As we mentioned, LoneStarCon had a significant amount of fanhistory-related programming. Next year's Bucconeer will have even more, as it incorporates the 1997 FanHistoricon which will be, in effect, a 'convention within a convention' where Baltimore fandom itself will probably be one of the topics. In Mimosa 20, we presented the first part of a mini-history of the Baltimore Science Fiction Society by one of its founders, Jack Chalker. Here is his concluding installment.
'A Short History of Baltimore 
  Fandom (Part 2)'  by Jack Chalker, title illo by Joe Mayhew
 Now, about those business meetings...

 The truth was, we didn't have all that much business to conduct. BSFS was held in members' homes; there were minor dues and a 'BYO-Everything' atmosphere. The very purpose of the club was to provide a way for like-minded people to get together and have fun on a regular basis. Because of this, by the mid-1960s BSFS eclipsed its neighbor, the Washington Science Fiction Association, in size and in being the 'in' place to be for parties and such. This was not only due to BSFS's own growth and lack of interest in anything but fun, but also because WSFA itself lost Elizabeth Cullen and thus her wonderful house that had been the focal point of its meetings for more than a decade.

 The BSFS business meetings, having nothing whatsoever to do, tended to be long and complicated affairs. There were a lot of people who were so in love with procedure and business that they only showed up at those sessions; other than announcements, which were important, the most frequent activity was revising the BSFS constitution. It happened dozens of times. Committees were formed and came back with revised constitutions; they were debated in detail (with anyone ruled out of order commanded to be keelhauled under the U.S.S. Constellation down at the harbor) and ultimately adopted. A new committee to revise the constitution was then immediately appointed.

 However, in 1966, the club actually tried to do something serious. It bid for the 1967 World Science Fiction Convention, going to other conventions, throwing bid parties, distributing flyers, etc. We had a reputation for never closing a bid party at a con so long as even one person was there, so we were always the last hangout -- an obvious outgrowth of our never-ending weekends {{ ed. note: for more on that, see part one of Jack's remembrance }}. Ed and JoAnn Wood met at a Baltimore `67 party at the 1966 Midwestcon, for example, and there were other such relationships formed in the wee hours as well, most others best left unmentioned because they didn't work out as well.

 The schizoid club meetings showed how little club members really felt about all the formalities of a club. This was a social group that liked to party and existed entirely for its own sake because its members liked getting together. This meant that the club offices weren't all that important, either, although they sounded important to other clubs. The elections became just as silly as some of the rest of the party-oriented stuff, often involving passionate mock campaigns (although BSFS almost always re-elected everybody who wanted to run again in the end). The elections then became excuses to throw even more grandiose parties, and became so popular that fans from New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania (as well as a fair share of WSFA) often came. This quickly made it impossible to hold election meetings in members' homes, and so, in 1964, we wound up renting a function room for the night at the Holiday Inn downtown. The attendance for that all-night election party was so large and had so many out-of-towners, we decided to have a relaxacon-like convention the next year that wouldn't be limited to a mere room with its various restrictions.

illo by Joe Mayhew  Balticon 1, as it is now known, was held over President's Day weekend in 1965, at the Emerson Hotel in downtown Baltimore. The Emerson was across the street from the theater district, and so it was the hotel where visiting performers usually stayed. The entire top floor was an elaborate and ornate penthouse suite with a central master bar and tons of room. The modest BSFS treasury covered its rental, but not its stock nor other amenities, and at that time I was in my last semester of undergraduate college and had very little money to contribute. Roger Zelazny put up a fair amount of it, but pretty much got it all back at the end of the convention. That first Balticon was an enormous hit. There was no guest of honor, but it was a grand time with just the right folks there. I remember Randall Garrett leading his inimitable filk sings, and Lin Carter pontificating in another area of the suite, and half the convention going out for breakfast at dawn. One other thing that happened was that the Emerson security man got himself fired -- he liked us so much he, er, oversampled our bar.

 The next year, we moved a block away to the Lord Baltimore Hotel. It wasn't our choice -- new owners had bought the Emerson during the previous year, and had it demolished to make way for a new downtown parking garage. It was a great loss...

 The Lord Baltimore wasn't nearly as well laid out for us, but it was good enough. We used only the lower floor halls and meeting rooms. The hotel management tended to look the other way on corkage but did insist on a minimum twenty-five rooms per night for Friday and Saturday. This time we had a token program and a Guest of Honor. It had occurred to me that our kind of convention was the right size to invite a single GoH and have him or her not only do whatever they wanted as program but also to interact one-on-one with the con attendees. As chairman, I also wanted somebody new who wasn't already a 'regular', and for this I picked Samuel R. Delaney, whose first couple of books had impressed me. This was also his first real con experience, and he and we all seemed to fit rather well.

