[First published in the 1987 DSC program book.]
Welcome all to the 25th anniversary of my inability to go to Hulan's house for a weekend of fannish conviviality. Sociologists write that older you get, the faster time "seems" to pass. That's very true in my case. The past quarter of a century seems to have zipped by all too quickly!
The words DeepSouthCon have a special meaning for me and a lot of other southern fans. Organized Southern Fandom as we know it begins with the formation of the Southern Fandom Group in 1960, a N3F clone which lasted only a couple of years. Before it gave up the ghost, it spawned a premier Southern APA: The Southern Fandom Press Alliance (SFPA), now well into its 26th year. It was the rallying point for the emerging Southern Fan; SFPA members visited each other frequently. And it was in SFPA's first year that charter member Dave Hulan urged the formation of an annual Southern Science Fiction convention.
It seems like only yesterday Dick Ambrose sat down beside me in our high school and asked if I was going to be able to make Dave Hulan's fan gathering in Huntsville that weekend. I wanted to say YES! But my reply was an unfortunate no. My 1951 Chevy was nonfunctional just then, as usual, and my father refused to lend his automobile for "such a silly trip." Bus fare to the Huntsville gathering was unavailable that spring of my senior year at Anniston High School. So I missed the first of what we call Deep South Cons.
Dave Hulan could shed more light on that weekend, but since I've been asked to reminisce about the early Deep South Cons, I do recall what a fine and gracious man he was. He and then-wife Katya made Bill Plott, Rick Norwood, William Gibson (yes, the pro), and Dick Ambrose feel at home with style that weekend. Lots of fannish talk ensued. SFPA was discussed and Dave's Unknown collection was appreciated in its garage storage place. The attendees crashed on the sofa and, from what I could tell, a fine time was had by all. If I had been able to make that small gathering, we might be attending "Mid" South Con 25.
Let's flash to the summer of 1964. Dave Hulan had moved to California. I was between my freshman and sophomore years at Jacksonville State University. I was as active as one could be for a fan of that time and place. I was corresponding with 30 or so fans from all across the U.S. I was in three apas, I was visiting everyone I knew who lived close by. But I had never been to a science fiction convention and wanted to attend one in the worst way! Working my way through college precluded the financial means to travel to regional cons outside the South. That summer I hit on the idea of bringing a con to me. I would host my own convention, a Southern fannish convention. As SFPA was my main fannish focus, I invited them. I checked with the late Janie Lamb in Tennessee to invite the N3F membership and sent out invites to as many Southern fans as I was aware. I pondered a name for my con: AlaCon? DixieCon? But certainly not MidSouthCon. Dave Hulan might have considered Huntsville as "midsouth" the spring before, but I didn't. Alabama, the Heart of Dixie, was nothing if not deep South. Deep South Con it would be.
The South needed an annual fan gathering. I figured anyone who showed up would make it a fun weekend and that I could keep such an annual gathering going for the foreseeable future. I thought back and unofficially made Dave's fan gathering the "First" and my DSC was numbered "Two."
In spite of my feeble efforts at organization, 10 fans from 5 states enjoyed the hospitality of 2 rooms of the Vann Thomas Motel (still in business, too) in Anniston in August of 1964.
It would be unfair to compare the DSCs of the '70s and '80s with those first few DSCs. It would be like comparing apples and potato chips. The attendees were few in number but the enjoyment factor was high!
But I digress. There was no beer because Calhoun County was "dry" at that time...we drank Cokes. I delighted in my first "con," urging the creation of a one-shot called Conglomeration which ran in the September SFPA mailing, snapping a few photos, rapping comics with Rick Norwood, trading a scarce hardbound Lord of the Rings volume for a silver dagger from the brilliant teenager from Virginia, William (we called him Bill) Gibson, and barely realizing just how special was the warmth of wit of the late Lee Jacobs.
Lee J. was a West Coast BNF and never let on that "real" cons had beer instead of Cokes. Dick Ambrose and high school friends Terri Ange and John Hall were in and out. But most of all, the con was special because of Al Andrews.
