Whence Wombat

I found the t-shirt that started it all. The story behind it is in the first comment.


One Response to “Whence Wombat”

  1. The Wombat Says:

    Whence Wombat!

    In 1975 I attended AUSSIECON. This was my first trip there, and it was a trip I had long wanted to make. At the time I was in year 4 of my 5-year sojourn in Europe and my 2nd year in Italy. [Great food and beautiful women. Heaven, but I digress.]

    Among the many wonders I found in the Land Down Under, one which turned out to have the greatest long lasting impact on me and my life was the wombat. The first time I saw one was at Featherdale Wildlife Park. Little did I know or realize what this momentous event would foretell.

    Along the way thru Oz we heard a number of wombat jokes. Thus, the critter stayed in my mind.

    Upon my return from the Antipodes I added the expression “May the Ghreat Wombat Smile On You!” to my signature. It now read: “Ciao & teggeddizzi! May the Ghreat Wombat smile on you!”

    I was and am a Tolkien nutter having first read the books in 1964. “It was a Dark & Stormy Night!” when I curled up with The Fellowship of the Ring for the first time. During the ‘60’s & early ‘70’s I was selling the Tolkien Posters put out by Ballentine Books. Their sale funded the two Tolkien conferences I organized and ran.

    Upon my return to the States after 5 years of living in Europe I wanted to obtain more posters and continue to sell them to any and all Hobbitheads! I was directed to Random House who was handling the sale of the posters. They said, “Fine, but we need a sales tax number.”

    I finally figured out what it was and how to get one. It is now know as a DBA, Doing Business under an Assumed name. I should point out, I was living at the time in Manhattan, . . . Kansas, the Little Apple. The State of Kansas wanted to know the name of my business.

    I pondered this long and hard! Shire Publishing? Misty Mountain Press? NO! I know, Wombat Enterprises, Unlimited! Thus was born during the 2nd half of 1976 the International Conglomerate know as Wombat Enterprises, Unlimited!

    This in itself would not have made any waves in the ether or elsewhere, but for a curious gift.

    The following March two events occurred: My Birthday and TOTOCON! [Come on, what else would one call an SF con in Kansas? :-)]

    A friend of mine, she still is, sent me a birthday present: a T-shirt with WOMBAT ENTERPIRSES on the front and THE WOMBAT on the back. I thought, this was neat. Little did I know, this was more than “NEAT!” This would be life changing!

    During April and May of ’77 I wore the T-shirt at SF cons. By the end of the 2nd con I knew there was no turning back. No one knew my “name.” They did know this fan who wore an Aussie slouch hat by the name of “THE WOMBAT!”

    It’s been all downhill into the pouch ever since. Not only did I sell posters under the WEU name, but have published a couple books under it as well. I have been gifted with all sorts of “Wombat” stuff from friends. I’ve started a web site to garner funds to save an incredibly endangered species of wombat, http://www.yaminon.org , I got invited to visit a “closed to the public” national park in Australia. This park is the last remaining habitat of the Yaminon. I gave the head of the research group there A$1000 to assist with the research. I’m a “Zoo Parent” of a wombat at Taronga Zoo in Sydney.

    More folk know me as “Wombat” than by my birth name or close to it. My car’s license plate is WOMBAT. I’m even in the phone book under “Wombat.”

    What has started out as a fun gift of a T-shirt, has become something really strange and wonderful.

    So that is the story of “Whence Wombat.”

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