of a hoax
Above: Front page of the October 30, 1929, edition of Variety. Founded in 1905 in New York as a news daily for the entertainment trade, Variety became noted for its headlines, the most famous of which may be "Sticks Nix Hick Pix" for a story on rural audiences rejecting rural-themed movies. Just as notable were the contributions Variety made to the American lexicon, coining terms such as boffo, cliffhanger, kudos, hoofers, niteries, payola, and "will it play in Peoria?".
JUST PAST THE FIRST tentative days of autumn, 1950 -- on October 1st, to be precise -- a book which had been released in the waning days of summer made its initial appearance on the prestigious New York Times nonfiction bestseller list. It would still be there the next week, and the week after that, and in fact -- though it hovered always in the midst of the pack, never ascending to number one -- it would stay on the national bestseller list for 17 of the next 18 weeks.
Entitled Behind the Flying Saucers, it undoubtedly owed its success to its startling central premise: flying saucers had crashed on Earth and both the saucers and their dead crew were now in the secret possession of the United States government.
The author behind Behind the Flying Saucers was one Frank Scully, known primarily for being the gossip columnist for the show business trade daily Variety. But he had also proven himself to be a successful book author as well, years earlier having penned a series called Fun In Bed as a guide for convalescents. This had been followed in 1943 by Rogues Gallery, made up of essays on the famous people Scully had known. Yet nothing in Scully's prior endeavors seemingly equipped him to become an authority on the saucers.
Nor was Scully's the first nonfiction book on the subject -- that honor went to Major Donald Keyhoe with The Flying Saucers Are Real, which had been released in late spring. But unlike Keyhoe's book, which was factual and documented, Behind the Flying Saucers relied completely on anecdote to support its claim -- depending entirely on the veracity of Scully and the scientists he claimed had worked on the saucers and then told him their story.
One of these scientists, said Scully, was a "geophysicist". Another, a "magnetic research scientist" -- the top man in his field in the world -- who "had been in government service on top secret defense projects for seven years and had played a part in 35,000 experiments on land, sea, and air, involving 1,700 scientists". This second scientist was pseudonymously called "Dr. Gee".
But the first two chapters of Scully's book had focused on the first scientist -- the "geophysicist" -- by way of telling the story of a lecture which had taken place in March, 1950, in Colorado. For this, Scully relied heavily on an article written by Denver Post reporter Thor Severson about the lecture. The story, as it was later reprinted in the March 24, 1950, edition of the Lethbridge, Canada, Herald, was this...
Here's Latest In "Saucers"
Fact of fiction, truth or trick?
That's what everyone is asking about flying saucers these days.
Here is a report of a lecture given to a University of Denver basic science class last week by a man represented as a science expert -- a man whose name is still a closely guarded secret.
A transcription of his fifty-minute discussion of the saucers was played Saturday before a group of Denver businessmen, two of them United Air Lines executives who remained frankly skeptical of the ideas presented.
The lecture, sponsored by the University of Denver, is a matter of record and considerable speculation. Here is a report of the controversial saucer speech.
(By THOR SEVERSON)
(In Denver Post.)
The flying saucer . . .
Does it exist?
If it does, is it born of the earth planet or is it interplanetary?
And the men who operate them -- are they the strange little creatures of foreign planet life some men in authority have pictured, little men who have tapped the wells of knowledge far deeper than the earth-bound human?
These are disturbing questions.
Wednesday . . . a stranger whose identity was shrouded in a cloak of carefully spun mystery gave some disturbing answers -- this in an address before a classroom of students at the University of Denver.
His fifty-minute address shocked the campus into divided camps -- those who believed, those who scoffed in disbelief. Saturday, his identity was still closely guarded by his sponsor, George Koehler of radio station KMYR. He still was identified only as a "man of science", a man accepted by the University of Denver as of a "mature mind."
But this speech, captured by wire recording, was relayed before a hand-picked group of aviation experts and businessmen Saturday In the KMYR studios.
His amazing remarks, reconstructed, ran something like this:
There is a flying saucer.
The air force has NOT abandoned its Operation Saucer as it said.
Four of these saucers have actually landed on the earth.
Three of the four have been captured and are now under research.
Thirty-four men, obviously from another planet, and measuring approximately thirty-six inches in height, were found dead in three of the saucers.
The first saucer to land on the earth landed within the last two years and on a site within 500 miles from Denver.
The saucers apparently come from the planet Venus, not Mars.
Under research, the metal used in the saucers has disclosed two minerals unknown to the earth man.
Articles found in the first space ship included an instrument which measures lines of magnetic force and an odd type of paper with hieroglyphics strange to earth communications.
The captive saucers apparently operate on lines of magnetic force.
It is entirely possible that the ships are capable of travelling from the planet Venus to the planet earth -- a distance of 161 million miles when the orbits lie in extreme positions -- in one hour.
The lecturer, never identified in his introduction, spoke before upward of 200 students. His delivery was calculated, slow. There was no accent of diction to betray his origin. He used scientific terms with familiarity, bespeaking a knowledge of science.
He repeatedly used the word "we" in referring to scientific experiments on the strange craft he said existed. Yet he did not actually associate himself with the experiment. Sandwiched in the lecture was a hint, also, that soon full disclosure of the government's interest in flying saucers is forthcoming.
The lecturer said the first craft to land on earth was ninety-nine and nine-tenth feet in diameter with a central cabin measuring seventy-two inches in height. The second he said, measured seventy-two feet in length. The third thirty-six feet.
All craft, he said, had a revolving ring of metal encircling the outer edge, and stationary cabins. He implied that the ring might be a controlling force in harnessing lines of magnetic force, or used in guiding the craft itself.
He indicated the saucer is capable of maneuvering in any given direction, that it could land, also, in any direction since it had a tricycle type landing gear of three metal balls.
The speed of the saucer, he said, is probably virtually unlimited.
It is entirely logical, also, to accept the theory that a craft could operate with harnessed magnetic force, he argued, since the entire universe is controlled by lines of magnetic force.
Sixteen men, ranging in ages from 35 to 40 if the earth's gauge of time is employed, were taken dead from the first craft, he said. Their bodies had been charred the color of a dark coat [sic].
Sixteen dead men were also taken from the second craft. These, said the speaker, were as fair complexioned as the Anglo-Saxon. Except for their small stature, they were physically comparable to the earth man, he indicated. With one difference -- they had no beards, just "something resembling peach fuzz."
Two men were taken from the third craft -- also dead.
The lecturer indicated, further, that all three craft so far referred to landed under their own power, that they did not crash, suggesting that, even if the men died before the saucers touched the earth there was some off-setting power to land.
Nor was there a rivet or a bolt or screw in the entire assembly of the ship, said the lecturer. The control board, he saw, was a mass of push buttons. As to the metal -- it was he said, extremely light; and, subjected to 10,000 degrees of heat -- the system of measurement either Fahrenheit or Centigrade, was not mentioned -- it defied decomposition.
The speaker did not refer to any type of propelling motor. He said, simply, that the craft operated on lines of magnetic force and indicated the means had been found to switch from Venus' lines of force to lines of force controlling the earth thereby permitting interplanetary flight.
He made no reference to actually finding weapons but he suggested that the foreign planet tes [sic] may have also solved the riddle of disintegration, since one plane which assertedly followed a flying saucer was "disintegrated."
He told, also, that a wafer-like food, which expands when in water, was found on one of the crafts, that one craft, also, had wall enclosed bunk-type beds for sleeping.
Late in his speech the lecturer referred to the discovery of a fourth saucer. A group of scientists he did not identify stumbled onto the craft, he said, near a government proving ground. It was unoccupied but nearby they saw several of the "little men". They gave chase but somehow were eluded. Later, when they returned to the saucer, the ship was gone.
The saucer, and the men, he said, just "disappeared".