My DSC 2 began with driving to Birmingham and transporting Al to Anniston. Lee J. should have blamed Al for the Cokes. Cramped in the front seat of my black VW bug, he never uttered a word of discomfort, but I knew he was in constant pain.
That weekend, so long ago and just yesterday, is a blur of taking turns at my typer, working on an atrocious round-robin fan fic. Strangely, William Gibson didn't help with the writing, but did contribute hilarious cartoons to illustrate it!
The weekend was over all too quickly. On the way back to Birmingham as I drove him home, Al smiled that wonderful smile of his and joked that he could die happy now...he had finally been to a science fiction convention. As we drove, I told Al that with better planning and a year to work on it, Anniston could have a bigger and better DSC the next summer. While I was planning DSC 3 aloud, Al convinced me that Birmingham and a real hotel, like the Downtowner, would attract more attention and attendance. While we had a good time, national fandom, he felt, would laugh at 10 or so fans gathering in one place for a weekend and calling itself a convention. The South deserved better for an annual event.
Nearly a year later, several weeks before the first DSC which would really classify as a convention as we now know them, I thought about my good friend Al Andrews, a friend who was wasting away from muscular dystrophy, slowly but surely dying. Al was very ill in the months preceding the third DSC, held in Birmingham. With that in mind, I made a few phone calls, wrote a few letter and received nothing but positive feedback for an annual Southern Fan Award with Al as its first recipient. His peer group agreed that Alfred McCoy Andrews was a truly special man and had done as much as anyone in binding together the few and scattered Southern fans. Thus the Rebel Award was born.
In spite of a year's planning, my scheme for having SF movies to show fell through. The first night of DSC 3 was a bit disorganized. Twenty or so fans showed up that weekend. We had a panel or two Saturday night, highlighted by the presentation of Al's Rebel. Lots of fannish goodwill was shared and the seeds which would result in DSC lasting 25 years were sown.
Lon Atkins' group from Chapel Hill, North Carolina won the vote to hold the next DSC. He would move to Huntsville soon after and DSC 4 passed into his capable hands, returning the con to the Rocket City once again. Lon put on an even more organized and better attended con. Hearts were played for the first time--tradition in the making--and Dave Hulan received the well-deserved 2nd presentation of the Rebel.
The winds of change which blew like a tornado through the decade of the '60s carried me away to a draft-motivated enlistment with the U.S. Air Force in 1967. I maintained my membership in SFPA until 1970, but I slowly lost contact with Southern fandom and then GAFIAted.
Fans who attended those first four DSCs carried on the tradition. The convention moved from city to city around the South binding Southern fandom together, at least on an annual basis. The Phoenix award for professional achievement joined the Rebel and Meade Frierson III founded the Southern Fandom Confederation as the decade of the '70s dawned. Myriad was created by Stven Carlberg as a second successful Southern apa. Fan clubs sprang up in major cities. Southern fandom was alive and well and thriving in early 1981.
1981...the 100th mailing of the Southern Fandom Press Alliance was approaching. (Then) Editor Guy H. Lillian III was attempting to contact some of the early members of that apa for the event. He phoned me one Sunday afternoon in Colorado Springs while I was at my radio job. Eleven years had elapsed. SFPA still lived! Deep South Cons were still being held and Southern fandom was alive and remembered its past. I was delighted and made plans for a vacation the summer of 1981 to attend DSC 19 in Birmingham. I checked into the DSC hotel late Thursday night. Next morning, I checked at the front desk: oldtime friend Lon Atkins was indeed registered. I called his room and we agreed to meet in the lobby. We hugged each other after all the years, and then he introduced me to the lovely red-haired lady beside him. Her name was P.L. Caruthers. The three of us adjourned to the bar for a drink and for Lon and me to get reacquainted. Four months later, P.L. became my wife.
