The Origins of Barfleet
Fan Club Genesis
In the beginning, there was the USS Athena.
The Athena was a standard Star Trek fan club, pretty much run of the mill in many ways. It was created by Rob Caine (Captain Alden Talmain) in Lakewood, Ohio in 1984. There were uniforms, meetings, charity events, movie nights, and all of the “normal” fan club activities, plus some rather outlandish ideas that Rob and the crew came up with, such as doing LARP-style landing missions into mundane areas and building working stun weapons from materials available from Radio Shack. Those last two things never actually happened, but they were on the table for a very long time.
The Executive Officer of the Athena was Darren Ewing (CDR Adam Mallory), who was absent during much of the early existence of the club due to being cast in a Hollywood film, “Mischief.” He would join the group after filming completed and begin to place his mark upon it.
There were a number of officers that came and went from the Athena ranks, including many who eventually would form the nucleus of the UBS Casual, including Tom Kozak (aka Abiron) (CDR Allan Erickson), Bill Taylor (CDR Alexander Sulleven), Mike Detmar (1LT Tempus Fugit), Jon Killik (2LT Julian Urussige), and Kathryn Schakel (LCDR Jasmine MacCluinne).
The End of the Athena
In early 1986, Darren Ewing made arrangements with the committee of Earthcon V in Independence, OH for the Athena crew to provide security for the convention. The crew handled this duty with only a few issues…which was surprising because they had never actually handled such a duty before. While it cannot be said that they performed with any sort of distinction, they did handle things well enough that the hotel and the staff were not unhappy with their work.
At the close of the convention, on Sunday, March 15th, 1986, Darren called the entire crew into one of the function rooms for a major announcement. Whatever kind of announcement the crew was expecting, what they got was not at all expected. Darren announced that he had made a deal with a new local game store named Gamekeepers. The deal would give Gamekeepers a major financial stake in the club, rename the ship from USS Athena to USS Essex, and replace all command staff (except Darren himself and Rob Caine) with their own people. Darren and Rob left the room amid confusion and outrage.
Several crew walked out. Several others remained in the room, confused. In the aftermath, those remaining decided to create their own club, one that avoided all the politics and boringness of “normal” fan clubs. They drafted the original concept for the UBS Casual on both sides of a single 8.5″x11″ sheet of notebook paper, after initially writing the ideas on the room’s whiteboard. With some feeling of catharsis, those who had devised the Casual left, and most decided not to remain a part of the Essex.
A New Beginning
Several months later, Abiron was planning a house party in Akron. In need of a proper party theme, he decided to go ahead and use the Casual (still called USS Casual at this point) as that theme. Officially, then, the very first house party that can be properly called a Barfleet Event for historical purposes took place in Akron, Ohio as a weekend-long shindig from July 4th through July 6th, 1986.
Because of the use of paper invitations and snail mail, many of the earliest invitations for Casual events are lost to the mists of time. However, it can be said with complete accuracy that the Casual went from being just a theme for a single house party to something somewhat larger within a couple of years. By the early 1990s, the Casual was hosting 4 parties a year regularly: A Birthday Party in March, a Klingon Beach Party in June, a themed Halloween Party in October, and a New Year’s party (just not normally on New Year’s Eve itself). This pattern continues to this day, with the main Barfleet Annual Event known as Summer Games having taken the place of the Casual’s former Beach Party.
It should also be noted that during the first decade of the Casual’s existence, a few members of the USS Essex fan club joined us as well.
To be continued…