At no time did the speaker suggest where the crafts he claimed exist are being put under the blazing lamp of research. Nor did he suggest what happened to the bodies of the thirty-four men he said were found dead In the first three crafts to land.
He said simply: "There is a flying saucer."
The subsequent quest of reporters and (allegedly) of the Air Force to find the identity of the speaker had consumed much of Scully's chapters one and two, with Scully finally revealing the name of the "mystery lecturer" just once -- being Silas Mason Newton, the "geophysicist" whom Scully compared favorably to Galileo, Albert Einstein, and J. Robert Oppenheimer.
But it would take another complete chapter yet -- being chapter three -- to fully introduce the Silas Newton of Scully's tale to his readers.
Above: 1951 French-language paperback edition of Frank Scully's "Behind the Flying Saucers", published in France as "The Flying Saucer Mystery".
SCULLY BEGAN his readers' introduction to Newton with a story impossible to verify...
Chapter Three: Some Personal History
LONG BEFORE this point, many readers must have asked themselves, "How did Scully get into all this?"
Frankly, I wrote my way into it. Years ago I wrote the inside story of how I happened to be the author of Frank Harris's life of Bernard Shaw. I later incorporated the articles into a book called Rogues Gallery -- a title which I subsequently gave to Ellery Queen for a book of detective stories, only to find it used without permission in movies, radio, and everywhere else as time went by.
Among the readers of Rogues Gallery was one who wrote in substance: "You keep picking around the edges of Harris. Why don't you write a book about him?" It was signed "Silas M. Newton."
The name rang a bell in my memory. When Harris and his wife made a trip from Nice to New York in the winter of 1929-1930, Silas Newton paid for it. He housed them in his Park Avenue residence and arranged for their invitation to talk to Washington officialdom on Shakespeare.
Months later, after he had returned to the French Riviera, Harris told me that on the steamer to America he got a call in his cabin from port authorities. He was seventy-two at the time and in no mood for detention at Ellis Island for having written his Life and Loves. In his pocket was a vial of potassium cyanide.
"My God, Nellie," he cried. "They've got me!"
But it turned out the official had come to his cabin to inform him he had been extended the freedom of the port.
He was overwhelmed by Newton's beneficence. Newton offered him a $10,000 grant to make a world tour and compare what he saw with what he had observed as a young man. But Harris was not up to such an assignment. His memory simply wasn't there from day to day, let alone to be trusted with a fifty-year perspective.
That Scully seemed to believe that he had personally coined the term "rogues gallery" -- which had been in widespread use in America since the 1800s -- was odd in itself. But then, it was an odd story to begin the chapter with in any case -- both in the tale itself as well as in the telling.
Scully had been personal secretary to Harris at the time, and yet the name of the man who had purportedly paid for Harris's "trip from Nice to New York in the winter of 1929-1930" (undoubtedly requiring a considerable amount of time and effort to arrange), and who had "housed them in his Park Avenue residence", upon which he offered Harris "a $10,000 grant to make a world tour" (a very substantial sum in 1929) and who further had literally saved Frank Harris from committing suicide via "a vial of potassium cyanide" because the man had personally arranged for a port official to visit Harris with the news that Harris had been "extended the freedom of the port", this man -- Silas Mason Newton -- had merely rung "a bell in my memory" some years later.
But especially odd was the 72-year old Harris's decision to leave the comforts of his home in the French Riviera to undertake an Atlantic crossing with a suicide plan in place -- and from Scully's description intended to occur in front of or in conjunction with that of his Harris's wife -- in the event of "detention at Ellis Island".
But as in much of Scully's book, it was all anecdotal and unverifiable -- Harris had died two decades before Scully made the claim. And possibly -- like Scully's assertion that he "happened to be the author of Frank Harris's life of Bernard Shaw" -- partially or completely untrue.
Fortunately, there is at least a little known about the life Silas Newton -- the man whom Scully would make the focus of this third chapter -- before he entered Scully's world.
The barest details of his early life are to be found in a genealogy trace -- Silas Mason Newton was born on July 19, 1887, in Shelby County, Kentucky, son of John D. Newton (born in Fayette County, Alabama, in 1858) and Katherine Moore Newton, other information unknown.
At the age of 24 Silas was married to Mattie Dumbeck, in Texarkana, Texas, this being in 1911. What happened between the date of his birth and the date of his first marriage is mostly unknown, except for a piece Newton himself would pen for his biographical entry in the History of the Class of 1909, Volume II, privately-published in 1915 by and intended for the alumni records of Yale University. That entry reads...
Silas Mason Newton
Provident Building, Waco, Texas
Newton received the degree of Ph.B. in 1908 at Baylor University, joining Yale 1909 in Senior year. He writes: "Immediately after graduation I became connected with the fiscal department as manager of the Amicable Life Insurance Company, Waco, Texas, where I remained until February, 1911. In June, 1910, I traveled over Europe for four months, meeting en tour many Yale men. Early in 1911 I bought the Hollis Stock Farm in Texas and sent to the Grand circuit that summer the fastest pacing mare ever bred in Texas. She won four out of five starts on the Grand Circuit, pacing three heats at North Randal better than 2:05 minutes each. Before the year ended I had sold my stock, as I did not have time to give to the management of same. They afforded me some recreation, but athletic sports in my old school, Baylor University, interested me more. I succeeded in getting Ralph Glaze, the old Dartmouth star, to coach athletics in Baylor, hence, I took great interest in his very successful work.
"During the summer of 1911, I become so interested in Mattie Dumbeck, a Kansas City girl, that on December 6, 1911, we were married in Texas, at Texarkana, with great pomp and ceremony (very bombastic, yet why not?), and spent a most pleasant honeymoon at Hotel Galvez, Galveston, Texas.
"During 1912 and 1913 was in the service of the Guarantee Life Insurance Company, as general agent, producing nearly two millions of business.
"In the course of human, et cetera, a babe was born, and my recreation occupation changed from golf and athletics in general to the proper care of my child. Good fortune gave us a boy and a healthier specimen never saw this globe. That he may be a man 'all in all' is my determination. That he may help uphold the honor of 'Old Eli' about twenty years hence is my wish.
Early this year I became interested in the organization of the largest plumbing, gas and steam fitting company in Texas, to be located at Fort Worth, where a most peculiar condition favored such an institution. We bought two of the largest companies here and I am permanently with this company as sales manager.
"Have a beautiful home here, and added to the care of the boy, have about five hundred homing pigeons to attend to.
"Books have a peculiar interest for me, and my library has grown very rapidly. A study of the religions of the world, ancient and modern, has been my most interesting study; Voltaire, Paine, Haeckel, Ingersoll, Hubbard, Managasarian, having helped to change many of my old orthodox ideas.
"There are many Yale men here, and my love for the old college ripens with the years. Good old Billy Phelps paid me a most pleasant visit when he was down this way.
"Life so far has shown me many of its sides. Each one, however, teaches me something good."
Newton is a member of the Huaco Club, of Waco, Texas, and the Glen Garden Country Club of Fort Worth, Texas. In politics he is a Democrat.
He was married December 6, 1911, in Texarkana, Texas, to Mattie Fletcher, daughter of Fred C. and Mary (Rosborough) Dumbeck. They have one son:
Frederick Dumbeck, born March 24, 1913, in Waco, Texas.
Of interest here is that Newton -- Scully's "geophysicist" -- had in fact earned a Bachelor in Philosophy prior to coming to Yale, and after graduating went to work in the "fiscal department" of an insurance company. Earlier, in chapter one, Scully also stated that Newton "did postgraduate work at the University of Berlin" -- another "fact" not in evidence in Newton's own description of his post-Yale career.
Also of interest is Newton's marriage and son, for as far as Newton's researchable history goes, Newton drops off the radar until his reappearance twelve years later -- sans any mention of wife or child -- in 1927, when as a member of New York's exclusive Lido Golf Club, he began attracting some notice in the New York Times' sports coverage as a competitive amateur golfer.
