Friday, October 27, 2017

Abbott, Costello and Flying Saucers

August 8, 1952: An offer of employment for aliens. 
First, a non-show business Abbott in a flying saucer story:

Three Idaho men reported having observed a six feet wide flying sphere doing maneuvers unbecoming of a balloon. As reported in the Twin Falls Times News, Dec. 15, 1950:

Twin Falls Times News, Dec. 15, 1950.

It's interesting that Abbott had a prior belief in flying saucers, but did not accept the premise promoted by Donald Keyhoe that, "The Flying Saucers are Real." Unlike so many of the most interesting UFO cases featured here at The Saucers That Time Forgot, Project Blue Book does have a file on this incident, but it's a skimpy one:

Abbott and Costello

The Saucer Crash of August 1952

With a case involving a witness named Abbott, we wondered what involvement Lou Costello had with flying saucers. Costello was involved in a flying saucer crash in 1952:

A flying saucer crashed into a rocket ship at UI and temporarily halted production on "Abbott & Costello Go to Mars"

Berkshire Evening Eagle,  Aug. 26, 1952

Friday, October 20, 2017

The 1st UFO book? Forgotten Mysteries by R. DeWitt Miller

Forgotten Mysteries, promoted by Walter Winchell as the UFO solution

Today, we forget the incredible influence radio once had. Radio commentators such as Walter Winchell (and Frank Edwards) had their finger on America’s pulse, sometimes reporting the news, other times making it. They also did a lot to introduce and propel the UFO story. Winchell’s sensational show was printed as a newspaper column, and in this story from the July 7, 1947 San Jose News, he said, “The mystery of the ‘Flying Saucers’ is not new.” He went on to cite a recent book by R. DeWitt Miller, Forgotten Mysteries.

San Jose News July 7, 1947

Some important people noticed, including the legendary Kenneth Arnold, who mentioned Miller's book in one of his early lectures in mid-July, 1947.

East Oregonian, July 17, 1947

In his 1955 book, You Do Take It with You: An Adventure into the Vaster Reality, Miller discussed his entry into the saucer scene.

Forgotten Mysteries was chiefly a collection of articles on phenomenon from Coronet magazine. From a 1947 book review by Geoffrey Giles in Fantasy Review,
"fantastic facts... presenting them in mystifying array, much as Mr. Fort used to do. He is, in fact, a Fortean, and has been dogging the Great Doubter's footsteps for 15 years or more, accumulating a mass of pallid data on such things as the Devil's Footprints, death fogs, sea serpents and missing ships"
The chapter, "Enigmas Out of Space," focused on strange aerial objects. Miller noted that there had been speculation strange sights in the sky might be the vehicles of interplanetary visitors: 
"That conscious beings from other worlds have actually reached this earth and navigated our skies in space ships." 
The publicity gave R. Dewitt Miller's career a boost, and he enjoyed a brief moment in the sun as the world's only flying saucer expert. Here are two versions of the same story by Miller:

The Oregonian, July 8, 1947

The Coos Bay Times, July 7, 1947 

The Founding Father

Miller's book enjoyed the flying saucer spotlight, but only for a short while. Someone finally noticed that he cited Charles Fort as his inspiration. Loren Gross described the rediscovery of Fort:
It wasn't long before Walter Winchell was quoting R. DeWitt Miller but we know he could have done better than that. As it turned out an Associated Press reporter made the discovery in Chicago's Newberry Library. There the reporter claimed to have discovered a "rare unknown” book, the scarlet colored volume titled The Book of the Damned.
 Thayer howled with laughter when he read about the “great discovery.” Awhile after this "discovery” the news agencies tracked Thayer and the Forteans to their lair to ask: "Who was this guy Fort?" And: "Can we quote such and such?" This was the high- point of the whole history of the Fortean Society and it was sad Fort himself was not alive to take a well-earned bow.  (From UFOs: A History Vol. 1: 1947 by Loren Gross)
Snazzy modern edition
Fort had collected accounts of strange flying things and speculated that they were interplanetary, leading the way for Miller, Vincent Gaddis, Ray Palmer, Meade Layne and others. Fort died in 1932, and had little to do with the Fortean Society, which Tiffany Thayer created in his honor. Thayer kept the torch burning by publishing the Fortean Society’s Doubt magazine.