P.L. and I flew back from Colorado Springs for the next several DSCs and then moved back to Alabama six months before DSC 23. It was with much pride that I accepted a Rebel here in Huntsville at DSC two years ago. P.L. also received a Rebel here in Huntsville at DSC two years ago for her own separate and distinct contributions to Southern Fandom. As you can see, DeepSouthCon is very special to me for very many reasons.
I expect to be nodding off in the consuite when I reach the ripe old age of 90, regaling neos with the tale of the first Hank Reinhardt Awakening Ceremony and the story of how Jerry Page picked up the reins after Lon and I moved away and held DSC 5 in Atlanta.
And so it goes. Tradition. That's what DSCs are all about, handing down the history, beliefs, legends and customs from generation to generation of fans through word-of-mouth and practice so long as fandom shall continue in the South. Deep South Con--long may it reign!
[Adapted from the 1980 SFC Handbook.]
In 1960 the Southern Fandom Group was started and they communicated through their own amateur press association (apa), SFPA [see Part IV]. Their annual gatherings were known as DeepSouthCons, or DSCs, and our favorite introduction to this field for over 6 years has been, to quote a New Orleans fan, Rick Norwood, from Nolazine 12, the literary magazine of the New Orleans Science Fiction Association (edited by Pat Adkins in 1971):
"I wonder if anyone remembers that the first DSC was officially called MidSouthCon, changing to the present name with DSC II...was the total attendance of the first DSC really five? Did we really spend the entire convention looking at Dave Hulan's two complete sets of Unknown? Probably not. (The con was in Huntspatch, AL.)
"At the second DSC, the membership had increased enormously; six fans in an Anniston, AL motel room. It was most memorable for the fabulous fannish one-shot session...Larry Montgomery, who organized the convention, was editor; Bill Gibson drew the cover; Al Andrews did the cartoons; Larry, Dick Ambrose and I wrote a round-robin story; Lee Jacobs did the lead article and photos for the back cover. (The title of this legendary zine is Conglomeration--and any with a copy consider it a prize.) [And anybody who wants to sell one to Toni, just write!--TKFW]
"DSC III was the first with a real program...I missed out on the fun but got to read all about it in Conglomeration II."
(Interrupting Rick at this point, here is how Science Fiction Times #431 (September 1965) reported on that DSC in the words of Jerry Page:
"The 3rd annual Deep South Conference was held in the Downtowner Motel in Birmingham, Alabama over the weekend of August 6-8, 1965. Chairmen of the convention were Larry Montgomery and Alfred McCoy Andrews. Although a small gathering of some 19 people, and necessarily informal, the convention could not have been considered more successful. Highlights of the program consisted of a panel of Lon Atkins, Larry Montgomery and Jerry Page who discussed 2 questions tossed at them by moderator Andrews: (1) Is there some factor which effectively distinguishes Science Fiction from Fantasy, Adventure or Other Forms of Literature? and (2) Could Fandom Survive Without SF?
"Al Andrews, long considered one of the real leaders of Southern Fandom, was presented with the First Annual Rebel Award...the real highlight of the convention was when the entire membership converged upon Reinhardt's room at 12:00 to awaken him after he had found his way to bed at 5:00 am following a wild card-playing party wherein he won $2.00. But even the fun and games there was threatened for top honors by the sight of Reinhardt and Bounds firing pennies from miniature catapults at toy soldiers across the room (Hank won $0.03)."
Back to Norwood:
"DSC IV was the other DSC I missed, and of it I find very little record. Chapel Hill, NC (Lon Atkins) won the bid but the convention somehow wound up back in Huntsville this time with Atkins in charge. It was apparently well attended. The main events on the program seem to have been a bouree game between Hank Reinhardt and Lon Atkins and taking off Len Bailes' shoes to see if his feet were really furry. (Dave Hulan was awarded the Rebel).
