Back in the day, taking a photograph was a pretty involved proposition. You needed to know about film speeds and F-stops and white balance and lighting and all the rest. (Unless you were toting around a Kodak Brownie – the closest analog to point-and-click we had back then.) And, unless you were a pro or very advanced amateur, you had to WAIT to see your pictures. Sometimes a day, sometimes a week or more. You never knew if you’d really gotten that killer shot until the negatives and prints (huh?) came back from the developer.
Being a photographer was something pretty special, at least if you were a good one. Being a fan photographer was even more special because there were so few of them. One of Fandom’s best known photogs (and fan writer, fanzine editor, guitarist and performer, convention road trip travelling companion, founder of Minn-Stf and all-around hugable guy) was and is the Quintessential Fred A. Levy Haskell.
Fred has been taking photos of fen at conventions – where I first met him – (can’t remember the con) since, oh, the primordial days of fandom, or something like that. Those halcyon days when you could still sneak in to Ponderosa and grab a free meal at the salad bar; when crashing at the hotel meant a half-dozen or more fen sharing a room.
Fred has given Amazing Stories permission to reproduce some of those old time fan fotos here, giving us a look back at the personalities and places that now make up fannish lore. I’m sure you’ll be surprised at “how young!” some of the biggest names in the field look; you’ll also probably twitter a bit at some of their outfits and hairdos. Above all you’ll get to see how much things have changed over the years, and how much they’ve stayed the same.
All Photos Copyright © Fred A Levy Haskell and used with permission. These photographs and more of Fred’s photographic coverage of conventions large and small can be found HERE. Fred can be visited on his website (where you will find more pictures, fanzines and reminisces).
Our first set of images were taken at Saint Louiscon, the 27th World Science Fiction Convention. Held in Saint Louis, MO between August 28th and September 1st, 1969. Hosted at the Chase-Park Plaza hotel, the convention was attended by 1,534 fans. John Brunner’s Stand on Zanzibar won the Hugo for Best novel, Robert Sulverberg’s Nightwings won Best Novella, Poul Anderson’s The Sharing of Flesh won novelette, Harlan Ellison took short story for The Beast That Shouted Love at the Heart of the World, 2001: A Space Odyssey won Best Dramatic Presentation, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction won Best Professional Magazine, Best Professional Artist went to Jack Gaughan, the Best Fan Writer was Harry Warner Jr., Richard Geis’ Science Fiction Review won Best Fanzine and Best Fan Artist went to Vaughn Bode.
The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer would not be initiated for four more years (first given at Torcon II in 1973.
1969 was, of course, the year that humankind first landed on the Moon. Saint Louiscon’s Committee was well-aware of this fact (I don’t think there was a community more in tune with the Moon landing than fandom – except perhaps for that fannish sub-culture called NASA/JPL) and exercised their option to hand out a special committee award, presented to Neil Armstrong, Edwin E. Aldrin and Michael Collins for The Best Moon Landing Ever.
Other highlights from that year: Rupert Murdoch begins to build his media empire; Led Zeppelin debuts their first album; Nixon becomes President; The Beatles perform as a group for the last time; The Saturday Evening Post ceases publication; The Boeing 747 takes its first flight; the first artificial heart transplant is performed; the Weathermen take control of the SDS; the Burger Supreme Court begins; the Stonewall riots take place; Chappaquiddick; the Haunted Mansion opens at Disneyland; Woodstock; Qaddafi comes to power in Libya; H.R. Pufnstuf beings broadcasting; The Last Looney Tune is filmed; Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? begins; Abbey Road; The Brady Bunch; Monty Python’s Flying Circus; the CCD; Willy Brandt; ARPANET; Wal*Mart; Sesame Street; My Lai; Wendy’s; The Draft.
And of course, Worldcon.