Might as Well Keep Him

by Mark Manning

OLD MATH DEPT. So one evening, I decided to check the email stack, in the middle of which was a bulk mail request from Andy Hooper, asking for fannish tributes to Art Widner. My Ghod, the old phart is eighty years old already! You realize that in dog years, he's been alive since the days of Chaucer, don't you? If he were Jesus, he'd be long dead already, leaving all those snake-handlers out of a job.

I REMEMBER IT WELL DEPT. When was it I first met Art? Seems to me he was in a little apa, C/RAPA-pi, which I joined back in the mid-80s. Probably first set eyes on him at some con or other here in the Seattle area just after that. Corflu, most likely. Felt almost instantly that he was my fannish uncle, which is just about what everyone else says, too. Hit him up for money, stole a beer from his fridge, took his lighter. Just like a real uncle-nephew relationship.

WHO LOVES YA BABY? DEPT. Like, there's only one fan I've ever known personally who reacted to him like you'd react to fingernails on a blackboard. A terrible lapse in taste, that. Me, I dig 'most everything about the boy, right down to the cool hair of his talented granddaughter, Magenta. Art Widner is truly the Eo-Neo, just exactly as young as he was when he entered fandom in the late Cretaceous.

READ YOUR BUNDLE DEPT. Some of youse guys reading this tributezine met him years and years ago. Back around, or even before, the time when he pubbed these three zines sitting next to this typer. They are YHOS numbers eight through ten, issued back during WWII. For FAPA, natch. It's the YHOS tradition! And, just like today, these old issues have longish articles, Art's comments, and some artwork not always directly related to the text being illustrated. Art used mimeo back then, and traced illos by hand onto stencil. But otherwise, YHOSim have remained just about the same all these years.

PENY 4 YR THOTS DEPT. Take simplifyd speling, for example. (Please!) Surely you know what his current writing looks like. Sometimes I snag on weirdly-spelled words in the latest YHOS or other Widnerzine for longer than it would take to elect a National Fantasy Fan Federation committee chair. Well get a load of this editorial on his posting to the Army's Climactic Research Labs in Lawrence, MA (YHOS ten, Summer 1944):

Th CRL is a GI paradise, no less. No reveille, no taps, no formations, no police-up, no field displays, no bed check, no CS of any sort. A pretty blond dietician instead of an obnoxious mess sgt. Officers who seem never to have heard of saluting or sirring, & come out & play softball with the EMs with no trace of self-consciousness or condesensn. I can hardly bliev it. & besides all that, I'm only a 2hr thum frum home, with evry wkend off, a 3day pass evry mo, & a furlo evry 3mos.

Th only drawback is that some of th tests & xperimts r a litl ruf - such as putting on wet clothes & crawling into a sleeping-bag in the cold room, or sitting stil in a 25mph wind at 20 or 30 belo, or loping along on a treadmill at 120° in th jungl chamber. But heck, plenty of boys r getting that with lots of lead & steel bsides.

MAKES SENSE TO ME DEPT. In YHOS eight, Art writes a bit that sounds like the sort of gag he still writes these days. In this case, it's addressed to the FAPA president, Walt someone-or-other (Liebscher? Dunkelberger?):

I suppose, Walt, that you could call scromfs & fribbles fornchy, but only in a very broad sense. "Prandable" is more accurate, since they are more iggish than zorpic, & chubbously related to blorts in the bargain.

LINGUISTIC REFORM DEPT. This issue of the zine also, by the way, included Art's tale of cycling with Russell Chauvenet up to Maine to visit Norm Stanley. It was during this 3-person "con" that Chauvenet's resolution passed that the plural of 'fan' should be 'fen.' I think of this momentous event often, not least because Russ actually had to buy a bike in order to make the trip. We should always think of the sacrifices made by our forebears. Or three of them, anyway.

REMEMBER THE ROOSTER THAT WORE RED PANTS DEPT. YHOS nine (Spring 1944)has one feature I don't recall seeing in any recent Widnerzine, though, and that's interlinos. What jewels these morsels be! Here are some favorites from the ish:

remember the eel with the big blue eyes

the quick brown calot jumps over the lazy thoat

Daddy, if Speer didnt go to church, wd he hafta pay a syntax?

FINAL CURTAIN DEPT. So that's the quick cassette from me on fandom's own Eo-Neo. He's more meaningful than the First Staple War. He's held up better than a VOMaiden. And, unlike Yngvi, he's no louse. Happy birthday Art! May your next 80 years be even better than your first 80.

Art, Walt Willis, Jack Speer