Whether as Elks or Edsel owners, Dracula devotees or diving dentists, Trekkies or Gumby fans, Americans seem drawn to joining clubs -- no matter how eclectic, bizarre or, yes, mundane their missions may be.
Consider the 555 Bobs of Bobs International (about 500 of whom are Americans), the 15,000 Mikes of America and the 1,580 members of the even more specialized Jim Smith Society, whose annual convention features a softball game that pits Democratic Jim Smiths against Republican Jim Smiths and this year inspired a prediction about the presidential election.
"I was a political reporter in Pennsylvania," said James H. Smith Jr., the society's president, "and I feel this is as good a gauge as any as to who will win." The Republican Smiths won this year, he said, as well as in 1984 and 1988.
Or consider the Princess Kitty Fan Club, devoted to a 7-year-old domestic cat reputed to play the piano, slam dunk basketballs and jump hurdles. The feline model and actress' Miami-based club has 75 members.
"She's been called the Mary Tyler Moore of kitties by Cat Fancy magazine," said Karen Payne, Princess Kitty's owner and a club adviser. A two-year $18 membership entitles devotees to four newsletters with updates on the cat's appearances and film work.
The range of personal obsessions does not stop there. Following are some of the 20,000 clubs, organizations and societies in the three-volume Encyclopedia of Associations.
The American Gourd Society: Its 2,500 members have a passion for raising gourds and for gourd crafts. Meetings are held annually during the first weekend in October. For information: John Stevens, secretary, P.O. Box 274Y, Mount Gilead, Ohio 43338; (419) 946-3302.
Bald-Headed Men of America: Dedicated to promoting a positive image of bald men. Its 20,000 members "don't believe in drugs, rugs or plugs," said its founder, John Capps, who receives mail addressed to "Bald John, Morehead, N.C." and "Bald Is Beautiful, Morehead City." Yearly convention includes Smoothest Head contest. Mr. Capps can be reached at 202 Bald Drive, Morehead City, N.C. 28557; (919) 726-1855.
Central Intelligence Retirees Association: For government retirees with at least 10 years' experience with the CIA. Publishes quarterly newsletter. The address for information is P.O. Box 1150, Fort Myer, Va. 22211. No phone number. No contact listed. What did you expect?
Diving Dentists Society (DDS): North American dentists interested in scuba or other forms of diving. For information: Leonore Chizever, executive director, 1101 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21202; (301) 837-5852.
International Al Jolson Society: For $12 members receive a wallet-size color photo of Jolson taken in the 1940s, two 5-by-7-inch black-and-white photos and back issues of the annual Jolie: The World of Al Jolson newsletter. "Anybody interested in Jolson talks about one thing -- the voice," said Otis Lowe, the director. He can be reached at 2981 Westmoor Drive, Columbus, Ohio 43204; (614) 274-1507.
Moles: Ed Norton's dream club! Actually, it is a prestigious organization for tunnel, subway, sewer, marine and other elite subterranean heavy-construction workers. One member is now at work on the Eurotunnel. Annual clambake in August. Arline Gallagher, the executive secretary, can be reached at P.O. Box 1389, Southampton, N.Y. 11969; (516) 283-6322.
The Original Gilligan's Island Fan Club: "Different people of different backgrounds have different characters to identify with," said Ronald Turner, who recently merged his own Gilligan club with this one. "Many fans take a scholarly approach, collecting cassettes of all the shows." A quarterly newsletter and a "Stuck on Gilligan's Island" T-shirt come with the $15 annual fee. Bob Rankin, executive officer, can be reached at P.O. Box 25311, Salt Lake City, Utah 84125-0311.
Procrastinators' Club of America: Home to chronic delayers, it holds a Christmas party in June and makes annual predictions for the previous year. Les Waas, president, can be reached at Box 712, Bryn Athyn, Pa. 19009; (215) 947-0500.
More information on these groups or others is available in the Encyclopedia of Associations (Gale Research), available in most libraries; in "Organized Obsessions," by Deborah Burek and Martin Connors (Visible Ink Press), or from the National Association of Fan Clubs. Its founder and president, Blanche Trinajstick, can be reached at P.O. Box 4559, Pueblo, Colo. 81003; (719) 543-6708.