St Louiscon Movie Screen Affair

During the masquerade at St. Louiscon someone managed to find a seam in the big movie screen that was being used as a backdrop. Rick Norwood fell against it and ripped one of the seams apart. It was estimated (guessed?) that there was $1500 worth of damage to the screen (which was a very substantial chunk of the convention's budget. (Worldcons were a lot cheaper then!)

Harlan Ellison, the toastmaster, suggested that everyone each chip in a dollar — with 1600 fans at the con, that would be enough. In fact, more money contributed than needed, (especially when it was later discovered that the cost was far less). That left the issue of disposing of the extra money.

At the Business Meeting (remember, in those days the BM was a regular program item in the single track of program which large numbers of members attended) Ellison suggested that the cash be donated to the very new Clarion Writers Workshop and was an eloquent advocate for this cause. Many people liked this, but many didn't. That was when Elliot Shorter, a huckster, a New Yorker, and a very, very tall, imposing man whose bulk rose more than a full foot over Harlan as he stood up, said, "Now wait just one goll-darned minute, Harlan."

Shorter quite reasonably pointed out that people had contributed their dollars to fix the screen, not to support Clarion, and it wouldn’t be fair to simply take the excess for one pet project. After a certain amount of debate it was finally decided to use the extra money to establish a Worldcon Emergency Fund, with Honest Joe Hensley as custodian, for things like emergency screen repair and the like.

Peace was restored.