In 1928 Newton also garnered some public attention for purchases he made at auction -- $900 "for a seventeenth century set of Spanish blue velvet applique horse trappings" in January, and $1200 for a "Louis XVI style three-piece walnut salon suite" in December. The next year he would begin to receive coverage for his business dealings as well -- starting with an odd story from the January 1, 1929, edition of the New York Times...
Stock Action Dismissed
Prosecutor to Get Testimony in Suit of Weidenfeld Against Newton.
The suit brought by Camille Weidenfeld, former member of the Stock Exchange, against Silas M. Newton, an amateur golfer, for recovery of 62,500 shares of stock of the American Controlled Oil Fields Company, valued at $7 a share, was dismissed yesterday by Supreme Court Justice Peters, who signed a judgment directing the County Clerk to turn the stock over to the defendant. Norman P.S. Schloss, counsel for Mr. Newton, announced that Justice Peters also ordered testimony in the case to be given to the District Attorney. It was asserted that a receipt for 8,800 shares of the stock, purported to have been signed by Newton, was a forgery.
Mr. Weidenfeld brought his suit on the ground that the stock was due him for organizing the oil company and for having its stock listed on the Curb Exchange. Mr. Schloss said the stock had been held in escrow by the Trust Company of North America and 8,800 shares were missing when the shares were offered for sale on the exchange. The attorney said that a receipt for the stock was produced during trial of the suit, the plaintiff asserting he had received the shares in partial payment of the 62,500 shares.
Justice Peters held Mr. Weidenfeld had not performed his part of the contract, and was not entitled to the stock, that the reputed receipt was a forgery and that the 62,500 shares legally belonged to the defendant.
And on March 28, 1930, the New York Times carried the following squib concerning Newton's growing business interests...
Indiana Utility Widens Field
Evansville, Ind., is being served with natural gas from the fields of the Indiana Southwestern Gas and Utilities Corporation, Silas M. Newton, president, announced yesterday. He added that the company plans to construct additional pipe lines besides those serving Evansville, Vincennes, Princeton, Washington, Oakland City and Francisco and will do some financing soon.
And the oil fields were being good to Newton, according to the August 1, 1930, edition of the Pittsburgh Press...
New Texas Gas Field Developed
With the recent opening up of a new producing area in the Pettus area in Bee county, Texas, by Grayburg Oil company, a subsidiary of Indiana Southwestern Gas and Utilities Corporation, Silas M. Newton, president, reports the development of considerable activity in this division of the company's operations. The company's Kimball No. 2 well, which is near the Kimball No. 1 discovery well, is drilling at 2,100 feet, and the Copeland No. 1 well in the same location is drilling at 1,040 feet. A number of additional wells are also drilling on adjoining properties. Mr. Newton states that the demand for the Grayburg Oil Company's "Ilnoc Blue" gasoline is steadily increasing and the refinery output is unable to take care of the present demand.
That October, it was announced that Newton was married -- and extremely wealthy to boot -- as from the front page of the October 31, 1930, edition of the St. Petersburg, Florida Evening Independent...
Reporter Who Marries Husband Worth $40,000,000, Continues Daily Task of Writing Sports
New York, Oct. 31. -- (AP) -- She's married to forty million dollars but she continues as a reporter.
She rides to the office in a limousine but gets out of it around the corner and "walks to work."
She has a house with 10 servants but her typewriter is as battered as any.
She's Mrs. Silas Newton, nee Nan O'Reilly, and one of the few women sports writers in the country. She writes for the New York Journal.
She's been married for 18 months and even her closest friends apparently didn't know it.
And how was it kept secret? Merely by not attempting to hide it.
"You won't fire me will you?" was the first question she asked when her editor found out she was married.
Assured her job was safe she heaved a sigh of relief and asked for a vacation. She and Mr. Newton are on it now, somewhere in the middle west.
They were married just before they sailed for Europe for the British open in 1928, he to participate, she to write about it.
In addition to being a well known amateur golfer he is president of the Indiana Oil and Gas corporation. He gave her a million dollars as a wedding present.
But trouble would soon follow, as revealed in Newton's next appearance in the Times on February 13, 1931...
Lydig Gems Stolen From Silas Newton
Items Among Ten Pieces Taken in $15,000 Theft at Home of Wealthy Oil Operator -- Bought At Recent Sale -- Intruder Said to Have Ransacked Jewel Case, Selecting Most Valuable Heirlooms.
Ten pieces of jewelry valued at about $15,000, some of them purchased from the estate of Mrs. Rita De Acosta Lydig, were stolen from the home of Silas Newton, a wealthy oil operator, at 52 East Sixty-eighth Street, it was revealed last night by Lieutenant Thomas Duggan, in command of detectives at the East Sixty-seventh street station. The jewelry was the property of Mrs. Newton.
Early Tuesday evening, while in her bedroom on the second floor, Mrs. Newton placed the jewelry in a case on her dressing table.
While dressing for dinner on Wednesday night Mrs. Newton attempted to open the case, but had difficulty with one of the catches. One of her maids assisted her. When it was opened Mrs. Newton found ten of the most valuable pieces of jewelry were missing.
The Lydig jewelry was purchased at a recent auction. The ten missing pieces included a pearl necklace, two bracelets and rings.
And as is sometimes the way of the world, trouble would follow upon trouble for Newton, as from the July 9, 1931 edition of the Times...
Oil Man Is Seized On Fraud Charge
Silas Newton Accused by Jersey Resident of Duping Him Into $25,000 Stock Purchase -- Two Others Are Hunted -- Operator, Also Known as an Amateur Golfer, Denies Any Wrongdoing in Deal
Detectives from police headquarters and Newark, N.J., arrested Silas M. Newton, 43 years old, of 52 East Sixty-eighth Street, reputed to be a wealthy oil operator and amateur golfer, yesterday on a charge of conspiring with two others to defraud a 74-year-old man of his life savings, amounting to $25,000.
Newton, who maintains offices at 150 Broadway, was arrested as he appeared in response to a subpoena at the office of the State Bureau of Securities, 80 Centre Street. The warrant was issued by the Justice of the Peace J.H.E. Scotland of Essex County, N.J. on the complaint of Hugo E. Distelhurst, 246 Christopher Street, Upper Montclair, retired New York real estate dealer. Newton was taken to the Elizabeth Street station and then to police headquarters for photographing and finger printing. Mr. Newton was released on $25,000 bail by Magistrate Gottlieb in night court.
According to the complaint made to Deputy Assistant Attorney General Ambrose V. McCall and to the New Jersey authorities by Mr. Distelhurst, an associate of Newton's approached the retired real estate dealer and interested him in the stock of the Indiana Southwestern Gas and Utilities Company. Distelhurst said he was told that the stock of this company was closely held and that a merger with other companies was contemplated. He also said he was informed that Newton was the controlling stockholder of the Indiana company and was organizer of the proposed merger. Later, he asserted, he was introduced to Newton in his New York office by the man who called on him and another, for whom the police are also searching.
Distelhurst declared that when he came to Newton's office, the man with him pleaded with Newton to be permitted to buy Indiana Southwestern Gas and Utilities stock. He said Newton refused at first to sell any of the stock, "but later as a special favor agreed to sell the stock."
Distelhurst told the authorities his companion bought 250 shares of the stock at $100 a share. Then, Distelhurst said, the man with him pleaded with Newton to sell an additional 250 shares which he (Distelhurst) bought.
The price for this stock was $25,000, Distelhurst giving a demand note backed by collateral for $7,000 and deed to his home in Upper Montclair, in which there is an equity of $18,000. Shortly after the purchase Distelhurst becoming suspicious of the value of the stock came to the Office of State Attorney General John J. Bennett Jr., where he described the entire transaction to Mr. McCall.
