I suppose it all started when I ended the 1951 Loncon report in the Quannish by remarking innocently that "Sometime it might happen, although I don't see how, that I might attend an American convention and see how it should be done..." Next thing I knew, Shelby Vick had started a whirlwind campaign to get me over for the Nolacon. After it had been whirling for a week or two ShelVy remembered to write and tell me about it. That was only a few weeks before the Nolacon and I figured it was only a piece of fannish foolishness. Even if by some wild chance anyone would contribute to such a scheme it seemed to me there would never be the time to get the thing organized. Better to nip it in the bud now and save everyone trouble. So I airmailed ShelVy that I couldn't get away. Of course I could have. In fact, knowing ShelVy as I know him now, I sometimes think I might almost have got to the Nolacon after all.
After that blew over I assumed the thing was finished. You know what fan projects are. Or were. I knew about the previous Big Pond Fund raising only $127 in three years, a large proportion of that contributed by Ackerman himself under assumed names. (Including that of F. Towner Laney!) But it was nice to think that even a couple of people had had the idea. I began to think hopefully that maybe if I fanned hard and saved money I might make it about 1958. But that was only a vague dream, just as every young faned secretly visualises himself getting a letter one day from Street & Smith saying that they've been impressed by his editing and would he consider taking it up professionally...
I was still underestimating Shelby Vick.
But even after I'd had some experience of his amazing energy and determination and ingenuity I still didn't begin to take the affair seriously until Manly Banister intervened. Manly Banister is a man I regard with awe. If a thing is possible, Manly will do it. The trouble was that I didn't think this thing was possible, and I'd been concealing it from him for fear he'd bust himself trying it. I don't know what I expected him to do when he found out, but that mimeograph shook me. I couldn't have felt more grateful to Manly than I already was, but I was plenty worried. I tried to reassure myself by re-reading that proviso ShelVy had put in about the mimeo lottery being off unless the money was raised, but I had an uneasy idea that he and Forry Ackerman and ShelVy wouldn't admit defeat. What I was scared of more than anything was that those three quixotic fools would be left holding the (empty) bag and feeling they had to fill it themselves in order to keep a sort of promise to me. As for myself I was in a fearsome state of uncertainty. It all hinged on whether the campaign had a chance or not. If it had I should get behind it and push as hard as I could. If it hadn't, I should squash it before it went too far. I began to drop foreboding hints to ShelVy that I mightn't be able to get away from my work, paving the way.
It seems I was underestimating not only Shelby Vick, but fandom. The turning point was when ShelVy told me of Bel Mahaffey's offer on behalf of the Convention Committee to put me up in Chicago, and that fans were actually contributing to the fund. For the very first time it seemed that ShelVy might bring it off. I gave up SLANT and began writing as hard as I could for other fanmags. At one time I was writing a monthly column, a bi-weekly column, regular features in four other fanmags, occasional articles in another dozen or so, and letters of comment on every fanmag that came into the house. In my spare time I was turning out a mimeoed mag to prevent / subbers from complaining too hard, keeping up my correspondence and coping with hoaxes by Vince Clarke. I was so busy I nearly had to give up tennis. It got more difficult towards then end, not just because I was running out of ideas but because I was beginning to feel as if I was performing in a shop window. (WDA was a help there, being written in the third person.)
But it's all over now, and I have a restful few weeks in the United States to look forward to. The WAW WITH THE CREW fund has succeeded. (I still don't really believe it, but I'm finally convinced it's not an unusually elaborate hoax by Vince Clarke.) I still don't know how ShelVy did it, but I think I know most of the people I should thank. Manly Banister and Lee Hoffman and Forry Ackerman for a start. And Bea Mhaddey and the Con Committee. And Henry Burwell and Robert Bloch and GMCarr and Ian Maculey. And the Willish editors, Gregg Culkins and Dick Ryan and Dave English and Dave Ish---not only for the time, money and trouble they spent on their special issues but for being understanding enough to avoid the "I'm-boosting-the-Willis-Drive-can-I-Have-a-regular-column-from-you-for-my-mag" type of approach of some other faneds, so thoroughly that I missed one of their deadlines and might easily have missed the others. And all the other fans who contributed time or money or publicity, most of whose names I don't even know yet. And even the ones that didn't, for not making a single hostile noise loud enough to be heard over here. I thank them all very sincerely.
And above all, that maker or fan history, Shelby Vick.
And by that I don't mean that me visiting the USA will be an historical event itself, unless as the anticlimax of the Century, but that I happen to have been the accidental focus of the first concerted and successful effort of science fiction fandom. It shows that fandom today is more capable and greater in every way than it ever has been. If it can do so much for one ordinary member of it, what couldn't it do for something worth while?
