He walked faster than I did!
I have long legs, but I had to pump to keep up with his strong stride. As we walked, Suzanne sang out to him, “Slow down, you move too fast!”
I chimed in with, “We’ve got to make the moment last!”
We all sang Feeling Groovy as we crossed the street. . . .
Now, to Art Widner. . . .
No salute to Jack Speer could be complete without hearing from Art Widner, who has been in fandom as long as Jack. When I asked if he could write us something, he responded:
I have little to add to the intro i rote for Jack's book, Fancestral Voices, publisht by NESFA PRESS, on his being FanGoH at Noreascon 4, 2004. Since NESFA copyrighted both Jack's writing & mine, I hereby grant U permission to reprint said introduction, or any part thereof, as U see fit. If U dont have a copy, U can get one from NESFA Press, PO Box 809 , Framingham , MA 01701 .
The letter was written in Art’s inimitable style. As you’ll see, he toned it down for mortals in this intro:
Jack Speer has been a participant in fandom for seventy-four years without becoming the slightest bit jaded. He is still having as much (well, nearly as much) fun as he did way back in the dim dawn of the thirties when fandom was just crawling out of the pre-Cambrian muck. What’s more, as a role-model for the Big Name Fan, he gives as good as he gets.
Jack began reading sf at the age of seven and, after some “proterofannish activity” entered fandom in 1934. I assume this activity was similar to my own in that same year, writing “goshwowboyoboy” letters to Amazing, Astounding, and Wonder Stories. However, while I contented myself with that “beginner stuff” until 1938, Jack went immediately to crifanac, and started writing what was probably the first column on “scientificomix”.
He participated in early fannish tomfoolery such as The First Staple War and the mock-religious FooFoo creed, but became sercon by becoming a charter member of the Fantasy Amateur Press Association, the granddaddy of all sf apas. The FAPA is still going today, and Jack is the only charter member still active today, 70 years later.
Jack went to the very first worldcon in 1939 and, sparked by the costumes worn by Forry Ackerman and Douglas from H G Wells’ movie Things to Come, suggested to the second worldcon in Chicago that those who wished should show up dressed as their favorite sf character. Few heeded the call, but thus modern masquerade fandom was born. Jack stole the show, so to speak, although there was nobody there to see it. Says Jack, “In nervous 1940, on the way to the Chicon from my hotel, dressed like Buddy Deering, with Buck Rogers guns on each hip and and prozine original illos I’d bought at auction under my arm, I was stopped by one of those dense Chicago cops, and he looked through the illos, tossing them one by one into the gutter as they failed to reveal anything subversive.”
Not content with that, in 1939 Jack conducted the first fannish opinion poll, co-innovated mailing comments, and wrote Up To Now, the first history of fandom. Then in 1944 came the biggie, Fancyclopedia. He also issued a song sheet at Chicon I, and so could be considered the Father of Filking as well.
What a guy! What a fan! Read the book.
The original publication was mimeographed (somewhat spottily, at least in my copy) with cardstock front and rear covers, and was brad-bound rather than stapled. (I don’t know if this was because of the Staple Wars or the limitations of Jack’s stapler.) It has been reprinted twice in similarly limited quantities: as part of Dick Eney’s mammoth A Sense of FAPA in 1962 and as an attractive booklet by Richard Newsome in 1994. The latter’s colophon states that 100 copies were produced; no information is available on Eney’s print run.
The impetus for this electronic version of Up To Now started in the Southern Fandom Classic e-group, where a discussion on the availability of fan history texts took place in April 2008. It was noted that Warner’s and Moskowitz’s books were available via NESFA Press—current editions of Harry’s two histories and a 1988 hardcover reprint of Sam’s. But Jack’s pioneering fan history was elusive. List member Patricia Rogers—who like Jack lives in Albquerque, New Mexico, and sees him at local fan gatherings—offered to ask his permission for this reprint, and she got it. I confirmed this with Jack at Corflu Silver, and this PDF is the result.
In this presentation, I have given a nod to modernity by replacing typewriter quotes and apostrophes with typeset ones as well as replacing dual-hyphen punctuation with emdashes. But I have not altered Jack’s text in any other way, including leaving all titles of fanzines and prozines unitalicized. I have used the cover of the original edition for this one, so that those wishing to print it out will have a bit of timebinding on their hard copies.
Thanks to Patricia Rogers for her legwork in approaching Jack about this edition, to Jack for graciously granting permission, and to Bill Burns for making space available for this production.
—Robert Lichtman, May 2008
PS: Like everyone in fandom who knew and/or was touched by Jack Speer—and that’s just about all of us—I was saddened to hear of his death on June 28th and was glad that I was able to be at Corflu Silver and see him and Ruth one last time. Carol and I have extended our sympathies to Ruth and the family.
After posting Up To Now on efanzines, I printed out a copy and sent it off to Albuquerque with this cover note:
“It was a poignant pleasure seeing you and Ruth at the recent Corflu in Las Vegas. As I mentioned there, with your permission (obtained second-hand via Patricia Rogers and confirmed at the convention) I’ve created an electronic edition ofUp to Now and it is now posted on the Web at…
http://efanzines.com/UpToNow/index.htm Click Here
“However, in the best tradition of fanzine production I’m enclosing a contributor’s copy for your delectation and files. I hope you approve of my introductory comments.
