Some years ago when I was teller for the annual FAPA officer elections, it came time to type up the list of voters on the report. Famous names of great fans dribbled from my fingers. Redd Boggs. Gregg Calkins.
And when I came to the last name on the alphabetical list, I couldn't resist making it a matched set and typing "Artt Widner."
I don't know very many guys called Art, so it's not necessary to distinguish them, but secretly Art Widner has ever since been Artt to me. Is there such a thing as a fhannish "t"?
Art's been around for a long time, not just in the historical sense of his long fannish career: he's been around where I could see him for a long time. His reemergence from gafia roughly coincided with my entrance into fandom.
I first met him at Little Men meetings in Berkeley. Then we'd see each other at conventions, and he'd give me issues of YHOS, and a few times I helped collate. Art would also come to FAPA collations during Seth Goldberg's OEship. Those were always relaxed and enjoyable occasions.
I've always felt I could relax around Art, because he's such a congenial fellow. We can always find something to talk about. He's also a boon companion at conventions, ready at any time to do the trufannish thing, which is to drop everything and go out to a good restaurant.
And he has great stories to tell, especially of his many travels. Bicycling on Bora Bora. The hideous tale of trying to find good Chinese food in Roseburg, Oregon. And the saga of the building of his eight-sided house on Anchor Bay. Berni and I visited this wonder of the fannish world on a trip up the California coast. I don't know anybody else whose house has a driveway that cars threaten to fall off of. It was a heroic experience getting there, and it was neat inside too.
And now Art is 80. And he still gallops around with more energy than someone half his age. I should know, because I am half his age. Long may he drive, bicycle, talk, eat, go to cons, pub his ish, and live in an eight-sided house.
Happy birthday, Art!