Fred Pohl's Midamericon Reminiscence

1976MidAmeriCon, Kansas City
by Frederik Pohl
From the Noreascon Three PB

MidAmeriCon was held in Kansas City, a place where the song tells us that everything is up to date. Well, it more or less is; the song doesn't lie. (Bob Heinlein even pointed out to us the skyscraper "seven stories high, about as high as a building orter go" of the song, and it was still standing.) Kansas City definitely is provided with plenty of fine hotels and even good restaurants — most of the time, anyway. You certainly couldn't prove that by the experience of MidAmeriCon. We got there at a bad time. The barbarian hordes had beaten us to the town, and Kansas City had been copiously invaded, raped, and pillaged the week before we got there. It had been the site of the 1976 Republican Convention, and in the process of nominating Gerald Ford for the race he was going to lose, the Republicans had pulverized all of Kansas City's amenities right down to the ground. Every waiter and bartender in the town was exhausted to the point of either surly resentment or coma. The hotels were no better. Presumably, they had been stiffed by the Republicans so many times that they were trusting nobody no more for nothing; we were greeted at the hotel registration desk with the information that they were demanding cash in advance and no charges to the room permitted at all, no matter how many heavy-duty credit cards you waved in their faces. And the service in the city's restaurants was not merely bad. It was unbelievable. On the Saturday of the con, half the restaurants within walking distance simply closed the doors so their war-wounded serving staff could try to convalesce.

Nevertheless, it was a great con. Bob Heinlein was the GoH, though most attendees didn't see much of him. The con committee considered him both fragile and a national resource, and they kept him protected from the unruly mob of the rest of us by sneaking him to his engagements through service elevators and backdoor passages. (What a long way that was from his previous Worldcon GoH turn, in 1961 in Seattle. There the door of every room party had been open to everyone present, and Bob's own room door had been opened the widest of all.)

But I can't say a bad word about MidAmeriCon even though I didn't win any Hugos, wasn't Guest of Honor and came away with no big publishing contracts from chance-met editors. I got something better in Kansas City. It was there that I found myself sitting across a dinner table from a pretty young college girl named Elizabeth Anne Hull. I figured she was probably a freshman — sophomore at the most — but that began to seem unlikely when I discovered she had a twenty-year-old daughter. Ultimately it turned out that she wasn't attending a college, she was a professor in one. One thing led to another, and a few years ago we got married; so I would have to say that very likely 1976: Kansas City was my very best Worldcon of all.