Complaint to the New Jersey authorities also was made and the warrant was sworn out. Clippings show that on Feb. 12 of this year, thieves visited the home of Silas Newton, 52 East Sixty-eighth Street, and stole $15,000 worth of jewelry...
The story continued at some length, noting Newton "took his arrest lightly and said the entire matter would be cleared up". The story then quoted a lengthy statement "issued last night by Mr. Newton", in which he stated the stock "is of great value, and I purchased it for cash at $90 a share only a few months ago". The statement also said:
"The company is a large and going concern and is the dominant company in the natural gas utility business in Southern Indiana, besides having valuable and extensive oil properties and refineries in Texas. Its bonds are listed on the Chicago Stock Exchange.
"The entire transaction was concluded in the office of Mr. Distlehurst's attorney in Montclair, N.J.
"No money has been paid to me and the note referred to was given without collateral. Further developments will not only prove the truth of my statement, but will show that this action was not prompted by good faith. Mr. Distelhurst is represented as a poor man who invested his life's savings in this preferred stock, when, as a matter of fact, he is known to be an owner of large real estate properties in New York City. I have never offered any of this stock for sale; on the contrary, Mr. Distelhurst came to me and stated he wanted to purchase $75,000 worth of this stock.
"I am making this statement solely in the interest of the company whose stockholders include men of the highest standing in the business and the banking world."
But apparently all was well in Newton's world soon after, as by August the only news coverage to be found is of his activities in amateur golf, a situation which would remain over the coming three years. Then, in 1934, Newton was arrested once again, as from the September, 25, 1934, edition of the Times...
Held On Stocks Charge
Silas M. Newton Is Arrested Here on Indictments In Syracuse
Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES
SYRACUSE, N.Y., Sept. 24 -- Silas Mason Newton, 52 years old [sic, should be 47], of New York, Kansas and Texas, sought in connection with the alleged operations of the bankrupt Benjamin C. Baker Brokerage Company, was arrested in the Park Central Hotel in New York on a bench warrant and returned here this morning in custody of State Trooper Donald Devitt.
Newton suffered an attack of apoplexy six weeks ago which caused a partial paralysis of one side. He was only recently able to leave his bed, he said, and his condition is such that he intends to return to New York at once to continue treatments.
The indictments are sealed and will not be opened until Newton is arraigned. He is jointly indicted with Benjamin C. Baker, president and vice president of the company.
And -- according to FBI documents prepared decades later -- in July 1935 came two indictments in New York for violation of "952 P.L.", and two months later a warrant for second degree grand larceny, along with the notation for 1935 "WANTED by Det. 18th Sqd. Comp., #2163, 11-9-35 for Wichita, Kans."
Curiously, all of Newton's charges -- again, according to later FBI reports -- resulted in "no disposition". But for the next two years there would be no further coverage of Newton either in business or on the golf links. Until, on March 1, 1937, the New York Times carried the sad news that Newton's wife, Nan O'Reilly, had passed...
...after a two days' illness, of an intestinal ailment complicated by a weak heart. She was 41 years old.
And thereafter Newton's name dropped once again out of sight, until in 1938 sports columns began to mention a "Silas Newton of Denver, Colorado". Within a few years those columns began referring to Newton as "the Colorado veteran" on the amateur golf scene. In 1941, the Ames, Iowa Daily Tribune, in covering a golf tourney, made reference to "Silas Newton, whose home is given as Oelwein but who has lived at Denver in recent years...". The following year, a tournament championship would finally be Newton's to claim in his new home state of Colorado. Curiously, Newton's age was once again given in error (he was 55-years old at the time), as from the August 15, 1942, edition of the Reno, Nevada, Evening Gazette...
Tourney Winner 58 Years Old
DENVER, Aug. 15 (UP) -- Silas Newton, whose tournament golf career goes back to the days of wooden-shafted clubs and peasized balls, showed the younger links generation the value of playing straight and easy in winning the Colorado amateur championship.
The fifty-eight year old Denver oil man underlined the lesson by trimming Bill Korrs, University of Utah student from Salt Lake City, who is only twenty, in the title-deciding match yesterday, 6 and 5.
And in 1943 -- the year Scully's Rogues Gallery was first published -- is the following from the July 10, 1943, edition of the Salt Lake City, Utah Tribune, in a sports column bylined Jimmy Hodgson...
Silas Newton, Colorado amateur champion, who is playing in the tournament, has played on most of the famous golf courses in both the United States and Europe. ... After Friday's round Si said that in his opinion, "this eighteenth hole is the finest finishing hole in the world." ... That takes in a lot of territory, but Newton was sincere. ... He said the golf course had a lot of interesting holes, and was a pleasure to play. ... Si is no youngster. ... He's been playing golf for years but he's still a great tournament performer. ... He had a world of praise for Billy Korrs, whom he defeated in the Colorado finals last year.
And it was some unspecified time thereafter that Silas Newton would enter Frank Scully's orbit, and vice versa.
Above: Silas Newton, left, and Frank Scully, right.
THE ACTUAL CIRCUMSTANCES and timing of Newton and Scully's first meeting is never made clear by Scully -- who says only that Newton read Rogues Gallery and sent him a letter urging Scully to write a biography of Frank Harris -- leaving it to the reader to read between the lines as to the timing and circumstances of their eventual collaboration, as Scully picked up their relationship from where he had left off in chapter three with the tale of Frank Harris, above...
For years after that I had thought of Newton as a fine old Southern gentleman -- tall, slender, with possibly a white goatee, born in Kentucky, raised in Texas, mellowed in New York.
What I met instead was a short stocky man in his middle years, with not a gray hair in his head, a great athlete in his college years at Baylor and at Yale and a golf champion on some level almost forever after. His interest in literature had remained at a high level all his life. He was one of the great geophysicists of the oil industry, with a record of successful exploratory operations that was surpassed by none. He had made and spent millions and how he had rid himself of at least one million is an interesting sidelight to his character.
He was married to Nan O'Reilly at the time. She was New York's top feminine sports writer. After ten years of happily married life, he learned from her doctors that she was doomed to die in a year.
He put $1,000,000 in the bank in her name and said, "Nan, you simply do not know how to spend money. This has to be learned like anything else. I want you to practice with this million. Do what your best impulses tell you to do. Back plays, throw Park Avenue parties for people who never got out of Greenwich Village, publish their poetry -- anything -- but get rid of that million in a year."
In a year it was gone, and she was too.
So he left New York and for the next ten years sublimated his loss in exploratory operations...
But in fact Newton seems to have rebounded from his wife's death quite a bit faster than Scully's "ten years of sublimation", as within six months of O'Reilly's passing Newton was actively courting pioneering aviatrix Antonie Strassmann.
Antonie was a member of a prominent Jewish family in Berlin, who -- along with her parents and her brother -- had emigrated to the United States to escape Nazism and the rising specter of war. In her youth she had been a serious actress, earning acclaim in classical roles. She developed an interest in flying and became one of Germany's first women pilots. From there she turned businesswoman, and after emigrating to the U.S. was representative for several German manufacturers, including Junkers. In 1937, she became an American citizen.
In the early 1930s Antonie had become romantically entangled with the then-married Robert Hague, president of Standard Oil's subsidiary company operating its worldwide tanker ship fleet. No shrinking violet, Antonie was also seeing U.S. Senator Robert Rice Reynolds, who hoped to become the Democratic nominee for president in 1940. Antonie's relationship with Reynolds died a natural death at just about the time Hague declared he would be getting a divorce.
Hague secured a divorce decree but died at the beginning of 1939 before the decree became final. It was at this time she was pursued by Silas Newton -- an old friend of Hague's -- the course of the courtship and eventual marriage being as odd as any of Newton's other endeavors, as told by Antonie's brother W. Paul Strassmann in his fascinating biographical book, The Strassmanns: Science, Politics and Migration in Turbulent Times, beginning with events in December, 1937, just eight months after the passing of Nan O'Reilly...
