The Weekend That Changed My Life, May 1983

Oooh, it sounds sooooooooooooooooooooo dramatic, doesn’t it? “In a span of 48 hours, my life was totally, completely changed– changed for the better, I might add!” It’s true, though. Although the changes were by nature personal, some of them had something big to do with Doctor Who.

Oh, go on, you know you want the drama! Keep on reading, won’t you?

In my last installment, Teenage!Jenn had just met the Doctor OMG and came away from the signing with a plethora of flyers for various local Doctor Who fan clubs. I was naturally excited that there were a number of groups that I could join that would both feed my obsession and give me the chance to talk about other topics amongst my friends at school. (They had all become quite tired of me going on and on until I was foaming at the mouth and falling over backwards about the good Doctor. And, really, I was quite happy to segregate interests by then, too. (Boring myself? Quite possibly. I wanted to be more than “the Doctor Who girl,” certainly.) The problem I had, though, was one of location. The vast majority of these groups met in the south or west suburbs– very tricky to get to when one had to rely on public transport. One group, though, had meetings both way down south and somewhere up north, too. Figuring that north=good, I sent my money in.

The group– The U.N.I.T. Irregulars– had several divisions. The main division met way down south in Alsip, as that’s where the Czar lived. The Czar was the club president, a charismatic young man with the ego the size of the planet and the ability to get younglings to go along with his performing ego for the sake of getting to see rare Doctor Who episodes. (Yes indeed, there was such a thing back then, because not many PBS stations had shown more than the “Robot”-“Invasion of Time” loop– and certainly not any other Doctor besides Tom Baker. Another division met up north, mostly in Libertyville. Chris ran that branch; he was approximately my age, and attending the local community college. A third division was headed by Fine Mike, a high school student who lived in Deerfield. It was brand new, and formed mostly because so many people “up north” wanted to join the club. The Czar thought it prudent to have people who lived in northern Cook County go to Deefield for meetings, and people who lived in Lake County go to the Libertyville meetings.

Some U.N.I.T. meetings were held at Columbia College in the Loop. One of the Czar’s friends was a science teacher there, and his classroom/lab could accommodate many people. These Loop meetings featured a lot of rare video– probably so as many members as possible could see the video at once. (“Seeing the video” meant gathering around a 19″ tv on an a/v cart….)

The first Loop meeting I could attend was on the Friday evening of Memorial Day weekend. (That would be May 27th– had to look that one up.) I hopped on the el after dinner and cruised downtown. I found the school easily enough (I had actually applied there, but decided on Northwestern instead), and found the classroom via a hastily scribbled note on the door.

Many people had already arrived; being new (and, I suspect, a girl), several members sought me out to welcome me personally, including Chris. (His quasi-girlfriend, though, made it clear that I was to keep my apparently boy-stealing claws off of him. I found her reaction amusing, and a bit flattering to boot.) I watched some video (it was a Pertwee episode, so I wasn’t all that interested– although it was my first look at Jo Grant and U.N.I.T., both of which I enjoyed immensely), chatted with various people, and had a great time. At the end of the evening, as I rode back to Evanston much too late for my tastes, I knew that I had found my fannish home.

Little did I know how much I would be doing with these people, especially once the Rift happened. That’s a tale for a little later in the history, though. (Not too much later, though, as the Rift happened in the fall of that year.)

(Oh, the other thing that made that particular weekend the Weekend That Changed My Life? I had my first date with the young man who I would eventually marry. We went to Great America with other people from his dorm, and spent most of the day wandering around holding hands.)

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1 thought on “The Weekend That Changed My Life, May 1983

  1. I’m really enjoying this series, Jen. Living in a rural area (too far from St. Louis/too young to hook up with that gang), I never had the chance to participate in active WHO fandom, so these are a bit cathartic for me. Bring on the drama!

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