC; he is currently with the math department at Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.  

Paul Turner built the Building Fund, $2300 so far in the past two years; of all the contributions of the Evans-Freehafer winners, his will probably be remembered longest.  He also served two terms as Director [President], and competently, has been Treasurer -- and I think his services are not yet over.  Paul had to fight a total disbelief:  I was among the skeptics and am delighted to admit my error -- I'd rather have a clubhouse than be able to say "I told you so," thanks!  Even were the project to somehow fail, Paul has come closer than would have been believed possible.  I don't think he will fail.  He will see to it.

And when we have that clubhouse, the LASFS meeting hall will be called Freehafer Hall, just as this meeting hall is and all meeting halls of the LASFS are, wherever they may be.  And that brings us full circle.  

Last Updated ( Saturday, 08 December 2012 )