For Christmas, 1937, he had given Antonie a matching set of jade earrings, a ring, and a bracelet set with diamonds. Antonie had written her parents on December 15 that Si had said "he was just waiting for the day when I say 'yes,' and would meanwhile be patient. That's touching because with various rivals, the odds are against him."
A civil wedding with Si did take place at Castle Rock, Colorado, on July 16, 1939, but Antonie returned to New York the following day. She thus left Si after a single night and immediately considered having the marriage annulled, as she later told her cousin, Gerhard Masur. They never lived together, and Si contributed nothing to the household. At first, Si refused to cooperate with a divorce and kept seeking a reconciliation, but Antonie thanked him and told him it was too late for that. To Erwin she wrote, in an undated letter of early 1941, that she sought "a quiet, quick, and decent divorce. Annulment unfortunately is impossible... One can divorce legally in Mexico in a single week. I just have to go there, establish residence in a day, and it's valid if he is considered represented... I'm hoping he'll agree. If only he could briefly get to the point. I can no longer abide his yard-long letters."
The marriage ended on March 2, 1942, with a decision in Chihuahua. Antonie's 1950 passport application says no more about him than "last known residence, Denver, Colorado." In her will, she bequeathed "unto Silas M. Newton of Denver, Colorado ... all interest in an oil lease owned by me on property in Ness City, Kansas." While she lived, I never heard his name and can only wonder about all the details.
None of which appeared in Scully's description of Newton, picking up again just after Nan O'Reilly's passing...
So he left New York and for the next ten years sublimated his loss in exploratory operations, chiefly from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. He traveled hundreds of thousands of miles, checking on likely sources of oil. He set up an independent company in Denver. It's still there and he's still president.
He took me on long rides through Wyoming, Colorado, California, trying to talk me into doing that book on Harris. His own tales of early wildcatters were far more interesting to me than twice-told tales of Harris.
He hunted for oil with instruments which had cost a fortune and were a closely guarded secret. With them he had rediscovered the Rangely oil field, years after the major oil companies had written it off as a failure.
Once an oil field was in operation he practically lost interest. Soon you'd find him out on the hunt to trap a new prey. His latest hunch was that there was more oil under the Mojave Desert than all of the Saudi Arabias [sic], which at that time were sanding the smooth quality of our international relations.
Sometimes he'd come in with a collateral piece of research which couldn't possibly interest him except as a means of checking his highly complicated instruments in another field. Once it was a gold deposit which he was certain was within thirty miles of a huge nugget he had picked up. The nugget assayed $82,000 to the ton! About $750 to the ton is commercial gold.
Like many of Scully's facts and figures, this was a calculation which was indecipherable in its purported details. His statement that "the nugget assayed $82,000 to the ton" could only refer to hard rock mining -- that is, gold residing in a deposit or "vein" within other rock, usually underground. But the "huge nugget he [Newton] had picked up" would have had to have been found above ground, from what is called a "placer deposit" -- otherwise known as "coarse gold" -- by definition "loose" gold separated from a vein, in which case there would be no "assayed value per ton". Such gold is found in sedimentary deposits, usually the result of having been washed there by rains, runoffs and rivers -- some of its movement dating back many thousands of years to the procession or melting of ice age glaciers -- and the stuff of prospectors "gold-panning" a river.
Equally odd is Scully's claim that Newton treated the discovery as a "collateral piece of research which couldn't possibly interest him except as a means of checking his highly complicated instruments", for -- as any geophysicist-businessman should have known -- it is possible to simply register a claim which can then be sold to others. That such potential profits were treated so lightly is baffling, to say the least.
Scully continued from there with his story...
While it's nice to know gold is within thirty miles of where you're standing, the problem is, in what direction? With 360 degrees to pick from, the radius doesn't help much. Newton put his instruments into operation and said, "There!"
He pointed northeast, set his compass and told us that over hill and crater we would go in a straight line from where the nugget was found and 27 miles away we would find the ore body that fathered it.
"Obviously it's an outcropping," he said. "No prospector would know how to get it otherwise."
He organized an expedition. He ordered equipment, men, and a jeep dispatched from Denver. They were to meet us at a motel near the California-Nevada line. We were routed out at 3:45 in the morning. We traveled to a jumping-off place in a new Oldsmobile and the jeep.
Four of them transferred to the jeep taking instruments, water, and food with them. I was left to guard the pass. From what? The nearest sign of life were some dinosaur's hoof prints -- and they were 30,000,000 years old.
"If we don't come back by noon, don't worry," said Newton. "If things go bad we might be held up til 4:30."
"And if you don't come back by sundown?"
"We're lost," he said.
Then he drove off with the keys to the rescue car. That meant if they were lost, I was too.
They left just as the sun was coming over the mountains. I was parked on a volcanic lava bed -- barren of the slightest vegetation. Not even a buzzard flew over the area all day.
By noon the heat became stifling. I stripped nude except for army boots and crawled under the car. Never had I seen such a God-forsaken spot.
I began to think of myself in terms of Captain Scott, that my end would be simply a matter of "these few notes and my dead body will tell the tale." In fact I even feared that the notes would burn up and never be found. I could see fifty miles in any direction and I could see nothing. I could get a radio station from Salt Lake City but they [sic] didn't help because they couldn't get me.
A sandwich and a canteen of water were gone by noon. I began to dry out, to salivate. I could have tried the radiator water, but it was full of rust and I felt that all that was left of me was ferrous oxide, the sodium chloride having long since evaporated.
Even if rescued I wouldn't know where to hunt for the others. There are 360 degrees in even a secret circle, leaving a 359-to-l shot that a searching party would find them.
They didn't return at noon. They didn't return by 4:30. So by Newton's own definition they were lost. It was too late to try hobbling back to civilization, so I decided to spend the night in the car, without food or water.
But after the sun had set I saw the lights of a jeep weaving in and out of the cactus, sage, lava beds, and sand. After three attempts to get to me they finally found a way in.
They returned gasping for water, pooped, glass-eyed. They drank some of the radiator water, threw a sack of ore, some tools, and their gold-crazed bodies in the car. Newton took the wheel and tore across the open valley to the crib where we had spent the night.
Once refreshed by a couple of coyote sandwiches and some diluted marijuana the natives used for coffee, Newton gave out with the big news. They had found the outcropping all right.
"Only it's on a reactivated military reservation," he said, "and we'll get our butts shot off if we go in there again. So I guess we'll have to shelve the project till the cold war is over."
The others agreed.
"Well, it vindicated my hunch that we could find other things besides oil by instrumentation," he added. "Let's get some sleep. We've got to get back to business."
The sack of ore he lured from a government military reservation weighed fifty pounds. It assayed $1,250.
That the entire performance seemed to have all the hallmarks of a confidence trick seems not to have occurred to Scully -- but then again, that the story itself might have been a literary confidence trick played by Scully on his readers seems not to have occurred to the vast majority of them, as well.
In any case, the details in Scully's telling were once again indecipherable.
The claim that Newton's "instruments which had cost a fortune and were a closely guarded secret" had not only located a gold vein within a distance of 30 miles, but that "his highly complicated instruments" had actually pinpointed a vein "27 miles away" which was coincidentally an outcropping requiring no mining equipment was a circumstance of near-unbelievable good fortune -- the only downside being that the miracle vein was located on a military reservation and couldn't be shown to anyone.
Of course Newton had already predicted that such would be the case, when after pinpointing it 27 miles away with his secret equipment but before he and his men left to find it, he was quoted by Scully with as odd a statement as appears in a book replete with odd statements...
"Obviously it's an outcropping," he said. "No prospector would know how to get it otherwise."
But having thus writ, Scully's pen moved on...
