..... The writings of Walter A. Willis often tends toward the intricately esoteric. But if you didn't like esotericism, you probably wouldn't have read this far .....
(Opus #2, FEB '51)
TO US IN THE 95 1/2 Fandom, Era 17, Period 49, Stage 63 (knock Wollheim and ask Taurasi) the shattering events of the year 1952 seem as real as they did when they first took place -- perhaps even more real. Few of those who took part in the great battle to clean up the Filth Fandom can have realised that their efforts would have brought about the tidy little fandom of today, with its three antiseptically clean fanmags, Soperation Sanitas, Saint, and Flushing Newsletter, with their three high-minded subscribers, Kleen Slater, James 'Lily' White and Larry Newscap. A fandom without the slightest vestige of so-called 'humour', sober, responsible, and kept firmly in order by the paternal discipline of the prozines.
Ragnarok, 'The Twilight of the Bawds', opened quietly. Towards the end of 1951 our revered St. Watkins, the Pope of Wampum, issued his first Papal Bull. In this long message -- that issue of Dawn and the Imaginative Collector consisted almost entirely of Bull -- he called on fandom to arise against the sex maniacs. With admirable restraint and the better part of valour, he forebore to name these fans, but there can be little doubt that he was referring to F. E. G. Davis and his fanmag Insinuations From F. E. G. and to the notorious Keasler of Banvariety. Fans of today will find this hard to believe, but these blackguards went so far as to publish anything they thought interesting or amusing, even when it dealt with s-x. Let us be thankful that nothing like this can happen today, now than fan-eds have realised that the only way to be sure of not giving offence is to avoid everything interesting or amusing and confine themselves to reprinting from Dawn and the Imaginative Collector.
Fandom's response was at first very galling to St. Watkins. Like many other prophets he was stoned by the unbelievers. But he braved the shower of gallstones and finally aid arrived from an unexpected quarter. He lifted his eyes toward the setting sun and to his side there strode that staunchest of allies, none other than our beloved St. Francis.
St. Francis de Laney had for many years been waging a lone war against certain aspects of s-x in fandom. Without fear or favour he had spoken out on every occasion when it seemed appropriate, and on many when it did not. No considerations of personal friendship or enmity lay behind his disinterested campaign -- the principle was all. So, when St. Watkins made his clarion call for the suppression of all s-x in fandom, St. Francis, in the fabulous Quandry, invoked his help in putting down the particular form of s-x he had dedicated his life to eradicating. This was a considerable sacrifice for St. Francis, for he did not see eye to eye with St. Watkins on other matters, but he had not spared fandom in his unremitting propaganda, and now he did not spare himself.
But even now fandom was reluctant to turn from its evil ways. The voice of St. Francis had been heard daily throughout the land denouncing the evil practices of certain fans, but since he never thought to tell fandom exactly who the offenders were, fandom was at a loss to know whom to cast out. They were eager to do so, if only so that St. Francis and themselves could have some peace, but although they carefully studied every fanzine for signs of a fundamental bias towards some base subject, the only ones they could find were edited by St. Francis and his friends. The fan in the street was baffled. The march of CFF seemed to have ended in a cul-de-sac.
A miracle was called for. And then, like a sign from heaven, it came. Fandom was rocked to its foundations by the most startling disclosure of all time, the N3F Scandal.
It is interesting to speculate how long the infamy in the inner circles of N3F might have continued had they not been betrayed by one of their most trusted henchmen. The rest of the N3F Directorate had been fiendishly cunning. They had devoted just enough time to a mock attack on Banvariety to prevent fandom asking too loudly what they were doing, and they had taken special care to prevent any copies of the National Fantasy Fan from reaching European fans whose keenl perceptions they had, as it proved, good reason to dread.
It was doubly unfortunate for them that R. C. Higgs' conscience smote him at the very date when the October '51 issue was being prepared, for a strange accident had made it possible for Higgs to destroy the whole cesspool of N3F by the simple, if unprecedented, act of sending copies of the Official Organ to the European members.
During Christmas of that year copies of the October issue came into the hands of European N3F members Harris and Willis. From that moment the N3F Directorate was doomed. Both these fans would have perused their copies very carefully in any case, if only because they were apparently worth a dollar, but on this occasion they subjected the entire magazine to the closest semantic analysis. It was obvious to them that Higgs must have had some ulterior motive in sending them voting papers and literature for an election which had already taken place.
It was Harris who first noticed the all-revealing sentence that spelled the downfall of the vast sink of iniquity that was the N3F Directorate. Higgs had worded the sentance so cunningly that while it would escape the notice of the rest of the N3F Directors in their licentious stupor, it conveyed a message to clean living and keen minded fen like Harris and Willis that was unmistakeable in its stark and dreadful clarity. The fateful sentance read:
With the revelation that the criterion of success in N3F was looseness, fandom rose up in arms against the N3F Directorate. The whole seething mass of dreadful corruption was dragged into the light. St. Francis exposed the real reason for Sneary's interest in Young Fandom, Elsberry exposed the wild night life of Upton, Wyoming, Les and Es Cole revealed the hideously perverted mind that lay behind the lace frills and odd formats of G. M. Carr's APAzines, and Jack Irwin exposed the White Slave traffic being carried on in the Kaymar Trader.
All these fiends were at once run out of fandom, along with Keasler, Rotsler, Nelson, Bloch, Burbee, Moffatt, Tucker and Ackerman. Shortly afterwards Harris and Willis voluntarily retired from fandom, closely followed by Hoffman, McCain, Vick, Burwell, Elsberry, Boggs, Fabun, Venable, Ish, Pesetsky, the Coles, Riddle, Conner, Silverberg, Hickman, and several others. Laney, from force of habit, brought up the rear.
With nothing left in fandom but the very cream of the cream -- the very clots -- peace reigned supreme. The fanzines that remained were combined into the four best, in accordance with the Watkins Plan. But within a year a terrible catastrophe struck Watkins. The joint Editorial Board was enlarged to two, and Dawn and the Imaginative Collector was considered unworthy to be published. Rather than continue it as a hootchzine Watkins took a short course from Bob Tucker and successfully committed suicide.
So at the present day only one of these great leaders remains in our midst. In a recent interview for Flushing Newsletter, St. Francis announced, reflectively sticking pins into a wax doll, that he was at last going to retire from ex-fandom. "I may still insult a mere dozen or so fans every day," he explained, "but no more. I am getting old, and the strain of ex-fandom is becoming too much for me. I shall become an active fan like Duggie Fisher and have a little rest for a change. Besides I seem to have lost interest. It was all very well when I was fighting the good fight to rid fandom of perverts, but now all the homos have left fandom." He looked dazed. "I feel somehow as if the bottom has dropped out of my life."
Data entry by Judy Bemis