in the news 1952
Above: From the October 5, 1952 edition of the Long Beach, California Press Telegram. Click on image for full-size version.
NINETEEN FIFTY-TWO might be remembered for many things, large and small. The election of Dwight Eisenhower as President of the United States. Fifty thousand American families afflicted by Polio. The British A-bomb. The first issue of Mad magazine. The theory of the Big Bang.
But for those of a certain bent, 1952 will also be remembered for the second great 'flying saucer flap' which climaxed with the reports of radar and visual sightings over the nation's capital in late July.
Part of the story of that event-filled year is now available in declassified government files. But for the public back then -- at a time when only one in three families in America had a television set -- the story was mostly found in the newspapers and magazines.
This then is a look back at those stories, as they first appeared in print...
OCTOBER 2, 1952:
Ironwood, Michigan Daily Globe - 2 Oct 52
Alton, Illinois Evening Telegraph - 2 Oct 52
East Altonian Sees Silvery Object in Sky
EAST ALTON — After three days, Mrs. Pearl Sullivan of 200 Haller Ave., still is speculating whether anyone else observed the ing [sic] saucer which passed directly over her home, at tremendously high altitude, about 2:30 p.m. last Monday. She would like to hear whether anyone else observed the bright object.
Mrs. Sullivan said she had hung out some clothes in the yard when she chanced to glance upward and see a bright silvery object that apparently gave forth no sound.
"At first glance it looked like a shiny bit of ribbon," she said, "then, as it bobbed back and forth it appeared like the edge of a disc. I watched it float to what seemed a point straight above a yard a few doors away. Then I turned to call my son and daughter from the house. They failed to hear me, and when I looked again, I couldn't find the object."
Mrs. Sullivan said she was familiar with the sight of high flying planes, glistening in the sunlight as they passed over the Wood River area, but that the object observed Monday was entirely different.
OCTOBER 3, 1952:
Uniontown, Pennsylvania Evening Standard - 3 Oct 52
Britain's First Atom Weapon Test Success
Explosion Off West Australian Coast Might Have Been H-Bomb; Double Detonation Is Reported
PERTH. Australia, Oct. 3 -- Britain successfully exploded its first atomic weapon today -- possibly one of a new type -- and probably will make further tests within a week.
A leading Australian physicist suggested that the weapon might be a hydrogen bomb.
The first reports of the highly secret weapon were that it appeared to be a baby A-bomb mounted on a steel tower in the Northwest-Australian Monte Bello Islands.
But within a few hours there was speculation that the "weapon" might he a departure from known atomic devices.
Scientists showed interest in today's test as marked by two explosions, the second larger than the first.
"It is quite possible that the first conclusion [sic] might have represented some new explosive means of bringing fissionable elements together more rapidly in order to produce greater blast efficiency, [sic, no end quote] said Dr. V.A. Bailey, professor of physics at the University of Sydney.
"The double detonation might possibly indicate that was a hydrogen bomb."
The world's 26th known atomic explosion occurred just after 8 a.m., 7 p.m. Thursday e.d.t., in the heart of the isolated Monte Bello Islands, some 50 miles off the West Australian Coast.
The weapon exploded with a bright orange-red flash visible for 60 miles and sent a pillar of smoke believed a mile in diameter soaring more than 12,000 feet into the sky.
The atomic cloud look on a Z-shape as it shot skyward, but experts believe wind currents may have been responsible for the change of its shape from the familiar mushroom of previous atomic explosions.
Ground rumblings and air concussion were reported from as far as 150 miles from the test site.
Witnesses some 60 miles away said the explosion seemed less spectacular than many of the 32 American atomic explosions. But some unofficial scientific observers said the tremendous heat which remained long after the blast indicated Britain has produced a bomb of greater efficiency.
Dr. W.G. Penny, British physicist in charge of the operation, watched the explosion by television from the aircraft carrier Campania, flagship of 16 British and Australian warships manned by 5,000 men taking part in the test.
Penny and Rear Admiral Arthur D. Torlesse, military commander for the operation, will return to London within two weeks to report.
