The 2006 Dum-COF (a combination Dum-Dum and ECOF) was, as usual, a lot of fun. And, just as usual, the best appraisal of such an event would call for more detail, offering more observations from more people, than I can possibly give here. Nonetheless, I can at least offer my own observations of what I saw and did and can let any interested readers draw they own conclusions afterwards. To do so, I will break down the long weekend by days, starting with the first day, Wednesday, August 2nd.
Day One, Wednesday, August 2nd
The first day began for me soon after I had gotten home from work. By pre-arranged agreement, Jim Thompson drove up from Clarksville, TN to our home south of Dayton, OH and arrived at about 6:00 PM. After unloading some of his gear, my wife Ginnie and I had a pleasant conversational happy hour with him followed by my duties on our grill where I broiled a great tasting, chili rubbed and marinated steak she’d set up the night before. It was all a terrific meal. Jim and I then retired to my collection room so I could show off some of my latest acquisitions and engaged in more ERB talk before retiring early in preparation for the long drive to Annapolis the next morning.
Day Two, Thursday, August 3rd
God, was it hot all day Thursday! It was even sticky and unpleasant that morning when we arose at about 5:30 AM. Fortunately, my car's air conditioner was working (and was to hold up throughout) and we got underway just after six AM, first making way to Springfield, OH where we picked up the third member of our merry band, Bruce ("Abner Perry") Wood and then setting off to points east.
Lunch that day started with a failed attempt to locate a Wendy's. We couldn't find one when we wanted it; only after we'd settled on lunch at an Arby's Roast Beef place just east of Morgantown, WV did we see dozens of them (as is often the case in such urgent matters). I did so want a spicy chicken sandwich and had to settle for a chipotle chick sandwich instead. Oh well, I thought, we'll see them in Maryland and I'll get one then… After all, I still lived.
Not much to relate about the rest of the drive, save that it was hot and getting hotter by the hour (and minute, actually). I was confident that, as long as the air conditioning in my car held up, we'd get to Bill Ross's home for the first event (Panthan meeting, barbecue and Burroughs Bibliophiles Board Meeting) at a reasonable time. This was because I had thoughtfully gotten together MapQuest maps and instructions the day before. I was confident, (overly confident it turned out) because, as once we got to the last exit before driving to Bill's house on surface roads, MapQuest failed us completely. The instructions placed us onto a certain Riva Road (which I hope never to see again) and there we were almost an hour later, driving back and forth in increasingly heavy traffic, trying to make head or tail out of the vague (and wrong instructions) the web site and provided me. It was finally sorted out when we stopped at a gas station and got some real instructions from the clerk. With his help we made it to Bill's place at about 5:00 PM, about an hour later than I had expected.
I cannot recall all the people who were there nor will I attempt to guess at them since I don't want to leave some out accidentally. But, rest assured, the house was pretty well packed. And God, was it hot; at the worst, my car's thermometer read 105º F! With that kind of heat and the crush of people in Bill's house, the rest of the evening was very warm. But once there and fed from Bill's cookout, all the heat and the lost time was quickly forgotten.
The meal was followed by a BB's Board Meeting. Many things were discussed, primarily how to handle the aftermath of the sad passing of Bob Hyde and some special new awards to be given to stellar fans such as Bob. His passing did create a new void in the Board's membership and so elections were held to fill his spot and to re-elect the current members whose terms were nearing their end. Because of her long service to the BB's, Joan Bledig was a quick shoo-in to fill the empty seat. I felt honored to be selected to sit on the B-team, the Advisory Board to the take the place there that she had previously held. It was a satisfying experience to me to take that position and to have been considered for an actual Board seat too. I recalled 1965 when I attended my first Dum-Dum in Chicago, IL, seeing those old-farts of that day conducting their business. It was very gratifying to think that I was truly arriving as an old-fart myself…. Sometimes it is nice to become an old-fart after all!
Day Three, Friday, August 4th
This day began, as they often do, with breakfast in the hotel where I encountered even more people and enjoyed breakfast with George McWhorter, Joan Bledig, Jeff Jones, Bruce Wood, Laurence Dunn and his lady, and others as they appeared.
Then the Huckster's Room opened and we all got registered, those who weren't already. The Huckster's Room was pretty nice. Larry Grubb had a number of McClurg firsts offered for sale as well as a copy of The Tarzan Twins, 7th edition, in a pretty beat-up jacket. In fact, it was so beat-up that it was hard to tell if the jacket was or was not real. However, the price was also good (i.e., not so beat-up), so I took it home for $50 — not a bad price for nice copy of any edition of The Tarzan Twins — and this being was one of the five editions I didn't own, so I was quite satisfied. Now I can take off the pristine facsimile jacket I have had on my first edition for some time and substitute it with a battered real(?) jacket, covered with tape…!
Other events that day included a fine lunch at John Tyner's nearby house, a panel discussion on the evolution of Jane and a gathering at Huck's home in DC after dinner (for which we were on our own and found a nice Brazilian Barbecue place near the hotel where I ate too much, as usual).
Day Four, Saturday, August 5th
This day was highlighted by two main events, the second panel discussion about 2nd Century ERB contributors and the always-fun auction. For lunch Bruce Wood, Jim Thompson, Shawn Cavender and I set out to find a Wendy's so that our food dreams (thwarted on Thursday) could finally be met. Then we saw and quickly opted to eat lunch at a Subway Shop near the hotel instead; so no spicy chicken sandwich for me, yet… I still lived (why does that sound familiar?), however, and would fight for one later, when opportunity knocked... That evening we re-met for the banquet. The evening had a sober turn at first as we honored Bob Hyde's memory with words from our new leader Laurence Dunn (first among equals) and from Dorothy "Usha" Howell. Then we received a fine presentation from our guest of honor, Matt Cohen, the grandson of ERB's close friend and long time correspondent, Bert Weston. His show included a number of photographs and his own dry wit which we found fun and refreshing along with his company.
Day Five, Sunday, August 6th
The weather FINALLY cooled off a little (down into the eighties) as we arose, packed the car, checked out and made our way to the site of the farewell breakfast at a nearby pancake house. We three (Jim, Bruce and me), arriving at 8:00 AM, were the only ones there for a while until we were joined by George. Once we were done and went back out into the lobby, we found the rest of the gang there, ready to eat at the (to early bird me) absurd hour of 9:00 AM. This lucky happenstance afforded us another opportunity to get in some last minute farewells.
The drive back was uneventful and pleasant as we three talked of our experiences, our purchases and the great Wendy's restaurant we (FINALLY!) located in Washington, PA. I at last got and ate that coveted spicy chicken sandwich (made even spicier with a packet of their hot chili oil). Yum!
The Dum-Dum is over but we’re already making plans for next year, by God!
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