"Atlanta marked a big change for the DSC. Up until then, the con had been a get-together for SFPA members and a few others. DSC V was a real convention. Jerry Page was the chairman. The attendees could be numbered in the dozens (Page claims no more than 25). There was a business meeting, a panel discussion and a speech by Hank Reinhardt. There was a hucksters table. Actually it was just a table in the hall but when someone spread their EC comics collection out on it, it became a hucksters table. As a climax, the entire con piled into a truck and drove off to tour the bookstores. The people of Atlanta are the friendliest I have ever known, and DSC V was a big success.
"In New Orleans in 1968 we were determined to put on an even better show than Atlanta. We had the DSC's first guest of honor: Daniel F. Galouye. The program filled 3 days, including the institution of what has become a DSC tradition, the trivia contest. There were two panel discussions, movies and a banquet. We had 72 members, many of whom actually attended! I was chairman and for me the weekend remains a blur, but I do remember having fun.
"Janie Lamb had to make her bid to hold DSC VII in Knoxville, TN via a tape recording, but she won easily. Guest of Honor was a lady named Rachel Maddux, who had written one fantasy novel, The Green Kingdom. She had no prior contact with fans or other fantasy writers, but gave an interesting talk about inventing your own universe and seemed to enjoy herself. Ned Brooks and Ron Bounds dressed up in their worldcon costumes and Ron as a Viking chased a waitress up the stairs. The Southern Fandom Confederation was organized and afterwards we all went out to dinner at Minnie Pearl's Fried Chicken.
"In 1970 the worldcon was held in Heidelburg, Germany so Glen Brock decided to make DSC VIII a kind of alternative to worldcon. An extensive advertising campaign resulted in an attendance of over 100, by far the largest DSC to date. SaM Moskowitz was GOH and Richard C. Meredith was Master of Ceremonies. [...] There was a crowded artshow/huckster room, lots of movies, and a three day program. Joe Green spoke on the future Apollo missions and there was an interesting panel of young writers who told about their experiences. But most impressive was Hank Reinhardt's display of swordsmanship in a room fully the size of a ping pong court jam-packed with 50-60 people...."
[Back to Meade.]
Agacon '70 (DSC VIII) did set the tone of the future DSCs and their highlights were carried in SFC Bulletins and recorded in mercifully abbreviated fashion below:
Pelicon (DSC IX) was co-hosted by Rick Norwood and John Guidry [...] at the Hotel Monteleone in the French Quarter of New Orleans. GoH was Poul Anderson, who attended with his wife Karen and daughter Astrid. Fan GoH was Fred Patten who flew in from California and spoke on the international aspects of fandom. 105 was the reported attendance. Local author Dan Galouye participated, there was a banquet, good art show, and anachronist display (notably a bout between local Craig Shukas and Hank Reinhardt as Ulric of Wolfhaven). The Rebel Award was presented to Janie Lamb in absentia and the Phoenix (beautifully wrought by Dany Frolich) was given to R.A. Lafferty [for "Continued on Next Rock"--so says Guy Lillian.].
After a hoax bid that turned into reality (see Atarantes 26 for the real history [someone send me a copy!--TKFW]), Steve & Binker Hughes and Joe Celko were awarded the honor of hosting DSC X, called Atlantiscon '72 at the Howell House in Atlanta (the site of the 1970 event because Glen Brock knew someone on the staff) on August 25-27. Among the 162 were 14 of the 20 members of SFPA and 9 of the 23 on the waitinglist. [Per Guy Lillian: SFPAns consider this magic conglomeration to be the dawn of modern SFPA: the paper apa became a people apa at DSC X.] Anachronists and a large group of fanzine fans from both within and without the South completed the very agreeable picture. [...] Jack Chalker attended his first DSC as a huckster. Although there was no banquet or awards, other good things, like panels, artshow, anachronism, Hearts tournament, and movies, were there.
Back in the Monteleone in New Orleans, Aug. 24-26, 1973 was DSC XI under the direction of Don Markstein and John Guidry. [...] The films were especially picked to be different from standard convention fare and the parties were good. Clarence Laughlin delivered a talk on fantastic art. There was a banquet at which the Rebel and Phoenix awards were presented. About 175 attended including truesoutherners like Lon Atkins from Southern California, adopted Southerners like George Wells from NY, and deepsouth-erners like Eric Lindsay from Australia. It was by all accounts a grand con from the Sons of the Sands, a then non-NOSFA coterie of New Orleans fans about which more lies appear later on. [See Part III, New Orleans section.]
