Note that this is an update, revision, and compilation of a series of posts I published several years ago.
There is some confusion about who Garen and Kirk Drussai even were. I can be sure that Garen was born 17 June 1916 in the Bronx: all relevant documents confirm this. But what was her name? According to her death certificate and the birth certificate of her son, Garen’s maiden name was Lewis. A search of the census records, however, fails to find any Garen Lewises—and Garen is an extremely uncommon name. A clue to her identity can be found in her social security application. There she gives her name as Clara Hettler and her parents as Benjamin Hettler and Annie (Besner) Hettler. The 1920 and 1930 census does record a family of Hettlers living in the Bronx, headed by Benjamin and Annie (Besner), with a daughter, Clara, born about 1916.
Clara Hettler filled out her social security application in December 1936. It seems very possible that she changed her name in the late 1930s when Hettler—a variation of Hitler—would have been an inconvenient name to carry. (It is also possible that she married in the 1930s and later divorced.) Further confirmation that she Clara and Garen are indeed the same person come from a 1966 obituary for the eldest of the three Hettler sisters listed on the 1920 census, Estelle. The article lists her parents and her sisters as Gertrude, the middle child, and Garen Drussai, indicating that although the rest of the family did not change its name—except upon marriage—they accepted their youngest daughter’s new name (at this point, Garen had married and divorced Kirk, and came by Drussai that way).
Neither Benjamin or Annie were naturalized as of 1910, although they both spoke, read, and wrote English. Their native tongue, however, was Yiddish and the children were taught Yiddish in addition to English. Benjamin was a furrier, his occupation variously given as furrier or nailer in a fur factory. They lived in an ethnic enclave dominated by Russians, Austrians, and immigrants from Bohemia. By 1930, Estelle and Gertrude had also obtained jobs, contributing to the family income as stenographers.
By late 1936, Clara was still in the Bronx, at 1695 Andrews Avenue, very near where the Sedgwick Library is located now. It is not clear whether she was living with her parents or was on her own—the address was different than the family’s in 1930, but they all may have moved, or just Clara may have. She was employed by the Richard Steinweg Studio at 110 W. 40th Street, New York, about ten miles South and right across from Charles Fort’s old haunt, the main New York Public Library Branch. Steinweg was apparently a fashion stylist of some sort, and his office was also very near the garment district. The exact nature of Clara’s work at the time is unknown.
Like his future wife, Kirk Drussai had a slippery identity. There is less documentation on him, but it is as certain as certain can be that he was born 14 August 1919 in Ravenna (Buffalo County), Nebraska. Of course, census records uncover no Drussais from Nebraska at all—like Garen, Drussai is an exceedingly rare name. From his death certificate, however, it was possible to obtain Kirk’s social security number, and from that get his social security application. He filed his about a week before Garen (Clara) filed hers. According to that, his name was not Kirk Drussai, but Gerald Larry Polenz. And, indeed, the census does have a records of Polenz’s in Ravenna at that time—and their names are the same that Kirk (Gerald) listed on his social security application. If we assume that Kirk changed his name—and did not later steal someone else’s identity—then we know this about him:
His father was Albert Polenz. A native Nebraskan, Polenz was born in 1889 to German immigrants. Apparently, he had a child sometime in the 1910s—the 1910 census lists him as single and without a child, but his WWI draft card—he never served—has him as single and with a child. Probably this means that he was married and his wife died. The 1930 census does date his first marriage to 1916. If that census is correct, then in 1918 he married Olive Mae Howard. She was born in Custer Bow, Nebraska in 1893, her father from Iowa, her mother from New York.
Albert was a farmer in the late 1910s, but by 1920 had taken a job as a brakeman for the railroad. The family did well. The Polenz’s mortgaged a home in 1920. In 1930, the house was valued at $9,000. The family owned a radio. F. Lannie, the daughter from Albert’s first marriage, had moved out, and three boarders were living with the Polenz’s. The census for that year specified that Albert was employed by the CB&Q railroad, still as a brakeman.
