Up To Now: The First Months of 1938

Up To Now by Jack Speer, 1939

The Atheism Issue«« »»June, 1938

Being now apprised of the more important and distinctive institutions of the Second Fandom, we can pick up the thread of our story.

The Third Convention had been in October [1937], and was followed, thruout November and December, with accounts of same. Under one of his pen names, to which was added his real handle, Moskowitz wrote an account for the SFFan. The explosion that followed raised Sam to the top of the anti­ Wollheimists because he was the greatest object of vituperation. Wollheim was originally sore because Moskowitz, in contrast with his own accounts, gave little space to the Michelist speech and argument, but he found the account spotted with the inaccuracies always attendant upon haphazard eyewitness accounts, and in some cases pointed to actually true accounts of incidents which he had a false impression of. In his column Fanfarade in SFF, noted for attacks on fans, he opened another "hymn of hate" campaign with the blanket allegation that it was the sorriest piece of reporting he'd seen in years, and all too characteristic of that type of fan who "will not think". In the absence of specific corrections, Moskowitz defied him to find anything "unaccurate" in the article. Wollheim obliged with a large-size mimeographed supplement, mailed with SFF, which went into great detail. Moskowitz replied with a similar-sized hektoed supplement (both of these also went out thru the FAPA) in his sloppiest style, denying he had been wrong concerning most of the cases as checked with other witnesses, and making light of the remainder. The points of disagreement were indeed trivial, and many readers lost sight of their pertinence upon the original disagreement, personal attacks between the combatants having obscured the issue. There came the first wave of resentment against such feuds. Wiggins closed SFF to the argument, and Lowndes published The Vagrant for the FAPA, devoted entirely to a pseudo-impartial reconsideration of the whole matter. At this juncture Speer threw himself into the fight, versus Lowndes, but the original disagreement was lost sight of before long among the masses of new subjects for bitterness.

By the spring of 1938 nearly everyone saw which way the wind was blowing. There would be fights that summer, and more fights. Consequently, the early months saw a great deal of jockeying for position and allies, and inter­-fan correspondence reached new heights of volume and fervor. Adding to this was the plank in the CPASF program calling for the greatest possible amount of personal contacts with fans, thru correspondence, for promotion of their ideology.

Not all the activities of the early months were of a bitter nature, of course. Fan magazines continued to pop up in that way they have, most new ones now in the FAPA. Wiggins announced Who's Who in Fandom, to sell for 20¢. Such departments as Among Our Mems, As Others See Us, and Meet the Boys were popular in a fandom where the chief interest was other fans, and he felt that such a work would be well received. He set the goal too high, however, demanding 50 biographies and 50 pledges of purchase, and the project dragged on for months without this being reached.

With the FAPA functioning, with a good membership, an election was held around the year's end for officers to fill out the terms of those appointed by Michel and Wollheim, the original FAPA. There was not much excitement: Wollheim was a cinch to keep the presidency; there was little choice between Michel (incumbent) and Pohl for Editor — Pohl got it —; and if Balty wanted the Secretaryship, he could keep it. For vice-president, incumbent McPhail ran against Philadelphia's Madle, and early returns released by Wollheim indicated Madle in the lead, but McPhail came in ahead at the finish line. Madle seemed to detect some inconsistencies in the counting of the ballots.

Upon his return to the fan field, Sykora had established the Scientific Cinema Club, with the aim of making a scientifiction movie, as the ISA had projected. The Wollheim-Michel group made their way into the club, and Sykora refused to stay in when they were accepted. The group collapsed amidst much petty bickering. The Queens SFL, centering around Wilson and Taurasi and including Sykora, accepted Pohl, Wollheim, and Michel, and others of their clique, an action which paved the way for a much more important schism later in the year.

In Oklahoma, with Speer and McPhail living in the same town, there were hints of OSA revival and golden hopes of a conference of fans from all the southwestern states. The Tri-Cities SFL of Texas, headed by newly active fan Dale Hart, lasted a year, with some successes and a rather large membership.

The Atheism Issue«« »»June, 1938