Monday, August 17, 2009

My Life with UFOs, Part 1, District 9

I saw the movie District 9 this weekend and found it very entertaining. It reminded me of my life with UFOs. Check it out.

Here we have the cover of Science & Mechanics, August 1968.

UFOs not only invaded New York, they invaded Ithaca, NY (my home turf), and more specific they invaded the woods and swamps of Newfield, NY.

At the time the incident was said to be the most extended ‘flap’ since Kenneth Arnold’s sightings over Mount Rainier.

A quote from the eye witness Mrs. Anna “X” who lived over near Connecticut Hill and Arnot Forest, “What I saw was even bigger in diameter than that big tractor tire sitting down there in the yard.” “I had already turned off the television because it wouldn’t straighten out, no matter how I jiggled the knobs.”

Mr. B was out fishing, “He was a little guy, maybe three feet tall, and he was wearing what looked to me like a diving suit. It was all black rubber or some such material. He never took his helmet off. And through the glass in front of the helmet I could see his skin was very dark brown. His face looked something like a monkey’s. But he had no hair at all. He planted himself in front of me and started to gesture.” [We can only begin to imagine what that was about.]

Here is a sketch of what Donald Chiszar, then 13 years old, saw:

The significance of all this, in my life, was that Aerial Investigations & Research, Inc. (headed by one William D. Donovan) took up camp in our house... with my stepfather as some sort of officer of the organization, and for several years the folks of the Tompkins County and surrounding area who had witnessed a UFO sighting of any sort showed up -- once a month -- in our living room. Up to that time in my life I had not particularly experienced science fiction all that much and here we had these folks who were very adamant about their very real non-fiction experiences and they were telling their true-life stories.

If you ever need me to tell you how Jesus stepped out of my television set and you want me to make it sound authentic that it really true did happen so help me god then I know how to do that as I have learned at the knees of some of the best in the business.

I knew a whole lot about Men in Black way before Close Encounters of the Third kind came out. Did you know that their blood, if it is blood, is green?

I remember my own spouting off for a half hour or so in the basement, with my one real true UFO book in my sweaty hands, all trembling to fall over with nervous excitement of the adventure... to lay out to Mr. Donovan what techniques we may want to follow in order to encourage a visitation!

I was flattered with my own scientific erudition. I heard years later that Mr. Donovan went on from the Ithaca scene down toward Woodstock along the Hudson and organized gatherings of folks to hang out on naked hilltops. I am not sure if they held hands, wore aluminum foil on their heads, sniffed incense and sang Kum Bah Yah, or not.

For a good while there an EMERGENCY report would come in to our headquarters of a sighting or a cluster of mysteriously leaning over trees in a State Forest and we would run off to tramp around and see what was to be seen. Usually we saw not a whole lot though I will admit I saw a few odd things and if I can ever afford it I might go for regression hypnosis to find out just what happened that night I was walking my bike back from Boy Scouts and the giant white balloon Zeppelin thingy flew over... and I was home late by an hour. Or that really weird moon that I saw out the bedroom window where a moon has never been then, nor before or since. When I first realized as an adult I have tinnitus my immediate reaction was to wonder if they had found me (and that only after I concluded it was not my car buzzing). This is not a joke; really, I live, and sleep, in fear of an alien abduction. I fear it enough that I suffer from nocturnal flatulence since my subconscious discovered that they can’t handle that... that smell.

My life with UFOs in an odd way corresponded with my life with marijuana and beer. As a teenager it became something of a sport to toke up then grab a six of cold beer and go hang with the old man on a hilltop with binoculars, freezing our nuts off, late into the night. And there were those other nights we would drive around on back country dirt roads and the truck would suddenly act funny.

My own uprightly religious grandmother confessed to me that she saw three little people standing at the base of her bed one night when she was awoken. She claimed they were minions of the Devil. It may have been an aborted abduction --- but what they would want with her is an even bigger mystery to me. She was way past breeding age.

Then there was Jimmy Orr who when we first met him was a door-to-door encyclopedia salesman. I was an avid reader of real science -- I knew all about coral atolls, radiation and evolution -- and I remember him one day spreading out the encyclopedias on the living room floor and giving us his best salesman pitch. I think he may have taken inspiration classes, or special sell-a-thon pills.

He was one of the loudest proponents of the Newfield UFO flap, the guy that got everyone into action... in the Science & Mechanics there is a picture where he stands in a snowy field, wearing black, his arms stretched out as if he may want to fly, but his head pointed down at the ground looking at three dark splots that could be cow pies for all I can tell this many years later. So much for my powers of time travel.

That inspection of bull manure almost sums up Mr. Orr who in short order got his application to the Ithaca Police Department accepted and he quickly turned turn-coat and denied everything.

But not before the legendary J. Allen Hynek himself had shown up to find out what all the Ithaca noise was about.

If you look it up on the internet you will find some Cornell engineering student claims he sent up a plastic hot-air bag with a sterno burning in it... but he had to have done that on a slew of nights to match the local hysteria of sightings.

On the looney toon side it was said of Mr. Orr that he wanted to be a cop because a stud in uniform made the girls horny. Other than that he was a complete asshole. The last time I saw him he tried to bust me and several of my friends... but that is a whole ‘nother story. All I can say to it is I never saw a UFO while on acid.

Then there were our friends Eve and Feister who went west and never returned. They may have gone off with the Hale-Bopp folks, but we may never know. There was a big write up in the Ithaca Journal that I have around here somewhere.

I do not want to go on here much further this time around, and may get to a Part 2, but I will say that I own, and have read since 1968 several hundred UFO books, a few of them rarities from the 50s. Next time around I might tell about how Brookhaven Labs shot down the UFO in our local community. It crashed in one of our Long Island parks and the town built a horse stable over it as a cover-up... the Fed scientists shot it down with their proton cannon.

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