In 1936, Gerald (Kirk) was still living in the family home at 804 Grand Avenue, Ravenna. He was eighteen and, fortunately for a Midwesterner in the midst of the Depression, employed. He was working at for the Safeway Grocery chain in nearby Grand Island, Nebraska. Again like Garen, Kirk then seems to disappear from the historical record. This is more surprising for him, since he would have been prime age for World War II. But, I can’t identify any records related to him. Maybe those records are lost or inaccessible. Maybe he was playing around with his name and so was registered under some other name. Or maybe, given the later interest of Garen and the Fortean Society with pacifisim, he dodged the draft or registered as a conscientious objector. What we do know is that Gerald Polenz disappears. And a decade or so later, Kirk Drussai appears in Hollywood, California. Green told me that he had spent some time in New York along the way, but I can find no documentary evidence to support that.
Garen always considered herself a storyteller. According to the introduction, Drussai was a born story-teller. When, as a child, she was supposed to be dusting the furniture, she would instead hide under a table and tell herself stories. (She felt herself an “alien,” adrift from others.) As she looked back on that time, she valued her imagination—it is imagination, the ability to create vivid images—which makes the writer. She seems to have a romantic, as opposed to craftsmanlike, say, view of writing. Movies fed her imagination—although never stories with violence—and reading, of course. The first stories she read were adventure tales, Lost World, and fairy tales, and the travels of Richard Halliburton, and the fantasies of Jules Verne. She was influenced by Jack London and H. G. Wells and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holes—this may have given her a connection to Anthony Boucher—as well as Greek, Roman, and Norse myths. She read A Tale of Two Cities and memorized the poems of Walt Whitman and Edgar Allan Poe.
While she was in high school she tried her hand at writing—“melancholy teen-age poems and stories” as she says on page ix, and though she submitted them they were never published. After graduating—this would have been around 1937—she lit out for California, changing her name along the way. She was clearly intent on making a clean break with her past. In her thesis she says she immediately took speech classes at Hollywood High School to get rid of her New York accent. It was also in Hollywood that she fell in love. Drussai remembered—in the same source—that she was drawn to Kirk by his love of reading and interest in things philosophical. It was Kirk who introduced her to science fiction, and she seems to have developed an affection for the big names—Bradbury, Asimov, Heinlein. Science Fiction “opened up new vistas for me,” she wrote. “There were subjects I could not tackle, at least it might be unwise to do so if I wanted to be published in popular magazines. Sexual, racial, and violent themes might not be acceptable, and yet put the same ideas on another planet or at another time in the future, and they were all right.” I am not sure what either of them was doing in Hollywood, though one supposes they were hoping to break into a creative profession.
Some credence is given to this speculation by their moves in the late 1940s. According to Garen, they hitchhiked to San Francisco—and they appear in the city census by 1948. In the immediate post-War years San Francisco developed a reputation as a literary and cultural hub, and so if they had not made it in Hollywood, a turn to San Francisco makes sense. The directory, though, shows him as a serviceman for Firestone store (and doesn’t mention Garen at all—they were moving a lot, so that may have something to do with her absence). There is some correspondence between Drussai and the science fiction editor Anthony Boucher, which indicates that during his first decade or so in San Francisco, he was working as a salesman. Their address shifted often, from San Francisco to surrounding suburbs, as far south as San Jose and Campbell (and Los Angeles and Hollywood, too). On 21 April 1949, Garen gave birth to their son, Milo Drussai.
She started to write more seriously in the 1950s—or at least find some outlets, albeit at a time when science fiction was retrenching. Drussai was not a fictioneer in the mold of E. Hoffman Price—who saw the market collapsing and left science fiction right around this time for a steadier paycheck—or Fredric Brown, churning out page after page of copy. Although Robert Barbour Johnson referred to them as a writing team, and the Eric Leif Davin’s Partners in Wonder: Women and the Birth of Science Fiction, 1926-1965 has her as Mrs. Kirk Drussai, she insisted that she was the writer, not Kirk, and Kirk didn’t seem to write any science fiction by himself. Indeed, in her master’s thesis, she recounted attending a party thrown by the editor of Galaxy and having a man ask her what her husband did for a living; she put him in his place.