But before they depart, Australian observers believe, more test atomic blasts may be touched off in the Monte Bello testing ground.
Other atomic explosions may be touched off under the surface of the ocean or in the air, these sources said. The tests also may involve guided missiles from the Woomera rocket range on the Australian mainland.
Word of the successful detonation of Britain's hush-hush first atomic weapon was flashed from Monte Bello at 8:03 a.m. and announced simultaneously by the Australian and British governments in Canberra and London nearly two hours later.
San Antonio, Texas Express - 3 Oct 52
Guided Missiles In Assembly Line
SEATTLE, Wash., Oct. 2. -- President Truman revealed here Thursday night that guided missiles are "now in assembly line production" and are expected shortly to be in the hands of American troops.
Military authorities have been guarded in their disclosures of progress in the field of guided missile experimentation.
The president's reference to the new phase of modern warfare came in a political address at Eagles' Auditorium.
El Paso, Texas Herald Post - 3 Oct 52
Even 'Good Risks' Run Afoul of Law in A-City
By Clyde Farnsworth
Scripps-Howard Staff Writer
LOS ALAMOS, N.M., Oct. 3. -- This atomic capital, where every resident is counted a good security risk, has adult lawbreakers, juvenile delinquents, a police court and a hoosegow.
"People sometimes seem surprised that we do," said Edwin Brooks, chief of the Civic Relations branch of the Community Management Division of the Los Alamos office of the Atomic Energy Commission. (Whew!)
"But the security check is to determine loyalynothing [sic] else," Mr. Brooks added. "It doesn't guarantee that the citizen will not crash a red light."
Not Much Law Breaking
There's not much law-breaking, of course. Two justices of the peace hold once-a-week hearings on accumulated small-fry cases, mostly traffic. The JP's have other full-time jobs.
Periodically a circuit judge comes in to clear the heavier docket.
Los Alamos once had a murder and suicide, but both were committed by the same man, a guard who shot his wife, and so the community was spared a protracted scandal and trial.
After a string of money-losing ventures, Los Alamos lacks a local newspaper for its more than 12,000 people. Mercantile enterprise here is in the hands [sic] one-of-a-kind concessionaires, which takes the edge off competitive advertising.
Shop in Santa Fe
Los Alamos shoppers, however, also buy in Santa Fe and browse through the catalog at the Sears mail order branch.
Los Alamos reads out of town newspapers and the people listen to privately owned KRSN, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., or evenings to distant stations.
KRSN's programming by popular taste, is among the longest haired in American broadcasting. Music of the masters (Shostakovich, Prokofieff and Tchaikowsky, among others) and the lighter classics run at least three hours a day. Soap opera is almost out.
Reason: You couldn't throw a piece of uranium ore around here without a 50-50 chance of hitting a Ph. D. or at least an M.A.
They, their wives and to a certain extent their children couldn't care less whether Little Nell will ever regain her eye sight.
The poorly housed public library has half the Los Alamos population as borrowers. Last fiscal year they averaged about 20 books each.
"Los Alamos is made up of people who have lived in the world's largest cities, have been accustomed to the finest libraries in their communities and universities, and who read as such," says a library report, proud of the local IQ.
Los Alamos supports two movies (at a profitable 45-cent admission) and a Film Society that shows more arty stuff. Also an amateur light opera company, Little Theater and a choral society, seasonally.
Lots of Clubs
The town is loaded with "joiners". Besides 32 churches and religious groups, there are about 150 other organizations.
There are clubs for the Los Alamos citizen who golfs, skates, skis, bowls, photographs, paints, plays basketball, tennis, symphonic music and chess, rides, folkdances, builds astronomicals [sic] telescopes or wants to sashay with the Flying Saucers Square Dance club or the Promenaders.
A grown man can play with model trains or take his pick of two organizations that stand for a merging of national sovereignties in a superstate. One wants the whole world to do it when possible. The other would start off with the Atlantic powers.
