THE BIG POND FUND (1949)

After much effort, particularly by Forrest J Ackerman, the Big Pond Fund - the first ever international fan fund - succeeded in bringing Ted Carnell across the Atlantic in 1949 to attend the Worldcon, which was held that year in Cincinnati. He travelled over on the ocean liner Queen Elizabeth. So far as I'm able to determine, Ted never wrote a trip report. Should I in future come across accounts by Ted or by others of his trip I will of course add them here.

However, while Ted may not have written a report he did take photographs. Pete Weston recently acquired copies of his photo album so we're now at least able to provide a pictorial account of his trip. Almost certainly, several of these photos were taken by someone other than Ted - fans of the time had a tradition of swapping copies of photos around - but there was no record of who took what with the album, alas. (N.B. These photos are not public domain and are presented here subject to the usual constraints of copyright.)

I was able to place the photos in what I believe is a plausible sequence by taking a timeline from the extremely informative report on the convention by Fred Patten on the Cincinnati Fantasy Group website.

  1. Saturday afternoon
  2. Saturday evening
  3. Sunday
  4. Monday
  5. Chicago and Indian Lake
CINVENTION, the 7th annual Worlcon, was held in the Hotel Metropole in downtown Cincinnati. Here's how Ted's trip was reported in the UK in the Science Fantasy Society's fanzine SCIENCE FICTION NEWS #4:

Preliminary reports of the 7th World Science Fiction Convention, held in Cincinnati, Ohio, indicate that a good time was had by all the 240-odd fans who assembled there between Sept. 3rd and 5th. Proceeds from the ‘Big Pond Fund’ contributed to by many US and British fans (including the proceeds from London’s ’48 ‘Whitcon’) enabled British fans to have a representative there in the person of Ted Carnell, editor of ‘New Worlds’ and active supporter of s-f for 12 years. Part of the proceedings were televised, and viewers got an eyeful according to Ted’s description. A New York model, dressed (or undressed) in the fashion of a Bergey cover girl (TWS and STS) opened the show: after screening her from head to foot, the TV camera swung off (probably to the viewers’ regret) to a view of each s-f magazine, finishing with the cover of ‘New Worlds’, and from there to our own Ted, who recounted the story of ‘Our Struggle’ - a story for which we thought Wally Gillings held all the copyrights.

The SFS Committee sent a cable of good wishes to the Cinvention, but Australian fans went one better and actually telephoned through for about 15 minutes.

And so to the convention:

1. Saturday 3rd September: Afternoon

The con was opened sometime after 1pm by Charles R. Tanner, with a brief speech of welcome. Tanner was an elder of the Cincinnati group, one of the trio who had started it in December 1935.


The audience, Al Prime in foreground.

The con hall.

Tanner then introduced Lloyd A. Eshbach for his Guest of Honour address, "SF Comes of Age".


Lloyd Eshbach

Next up was Lester del Rey. Substituting for other pros who had been unable to attend, he gave a talk on "Sex and SF".


Lester del Rey, Forry Ackerman, Ted Carnell, Milton Rothman

After del Rey, Ray Palmer spoke about his resignation from Ziff-Davis, the Shaver mystery, and the imminent launch of his new prozine, OTHER WORLDS. At the con he would hire Cincinnati group member Bea Mahaffey as his editorial assistant and soon afterwards she would move to Chicago to take up her post. This would lead in turn to her involvement in running CHICON, the 1952 Worlcon, in that city and to meeting Walt Willis, which would lead in turn to her visit to the UK and her appearance at the 1953 UK national convention, CORONCON...


Ray Palmer

This ended the afternoon session, after which fans would have gone out to dinner and otherwise socialised prior to the start of the evening session.

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