Like fellow Bay Area writer (and Fortean) Miriam Allen Deford, Drussai was mentored in science fiction by Boucher; in both cases, this tutoring seems to have been done mostly through correspondence, though it would not have been hard for them to meet in person, close as they were. (E. Hoffman Price was driving thousands of miles to see his friends.) The correspondence between Boucher and Drussai began in 1951 after Boucher had already asked for rewrites on an early version of “Extra-Curricular,” and lasted a few years. All of the correspondence is from one or the other Drussai to Boucher—none of his responses survive except as faintly penciled notes on the letters. Most of the material is Drussai sending off manuscripts, often through several rounds of revisions, which gives some insight into her career. The letters also reveal some personal facts about Garen that would otherwise be hard to come from. She had a great sense of humor, for instance. One letter to Boucher was entirely blank between the salutation and the signature, with a P.S.: “More later.” Another time, she submitted a story that, she learned upon reading the magazine, was very similar to one just published by F&SF (Avram Davidson’s “Summerland,” which implies that hers, titled “Wish Fulfillment, had something to do with Spiritualism.) She wrote, “I’ve been tricked by coincidence. . . . I hope my next to you is not the result of some telepathic meeting of minds. I couldn’t take it.”
Drussai also used the humor when reflecting on her shifting and complicated identity. In his first letter to her, Boucher was confused about her gender; she explained that she was a woman and, after some further prompting, gave some background to her unusual name: “In the Ross 128 Sector, Karen is a cognate of Garen; and Drussai is quite a common name. Sort of like your Smiths and Jonses (sic) here. (It’s Hungarian).” At the time, Boucher (obviously) had not met Garen face-to-face. But he had by the time of his introduction to her first story (“Extra-Curricular,” June 1952), when he commented on her Hungarian beauty. But, of course, she never says in this letter that she is Hungarian. Maybe he assumed it, and so wrote it—and given that Garen was interested in re-inventing herself, she let it stand. Or maybe she had confirmed this in some other conversation. At any rate, it suggests that, at least at this time, she was not claiming to be Hungarian.
More confusing is her reference to “Ross 128 Sector.” Ross 128 is the star nearest the Earth; it had been discovered in 1926 and so was likely known by science fiction aficionados. Perhaps this was what she meant—a joke, her letters full of them, a reference to how far she was from Berkeley and the Bohemian parts of San Francisco?—or perhaps something more obscure. If we accept the star interpretation, then she seems close to admitting that the name is wholly fabricated, whether Drussai is Hungarian or not.
At the time she first wrote Boucher, Garen had already been rejected by Horace Gold at Galaxy and she was trying to get a sense of the market—how many revisions she could expect, and what-not. At first, she admitted, she started a lot of stories but could not finish them. Then she focused more. One gets the sense that she sometimes felt overwhelmed by her domestic responsibilities: “Between lawn planting------and fence building----------and curtain making I did manage to whip this “Surprisingly” long (for me) story together. Huh?,” she wrote in October 1956. A little while later, she resolved to take her writing more seriously. She also asked for Boucher’s advice on agents. She wanted to move into mainstream publishing, in addition to her science fiction, and also found Harry Altshuler—her agent—was apathetic toward her work. Her first sale—and first hundred dollars ever earned—came from the second story she sold to Anthony Boucher at F&SF. (This was “Extra-Curricular.”) She had to do three rewrites.
Eventually, four stories saw print. They were “Extra-Curricular,” which appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (1952); “Grim Fairy Tale,” which appeared in Vortex (1953); “The Twilight Years” with Kirk, in If (1955); and “Woman’s Work,” also in F&SF (1956). (Possibly there is more than is currently catalogued: she wrote for magazines that had short shelf lives, for example, and on-line indexes of pseudonyms list her as having one, Milo Kirkham, a combination of her son and husband’s name, but do not connect that name to any stories.)Although Garen Drussai is best known as a science fiction writer, she has not attracted a lot of attention—unsurprising given her small output. What she has attracted, though, does not serve her well: it’s too limiting. To the extent that her work has been studied, it has been considered as an example of woman’s writings. Critics of her work argue that her stories do not explore, challenge, or subvert the gender stereotypes common to the 1950s. Justine Larbalestier’s The Battle of the Sexes in Science Fiction suggests that later women writers including Joanna Russ, Susan Wood, and Anne McCaffrey were reacting to—and rejecting—the confining vision of Drussai’s vision.
