Memories of STAG and Star Trek Fandom by Sheila Clark

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Interviews by Fans
Title: Memories of STAG and Star Trek Fandom by Sheila Clark
Interviewee: Sheila Clark
Date(s): 1991
Medium: print
Fandom(s): Star Trek
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In 1991, Sheila Clark wrote about her memories of the the fan club and newsletter, STAG.

It was printed in Star Trek Action Group #100.



My introduction to Star Trek fandom came in February 1974 when I saw a paragraph (just half a dozen lines) in our local Sunday paper; Jenny Elson, a Sister at Leicester Royal Infirmary, was organising a Star Trek Convention. I doubted that Leicester Royal would appreciate its staff getting personal letters but I wrote anyway and shortly after joined STAG. I joined as a life member (for £1); I remember my father saying "It won't last" and replying "I know, but if it lasts two years I've covered my pound and if it lasts three I'm in pocket."

I was too late to register for the Mini-Con but, having carefully checked distances and estimated average speeds, I reckoned I could make the main Con that August. (Leicester remains the limit for distance unless we team up with a second driver.) I also volunteered to steward since I was going knowing nobody. As it happened, I headed south for my holidays that year and visited the Elsons, staying for a weekend and meeting Helen McCarthy.

Janet and I did meet briefly at that Con, as two of a very large group, but we didn't really register each other until the New Year party. I visited her for my holidays that year and previously it was unheard of for me to spend more than a few days south of the Border! She discovered that I could write and twisted my arm until I did.

It was while she was still in England that Janet took over the running of STAG when Jenny had to give up for health reasons. I became editor by virtue of being a teacher. It wasn't easy running the club with five hundred plus miles between us; it became easier after she moved back north, although then Beth Hallam, the other member of our committee, was in the position of being out on a limb.

Beth handled zine sales; I was printing them at work by that time and then had to get them to her. I remember being stopped by the Bedford police one night about midnight and being asked what my 'cargo' was. So I said "Star Trek Fanzines" with a perfectly straight face.... and they accepted it just as solemnly.

Meanwhile, we had begun running a story competition in the newsletter as a means of getting submissions for the zines and that was how we met Valerie. She had joined the club and one day sent in a story for the competition. I wrote to tell her that her story had won and she replied. We met at the next Con; I remember standing with her outside the sales room solemnly discussing whether or not Vulcans would consider suicide logical. By that time some episodes had come out on 8mm film and Janet and I did a tour showing them; volunteers in different parts of the country hosted a film-showing party. Valerie was one of those volunteers. We found that the three of us got on well together; she began helping us unofficially and eventually she joined us as a member of the committee.

We ran the Stag Con in 1981; an experience we're not anxious to repeat. We realised that it isn't easy to run a club and a Con and to do both efficiently. One thing we did that was never taken up by any other Con committee until Frontiers was to have a zine of fiction competition entries ready for sale at the Con. We announced the winners at the opening ceremony instead of the closing ceremony and the idea seemed to work fine. (May I take this belated opportunity to thank the Dundee girls who organised the art room, especially Maureen Rooney (now Mitchell). Somehow we forgot to give them an official vote of thanks at the closing ceremony.)

By then, however, we were getting stale; putting out the newsletters was becoming a chore, for a number of reasons. Beth and Sylvia Billings, who had also joined us some time previously, took over the club sines while the three of us set up ScoTpress as an independent press; we still wanted to put out zines. Shortly after that, we handed the club over to Sylvia.

Well, now Lynne is running STAG, and doing a very nice job.