The Chiles-Whitted encounter on July 24, 1948 had many speculating the pilots had seen a rocket or space ship, and once again, R. DeWitt Miller was questioned about flying saucers.

United Press, July 27, 1948

A more detailed article by R. Dewitt Miller himself, Knoxville Journal, July 26, 1948, where he was billed as an authority on psychic phenomena and mysterious occurrences." Miller gave his top four choices to explain UFOs.

The First UFO Book - Sorta

Fort provided the backstory!

Major Donald Keyhoe built upon the Fort foundation for his article and 1950 book, The Flying Saucers are Real. However, in 1947, when saucer fever broke out, Miller's book was already in print.  After Walter Winchell connected it to the flying saucers, the publisher and author capitalized on the publicity.  This in effect makes Forgotten Mysteries the first UFO book, at least from a marketing standpoint.
WALTER WINCHELL says: "The mystery of the flying saucers is not new, In Forgotten Mysteries R. Dewitt Miller offers two cases which perhaps will clear up the mystery."
Weird Tales, May, 1950.

But without Fort, there would have been no Forgotten Mysteries to promote. The press has a short memory, always fixated on the new, so forgot about Miller. But every so often, a reporter “discovers” Charles Fort's extraterrestrial speculation, and reports that, “The flying saucer story, you know, is by no means a new one.”

Miller Radio Recording from July 1947

The ABC radio special broadcast on July 10, 1947, "The Search for the Flying Saucers" was hosted by Walter Kiernon, and was perhaps the first program exclusively devoted to the topic. It ran in a 15-minute time slot and interviewed various witnesses and figures commenting on the saucer phenomenon, among them, Dewitt Miller.

Miller thought that the earliest flying saucer sightings by Kenneth Arnold and other pilots were genuine, but that many of the stories that followed were hoaxes. The leading candidates to explain saucers were new military aviation projects, Miller said. But he had another idea, that saucers might be related to things seen in the sky for hundreds of years, and that "the discs may actually be from Mars or somewhere else in outer space.

R. Dewitt Miller appears 5 minutes and 17 seconds into the recording of the radio program linked below:

Epilogue: Project Blue Book

The Air Force's Project Blue Book files have nothing of substance on R. Dewitt Miller's book, but it turns out that Miller had a UFO experience of his own, 1 Feb 1954, Puente California, an "Angel Hair-type case, and it includes a photo of the physical evidence. The file does mention Miller's book in passing.

The PBB files have more of substance on Charles Fort, indicating his books "were examined."

R. DeWitt Miller’s Forgotten Mysteries was also published under the title, Impossible Yet it Happened!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Contact! A Close Encounter of the Third Kind from 1954

Flying Saucer From Mars was a 1955 best-selling book by British amateur astronomer Cedric Allingham. It told of his story of a flying saucer sighting in 1954 and direct contact with a human-looking extraterrestrial. In may ways it resembled the story of George Adamski, and seemed to be independent confirmation that visitors from other planets were initiating contact.

Science fiction magazine ad, 1955

This historic photo is perhaps the first of its kind. Since 1947, many alleged photos of flying saucers have been produced, but in his book, Allingham presented a picture of an extraterrestrial being, his visitor from Mars.

In the 1950s, flying saucer stories were often front page news, and many newspapers and magazines discussed or reviewed Allingham's sensational book. 

Big Spring Daily Herald, April 26, 1955

The book impressed a skeptical science fiction book reviewer: “I can say this: as a book, Allingham’s “Flying Saucers From Mars” is by a long, long way the best written, sanest, most unimpassioned and convincing that I have seen to date, not excluding Dr. Menzel’s.” He went on to write, “It has none of the occultism that is making other Saucer treatises ridiculous. It’s the kind of story that could convince a jury.” P. Schuyler Miller, “The Reference Library” Astounding, October 1955

Hoax Allegations

From Return to the Far Side of Planet Moore! by Martin Mobberley

Flying Saucer From Mars by Cedric Allingham was a literary hoax by astronomer Patrick Moore who attempted to one-up George Adamski's book Flying Saucers have Landed. Not only was the saucer and encounter false, so was the author Allingham. Patrick Moore had a history as a practical joker, and he wrote the book as a spoof. At least that's the story according to Christopher Allan and Steuart Campbell's 1986 article, Flying Saucer from Moore's? in Magonia. 

