illo by William Rotsler
Mimosa Letters

{{ We had a pretty good response to our fifth issue of Mimosa, even more than for our fourth issue and in spite of our relocation from Tennessee to Maryland. First off, here are some comments on The Move and on Dick's Opening Comments about "Life at Two Miles an Hour"...}}

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Skel, Offerton, Stockton, Cheshire, United Kingdom
Living one's life at two miles per hour seems to be a fairly lucrative pace if my mathematics isn't too rusty. If, in order to save 300,000,000 dollars, 7,500 jobs were given the welly, that comes to 40,000 bucks-a-throw. I think I might be just about able to scrape by on that sort of salary. I wonder, though, if there is any correlation between average speed and earnings? There probably is because people who jet all over the world probably tend to earn more than the average pleb who walks or buses to his manual factory job. I may in fact be a perfect example -- I cycle to work and back every day, and don't get around much at any other time. Hell, my average speed must be approaching entropy, as a glance at my paycheck will readily confirm. I think we've hit on something here, Dick, which is bound to be greeted with wild acclaim -- the "Lynch-Skelton Law". I know you won't mind giving me my share of the credit. After all, without my name you'd never get it accepted by the scientific community -- nobody would want to be seen in favour of a "Lynch Law".

{{ Or the 'Anti-Lynch Law' about lay-off rumors: "No noose is good news." (Couldn't resist that.) Anyway, your calculation of average salary is maybe a little too high; there were overheads and other costs factored in that the workers never get to see in their paychecks. Still, though, you can see that there was pretty much economic chaos in Chattanooga and other TVA cities where effects of this massacre were felt; we imagine many of the local merchants had a pretty grim Christmas season for sales. }}

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Pamela Boal, Wantage, Oxon, United Kingdom
What a marvelous concept, living 'life at two miles an hour'. Although Britain is so small I was constantly on the move around it until this past twelve years, even then regular trips to Derek's Mum until she died added up to at least 1,800 miles a year, and then there are holiday trips and family visits. I've been to Singapore, Cyprus, Portugal, and enjoyed two visits to America covering quite a lot of mileage while in those places. It's surprising how many miles you can cover even on a small island like Cyprus if you explore as often and as avidly as we used to. Of course, in my case the mileage has to be divided up by more years but I guesstimate I'm a real fast gal, living at least 3 miles per hour.

illo by Sheryl Birkhead
J.R. Madden, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
On 3 October, your postal card arrived bearing your new address in Maryland. I went to a map seeking to determine your exact location in that state; at least as exact as the scale of the map would allow. I found Hagerstown where the famous Hermit dwells and Gaithersburg from whence Thrusts emanate at intervals. In the far western reaches, I even found a Thayerville and wonder if it is any relation to Teddy Harvia. But Lo! I found not a burg of the name Germantown. You will definitely have to enlighten me as to just where you are domiciled these days following your departure from Chattanooga.

{{ Well, you were close. We now live just outside Gaithersburg, even though the mailing address will continue to be Germantown, where Dick works. Germantown is just about halfway between Washington, DC and Frederick, Maryland; you probably missed it if you looked in a Rand-McNally road atlas because it's located right at the fold in the page. }}

illo by Teddy Harvia
Harry Warner, Jr., Hagerstown, Maryland
I hope both of you will find interesting, profitable, and pleasant jobs wherever you finally turn up. It would be nice if another good job in fossil energy became available, because then I could hope to profit someday by a discovery that would enable this particular fossil to regain some of the energy he used to have.

The Midwestcon reminiscing {{ "The Awful Truth About Roger Sims" }} was very fun to read. The only thing wrong with it was the way it made me feel frustrated, to think how many more discussions at cons as entertaining as this one must vanish permanently into oblivion because nobody takes the trouble to record and transcribe them. And I hope you make sure Harlan doesn't receive a copy of this Mimosa. He has been increasingly disaffected by fanzines, and I fear there might be a frightening explosion if he found his old exploits put into print for today's generation of fans.

