Western Pennsylvania SF Association

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A club centered in Pittsburgh, also known as WPSFA (pronounced "Woops-fa"), which ran PghLANGE.

It was begun as an expansion off-campus of the CMUSFS (Carnegie Mellon Science Fiction Society) by the Founding Mothers (Linda Bushyager (then Linda Eyster), Ginjer Buchanan, Suzanne Tompkins and Genie DiModica) in 1967.

It was unrelated to the much earlier Western Pennsylvania Science Fictioneers, but it soon made contact with members of the previous generation of Pittsburgh fandom.


The Pittcon group that ran the 1960 Worldcon was inactive by the late ’60s, but some people continued social meetings at a local Lebanese restaurant, and rarely discussed SF or fandom. It was still run by Dirce Archer, and much to the delight of the new group, included a real live science fiction professional, P. Schuyler Miller. Meetings of the older group were attended by members of WPSFA, but members of the Pittcon group did not reciprocate. Eventually, the two groups drifted apart. According to Linda Bushyager, "We didn't seem to have much in common. We kept going to their meetings and inviting them to ours. This went on for quite a few months, but none of them ever came to our meetings." After about six months, the new club gave up and let the older club continue on its way to extinction and the Pittcon group disappeared forever in the early ’70s.

Members in the 1960s included Debbie Atherton, Dena Benatan, Ginjer Buchanan, Linda Bushyager, Ron Bushyager, Dale DiNucci, Connie Faddis, Suzanne Tompkins, Jeff Schalles, Keith Kramer, Greg Moore, Steve Raskind, and Art Vaughn.

Initially, meetings were held at Carnegie-Mellon University, since most members were CMU students or graduates. By May 1968, most members were no longer associated with CMU, so the club's name was changed to WPSFA {from what?} and meetings were held at club members' homes. The 1968 'death car' expedition to Disclave 12 in Washington, DC, was perhaps the club's most memorable event. The 'death car' was a rental station wagon, loaded with nine members of the club and driven by a CMU graduate student, Nancy Lambert. Just before reaching the Maryland border, the club had a near-death experience, when the driver lost control and it spun around several times. Linda Bushyager remembered that "somewhere on the Pennsylvania Turnpike the station wagon began fishtailing. It went into a spin, and I remember Suzle screaming something about 'Don't slam on the brakes!' as Nancy slammed on the brakes. We spun out of control, but fortunately there were no other cars near us, and we ended up in the grass on the side of the road. All of a sudden a lot of cars were driving past us, very slowly, trying to see what the 'accident' was all about. Something got into me then, and I yelled, 'You want blood? Here it is!' and I staggered and fell on the grass as though I had been injured, just to give the gawkers a thrill. Everyone else seemed to find this wildly funny."

There was also a second car in the expedition, a decrepit Ford with three other WPSFA members, which also had its share of misadventures. It died on hills several times, and had to be roll-started by pushing it to the top for a gravity assist down the other side. Somehow, they all eventually made it to Washington and Disclave, where the 'death car' tale made the rounds of the convention, in the process giving some legendry to the Pittsburgh group. Also, many of the fans who attended were young, single women, which made fandom "sit up and take notice" of the club's existence.

Its clubzines were Woops, Syzygy, and Cygnus X-1. Granfalloon was not a club publication, but was published by several club members.


By the mid 1970s, the club was meeting at Skibo, the CMU student center (now demolished but under the new student center built in about 1994). New fans were involved, including Frank Richards, Stu Kisilinsky, Ira Kaplowitz, Barbara Geraud, Tom Morley, Lori Krasner, Tom Lane, Jim Mann, Laurie Trask. Lori married Tom L., Laurie married Jim. The four reunited for the first time in 25 years while sitting near one another at the premiere of The Return of the King in 2003. A surprisingly high percentage of mid-1970s Pittsburgh fans wound up in Boston by the early 1980s and were active in NESFA.

Syzygy still occasionally came out. The club focused more on weekly meetings, poker games, running PghLANGE and going to Midwestern and Northeastern cons. There were many occurrences of "The Breezewood Curse" while traveling, which led either to minor car repairs or food poisoning, depending. Club members threw a "Pittsburgh in 2001" party at a con, but later changed the name of their con parties to "Pittsburgh in 2100" as they knew 2100 was far enough in the future that they wouldn't have to run the con. PghLANGE usually attracted about 200 people in the mid-70s.

Probably the most dangerous con trip was when Ira, Jim M. and Laurie T. tried to attend the 1977 ConFusion 14 in Michigan. A big snowstorm had wound down so the group thought they could still make the trip. After being stuck on Pittsburgh's Parkway East for about an hour, the group left Pittsburgh and drove westward. While sunny, it was extremely cold and windy, so the blowing and drifting snow made the trip drag on. In central Ohio, the turnpike closed down. The group attempted a back road but a tractor trailer had jacknifed and the fen had to turn around. They felt it was better to give up, and got one of the last rooms at a Holiday Inn in Sandusky, OH. This turned out to be a good move - at least one carload of people froze to death in their car on the turnpike that night.

WPSFA disappeared by 1980 amidst some complex local feuds which left Barbara Geraud running the last PgHLANGE by herself.

See File 770 13, p. 9 for a letter by Geraud.


Club 19671980
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