I recently picked up the August, 1939 issue of the fanzine ESCAPE, published by long-time science fiction fan (and later author) Dick Wilson, It was filled with stories (many very funny) about the first World Science Fiction Convention which had been held in July of 1939 in New York City. In one article, the magazine notes that well known science fiction fan (and, again, later well-known author) Wilson "Bob" Tucker had "engaged" Forrest J Ackerman "to keep track of what was consumed in the way of food" at the Convention, and by whom. The article goes on to state, all in good fun, that on July 4 at the Con, Ray Bradbury consumed "44 hamburgers, 12 dishes tomato soup, 24 pieces peach pie, 36 glasses iced choc'lit..." I had to laugh when I read this since, given the state of Ray's finances at this point in time (Forrest Ackerman paid for Ray's travel by bus from Los Angeles to NYC), it is safe to say no such eating frenzy ever came even close to occurring! And attached below is a photo from my collection of 18-year-old Ray Bradbury on the streets of New York during the Con. (On Ray's right in the photo is Leo Marguiles, an editor and publisher of science fiction and fantasy pulp magazines in the 1930's.)
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The link below will take you to a wonderful photo taken at the very first World Science Fiction Convention, which was held in New York City in 1939. It's a picture of a group of young science fiction fans. To name a few: in the back row, second from the left, is Julius Schwartz, who later became a well-known literary agent and editor at DC Comics. In the front row, on the far left, is Forrest J Ackerman. And in the front row, on the end at the right, is a young and tan Ray Bradbury. They were great friends, young men with their fabled careers still ahead of them.
I have been reading through the massive book, THE VISUAL HISTORY OF SCIENCE FICTION FANDOM, VOLUME ONE: THE 1930'S, published by First Fandom Experience (the same folks who later published THE EARLIEST BRADBURY). Ray was of course active in fandom in the 1930's and 1940's, and his name appears often in the book, including a four page section devoted to him, "Ray Bradbury: Dawn of A Master" (the first page of which can be accessed by the link below). The book notes that Ray kept a diary during his bus trip from Los Angeles to New York City to attend the first World Science Fiction Convention in the summer of 1939. Here is an entry from that diary from June of 1939:
"The road stretches endlessly away. I can't help thinking how much sweat must have been worked out of hot hides making these miles of concrete - oh, the headaches and creaking bones and sun-scarred faces that must have resulted. Imagine coming over all of this bumpy terrain fifty years ago in a wagon? Sounds almost impossible when you take a good look at the bushes and earth cracks and dry streams, not to mention boulders, valleys and mountains. God, but it is good to live in 1939 even if we still do have wars. That will go soon, also, I am sure."
The above demonstrates that Ray had more than a "touch of the poet" in him even as a young eighteen-year-old. And while Ray was often prophetic about the future in many of his writings, he was sadly mistaken about a quick end to the terrible war that was being waged in 1939. World War II would not end until 1945.This message has been edited. Last edited by: Richard,
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