{{ We won't tell if you don't. Actually, though, reminiscing of this type is one of the things we look forward to at Midwestcon. And we absolutely agree that a lot of fandom's early history, still fragilely prserved in the memory of participants still living, will vanish forever if not put into print soon. That's why we try to publish at least one fan history article in each issue. More on this in the next letter. }}

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Leigh Edmonds, Palmyra, Western Australia, Australia
It was certainly nice to have the opportunity to hold and read a nice twiltone genzine again. There are enough nice things in there that you should get some egoboo. However, the thing that stuck out most in my mind was Mike Glicksohn's comment {{ ed. note, in the Letters Column }} about what fan historians will know about Walt Liebscher. Having become a historian somewhere in the past few years (it's not the degree that made me a historian, I just came to the realization one day that I knew how history was done and, consequently, I must be a historian) I found myself wishing that some of these "fan historians" would write some of that fannish history rather than simply remembering it. Fannish historians are really fans who collect bits of information about the past of their hobby, so I guess that maks me a historian who is a fan, instead. Since I was over there and talked to Elinor and F.M. Busby about John Berry it seemed fairly clear to me that fandom really has a very strong oral tradition (of which fanzines is only a part), and unless somebody starts getting that oral tradition onto tape in the next few years, it will be lost. Fanzines keep a much more formal record of some of the personalities that have taken part in fandom, but they do not encompass the whole of the person. Until we get people who are willing to go to the trouble to do more than write personal reminiscences or reprint stuff from old fanzines, we will be in danger of losing everything.

{{ Well, we think much of what early fan history that can still be preserved on tape will end up being mostly personal anecdotal reminiscenses, the stuff fanzines are made of. We do agree with you, though, and we've been preaching in one form or another for a while, now, the points you're now making. But luckily, there's a fan group that is currently working to capture fan history onto audio and video tape -- it's the SF Oral History Association. }}

illo by Kurt Erichsen
Milt Stevens, Reseda, California
Considering your recent move, I won't be surprised if the next issue of Mimosa doesn't appear for a while. You should be able to get things back in order within four or five years. My last move was ten years ago, and I really should finish unpacking real soon now.

When I read things like "The Awful Truth About Roger Sims" I'm impressed by the dedication of early fans. Granted, some of the First Fandomites may be exaggerating a little about the covered wagons, but still it must have been a real pain to travel to conventions in the old days. And when they arrived at the convention, they got to spend a few days in living conditions that made the Black Hole of Calcutta look like a luxury resort.

Communal living, as described in Bob Lichtman's article {{ "Alabama Run" }} wouldn't be my cup of tea at all. The Navy was about as close as I ever came to communal living, and I found I didn't care for it. I valued privacy highly, and I find I'm becoming more of a recluse as I get older. At the same time, I'm still almost a complete urbanite. To me, nature is just another term for unimproved real estate.

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Don Fitch, Frijo, California
"The Awful Truth About Roger Sims" exhibits a characteristic one notices in almost all Midwestern Fannish 1950s-era stories -- they're almost as much about Harlan Ellison as about their ostensible topics. This one is also a fine and delightful piece of fanhistory, and neatly points up how much things have changed -- nowadays a Worldcon Bidding Committee may well spend $2,000 for parties at one con, whereas in 1954, Cleveland had only about $200 for its entire bidding fund.

Lichtman's "Alabama Run" would be an excellent example of the faanish school of "I Believe I Have a Piece of Chicken Stuck Between My Teeth" writing (though Carr or Ellik might've done better with the final paragraph) -- the Triumph of Form over Content -- except that Lichtman manages, also, to slip in lots of fascinating facts and opinions concerning The Farm. I'm looking forward to his future work on that topic -- and for that matter, to anything else he might write.

{{ In that case, check out the latest issue of Robert's excellent fanzine Trap Door which has another story about The Farm that picks up on one of the threads left dangling in "Alabama Run". }}

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Mike Glicksohn, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I found Robert Lichtman's tale of The Farm both fascinating and repugnant (and I was delighted he finally decided to put some of his experiences down on fanzine paper). The underlying sense of regimented lifestyle that all such communal experiences involve is totally repellent to me. (Even if restrictions imposed -- e.g., vegetarianism, etc. -- are inherently good ones, this is a decision I want to make for myself, not have forced upon me from above.) And I've never been convinced that a sense of belonging to a community is vital for every individual, at least not in the all-pervading sense that seems common of must communes.