 The budget for the convention was not at all high, so we cut costs as much as we could (to give one example of economy, I remember Paul Schaubel coming back from Allied Chemical with twenty gallons of pure grain alcohol, which we then diluted 50-50 with tap water and poured into Smirnoff bottles -- nobody complained, and we had all that 'vodka' for about ten bucks). I also rushed down and rented three rooms, which I gave away, when I discovered we only had 47 room nights. It was expensive, but cheaper than paying the facilities bill for not making our room night commitment.

 I wasn't around for the next Balticon. Back then, with the Vietnam War near its peak, there was very limited protection from the draft, and I'd received a draft physical. Bill Osten, a local SF fan and BSFS member who'd wound up marrying my old girlfriend Enid, had gotten into the 135th Air Command Group, an Air National Guard unit where my cousin, WWII vet Laurence Volrath (from whom I get my middle name) was a colonel, and tipped me off that there were openings. I went down there, tested, and on the same day as a postcard arrived stating that I would be drafted within the next thirty days, I joined the 135th and went off to basic training on February 3, 1967 -- two weeks before Balticon 3. Ted Pauls, with some help from Dave Ettlin and Ron Bounds (both 4Fs), ran it with L. Sprague de Camp as GoH; it reportedly went okay. I didn't get back into town until late August and remained on active duty for a while after that. I had gone through special forces training at Howard Air Force 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 restaurant banquet one year, Harry Harrison leaped across the table and attempted to strangle Ted White over some dispute about how White had edited Amazing Stories after Harrison had left it.

 BSFS was eventually re-started. Some newcomers such as Sue Wheeler, Shirley Avery, and Martin Deutsch got together with a few old vets of the original club, like Pat Kelly and Mark Owings, and began meeting in small rooms at the Johns Hopkins University and other available places. With another returned member from the 1960s, Charles David Michael Artemus Ellis (CDMA in print, Charlie to us), they also assumed control of Balticon from Pauls, whose own business had been having some problems that required a lot of his time and resources; the club asked Charlie, who had never run a large convention before, to run a big one.

 Charlie did. Moving out of downtown to the Pikesville Hilton on the Baltimore beltway, Charlie started with heavy publicity, made lots of deals, and went beyond traditional con fandom to his own contacts with film fandom to create a short amateur film festival to run concurrently, and, as importantly, he moved Balticon from President's Day weekend to Easter weekend. Balticon suddenly drew almost 2,000 people, including lots of writers, editors, film people, artists, you name it... and it was off. The Hilton, however, was not as good; its franchise holder was in trouble and tried to stiff the con, forcing a move the next year to The Hunt Valley Inn even farther out in the suburbs. There it remained for more than a decade, until Hunt Valley management tired of Balticon and Balticon finally faced the fact that it had outgrown the place. Since then it's been mostly in the Inner Harbor, at various hotels there. Balticons had quite a reputation in the early 1970s as fun conventions; Wheeler even arranged to import a performing group to Balticon that she'd seen at the 1977 Westercon. We understand that The Flying Karamazov Brothers still remember us fondly.

 The high attendance brought BSFS lots of money; in the early 1980s the club found and rented a basement clubhouse on Charles Street near the Johns Hopkins University. This remained the center of the club and its activities until, after a decade there, crime had increased to the point where everyone decided we needed to move. At first intending only to rent, the club found and then purchased a former neighborhood movie house in the Highlandtown section of east Baltimore, then began to renovate and rehab the place even while it was being used as a meeting site. Only two other clubs that I know of, LASFS and NESFA, own their own clubhouses.

# # # #

 Sue Wheeler led a bid for the 1980 Worldcon, but was beaten after a good campaign by Boston. Three years later, however, a renewed bid under Mike Walsh won. ConStellation was held at the Inner Harbor in 1983 with John Brunner as Guest of Honor, Dave Kyle as Fan GoH, and me as Toastmaster. Overambitious and underinsured, the convention wound up with money problems but managed to settle with all its creditors over time with help from NESFA and Rick Katze in particular. Contrary to popular opinion, ConStellation did not declare bankruptcy, and those who worked on it simply note that its problems cost no attendee one dime and that everyone got more than their money's worth. Eva Whitley's crab feast for 1,200, the first food function at a domestic worldcon in many years, actually made money and became something of a legend. It was also the first crab feast she had ever thrown.

 Today's Baltimore fandom continues quite active; a mixed WSFA-BSFS bid for the 1998 World SF Convention won, and next year another worldcon will be held in Baltimore. The World Fantasy Convention has been to the city twice so far, once at the Hunt Valley Inn in 1981, and most recently in downtown Baltimore, in 1995, under Mike Walsh. Balticon is still held every Easter weekend. BSFS continues to thrive and the clubhouse is a center of faanish social activity in the city; the club publishes a regular fanzine, is a participant in fan activities all over the country, and is in contact with fans all over the world. Recently it's again become the center of regional fan activity, although it is generally acknowledged that the completion of clubhouse renovations will be one of the Seven Signs of the Apocalypse.

 Me, I still go to meetings whenever I can, and, after the meeting, I lead a number of others out to a 24-hour eatery where tradition is maintained.

All illustrations by Joe Mayhew

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