1. Although my name is now "Fred A. Levy Haskell", I am referred to as "Fred Haskell" throughout this transcript, as that was my name at that time.
2. The Moderator of the panel was David Emerson, the panelists were: Nate Bucklin, Ken Fletcher, Fred Haskell, Frank Stodolka, and Jim Young.
3. Comments were occasionally shouted from the audience--when possible, I have tried to identify their source by name, although these are guesses based on voice recognition.
4. I have lightly edited this transcript for sense and continuity--I have, however, made every attempt to maintain the essence of what was said.
5. I may well have misspelled some of the names of some of the people mentioned during the course of the panel, for which I tender my profuse apologies.
6. For the curious, or those who doubt my veracity, give me a blank 90 minute cassette and I'll be glad to run off a dub of my copy of the tape of the proceedings for you....
NOTE FOR GERI:
This was just now retyped, working from an old transcript I did years and years and years ago. Although I checked it more than a few times back then, I have not yet had the chance to relisten to the tape to check for accuracy this time around. Please quibble with my punctuation and editing, if you wish--this here is not its final form, but I thought you would find it... interesting, nonetheless. Oh! And well worth a dollar!
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:
I'm not entirely sure when the "just now" of the previous paragraphs was. I also cannot remember whether I was passing it to Geri (Sullivanfirstname.lastname@example.org) for some specific use (for example, for her to publish for distribution at a Minicon or somesuch), or whether it was simply that we'd been having another one of Those discussions about The Early Days. I can say for sure that it is now November 30, 1995. I'm going to take a pass through to see what I might do to further neaten things up. I suppose I could have Real Fun by going through and adding annotations and footnotes and supplemental information. Maybe I'll even do that Real Soon Now.
Excerpts of this were published in RUNE some years back, so it's probably sort of Copyright (c) 19xx by Minn-Stf; although if RUNE was still running its "reversion" blurb about the copyrights at that time, the rights may have reverted to me as the person who transcribed it. Or Not. I don't know. Whatever rights there may still be available for the current "edition" certainly belong to me. So please check with me and/or Minn-Stf before giving this any wide distribution.... Thanks.
DAVID EMERSON: Good morning, and welcome once again to Fan History
Symposium. This morning we are pleased to have with us, from right to left:
Fred Haskell, one of the founders of the Minnesota Science Fiction Society;
Ken Fletcher, one of the co-founders of Minn-Stf; Frank Stodolka, who was
present at the founding of the science fiction club here in Minnesota; and
Nate Bucklin, who is noted for being one of the founders of the Minnesota
Science Fiction Society. And just walking in the door: James Maxwell Young,
also another founder of the Twin Cities' Science Fiction club.
AUDIENCE: [THUNDEROUS APPLAUSE]
JIM YOUNG: Howdy.
EMERSON: I'd like to start by asking each of the panelists to explain their actions on that fateful day when Minn-Stf was born. Let's start with Fred.
FRED HASKELL: I... I would.... Which fateful day was that?
YOUNG: November 25th, 1966--
YOUNG: A day that shall live in infamy.
HASKELL: Oh. Well I wasn't there--I was out getting a sandwich at the time. You'd have to ask Jim Young about that....
EMERSON: Jim Young?
YOUNG: Yeah, he was out getting a sandwich at the time.
EMERSON: In that case--
YOUNG: Does that explain it?
EMERSON: Where were you at the time?
YOUNG: Ah. I was in room 2 of Mechanical Engineering at the U,(1) which is a dirty little pit originally dug by certain aborigines indigenous to this vicinity who published something called the Minnesota Technolog, also variously known as the Minnesota Technohog, not to be confused with Crash and Burn Magazine. The Technolog office was also the site of pre-Minn-Stf activity in the early devouring period when, before trilobites and fish became obnoxious, there were such legendary heroes as Frank Stodolka and Ken Fletcher and Floyd Henderson, who is sitting right there, and Fred Haskell. I don't know anything about them, except that I once saw pictures of people feeding machine guns into a typewriter. How they did it, I don't know....
MARK DIGRE: But did they live?
YOUNG: No, no, they never lived. They were inanimate at all times.
EMERSON: Ken Fletcher, what was your role in this?
KEN FLETCHER: I was standing around a lot....
YOUNG: I think John Wayne was in that picture. I don't remember too well....
FLETCHER: Seems to me--about the time we started we had this attack of officialness. It'd be about that time, yeah.... We were over in the next-door auditorium, rather than... rather than drive people at the Technolog magazine (student magazine) mad, we'd go around the corner to an even more pittier pit, which was an old lecture hall, maybe about--
DAVE WIXON: More Fannish! More Fannish!