It was a year almost to the day, after this adventure in the broadcasting of microwaves from a gold outcropping to Newton's instruments, that Newton introduced me to his newest secret. I had introduced him to a girl, Sharon Chillison (he has since married her), and he invited her, Mrs. Scully, and me to dinner at the Sportsmen's Lodge in the San Fernando Valley. He had just come from Arizona, where he had been referred for some improvements in his geological research equipment. At the time of the dinner he had made thousands of surveys in the Mojave Desert and had just about decided to drill some test wells. All the big oil companies were convinced there was nothing in the area, but by instrumentation he was sure there was.
"Petroleum in place," he contends, "radiates magnetic energy and this is measurable."
The trouble was, how much? How deep did the wells go? Petroleum deposits hidden deep in the earth were constantly broadcasting through magnetic microwaves, he believed, what had been trapped in the various fault zones. The only handicap his instruments showed was that they could come within inches of telling him where oil could be found but could not tell him how much volume to expect. Thus he might come out with so little oil that for all practical purposes, he had drilled a dry hole.
In 1945 Newton told Walter Russell that the broadcasting of microwaves by his instrumentation never exceeded 32 miles. He didn't understand why. Russell explained why.
"Under one of my laws covering circular motion," he said, "the radius is limited to 32 miles because that is the limit of the earth's crust. Beyond that depth is a solid substance. Without knowing it you have discovered the thickness of the skin of the earth."
Newton was delighted to hear this and the delight was not lessened when 17 months later the telephone company announced that they were setting up a line between New York and Boston with relay stations every 30 miles because that seemed to be as far as microwaves would reflect. They did the same thing when setting up television relay stations between Los Angeles and San Francisco in 1950.
Now just six paragraphs further into his story, Scully had revealed his and Newton's badly mangled view of science, starting with the claim that there had been a "broadcasting of microwaves from a gold outcropping to Newton's instruments" and continuing with the statement that "petroleum in place radiates magnetic energy" -- neither statement having any basis in science then or since.
Nor is 32 miles "the limit of the earth's crust" -- which in the United States is approximately 19 to 28 miles deep, and lays atop a mantle stretching down some 1800 miles further. In any case, even if it had been true, Scully's nexus to phone and television companies needing "relay stations every 30 miles" above ground to broadcast from station to station through the atmosphere had no identifiable relation to the supposed "limit of the earth's crust".
But thoughtful reflection was not Scully's forte, and he moved his story quickly along with his version of subsequent events, which would introduce both him and his readers to the man who "had been in government service on top secret defense projects for seven years and had played a part in 35,000 experiments on land, sea, and air, involving 1,700 scientists" -- called by Scully, "Dr. Gee"...
Meanwhile Newton was applying the knowledge of microwaves to "petroleum in place." Since trapped oil was what he was looking for, that's all he was concerned about. That of course and an estimate of how much would be there before he started digging.
In the summer of 1949 he met Dr. Gee, a magnetic engineer who had been released in July after seven years of government servitude on all sorts of top-drawer projects. He had become a master of magnetic energy but $7,200 a year was all he could make for all his mastery. So he begged off government projects to get back to a more profitable business. He and Newton exchanged views and he told Newton that he thought Newton was operating, not merely on microwaves but on magnetic waves. He thought a magnetron, such as was developed during the war, might be able to detect the volume of oil. This, he explained, was possible because magnetic waves will not go through oil. They move over and under the petroleum. Thus it would be easy to subtract the difference and tell you how much volume there was in a given oil trap
This was the answer Newton was looking for and he signed Dr. Gee and his equipment to check on the Mojave Desert field before starting any wildcat operations.
While driving with Dr. Gee from Denver to Phoenix one day early in the summer of 1949 Newton tuned in on a news commentator who happened to be reporting a flying saucer story.
"Do you think there's anything to these things, Doctor?" Newton asked the magnetic research scientist.
The doctor nodded his head. "Too bad we weren't associated before," he said. "I could have worked you into the project of the first one we were called in to examine."
He pointed south of where they were driving.
"It landed down near Aztec, New Mexico. I got a call and flew down from Denver in three hours."
It was his group that had worked out the means by which Japanese submarines were detected by magnetic devices. So successful were the instruments, that we were able to knock out as many as 17 Jap submarines in one day. They had conducted 35,000 experiments for the government on land, sea, and air. They had moved magnetic research ahead hundreds of years and had spent a billion dollars doing it.
If so, it would come as a surprise to both the Allies and the Japanese -- a surprise to the Allies because they had found radar to be the most effective locator of enemy submarines above water and sonar to be the most effective against submarines which had dived below, and a surprise to the Japanese as well, whose greatest loss over the course of four years of United States involvement never exceeded two submarines in a single day.
But more eye-popping was the cost of "Dr. Gee's" research, at one billion dollars more than half the cost of the Manhattan Project, which had employed 133,000 people over the course of six years to develop the atomic bomb.
None of which facts seemed to phase Scully as he continued with his story...
Newton was explaining all this to us at dinner and then, as if he could keep a secret no longer from old friends, he started to tell the details of two saucers the research magnetic scientist had personally seen, examined, checked on, and researched.
His story was so fantastic, that if he weren't a solid man of industrial service, you might have suspected that he had gone crazy in a quiet, plausible way.
He said that Dr. Gee of their group was coming to the coast very shortly to check on some government defense work which for the present was top secret.
Which, if true, meant "Dr. Gee" had violated his security oath in even revealing that he was currently involved in any kind of "top secret" project -- the fact that it was now being discussed casually and publicly during dinner in a popular restaurant being itself a perfect example of why even mention of involvement with "top secret" work was forbidden to those involved. But Scully -- apparently lacking any sense of irony -- continued on...
He was then going to check on Newton's own geophysical findings in the Mojave Desert and maybe he would tell us what he had told Newton.
Dr. Gee might show us some of the things that had been taken off one flying saucer -- some small disks of a metal unknown to this earth, a tiny radio which operated under principles quite unknown to our engineers, a strange cloth, some gears and other small things which he could carry with him, and which he had taken off one of the ships for research, after he found members of the Air Force picking off pieces just for souvenirs.
Frankly, I never expected to hear any more of this but a few weeks later, I received a call from Newton asking me if I'd like to drive up to the town of Mojave, which is about ninety miles from Los Angeles, to see how his exploratory operation was getting along. The geophysicist who was the top man in magnetic research would be with us.
Apparently Scully had difficulty keeping his scientists -- as well as his sciences -- straight, for it was Newton who was supposed to be the "geophysicist", while "Dr. Gee" was a "magnetic research scientist", which had now conjoined in Scully's mind into a "geophysicist who was the top man in magnetic research". A confusion of scientific disciplines which would make another appearance as Scully continued...
This was on September 8, 1949. He said that Peverly Marley, cameraman at Warner's and the husband of Linda Darnell, would be coming along too.
We failed to make connections with Marley and went on without him, but at the cutoff at Newhall we heard a honking behind us and there was Marley who had pursued us and caught up with us. He parked his car at a gas station and we all repaired to Mojave in Newton's Cadillac.
Marley and the magnetic research scientist sat in the back; Newton and I in the front.
As on most long trips, people talk about all sorts of things. So we got started on flying saucers. There was no secrecy, official or otherwise, at the time and the scientist answered any and all queries. His explanations were as phlegmatic as those of a combustion engineer explaining how gas explodes in the cylinder of an automobile. On the oil field proper, the magnetic scientist got out his magnatron [sic] and Newton got out his own instruments.
Though their instruments looked in nowise alike, these men kept checking each other and invariably coming out within a foot of each other's estimates. Newton would ask the magnetic scientist what depth he thought oil was at a particular point at which they agreed there was oil and within seconds the scientist would say something like 2,750. Newton would check in his book and say, "I got 2,749 when I checked here last May."
There would be a calm exchange of how this discrepancy of one foot could have arisen, but the difference was so small that it constantly amazed a layman like me that they could split hairs about digging one foot more or less into what must have been millions of dollars either way.