I've enough personal experiments with communes to know that they can work wonders with some very troubled individuals. At one time every other member of my immediate family except me became involved with what I would class as a religious commune. These people did some wonderful work. They took some extremely unhappy young people and gave them a sense of family, and a sense of purpose and direction for many formerly wasted lives. But when I visited them, I always found myself almost smothered by the overpowering sense of community involvement. Everything was done as a group: there were work parties every day, and food was prepared and eaten en masse and on those rare occasions when there was leisure time, it too was planned and carried out in groups directed by the local "gurus". I loathed it all, even though the people were sincere, dedicated, and almost all really decent human beings.

I get a similar sense of The Farm from Robert's reminiscences. (I also get a sense that he felt twinges of my own reactions and found ways around some of the more stultifying effects of communal living.) And yet I enjoyed his article more than any other in the issue, and hope he chooses to write much more of his experiences there.

I have to disagree with you guys when it comes to what a LoC should be. To me, the lowly and oft-maligned LoC, that cornerstone of fannish currency, is for the dissemination of egoboo. Hence I see it aimed primarily at the editors of the fanzine it responds to and secondarily at the contributors whose material it is in reply to. If it has additional purposes of making the letter-writer appear clever or entertaining to readers of the sugsequent issue, this is far behind its main raison d'etre. Thus as I see it, asking letterhacks to just send in a couple of clever paragraphs is circumventing the entire purpose of loccing in the first place. What you decide to do with locs you get is your editorial prerogative (I happen to believe a healthy lettercol is the lifeblood of any good fanzine, and I think Mimosa would be even better than it already is if it had a more substantial one) but from my own viewpoint as a letterhack of long standing, I'll keep on commenting on things in each issue that I find deserving of a reaction.

Dal Coger {{ in "The Degler Legend" }} seems to have overlooked the main reason that Claude Degler -- colourful though he undoubtedly was -- is considered so negatively by fans who knew him in his heyday. He stole things. He stole things from fans. He stole things from fans who'd been kind enough to show him hospitality. If it were only Claude's rather naive ideas about the superiority of fans that had passed into fanhistory, I doubt he'd be the legendary fan he is today. But when his oddball ideas were coupled with his less-than-savoury personal habits, the result was a figure of mythic proportions. I very much doubt that any of the old-time fans who had choice items from their collections vanish with Claude's departure would have quite the sympathetic viewpoint that Dal brings to this particular bizarre part of fannish history.

{{ You'll notice that much of your letter made it to our letters column unscathed and uncut this time. We've had several months now to think about our request for more succinct LoCs (and get readers' feedback); we now feel that we were perhaps overzealous in our attempt to get more usable material for our letters column. For instance, we don't want to discourage Walt Willis or Harry Warner (or Mike Glicksohn) from sending us their usual long and delightful commentaries on our current issue; letters like those are the energy source that keeps faneditors publishing. So, then, please do, writers, continue to comment on everything and anything you think deserving of a reaction. We appreciate your letters. And we'll continue to print the best sections from them. }}

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G.M. Carr, Seattle, Washington
I really enjoyed this Mimosa and I thought I'd better write and tell you so. It was like a trip through yesterday, seeing all those names of fans I used to know or hear about. Like Claude Degler -- I used to hear a lot about him though I never met him. He was just phasing out of fandom when I started; that was about 1949. There was lots of griping about him, but this is the first time I ever found out why. He was evidently regarded as an out-and-out fughead, but nobody ever really went into detail, and since I was also widely regarded as an out-and-out fughead as well, I felt a sort of sneaking sympathy with the poor guy.

illo by Kurt Erichsen
Walt Willis, Donaghadee, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
Thanks for Mimosa 5, which arrived in 9 days flaunting defiantly its 'Fourth Class Book Rate' stamp. This Nine Days Wonder must be some sort of record. Obviously the fannish spacetime continuum has been so warped by the stress of the British postal strike as to briefly permit the postal equivalent of ftl travel.