August 23-25, 1974 was the time, and the basement of the Sheraton Biltmore in Atlanta was the place, of the controversial experiment launched by Glen Brock but carried out by Sam Gastfriend and Joe Celko with help from Allen & Barbara Greenfield. DSC XII was billed as Agacon '74, a science fiction Mardi Gras. Emphasis was on costume and a large fantasy world environment but not all plans worked out the way they were supposed to, I think, because of the hotel's uncooperative attitude and general fan apathy to the concept. Instead of a GoH there were VIP members such as Poul Anderson, Joe Green, and T.B. Swann. Weird Tales author Mary Elizabeth Counselman made it to her first con, too. Events were supposed to just happen and room parties (and separateness) were discouraged. [...] There were good movies and about 178 attended. (See Atarantes 28 for the real history.)
After a hotly contested race for DSC XIII between Louisville, West Palm Beach and Knoxville, the winner was FOSFA, the Louisville club headed by Cliff Amos which was going to hold a RiverCon on July 25-27 anyway and made it a combination of the traditional DSC, comics fans attracted by artist guests Bruce Jones and Dave Cockrum, and a con close to the con-active Midwest. A record 545 turned out for GoH Phillip Jose Farmer, Fan GoHs Buck & Juanita Coulson, and emcee Andrew J. Offutt. Other guests were Poul & Karen Anderson, T.B. Swann, Keith Laumer and Kelly & Polly Freas. A banquet, midnight masquerade, and Sunday riverboat ride were out-of-the-ordinary events which were added to usual DSC trappings. [...] The tradition of a regular mid-summer con in Louisville was off to an auspicious start. [Per Guy Lillian: At the time the '75 DSC was considered the best ever. We took a riverboat ride, Cliff showed us Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast and no less a personage than Muhammed Ali made an appearance at the hotel. Also, to thunderous approbation, Meade won his Rebel there.]
Bidding against calling the early spring convention in Nashville (an UpperSouthClave), Binker Hughes of Atlanta was named to hold DSC XIV at the Admiral Benbow Inn in Doraville, GA. She, Steve Hughes and Joe Celko got L. Sprague de Camp as GoH and had lined up Manly Wade Wellman as emcee but an accident prevented his attendance, so that mainstay of cons (particularly in the south), Kelly Freas, pitched in. About 175 attended a lightly-programmed no-banquet affair over Aug. 27-29. [...]
Birmingham, represented by Penny Frierson, Wade Gilbreath, and Frank Love, won handily over Winchester, VA and B'hamacon became the XVth DSC on Aug. 26-28 at the virtually bankrupt and uncooperative Parliament House Motel. Attendance was about 340. [... Aside from the Guests of Honor] attending pros included Jerry Page, Grant Carrington, Karl Edward Wagner, Jack Dann, David Gerrold, Charles L. Grant, R.A. Lafferty, George RR Martin, Gene Wolfe and Andrew J. Offutt. Programming was light (whether or not intended), there were several British fans on their way to Suncon in Miami [....] Joe Moudry prepared a special chapbook of [GoH Michael] Bishop's poetry which were free to the first 100 registrants and pro guests. The featured film was my favorite, Dark Star.