After all, her characters reproduce standard-issue mid-century gender roles, the men working, the women housewives and consumers. Stories turned around domestic events. “Grim Fairy Tale,” for example, was told from the point of view of home appliances which had once been enslaved by housewives and now used them as dolls (as well as other humans, presumably). In “:The Twilight Years,” the main male character had worked until retirement, while his wife spent her days shopping. The main character in “Woman’s Work” is a housewife who spends her time fighting off door-to-door salesmen—again, the wife is the family’s chief of consumption and, although this is the future, gender roles have stayed the same.
Even Lisa Yaszek, who reads Drussai’s work sympathetically in her book Galactic Subrubia: Recovering Women’s Science Fiction, admits that the focus stays on standard gender relations and domestic environments. Yaszek just thinks that Drussai is satirizing these roles, these places, by showing how conditioned women were to accept their roles. At the end of “Woman’s Work,” Yaszek notes, it becomes clear that Sheila, the housewife in question, is married to a salesman, and he observes her methods of dealing with other salesman to improve his own procedures. Yaszek concludes, “In a world where housewife consumers literally sleep with their enemies, it seems likely that woman’s work will never be done.”
At the risk of being overly conciliatory, I think that both these appreciations are fair—Drussai’s work are indeed satires, although they do not usually go beyond satire to suggest other ways of thinking or living. But, seeing her writing as domestic fiction is still too limited. There are other influences.
First, it is clear that Drussai, although coming to science fiction late, learned the tropes of the genre, and set out to tweak them. “Extra-Curricular,” for example, is a time machine story, although we do not learn that until the end: what we read about first are three episodes in which something bizarre happens—a baby speaks as an adult, a mistress becomes her lover’s intellectual equal, and an honored woman scientist speaks gibberish at a celebration in her honor. These are certainly domestic issues—mother and baby, man and woman, especially—but they also show the influence of Boucher, who set out on a mission to tweak time machine stories. Only at the end do we realize that a student in the future—doing extra-curricular work—has been dipping back in time and playing around.
Similarly, “Grim Fairy Tale” plays around with the evergreen topic of robots becoming masters to humanity, a commentary on the increasing mechanization of life. Meanwhile, the “The Twilight Years” plays around with generational change and the increasing power of television. It is set in a future where after age 60, people are killed with state approval—they are useless and need to make way for the newcomers. In this telling, though, the couple at the heart of the story watch their own impending death on television, as some of the killings have been turned into a television show. All of her stories, in fact, also deploy that old pulp method—so favored, again, by Boucher—of the surprise twist at the end (although “Grim Fairy Tale” telegraphs its end, as does “The Twilight Years” for that matter, which would seem to be more a case of lack of execution and my own familiarity with the generic conventions than an attempt to suggest inevitability).
It is possible to see in these stories a clever foresight into future events, as with the best of science fiction. That’s not true of “Grim Fairy Tale”—believing robots our certain master was a mistake many science fiction writers made, as Thomas Disch points out in The Dreams our Stuff Is Made of. But “Woman’s Work” foreshadows the age of spam and ubiquitous advertising, and “The Twilight Years” envisioned “reality television” years before it happened.