Talking of which, I liked Dick's 2mph concept of life and am thinking of commending it to Stephen Hawking. This idea of biological spacetime isn't even conceived of in Hawking's A Brief History of Time. Dick now offers the startling prospect of a Unified Field Theory integrating Space, Time, and Life itself. Wouldn't it be nice if he won a Hugo for it, or at least a Nobel Prize? Some credit might even be reflected onto that Great Thinker Walt Lewis, who pioneered the concept of Subjectively Motivated Time Travel mentioned in Bob Shaw's speech {{ "What I Learned from Watching Star Trek" in Mimosa 3 }}. (Actually, it was in an Agatha Christie parody called "The Case of the Disappearing Fan".)

Meanwhile, my favourite piece was Nicki's First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Customers {{ "Coffee, Tea and Me" }}. I've often secretly admired shop people for their patience in dealing with us customers, who tend by our very nature to be awkward, often unintentionally. I am, I like to think, a fairly considerate and reasonable customer, but I noticed in the days when I used to be a chocoholic that I would very often ask for the only bar of chocolate the confectioner did not have among his hundreds of goodies. Apparently my mind has subconsciously scanned the whole bewildering assortment and told me that the missing one is the one I want.

I understand a similar phenomenon is known to publishers. When they publish the first edition of a book or magazine they sometimes print only enough copies to meet, say, 90% of the demand. The deprived 10% of potential customers then go mad with frustration and ask for a copy in about 9 other shops, thereby creating a false demand for a 100% reprint, which will bankrupt the publisher.

The accusation that customers do not seem to read notices is also justified, but there are in my experiences extenuating circumstances. I read everything that appears before me, from bus tickets to sauce bottle labels, but I have found notices in shops and cafes to have a regrettably remote relationship with reality, from the OPEN/CLOSED notice on the door to the word 'fresh' where it occurs on menus. Also, I have been told on countless occasions that the Plat du Jour, or "Today's Special", is no longer available, but I have yet to notice any of the staff dashing to correct the copy of the menu visible from the street.

{{ We're happy to report that Nicki was in fact able to find employment in a field related to her computer science degree here in Maryland. She's now working for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (formerly the National Bureau of Standards) in the Computer Security division. }}

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Sheryl Birkhead, Gaithersburg, Maryland
Ah yes, the joy of serving the public (preferably roasted with apple in mouth). This reads as if Nicki displayed a rather large degree of self-control. And, look at it this way -- at least you got a fanzine article out of it.

{{ It's getting so that whenever some misadventure happens, we always tell each other, "There's a fanzine article in there somewhere." }}

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G. Patrick Molloy, Huntsville, Alabama
Nicki's "Coffee, Tea and Me" reminded me of my first job -- a sales clerk in a mall pet store. Most common dumb question: "Does that dog/cat/bird/hamster/iguana/tarantula bite?" Answer I wanted to give: "Hell, yes! If you stuck your finger in my face like that, I'd bite!" Other commonly heard statements: "That thing's gross!" (usually in reference to the iguana or tarantula), and, of course, "It stinks in here!" (as Nicki soon could not smell the coffee, I soon could no longer smell the puppy cages).

Carolyn Doyle's article {{ "Copy Editing and Coping in the Wilds of Columbus (Georgia, That Is)" }} reminded me of when I moved to Kentucky from northern New Jersey at age 12. Besides the strange accents, my biggest culture shock came when I learned that the McDonald's all put mustard on their hamburgers! Of course, now I have become acclimated to this Southern tradition, even to the point of preferring it (along with ketchup, thank you).

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Robert Bloch, Los Angeles, California
I found this issue of Mimosa particularly fascinating, because of the nuggets of information dredged up from waters which first flowed decades ago. Then, too, it's not every day that Carolyn Doyle reveals she's from Indianapolis. So all in all, I learned a great deal about fandom, past and present, thanks to you both, and some of the information is incredible.

