Written by Fred Patten, and published on the LASFS Rex Rotary, November 3, 1965. Intended for Apa L, Fifty-Fifth Distribution, LASFS Meeting no. 1473, November 4, 1965. Address: 1825 Greenfield Avenue, Los Angeles, California, 90025. Phone: GRanite 3-6321.
|Cleveland in 1966!||San Diego in 1966!||Salamander Press #133.|
This week's topic for discussion will doubtlessly be the Big Shoot-Up at the Halloween Party. In fact, hoping I'm not taking too light a view of the incident, the shooting will probably result in this being the most memorable Halloween Party the club's ever had, and will have for the next few years to come. (Let's also hope it results in jail sentences for a couple of jerks, too.) To record my own personal role in the incident, I was sitting in the green easy chair in the corner of the living room, reading a Nero Wolfe paperback, when I heard the first explosion followed immediately by a great shattering of glass. Cries immediately rang out of, "What was that?" "A Shot! Someone's shooting at us!" "Are you sure?" "Don't be silly; it's probably kids with firecrackers." "Hit the floor!" "Who'd be shooting at us?" At this point, another shot rang out, and everybody stopped talking and hit the floor, while Durk Pearson turned out the lights and phoned the police in the dark. Then Dian Pelz said, "I'm all right, Bruce, but I've been hit.", which didn't help anybody's nerves any for the next couple of minutes until we decided the shooting was over and it was safe to turn the lights back on. Fortunately, Dian was only hit by flying splinters and not the bullet itself; a couple of minutes later, the police arrived -- they must've had a car cruising the neighborhood to get there so quickly -- and the rest of the evening was confusion, the house filled with uniformed officers and plainclothesmen, and everyone trying to recall something that would identify the guys we're all sure did the shooting.
These were two party crashers who'd wandered in around 10 or 11 p.m., and been allowed to stay until they got overly drunk and obnoxious, when they were thrown out. The immediate cause, as I gathered from the conversation, was that one of them -- the one in the grey sweater, I presume; the more obnoxious of the two -- had tried to take the kris from Owen Hannifen's costume; Owen tried to stop him and got his hand spectacularly though not dangerously blooded. Owen then ordered them to leave, with the backing of the entire party; gray shirt tried to put up an argument with both us and his friend in the black shirt, who kept telling him, "Come on, man, it's a bad scene, it'll just be trouble, we can find more fun somewhere else." Finally Bruce phoned the police department in their presence and was reporting them as party crashers and trespassers; they then left, and the desk sergeant said to phone again if they came back. They didn't, but an hour later (2:25 a.m., about) we got shot up, and while we didn't see who did it, there's not much doubt in any of our minds.
At any rate, there we were with the house full of police, and we were all trying to get straight just what had happened. As an example of witness' stories conflicting, while about half of us only heard the two shots I did, the other half of us were sure that there were three shots; also, almost everybody seems agreed that the shot followed by the breaking glass was the last shot, but as I remember it, it was the first I heard, followed by one more. As of when I left, a couple of hours later, only two bullets had been found, and everyone had decided to wait until it got light to check the outside walls of the house for the third one. What had apparently happened was that the shots were fired at random into the house from a moving car, which came down Westmoreland, firing the first shot into the living room, turned the corner onto 5th, and drove on past the house, firing a last shot into the kitchen. (When & where the second shot was fired, I don't know.) The first shot came through the outside wall, passing between Dian and Bill Ellern and spraying Dian with splinters; plowed through the living room-hall wall, grooved the top of the staircase banister, and disappeared into the dining room wall. (Something that gave my nerves a twinge when I learned it; I'd been slower than most present in hitting the floor because I'd realized that I wasn't in a direct line with any of the windows, and figured that I was in a safe corner -- but the bullet had come through the wall, so I hadn't been any safer, after all.) The last bullet had been fired through a kitchen window, lodging in the kitchen-pantry doorhead. I heard talk afterward that since the shots had only been fired blindly instead of aiming, and since they were apparently only .22 shots (and you "have to be hit directly in the head or heart with a .22 shot to be killed"), that none of us had really been in any danger after all. That's as maybe (even if true, which I tend to doubt after having seen all the walls that first bullet went through), though I wonder how the fan who made that statement would care to act as a target on a .22 range; the fact remains that at least two and possibly three shots were fired into two rooms in which a total of 20-plus people were milling about, and I think it was a minor miracle that nobody was hit by more than splinters.
