Elves’, Gnomes’ and Little Men’s Science Fiction, Chowder and Marching Society..#47 (the 50’s)

Introduced to Anthony Boucher, the editor of this captivating magazine

Introduced to Anthony Boucher,  the editor of this captivating magazine

It was Mrs. Ruth Salo the Gibson Branch librarian speaking to Gary and again she was instrumental in vectoring a perceived interest of his, directing it in a positive direction.   Earlier having introduced him to The Chabot Observatory and his visual transportation experience to the planet Saturn via the telescope, this time approaching him with an opportunity to explore another out of this world realm.   Her husband Edward was a physicist at the University of California Radiation Laboratory in Berkeley,  known as the Rad Lab. The Teen was aware of Mrs. Salo husband’s eminent occupation,  his only youthful contact with the elder Salo was the unforgettable Chabot Observatory excursion.

Radiation Laboratory Berkeley

The librarian presented the specifics and the question.   The invitation was for Gary to accompany her and Jeff to a private library in Berkeley to assemble with an enlightened group of professionals whose engrossment was the genre of science fiction.   The  like-minded group meeting on a regular basis at a private library on Telegraph Ave..  the cadre of those in attendance included  applauded authors such as Phillip K Dick, Rog Phillips,  Poul Anderson,  his wife Karen and Fantasy and Science fiction Magazine editor Tony Boucher.   Gary having thrived on the literary conceptions of Robert A Heinlein, Isaac Asimov and long list of SF authors and having a discovered Poul Andersen years earlier.   To experience a celebrated association of such distinction was incomprehensible to the  fifteen year old.  His  answer to the question was a resounding yes, he would very much like to attend.


Poul Anderson book cover Bio –

      Their Berkeley destination was the Garden Library in the 2500 block of Telegraph Ave.  Once arriving  Gary discovering he was the youngest in attendance and was somewhat ill at ease among this elderly group.  The gathering possessing an organizational name, ” Elves’,  Gnomes’ and Little Men’s Science Fiction ,  Chowder and Marching Society”.  The sobriquet displaying a knowledgeable wonderment,  furthering Gary’s conjectured intrigue about the group.   The youth  seated among this celebrated faction,  the Salo’s introducing him to those celebrated appropriators of inventive science.  A  sense of ambiguity soon faded as the guest speaker arose, a noted physicist, standing  before a chalkboard, clearing his throat, beginning a discourse on a topic of interest to those in attendance, the yet to be explored  world  of Hyper-Space.

The hypothesis  of the lecturer’s address resonated with the group and questions from the assembly abounded,  espousing a diversity of ideas from those attending.   Gary was astounded by the discussions,  but concluded that the futuristic resource’s found in the novels  were an exponent of these and other carbon meeting.    The young man acknowledging his noesis was probably lesser than the attendees,  but was vehement in his attention and about being  present.

Poul and Karen Anderson

It was the meeting after the meeting, the Teen sitting in the back seat of the car expecting  a return home,  but instead noticing the transport traveling  north to the vicinity of Shattuck Ave.   The vehicle coming to rest at a seafaring decor Night Spot.   It was late and upon entering finding the atmosphere of the dining and drinking enterprise vacant of all but a few patrons.  Once seated the conversation wasn’t as Gary expected.   There were seven people seated  at the table,  Poul and Karen Anderson,  the Salo’s,  himself and another couple whose name had slipped by.  Anticipating a discussion of allegory science,  or subliminal encounters of another  world, subject matter that interested a fifteen year old, but instead  the conversation was a political discourse of whether or not  President Eisenhower would seek a second term.    The disappointment of the conversation or lack of it was over shadowed by just being in the presence of Poul and Karen Anderson.   The Anderson’s presence instilling the young observer with a glowing presentiment of sufficiency, the couple of living a life in a world of their own conceptions.   Gary realizing he could attempt to relate this analogous moment of his life to friends,  but it would be ineffable to them.    When the Salo’s asked the inevitable question about his experience that night and if he was interested in continuing to attend,  his answer was a resounding yes and would desire to become a regular guest or member.   Little did they realize what revivals inside and what was unsaid, the inner feeling of  satisfaction that comes with  associating with such a celebrated  group,  Gary concluding that fame and humility can be compatible.


4 Responses to “Elves’, Gnomes’ and Little Men’s Science Fiction, Chowder and Marching Society..#47 (the 50’s)”

  1. Snapshots 137 Atoms in Every Chlorophyll Molecule | File 770 Says:

    […] A fellow named Gary who likes to write about himself in the third person tells how a librarian helped him discover the Elves, Gnomes and Little Men’s Marching and Chowder Society in the […]

  2. Thos Sumner Says:

    Actually we went south to a tavern (or bar or whatever) just past the Shattuck – Telegraph intersection. I believe it was just over the line into Oakland. It’s a little hard to remember details after nigh onto sixty years.

    • gwillson7 Says:

      Just wanted to thank you for your comment, you are first of that era….I have several other remembrances of this iconic group and will make an addendum to what I have already posted….It’s nice to know there are still those of us who cherish the past.

  3. Cedric Clute Says:

    I was pretty young too. Went at the invitation of Emil Petaya, a writer and photographer from Sausalito, and a champion of the artist Hannes book. Small world; wish it was back. Cedric Clute, Jackson, ca

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