Bloch: "I suppose you find America very big?"
WAW: "Yes, and I here there's some more of it behind the stockyards."
Being a Final Accounting of Who, How Much, and When--
Rec'd Name Amount ?/7/51 JANIE LAMB $1.00 2/18/52 NAN GERDING 5.00 2/27/52 ORVILLE MOSHER .50 8/15/52 1.00 3/15/52 GERTRUDE M. CARR 10.00 3/17/52 RORY M. FAULKNER 1.00 3/24/52 ROBERT BLOCH 5.00 7/11/52 10.00 3/26/52 IAN T. MACAULEY 5.00 4/9/52 POUL ANDERSON 1.00 5/24/52 1.00 4/9/52 STEPHEN P. SCHULTHESIS 5.00 4/9/52 CLEVELAND S-F SOCIETY 10.00 4/11/52 JOE GIBSON 2.00 Plus two installments
of .25, in two weeks
.....50 4/30/52 JOHN DUNN 5.00 7/18/52 5.00 4/29/52 FORRY ACKERMAN 10.00 7/5/52 5.00 7/15/52 4.00 5/1/52 RON FRIEDMAN 5.00 5/5/52 DICK RYAN 5.00 8/30/52 2.50 5/5/52 H. HANULOFF .25 5/5/52 GILBERT COCHRUN .25 7/5/52 .36 5/5/52 CHUCK HARRIS 1.00 5/10/52 MARK JOHNSTON 2.50 8/21/52 .25 5/11/52 LEE HOFFMAN 5.00 6/3/52 5.70 7/11/52 2.10 5/18/52 PAUL COX 5.00 5/20/52 S.W. BOWNE JR. 5.00 7/10/52 1.52 5/21/52 EVAN H. APPLEMAN 2.50 5/31/52 J. T. OLIVER 1.00 5/23/52 RALPH BAILEY 3.00 5/24/52 JERRY BURGE 1.00 5/28/52 DR. D. C. MONTGOMERY JR. 2.50 7/10/52 10.00 5/29/52 S/SGT. H. E. SHAPIRO 3.00 6/2/52 BEN KEIFER 1.00 6/6/52 LOS ANGELES SCIENCE FICTION SOCIETY 2.50 6/8/52 GREG CALKINS 10.00 6/8/52 BOB SILVERBERG .75 6/12/52 RICHARD ENEY 3.00 7/11/52 5.00 6/16/52 BILL VENABLE 1.00 6/25/52 EDWARD WOOD 1.00 6/29/52 DICK CLARKSON 1.65 6/29/52 BALTIMORE SCIENCE FICTION FORUM 1.00 7/3/52 P. H. ECONOMOU 1.00 7/4/52 VERNON McCAIN 5.00 7/11/52 DAVID ISH 12.50 7/12/52 DAVID SCHAFER 1.00 7/16/52 HENRY W. BURWELL JR. 10.00 7/18/52 MARJORIE HOUSTON 5.00 7/23/52 WASHINGTON SCIENCE FICTION CLUB 10.00 7/26/52 ELLIOTT ROCKMORE .50 7/27/52 HARRY B. MOORE 1.00 8/8/52 K. MARTIN CARLSON 1.00 8/9/52 ADDIE HUDDLESTON 2.00 8/17/52 JEAN BRYANT BOGERT 15.00 8/17/52 DAVID ENGLISH 5.00 8/28/52 .75 10/2/52 .75 8/18/52 BOB TUCKER 10.00 8/18/52 DR. L. W. CARPENTER 2.00 8/21/52 FELICE PEREW 2.00 8/26/52 NORBERT HIRSCHORN .50 8/27/52 JOE & JOHNIE GREEN 5.50 8/29/52 CARSON JACKS 5.00 8/31/52 FRANKLIN DIETZ 5.00
Besides the donations shown above, $25.50 was added to the fund as a result of the fans at InLaCon buying tickets for the raffling off of Burwell's original. Thanks too, to the numerous fans who supported the raffle at the Tasfic. Ditto, to Bill Hamling and the editorial staff of 'IMAGINATION' for the fifty dollars contribution he gave Walt when they were en route to California.
Since cf. did not put out a special WAWish, all quarters sent to me to that purpose were turned over to the four editors who did publish one, along with the coins sent for some specific WAWish.
At the Masquerade.
Unknown fan: "How did you get here, Mr. Willis?"
WAW: "By bus."
Unknown fan: "What, all the way from Ireland? How'd you manage that?"
WAW: "Good windscreen wipers."