The Petards

An invitational fan group in LA formed in January 1966 to, as Bruce Pelz remembered, "actually talk about Science Fiction" since LASFS had become focused on conventions and socializing. John and Bjo Trimble oiginated the idea and hosted the first meeting.

The group was only named after the group actually formed. Fred Patten had suggested it be called the "G. Peyton Wertenbacker Appreciation Society", a reference to the author of the only original story in the very first issue of Amazing, which, according to Patten, would be recognized by "only trufans who were s-f scholars."

Rick Sneary, who had been too ill to attend the first meeting, sent the Trimbles a letter with the suggestion that each meeting have a different host; however, he typoed 'host' as 'hoist' in several places in the letter. Sneary was known for such creative typos (called 'Snearyisms'), and immediately, the idea of being 'hoisted by one's petard' came to mind, so the group adopted the name 'Petards.'

Meetings were hosted by a different member each month, This arrangement was similar to what The Outlanders, LA group of the 50s which some of the Petards had belonged to, had done. Hosts of the meetings could invite anybody they wanted, as long as all members received invites as well. New members could be suggested by two current members, but there was also a blackball provision — it took a unanimous vote of membership before somebody could become a member.

Ironically, though the group had been formed for sercon interests, it soon became mostly a social gathering group, with some legendary parties. One of the traditions was that of the beer keg; it was passed from hoist to hoist and refilled for each meeting. Fred Patten, one of the founding members, soon dropped out because the Petards had become just another social organization. Yet it prospered and the group became widespread in the Southern California area, from Orange County all the way to the north end of the San Fernando Valley. As a result, there were not very many meetings where all members attended. The spread-out of membership may have been one factor in the group's eventual demise, though it continued to meet regularly into the 1980s.

June Moffatt later remember the group as "interesting people we might not have met otherwise" even though she didn't think it provided any lasting impact on fandom: "I think of it more as a series of tiny pebbles producing a ripple effect."

Members at various times included Bruce Pelz, Rick Sneary, Dave Hulan, Fred Patten, Dean Grennell, Jean Grennell, Roy Lavender, Len Moffatt, June Konigsberg (later June Moffatt), Ed Cox, Lenny Bailes, Don Fitch, Cy Condra, Dave Locke, John Trimble, Bjo Trimble, Lenny Bailes, and others.


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