Her writing career seems to have been hit hard by her divorce from Kirk, around 1959. (Her own talents and the vagaries of the pulp market may have contributed, too.) A few years before this, he seems to have found his own creative outlet, becoming a technical writer for the emerging technological companies of the nascent Silicon Valley. He was a member of the Bay Area Chapter of the Society of Technical Writers (membership around 25 at the time). It later merged with the Society of Technical Publishers, and Drussai belonged to that group’s Golden Gate Chapter. Quite probably, he ended up publishing much more than his wife. There are some interesting connections between technical writers and Forteans that are worth further exploration. Anthony Boucher, for example, came to talk at one of TPS’s meetings, discussing funny gaffes that had gotten past science fiction editors. Members of the TPS also heard a talk by one of the followers of General Semantics, which was then taking root in San Francisco since S. I. Hayawaka had come to San Francisco State University. And Kirk asked Boucher to republish Isaac Asimov’s “Insert Knob A in Hole B,” which had been in the December 1957 F&SF. Although tech writing and science fiction seem, on the face of it, so different, I can see the connection, as in both cases the writer must use her or his imagination to make sense of—and make sensible—otherwise undigested scientific material.
By 1958, the year before their divorce, Kirk was listed in the Palo Alto city directory. At the time, he was working for Microwave Engineering Laboratories and living in Campbell California. According to historian Stuart Leslie (“How the West Was Won”), MEL was founded in 1956 by four engineers and did research on solid-state microwave technology for the military. In addition to her writing, Garen had also been auditing classes at San Francisco State University and it listed as helping in the theater department of San Jose State University, at least in 1956, but these avocations had to stop as well. None of these really prepared her for living alone, either, or earning a steady income, and so she had some rough years.
In 1961, he married Noelle Curtis in Santa Clara County, California; they divorced in the same county in 1975. According to his obituary in the San Jose Mercury News and his death certificate he was a consultant for the last ten years of his life, 1981 to 1991. His last residence was Sunnyvale, California. Throughout, he seems to have maintained an interest in Systems, and the theory underlying them, which may have evolved out of a connection with General Semantics. He died 3 May 1991.
Garen ended up back in southern California for a long time. There is a record of a Garen Drussai appearing in Los Angeles during the 1970s. The description is thin, but is likely her: she was described as beautiful, and close to fifty, which would have undersold her age a bit, and the name is so unusual that it seems likely. In two articles, The Los Angeles Times noted that she was working as a hat check girl—a distinctly out of fashion career—and writing, the two incomes supporting her through Santa Monica College, a junior college, and then UCLA, where she received a degree in English. (It took her six years to earn her bachelor’s.) The University of California confirms that a Garen Drussai did attend its Los Angeles campus from 1977 to 1980 and did receive a Bachelor’s of Art. This would fit, too, with her receiving a Masters in English from Sonoma State University (although in her master’s she calls her job in Los Angeles a “managerial position.”)
I have found only two pieces of published writing from her during this period—but there may be more. With the four pieces I found in the 1950s, plus one in Doubt, that’s a total of seven, but she said she published a dozen or so stories. Of the two additional stories, I have only seen one. The one I have not seen is “Why Don’t You Answer, Theodore?” which appeared on pages 106-109 of Mike Shayne’s Mystery Magazine, in May 1970. The other is “Sugar Puss” which appeared in Sir! Droll Stories, a 1967 collection of tales that ran in the magazine Sir! During its first twenty-five years. Sir! Belongs to a class of magazines that was important to me for reconstructing the history of Bigfoot, a genre known as men’s adventure magazines. Unlike the sci-fi and mystery pulps, these have not attracted many collectors—they’re largely considered embarrassing—and so I have not yet found any bibliographies.
There are a few enthusiasts, however, and these offer some clue. Bill Devine put together a great checklist of magazines in 1997; it was printed in Adam Parfrey’s 2003 It’s a Man’s World. According to Devine, Sir! Was put out by Volitant publishing. In the 1950s, it was a true adventure magazine, in the mold of Argosy or Blue Book—and so like the pulps, but bigger, glossier. In 1963 it switched to a pin-up format, and it is clear that Drussai’s story came from this era: so between 1963 and 1967.
The tale is about Vic, an office worker who likes to play at being Casanova, constantly propositioning his secretary, who he calls “Sugar Puss.” He is married to Evelyn, an unattractive, overweight homemaker. (More than any of her science fiction stories, this one trades in traditional gender stereotypes.) Vic and Evelyn enjoy an active sex life—whenever he comes home and calls her “Sugar Puss,” Evelyn knows that they will make love that night. (But only after dinner.)
