Founding of CFG
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From the website of the CFG.
Cincinnati fandom has been around, in one form or another, since its "founding" (rather a grandiose term for three guys getting together to sling the bull) in December of 1935 by Charles R. Tanner, Ross Rocklynne, and Dale Tarr. We even hosted Cinvention, the 7th World Science Fiction Convention, in 1949. Whether the Cincinnati Fantasy Group (CFG) came into formal existence before or after Cinvention is a matter of some dispute see below (though the Program Book does contain a welcome message from Tanner dating the club as several years old already). In either case, the organizational efforts put into Cinvention yielded a more organized fannish structure as well, with Don Ford as President and Lou Tabakow as Secretary/Treasurer. Despite our newfound formality -- or perhaps because of it -- our scope became rather less ambitious: to this day, members look askance at brothers and sisters who mention the possibility of another local Worldcon... Don died in the '60s, and Lou in 1981, and the CFG metamorphosed again: we're currently an informal and lethargic bunch, but with our history, there's no telling what we'll be like tomorrow...or what we'll get up to the day after. ("Re-cross the Rhine in 'Naught-and-9," anyone? Roger [Sims] for Chairman. And stop that looking at me askance...) Every organization without a reliable written history has a creation myth -- and the more members it has, the more variations are likely to emerge. The CFG is no exception. Some years ago, the CFG's Web Geek received several emails from Charles R. Tanner's son, Jim, sharing his memories of our early days:
"Thought you might be interested in a few facts about my father, Charles R. Tanner, and the Cincinnati fan club. My dad, Dale Tarr and Phil Stevenson had a bull-shooting group, primarily science fiction, that was called "The Hell-Pavers". The meetings, no formal dates, were usually at Tanner's house. Tarr and Stevenson were single, and my dad was married, with one son -- me. I was about 8 years old, and a silent bystander until my bed time. Ross Rocklynne joined shortly thereafter and others drifted in and out, including authors Nelson Bond and Creighton Buck. "World War II, and my father's confinement for almost two years in the hospital with tuberculosis, split things up, but with Dale's discharge things got back to normal. Lou Tabakow, Dale's dry cleaner, came by shortly after. I can't say joined, because the one strict law of the club (by then "The Cincinnati Fantasy Group") was no officiating, and no parliamentary proceedings. "The Cinvention of '49 was a two edged sword, a success, but new members came in, and for some reason my father sort of drifted away, although his friendship with the "old-timers" continued. "I was married on the eve of the convention and wasn't connected, in anyway, with these happenings. I moved to California in 1958, and when my father retired in 1961, he, my mother and brother Bob (born in 1938) moved here, too. I remember Lou Tabakow visiting once in the '60s, and remember Dale dying. My dad died in 1974 at the age of 78."
From another message:
"CFG was like Topsy, it just grew. It was a continuation of a very informal group of guys known as The Hell Pavers (Good intentions). Some of the original members of this group were Dad, Phil Stevenson and Ross Rocklynne. Meetings alternated to different homes on a sort of informal monthly schedule. I believe when Don Ford started coming around, he was the one who motivated everyone to become a Science fiction (Dad hated the word Sci-fi. He said that would be pronounced skee fee) fan club. He improvised a mimeograph system and a fanzine was started. Other members came including Lou Tabakow, Roy Lavender, Darrell Richardson, Stan Skirvin and others. I, personally was not a member, although I sat in on meetings when they were at our house. The 1949 Cinvention coincided with my marriage (9-3-49) and short honeymoon. "My wife and I, with our 5 year old daughter and 3 year old son moved to California in 1958 and Mom, Dad and brother Bob (all gone, now) moved next to us in 1961, when Dad retired."
Note the mention in the second message of Ross Rocklynne as a founder, rather than a gen2 member, and the omission of Dale Tarr. (And note the divergence from the trio at the top of this page -- derived from Fred Patten's account of Cinvention, elsewhere on this site.) These are the differing memories of a single person. How are we to reconcile them to those of the above mentioned Stan Skirvin (who produced the Cinvention program book):
"A friend told me of the surprises he got when he typed his name into the Google search window he had added to Internet Explorer. I decided to try my full name as a phrase, which limited the response to four or five entries. "I read the full Cinvention report. I suspect that I had read it before (as well as experiencing the original), but it's still an entertaining read. "The only error of fact, which I believe that I probably stated before, is that the Cincinnati Fantasy Group (CFG) wasn't named until after the Cinvention. We had a budget and decided that we therefore needed a name. "As I explained to the newer CFG members while in Cincinnati to attend an uncle's funeral about 3 or 4 years ago, I was actually responsible for selling the name to the other members. It was recognized immediately that the initials for a Cincinnati Science Fiction Club collided with the name of the Chicago club. "I suggested CFG with the rationale that "science fiction" in the name would scare away fantasy readers, many of whom were interesting people, whereas "fantasy" would not scare away science fiction readers. "That's probably a bit more nitpicking than anyone really cares for, but that was actually the history of the CFG name."
The point is not whether one or the other of these accounts is accurate, but rather that they're contradictory. "Time takes her toll, and the memory fades"; one suspects that if we could miraculously gather together all the CFG's pre-1950 members for a last grand oral history session, the results would be rife with contradiction. There will be no last grand session, though, and at this late date the discovery of a Secret Document Trove That Explains Everything appears highly unlikely. It is (sadly) clear that there will be no True And Complete History of the CFG. So any enduring reputation we have probably will rest upon the CFG Rules.
All material © Cincinnati Fantasy Group, unless otherwise credited.
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