“Please give my best wishes to Ruth, with whom I enjoyed our several regrettably brief conversations. I certainly hope I get to see you both again sometime. Meanwhile, I’ll “see” you in the FAPA mailings.
Jack was one for the fannish ages. Right up there with Tucker and a bare handful of others, he formed and shaped fandom in its earliest years in so many ways that live with us to this day and will forever.
Jack and I have traded fanzines, swapped mailing comments in FAPA and spent time together at cons. We’ve always gotten along extremely well, but I know that, down deep, I am a great trial to Jack Speer. Much as I admire the man and the fan, I am apparently fated to be a life-long irritant.
Oh, not a major annoyance. No, more like itchy scalp.
Along with being the co-inventor of the mailing comment, Fandom’s first historian, the perpetrator of the first hoax and so much more in Fandom, Jack is a committed grammarian. My typos alone have contributed at least `0% of his now-trademark snowy white hair.
I think Jack could live with the typos. After all, he suffered through decades of Rick Sneary. Beside him, I’m a piker.
It goes deeper, far deeper, than that. Jack worships the English Language in all its magnificence and tries to keep it pristine and holy. Education by grammatic relativists in college and graduate school, I see the language as something that evolves and mutates.
The result is that I constantly introduce words, locutions and changes in meetings that, to Jack, are a desecration of all that is Good and Pure in the language of Chaucer and Shakespeare.
At first, Jack dutifully sent me corrections or wrote about them in his FAPAzine Synapse. He soon learned that listing my typos, which had begun to develop immunity to the spellchecker, involved too much work and concentrated on my phrasing, punctuation and vocabulary.
I think Jack was genuinely surprised when his first salvo brought, not an abject apology, but a pseudo-academic counter-arguing. He has a justifiable reputation for closely reasoned arguments, a residue of his long experience as a lawyer and judge.
Being Jack, he didn’t get angry and he didn’t abandon his perfectly logical and defensible position.
And also being Jack, he didn’t let up on his critiques. I’m sure it surprised Jack when I progressed from college student to successful writer and editor, but he continued to strive to win me back to the True Faith (The Church of Samuel Jonson, Lexiconographer).
I was a rock. Jack was the ocean, and the sea can wear away the rock, but we have not yet conducted our linguistic dialogue for the requisite 100 million years or so.
Through all those years, Jack has generously put aside this fundamental different between us. He’s a reasonable fan, even when riding his hobby horse.
It is hard to know where to start to tell you about Jack Speer's importance in the history of Science Fiction Fandom. His influence, creativity, and nearly endless energy touches every aspect of fandom. For those in fandom now: words like Filking and APA are well known to you; Jack was a founding father of those. Costuming - yep - Jack was right there at the beginning and encouraging others to join him. Think posting comments on what someone has written is new? Well, only in terms of the computer. Jack was writing intelligent commentary the hard way, with a typewriter, over 70 years ago. And continued to do so until a couple of weeks ago.
Jack was a charter member of First Fandom. In the early years of Science Fiction, Fandom was filled with men and a few women who took Science very seriously, and Science Fiction was a way to envision and work towards the future. (And to save scantily-clad girls being menaced by monsters - but I digress.) Jack was a scientist in his heart and never stopped learning. I am also a lover of science and one thing I could always count on when I went to any Astronomy lecture, Space program, or Science talk was that Jack would be there too. Always. He had a brilliant and quick mind and never let it grow old.
I had known Jack and Ruth for years before I realized just what a Big Name Fan Jack Speer was. When I started my own quest to learn about the history of fandom I noticed that every book I picked up mentioned Jack, or even had a whole chapter devoted to him. It hit me that we had an amazing founder of fandom right here at every Science Fiction club meeting, quietly doing what he had always done: absorbing information, listening, and (at least to himself) commenting on our antics. Something I came to recognize when I would see him get that sly, all-knowing smile of his.
He and Ruth always opened their home to us, year after year, for the Bubonicon pre-con party, and even let us keep coming back when we broke and spilled things, he and Ruth forever the consummate hosts. I know this year's Bubonicon will lose some of its magic for me without starting the convention at their home.
In the last week I have read many testimonies from fans new and old on the influence Jack had upon them. He touched and enriched Science Fiction for countless fans and friends. Much of fandom will never know how much he contributed to almost every aspect of what they enjoy about being a fan, but we who were lucky enough to know him are keenly aware of what and who we have lost.
Let me finish by telling you what a young fan and friend of mine, Shannon Jay who is 12, said to me upon hearing of Jack's death. She said, "Oh No! I liked Jack. I am going to miss him and I didn't even get to say goodbye." I said, "Well, tell him now - he'll hear you." Her face filled with a large smile and she said, "Goodbye Jack - I will miss you."
That goes for me too.
To see all the photos on Patricia's blog Click here. -- Shelby Vick