Cootie Club, Too
Besides assorted civic and luncheon clubs and lodges there are a Cootie Club, a Hamburger and Hackamore Club and clubs for dog obedience and dianetics.
"I don't think we have an abnormal number of organizations," Mr. Brooks says modestly. "We just happen to have them all listed."
Uniontown, Pennsylvania Evening Standard - 3 Oct 52
Flying Saucers Are Here Again
The flying saucers are here again, but this time they're on the day shift.
Merle Morgan, of 42 Derrick avenue, Uniontown, said he sighted unidentified objects moving across the sky above Smithfield at 7:30 this morning.
He said that he was at Collier when he saw the discs, moving in a southerly direction.
"I couldn't believe my eyes," he said, "so I called to the driver of the Collier bus. He saw them, too."
Morgan said that the larger round object was gray in color, seemingly a mile or two high and moving at a fairly fast rate of speed. He said it faded out at intervals, seeming to disappear behind clouds.
Following it was a smaller, black disc.
San Antonio, Texas Express - 3 Oct 52
B-36s 'Resemble' Flying Saucers
"Flying saucers" appeared over San Antonio about dusk Thursday, causing a flood of calls to San Antonio Express.
But they weren't flying saucers. They were a flight of B-36 bombers flying at an extremely high altitude.
Light, from the setting sun, reflecting on the vapor trails of the big planes caused some anxious residents to report flying saucers with fire coming out of them.
Altoona, Pennsylvania Mirror - 3 Oct 52
Retired G.E. Man Explains Flying Saucers
NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. -- William P. Davies, retired General Electric company executive, said today that after a careful study of "flying saucer" reports he is convinced they are nothing but clouds of gases made luminous by radar beams.
Davies said he knew from his work in high radar frequencies that certain frequencies will cause neon and other gases to light up.
He said the so-called flying saucers are nothing more than clouds of gases that have been ionized by radar beams -- a sort of Northern Lights on a small scale.
Davies, who retired five years ago as General Electric's superintendent of service shops in the company's Atlantic district, said he had never sought to explain the phenomena before because he believed the government probably knew the real cause and had some reason for not making it public.
He said he believes that if the air force would investigate it would find the saucer phenomena always occurring within range of one of its radar stations and that the dimensions of the so-called saucers would be the dimension of the radar beam at that distance.
"If the atmosphere is right and there are gaseous clouds -- they may come from industrial plants or from marshes -- the radar beams will light them up," Davies said.
The engineer wrote Maj. Gen. R. Ramey, director of operations
for the air force, that he could prove the effect of a radar beam at any location where saucers have been reported seen.
OCTOBER 4, 1952:
Greeley, Colorado Daily Tribune - 4 Oct 52
FEATHERS FLY HIGH . . . Jacques Helm accents feathers for fall hits. At left is his "Flying Saucer" of gray and white minoche feathers; right, head-hugging beanie of golden pheasant feathers in winged effect.
San Mateo, California Times - 4 Oct 52
Offense Patterned On 'Flying Saucer'
CHESTER, Pa. -- Head Coach Woody Ludwig of Pennsylvania Military college announced today he would unveil a "flying saucer" formation against Drexel Tech in their game today.
He explained that his four backs will line up in an arc or semicircle behind the center. He said he first used this formation while coaching Northampton (Pa.) High school, where his team shattered all scoring records for state scholastic squads. He put the idea away for 10 years, however, to "wait until the T formation burned out in popularity."
Ludwig said his formation sends at least three men faking into the line on every play; allows two ends and two halfbacks to get down field for each pass, and allows the passer time to select a receiver.
The formation, he added, thrives on spins, fakes, weaving and razzledazzle.
Albuquerque, New Mexico Journal - 4 Oct 52
Here's Your Opportunity To Forget Flying Saucers
BALBOA, Cal., Oct. 3 -- Bored with flying saucer stories? Like to get back to the old fashioned type of fantasy like, say, a good sea monster yarn? Then lend an ear to the tale of Barney Armstrong, veteran skipper of the fishing boat Sea Fern.
