Harry Turner's Footnotes to Fandom
Midnight Shakes The Memory #5    | FOOTNOTES Page | Obituary Page |

Take Five

It amazes me how some scraps of paper cling over the years. They refuse to be brushed away. Miraculously survive frequent clear-outs dictated by changing interests. Have a knack of sliding out of folders and envelopes to rot, quietly undisturbed, in the inaccessible areas of storage space.

I had a cruel clear-out when I gafiated in the late Fifties. Really drastic. I gave away a fanzine collection spanning the fannish generation back to the mid-thirties. I burned the accumulated fannish correspondence of years. I disposed of an SF mag collection with pulps that I'd acquired back in those distant days when unsold copies were shipped over to Britain as ballast, and ended up in the city market barrows of Manchester – and you could buy 'em for a mere 3d each. And not unnaturally, since resuming contact with fandom in the last few years, there are moments when I deeply regret that action.

Fortunately, I keep finding relics the escaped. Cuttings, odd pages from letters, snapshots, notes... preserved in a moment of enthusiasm and then lost and forgotten. Now and they they turn up, unexpectedly relevant.

Like this article by Charles Burbee, an American-fan-to-be-reckoned-with in the Forties, on How to stop writing for fanzines. The original has long since disappeared: the paper I hold in my hands is just a copy, handwritten at that. There's no note of a date but since it is in a fairly laboured italic script, I judge it to have been done in the days when I first diligently practised calligraphy – which puts it back in the Fifties. The article appeared in Bill Rotsler's FAPAzine Masque, and it still impresses me. I pass on two irresistible quotes:

'It breaks over you eventually – the realization that you are wasting too much damned time on writing for fanzines...'

'So after a while your brain will no longer turn out fannish ideas for articles and you are comparatively safe, unless you know someone like Willie Rotsler who is such a fine fellow withal that it is difficult to refuse him when he asks for material. But you buckle down and say, the hell with you, Willie, don't you know I've stopped writing for fanzines? And so, by God, you write an article for Masque to show that you can stop writing articles any time you choose.'

Yeah, I know that feeling. ■

Published in Harry Bell's Kamikaze [formerly Tocsin], March 1978

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