Up To Now: The FAPA Campaign

Up To Now by Jack Speer, 1939

The Conventions«« »»The Crucial Period

Madle, Speer, and Baltadonis had been in correspondence for some time over the formation of an opposition party in the FAPA, with the result that the Mailing Manager was sent a leaflet announcing their candidacies for the various offices, calling attention to some infractions of the Constitution of the Association that Wollheim's administration had been guilty of, and suggesting that voters see what the Other Side could do in the saddle.

Wollheim, apparently, found himself in a hole as time for the first annual elections drew near. Due to the constitutional provision that no person could hold the same office twice in five years, it would be impossible for him to be reĀ­-elected president. He would, therefore, run for Official Editor and Mailing Manager, and had little fear that he would beat Madle for the office. Doc Lowndes had a fair chance at vice-president, against a cloud of younger, mainly New York, fans. For the position of president, however, Wollheim found himself without a single candidate who could win. Michel, as the person he was closest in contact with, was the one he would like to have represent him in the president's chair, but Michel not only was not prominent as an individual outside New York (all his activities having been in conjunction with the overshadowing Wollheim}, but was somewhat unpopular as the supposed author of the Michelist movement, as attested by the mid-term elections. Against Baltadonis, who stood second or third in prominence in fandom, he would have little chance of being elected president, in the normal course of events.

In the Philadelphia group's innocent attempt to inject into the FAPA the light politics that enlivened other amateur press groups, Wollheim imagined an attempt to get control and close the FAPA to all but straight fan and stf material. With that hyper-suspicion common to Leftists, he envisioned an attempt to exercise censorship over the mailings, putting an end to Michelistic discussions therein. And he feared that if Speer were successful in gaining the vice-presidency, which was the "supreme court", this censorship would be upheld. Baltadonis up to this time had not come out openly against Wollheim, but the W knew him to be opposed to the CPASFers, and foresaw that the break would become important.

Michelism now meant everything to him. This Madle-Baltadonis-Speer group must be defeated at all costs. So he turned loose with every piece of artillery at his command.

Baltadonis is well known for his slowness about answering mail. Wollheim, some months before, had made a complaint about this in a private letter to McPhail, but saw no sufficient reason for bringing it before the entire Association. Just preceding the time of the Newark Convention Baltadonis had been too ill to attend to his work as well as usual, and had not delegated the duty to anyone else. And, to complete the picture, according to the postmarks Michel would fail to mail letters until days or a week after they were written. All this contributed to poor connections between the Secretary-Treasurer's office at Philadelphia and the mailing bureau in New York. Wollheim probably exaggerating, said the New York end was bankrupt from non-receipt of reimbursements from the treasury. This, and a general charge that he had just discovered an attempt on the part of the Philadelphia party to sabotage the FAPA was put into a mimeographed "Open Letter". An example of its convincing air is "Baltadonis takes his time about notifying us of new members but in the meantime we take the kicks".

The second half of the Third Mailing had just been sent out; there was little material on hand for a new mailing except some Michelist sheets. But the Constitution required that the ballots go out three weeks before July 1. This deadline had already been passed when Wollheim decided to send the ballots out by themselves instead of with a mailing. But with them went the Open Letter.

Besides charges against Baltadonis, his chief opponent, Wollheim accused Madle of sabotaging the FAPA outside its pages — apparently referring to an anonymous article, which Madle disclaimed writing, in Moskowitz' magazine Helios, burlesquing Wollheim's column Fanfarade, and attacking him personally, including his conduct of the half-term FAPA election. Sam Moskowitz was the third candidate for president, having been reported by Taurasi as desiring to run, tho he actually had no intention of opposing his friend Baltadonis. Worrying little about Moskowitz, Wollheim dismissed him with the accusation of participating in the Madle crime by publishing the article. The fourth candidate for president, Olon F Wiggins, was a friend of Wollheim, and had made such an infinitesimal showing in the mid-term elections that he was passed over in silence.

Tho the Open Letter was devoted primarily to attacks on Baltadonis, almost all the Michel-Wollheim election material in the Fourth Mailing, and there was plenty of it, was taken up with accusing Speer of being a Fascist. Speer had on several occasions defended the acts of the Fascist nations, and opposed Communism, but had repeatedly said his support of the Fascist nations was only partial, and, far from desiring a fascist America, he supported the rather socialistic program of the Democratic New Deal. Whether they could have missed this, both in publications and in correspondence between Speer and themselves, the Michelists took no note of it in their FAPA campaign, referring to him as an "avowed" Fascist (he had facetiously taken the middle initial "F", which was interpreted as meaning "Fascist"), and drew bloody pictures of an enemy of Democracy in FAPA office (altho, to safeguard themselves from sentiment against Michelism, they had said in the Open Letter that politics should play no part in the election). The contradictory nature and emphasis of the Open Letter and the Mailing material is probably due to a difference in the time they were written but just how is not clear.

The election campaign thus consisted almost entirely of attacks on one's opponents rather than recitation of one's own qualifications. On the positive side, Michel pledged continuance of Wollheim's type of administration, including free press, no censorship, and constitutional government. Philadelphia promised harmony.

The Conventions«« »»The Crucial Period