Armstrong said today he was returning from fishing last Monday when, a couple of miles outside Newport harbor, "I spotted something sticking up out of the water about four feet."
Armstrong said he throttled down and started to circle, closing in to about 25 yards.
He described the thing as a "sea monster" with a round head about four feet thick, hard and horny on the outside and encrusted with barnacles. "I thought it had one eye, about the size of the window on a diver's helmet," the seaman said. "His mouth was a big slit, about two feet wide."
As he circled, the head turned and the eye followed him. The head pivoted, Armstrong said, on a round body about 29 feet thick that extended downward beneath the surface. He was unable to estimate the length.
Suddenly the creature sank straight down, "leaving a boil about the size of my boat." Armstrong's boat is 41 feet long.
The skipper said his passenger, Orrel Reed Jr., saw the thing, too, and agreed as to the creature's description with one exception: Reed thought it had two eyes.
Lubbock, Texas Morning Avalanche - 4 Oct 52
Gonzales Area Residents Report 'Flying Saucers' In Skies
GONZALES, Oct. 3 -- About 50 Gonzales area residents say they saw "flying saucers" in the sky west of here yesterday afternoon. The reports came from a ten-mile radius. James Leeah of the Abercrombie Ranch said he, his wife, and brother watched them through binoculars for five minutes.
Galveston, Texas Daily News - 1 Oct 52
'Just Like Described'
GONZALES, Tex., Oct. 3 -- Five unidentified flying objects were reported seen Thursday night by some 50 persons in a ten-mile
James Leeah, an Abercrombie rancher, said he watched the objects through binoculars for five minutes along with wife and brother, Joe, and Joe's wife.
Leeah said they resembled "flying saucers" and looked "just like they'd been described."
Dixon, Illinois Evening Telegraph - 4 Oct 52
Hypnotized Youth Claims Sheriff Beat Him After Flying Saucer Reported
OREGON -- The 20-year-old hospital attendant at Warmolts clinic here who caused a commotion last Tuesday by "seeing flying saucers" while under a hypnotic spell, charged Friday that Ogle County Sheriff James White and a deputy had beaten him before "20 to 25 witnesses" and said that he was "considering" taking it to the Grand Jury which meets here Monday.
He denied earlier reports that he had already made up his mind and suggested that "it would be a lot of trouble."
Hit With Fist
The youth, Robert Cross, claimed that White and Deputy William Beaman had beaten him after he had "recovered" from being hypnotized on the stage of the Oregon theater by Jack Bernie Ethan, Elkhorn, Ind. He said that one of the men held his head down and the other had slugged him with a closed fist.
Beaman last night admitted slapping the boy once when "he cussed and became unruly," but said that it was the only time Cross had been struck. White, when told that the youth was considering Grand Jury action to have the sheriff impeached, said he would swear out warrants for Cross and the magician, who goes under the name of Jayzee [sic, prior article named him Zay Zee].
White said that Cross had only been slapped once by Beaman and that, he, White, had told Beaman to "leave him alone." White said his wife would testify to his story and Beaman said, "I'd take a lie detector test on it."
Meanwhile, Cross insisted that he had "20 to 25 witnesses" including the hypnotist who would verify his story.
Cross told the Telegraph yesterday that when he was hypnotized Tuesday night, Jayzee told him that he should go to the "police station, newspaper and fire station" and say that he had seen a little man, three feet high with a long nose, purple skin and pink polka dots, step out of a flying saucer.
He said he "had first told an officer named Fletcher" who had sent him to the sheriff's office. Cross said he then told his story to Beaman, left the sheriff's office, and went to the remaining places.
After coming out of his trance, Cross said, he heard that the sheriff was holding Jayzee and that he returned to the sheriff's office.
There, he claimed, the sheriff and Beaman beat him as a group of teenagers and the hypnotist watched. After the first beating, Cross claimed, White told him "Now you kids will know that we mean it when we tell you something."
Later, he told reporters, a second beating occurred. The sheriff, he said, was "yelling something as he hit me, but I couldn't hear him."