It turns out that Vic keeps his sex life active by always imagining Evelyn as someone different—sometimes as his secretary, sometimes as a starlet—and acts out a little drama that Evelyn is unaware of: although she does find the constant variety in their lovemaking exciting. Sometimes Vic is strong, sometimes romantic, sometimes quiet, sometimes loud.
There is not much to the story. I suppose it is supposed to be scandalous, but in today’s terms it is laughable. Drussai, though, gives it a little twist at the end—not enough to redeem the story, but enough to show it’s genealogy. The story is not Fortean nor, strictly speaking, is it science fiction, but it’s structure is resembles the stories that appeared in F&SF.Vic’s secretary finally takes him seriously, and for the first time ever he sets out to cheat on his wife. He meets the secretary, calls her “Sugar Puss”—and then cannot stop imagining her as . . . Evelyn! Fat, unattractive Evelyn. He busts out of the room and returns home, determined to never cheat again, except in his own mind.
There are other influences one might guess at in a story like this. Delving into the imagination of a man during sex recalls the Kinsey Report from 1948. One might also see the story as a traditional confessional story, with the genders reversed: Vic Rebels, is Ruined, and Redeemed. The story also hints at—though does not explore—the effect of imagination on relationships, which I get the feeling was starting to be of concern to mainstream writers about this time.
She did do some other writing, too. She had a small letter published in the Saturday Review, 1970, and supposedly wrote a 400 page novel—when she was doing her B.A. work—that was never published. One can see in her master’s thesis, too, the development other ideas. It is called “Triptych” because its eleven stories are divided into three sections. A couple of the stories reiterate her pacifist stance—in particular, “Selection,” which concerns an Earth driven to near destruction, saved only when a race of aliens came and put the remaining humans on reservations. While they tried to rebuild civilization with the peaceful types, the rest were divided by races and kept entertained by violent pastimes. The stories also emphasize the power of imagination. For example, in “The Smell of Ice Cream” merely a whiff of the dairy dessert make a couple remember a bad day; in “Touching,” a lonely man finds satisfaction in his ability to, well, touch. And in “Caring,” a sensitive girl wills herself to become a dying bird when after she fails to save a broken-winged seagull.
The stories reflect, broadly speaking, a liberal attitude. Even the most reactionary (and predictable), “The Fifth Window,” about a man in long ago China trying to arrange his marriage, is liberal in the sense that, as Drussai explains in the introduction, she tried to understand the man in the context of his time, not measured against some timeless ethics. Others are more obviously so: “Leopardus,” for instance, concerns a woman who comes to hate what fur represents. But her critics would still probably take exception at her vision of women. She mentions in the introduction that women are essential to civilization—but makes the argument in essentialist terms, seeing women not as potential explorers, say, but as those who build churches and hold societies together. The four hundred page novel which she wrote was about a pioneer woman, “Harriet” and one vignette makes it into the thesis as the story “snare.” Harriet turns out to be a selfish hedonist, who resents her husband, hates her children, has an affair, but cannot find it in herself to feel anything but trapped. The main character in “Knowing It All” is a woman who relies on the help of men to make her way through the world.
Drussai lived her final 24 years in nearby Santa, where she was an apartment manager from about 1996 to 2009. She also apparently started a business in 2000 called “Sun Maps,” which is mysterious to me.
Garen Drussai died 16 November 2009.
I spoke briefly with Garen Drussai in 2009, shortly before her death. At the time, I hadn’t done much research and so couldn’t ask many pertinent questions. According to her, Kirk had met Thayer in New York City, which formed their connection to the Fortean Society. (Likely this implies Kirk had come across Fort even earlier, probably through his interest in science fiction.) They both seemed to have liked Forteanism, though. Kirk Drussai was sending clippings to Thayer and promising a paper on heterodox cancer cures for the Fortean Society’s magazine, Doubt. It never appeared—whether Kirk never wrote it or Thayer never published it is not known. In his introduction to her first short story, Anthony Boucher noted that Garen Drussai was a vigorous debater on matters Fortean. At least, they liked it at the time. In her later recollections, Drussai said it was a brief, but fun interval, a chance to hang out with young oddballs, in her phrase.
