Written by Fred Patten, and published on the LASFS Rex Rotary, August 23, 1966. Intended for Apa L, Ninty-Seventh Distribution, LASFS Meeting no. 1515, August 25, 1966. Address: 1825 Greenfield Avenue, Los Angeles, California, 90025. Phone: GRanite 3-6321.
|Cleveland in 1 week!||Los Angeles in 1968!||Salamander Press #199.|
The 3rd Annual West Coast Ozvention was the biggest yet, and the best attended by L.A. Fandom. In fact, this will probably be the last one held in a private home; the Committee to arrange next year's convention is planning on having to rent a meeting hall to hold all the attendees, assuming the rise in attendance to be proportional to that up to now. The total attendance at this year's gathering probably reached well over 150, though fortuately for Mrs. Hurst, in whose home the Ozvention was held, it probably wasn't over about 85 at any one time; a lot of people came and stayed for only a couple of hours, seeing what was to be seen at the moment and sampling the refreshments and then leaving.
The Ozvention was at the home of Mrs. George Hurst, one of L. Frank Baum's granddaughters, and was announced as an all-day affair -- those of you who were interested in it got one of the notices. It was held in La Canada, an area of the L.A. basin with which I'm not at all familiar; however, the directions were good, and I found my way there in a minimum of time. I arrived about 9:30 a.m., and the Ozvention was already well under way. The layout included a moderate-sized living room and a large dining room, which held the displays and exhibits; a bar, which doubled as an auction room and lecture hall; a kitchen, where refreshments were available (though there were also tables of cookies and limeade scattered throughout the rest of the house); and a large back yard/swimming pool/patio which was mostly the domain of the younger children. The children had what was in effect a separate convention, which consisted mostly of splashing around in the swimming pool in the morning, and listening to some sort of Ozzy tape recording in the afternoon. The only overlap was in the general viewing of a baby racoon that one of the little girls brought; the racoon, which was still nursing, sucked slobberingly on any fingers thrust near it.
The displays consisted primarily of one of Judith Pike's Ozzish research projects; a collection of newly discovered Oziana, consisting of greeting cards, children's bedclothes and blankets, dress material, bookplates, Viewmaster slides, etc., with an Oz motif, an (empty) jar of Oz Peanut Butter, a lot of new or newly discovered editions of Baum's works (mostly new cheap editions of The Wizard), Oz records (including a Hanna-Barbera and a Disney version), and so on; and a display of foreign editions of The Wizard of Oz, which was quite varied and colorful, and included such things as a special Italian translation based on the script of the 1939 movie rather than on Baum's work (illustrated with stills from the movie), and the original Russian Oz books by Aleksandr Volkov, which are beautifully illustrated, quite inexpensive, and unfortunately out of print -- I tried getting some myself last year direct from Moscow, and failed.
I was the first fan to arrive, but before long, I was joined by Len Moffatt and June Konigsberg, Ed & Anne & Kevin Cox, John & Bĵo & Katwen Trimble, Ron Ellik, Luise Petti, Blake Maxam, Gailvan Achthoven & family, Elmer Perdue, and, later in the afternoon, Dan Alderson. Looking at the displays and talking with fans occupiedthe first couple of hours, until the auction & sale session. This was the first time that the announced auction has actually been held; before this, everybody has come to the Ozvention with money, but nobody's ever donatede anything to be auctioned. Most of the material here consisted of the standard Oz books, but there were a couple of sets of 12 reproductions of stills from the 1939 movie (I got one of these). Bĵo donated what turned out to be the biggest money-maker; she had found an old copy of The Marvelous Land of Oz that was in horrible condition but strangly still had most of the colored plates intact, and she cut these out, trimmed off the ragged edges, and mounted them on still backing to make them suitable for framing. Most of the auctioned material went quite reasonably to the people who wanted it -- I suspect the main reason it went so cheaply was that all the collectors already had all these standard editions -- and it was only the special material that brought any lively bidding. Following the auction, there was a swap & sale session at which a lot of much rarer material appeared, such as the more obscure Baum books and some Oz first editions. Manny Weltman was there as usual with his high-priced "bargains"; he didn't seem quite as obnoxious as he used to be, though his pitch still runs along the line of, "You're stuck with paying my prices, like 'em or not, because nobody else has this material." The unique items consisted mostly of old photographs of Baum, of which Weltman had located the negatives and had several prints made; and some non-Oz sheet music to which Baum had written the lyrics, that Weltman had discovered in mint condition in some music store's remainders. To Weltman's credit, he does get out and do a lot of work in unearthing this sort of long-lost material. There was much more action at this swap & sale session than at the auction itself.
The collectors were chased out of the bar at noon, to make way for lunch -- a most unappetizingly catered buffet luncheon of a dollop of foul chicken salad and a lot of jello dessert. Several of the adults wished aloud that they could've switched theirs for the boxed lunches (mostly peanut-butter & jelly sandwiches) that the children were picking off the "Lunch Box Tree". Nobody was sorry when lunch ended and the day's formal program got under way.