FLETCHER: ...about half the size of this auditorium--
YOUNG: And like five billion times more dingy.
FLETCHER: Right. I was always wondering exactly--
HASKELL: Oh, but it had atmosphere, Jim.
FLETCHER: ...exactly where they got the dark grey paint.... At the time I was, probably--you know, it had a little lecture stage about half this size, and a little lecture platform--I was probably--speaking dais and whatnot--I was probably very near the blackboard just to make sure that, you know, I wasn't there when somebody finally fell off the stage, although I think nobody ever did... at least not that day....
YOUNG: I do remember playing Frisbee in that place once, and all the chairs in the thing are battened down so you couldn't move them, so that was a really interesting obstacle course.
HASKELL: Tell them about the writing boards, Ken....
YOUNG: Ahhhh yes....
FLETCHER: The writing boards were particularly fun. In fact, I think I still have one--true confessions time.
YOUNG: Should we explain? Well, see, this particular lecture hall was so poorly built and so cheaply done that they hadn't even provided the little fold-out places where you can set your books and papers on while you were taking notes. So they had stacks of particle board, essentially, super-dense particle board, and....
FLETCHER: Perfect size for a mimeograph stencil.
YOUNG: Right, Right.
HASKELL: Or ditto masters... as we sometimes call them.(2)
YOUNG: Yes. "Chas do you have fireflies or lightning bugs (as we call them here) out there?"
FLETCHER: I think we'd heard just enough about fandom by that time to realize that having a club, you know, having an organization, having an impressive name, was the thing to do, so... probably... it kind of evolved after kicking around for... you know, cloning like the bozos do for maybe six months or a year or so, we decided to do something, well... on that fateful day, dear friends....
NATE BUCKLIN: I actually saw things as having happened in a somewhat different course than I'd previously written or described. Part of what happened is that, in September, 1966--like pretty early--I was new in town. I had been in fandom by mail, in a small town in Washington state, and Frank Stodolka, who was responsible for getting nine-tenths of all the balls rolling during the first year or two at least of Minn-Stf, decided that I ought to get together and meet some of the local fans, and the Technolog building(3) was the only place we had handy... handy to do it, that was at all centrally located. And... the four of us got together--and we talked and we traded fanzines and stared at each other and talked about the weather and went out for copies of today's newspaper so we'd have something to talk about and in general had a good time. And... we had such a good time that we decided to do it again two weeks from then and what happened as of the fateful day that was the official day of Minn-Stf's founding; I felt it was a lot more like: "Look, we've already got a club, isn't it time we admitted it and quit trying to pretend any different?" So that's how it was. WASN'T IT?!
FRANK STODOLKA: Actually, my principle role in those early days was providing the Frisbees and rubber bands....
HASKELL: Without which, all this would not have been necessary.
FLETCHER: Remember that.
VOICE: Rubber bands?
STODOLKA: And for humorous relief, of course, you know, read a fanzine or two, back when... well, actually, I had to let my original zine, LUNAtic, lapse due to the usual college activities or something like that, but... well, I kept enough extra copies available so if someone came along that looked the least bit fannish, I'd stick it in their hand and say, "here, read it, find out about FANDOM...!"
BUCKLIN: The words "stick it in your... their hands" was actually extremely appropriate--I finally managed to un-epoxy mine about four years later....
YOUNG: Somewhere between bubonic plague and Elmer's glue, yes dear friends....
EMERSON: You mean you were... you folks were actually doing fanzines at the time?
YOUNG: Or fan-zynes, as they were known then....
BUCKLIN: Frank had been doing a fan-zyne for something over three years, and I recall--this incidentally is deadly serious, it actually happened almost the way I am about to describe it. I'd just--
AUDIENCE: [Laughter and Applause]
YOUNG: Let's hear it for history!
BUCKLIN: I'd just joined this outfit called the National Fantasy Fan Federation, known as the N3F--actually, for anybody who's taken chemistry, it shouldn't be the N3F, it should be the NF3, but they weren't chemists so it was called the N3F, or "N-triple-F" occasionally--and their club magazine did reviews of fanzines, and it also printed names of the new members. Now in December '62, it listed Fred Haskell and me as new members, and then in April '63 there was a brief review of the thing called LUNAtic Nightly from Frank Stodolka, 13508 Smith Drive, Hopkins, Minnesota 55343--
EMERSON: Phone number?
