Alabama Fandom

A Short History of Birmingham Fandom

Charlotte Proctor

[From TKFW:]

Charlotte and I were lucky enough to have One Who Was There reviewing our humble efforts at fan history. Hank Reinhardt informs me that it was he who brought the Light of Fandom to Benighted Birmingham (caps his) in 1966 when he moved there from Atlanta. Attempts at forming a club based at Gene Crutcher's bookstore came to nothing much, Reinhardt's introduction of the SCA to the South into something very much indeed. Reinhardt also admits to introducing Meade H. Frierson III to fandom.

Nevertheless, there was some fanac from out of B'ham in the late '60s. (For this next bit I am indebted to Richard Lynch's outline of fan history in the 1960s, where I lifted it.) In 1969 Reinhardt organized the Al Andrews Typewriter Fund, raising money through the mail and at the '69 DSC and Worldcon to buy Andrews an electrical typewriter, as his muscular dystrophy had progressed to the point that he was no longer able to use his manual typewriter. The fund succeeded in its goal, and Andrews returned to SFPA in November of 1969, only to die a few months later in early 1970. Reinhardt moved back to Atlanta in 1976.

[Charlotte's article begins here.]

Birmingham fandom coalesced in the 1970s when Meade and Penny Frierson began to notice other Birminghamians (Wade Gilbreath, Frank Love, Adrian Washburn and Charlotte Proctor) at regional conventions. At Meade's behest, Penny, Wade and Frank bid for the 1977 DeepSouthCon. Their guests were Michael Bishop and Charles Brown. Shortly thereafter, Meade said, "Why don't you guys form a club?" So we did. The first meetings of the Birmingham Science Fiction Club were at the Homewood Public Library, which was subsequently sold--but we don't think BSFC meeting there had anything to do with it.

Wade, as first club President, thought the Club should, "Do" something. So, in 1978 Wade began to publish BSFC's clubzine, Anvil. The next year, Jim Gilpatrick took over both jobs. Other club presidents have been Jim Cobb, Debbie Rowan and Julie Wall.

In 1981, Jim chaired BSFC's next DSC, with Bob Shaw, Jerry Page and Hank Reinhardt as guests. This was the first of Bob Shaw's many Southern fannish appearances. In 1982, Charlotte graduated from Chief Typoist to Editor in Chief of Anvil, a position she held until burnout in 1993. Julie Wall, back from her exile in Virginia, co-edited the last few issues.

In the mid 1980s, in response to membership problems and the Homewood Library shutting down, the club met in private for several years. This was a hotly debated move, with Adrian championing the rights of the individual and Charlotte the rights of the group. By the 1990s, meetings moved to the Southside Public Library, which was subsequently torn down, but we don't think BSFC meeting there had anything to do with it.

Since BSFC doesn't have the energy to throw the type of annual convention as its brethren in Huntsville and Chattanooga do, we began having annual summer parties at small hotels. Relaxacons, if you will. The hotel we liked best, not a chain, doesn't understand Science Fiction, fandom, nor conventions. They do, however, understand and host a lot of Family Reunions. Linda Riley exclaimed, "Jophan Family Reunion!" A quick note to BoSh gained us permission to use the Jophan name. The hotel doesn't have a clue and when we check in they say, "Your family is in the upper courtyard." Our guest "Relative of Honor" is always a fan--Joe Celko, Ken Moore and Greg Turkich, to name a few.

In 1994, Julie Wall chaired BSFC's latest DSC with guests Lois McMaster Bujold, Mike Resnick and Bob Shaw. There is talk of bidding for future DSCs.

[Editor's Note: A check of Kelly Lockhart's convention guide did not list any upcoming Birmingham conventions. There were one or two conventions in the last few years. If anything still exists, I would appreciate information.--MLR]

[IMAGE: Bhamacon II Logo]


Special thanks go to Samuel A. Smith, who digitized the SFC Handbook 2nd edition and gave gracious permission to use his existing work in the preparation of the 3rd edition. The main text of this page came from Sam's hard work.--MLR


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