June 2-4, 1978 were the dates of the sprawling, biggest DSC of the '70s, chaired by Rich Garrison and Ginger Kaderabek in Atlanta after a bitter battle. Registration was 720! Jack Williamson subbed for Clifford Simak as GoH; Joe Haldeman subbed for Robert Heinlein at the blood drive; to blood donors Kelly Freas donated his famous caricatures. The pros in attendance included John Brunner, R.A. Lafferty, Joe Haldeman, Charles Grant, Karl Edward Wagner, Gerald Page, Joe Green, Andrew Offutt, Michael Bishop, Peg Campbell, Sharon Jarvis, Andy Porter (of the other SFC, Science Fiction Chronicle), George Scithers, and artists Michael Whelan, Bernie Wrightson, Jeff Jones, Vincent DiFate, Kelly Freas, Ron Miller, Roger Dean and Michael Goodwin. The artshow included 11 Chesley Bonestells, 24 Freases and much more. The banquet was attended by 265 [....] Numerous art awards were given at the banquet as well as the Rebel and Phoenix awards. Guy Lillian won the Hearts championship. Kudos were given to Hank Reinhardt and George Wells for their duel of the worst sf novels ever. Virginia Aalko made the distinctive awards.
DeepSouthCon '79 (DSC XVIII) was sponsored by the Sons of the Sand, Ltd. in New Orleans at the LePavillon Hotel, July 20-22. [...] Guy Lillian created a special chapbook to honor GoH R.A. Lafferty. Janet Lyons claims to be Hearts Champion of the Universe (and has a Frazetta jigsaw puzzle to prove it). Other guests included George Alec Effinger, Joe Green, Roger Lovin, Hank Stine and Karl Edward Wagner. P.L. Caruthers ran the SFC business meeting in my absence.
I plan my entire year around the DeepSouthCon. It's the one fannish event I never miss, come job, Worldcon, Bar exam, heart attack, or whatever. Propped up with a hatrack and propelled on roller skates, I plan on attending at least two or three DSCs after my demise, but I'm not dead yet, so if you see me coming at a DSC in the near future, don't be afraid to say hello.
1979 was the last time (so far) that DSC has come to my adopted home of New Orleans, so I've had to travel to the 18 that have occurred since then. (Come to think of it, I was living in North Carolina at the time, so I had to travel to that one, too. Oh well.) Let's follow Meade's format of discussing each in its own separate paragraph.
1980 - Atlanta. I am mercifully devoid of any memory of the GoH at this convention, who has in years repaid Southern fandom's generosity by lambasting us in print as "second-raters." (You tell me what a second-rate science fiction fan is; I don't believe there's any such thing, myself.) My major memory of the event was mike weber's superb presentation of the Rebel Award to Jerry Page, who, as I say later, expressed his gratitude through a magic show. What else happened? I have to guess. George Wells and Hank Reinhardt debated which was the world's worst SF. novel, The Clones by P.T. Olemy or Werewolf vs. the Vampire Woman by Arthur N. Scarm. There was a Hearts Championship which I did not win. And a merry time was had by all. These are the usual state of affairs at every DSC, and since Cliff Biggers always ran an efficient ship, undoubtedly t'was so in 1980.
1981 - B'ham. I remember many details about the fabulous '81 DSC, which featured the sublime (and much lamented) Bob Shaw as GoH and the non-sublime Jerry Page and Hank Reinhardt as MC and Fan GoH, respectively. Southern fandom will long remember the unfortunate congruence at the banquet of Lon Atkins, Barb Wagner, and a pie. (Those seeking details are referred to Page's article on the incident in a future issue of my genzine, Challenger [and also in this zine, Part IV, Silly Stuff--TKFW].) The spirit of Southern fandom was peaking in 1981; the whole region was gearing up for the worldcon binge we'd enjoy at the end of the decade. 1981, please come again.
1982 - Atlanta. Back to Atlanta for ASFICon II. (ASFIC was the club responsible for the con.) mike weber was con chair and Lon Atkins was both Fan GoH and Rebel Award winner. In fact, a fun memory of the event was Lon and MC Kelly Freas presenting awards to one another! Stven Carlberg's Southpaw Awards were presented for the second time at this convention; the same people won as the year before--but in different categories! The grumbling was good-natured.
