Thursday, January 4, 2018

Another Site of My Misspent Youth Gone

As I perused social media last night, I fell upon a news story from my hometown's TV station.

For the casual reader it's a piece about a local hotel giving away its fixtures on its last day of operations.

For the emotional reader, finding out that many of the items are being donated to local charities and services really tugs at the heartstrings.

For most long-time locals, it's a story about how a mediocre at best downtown hotel is getting razed for $6 million to build a multi-million dollar aquarium/tourist trap.  (Don't ask them about what was there before they built the hotel.  That's a whole 'nother ball of wax).

For me... it's yet another part of my youth torn asunder and destroyed.  Because, before the hotel was a Days Inn, it was a Quality Inn, before that a Best Western and before that, a Sheraton, and under those chains there were local gaming conventions held that shaped me be the gamer I am today.

Starting with my first con, Lehicon III, in September of 1990, the hotel had just enough space, facilities, and parking for a couple of hundred people to play games for three days and host a decent dealer space.  To have a legitimate game convention that was ten minutes from my house was simply fantastic, and kicked off multiple decades of travelling further for cons.

Lehicon IV moved to the far larger confines of the now-defunct George Washington Motor Lodge in Allentown, and soon thereafter, the convention organizers, the Lehigh Valley Gamers Association (LVGA) disappeared.

Fortunately, one of the former members of the LVGA resurrected the local con scene with one day Bogglecons (and a few Gobblecons, CardCons, and later some more three-day Lehicons).  While many gamers remember the Wind Gap Legion Hall as the site for the majority of these cons (it was mere blocks from the organizer's house), more than a few events returned to then-Best Western ("Easton Inn").  I ran plenty of Legions of Steel, Burning Plastic, and Battletech beside the heavily chlorinated pool.

In less chemically unbalanced rooms, I ran AD&D, Talislanta, and Pulp TWERPS for tables of players.  In fact, the infamous "Cthulhu Comes to Springfield" TOON game I ran with Dr Bob had its debut in the ballroom.

I wandered the hallways of the hotel, getting into traditional gamer mischief, or trying to figure out exactly what was going on with the strange Goths in the Vampire LARP.

It should also be noted that the main area for the LARP was the above-mentioned pool area.  Chlorine and high humidity does make a Vampire LARPer happy.  

Even the descendent of Bogglecon, the fine folks who run Mepacon, ran one of their early iteratons at the Easton Inn, before finding greener pastures in the Scranton area.
It was never a looker, but it was servicable.
Over the last decade, the hotel fell into some disrepair, and became the unfortunate destination for various ne'er do wells.  Soon it will be leveled and construction of the over-rated fish peep show will begin.

Like all the game shops that have closed, and gamers that are no longer with us, this is just a piece of my life that will only remain in my memories for as long as I keep them.

What a drag it is getting old. 

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