The police, all of whom were very courteous and efficient, tried to get as complete a description of all the suspects as possible. Most of us tried to be as helpful as we could, though Dale Hart persisted in using terms like "microcephalic" which were clearly over the head of the officer interviewing us, and refusing to define them with anything other than a loftily-delivered, "Surely everyone knows what microcephalic means." The fact remained, though, that the party crashers were strangers to us all, and none of us had gotten anything more in the way of a name than "Mike" for one of them. I could barely have described either of them five minutes after they'd gone; the only conversation I had (with gray-shirt) was as brief as I could make it, since he was obviously drunk and looking for an argument, and I was pointedly ignoring him so that he'd leave. At any rate, since there's been no word since Sunday from the police, I presume they haven't been able to identify either of them yet. Along about 4 a.m., I got so sleepy that I was literally beginning to stumble about, so I went to sleep in the back of Al Lewis' bus until he was ready to leave, a couple of hours later. And that was the end of the Halloween Party for me.
It would be a shame, though, if I let the incident of the shooting blot out all recollection of the beginning of the Party, because aside from the gunplay and its aftermath, the Party was a very successful one. Things were well under way at the Booby Hatch by the time we (myself, Al, the Trimbles, Luise Petti, Len Bailes, and Paul Stanbery) arrived, and there were many splendid costumes in evidence. Bruce Pelz had what I consider the best costume, coming as Dr. Fell from J.D. Carr's mystery novels; a characterization that completely threw me since the clothing resembles the archaic-futurific that Kelly Freas likes so much, and I kept trying to place the costume with something I figured I must've read in ASTOUNDING. Ruth Berman was happily present, in the forest-green of either Peter Pan or Robin Hood. Jack Harness portrayed one of his own Mutated Mouse Musicians, Owen was a Hyborianesque warrior, and Ed Baker wore the Esperanto-Aggressor uniform of the official U.S. Army war games. Bĵo had a sexily-sequined witch's outfit as a Bitchy Witch. Paul Stanbery and Luise came as, I believe, a couple of the gypsies in From Russia, With Love. Paul had one of those toy Secret Agent briefcases that "explodes" if you don't open it the right way. My costume, for all of you that were wondering, was an unnamed conglomeration that might as well have been called Bad Taste Man, consisting of the most clashing clothes combination I could put together, and topped off with such goodies as a Fire Warden's helmet, a German Nazi Party ring (an evil Ring of Power), etc. The costume prizes were better than ever this year, being the first really effective set of mounted photos of the prizewinning costumes, taken and mounted on the spot. I think we've finally found the perfect Costume Party prizes, and I hope everybody who's in charge of future party and Convention Masquerade Ball awards will keep these in mind. Aside from the costumes, just about the entire current active body of L.A. Fandom was there, including such people as Bill Blackbeard and others who haven't been to the club much lately; it was a good party for conversation. Even the initial trouble with the party crashers didn't strike too much of a sour note, as it was a moment of relatively harmless excitement -- Owen's would wasn't bad, and he seemed to accept it as the next best thing to a dueling scar. Up to the shooting, it was the most enjoyable Halloween Party I can remember since the 1960 party at CalTech; this, combined with the shooting, should make it the most memorable L.A. fan party ever.
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What with all the excitement at the Halloween Party, last week's 31st Anniversary Meeting of the LASFS seems like old history already. It was a well-planned Meeting, and it was certainly pleasant to see such old faces as Don Franson, Roy Squires, and Arthur Cox back again. Ron Ellik is back, and we hope we'll be seeing him more than once a year, too -- the same goes for Forry Ackerman and Walt Daugherty. Bob Bloch's speech was the high point of the evening, and it was well worth holding up Apa L for until he was finished. I was happy surprised to get the Evans-Freehafer Award as the club's most valuable member during the past year, for my work with Apa L. The main reason I've been sticking with it for so long is that I enjoy it, of course -- I don't really consider it as work. ("Work" being defined as something you don't want to but have to do.) As of right now, I intend sticking with it into the indefinite future, so Apa L should continue to be a feature of the club Meetings for some time to come.
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Upcoming is a sort of Poetry Corner, mostly because I've just gotten some poetry from Jim McElroy, an East Coast fan. Since Apa L is where the discussion of poetry has been going on, I'm going to publish them here rather than elsewhere. Jim's address is 14 ½ East Union Street, Penns Grove, New Jersey, 08069, in case any of you comment on his poetry and want to send him a copy of your opinions.
Life is a lonely hell.
Eternal anger ... essence of life ...
I have always marveled
If man is dying
|BUT NOT IN SILENCE
By James Lewis McElroy, Jr.
I hope somebody will offer comments on his poetry. I think he can use them.