MilPhil PR 3: Claude Degler Anecdote
Claude Degler, Man of Mystery
One of the strangest stories of Philcon, or any con for that matter, has to be the tale of Claude Degler, J. P. Chrisman. Claude had somehow gotten the idea that the Philcon was to be held over the July 4 weekend, rather than Labor Day, and consequently arrived in Philadelphia two months early. Rather than going home, as most of us would do, he took up residence in Camden, NJ, and waited for the convention. What he lived on for those two months, we have no) idea, and his living arrangements remain a mystery. However he managed, he was pretty busy during his stay.
He paid frequent visits to the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society (at that time they had a clubhouse), where no one recognized him, although they apparently knew of him. Adopting the name "John Paul Chrisman", and using equipment belonging to the Prime Press, he published the first issue of Weird Unsolved Mysteries (devoted to flying saucers); organized Alta Publications; published the Alta Advertiser; announced that "Frank N. Stein" would publish Expose and The Damp Thing; began organization of the Central States Science-Fantasy Society; and planned other projects.
One might expect this whirlwind of fanac to be a hyperactive type, but in the opinion of at least one member he was the quietest, most well-behaved attendee!
When rumors of "Chrisman's" actual identity surfaced at the convention, Degler clarified the situation by wearing a button that read, I'M RICHARD SHAVER, WHO ARE YOU?
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