Sometime in 1982 I walked into a video store (those were the days of VHS tapes), and I was renting a Star Trek movie. The girl behind the desk asked me if I liked Star Trek. That girl was Michelle Holmes. Why bring this up when I’m talking about Contact? Because it’s her fault (or to her credit) that I ever got involved. We talked about Star Trek. She asked me if I knew what a fanzine was. No, I said. Well, she lent me a few of hers and one of the first ones I read from start to finish was an issue of Contact. I was hooked. Big time. Some of the stories I admit took me aback a little… they weren’t “Star Trek” as I knew it, but they were character stories… stories that showed the friendship between these men. Regardless of the plot used, those friendships always won out.
As they do in fandom. Well, We won’t talk about how much money I sent with Michelle to the next MediaWest, so she could buy me more zines.
I subsequently wrote to Bev and Nancy at the address in Michelle’s copy of Contact, wanting to order the most recent copy. I included my mailing info as well as my phone number. A couple days later, I received a phone call from Bev. It went something like this:
Bev: “This is Bev Volker, got your order for Contact. I see you don’t live far from here.”
Me: “No…” (I might add I was still a little surprised at the call.)
Bev: Why don’t you come up for a visit? Let’s get acquainted!
So I did. And I told Michelle, and we went together. When we arrived, Bev, Nancy and Martha were all sitting in the living room. We were grilled. Who is our favorite character? Why do we like Star Trek? The usual. My favorite character has always been McCoy. Even though Contact is more of a Kirk-Spock zine, McCoy is the mediating character. Even Roddenberry said that the triad of Kirk, Spock and McCoy made up the “one.” We were in. We were invited to join them for their weekly “Saturday night” Contact group get togethers. So we went. We met many people who quickly became friends and extended family. In addition to Bev, Nancy and Martha, we met Mary Mills, Jan Davies, Suzanne Elmore. And Marion McChesney, who was chairing a convention, ClipperCon. We were bribed… hooked… into working the convention. And there you have it. How I got into this little group.
Well, Michelle and I were talking one day and she said, “You know… we could do a zine.” I said, “Uh… sure, why not?” My brother did the printing and Mind Meld was born. It lasted for seven issues before I had to give it up.
The conventions… ClipperCon… OktoberTrek… and now Farpoint… continued. The family grew. Bev’s kids grew up, thanks to Jan Davies, Renee met Steve and they have since formed a great family with two sons who are also growing up in fandom. Fandom is a wonderful place for kids. No one is judged. Everyone is accepted. It’s a perfect world. Almost.
Except you still lose people you love. When my mother died, Bev became one of my “second moms.” When I finally met Bruce, my to-be-husband, no one could have been happier for me than my extended family, the “Contact Crowd.” Bev and her oldest daughter, Robin, made my dress for me as a wedding gift. I must say that time was hectic as I had been in the hospital two weeks before the wedding. It took some doing to get the dress done in time, but they did it.
When Bruce died, it was like a lightning bolt had struck my heart; but my immediately family and my extended “Contact” crowd family were all there for me. Life sometimes isn’t fair, but they had welcomed Bruce with open arms and I truly believe they felt his loss as though he had been around forever.
When Marion died, it was hard on us all. We all realized that the immortality that we had been reading, writing about in zines, keeping these characters alive, really did not exist.
The hardest on all of us, I believe, was Bev. She was a “mom” to us all. She was our “go-to” person when we needed advice. She was always the voice of common sense and brought us back to reality. I was privileged to be able to spend a day a week with her for several months before she died. Her family welcomed me as part of the family the weekend she died, and, while I could do nothing to take away the pain, I knew I was with people feeling the same way I did. I miss her to this day, as I do Bruce and my own mother.
Since Bev’s death, we have also lost Nancy. Nancy and Bev were the founders, so to speak, in my opinion, the strength of the Baltimore fan group. Some may feel differently, but if it weren’t for them I know I would not still be involved as I am now. I am thrilled that Dave Kippax, Nancy’s youngest son, has now become involved once again in the group and in Farpoint.
I am truly thankful for everyone I met because I wrote that one letter to Bev asking for a copy of Contact. I’m so afraid I will forget someone, but some of those people who I consider extended family include: Renee and Steve and their sons, Mary and Michelle and their daughters, Suzanne Elmore, Karen Donnelly, Sharon VanBlarcom and her family, Martha Bonds, everyone who has worked on the conventions with us, past and present. I know I have forgotten someone. For that I apologize. Anyone I’ve forgotten, know that it is not deliberate. I know I don’t keep in touch with people as I should, but I value everyone’s role in what is my life today. I was also able to develop a friendship with Ginna LaCroix, a frequent contributor to Contact, Mind Meld as well as many other zines, and while I don’t talk to her often, we usually write each other 1-2 times a year to catch up on things. She and Sally now raise Alpacas.
I am thrilled that this site to commemorate… remember… and allow good memories to be shared is coming to fruition. I know it’s been a project that has been in the works for some time now. Anything I can do to contribute, I’d be honored.