Patrick Moore had a love for space and astronomy, and enjoyed educating the public about it, and was knighted in 2001 for "services to the popularisation of science and to broadcasting." Ironically, his first television appearance was for the purpose of discussing flying saucers. He argued against them. Moore was good friends with Desmond Leslie (the co-author of George Adamski's book) and appeared in Leslie's 1956 UFO home movie, "Them in the Thing!" In it, Moore portrayed a skeptic, using Dr. Donald Menzel's book as definitive evidence that flying saucers were not real.

Moore dropped references to the Allingham book in several of his lectures and articles, including
The Role of Science Fiction in the Popularization of Science, where he unfavorably includes it in the discussion of "interplanetary stories."

Sir Patrick Moore denied the allegations of the literary hoax, but did continue to discuss UFOs from time to time. In his 1972 book,  Can You Speak Venusian?, he discussed UFO history and the unbelievability of the 1950s Contactees in the chapter “Crockery from the Void.” 
“It was around this time, too, that a serious split occurred in the ranks of Flying Saucery. The Independent Thinkers divided themselves into two distinct camps. There were the ‘contacts,’ following Adamski and Allingham. Then there were the more cautious investigators, who dismissed these contact reports as being due to hallucinations or hoaxes, but who still maintained that the Earth was under surveillance. The very term ‘Flying Saucer’ was tacitly dropped, to be replaced by the much more imposing title of Unidentified Flying Object, or U.F.O."

In this clip from 1969, Sir Patrick Moore interviewed a man who 
was able to speak and write alien languages from other planets.

If Flying Saucer From Mars was a hoax, is there a clue in the name of the mysterious Cedric Allingham? Some of the anagrams it produces are "Marginal,  Clichéd" and "Magical Children."

As with so many of the most interesting UFO cases featured here at The Saucers That Time Forgot, Project Blue Book has no file on this incident. 

Friday, October 6, 2017

The Ufologists That Time Forgot: Wade Wellman

Manly Wade Wellman, Jr. was born November 13, 1939, the son of a giant, the noted fantasy and science fiction author Manly Wade Wellman. His father's work included contributing to magazines such as the legendary Weird Tales alongside H.P. Lovecraft,  C.L. Moore and Robert E. Howard. The son, instead of using his full name,  he went by Wade Wellman, perhaps to try to create his own identity and step out of his father's shadow.

Weird Tales, Nov. 1943

A Rising Star

1958, from his senior year at Chapel Hill High School
In the early 1960s as a college student, Wade Wellman had a serious interest in UFOs, and was an active member of the National Investigations Committee On Aerial Phenomena, (NICAP). He was passionate about the topic and corresponded as an advocate to promote Congressional hearings into the study of UFOs, writing to people and institutions such as US Congressmen and Time magazine.

NICAP's UFO Investigator, Oct. 1961
The Daily Tar Heel, the student newspaper for the University of North Carolina carried Wellman's series of articles on UFOs which included key case information and a discussion of the credible- and incredible literature on the topic- which he was very critical of. 

The Daily Tar Heel, Sept. 21, 1960
A Cyclopean amount has been written on flying saucers since the first modern reports in 1947. The balance of this is crackpot writing which gets most of the attention and deserves none of it. There is, for instance, George Adamski, who claims to have flown with people from Saturn. Or Frank Scully, who says the saucers are ships from Venus. Or Gerald Heard, who, in an undeservedly famous book entitled Is Another World Watching, credits the saucers to super bees from Mars. And, of course, there are always the perennial claims of personal contact with people or semihuman monsters from other worlds — and, perhaps worst of all, the ridiculous term "flying saucers," a hindrance to any real study. 
Yet, despite the flood of nonsense which seems deliberately calculated to rob the subject of thoughtful attention, there are innumerable people who have seen real UFO's (Unidentified Flying Objects) and who won't be duped by the crackpot writers, or by the hollow USAF denials, or by the sneer: "He says he saw a flying saucer." 
Archive of The Daily Tar Heel, with Wade Wellman's UFO columns.