After he was told to go home Cross said he was met on the street by Oregon Patrolman Don Young and Dr. C. Norbert Metz on Warmolt's staff.
Metz offered reporters an accident report dated at 11:30 p.m. on the night of the alleged beating. It stated that Cross had a bleeding lower lip and bruises and scratches on the back of the neck. White said that "If Cross was beaten he probably received it somewhere around town -- not here."
Talks to Bettner
Following his talk with reporters, White made a phone call to State Atty. Wayne Bettner and then had a conference at the home of Dr. Warmolts. Neither Bettner nor Warmolts would comment fully on the incident.
Cross said he did not know if he would go before the grand jury or not and said he was also considering a civil suit through a Dixon law firm.
Neither Bettner nor the law firm he mentioned have been contacted. Cross is a former worker at the Dixon Public hospital and Dixon State hospital. He has been at the Oregon clinic for about two weeks. His family resides in Ashton.
Manitowoc, Wisconsin Herald Times - 4 Oct 52
'AIR PIRATES' AND THEIR MODELS -- Some of the members of the Manitowoc Air Pirates Model Plane Club are shown working in their club-rooms on Commercial Street, putting finishing touches to a few of the scale-model planes they build and fly. Shown from the left are Art Flanagan, club treasurer, with a model of a 1937 Polish fighter which is still in rough form, Frank Zich and Alfred Howarth, holding a stunt plane called "The Clown," which Al is building, and club secretary Merlin Rousse, cleaning the spark plugs of his huge Piper Cub, which took nine months to construct. Larry Martin, president of the club, was not present when the pictures were taken. (Photos by staff photographer)
Young 'Air Pirates' May Walk Plank If Financial Help Does Not Arrive
MANITOWOC -- The Air Pirates are no relation to interplanetary space cadets, flying saucer-men or any of the more recent inventions of television and imagination.
They are model-plane addicts, and serious about it.
Results of their work crowd the tiny club-room space in which they hold their meetings, and benches are littered with spare parts and finished products.
You wouldn't think -- to watch them fly their planes -- that members would have any more serious problem than the cost of parts and gasoline, but they've hit a serious snag recently, and need help.
They're not concerned about enthusiasm -- there's always been plenty of that. They are running out of space.
Ordinarily, model plane fans, like almost every other kind of hobbyist, are usually too intent on their work to notice much about their surroundings.
In recent weeks, it has become apparent however, that new quarters will be needed. And soon.
Form New Club
At its peak membership, the club had 23 enrolled and active boys and men. But a few weeks ago half of the members -- all from Two Rivers who commuted every week for meetings -- broke away from the parent club to form their own.
Now the remaining members have found they can't afford the rent.
Even with a $150 donation from Guido Rahr, which helped the club get on its feet, members figure that it won't be very long before they'll be forced to disband for lack of funds.
If that happens, a lot of work will have been wasted, and an even more serious problem may develop.
At the moment, County Probation officer Ken Tate -- who is a part-time model airplane fan -- is worried about the club disbanding. He saw in the club, when it originally formed, a chance to give some of his probationers a hobby to work with in their spare time.
Something to keep them out of mischief.
It worked out fine. Enthusiasm mounted as the tonic of using their hands constructively smoothed over past mistakes, and Tate saw definite possibilities for using the club as a sort of rehabilitation for his more serious cases.
Besides, it was fun, and everybody had a good time.
The two small rooms which the club uses, at 722A Commercial St., are overflowing with plane parts, spare engines, work-benches and tools of all kinds.
CRANK 'ER UP, LET 'ER RIP -- Al Howarth, one of the younger members of the Manitowoc Air Pirates, is shown as he tunes up the propeller of a Class A model plane to test the power. Al has the plane resting on a bench in the club-room in which the model-plane addicts hold their meetings.
Diagrams, sketches and model plans fill every inch of wall space.
The ceiling, members say, leaks when it rains, and there aren't chairs enough to go around. Besides, there was only a tiny radiator in the room used for meetings, and none visible in the workshop.
