by Mark L. Olson
Not long after George died, NESFA got a call from his brother telling us that George had left NESFA his entire collection of books, fanzines, magazines, and fannish papers. Needless to say, we were delighted (and surprised — George being George, he’d never told anyone he planned that). The problem was that the Clubhouse is already bursting at the seams and there is no room to store another 8000 or so books. It took a while for the will to be probated, but in February we got the call that the entire bequest was in boxes in a mover’s warehouse in Abingdon, MA (George had inherited a house in Rhode Island where he stored most of his collection).
What to do? We investigated storage options and were reluctantly deciding that we would have to rent additional storage to house the collection when Tim Szczesuil and Ann Broomhead offered the use of the capacious, dry basement. We leapt at the offer! The only problem was that the only feasible entrance to their basement was about 60′ from the driveway down a moderately steep slope. In mid-summer a high-clearance vehicle could be driven down there, but in the spring the slope would be too wet for safety (either the car’s or the lawn’s).
After some considerable brainstorming, we came up with a plan to use 1/8″ pegboard (the cheapest stuff we could find) to make a smooth, dry path across the lawn and down the slope and haul the books there by cart. All we knew for sure was that there were 350 boxes of about 1.5 cubic feet each, so depending on the weather and turnout, this might be a huge project or a fairly tractable one.
On Friday the 8th of April, Rick Kovalcik with Dave Anderson drove a truck to the mover’s warehouse, and loaded it with help from the movers. On Saturday the 9th of April, Rick drove the truck to Ann and Tim’s about 2 PM. By 3pm, many NESFAns were assembled.
The loaded truck
The process went smoothly — we lucked out on the weather since it was dry and around 60 — and the grass was dry enough to walk on, though the heavily-loaded two-wheeler carts would have gotten mired, so the pegboard was essential. There was an excellent turnout and in less than two hours we checked each box for contents, divided the contents into categories (SF books, mysteries, SF magazines, fanzines and papers, other books and junk. (The junk was runs of magazines like Scientific American and Newsweek which NESFA didn’t want and no one we knew of would take, and a number of boxes of books which had mildewed or suffered water damage to the point where they were unusable.)
Sorting the boxes (Tony Lewis, Suford Lewis, Chip Hitchcock and Rick Kovalcik)
Rolling down the walkway (Tim Szczesuil, Chip Hitchcock, others.)
We nailed the pegboard to the ground with large spikes to keep it from shifting! (We also had tarps to go under it if the ground had been extremely wet to keep water from coming up through the holes in the pegboard.)
The view from downbelow
Tim Szczesuil loading his tractor
Heading off with a load….
A great t/o/y/ labor-saving device — Every fan should have one!
Palletizing the books (Priscilla Olson and Dave Grubbs)
At the bottom, Dave Grubbs and Priscilla loaded the boxes on pallets according to contents. They used a pallet jack to move the pallets to their final home in the far corners of Tim and Ann’s now somewhat less capacious (but still, we hope, dry) basement…
Sorting books (Someone’s elbow, Priscilla Olson, Tony Lewis, Lisa Hertel, Sheila Perry, Elisabeth Carey, Suford Lewis, Pam Fremon)
Being fans, the best part of the job was going through the fifty or so boxes with mixed contents and sorting them out!