51 years ago

Sunday, June 8, 2008

It was on June 8, 1957, that Mom (science-fiction writer Betsy Curtis) drove to a science-fiction picnic at the home of Basil and Virginia Wells. She'd thought the event would be held at the home of Ed Hamilton and Leigh Brackett in Kinsman, Ohio, so we arrived there -- only to be told (by Leigh's parents in the farm across the road) that it was at the Wells home.

Undeterred, we ended up at a delightful event, attended by a number of SF professionals and fans. Among pro attendees were P. Schuyler Miller, the Hamiltons, and Andre Norton. Among the fans was a Penn State sophomore who'd heard about it through the National Fantasy Fan Federation.

The college student had hitchhiked there from his home in Grand Valley, Pennsylvania -- and we happened to reside in a house that was on the route back to Grand Valley, so we were glad to take him as far as our place on his way home. But that's not why we hit it off: What happened was that we spent most of the day discovering almost identical fannish interests, ranging from Old Time Radio (which wasn't Old Time at that point) to Western movies to fantasy to science fiction to mysteries to, yes, comics.

The next time I heard from him came when Harvey Kurtzman's Humbug #1 (Aug 57) was released; Don Thompson folded it in two and sent it to me in a #10 envelope with a note telling me of its publication.

It wasn't until some time later that he sent me this photo:

On the back, he had typed this message:

This picture was taken before I became a science fiction fan. Anyone gazing at my ravaged features today will see only too clearly the detrimental effects of this insidious activity.

Don't let this happen to your child! Join the Crusade to Stamp out Bug-Eyed Monsters. See your neighborhood chapter of the Society For the Prevention of Science Fiction Books and Magazines.

Support the SFPSFBM. Cash contributions are welcomed. Send your donation to:

Ray Palmer
Amherst, Wisconsin

It is difficult to believe that this innocent, wide-eyed child is today, not only a science fiction fan, but a radio announcer.

(Annotation for the history-minded: Don worked on the Penn State radio station WDFM.)

(Further annotation: Who'd have thought that, 25 years later, Don and Maggie Thompson would move less than 20 miles away from the home of SF and flying saucer editor Ray Palmer? It was, clearly Fate -- another in-joke. Sorry.)


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