Gretchen Schwenn

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Gretchen Lee Schwenn (later Boggs) was a West Coast fan. She was a member of APA-L and contributed artwork to several fanzines, including Riverside Quarterly, and "calligraphy", i. e. various headers, to Westercon 16 Programme Book. She was married for many years to BNF Redd Boggs. She sometimes used the penname Luis Zamora.

At the 1964 Pacificon II Gretchen Schwenn was involved in a physical altercation which Redd Boggs later dubbed "battle of the mezzanine".

Battle of the mezzanine[edit]

Boggs and Kevin Langdon were among fans who declared boycott of the Pacificon II over the Breendoggle, yet were present in the public areas of the hotel (the definition of which itself became disputed) to meet friends and possibly attend some parties. Schwenn, while on their side, had a membership, but refused to wear the badge; concom member Alva Rogers specified in Bixel 3 that

she hadn’t registered or picked up her name badge (actual­ly, the committee had given Gretchen an honorary membership in payment for the excellent help she’d given us in the preparation of the Westercon program book. It was because of this, undoubtedly, that Gretchen refused to resign her membership although she’d been quite outspoken in her criticism of the committee)

As for the venue, the mezzanine was above the hotel's public lobby; Rogers wrote that "all the formal activities (except for the banquet) were to take place" there, including several "open parties", and hotel said "emphatically and without qualification, that we had complete control over the mezza­nine […] and had the right to ask any unauthorized person (non-member) to leave", so only "the most persistent and offensive nuisance" made "an occasional foray up to the mezzanine to see if he could get away with". Boggs et al. refused to accept the concom's reasoning, insisting that the mezzanine "was a public area".

Anyway, on Friday evening Boggs, Langdon and Schwenn encountered in the mezzanine Bob Buechley, who had been appointed the sergeant-at-arms. As he tried to evict them, a brief scuffle between her and him ensued, with Boggs almost joining.

This was mentioned in many contemporary conreps, but with varying and overstated specifics as their authors were not present and relied on distorted hearsay. (Apparently it was happily forgotten in the next decades, except perhaps a few wild urban legends.) Boggs described the "battle" in his long "The Fan on the Mezzanine, or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Con": it was stenciled in 1964 but published only in Bete Noire 10 (1974), with a long introduction that quotes many of the other reports and takes some to task in detail. (While he is certainly the most direct participant, he bends the truth to his purposes in many other places, so even his take should be accepted with caution.) He added a "selected bibliography":

by no means all the reports on Pacificon II that were published, but rather are those that are specifically men­tioned in this issue of Bete Noire, plus a few others of particular

interest or significance. No attempt has been made to cover the broader topic of the Boondoggle affair itself, except to list here some of the basic references on the subject.

so it omits for example the article by Rogers, who details much context on the boycotters but wisely notes "Not being present at the time I can’t comment on the Gretchen Schwenn/Redd Boggs/Bob Buechley set-to." Schwenn's account in a letter to John Boardman was published in his "Sagana/Pillycock/Dagon #1/#13/#11 (10 December 1964 / 28 November 1964 / 4 Decem­ber 1964), 1 + 26-27"; it is not available online, but Boggs included a few passages "almost verbatim" in his text.

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