In these days of easy transportation, the tradition of fannish visiting has withered. In this reminiscence from Walt Willis's legendary Hyphen, Robert Bloch tells of his adventures as host to traveling jiants.
You have to have a pretty detailed map if you want to locate Weyauwega, Wisconsin.
Even on a highway map of the state, Weyauwega figures as a mere flyspeck. In fact I know of several drivers who set out for Weyauwega, drove a couple of hundred miles, and actually finished up on a flyspeck instead.
To make it still further confusing, none of them could tell the difference.
But on the face of it (the map, that is) this little community could well qualify as Nowhere, U.S.A. The only way to reach it through public transportation is via Greyhound Bus, and nobody ever uses that except myself, and a few greyhounds.
So when the family and I moved up here about five years ago, we were pretty well resigned to the fact that we’d be living in an isolation booth, and the $64,000 Question was whether or not we’d ever see anyone.
As a result, I didn’t even bother to invest in a guest-book. Who was ever going to sign it? After all, Weyauwega wasn’t a fannish stopping place. It boasts none of the attractions of gay, cosmopolitan Belfast, with its dissolute fleshpots, its corrupt police force, its depraved government officials and its notorious indoor sports. Nor is Weyauwega a cultural Mecca such as Bloomington, Illinois. It even lacks the exotic charm of Los Angeles, that rugged Western community where men are men, sometimes.
No only did we not expect any visitors - we did our best to discourage them. To this end we purchased a vicious dog named Tiny, the product of a liaison between a Toy Manchester Terrier and a bubonic rat. Tiny (who spends her days on my lap and her nights in my wife’s bed, and thus lends herself aptly to all sorts of innuendo) is a phenomenal creature in that she is equally deadly at both ends. One end boasts a formidable bark, which is discharged frequently. The other end, though silent, is no less frequent in its discharges. (I do not wish to malign the dog, however; she is housebroken, and quite effectively. Every morning, as I hastily struggled into my bathrobe, the poor dog just couldn’t wait - so she intelligently took aim and let go into my bedroom slipper.)
In addition, we happen to live on a street which had neither sign-posts nor house numbers until last year. It seemed well nigh impossible that anyone would ever find us here, granted even that morbid curiosity would impel them to make the attempt.
And such proved to be the case. During the period of residence in Weyauwega the only fans or pros ever to cross our threshold have been Dean Grennell and family, Curtis Janke, Stuart Hoffman, Ted Wagner, Rita Krohne, Raymond A. Palmer, Lynn Hickman, Richard S. Shaver, William A. Hamling and family, Thaddeus Dikty, Judy May, Bob Tucker and family, Bea Mahaffey, Pat Mahaffey, Martin Greenberg, Fritz Leiber, Boyd Raeburn, Ron Kidder, Gerald Stewart, Bob Silverberg and Barbara, Richard Eney, Roberta Gibson (née Collins), Rog Phillips, Evelyn Paige (née Gold), Phyllis Economou and husband Arthur, Jack Speer (né John Bristol), William Grant and his mother, Jean and Andy Young and family, and a couple of those door-to-door representatives who are always coming around trying to sign me up for the Cosmic Circle.
The most frequent visitor, of course, has been Grennell, who up until recently passed near town every third week on his sales route. He and the family often drive up during the summer months, in increasingly bigger cars. As a result, tapes have been made and played in the living room, and a mimeograph has disturbed the orderly array of bottles on the kitchen table.
The same kitchen table has served as a poker table for Tucker, and babies have been diapered on it - although not during the poker game, when we usually had a large pot.
Yes, the Great World has come to Weyauwega, bringing touches of color and glamor into our drab lives. Bob Silverberg (that Kleenex completist) enriched his collection with several pieces of toilet tissue. Roberta Collins left, as a memento of her stay, a carved figurine of a Japanese maiden in her bath; Bill Grants’s mother sent a landscape in oils which graces the living-room; Evelyn Paige Gold displayed her collection of 427 earrings (we never did find the missing 428th one); Fritz Leiber chopped down a tree. You haven’t lived until you’ve heard Richard S. Shaver discuss deros in your very own parlor, watched the Canadians chasing rabbits across the field in their sports cars, or awakened in the morning to find Bea and Pat Mahaffey doing the breakfast dishes for you.
The house is full of memories, now. Here is the place where Frances Hamling hornswoggled me into taking over FANDORA’S BOX in Imagination; here is the chair Ted Dikty sat one (the one with the broken springs), and my wife’s lap that Marty Greenberg sat on; here is a hair from Andy Young’s beard; here is a hole in the carpet from the time Tucker spilled the Jim Beam; here is a hole in the floor from the time Lynn Hickman spilled the Jack Daniels.
There’s no sense in fighting it any longer; when spring comes, we’ll probably call in the workmen and build a ghoodminton court.
But wait until I get my hands on that joker who said, “It is a proud and lonely thing to be a fan.”