PSFS

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(Did you mean the Portland Science-Fantasy Society?)


PSFS, the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society, is one of the oldest SF clubs in existence. It was organized by Milton Rothman and four other fans in December 1934 as chapter 11 of the SFL (later called the PSFL) and has remained alive more-or-less continuously since. (PSFS celebrates October 5, 1935 as its first meeting because prior to that date meetings had been sporadic, but afterward, meetings were continuous, except for a period during World War II.) At nearly the same time, the Boy's Science Fiction Club had been formed. The two clubs became aware of each other and when the SFL disintegrated, they coalesced, forming PSFS.

Rothman recalled in Phoxphyre:

In 1936 {sic}, I got the idea of starting a science fiction club in Philadelphia.  At that time, Charles Hornig, editor of Wonder Stories, had conceived the Science Fiction League, a national organization for fans.  By sending in a modest sum, one received in return a certificate of membership.  I still have mine.  It is a nicely printed document, with elaborate design and calligraphy, and it reads: "At a Directors' Meeting in New York City, in the United States of America, the Science Fiction League has elected Milton A. Rothman a member of the League.  In Witness Thereof, this Certificate has been officially signed and presented to the above.  (Signed) Charles Hornig, Ass't Secretary."  And typed in the bottom: "Member No. 34."

Furthermore, one could obtain a charter to form a local chapter of the League, which I proceeded to do.  The charter, alas, has vanished, but my memory has not.  The origin of the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society was as a chapter of the Science Fiction League.  The League faded away in time, but the PSFS continued its independent existence.

The original members, besides myself, included Raymond Mariella, Robert Madle, and John Baltadonis; Ozzie Train, I think, came along somewhat later.  Mariella dropped out of SF after going to college.  He became a chemistry professor and, most recently, was Executive Director of the American Chemical Society.  John Baltadonis became an art teacher.  Ozzie Train and Bob Madle remain active fans and collectors to this day.  I am no longer very active in science fiction, but still write.  After completing a massive chemistry text, I am now trying to write fiction once more.  Curiously, doing the textbook does not seem to have damaged my fiction style.

We met at my home (my father's house, to be exact), at 2113 N. Franklin Ct., near 7th and Diamond.  The neighborhood was, at the time, in somewhat better shape than it is now.  It was never a rich neighborhood, and I remember Jack Speer asking me, a few years later, where the nice neighborhoods in Philadelphia were.  I couldn't tell him, being at that time completely unaware of places such as Overbrook and Chestnut Hill.  Wynnfield was the nicest neighborhood I knew.

At any rate, my house – an ordinary 3-story Philadelphia row house – had a living room barely big enough to contain 10 or 11 people. 
PSFS Building

During the War, activity diminished until in 1942 the club went dormant with only Ossie Train left in Philadelphia among the membership. He continued active and published the PSFS News, but it wasn't until the fall of 1943 (or possibly 1944) when the Philadelphia Futurians merged into PSFS, that it had plural members again. (See File 770 #13 p7 for a letter by Harry Warner, Jr..)

By 1945, the club had at least one Black member, according to Sam Moskowitz in The Immortal Storm.

One of the droller bits of PSFS lore is based on the Philadelphia Savings Fund Society, a major local bank which had a skyscraper in downtown with a big, red, glowing "PSFS" at the top on each side at night. PSFans would point it out as their clubhouse...

It is the sponsor of Philcon.

Clubzines:

By 1952, the name had changed back to "PSFS News".

http://psfs.org/ (IA).

From Fancyclopedia 2 ca 1959
The Philadelphia SF Society, founded by Rothman as a chapter of the SFL in 1934. Other members have been fans like Ossie Train, Bob Madle, Baltadonis, Agnew, Rusty Hevelin, ktp, or pros like George O. Smith, Sol Levin, de Camp, Ley, Alex Phillips and others. The PSFS has been a branch of the SFL, ISA, and Science Fictioneers, and sponsored two worldcons ('47 and '53) in addition to annual PhilCos. In the war years the club became almost dormant, but even when most of its members were in the armed forces a PSFS News would drop into the mailbox at unexpected times. Ossie Train seems to have done most to keep it going during, and revive it after, this period.
From Fancyclopedia 1 ca 1944
The Philadelphia Science Fiction Society, founded by Rothman as a chapter of the SFL in 1934. Other members have been Ossie Train, John Baltadonis, Robert Madle, Jack Agnew, Alexander Phillips, Rusty Barron, and others. Its publishing house was Comet. In fan feuds it was generally been against Wollheim, but always good-naturedly. The PSFS has been a branch of the SFL, ISA, and Science Fictioneers. In the 1940s the club became almost dormant, but even in the midst of the war, when most of its members where in the armed forces, a PSFS News would drop into the mailbox at the most unexpected times.



Club Reasonator 1934
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