This technological duel in the desert was especially odd in that "Dr. Gee's" magnetron had been described as the solution to Newton's most vexing problem -- calculating the volume of a deposit rather than just its depth. And yet the subject of the volume which should have been of paramount interest (it was, after all, why Newton had hired "Dr. Gee") apparently never came up. But Scully, not one to notice such oddities, continued on...
Instead of staying overnight on the desert, we decided to drive back to town, a matter of only two hours and the eminent geophysicist stopped off at our house for a short visit to meet Mrs. Scully and our family.
Again, Scully at this point was having difficulty keeping his scientists straight, as Newton, the alleged "geophysicist", had already met the missus, while it was obviously "Dr. Gee" -- the "magnetic research scientist" who was paying his first call...
Showing no feeling whatever that he was airing confidences which might be violated, he answered all sorts of questions concerning the possible origin of the flying saucers and how they might have got to this earth from another planet, and, more important to his mind, how they could have got back to where they came from. The smallest detail, which a woman might bring up, about the interior of the cabin of the flying saucer, matters of water, food, clothing, were quietly explained just as one might describe the furniture of his own home.
His knowledge of magnetic energy was as far ahead of us as, say, the knowledge of atomic-energy scientists must have been to the average person in relation to nuclear fission ten years ago. Indeed, he said some things at that time which since have been heralded far and wide by Albert Einstein in relation to his modified theory of the universe, wherein he discounted Newton's law of gravity in favor of one involving electro-magnetic forces. This didn't mean much to me at the time but it means a lot more to me now.
This late-dating would come as a surprise to Einstein -- and indeed to the Times of London, which in November 1919 had carried the banner headline, "Revolution in Science -- New Theory of the Universe -- Newtonian Ideas Overthrown". What Scully was referring to, presumably, was the recent announcement of Einstein's "unified field" theory. But breezily nonplussed by such matters, Scully continued on, again referring to "Dr. Gee" as a geophysicist...
It means more because the geophysicist said he had checked over two of the saucers and believed they were driven, not by fuel, jet, turbojet, or even athodyds, but by magnetic power and that due to certain metals not found on this earth but found on the saucers, he suspected the space ships were from another planet. In fact he ridiculed the idea of anything getting even as far as the moon on jet propulsion or anything like it. As at this time he was doing research for men whose living came out of oil, and was in fact a partner in their properties, he could hardly be suspected of feathering his own nest by discounting gas or petroleum as a means of propulsion from one planet to another.
Another thing I remembered from that first meeting was his interest in my infirmity. I have only one leg and have not had much luck with artificial legs, chiefly because they are too heavy and my stump too short.
He suggested a suction socket, eliminating all shoulder and waist harness. He said he could make one of a material as strong as steel and as light as plastic. I told him it would still have to be manipulated. He suggested he could install a small motor that could be operated by push button.
"The whole thing shouldn't weigh three pounds," he added.
"Fine," I said, "but suppose I stopped to shake hands and chat with a friend, and the leg should keep on walking. Wouldn't I look silly?"
"I'd control that with a push button too," he said.
It gave me a clew [sic] to the practicality and sweep of his mind.
Before he left he promised us he would show us small parts of one of the saucers on his next trip from Phoenix. A radio had him particularly baffled. It had no tubes, no aerials, no wires. He guessed the cabin must have been its antenna. He was trying to rig up a substitute antenna. He could hear a high singsong note 15 minutes past the hour. But the dial was so micrometrically keyed it was difficult to stay on the wave. He was thinking of setting up something like a block-and-fall which permits a clumsy hand to lift a heavy object. Anyway he'd take it along. Wasn't much bigger than a king-sized cigarette package.
He said he regretted the ship was dismantled this way but the Army seems to breed souvenir hunting as it does rank. When he saw what was happening he grabbed a few things himself, not to put in his trophy cabinet but to use for research.
The Air Force took some film, he explained. But it fades in two hours, for reasons of security. A special chemical, got only on license, restores the image for another two hours. Naturally this film was not available to him. He said he shot some film of his own, but it wasn't very good. He'd bring that along, though.
In time we saw all those things -- all except the jacket. We examined the radio, the gears, the film.
Then began the reign of error; the Air Force closed Project Saucer and went underground. All were told to forget what they knew. "Hallucinations" became a routine answer. "Psycho" became a veiled threat. Everybody shut up but the people. The official dams were closed but the public spilled its observations into the lake of a free press.
But the conflict between free inquiry and official censorship grew. Men who talked freely in the summer of 1949 wouldn't tell their story for $20,000,000 by the summer of 1950. But I remembered. Better than elephants, I remembered. In fact, elephants come to me when they forget.
And thus Scully brought his readers to the end of chapter three of his book -- although why he would need an elephantine memory to recall events occurring just months before his book went to press remained unexamined.
But even more curious was Scully's contention that "Dr. Gee", in the summer of 1949, having just left government service that July, had been free of any government restriction in telling anyone he pleased about his governmental work examining crashed saucers from Venus and their dead crewmembers, held in possession of the United States military...
...there was no secrecy, official or otherwise, at the time and the scientist answered any and all queries.
...a claim so absurdly improbable that it does double duty as its own refutation, without need of further examination.
Nor was Scully's recounting of events lacking in other contradictions -- for instance quoting Newton...
"Petroleum in place," he contends, "radiates magnetic energy and this is measurable."
...while later providing a seemingly unwitting refutation from "Dr. Gee"...
This, he explained, was possible because magnetic waves will not go through oil.
And again, the performance in the desert by Newton and "Dr. Gee" wherein they debated over the depth of hidden oil within a matter of inches had every hallmark of a confidence trick -- but whether by the pair played on Scully or by Scully on his readers can only ever be a matter of conjecture.
There is one inadvertent clue, however, that it was Newton and "Dr. Gee" playing on the gullibility of Scully. That clue lay in the items Scully listed as retrieved from a crashed saucer by "Dr. Gee"...
...some small disks of a metal unknown to this earth, a tiny radio which operated under principles quite unknown to our engineers, a strange cloth, some gears and other small things which he could carry with him, and which he had taken off one of the ships for research...
The "disks", the "gears" and the "radio" had in fact been shown to others by both Silas Newton and George Koehler (the man who introduced Newton at the lecture given to the science class in Denver). But there is no record of anyone having seen or held a "strange cloth" from the crashed saucers.
Perhaps this was because the other items could be shown and verbally ascribed their strange properties. For instance, the "disks" were shown with the declaration that they contained metals not of this Earth. Likewise, the "gears" were shown with the accompanying declaration that they were of a ratio not of this Earth. The properties of the "radio" were likewise described to others, with Scully quoting "Dr. Gee" as saying it emitted "a high singsong note 15 minutes past the hour" -- though in January, George Koehler had described its sound as similar to "a Chinaman talking Japanese" to one group, and in an interview with Wes Izzard, editor of the Amarillo, Texas, Globe-News as "a Chinese orchestra playing Egyptian music".
And presumably a timepiece taken off the crashed saucer -- mentioned by Scully in chapter one but not included in his list above -- once presented, could only be accepted at face value, since it took "29 days for the instrument to make a complete circumference".
But the "strange cloth" never shown to Scully may have been a different matter entirely, for -- outside of a Hans Christian Andersen tale -- once handled the strangeness of a cloth's properties would seemingly be self-apparent. And beyond being a mere patch of cloth, Scully may have provided the inadvertent clue as to why it had never been shown to anyone...
In time we saw all those things -- all except the jacket.
If this slip of Scully's tongue was accurate -- and if instead of merely being a piece of cloth it was told to him that it was a complete piece of alien outerwear -- then its absence from things shown to others made perfect sense, as physically producing a jacket of unearthly material tailored for a 36-inch tall Venusian flying saucer pilot is seemingly more than Koehler, Newton or even "Dr. Gee" could ever have successfully managed.
