Fred Pohl's NYcon 3 Reminiscence

1967Nycon 3, New York City
by Frederik Pohl
From the Noreascon 3 PB

The good thing about losing my chance to be a Worldcon Guest of Honor in 1967 was that the person who beat me out was my good old buddy Lester del Rey. If I had to lose out to someone there's no one I'd rather lose to than Lester, who richly deserves all the honors that are going around. The only bad thing about that didn't appear until the banquet itself. Lester had spent weeks working up a Guest of Honor speech. Naturally they saved him for last on the program; unnaturally — or, really, pretty naturally, when you consider how these things went — the previous speakers maundered on so long that when it came Lester's turn he announced that he'd been sitting in that room too long, supposed everyone else felt the same way, and so would be glad to supply copies of his speech to anyone who cared to read it…but refused to deliver it.

Then it came to Hugo time. Having won Hugo No. 1 the year before in Cleveland, I wasn't a virgin any more; but in my wildest dreams I hadn't expected that not only would my magazine, If, walk away with the Hugo for "Best Magazine" but that the Hugos for Best Novel, Best Novella, Best Novelette, Best Short Story, and even Best Artist would all go for work originally published in one of my magazines. It was a clean sweep. I have at least a normal amount of vanity, but I don't remember any other time when that vanity was quite as tickled as at the New York Worldcon of 1967.

There is one other memory that won't go away. It concerns the dinner a dozen or so of us shared, in the evening just before the masquerade, in the basement restaurant of the hotel (it was then the Statler-Hilton, is now the New York Penta). You don't expect really good service in any hotel restaurant over Labor Day weekend (not after your first experience, you don't, anyway), but this was right off the scale. We waited half an hour for anyone to give us a menu, another forty-five minutes for someone else to start taking orders. Then it was an hour and a bit before the appetizers were served — and the poor lady next to me, who had ordered snails, could see them cooling off on a rack across the room, all that time. (Can you imagine eating room-temperature snails?) Our GoH, Lester del Rey, is not known for having the longest fuse in the world on his temper. When the salad the waiter finally brought him turned out to be nothing like what he'd ordered, and when three consecutive requests had failed to get anyone to take the thing away, Lester removed it in his own way. He skidded it across the floor of the restaurant, like a flat stone over water; while on the other side of the restaurant I could see Harlan Ellison (also notoriously short-fused) bouncing his Yorkshire puddings against the wall to prove the things were too rubbery for human consumption.

None of us were ever invited back to that restaurant again. On the other hand, none of us ever wanted to be.