Rovacon 11

(Don - 42nd)(Thomas - 29th)

1986: 10-12 October

Salem High School, Salem, VA

GOH: Alan Dean Foster
Media Guest: Walter Koenig
Fan GOH: Phil Hawkins

Thomas & Don got talked into going to Rovacon to help John & Dorsey Flynn do some costume presentations. Don had to work on Friday, so Thomas went down Friday morning with John & Dorsey, while Don followed in the Van later that evening. The drive was hellish -- it took three hours just to clear Washington, DC, and then another 3-4 hours to get to Salem.

Along the way, the Van needed gas. Eleven o'clock at night, on the deserted lower stretches of a very cold I-81, no gas stations were open. Don tried exit after exit, and finally was on the point of giving up and finding a hotel (or, more likely, sleeping in the Van and freezing to death). Then he pulled off at Natural Bridge, and there was an open Shell station. Don pumped my gas, then went in to pay -- and the owner gave him hot chocolate and cookies. When Don asked him if he knew that he was the only station open for twenty miles, he said, "Yup. That's why I have the warm drinks and goodies ready. Sit down and warm up." During the ten minutes Don sat, three other motorists stopped by, all in the same dire straits. The owner gave them coffee, cookies, and bade them sit down. So this was Southern hospitality.

When Don arrived in Salem, he found that they were staying in the Bates Motel. Actually, it was a rather nice motel within (barely) walking distance of the con. But it looked like the Bates Motel, and that's what we've called it ever since (even though it was torn down years later to make a K-Mart parking lot.) Don & Thomas stayed with Amanda Allen and Susan Raleigh.

Rovacon was a most fascinating con, the brainchild of Dr. Fred Eichelman. Ostensibly a Trek con, Rovacon's raison d'etre was the Scholarship Fund, which collected money to help various students with college. Actually, there were a whole complex of Scholarship Funds: The Edmond Hamilton/Leigh Brackett Scholarship for Writing, the Frank Kelly Freas Art Scholarship, the Rhonda Flemming (!) Social Studies Scholarship, the Elizabeth Taylor Drama Scholarship, the William Shatner Science Scholarship, the Windy Pini Comic Art Scholarship, etc.

Going to a con in a local high school was strange, although rather nifty in a bizarre way. The Masquerade went well, the programming was somewhat interesting, and the con was a great deal of fun. Amanda, Susan, Thomas, and Don went out to dinner Saturday night (after the Masquerade) and wound up in a yuppie bar where a group of brain-damaged football-player types came in and Our Heroes were actually in fear for their lives. On Sunday, they had a farewell dinner at Pizza Hut, then Amanda and Susan headed home. Thomas and Don, with time to kill, went back and wound up helping to tear down the con. It was great.

Home again, they resolved to return next year.

Oh, yes. The puppy pictured on the con badges above is the con's mascot: Rova, the Sense of Wonder Dog.

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