Wellman took the topic seriously, and also wrote about the effort by NICAP and others to petition the US government to investigate the UFO matter more thoroughly. In a postscript to the series,  he wrote an article about his first visit to NICAP's office and his meeting with the director, Donald Keyhoe and assistant, Richard Hall.

NICAP was the conservative end of the saucer spectrum, but Wellman also wrote for the UK's Flying Saucer Review, which was far more tolerant of the kind of Contactee "crackpots" that he and NICAP thought were keeping the UFO topic on the marginal fringes. Wellman's articles were much more grounded, and despite his youth, his work was appearing alongside writers like John Keel and Jacques Vallée. His FSR articles included:

Extra-Solar UFOs, March-April 1962

The UFO Sledgehammer, Jan-Feb, 1963
Phobos and Deimos, May-June 1963
The Psychology of Scepticism, Sept-Oct. 1963
Two Types of Scepticism, May-June 1965 
Sense and Speculation, Sept-Oct. 1965

Another thing that shows Wellman's earnestness about to the UFO topic was his contentious correspondence with the notorious UFO skeptic and debunker, Harvard Astronomer, Dr. Donald Menzel. Among the UFO correspondence in Menzel's files, Wellman's letters are there alongside names like Hynek, Sagan and Keyhoe.
American Philosophical Society, Menzel's UFO papers
According to Michael Swords, the exchange was a running debate by mail, one of "barely controlled civility." Swords says, "Wade Wellman and Donald Menzel resorted to introducing their letters to one another with 'Dear Duck' and 'Dear Weedy, referencing Wellman smoking pot, after a few exchanges---Menzel started this 'upmanship' by the way." Wellman thought Menzel was in denial of the extraterrestrial reality. In his article, on Menzel, "The UFO Sledgehammer" in the Jan-Feb, 1963, Flying Saucer Review, Wellman wrote, 
"It seems regrettable that so great an astronomer cannot leave the door open wide enough to back out gracefully when the full truth emerges. If our first landings on the moon run up against alien bases, Dr. Menzel may find his position slightly embarrassing."
Menzel and Wellman shared another interest besides UFOs; their love of fantastic fiction. Menzel contributed the cover for the issue of Galaxy magazine that also featured Wellman's poem, "The Martian Surface." It was a collaboration of sorts. When Menzel introduced it elsewhere, he wrote, "The following sonnet, written at my suggestion by Wade Wellman, interprets Martian life as we may expect to find it."

Galaxy, Sept. 1969

Graduating college seems to have cut into Wellman's UFO research time, but also he had other interests including, literature, writing poetry, space exploration, vampires, fantasy and science fiction. His 1963 thesis for the University of North Carolina, was titled '"Literary Treatments of the Vampire." Wellman graduated from UNC in 1964 with a Master of Arts degree, and in 1965 he was an instructor in English at the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point. In 1967, he was an English instructor at Boise College in Idaho, and he published a 131-page collection of his poetry, November Wind, from Golden Quill Press.

An awkward visit to the UK

In late 1966, Wellman visited the UK, and part of his trip there was for the purpose of examining UFO files. At his site devoted to writer John Keel, Doug Skinner published some information on Wellman's visit to the UK home of Charles Bowen of the FSR:
Many readers of The Mothman Prophecies will remember a disturbing “Man In Black” named “Tiny,” who visited a family in New Jersey in 1967. (It’s in Chapter 8, if you want to look it up.) John sent a detailed report of this encounter to other researchers shortly after it happened... One of these researchers, Charles Bowen (the editor of Flying Saucer Review), wrote back to say that Tiny reminded him of an unpleasant UFO buff who had visited him the year before.
Bowen's letter to Keel about the visit states: "In November I received a letter from Wade Wellman who announced that he was flying over to England to do research in the British Museum (checking on a manuscript about vampires!)." Wellman arrived on Dec. 10, 1966, and Bowen found the large young man to be very strange, both in appearance and behavior. "He often broke into poetry... reciting it as though he had learnt it computer fashion. He drank the best part of a bottle of my Martini & got himself well sloshed — & ranted on about poor misunderstood Hitler etc. etc... I thought he was a schizo." The next day, when Wellman finally got around to asking to see FSR's UFO files, Bowmen lied, saying they were at his office in order to get rid of him.

