in the news 1952
Above: From the files of Project Blue Book. More stories on the Carolinas sightings below.
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...
NOVEMBER 17, 1952:
Anniston, Alabama Star - 17 Nov 52
Reds Paint Grim Picture
We aren't fooling the Russians. They can see through our "decadent propaganda" to the hard facts -- life on this side of the Iron Curtain is "a nightmare."
In a recent Soviet broadcast beamed to Asia (picked up by "unscrupulous capitalist" radio monitors) the Kremlin enlightened its children as follows:
"Life in America is terrifying.
"In bars, restaurants, hotels and trains one sees posters proclaiming, in outsize lettering: 'Keep your eyes and cars open; Immediately Inform the police of all suspicious conversations.'
"Pupils in the United States are garbed in white protective clothing and sent underground every day in atom-bomb exercises. Fire engines and police trucks scuttle through the streets of New York, staging imaginary fire rescues in imaginary bombardments.
"The papers are full of reports describing mysterious flying saucers no one seems to know anything definite about.
"Panic has gripped American church choirs, because choral singers are now suspected of Marxist inclinations and Communist sympathies.
"Everybody goes in fear of concealed wiring that might reproduce telephone conversations.
"Americans, who are fond of jokes, don't even feel like joking anymore."
To tell the truth, Comrades, that's one of the funniest stories we've heard In a long time!
Newswire Report Reuters - 17 Nov 52
QUETTA, Pakistan, Nov. 17 -- Tribesmen saw flying saucers trailing bluish flames roar across the evening skies of Baluchistan on two successive days last week, according to reports reaching here today.
The reports said the saucers were first seen darting across the sky at Dera Bugti, in the Sibi District, and brilliantly lighting an area of between 50 and 40 miles radium with a dazzling beam.
Baluchi tribesmen, who rushed out to see them, watched them disappear at a great speed.
The next night the saucers reappeared, accompanied by the same tremendous noise, the reports said.
Several months ago two pilots of the Pakistan Air Force reported seeing objects like flying saucers high above Karachi.
Baluohistan, the largest Province of Pakistan, has a boundary with Iran and Afghanistan and a coastline on the Arabian Sea.
NOVEMBER 18, 1952:
Statesville, North Carolina Daily Record - 18 Nov 52
New 'Saucer' Seen In East
LUMBERTON, N.C. -- A strange, silvery object floated through the skies over the Carolinas Sunday afternoon, startling witnesses and setting off a fresh wave of "flying saucer' reports.
Observers at the Civil Aeronautics Administration stations here and at Florence, S.C., reported seeing the object. Some told police the object was "whirling" and "bobbing up and down."
Residents of the Fairmont, Tabor City, N.C. and Dillon and Mullins, S.C., areas also reported seeing the object. They said it was traveling southwest at about 10,000 feet.
John Ellis, CAA observer at Florence, reported the "glowing, saucer-shaped" object moved too slowly to have been an airplane.
Charleston, South Carolina News and Courier - 18 Nov 52
Sumter Residents Report Seeing 'Flying Saucer'
SUMTER, Nov. 17 -- Two Sumter families today reported being in on the visit of the "flying saucer" seen over Florence and at other places in the state late Sunday afternoon.
Shelton Hammond said they saw the strange object in the sky just before sunset, as they were on the road home from Marion. He said it appeared about 15 miles away and gradually faded out as it disappeared in the direction of Orangeburg.
Mr. And Mrs. Robert M. Hicks said they saw the object a few miles south of Alcolu as they were coming home, a few minutes before sunset. They stopped their auto and watched the object for about three minutes before it disappeared. It was about the color of the moon and appeared disc-shaped and slightly titled as it disappeared in the distance.
Charleston, South Carolina News and Courier - 18 Nov 52
Summerville Witnesses Testify to Seeing Shape
SUMMERVILLE, Nov. 17 -- Two carloads of Summerville folk gave testimony today to the "flying saucer" reported in the skies late Sunday afternoon.
Mrs. J.S. Melfi Jr. said she was driving toward Walterboro on Highway 17 Alternate about 5 p.m. when there appeared off to the right and westward what looked like a "glowing rod" in the sky. Mrs. Melfi said the object appeared on a downward course and after about 15 minutes disappeared below the trees in the distance.
Riding right behind Mrs. Melfi was Mrs. J.D. Allen. Her report was substantially the same.
Charleston, South Carolina News and Courier - 18 Nov 52
Charleston Woman Tells Of Seeing Object in Sky
A Charleston woman, Mrs. Thomas Guerry, said yesterday afternoon that she and her husband and A.A. Nettles were Walterboro-bound on Highway 17 Alternate just before 5:30 p.m.
The object they saw in the western sky "looked more like an arrow than a saucer," she said. The "heavy end" or point, she continued, seemed headed downward and disappeared after about 20 minutes as they watched from the stopped auto.
At the Civil Aeronautics Administration control tower at the Charleston Municipal Airport, it was suggested that a bright star low in the western sky at sunset (about 5:17 p.m.) could have been confused for the "saucer."
The CAA man also said reports were out of an unexplained object being sighted toward Florence last night.
Florence, South Carolina Morning News - 18 Nov 52
Saucer Flying 700 Miles Per Hour Reported
A streaking object -- making about 700 miles an hour, or the speed of a jet -- was reported over Florence last night.
Reports poured in again of "Flying Saucers" -- as they did Sunday when an airplane pilot positively said he saw a saucer -- and another airman just as positively didn't believe it.
Last night Mrs. W.J. Hutchinson who reported a similar object several weeks ago reported the one last night.
She called her neighbors and they also saw it.
But last night's object had some different aspects -- and the CAA here said it definitely wanted to go on record that the object sighted yesterday was not the same type as that sighted Sunday.