BUCKLIN: Thank you, I don't know. And what it had, after all these comments on other fanzines... about other fanzines: "the reproduction is impeccable, there's a short science fiction story by Joe Blow" and all this other stuff... a one sentence review of Frank's fanzine which was: "This has to be seen to be believed!!!!!!" And six exclamation points. And I really wonder if me reading that review might not have been the real genesis of Minnesota fandom after all. Because Fred and I were in contact with Frank and writing letters of comment to his fanzine for some time thereafter, and then Fred starting doing one; then I started doing one. And this only goes to prove that you can do a fanzine without ever having met another fan in your life, because I hadn't. And Frank did, but... isn't it correct, Frank, that you met your first other fan beside yourself after you were already publishing?
STODOLKA: Ah, yes.
STODOLKA: I received my first fanzine, very appropriately, on my fifteenth birthday. And it hasn't been the same since.
BUCKLIN: So that's what happened!
YOUNG: Say, by the way gentlemen--wasn't there some kind of letter that several of you had in a comic...?
HASKELL: Several of us saw--that's how we got into it all....
STODOLKA: Ah yes. The Rick Norwood letter in Strange Adventures was the genesis of my involvement in fandom. I think it was the beginning for a lot of people. It was Strange Adventures number 143, and--if you recall, if you were a comic book fan you might recall the one based on atomic bomb fall-out(4)--and I and many other people... well I wrote to Art Haze because he was closer, he was in Canada, and stuff like that. Art immediately responded with his little fanzine Through the Haze, and it's... it went on from there. I caught the fanzine publishing bug, and I... the whole dream of using a fanzine to get in touch with other local people slowly grew from that point....
BUCKLIN: By steps and--
MIKE WOOD: What was in this letter, Rick Norwood's letter in this comic, that caused people to become interested in fandom?
YOUNG: "Dear Chas, do you have fireflies...?"
BUCKLIN: What actually was going on in this letter is he was talking about how science fiction fandom... I believe it said that science fiction fandom was dying, and if science fiction fans, fandom... if science fiction fandom was going to live--the science fiction field was going to live--that it would have to involve science fiction advertising in comics and recruiting from the comic area and... and my response to this was really kind of weird (I did not read comics at that time).... Incidentally, the thing which Frank did not specifically state which I consider to be extremely important: okay... Frank got into fandom on account of answering that letter. Fred Haskell got into fandom on account of answering that letter. And I got into fandom on account of answering that letter. And Al Kuhfeld, who's also one of the earliest five or six Minn-Stfers, was the best friend of Rick Norwood, who wrote the letter, at the time. So... in my case at least, I answered the letter in spite of the fact that I ordinarily don't even read comic book letter columns, much less answer them--and I was outraged that a field as noble and pure and glorious as the science fiction community should ever do something as repulsive, as degrading, as low, and as bonafidely SLIMY as recruiting from comic books!
HASKELL: But Nate... it worked!
EMERSON: So some of you were doing fanzines then, at that early time. Was that about the time of APA45? Were you all in that?
BUCKLIN: "APA45 started in October '64, and everybody said that we were rotten to the core...." I mean....
YOUNG: "And half the fanzines we...." Sorry.
FLETCHER: I'd say most of the early people in Minn-Stf were either, you know, at least somewhat fanzine fans, either in APA45, or like Frank putting out his own genzine. Kuhfeld was active in... had been active in publishing, he moved to the Minneapolis area, again, in the mid-60's, same sort of thing. Most of the people who showed up at the early meetings--you know, the core people--had some involvement in at least apa publishing, and....
YOUNG: Does everybody out there know what an "apa" is?
FLETCHER: Amateur press association. For that matter, Ruth and Jean Berman, who had contacts with the... you know, publishing, the apa fanzines... they turned up at meetings. Most of the other people brought in were casual contacts, like though bookstores and so forth--Frank did most of the recruiting there. Other than the core people... the bulk of the people who are interested in Minn-Stf got built up through contacts through bookstores and things like that.
YOUNG: Another thing, too, is that there were sort of holdovers from various earlier times still floating around. I went to high school with Jean Berman, who is Ruth Berman's younger sister, and that's how I found out about fandom. And Ruth had been publishing actively in the early 60's, but not really apparently in contact with or in close proximity to the... these proto-Minn-Stfers. And, in turn, she had some friends who had tried to start a Twin Cities Fantasy Society in the late 50's and early 60's, like Redd Boggs. And Redd Boggs, of course, is the grandson of Noah....
BUCKLIN: "Noah, Lord."
YOUNG: Yes yes, quite often. Just remember that he often claimed that one of his forefathers had been the admirable... admiral of all the ships on the earth. But Boggs, of course, was that strangest of persons: the last living link to the MFS, the Minneapolis Fantasy Society, which started in 1940 and essentially kind of boiled away by 1949 or '50.