Apparently Wellman had not been able to afford the trip himself and it was financed by his parents. Sadly, this episode seems to show that there were serious problems early in his adult life.

Flying Saucers Farewell

The end of the 1960s was a rough time for the UFO business. As Don Berliner explained, in 1967, NICAP had about 14,000 members, but trouble was coming. Assistant Director Richard Hall left NICAP, and the negative conclusions by Dr. Edward Condon's University of Colorado study on UFOs paved the way for the closure of Project Blue Book.

Regarding Wellman's warning about finding alien bases on the moon, we don't know how he reacted to this cartoon, but it appeared in the newspaper above an editorial that set him off.

Pat Oliphant cartoon as published in the Dubuque Telegraph Herald, Jan. 17, 1969

The Iowa newspaper, the Dubuque Telegraph Herald, Jan. 17, 1969, carried an opinion piece by William Hines, "UFO Buffs Launch A Paperback Barb." Hines' key points:
  • If a person is absolutely certain that John F. Kennedy's assassination was the work of a conspiracy, or that the earth is flat, or that flying saucers come from outer space, no study however scientific and no report however official will ever persuade him to the contrary. 
  •  The other day (Donald) Keyhoe called a news conference at Washington's National Press Club to trumpet his objections to the Condon report and   ever so incidentally – to plug a paperback book just published by a colleague.
  •  Keyhoe's dissent to the Condon report was the usual farrago of insinuation allusions and almost -truths that reporters have grown accustomed to at NICAP press conferences.
  • Leave the Keyhoes to the boob tube, the paperback shelves and the barbershop reading racks, and keep them out of the science classroom. Then perhaps we will all muddle through somehow after all.
The article caught Wellman's eye. He saw it as a "furious attack on Donald Keyhoe," and his scathing reply was printed four days later.
Dubuque Telegraph Herald, Jan. 21, 1969
Things didn't go Wellman's way. Don Berliner on how the Condon report heralded the end of an era:
"...public interest dissolved. NICAP's membership rolls shrank, the bank balance dwindled and operations had to be cut back. In the summer of 1969, with the membership already down below 8,000, there was a 50 percent cut in staff... The closing of the Air Force investigation seemed to have killed public interest." 
Donald Keyhoe, under pressure from the board of directors, resigned from NICAP.

Fantasy and Science Fiction

Wellman's UFO writing had trailed off in the 1960s, but into the 1970s, he wrote poetry, essays and stories for fantasy and science fiction magazines, much of it in the dark spirit of Weird Tales, while other poems looked to the wonders of outer space. His best-known work is the collaboration with his father on a series of Sherlock Holmes science fiction stories that pit the detective against H.G. Wells' Martian invaders from The War of the Worlds. In the resulting 1975 book, Sherlock Holmes' War of the Worlds, Wellman explained how the project came to be:
I suddenly began to ask myself—wondering, indeed, why I had never thought of it before—how Holmes might have reacted to H. G. Wells's Martian invasion. I determined to write a story on this subject and, since I am primarily a poet, felt obliged to ask for assistance. My father agreed to collaborate, suggesting that another Doyle character, Professor Challenger, be included. Our collaboration, "The Adventure of the Martian Client," was published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction for December, 1969.
The magazine introduced Wellman as "a published poet who is presently professor of English at Clarke College (Iowa)." The first story was followed in March 1972, by "Venus, Mars, and Baker Street," and a third in May 1975, "Sherlock Holmes Versus Mars." With those three stories and some additions and revisions, it was published in September of 1975 by Warner Books.

Sherlock Holmes' War of the Worlds had mixed reviews, and the Wilson Library Bulletin called it a "collision of Baker Street and outer space," but the premise alone captured the imagination of many readers around the world. The book was translated and published abroad,  and more recently, reprinted as The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: War of the Worlds in 2009. The book made a lasting impression. It can be said that The War of the Worlds was the first UFO story, so it's fitting that Wellman called in the ultimate detective to investigate on the case.

