Lake Geneva Re-Cap (Part 2)
The day before Gary Con officially got started, Luke Gygax was able to break away from his duties and gave us an early interview and a glimpse of what it takes to run Gary Con. We were also able to convince Ernie Gygax to give us a tour of the original basement at 330 Center Street, where the war-gamers came together for a little fun with Gary. Oh and this was also the humble beginnings of a little-known game called Dungeons & Dragons.
Later that day, we took a trip to the University of Milwaukee Wisconsin to view archival materials of early Gen Cons, but first we had plans to visit the Safe House a classic haunt of ex-TSR employees during the Milwaukee days of Gen Con.
By the time we returned to the Lodge, Gary Con V was all set to kick off. Banners, posters, and gaming tables were all poised to receive the multitudes of enthusiastic gamers and collectors. We couldn’t wait to see our friends from last year’s Gary Con. It was great to see Michael Mornard, Dave Megarry, Paul Stormberg and Kevin Maurice at the Sand Table, and Stephan Pokorny, Mike Carr, Tim Kask, and Ernie Gygax running their games. Jeff Easley and Tom Wham were seen roaming the Con and many others.
Not far from the Con, Margaret Weis invited us to her home for an interview. She gave us a quick tour of her multi-level, converted barn home and spoke to us from a woman’s perspective of the Dungeons and Dragons brand and her time working at TSR. We loved her meeting her dogs too!
We also had the honor to meet Elise and Heidi Gygax at the Con and they shared with us what it was like growing up in the Gygax home, and helping Gary assemble the white box sets as TSR operated out of the basement of their first home. Afterwards, the Gygax sisters graciously invited us to their villa for a home-cooked meal and a private reunion between the Gygax family members. We can't thank them enough for their goodwill and generosity.
Diesel Laforce was also there to unveil the two prints he has spent many hours working on. They look amazing. He is now looking for the right printers to make sure these prints remain collectibles.
We also had the privilege of meeting Bill Hoyer, Bill Hoyt, and Rob Kuntz, some of the original members of the Lake Geneva/Milwaukee war-gaming clubs in the early days. Rob Kuntz gave us an amazing interview. He told us of how he first met Gary by hearing of a gaming group playing “Afrika Corps” down the road from where he lived. He shared memories of Gary, and Mary who invited him to be part of their family and spoke volumes of their kindness. He shared his experiences with Gary designing games, participating in the IFW, and the joy of gaming with friends.
And finally, on the last day of Gary Con, we were fortunate to have Bruce Nesmith sit with us for an interview about his TSR days. What a great guy. We then packed up and said our goodbyes to Matt and Mayor Mike as we headed to Chicago for our final interview with Professor Gary A. Fine, Director of Graduate Student Affairs at Northwestern University. He’s an author of several books and publications on topics of Social Psychology, Cultural Sociology, and Qualitative Methodology Science. His knowledge of social interaction and gaming as a means of communication was very impressive, and not to mention his interviews with Dave and Gary for his research as a graduate student.
Alas, it was time to conclude our Mid-West tour. Seeing past friends and making new ones left us with lots of memories. Anthony, Andrew, and I can’t wait to return next year and we’re hopeful to have a movie to show everyone and maybe even a little bit of time to experience the many games Gary Con has to offer.
Lots of work still ahead of us. Next up, my hometown of Los Angeles, CA. We’ll keep you updated with our plans for Tinseltown and who’d be of interest to be interviewed for the film.
Thank you Mike and Matt! Thank you Mary, Luke, Ernie, Heidi, Elise and Cindy. Thank you, Frank, Sir James, Tim, Rob, Bruce, Jim Lowder, Margaret, Major Wesely, Brad, Edward, Harold, Diesel, Stuart Rosenberg, and everyone else at Gary Con! See you next March (if not sooner)