Dick Martin unfortunately couldn't make it out here from Chicago this year, so we missed his Oz movies which were a high point of the last two Ozventions. (Fred Meyer, the Secretary of the Oz Club, came in from Michegan, though, and was active throughout the day as auctioneer, question-answerer, taker of memberships, etc.) The first item on the program was Judy Pike's talk around the exhibit she had prepared, on "The Decline & Fall of Ruggedo, the Nome King", tracing his history through the various books, and trying "logically" to explain away the various inconsistencies -- Baum was a notoriously sloppy writer when it came to maintaining internal consistency in his imaginary world. This was a lot of fun, as the audience joined in helping to decide which of several possible explanations was most likely the "true" one, on various points. Following this, Warren Hollister gave a more serious talk on "Baum's Other Villains", describing the sort of villain Baum used in relationship to the traditional villains of fairy tales -- and making knowledgable comparisons with The Lord of the Rings and the Narnian Chronicles -- and showing how all of Baum's villains were much more humanized than the older figures of purest black evil; presented more as object-lessons in sympathy for the physically or emotionally handicapped than as incarnations of the Devil. The third talk was given by a Mrs. Mary Langford, a Russian non-Oz friend of Reva Milne's, who had translated Volkov's Oz books into English for the Club at her request. The first is basically a translation of The Wizard of Oz, with a few additional episodes, and a much bigger part for Toto -- she said that there is no anti-American propaganda in the book, contrary to earlier reports. Volkov's second book is an original sequel, Irwin Juice and His Wooden Soldiers, about a renegade Munchkin who discovers a powder of life and animates a wooden army to conquer Oz. From Mrs. Langford's description, it sounded as though it's much better constructed as a novel than Baum's books themselves, which are really just a rambling series of encounters with various different colorful odd beings, often with only the thinnest excuse of a plot to tie them together. The Club has a pruject going to print Mrs. Langford's English translation of Irwin Juice, but as it will take at least a couple of thousand dollars to do a good job, including most of the illustrations and all, it'll doubtlessly take quite a while to complete, if it's accomplished at all. Or we may end up settling for something between nothing at all and a de luxe edition; we'll have to see. The last item on the program was a presentation by a member of the Van Nuys Junior Chamber of Commerce, of the "Land of Oz" children's playground for which they're trying to raise money; their brochure is elsewhere in this Distribution.
The program was followed by the Oz quiz, but it was getting fairly late by this time, and most of the attendees had already left. The quiz was quite dificult, consisting mostly of trivia questions since it was designed to test a thorough knowledge of the subject, and participants were warned in advance which books the questions would be taken from so that everybody could brush up beforehand. Few people got over half the questions answered. This was the last event of the day, and people began packing up their belongings and departing as soon as it ended. The Ozvention was held to be quite a success, and most of the attendees seemed to be planning on attending next year's Ozvention if they could.
While Oz was the main subject of the day, several people proved willing to talk about other fantasies, particularly the Tolkien books and the Narnian Chronicles. Warren Hollister and his wife had accomplished the almost impossible f eat of actually visiting with Prof. Tolkien; they said they'd had a delightful time, but Mrs. Hollister wished that Tolkien would stop writing new revisions to The Lord of the Rings and finish the Silmarillion. We agreed that it was a good thing that Tolkien does keep himself so remote, or he'd never be able to finish anything with all of his fans dropping in on him. Bĵo gave Bruce's address to several people who wanted to join The Fellowship of the Ring. Somebody hoped that nobody would start a Tolkien-vention and a Narnia-vention in addition to the Ozvention, because she couldn't afford to go to all of them. A few other comments in this vein seemed to establish the fact that most of the people present were interested in other works of children's literature (and especially the fantasies) besides just the Oz books. While everybody seemed to feel that starting any new conventions would be a bit much, I got the impression that most of us were half wishing we could have an opportunity to have a nice, long discussion about Narnia, or Middle Earth, or Looking-Glass Land, or Puddleby-On-The-Marsh, without "corrupting" the nature of the Ozvention. I wonder if the LASFS might not -- four or five years from now, after the '68 WorldCon -- construct a WesterCon around a general theme of children's fantasy? If "Mary Poppins" can get nominated for a "Hugo", why not?
-- BEING COMMENTS ON LAST WEEK'S DISTRIBUTION
Chuck Crayne -- Considering Lin Carter's fan histories well done is like considering Terry Romine a better cartoonist than Johnny Chambers. (Though Terry's cartoon this week is considerably better than anything else he's done in months.) Lin's articles are comprehensible, but almost totally devoid of any real information -- any dating after 1945, at any rate. One of the consistent features of earlier fan columns, in AMAZING, in IMAGINATION, or wherever, was that they contained current information, and gave names and addresses. If it mentioned fanzines, it told the reader where he could get this fanzine; if it mentioned a fan club, it told the reader how he could get to this club's meetings. Carter's column lacks any of this information; I think the only specific up-to-date fact he's mentioned yet was the TriCon's address in his article on worldcons. Aside from this Carter gives the impression of someone who dropped out of Fandom about 1950, trying to base his material on things as he knew them up to then, and dropping any specific details (such as club addresses, etc.) that might've changed since then and could trip him up. As far as being factual information that could help the general s-f reader get in touch with Fandom, the column isn't much more than so much wasted space.