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Science Fiction Association of Bergen County

Meeting Information

Go here for directions to Saddle River Valley Cultural Center.

Go here for directions to other meeting sites.

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The Science Fiction Association of Bergen County meets on the second Saturday of each month. Meetings are usually held at the Saddle River Valley Cultural Center in Upper Saddle River, Bergen County, New Jersey. The group conducts at least four meetings each year in other locations.

We hope that you will attend our meetings and want you to arrive at the correct location. If you select the Current Meeting Write-Up you will learn who this month's guest speaker is and a bit about him, where the meeting will be held, and what pre-meeting activities are scheduled. If we are meeting at another site, directions will also be found here.

If the meeting is being held in the Saddle River Valley Cultural, you can get Directions and Maps to the Saddle River Valley Cultural Center here.

If you are unable to attend the current meeting, but would like to plan ahead for the next one, you can check the Current Meeting Write-Up after the current meeting writeup for the Future Meeting Schedule of the Association.

We will now walk you through what you would find at a typical meeting held in the Cultural Center.

As you drive along the (check one of the following, depending on the season: __ rain, __ wind, __ snow, __ sleet, __ hail, __ tornado, __ flying cows swept) West Saddle River Road, you spot what looks like a classic small white Protestant Church (with steeple) on a slight incline. Depending upon what time you arrive, the 16 or so parking spaces in the adjacent lot may be filled. This is not a problem as there is a bigger lot across the street.

The official starting time for the main event is 8:00 PM, but we'll assume you wanted to get there early. If you arrived between 6:00 - 7:00 PM, you'll pass through a little atrium and into the area where church services were originally held. A group of 6 - 18 fans will be discussing some aspect of Star Trek. If you arrived between 7:00 - 8:00 PM, they will be watching the broadcast episode of Star Trek: Deep Space 9 on a television placed on altar-area-turned-stage.

Not wanting to create a disturbance, you sit down to watch a little TV. The opening credits are just going off and there is a dash of people to the drawn curtain with the first commercial. You follow them.

You find yourself in a brightly lit, thoroughly modern, slightly smaller room.

Most of the crowd is heading to the kitchen on the far wall and coming back with munchies and soda. You slow down because there are a half-dozen tables filled with books in the room. Someone explains that they are freebie selections for the winners of the monthly door prize. A couple of times a year, they continue, the club holds a used book sale of hundreds of books. Other tables hold back issues of newsletters or information about other clubs or conventions.

You noticed two other things, that artwork is displayed on the walls and that there is a set of stairs leading down. Since you are in scout mode, you decide to check out the art later and see the rest of the building.

You go down two stairs and come to a platform on your left which houses a pay phone, an area to hang your coat, and another entrance to the building. You continue on. At the base of the stairs you see a waterfountain and restrooms to your right, another entrance to the building in front of you and room with a half dozen people watching something on television. You sit down to see what they're watching. It's some sort of science fiction cartoon in another language, but there are subtitles, and it looks kinda cool, so you decide to stay put.

Around 7:45 PM, the show ends and the basement lights are turned on. The room is smaller than either of the two upstairs and has art supplies and other furnishings which lead you to suspect that it is used at other times as a day care center.

Everyone else is heading upstairs, so you decide to follow. A couple of people had seen you sit down and ask if you're new to the group and what kinds of science fiction you are into.

When you make your way upstairs, you realize that a lot of people came in while you were in the basement. There are at least 30, maybe 40. There are at least a dozen different conversations going on. Some of the people seem to have known each other for a long time. Others seem as new as you. A little girl goes running by. "Elizabeth, stop that!" calls her mother. There's wide range of ages in the group, you notice.

You've just been invited to join a conversation when a loud voice announces, "We'd like to get the meeting started, please take a seat." Three people pick up chairs and yell back, "Where do you want us to take them, Phil?"

You realize that this group is unlikely to be mistaken for a Prussian military brigade, but things soon sort themselves out. A line of people forms at a table near the door to pay their dues. You're told that as a first time attendee, you don't have to pay dues, but should sign up so you can be mailed next month's newsletter.

