Page 8 of 'A Short History of Baltimore Fandom'
© Jack Chalker
Base in Panama and I also managed to
make it to the 1967 New York Worldcon. I often
commented that it was sometimes hard to remember which was which.|
Having graduated in June 1966 from Towson State, I'd secured a junior high English teaching position with the Baltimore City Public Schools -- but my interest was history and that was what I wanted to teach (preferably at the high school level). I had had a double major, so my teaching license allowed either one. After coming off active duty, I secured the high school history and geography position I'd been wanting, and concurrently entered grad school at Johns Hopkins. I also resumed my social fan activities, but not my leading position in the club. From the end of 1967 through 1969, Jay and Alice Haldeman ran the club and Ted Pauls ran the Balticons, with Don Sobwick and wife Debbie (a Philadelphia fan he'd met at a Disclave in Washington) still doing the late after-meetings.
It was also during the 1960s that Baltimore and Washington combined on what was to go down as one of the great hoaxes of that decade, the 'Bermuda in 1970' worldcon bid. This came about because of conversations with Dave Kyle at the `68 Worldcon in which he evidenced a lot of worry that the Heidelberg in 1970 committee could stay together or pull things off. He was on their committee but only in a titular capacity; they weren't listening to folks who knew worldcons, he said, and spent most of their time arguing with each other to the point of yelling, screaming, and resignations. Since there was no question they were going to win, he wondered if there wasn't something that could be done to scare the hell out of them. Back in 1964, Harlan Ellison and Bob Silverberg had almost won the worldcon for 1965 by bidding a joke Virgin Islands blast that would be held on the beach at Saint Croix. I suggested we come up with a more credible hoax that, considering the near win of the V.I. gag bid, might scare the hell out of the Germans and give them something to rally around and compete against. Dave suggested Bermuda because he had a relative there who could do remailings, and it was on.
Bermudacon was never real, and probably is unique in fannish history in that it was perpetuated through the next year by both BSFS and WSFA, all of whom knew it was a hoax and none of whom blew the gag. The Kyles were living in England then, and gave credibility to us by asserting to the Heicon committee that it was real. Other than that, it was entirely a Baltowash affair. I remember Charlie Brown actually calling a WSFA meeting in the early summer of 1969 and, with everybody sitting there and keeping quiet, asking Jay Haldeman if Bermuda was real. Jay assured him it was and even talked it up; various 'news' items were being passed to him on slips of paper while he was talking with Charlie. After he hung up there was the longest group laugh I can ever remember. To this day, I'm told, Charlie insists that Bermudacon was real.
# # #In 1971, BSFS effectively fell apart in one of those personality splits, when it was felt that people who had little in common with the regular club members (and who had never contributed a thing to actually making the club go) had engineered a coup to take over the club. In protest to it Not Being Fun Anymore, almost all of the regular members resigned and, that evening at Don Sobwick's, formed the Baltimore Science-Fantasy Group. To avoid any more political problems, it was made a private group to which admission was by consent of the members. There was no constitution and a collection was taken up each meeting to cover expenses. The BSFG continued into the mid-1970s, meeting at the Sobwicks and other members' homes; it finally faded out after the Sobwicks moved away.
With the problems at BSFS, organized club focus for the area returned to WSFA. The insurgent BSFS types never even attempted to hold a meeting or to see if they could still have a solid club. That might have been possible if they had really been interested in running the club. Instead, they proved why folks didn't want them, and none of them were active in fandom after that.
Balticon continued, however, under Ted Pauls, although there were increasing complaints that it was rather dull and automatic and had become mostly a giant weekend fair for his TK Graphics book operation. Still, it continued, mostly at the Lord Baltimore, and did have some occasional memorable moments, such as when, at the Chinese
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