But it's their meeting place, and it's the hobby that brings them there, not the surroundings.
It was always like that, since the club was first formed. Last December, Sgt. Art Franz, former Army recruiting sergeant, got together with some other airplane bugs and held the first meeting.
For a time, they met in a cabin at Lincoln Park, but that proved too far for some members to travel, and they asked for permission to use some of the Rahr Cycle Center facilities, a request that was granted.
The place on Commercial Street came later -- after Mr. Rahr gave $150 to aid with finances -- and the membership jumped to over 20.
They took their airplanes during the summer months and flew at the Newton Firemen's Picnic and at the Hamilton Company picnic in Two Rivers, and passed the hat.
It brought in some pin money for incidental expenses, and the boys had a few competitions of their own.
The meeting rooms -- in contrast to the usual bedlam of this kind of club -- are quiet and orderly.
MIDGET SIZED ENGINE -- Shown in contrast to a man's hand, this tiny model plane engine, a Fox .35 horsepower, is used to propel medium sized models that the air on flights of a few minutes.
Meet Monday Nights
They meet every Monday night, and show movies, which are sent free from aircraft corporations and automobile manufacturers.
There is a small back room in which they test the plane motors, but there have never been any complaints about noise, they said. The motors are so small that their buzz doesn't carry very far.
During their spare time -- or at least during the summer time when the weather is right -- the club members could be found at West Field or down near Lake Michigan on North Fourth Street, trying out the latest models.
The average cost for a small plane -- a beginner's model -- is about $20 or cheaper, depending on the size of the motor and frame, but the cost rises to three times that much for one of the larger models.
Merlin Rousse, secretary of the club and one of the Two Rivers members who didn't leave, spent nine months patiently building a Piper cub with a wing span of nearly six feet and a body length of about four.
All the planes, when finally assembled, carry two small wires running from the fuselage near the cabin.
The wires, yards of them, are used to control the flight while the model is in the air.
A member will tune and gas the engine of his tiny scale model and slowly let out wire as the plane warms up and begins to roll.
Flown by Ground Pilot
Holding a stick to which the wires are attached, the "ground-pilot" flies his craft by remote control, weaving patterns in a huge circle.
Some planes, according to catalogues, are capable of flight up to an hour, but not the ground-controlled type.
Members say they're lucky to hold a plane in the air for more than a few minutes, because the constant turning as the plane circles makes them dizzy.
But even a few moments of fun is worth all the months of patience and care which go into a small plane.
It takes a great deal of skill to be able to land one of the planes without a crash, even on a comparatively smooth baseball diamond like West Field.
A crash landing means more work in the shop, repairing and adjusting and fitting new parts onto an old frame.
It is a patient process, and careful attention to detail is obviously necessary. One tiny flaw will prevent a plane from taking to the air, or send it crashing to the ground once in flight.
Patience, however, is what the members have a lot of, and even in cramped quarters their enthusiasm doesn't take up any space.
OCTOBER 5, 1952:
Council Bluffs, IowaNonpareil - 6 Oct 52
Demonstrate Model of Flying Saucer
AKRON, O -- Model plane flyers are tinkering around with flying saucers now. A model flying saucer was launched in this area for the first time and spun successfully over the heads of hundreds of spectators.
In other events at the model plane meet a glider took first prize in a spectacular flight in which it disappeared from sight and was not found. In a speed event another model plane reached a speed of over 141 miles per hour.
1. The suggestion of the physicist in "Britain's First Atom Weapon Test Success" that "the weapon might be a hydrogen bomb" was unfounded. The first hydrogen bomb would be set off by the United States one month later, on November 1, 1952.
2. Not mentioned in "Even 'Good Risks' Run Afoul of Law in A-City" is that the population of Los Alamos at the time was approximately 12,000 persons. The reference to radio entertainment reflects the fact that in 1952 radio listeners far outnumbered television viewers.
3. There will be further developments regarding the story "Hypnotized Youth Claims Sheriff Beat Him After Flying Saucer Reported" in an upcoming post in this series.
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