The Drussais seem to have been the motive force behind the organization of the Fortean Society in San Francisco after they relocated to the northern part of the state. Thayer announced in Doubt 21 (published around June 1948): The San Francisco and Bay Area members have met informally as guests of MFS MacNichol, who shares honors for the idea with MFS Drussai [no mention as to which Drussai], and the labors of assembly with MFS di Gava [?].” The meeting was held on 1 April and attendees put their names in a ledger titles “The Book of the Damned.” Another member was the science fiction writer Robert Barbour Johnson, and he published in Mike Shayne’s in 1962—perhaps he helped Drussai get her work into that magazine in 1970.
This founding of Chapter Two, as it was known, came at a time when Tiffany Thayer seemed to be interested in organizing Forteanism a little bit. He suggested a Fortean University, a Fortean arrangement of knowledge, and the announcement of Chapter Twos formation was soon followed by Chapters Three and Four—in Chicago and Dallas—although this burst of organization ended soon enough. Drussais soon became moderator of the meetings, as well as its “Bugler,” or secretary.” Judging by a letter in the Saturday Review, Garen was also interested in Nikola Tesla, whom she hoped “sometime in the future, will be taken out of its wraps—to be appreciated by a more knowledgeable humanity.” Tesla, of course, the the focus of much Fortean, occult, and esoteric speculation.
Doubt 24, published around April 1949, noted that the Drussais paid dues for their unborn child. This was, Thayer said, The Fortean Society’s Virginia Dare, referring to the first person born to English parents in North America. The Drussais named their son Milo. He was born 21 April 1949. He had also announced their marriage, calling her Garen Lewis—as well as the marriages of George and Hilda Bump and Sam You'd and Joyce Fairbairn—as unions of Fortean believers. Within a few months, however, Thayer had overcome his interest in organizing Forteanism, reprimanded the chapters, and stopped reporting on them. A few years later, Garen was turning her attention to writing science fiction, and though the high tide of Chapter two had ebbed, her stories showed that she maintained an interest in Forteanism.
The one that most clearly fits the Fortean pattern is “Extra-Curricular,” for here you have a series of bizarre vignettes—I’m tempted to say Fortean damned facts. These are inexplicable by any known science of the time. And so you then get a way of explaining them that transcends current scientific knowledge. The story, in fact, reads like a bit of Fort, with a string of unusual events, and then a hypothesis (usually an outrageous one, in Fort’s books). “Grim Fairy Tale,” also plays with a Fortean notion—much beloved by science fiction writers, that we are property. In this case, humans are the property of their machines.
Less obviously Fortean is a tale that actually appeared in Doubt, the magazine of the Fortean Society. This one was called “The Tainted” and was set in a society in which young boys practiced at becoming warriors so that they could be drafted into an interplanetary conflict at age thirteen. The grandfather, who could remember as far back as the Korean War, bemoaned these developments, seeing the gunplay of the current generation as different from his, because they no longer understood it was play. And he was right: at the end, a small boy gets hold of a real gun and kills his mother.
Charles Fort himself didn’t consider pacifism, but as developed by Thayer, an ant-war stance was central to the Fortean ideal. Thayer felt that the mainstream was conditioning the younger generation, tricking it into killing for the fat cats who sat at the top of society. Forteanism, in questioning everything, stood for pacifism. Garen Drussai obviously made the connection—as Boucher attests in the introduction to one of her stories, in which he notes how she was both a passionate Fortean and pacifist. “Woman’s Work” also fits with Forteanism as Thayer developed it. Thayer took a dim view of advertising—it was all propaganda to him, brainwashing the masses. “Woman’s Work” echoed these sentiments.
Of her various Fortean interests, the only one that seems to have survived her time in the Society was Pacifism. It is much harder to say what Kirk may or may not have carried from that time.