Page 3 of 'A Short History of Baltimore Fandom'
© Jack Chalker
At this point I should mention that Dave, Mark
and I were not, of course, the very first science
fiction fans from Baltimore. In fact, there were
fans in Baltimore as early as the 1930s, but nothing
was organized in any meaningful way until the late
1950s. This was the Baltimore SF Forum, which
was centered around students at the Johns Hopkins
University (although not limited to them) and dominated
by John Hitchcock, John Magnus, and Raleigh Multog.
The club was really too student-based for its own longevity,
though, and essentially fell apart by 1960 due to loss of members
from graduation and growing lack of interest from those
who remained. By 1963 the last of the Old Guard
had graduated from grad school and were moving
out of town to new careers. Multog called me out
of the blue one day that spring and offered me his
entire fanzine collection, which I accepted. Magnus
sold his collection, both books and fanzines, at
the 1963 Worldcon and then vanished as well. I
haven't seen nor heard from anyone in this group
I had become aware that the group existed, but I had never attended any meetings nor got directly involved with any of them. Ironically, at that time I was much too involved with the Washington club, WSFA, a large and active organization, and had little interest in what was a dying institution that didn't even look to perpetuate itself.
At that point in my life I was working two jobs, attending high school, and with whatever money I made I bought stamps for letters, bought occasional books when I could afford them, and spent the rest going to Washington every first and third Friday for WSFA meetings. I had discovered the Washington Science Fiction Association in 1959, after reading Schuyler Miller's review column in Astounding that mentioned the forthcoming publication of a book called Fancyclopedia II by one Richard Eney of Alexandria, Virginia. I wrote to Eney to find out if it had appeared yet; it hadn't, but he noted that I lived in Baltimore and wrote back inviting me to attend a WSFA meeting. I explained to him that I was just fifteen and didn't have any transportation, and he responded that, if I could make it to the D.C. Trailways bus station, he would make sure I got to the meeting. From that point on, much of my money started going both for bus tickets and for the taxi to get back home from the station; I often got back from WSFA meetings at about three or four o'clock on Saturday mornings.
WSFA was quite active during that period and had a number of members around my age. The teen clique became basically Tom Haughey, Joe Mayhew, Don Studebaker, and myself. Meetings were held at the home of a retired elderly railroad lobbyist named Elizabeth Cullen and were being run by George Scithers, who was stationed in D.C. at the time. It was a golden time for the club, and it was the only real relief from work and school that I had.
In point of fact, it was somewhat frustrating to have my regular fannish life revolve entirely around WSFA; Baltimore is not right next door, I had no hopes of affording a car and the insurance, and I was now working more of the day than I was going to school. I actually longed for the now vanished Baltimore SF Forum, which would have been handier and cheaper.
By the end of 1962, Dave, Mark, and I were all riding the bus to WSFA. The trio had even expanded to a quartet with the addition of our only female interested in science fiction fandom, a girlfriend of mine named Enid Jacobs. The four of us were not only social regulars, we also attended various conventions, including Philcon, Disclave, and some irregular groupings of fans from New York and New Jersey that seemed about as socially disorganized as we were. Ettlin also seemed to be into recruiting, bringing one Baltimore-area person or another he'd run into either at school or in other walks of life. The trouble was, there wasn't anything there to recruit folks to. When you included Mayhew, Studebaker, and Haughey, we were more of a kind of gang of nerds than a real club.
At the end of 1962, Dave Ettlin, Mark, Enid, a friend of Ettlin's named Dave Katz, and I were coming back from the WSFA New Year's party. It was about three o'clock in the morning on New Year's Day, and we were sitting across the whole back of the Trailways bus. I think it was Ettlin, partly in jest, who suggested that we should form a new Baltimore club and provide some base to which members could be recruited. The rest of us more or less went along with it, although not with the feeling that this was going to go very far, and at that moment the Baltimore Science Fiction Society was born.
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