Forrest J Ackerman's Pacificon Reminiscence
After a 4-year wartime hiatus the Angele–os were gungho to go with the interrupted Pacificon (again my name) of 1942. I had survived 3 years 5 months & 29 days of WW2 (altho my brother got killed) and so my collection had not become the Fantasy Foundation that had been envisioned if I had lost my life. I think some people were disappointed.
So a clamor arose: why wait for the demise of Efjay the Terrible, why not establish the Foundation at the Pacificon with my collection as the, er, foundation? I thought we should offer potential participants more than empty promises so I decided to get busy and catalog my hardcover collection -- all 1300 titles. (Now, including paperbacks, about 40,000 volumes.) So I began recording the names of the books on stencils. Then I thought, as long as I'm at it I might as well record whether they are First Editions or what. Include whether they had jackets. Why not be more considerate for collectors, bibliophiles, would-be readers, and give a helpful hint as to the contents: prehistoric, futuristic, interplanetary, supernatural, sequel, Atlantean, whatnot. Pretty soon I was burning the proverbial candle at both ends and included the middle as well when I decided to add a list of the magazines of the year. I burned myself out, as we shall soon learn.
Bright and early the first day of the Con, I was practically the first one in the hall. As a humorous note, I exhibited a copy of Lovecraft's The Outsider and Others with a steel chain around it attached to a brick. I lasted till 4 in the afternoon, at which time I collapsed with cold chills and fever, shaking uncontrollably. I was in bed for 20 days with physical exhaustion. But not before I accomplished two important things: (1) I put in the pitch for the Fantasy Foundation and all kinds of fans & pro's volunteered donations on the spot: a copy of the Amazing Stories Annual, a copy of the Fancyclopedia, an Arkham House book...that sort of thing. (2) I sowed the seeds for the TransAtlantic Fan Fund of the 1950s, with its precursor the Big Pond Fund which was instrumental in "importing" the first fan/pro from abroad, the late Edward "Ted" Carnell of London, England.
The last thing I remember on the afternoon of the first day of the first 4-day Worldcon was Bob Bloch's opening remarks: "I made 3 sales before I left Milwaukee for this convention: "My typewriter... "My winter coat... "And my automobile." So, as they say in Show Biz: Always leave them laughing.
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