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Memoirs from the
1930 Stellafane Convention

I have been spending quite a bit of time sorting all the material in the archives and storing them properly in the acid-free archival boxes and plastic bags. One item that particularly caught my interest was an account of a trip to the August 16, 1930 convention by a gentleman named Leo Scanlon.

I had written to Scanlon during my research for the Porter biography, but this record did not come to us until some time later. I wish it had been available then!

Scanlon, a plumber by trade, was about 24 at the time, and member of the Pittsburgh, PA astronomical group. He filled about 25 pages mostly with typed text, all from memory after arriving home, with many photos. For some reason, he was driven to describe in incredible detail every nook and cranny of the clubhouse and its contents and what went on during the convention. It was fun to read through this since many of the things are still there. It was almost as though he had visited this year.

Some quotes might be of interest:

The chimney was of brick, with an opening for the kitchen, and on the opposite side a cheery open fireplace, with andirons, pot hook, and all the trimmings. The chimney was the work of Porter, who acted as Mason. How many of our present members know why the power house is called the power house? As you emerged from the trees, the power house stood on the left. Power was supplied by a Chevrolet motor. The car was driven to the spot, and dismantled, the motor alone being saved.

Scanlon's description of the front room includes:

Along the upper sash of this, as well as the other windows in the place, are hung transparencies of Nebulae, Clusters, Sun spots and discs etc. obtained from Mount Wilson. There are 12 in all, each no less than 7 inches square, and run about $40.00, which money was received as a donation from some kind hearted individual.

Later on one learns that the iron man first appeared at this convention. But we still do not know who made it, most likely not Porter.

Friday, August 15:

Pierce had completed the mounting of his transparencies, and brought outside a wrought iron sign made by one of the local boys. We tried different locations for it, and finally decided to hang it directly over the central North Door. It was necessary to bend the lower part of the bracket, which Pierce and I did in the vice in the shop, cutting off the surplus piece at the bottom, which interfered with the opening of the screen door, and securing a ladder, proceeded to nail it up.

While we were looking around out here, we noticed a fiery-red ox-yoke hanging in the part of the east wall open on to the chopping block space near the kitchen door. Pierce told us Porter had secured it, and had it decorated. The intention was to hang it over the main door, at the peak of the roof. It showed the Characteristic curve of the parabola in its wavy form. Pierce remarked that it had a badly turned down edge.

Editor's note: There are three photographs in the journal showing the iron man being mounted over the door.

In those days visitors to Springfield stayed in the Adnabrown Hotel, where the Vermont National Bank is next to the theater. Governor Hartness still lived in his home on Cherry Hill. The Saturday afternoon program was thus:

No mention of the number of attendees was made. Here is what the supper was like:

After wandering around and conversing with different individuals, we bought our supper tickets, and it was not long before the alarm sounded. Giving your ticket to the doorman, you were presented with a knife fork and spoon, wrapped in a napkin of paper, passing through the North door you were expected to take a plate off the pile on the table, pass to the first Lady-in-Waiting where a big spoonful of mashed potatoes were plopped on to your plate; the next Diana skillfully (sic) excavated a crater in your potatoes and left a big spoonful of gravy in the cavity. Next in line came your choice of meats, cold Roast Pork or Ham. Then came a fruit salad, rolls, butter, ear of roast corn, coffee, choice of three kinds of pie, and several kinds of cake. In all a very good meal.

Porter, being the after dinner speaker, was introduced by Pierce. Scanlon noted from Pierce's introduction how the club grew and found a need for a permanent home. Porter donated the ground, the members assembled the material from various sources and with their own hands entirely, and erected the present building. Porter was the brick layer, all hands joined in the carpentry. The inscription of the eaves of the building on the North side, was laid out by Porter and carved by one of the members, now deceased. Total expenses for the seven day round trip from Pittsburgh including bus fares, meals and hotel came to $55.26.

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