His Last Bow

Wade Wellman seems to have dropped out of Ufology about the time NICAP withered, but he was heard from again about twenty years later, in a call to CUFOS. Jerome Clark, UFO historian, wrote
"I spoke with him on the phone once, probably in the early 1990s, when I was at the Center for UFO Studies office in Chicago researching my UFO Encyclopedia. Wellman called... He told me he was living in Milwaukee and working... I knew who he was — he wrote some essays for FSR, and I was aware he was Manly Wade’s son — and I recalled Charles Bowen’s story, which he’d related to me not long after the notorious encounter. So I was on my guard. Wellman seemed normal enough, however. I don’t recall much of the substance of the conversation, except that one point he expressed admiration for Donald Keyhoe’s prose."
There's more than a hint that Wellman suffered from some mental health and chemical dependency problems, but it's not clear just when it all began. The 1960s were a tumultuous time that included a lot of young people radically experimenting with drugs and sex, and it's worth noting that few stories about dark poets have happy endings. Wade had a troubled relationship with his parents, and reportedly, treated them horribly. Apparently, the Wellmans loved Wade and continued to support him financially, but disapproved of his personal life. 

Wade's father died in 1986, and his mother Frances died in 2000. In a tribute to Manly Wade Wellman, fantasy fiction scholar Steven R. Trout wrote that, "Manly’s own son Wade seems likely to have been a disappointment to him, as David Drake reports he was living in a 'charity hostel' because of substance abuse issues at the time of his mother’s death." 

A Postscript

When the first Holmes vs the Martians story appeared in the Dec. 1969 Fantasy and Science Fiction, it included an epilogue by Wade Wellman, "A Postscript by the Junior Collaborator." He described how he concieved the idea for the story, but his final two paragraphs touched on the UFO topic.
The depth and magnitude of Wells's idea is increasingly relevant as the years go by. It seems to me that the UFO's may well represent a technology as far above human civilization as we are above the communities of jungle animals. Their observations of the earth might be likened to a zoological team observing zebras in the jungle. Again, a human being watching a UFO hover in the air may be in the position of a baboon watching a hovering helicopter. I strongly suspect that this is the case. But, whatever the reality behind the UFO's may be, I feel that our emergence into space must inevitably, at some time, bring us into contact with "minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish," to quote again from Wells's own text. We must not refuse this challenge, but even so I am disturbed by the efforts now being made to signal other worlds. Years ago an unnamed space scientist was quoted as saying that, to certain alien races, we might be "the finest beef animals." He knew his H. G. Wells, and that his warning was unheeded is a reproach to the poor alertness of his colleagues.
In any case, the conquest of space and the UFO surveillance are the beginning of events which will broaden our horizons tremendously, whatever their final outcome. It is for this reason that every thinking person should study Wells's original idea and apply its significance and implications to our own time.
The later version published introducing the Holmes book dropped all references to UFOs.

Wellman had recommended the writing of Otto O. Binder (science fiction, comic book and UFO author) in his angry 1969 reply to the 
Dubuque Telegraph Herald, and Binder dedicated his 1972 historical fiction novel, The Forgotten Colony, "To Wade Wellman for the new light he shone on Benedict Arnold and his military genius."  Binder remembered him again in another book. Mankind: Child of the Stars was a 1974 non-fiction book exploiting the "Ancient Astronauts" fad. It carried an introduction by Erich Von Daniken, with his name appearing on the cover above that of the authors, Max H. Flindt and Otto O. Binder. A poem by Wellman opens the book, possibly his last published words on the UFO subject.

To the Authors 
We search with humbled thoughts and reeling brains 
For stellar footprints, cosmic legacy, 
For signs of visitors from distant lanes 
Who bred this race in dim prehistory, 
And wonder if these watchers of the earth, 
These strange observers from a stranger port, 
Evolved us from the brutes to foster mirth, 
Created us in fancy and in sport. 
The mighty structures of a dateless age 
That hold their stories thoughtfully concealed 
May still become an open lamplit page 
In which these riddles show themselves revealed; 
And we, who strive to open and to rob 
The secrets, face the laughter of the mob. 
                                                      – WADE WELLMAN

Frank Edwards: Making UFOs Newsworthy

Dr. J. Allen Hynek on UFO literature (in  The Edge of Reality , 1975): “If I were to recommend anything in the popular category, I would cho...