1983 - Knoxville. Toni gives 804 as the number of attendees at this event, but no--it had to be more. Stephen King, after all, was the Pro Guest of Honor, and I was Fan GoH, and the crowds as a result were stupendous. King was a gracious guest, manfully enduring miles of autograph lines. He was courteous to all. Lots and lots of other horror writers graced Vern Clark's eh-pic event: Peter Straub, Whitley Streiber (who was not abducted by aliens during the con), Alan White, and my beloved fannish mother, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. My Fan GoH speech to the multitudes was of course the highlight of the convention. I am sure that those who promise to shoot me on the spot should I ever approach another DSC dais are moved by envy alone.
1984 - Chattanooga. Here I must admit that the entire convention is encapsulated in one moment for me: in the mirrored, flocked ballroom of 'Nogga's rattletrap Read House, I won my own Rebel Award. That fine gent Dave Drake won the Phoenix, and best of all, Theodore Sturgeon was present; if it wasn't his last convention, it was surely his last Southern con. I'm told that for everyone else the highlight of the convention was chairman Irvin Koch's choice of banquet entree: all pasta.
1985 - Huntsville. The bid for the 1988 worldcon was in high gear in 1985; not only New Orleans but Cincinnati was represented. I presented joyous Rebels to Larry and P.L. Montgomery--whom I effectively introduced! [The film program was notable for the music video of "Fish Heads" and Rickey Sheppard's legendary Wigwam Village DSC bid presentation at the site-selection meeting on Sunday morning proved that it's always a good idea to drag yourself out of bed at the crack of dawn for those things. (For more Wigwam details, see Part III, Kentucky section).--TKFW] I wish convention co-chair Mary Axford would resurface in Southern fandom; she was a really sweet lady.
1986 - Louisville. I missed the con! It followed Atlanta's Confederation by but three weeks and I was absolutely broke and exhausted and as a result, the only thing I know about the event was that John Hollis won his Rebel there. What a year was '86 for the South. Atlanta wowed the fannish world with a terrific worldcon and New Orleans won the right to host the event in '88. [For more on this convention, see Rubble Winner section above.--TKFW]
1987 - Huntsville. For me the convention peaked even before I walked into the hotel; through the glass front door of the convention hotel, Andre Norton was seen. She hobnobbed with GoH Bob Bloch and charmed everyone there--including members of the photographers' convention which followed us into the hotel, several of whom remembered her books! Another highlight--sort of--was a past-midnight fire alarm which emptied the hotel, the attendance of the great pulpster Hugh B. Cave, and the first appearance at DSC of Ricia Mainhardt, the world's greatest.
1988 - Atlanta. Now called Phoenixcon, the DSC returned to Atlanta for a rousing event in the same summer as the New Orleans worldcon. Julius Schwartz was for me chief among the convention's delights; he is mentor, inspiration, and friend. Preparations for the Nolacon were at a fever pitch, but other fun at DSC included the Rebel and Phoenix presentations (by myself and Jerry Page) and Page himself becoming the only person to win both Rebel and Phoenix, the latter of which was given there. You should have seen his face....
1989 - Memphis. Ummm! I can still taste the barbecue Peggy Ranson and I scarfed during the 1989 DSC in Memphis--a great town that should host another DSC some year soon! J.R. Madden was showing his slide collection of DeepSouthCons past at most DSCs in that era; always great fun to see the second law of thermodynamics in action, as fans could see how much weight they'd gained. A very pretty girl, whose name I forget, presented the Rebels; alas, Maurine Dorris wasn't there to receive hers and had to be alerted by phone.
1990 - Chattanooga. Back to Tennessee to begin a new decade of conventions. Bob Shaw, bless him, was a mordantly hilarious GoH, and Forry Ackerman was a funny Guest of Honor. Charlotte Proctor's Rebel--a locket--was the zenith of the convention, but Bryan Webb's Fan GoH speech was spellbinding. The list of great guests included Darrell Sweet as artist GoH.
