Al Ashley

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(October 4, 1908 – October 27, 1974)

Abby Lu and Al Ashley, early 1940s.

Alfred LaVerne Ashley was a BNF from Battle Creek, Michigan, who later moved to Los Angeles. He was a bright man (he achieved AA194) who drove a taxi so he could have more time to think of things other than work.

“The real Al Ashley, at least on paper, was one of the more intel­ligent, fun-to-read, and talented people who has ever been in fandom,” Harry Warner, Jr., wrote in Void 24 (1961). In the early 1940s, he was ranked among the top 25 fans in the country. He was acting president of the N3F during the Interregnum in 1943–44. He was an OE and president of FAPA. With E. E. Evans, he originated the Lez-ettes.

Al married Abby Lu Adams in Indiana in 1936, her second husband. In the 1943, they acquired the original Slan Shack in Battle Creek and lived there with other fans, until they all moved to LA in 1945. Half seriously, Al conceived of the idea for a larger Slan Center. The Ashleys hosted the Michiconferences and he authored the Michicon Booklets in 1943–45. He attended the 1942 Bloomington Conference.

“Al once made an impassioned plea for the substi­tution of tem for fan as the general description of us critters,” recalled Warner, derived “from the Latin tempus, as a symbol of the time-binding ability of science fiction enthusiasts.”

He joined LASFS on moving to California. In Michigan, he had been a sign-painter for the Coca-Cola company. According to Alva Rogers in Void 29 (June 1969):

For several months late in ’45 worked for a sign shop in LA which had a contract with Lockheed to repaint former Air Force Connies with TWA colors. Al was put in charge of this job and given the responsibility for hiring a crew. Needless to say, his crew was made up largely of fans: in addition to myself there was Jack Weidenbeck, Gus Wilmorth, and maybe a couple of others whose names slip my memory at this late date. The job was, of course, in Burbank, so we all drove to work in Al’s car. Before going to work we’d meet at Slan Shack where Al would be drinking the first dozen or so cups of his daily quota of coffee, and we’d join him while Abby Lu bustled around the kitchen getting his lunch ready. After Al felt he had had enough coffee to sustain him on the long drive to Burbank we’d all pile into the car and make for Lockheed. The first thing we’d do when we got there was to make a bee­ line for the company cafeteria for refueling. As far as I was concerned Al was a good boss and seemed to be an accomplished signpainter — at least on this job. How long this job lasted for Al, or whether he continued working for the same shop after the Lockheed job was finished, I don’t know. When I quit and left LA in the middle of December, 1945, he was still working at it.
Al Ashley (1940s). Courtesy of Rob Hansen

Though he cooperated with the Insurgents, he became the butt of their taunts in the Ashley Mythos and gafiated. In December 1946, Frank Robinson reported in Ember 24 that Ashley was back in Battle Creek. Sometime after that, he and Abby Lu divorced.

Al seems to have been born in Battle Creek; he appears in the US Census for 1920, but he also appears in the Ontario, Canada census for 1921.

Fanzines and Apazines:

Person 19081974
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