{{ We're speechless. }}

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Buck Coulson, Hartford City, Indiana
Loved Farber's stuff {{ "My First 36 Hour Day" }}; medical students always seem to accumulate a fund of very funny stories, and I always thank God I never had the urge to become a doctor. Bob Passavoy trained in Chicago, and since he was the only white in his department, Ann bought him a t-shirt with the slogan "Resident Honky". Someone asked him if he was going to wear it to work, and he looked astonished and said, "Of course I am!" I try to avoid doctors at conventions; Juanita always mentions my diet, and they always want to make sure I stay on it -- presumably to save themselves the trouble of treating a heart attack or a diabetic coma in the middle of their vacation.

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Roger Weddall, Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia
My god, I'd heard stories from Brit friends who had been to America on holidays about what the public health system there was like, but Sharon's short article paints a picture of hospital conditions more closely allied to those you'd expect to find in a war zone. Tell me, really, are things that bad across the entire country, or is St. Louis an anomaly in this regard? I was reminded of the title of the Doris Lessing novel, Briefings for a Descent Into Hell, and while reading Sharon's account I just wanted her to get out of there -- but then, what of the patients? What can it be like for them when it's like that for the staff? If you could convince Sharon to write more I'd be fascinated to read it -- the way a rabbit can be fascinated by a snake about to strike at it.

{{ Things aren't that bad here, really. Hospitals like St. Louis City are pretty much confined to inner-city locations, but then again, some inner cities are becoming more and more like war zones. We get the image of what a M.A.S.H. hospital must have been like; maybe instead of whites, doctor's gowns should have been camouflage. }}

illo by William Rotsler
Michael W. Waite, Ypsilanti, Michigan
Mimosa 5 was loaded with little gems, like Sharon Farber's "My First 36 Hour Day". For days, I was checking my stools for color, consistency, and flotability! What a strain.

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Stven Carlberg, Lafayette, Louisiana
It was nice to see Alan Hutchinson's Atlanta Worldcon report {{ "Tales Calculated to Drive You to AWC (Atlanta World Con)" }} reprinted in this issue {{ ed. note: It originally appeared in SFPA, the Southern Fandom Press Alliance. }} -- not only because my name figures prominently in it, but also because Alan's work is delightful, funny, clever, and deserves a big, appreciative audience.

{{ His covers for last issue were pretty funny and clever, too. }}

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David Palter, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Alan Hutchinson's Tales of the Atlanta Worldcon is wonderfully funny, one of the great pieces of fannish humor that I have seen in my decade of fanzine reading. Fannish humor is highly stylized if not inbred, and it frequently seems to have no point other than to demonstrate that its author has a suitably fannish attitude, but this piece does it so well that it would be funny even to a non-fan, the ultimate accomplishment of fan humor. Alan's front and back covers for this issue are also quite amusing, so his overall contribution to this issue is pretty impressive. What talent!

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Eve Ackerman, Gainesville, Florida
Alan's con report sounds a lot like the con I attended in Atlanta. But mine was slightly more surreal. And thanks for the paper helicopter!

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We Also Heard From:
Harry Andruschak; Richard Brandt; Brian Earl Brown; Gary Brown; rich brown; Dave D'Ammassa; Carolyn Doyle; Kathleen Gallagher; Maureen Garrett; John Guidry; Craig Hilton; Neil Kaden; Robert Lichtman; Ethel Lindsay; Adrienne Losin; LynC; Robert Newsome; Bruno Ogorelec; Berislav Pinjah; Maureen Porter; Marilyn Pride; Charlotte Proctor; David Rowe; Tom Sadler; Rickey Sheppard; Garth Spencer; Erwin Strauss; R Laurraine Tutihasi; David Thayer; and Allen Varney. And a special thanks to Pat Mueller for the boxes of electrostencils -- a true fannish housewarming present.

Illustrations by William Rotsler, Sheryl Birkhead, Teddy Harvia, and Kurt Erichsen

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