By John Hertz: June’s local club was, and mine is, the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society. She died on May 31st. She was my longest-time friend in fandom.
LASFS (to me and many, pronounced “lahss fahss”; to June’s late husband Len rhyming with sass mass) was founded in 1934. Our memorial for her was June 28th. We meet every Thursday; it was our 4,220th. No one could take Our Gracious Host’s place, but I told him that if he couldn’t attend I’d take notes.
On the way I found classical-music radio Station KUSC broadcasting Chopin’s Waltz No. 9 (Op. 59 No. 1, 1835) “L’adieu” played by Garrick Ohlsson.
We’ve been renting the Null Space Labs in North Hollywood. We outgrew our third clubhouse, sold it, and are looking for a fourth. Our meetings start at 8 p.m. This time we thought we ought to serve snacks, so we did that starting at 6.
We’d had another blow that day: Harlan Ellison. He would have a separate memorial.
Club business didn’t take long. Usually a lot is monkey business. We left that out and went on to what the unusually large attendance had come for.
June’s oldest son Bob Konigsberg had been able to visit her from his home in Los Gatos three hundred fifty miles away. I’d sometimes found him at Moffatt House, serenading her. Tonight he told us she loved railroad songs, like “The Wabash Cannonball”.
A gadget in Bob’s hand, coupled with one Matthew Tepper had, let us hear from June’s daughter Caty, still on the road. It’s called Bluetooth, I muttered to Lee Gold, because you put it in your ear. You know it’s named for Harald Gormsson, she muttered back, quite rightly shushing me as I started to explain that the Greek dance Hasapikos (Turkish kasap, a butcher) is so called because sailors do it.
Caty told us she’d seen how much LASFS meant to her mom. As it happened no one broke into “Mutual Admiration Society” but we could have. June and Len were like that too. Caty thanked us all and said she heard us thanking her.
Barbara Gratz Harmon had married Jim Harmon about the time June married Len. They had double-dated. Len and Jim both died in 2010. Tonight Barbara talked about June.
Barbara lives in Burbank; the Moffatts lived in Downey. With Len and Jim gone, June spent Thursday nights after LASFS meetings at Barbara’s, and drove home the next day. Barbara is a cellist in several orchestras. When she had to practice late at night, June took out hearing aids and slept jes’ fine. When Barbara was on jury duty for five months, June had a key to the house. Barbara’s dog Leslie loved her.
June became unable to drive. She passed the written exam but couldn’t see well enough. Carol Sperling, among other things founder of the Blustering Gales, a local Sherlock Holmes club – detective fiction was another Moffatt interest – told us about taking June around.
George McUrso did some of that too. Eventually he had, as regular Thursday night passengers, June, Barbara, Charlie Jackson, and Rowan Dao (who was also the youngest Blustering Gale).
In 1991 George (then using the surname Mulligan) had been given the Evans-Freehafer Award for service to the LASFS; he was one of June and Len’s nominators when they were given the Evans-Freehafer in 1994.
Like Carol Sperling, he had other adventures driving June. They went to an Edgar Rice Burroughs fans’ Dum-Dum, and the Orange County Museum of Art. He learned what a great film Oklahoma! was. Once at Clubhouse III he was looking for The Mouse That Roared. After a while June thought it was time to go home. Just then our librarian Gavin Claypool emerged calling that he had it, and The Mouse on the Moon too. June said “Can we get out of here before he finds any more mice?”
Matthew Tepper said June had agented his Lzine when he lived in Minneapolis and San Francisco. She asked him to find music for Len’s LASFS memorial. Tonight he began to play it from a gadget he had – “No, that’s Mussorgsky” – then we heard “I Go Pogo”. The Moffatts were Pogo fans.
Barry Gold had found LASFS in 1964. June’s equanimity and aplomb, he said, had won her the name Mother Jaguar. June and Len made him feel he’d known them for ages. Near the end while visiting her he’d sung “Bouncing Potatoes” and told Bob Konigsberg how Poul Anderson was driven to write it.
Charlie Jackson said he’d just finished re-reading The Wind in the Willows when she died. Comments in her APA-L zine were headed “Onion-Sauce” (ch. 1). With Len and June, he said, as we agreed, seldom was heard a discouraging word.
Ed Green said there was no bigger heart than Len and June’s. They sponsored people, including him. A bright light had gone out.
I said – there was more, but I’ll stop here – Judaism taught that, whatever else after death there may be, the dead live in their good deeds. And we should take the torch.
Some of this is also in Vanamonde 1308.