But what was most striking overall is that by this point Scully was three full chapters into his 17-chapter book, and so far had provided little additional information not already detailed in the March, 1950 Denver Post article by reporter Thor Severson telling of the "mystery lecturer's" speech to a basic science class in Denver.
True, Scully had finally provided the name of the lecturer, and his alleged status as a wealthy geophysicist, as well as introducing and providing the pseudonym "Dr. Gee" for the alleged "magnetic research scientist" who was the top man in his field in the world, and who "had been in government service on top secret defense projects for seven years and had played a part in 35,000 experiments on land, sea, and air, involving 1,700 scientists". But outside of a few references which had occurred in chapter two relating to the Venusian's use of sewing thread to secure conventional buttons for their clothing and toilets aboard the craft, there was no new information about the saucers or their dead crewmembers whatsoever.
All of which would change -- if only somewhat -- with the story as told by "Dr. Gee".
A story which -- though Scully's readers could not know it at the time -- would be contained in but a single chapter out of the fourteen chapters remaining, taking up just 13 of the 190 pages yet to come.
1. The text quotations for Behind the Flying Saucers have been transcribed from the original 1950 first edition.
2. The FBI report containing Newton's arrest record referenced above is available here.
3. The thickness of the Earth's crust within the United States is according to the U.S. Geological Survey between 30 and 45 kilometers.
4. The number of Japanese submarines lost on any one day of the war was calculated from the U.S. Navy's Naval Historical Center site.
5. There was some limited use in World War II of magnetic anomaly detectors (MAD) to locate enemy submarines. It's development and use is credited to Victor Vacquier Sr., as from the following Los Angeles Times obituary...
Victor Vacquier Sr., a Scripps Institution of Oceanography geophysicist who developed key instruments for mapping the Earth's magnetic fields and whose research provided a strong experimental foundation for the now widely accepted theory of plate tectonics, died of pneumonia Jan. 11 in La Jolla. He was 101...
As an electrical engineer at Gulf Research Laboratories in the 1930s, Vacquier invented the flux magnetometer, a new tool for detecting magnetic fields.
With the outbreak of World War II, he went to the Airborne Instruments Laboratory at Columbia University to oversee testing of the device. Preliminary experiments showed that it could successfully identify a submerged submarine.
After that demonstration, he went to the Lighter-Than-Air Naval Headquarters in New Jersey, where the magnetometer was installed in an R3 blimp. The magnetometer worked, but the blimp didn't -- often failing to make headway or even moving backward relative to the ground because of winds. After 200 hours of airborne testing, Vacquier convinced the Navy that the device would work much better in a PBY Catalina flying boat.
But, as noted in Air Warfare: An International Encyclopedia its effectiveness was limited...
Magnetic Anomaly Detection
Detection of submarines from the air by the changes they induce in the earth's magnetic field. When present in or passing through an area, submarines distort the marine magnetic field; sensors track submarines by pinpointing and measuring these anomalies. Magnetic anomaly detection (MAD) is one of the most prevalent nonacoustic techniques of submarine detection.
Magnetic anomaly detection had its genesis during World War I. Seeking alternatives to hydrophones, U.S. scientists in 1917 began experimenting with magnetic detectors. In 1918, scientists and engineers at the New London Experiment Station tested a magnetic device attached to a naval vessel. These initial tests proved disappointing; the detector's range was too limited, and it experienced difficulty in divorcing itself from the towing ship's magnetic signature and, consequently, in distinguishing the source of magnetic variance. Navy officials deemed magnetic detection impracticable and shelved it in favor of sonar.
World War II revived interest in magnetic anomaly detection. Aircraft needed a way to track a submerged submarine; magnetic detection offered a possible means. Advances in electromagnetism promised to eliminate the technical limitations that had hampered World War I devices, and innovations in aerodynamics made a marriage between aircraft and magnetic detectors feasible. In June 1942, the U.S. Navy established Project Sail to undertake research and airborne testing associated with magnetic anomaly detection. Utilizing magnetometers designed for mineral exploration, scientists succeeded in developing the magnetic airborne (anomaly) detector. Early air trials proved promising; by the end of 1942,200 sets of MAD gear were in service. By 1943, most antisubmarine warfare (ASW) patrol aircraft were equipped with MAD equipment.
Scientists and Navy officials believed that magnetic anomaly detection would supplant sonar as the primary means of detecting submerged submarines. Faith in MAD proved unfounded; magnetic detectors in practice were found to have limited usefulness. Essentially a shallow-water weapon, MAD devices worked well in the Mediterranean and the Straits of Gibraltar but had trouble detecting and tracking submarines in the deeper waters of the Atlantic. Limited range proved to be an insoluble problem; MAD gears were useful only when directly above or very near their targets, making it impossible to find moving U-Boats or stationary vessels at a distance. Magnetic detectors also found it difficult to determine the exact source of anomalies in the marine magnetic field -- a difficulty shared by the post-World War II generation of MAD systems. By the war's end, Navy officials had joined MAD with radar and sonobuoys; MAD became secondary to sonobuoys in this configuration, the reverse of what experts had anticipated.
Magnetic anomaly detection has received considerable attention in the decades since World War II. Funding for research and development increased during the Cold War, with advances in system range, sensitivity, and effectiveness. Modern U.S. ASW aircraft are equipped with either the AN/ASQ-81 MAD system or the more sophisticated AN/ASQ-208.
MAD has as yet to supplant sonar, and its future does not appear promising. Intrinsically short-range systems, MAD sensors remain best suited for localization and targeting. Improving the detective range of MAD systems has proven difficult. Innovations in submarine construction, including the use of nonmagnetic metals and degaussing, threaten MAD's future as a useful detection device.
6. Electro-magnetic resonance techniques in identifying petroleum deposits are in use today, but are far different (for instance, requiring a borehole) than the simplistic magnetic-waves-broadcasting-to-a-receiver technique described by Scully. For more, see
Nuclear magnetic resonance,
Nuclear magnetic resonance logging,
Application of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance in Petroleum Exploration,
How to Use Borehole Nuclear Magnetic Resonance,
and Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) logging, especially its historical development section.
7. Scully's occasional reference to "Dr. Gee" being a geophysicist might have pertained had his work been described solely in terms of its definition as the study of the "structure and dynamic behavior of the earth and its environment". Geophysics does include studies of the Earth's magnetic field, however, it would not be an appropriate discipline to base the alleged work of "Dr. Gee" on the propulsion systems of flying saucers.
8. As far as is known, no one other than George Koehler and "Dr. Gee" ever claimed to have heard a transmission from the "radio" which broadcast hourly at exactly 15 minutes past each hour, allegedly retrieved from a crashed saucer. Yet the "radio" was shown to others, implying that some reason was given as to why it could not be heard at that time.
9. Silas Newton may have married as many as six times, according to an information request posted in a forum at Genealogy.com...
For a book about the Denver oilman Silas Mason Newton (1887 - 1972), I would appreciate any help you can give me in locating Mr. Newton's survivors and relatives: his son Howard Mason Newton (b. Los Angeles, California 1950), his daughter Patricia Newton (b. approx. 1935), his grandchildren John Douglas Newton (b. Denver, CO, 1945) and Thomas Rick Newton (b. Denver, 1947); Mary Tapp Newton, the widow of his son Frederick Dumbeck Newton; his former wives Mattie Dumbeck Newton, Sharon Chillison Newton, Patricia Morfa (or Marfa) Newton, and (first name unknown) Caudill Newton; and the relatives of his deceased wife Nan O'Reilly Newton and deceased granddaughter Jill Newton.
Not included in the list of five wives above is his brief marriage to Antonie Strassmann.
10. A Frederick Dumbeck Newton attended the University of Illinois during the 1932-1933 semester, according to the university's Annual Register. Though it would match the expected time period for Newton's first son to attend college, there is no direct evidence that this is the same Frederick Dumbeck Newton born to Newton and Millie Dumbeck in 1913.
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