Page 2 of 'A Short History of Baltimore Fandom'
© Jack Chalker
time had the most famous graduates in the arts (although they were always fond of noting that
Leon Uris had been expelled from it) and it looked
like a good bet if I was going to do any college prep
Baltimore City College had the reputation, but it was not local to me; it required me to catch a bus in front of my house and take it for six miles through rush hour traffic, then change to a second bus that went at least that far again through even worse streets and traffic. I lived in the northwestern part of the city, while City was just to the east of the middle of Baltimore.
Decembers in Baltimore can be chilly or warm; sometimes they can be both in the same day. I woke up one Wednesday morning in December, 1961, to find it well over 60°F and mostly sunny, and I never even checked the forecast (which was wrong, anyway). I got into school, and it proceeded like a normal day until about noon, when the temperature suddenly began dropping like a stone. By two o'clock it was in the thirties, and because of a general class disruption when the first snowflakes began to appear my English teacher kept the entire class after school. By 3:15 pm, when he decided to let us go, there was already four inches of snow on the ground and it was falling like mad. Major snows in December are unusual; this one was a whopper.
Bus after bus went by as the snow piled up, all full with anxious students from the several high schools that funneled through the area. It was close to four o'clock before I finally got on one, after just about all the student traffic had already gone. The bus had to go west to connect to the second bus I'd need, which intersected at the end of the first bus's line. We pulled by the Johns Hopkins University, very slowly, and got onto the mile-long bridge over the deep Jones Falls Valley that essentially splits Baltimore in two. In the middle of the bridge, the snow and traffic were too much. We were stuck.
The bus driver urged us not to get off, since it was a long way to anywhere from where we were. The snow was still falling, and he had plenty of fuel so we had heat and light for many hours. Believe me, in that position, there was very little incentive to get out and walk, nor were any of us dressed for doing so. In the next few hours, those of us on that bus got to know each other very well indeed. One other City student on the bus was David Michael Ettlin, who was a year behind me. After I discovered he read science fiction, I got to talking about science fiction fandom and the recent Philcon I'd attended, and he was fascinated by discovery of all that was out there.
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