The Story Behind Philly in '53

Taken from the Philcon II PR #1:

As you know, Philadelphia will play host to the next convention to be held on September 5th, 6th, and 7th of 1953. Here's how it happened:

The earliest mention of Philly as a possible convention site was in a copy of the PSFS NEWS (the biweekly newsletter of the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society) early this year. In it the secretary attempted to start this movement, but nobody took the bait.

However, when the PSFS went out west to the Chicago Convention it went prepared to give support to an Eastern site for the 1953 convention. We discussed it over many a glass and when we took the trail to Chicago it was with the idea of supporting New York.

Circumstances alter cases. On arrival we found the New York club whom we favored definitely not interested in making a bid. So we were desperate. We wanted the convention to come East, but apparently no group that really could put on a convention comparable to Chicago's magnificent show wanted to do so and those Eastern groups that wanted to try had not yet proven their ability.

Everywhere the answer came back to us: "Why doesn't Philadelphia make a bid?'

We held out as long as we could. We tried to evade the questions, but to no avail.

Philadelphia had fifteen of its members in Chicago. All of these were instantly recognizable by their lapel buttons emblazoned with the symbol of the PSFS. Many of our members — L. Sprague de Camp, Irwin Heyne, James A. Williams, Sol Levin, and Dave Hammond — appeared on the program. Others — Will Jenkins, Milt & Dorry Rothman, Ozzie Train, Bob Madle, Jack Agnew, Paul Work, Harold Lynch, Jean Bogert, and Tom Clareson — made themselves known before the three days were ended.

On the second day of the convention, James A. Williams, president of the PSFS, called a special meeting of the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society held in Room 1546 of the Hotel Morrison. We all knew why we were there and it did not last very long. We voted unanimously to try for the site of the next convention. In-stead of railroading the convention to New York, circumstances had railroaded the convention to us:

Then we began rolling. In the time between the special meeting and the actual balloting we had practically organized an Eastern coalition of fandom. The news spread rapidly.Dave Kyle's New York Science Fiction Circle rallied behind us as did the New York Chapter of the Little Monsters of America. Don Susan of the Pittsburgh group favored Philly and so did Dick Clarkson of Baltimore. The Southern group voted solidly for PHILLY IN '53, with Henry Burwell of Atlanta even trying to swing the convention to us by a voice vote alone. The entire state of Mississippi (too bad there was only one fan from Mississippi!) was behind us. It was even rumored that Forrest J. Ackerman, a Californian, was among the Philly supporters. Three ballots were necessary to decide and the final ballot read:

Philadelphia: 191
San Francisco: 169

[For more details on the vote, see 1953 Site Selection results]

In the last minutes the Indianapolis group urged its supporters to go Frisco, but the Midwesterners who had been for Indianapolis decided Philly was closer, and shoved us across.
That clinched it. We all stared at each other, a little dazed and surprised that so much had happened so soon. We did it!