As people settle into their seats and things quiet down, announcements of interest to fans are made. A quick report about upcoming S F A B C activities is made. Then people in the audience announce meetings of other groups, conventions, or just neat stuff.

Some odd shaped colored dice are produced and rolled several times. The number rolled is called from the stage. The woman manning the sign-in table announces who won a free book.

The evening's guest speaker is introduced with a mini-bio. The guest explains who they are, what they do, and why they are here.

After about an hour, the meeting is halted for an intermission. Everyone gets up to stretch their legs, snack and chat. You decide to ask the guest speaker something you were too shy to ask in front of a crowd of strangers. After your question is answered, you drift into the kitchen for soda and find yourself involved in a discussion of illiteracy.

Ten minutes later, a loud voice pleads for people to return to their seats. The guest speaker returns to the stage for a recap and about 20 minutes of questions and answers.

You join the round of applause at the end of the talk. As you get up to leave, you learn that about half of the group plans to go for a bite at a nearby restaurant. You decide against joining them tonight, but will give it a try after next month's meeting.

[Editor's Note: The following article originally appeared in the first issue of our newsletter, The Starship Express Copyright © 1987 Philip De Parto. It is reprinted here with permission.]

The First Club Meeting: A Personal Reminisce by Philip De Parto

Three years ago, on Saturday, January 14, 1984, we conducted the first meeting of The Science Fiction Association of Bergen County. It was a very memorable evening for me, one which would add more than a few grey hairs to this whitening crown.

It had been less than two months since I had decided to set off in a new direction and organize a group more in tune with my ideas as to what an SF club should be. In that time were a lot of phone calls to friends in search of advice. There were a lot of people who gave behind the scenes help in this process, but especial thanks must be give to Leora Baeder, Nancy Cucci, and Cathye Faraci.

Our speaker that evening was artist David Mattingley. I had heard that he was a lively and entertaining speaker from Tom Kidd and Carl Lundgren, but the determining factor it tapping David was that he owed me a favor. About eight months beforehand he had called me up out of the blue looking for a light sabre to use as a model on a book cover he was working on. I was able to locate one for him and filed his "if there's ever anything I can do for you" into my memory banks.

The evening started out badly and went downhill from there. In order to make sure that we'd be on time for dinner at the Ramsey Steak & Ale, I left early for the old Mattingley apartment in Manhattan. I made the best time ever attempted between Lyndhurst and the Holland Tunnel and arrived far ahead of schedule. Since David was not ready, I popped over to the Science Fiction Shop, browsed, and returned for David.

He was now ready, but the other couple who was to meet us at the Mattingleys was late getting there. By the time we were able to leave New York it was past the time of our dinner reservations. By the time we made it to Steak & Ale, half of our dinner group had gone ahead and taken a table. The other half, including Carl Lundgren and Susan Collins, were waiting to tell us that there was now an hour and a half wait for tables.

Sharon Archer is the only one who has driven around with me before enough club meetings to appreciate what a wreck I am when things start going wrong at the last minute. It is not a pretty sight. Every possible scenario about what might be going on wrong back at the ranch was running through my mind. Remember, this was the first meeting. There was no chain of command, no tradition of setting up, etc., to fall back upon. Mary Ann Denny was bringing food, Vinnie Kurdyla and Cathye Faraci had come down earlier in the month with me to check out the lighting, layout, thermostats, etc, but that was it.

It is not a good idea to start your first meeting an hour and a half late.

Fortunately, David was a little jittery about things also. ["How many people are you expecting, Phil?" "Well, Dave, it's like this. This is our first meeting, but I'm real sure that I can guarantee you at least a half dozen."] He was willing to forgo dinner until after the meeting.

We headed straight for the Cultural Center. The dozen or so cars in the lot looked promising, but it wasn't until we walked inside and saw a crowded room of people having a good time that my blood pressure returned to normal.

David Mattingley gave a first rate presentation. There were forty people there, including five professional artists. We were on our way.

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Advance to Current Meeting Write-Up or

Directions & Map to Saddle River Valley Cultural Center or

Dateline of Upcoming Events or

Past Speakers of the Association.

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