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by Forrest J. Ackerman, read at the October 25, 1973 LASFS meeting, the first meeting at the first clubhouse the LASFS, Inc. owned (on Ventura Blvd.)

Nigh onto forty years ago when I signed on aboard the maiden voyage of spaceship #4 of the Science Fiction League, little did I dream that I would travel around the universe and, upon my return to Terra, find Home Base had changed from a small public room in the Pacific Electric Building at Fifth and Main in downtown Los Angeles to this, our very own clubhouse on Ventura Blvd., in Studio City.  

I was in my late teens when I paid my first 10¢ monthly dues, and I have paid in for over 1500 meetings with my shipmates in the intervening years.  I have been captain of the crew, keeper of the log, guardian of the monetary credits, editor of the ship's bulletins, protector of our literary archives, and in general served in every available capacity.  Including Sanitary Engineer in the days when that job was still called Janitor.  

I was there as editor when we published Ray Bradbury's watershed work "Hollerbochen's Dilemma."  (Well, he shed a lot of tears over it in later years.)

I was there when Hannes Bok first came aboard with his fabulous artwork, when early Gods of Scientifiction like Dr. David H. Keller and Bob Olsen and Arthur J. Burke and, yes, even a name obscure and unknown today -- Joseph William Skidmore -- descended from Mt. Olympus and thrilled us with their presence.  

I was there when Robert A. Heinlein started attending the club after selling his first story to Astounding.  

I was at our 100th meeting and our 1000th, and I edited fifty issues of Vom:  the Voice of the Imagi-Nation over a period of eight years and pushed thru the Fancyclopedia to completion.  

I was there when our original treasurer and later a memorable director, Australian-born Russ Hodgkins, left the ship in a lifeboat for a trip to far distant exotic Fan Diego, B.F. -- Before Freeways -- to secure a treasure trove of 1936 Astoundings and other stf magazines donated to the club library by a long forgotten benefactor.  

I was there when we voted to change our designation from the fourth chapter of the Science Fiction League to the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society, and when we went from monthly to bi-weekly meetings, and when the dues were raised to 15¢ and we began convening every Thursday.  

I was there when the Battle of the Exclusion Act erupted.  And when Claude Degler, the New Messiah of the Cosmic Circle, appeared on the scene and all fandom was plunged into war.  

I survived the great Esperanto War and the Simplified Spelling War and the War of the Nuder -- we've come a long way from mimeo'd line-drawings of naked Vomaidens to the total pulchritudity of Lisa Deutsch -- and the War with the Knanves when Lord of the Ringleader Laney saw fandom as a way of strife and LASFS as a cesspool of horrorsexuals, a way of life where every boy was like a wife.

I remember one Thanksgiving or Xmas when the ship's complement was at an all-time ebb, and only the greatest feminine fan of her day, Myrtle R. Douglas, better known as Morojo, and myself, and one other, constituted the crew when, that forlorn holiday meeting, the Insurgents had all bur wrecked the Mothership.  

I remember the War of the Shaver Mystery, one casualty of which was the most popular club magazine editor I believe we ever had, the legendary Charles Burbee.

I remember the great meeting after Labor Day in 1940 when a historic group foto was taken in which we see today's youthful visages of the late "Skylark" Smith, of Edmond Hamilton, Jack Williamson, Ray Bradbury, Ray Harryhausen, a Walt Daugherty with hair, a skinny 4E Ackerman without a moustache, Roy Squires (already with a pipe), T-for-Terrible Bruce Yerke, Charles D. Hornig (but for whom there might never have been a LASFS), the late Arthur K. Barnes, and, among many others, the young man who was later to lose his life in one of the more horrifying Asian episodes of World War 2, Alvin W. Mussen.  [Mussen died in the Bataan death march.]

I was there when a breathless Art Joquel burst in on a club publishing session on 7 Dec 1941 to announce that war had come to an incredulous America.  

As imaginative movies had their Golden Age from 1923 thru 1936 and scientifiction had its classic years, so LASFS has a time of zenith when every meeting was electrifying, stimulating, outstanding.  Alan Hershey was the director in those days, approximately a quarter of a century ago, and much of the dynamics of the meetings was due not only to Hershey's exemplary directorship but to members of the caliber of Eph Konigsberg, E. Everett Evans, Dotty Faulkner, Arthur Louis Joquel, Dave Fox, A. E. van Vogt, Arthur Jean Cox, Rick Sneary, Elmer Perdue, Len Moffatt, Larry Ware, Dale Hart, Wendayne Mondelle, and Eddie Clinton -- to name those that I recall across the years.  

I was there when the Westercons were born and the Fanquets and when that magic slogan -- "South Gate in '58" -- materialized into reality.  

But old men's memories can be boring, I fear, to restive youth, and so I am going to take mercy on you new generations of Lasfsians.  

I've traversed light-years and dark-years aboard the Spaceship LASFS, experienced good times and bag.  Bad were the deaths of Paul Freehafer and E. Everett Evans, two of our most beloved members of all time, whose memories are ever present with us in Freehafer-Evans Hall [sic, though it should just be "Freehafer Hall"], and, to give the devil his due, if I was not one of them, there were those who lamented the demise of Francis Laney.  Ron Ellik and Eddie Baker were lost to us under tragic circumstances.  And let us remember kindly Zeke Leppin, who came to the rescue of the club in a time of need and provided an interim meeting place for us for a considerable length of time.  

Morojo was there in the early days when money and work were needed, and Walt Daugherty, in times past, has worked for the club like a Barsoomian thoat.

Two more names, and then I'm thru.  

Paul Turner -- we should surely hear this name mentioned loud and often on this special meeting, the seeding for rebirth of the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society, for it was Paul who dreamed the impossible dream of Our Own Clubhouse from our own efforts and set this machinery in motion which has eventuated in this magic night of fruition.  

Secondly -- Dr. Adolphe de Castro.  He was the only member we ever had who lived to be 100 years of age.  I hope to emulate him in that respect and celebrate many another significant occasion in the Clubhouse of LASFS, the oldest science fiction club on Earth.  

 

 

Last Updated ( Sunday, 09 December 2012 )