1991 - Knoxville. The gals of K'ville put on a righteous DeepSouthCon, complete with a fabulous ice cream bar--one of the trademarks of their ongoing ConCat conventions. A pretty lady sold psychic photographs in the lobby (purported to show one's "aura") for $20. Samanda Jeude won a richly deserved Rebel and Khen Moore was denounced with a Rubble Award for having the ugliest knees in fandom. (Sometimes the Rubble is presented with a stretch.) Andy Offutt was as ever an inspired toastmaster; nobody does it better.
1992 - Suwannee. Actually, this DSC was held just north of Atlanta at the training camp for the Atlanta Falcons. Many hours were spent gazing on the practice field(s), so beautifully manicured they resembled mile-wide putting greens. Inspired Phoenixes were given to Atlanta's two Brads, Linaweaver and Strickland, who put on an impromptu Siskel & Ebert routine in thanks, and there was a great tribute to Robert A. Heinlein.
1993 - Louisville. Conjuration was chaired by Jack Heazlitt and Jennifer Wilson, but the image the convention will always bear is Jennifer's beautiful blonde face. (I may be able to lay it on thicker; try me sometime.) Emma Bull and Will Shetterly were able GoHs, and Andy Offutt did the toastmasterly thing with consummate skill. I won my second Hearts championship of the universe. At the banquet, Pat Molloy joined his favorite writer, Terry Bisson, as a winner of DSC's traditional honors, receiving a railroad lantern as part of his trophy!
1994 - Birmingham. B'hamacon III was one of the great fannish events of all time, but that's a subjective judgment. But all the signature qualities of DSC were there. Great numbers of great friends who had known each other for decades; involving and interesting panel discussions (my favorite: "Political correctness--threat or menace?"); a rock'em sock'em (I nearly did sock him) Hearts championship; splendid guests (Bob Shaw, Mike Resnick, and the shy, gently beautiful Lois McMaster Bujold *sigh* ); a raucous contest to decide the world's worst SF novel, featuring the same eternal contenders; worthy Rebel winners in Shaw and Cook; a surprised Toni Weisskopf given the Phoenix and, bare minutes later, proked with the Rubble Award (so she wouldn't get a swelled head from winning the Phoenix, see). Almost all of DSCs are successful. But B'hamacon III stands with the '72 Atlantiscon, RiverCon I in '75 and its '77 predecessor, and '83's Satyricon II at the apex of DSC splendor. [Yep.--TKFW]
1995 - Nashville. For years Khen Moore had been trying to link DSC with his ongoing Kubla Khan, and in '95, he got his chance. Just in time to have the greedy slime of Nashville's Gaylord Enterprises pull his hotel out from under him, at the last minute. Heroic--and wonderful--Susan Stockell called fifty local hotels in the space of two days to find a substitute, and if DSC '95 was by necessity cramped--the banquet had to be held in a restaurant adjacent to the hotel--it was a triumph that it came off at all. Elsie Wollheim was a gracious presence as GoH; what a sweet lady.
1996 - Jekyll Island. And so we reach last year's DeepSouthCon, held on the resort island not named for Mr. Hyde's alter ego, famous for its abandoned "cottages" of the turn-of-the-last-century rich (mansions for anyone else). Never before had DeepSouthCon attendees been able to stroll down an oceanfront beach between panels, watching porpoises at play. There were more porpoises than panels; a sand sculpture contest was held (won by Naomi Fisher), but the convention was light on programming. Good Some other highlights: Harry Turtledove's class act GoH. Jack Haldeman opening the envelope with the Phoenix winner inside and discovering...himself. And Corlis Robe, accepting her half of the Rebel Experience by fluttering her lips, bubbuhduh-bubbuhduh-bubbuhduh-bubbuhduh. So say we all!
So them's the DeepSouthCons to date. A lot of memory over a lot of years. Southern fandom's preeminent convention has never fielded a huge mass of attendees--nothing to match Westercon or even Disclave--but it has more than made up for that...lack(?)...in spirit. DSC is a personal convention, a convention of traditions and personalities rich and crazy and warm and accessible and open. It is by far the best convention going. A word to the weary: form your year around DeepSouthCon. Wherever and whenever it's held, be there. You'll be going home.