Southwest Manuscripters was the bright offspring of the fading Los Angeles Manuscripters born early in the 20th Century. In the fall of 1949, Hermosans Ramoncita O'Connor, Zella Allison, Kay Snow and Walt Darby founded the new group whose combined years make it the longest-active writers organization west of the Rockies. I came aboard a month later, in time to hear the fabulous first speaker, Ray Bradbury, tell of his newly minted Martian Chronicles.

Mona O'Connor, the first president, was no feminist; she bowed hastily to the group vote for Sam Stewart, balladeer and editor of The Daily Breeze, and succeeding male presidents including science fiction writers Mark Clifton, Raymond Banks and Maurice Ogden. Men prevailed during those early years while women rounded up the speakers and cookies and coffee each meeting. Clark Stadium in a frequently fog-filled valley in Hermosa was the meeting place for several decades.

While never spending a penny, Southwest Manuscripters induced top-notch writers to come and talk. Rod Serling, Adela Rogers St. John, Frank Riley, Hannibal Coons and many other popular fiction and non-fiction writers came. Before the Love Boat was launched into its two-generation career, SWM presented the author. Linda Bloodworth, of later TV and Clinton fame, told members of her first break as a screenwriter.

And every year we could snag him, Ray Bradbury came back.

Careers began and were helped along in Manuscripters. When first class postage was just three cents, many of us, inspired by the monthly sales reports of fellow members, submitted our early efforts and gained a foothold. Jimmie Butler presided while he wrote best-selling hi-tech novels. Dave Kenny wrote humor and whimsy while wielding the gavel. When the ladies finally left the kitchen for the presidency, Wanda Smith and Rustie Brown and Ellen Doukoulas were all productive writers. My own sales were scattered shots through magazine-dom, but I got my book momentum through my membership. SWM was the seed for local writing courses long before college extension courses made such study available.

                                                                                         - Edith Battles