For one thing, said the CAA man, it was lower (toward the ground) than Sunday's but in the same general direction. And it did not change course nor hues so much.
CAA said also that a civilian airplane and an Air Force plane also reported sighting some object -- on being asked to "take a look around" at their approximate height of 10,000 feet.
The object was headed sort of southwest over Florence at 10,000 feet, various reports said.
The Atlantic Coast Line office here reported one its men sighting the "craft" and also that it had disrupted telegraphic communications.
This led to the belief that it could have been a meteorite because of the similar effect of meteorites.
A CAA man also said that it was possibly the influence of the planet Venus.
This time of year the planet Venus is visible, he said, and it could have been a reflection from that planet, he added, without pinning himself down on whether it was a saucer, flying or otherwise.
All he did know was that after Sunday's and yesterday's experiences he figured to go fishing if anyone saw any more of the things.
Harlingen, Texas Valley Morning Star - 18 Nov 52
by Whitney Bolton
It isn't much fun to drop a dirk between the shoulder blades of an old friend, but the news is that Carey Wilson is going to turn the film cameras loose on four movies having to do with alleged prophecies of Nostradamus, the 16th Century [sic, capitalized] French know-it-all who is supposed to have foreseen all there was worth foreseeing for preseeing [sic] for the next 1,000 years. Mr. Wilson made some of these Nostradamus items during World War II, gearing them to the needs and hopes of the moment, and folded up some nice money in the process. Obviously he wants to bale up some more cash for himself, for which no sane man could fight him.
The truth as I see it is that you can read almost anything you want to read into Nostradamus. The old boy committed his prophecies to doggerel and assuming that the translations at hand are fairly accurate the fact is that his words can be twisted a dozen ways to give you what you want. He excelled more at having a little something for every man than at pin-pointing fact in simple, undebatable language.
Mr. Wilson is firm and militant in his claim that anybody could have seen the fall of Hitler and Mussolini merely by consulting Nostradamus and that, therefore, he never at any time was alarmed at the way World War II was going because he knew the old forecaster had it right. Even when Hitler and Mussolini seemed triumphant and unvanquishable, he, Wilson, relaxed in the certain knowledge that they were due for disaster because Nostradamus said so. And what was good enough for Nostradamus was good enough for Carey.
Well, that's nice relaxing if you can manage it. I am familiar with the passages decoded as meaning Hitler and Mussolini, but in my book they could just as well have meant Napoleon or Charlemagne. Providing Nostradamus came before Charlemagne, which he didn't.
Mr. Wilson is a shrewd and canny showman and he now comes forward to claim that Nostradamus know that flying saucers would be around about now because he said there would be "new mysteries from the heavens to be revealed and understood." And the time was for between 1948 and 1955. I challenge Mr. Wilson to fix any definite date to anything Nostradamus ever wrote at any time. He didn't date his prophecies. He just threw them in like a French housewife making family soup. Anything went. The heavens are always filled with new mysteries, as the recent disclosures that there are "bridges" between galaxies, definable paths of light and matter which join one galaxy to another. It isn't yet understood, but it is revealed, and that's as close as you can get to pinning Nostradamus down...
NOVEMBER 19, 1952:
Lumberton, North Carolina Robesonian - 19 Nov 52
Problem For Writers
What will editors write about now that the election is over and President Truman is off the spot? That question has been asked occasionally in the past two weeks, jokingly, but with a hint of suspicion that it may present a serious problem for newspaper workers.
Well, a few months ago it looked like flying saucers would be a dependable subject for quite a while, but interest in them seems to be diminishing, as people either accept or reject the idea of "saucers" but quit being alarmed over them...
Charleroi, Pennsylvania Mail - 19 Nov 52
People of Dominant Nation Always See Flying Saucers
It is difficult to place the origin of flying saucers but they are certainly not new. Over 200 years ago when the French were the dominant group in the world the inhabitants of France saw strange objects in the sky. About a century ago when England occupied the same position they saw lights in the sky and the famous Durham lights was the source of speculation for a long time. Today, we in the United States are the world leaders and we see lights or saucers.
As yet, no psychologist has explained the close relation between the position of people in the world and their seeing of strange unidentifiable objects in the sky.
The saucers, whatever they are, do appear. Too many people have seen them to say they are hallucinations.
Paris, Texas News - 19 Nov 52
Hope He Knows
By Golly, That Will Be Nice!
How does this sound?
A world in which man is obliged to labor possibly two hours a day and live in virtual luxury.
All cities and homes, from Florida to Minnesota, with controlled Temperatures.
A simple method of crop fertilization which would convert carrots, for instance, to the size of watermelons -- if you like carrots that well.
And a life insurance policy that would extend man's normal allotted time on this earth from 65 to 150 years.
It's no idle dream, If you'll take the word of Dr. Luther Gable speaker Tuesday night at the opening meeting of the 1952-53 season of the Paris Knife & Fork Club.
'What we accept as part of our lives today -- radio, television automobiles -- were once scoffed at, you remember. So what I'm forecasting for our young atomic age will someday soon become a reality," he told emphasized [sic].
Though disturbingly technical in spots, the faculty member of the American Television Institute of Technology proved a veteran after dinner speaker, teasing his audience about their obvious lack of technical information.
But at times by oversimplifying difficult data, he cleverly boosted egoes [sic] by making club members feel they had just completed a four-year course in physics and chemistry.
At any rate, it was nice to go away, saying you had just seen the formula for the atomic bomb, a blueprint of an atomic ship, war secret German spy report visible only under black light and carrying a hunch that flying saucers do not have little men aboard.
"Flying saucers? Certainly not from other planets. If I could but tell you of the remarkable progress scientists of this nation are making today, you would be quite willing to accept the discs, as a normal thing.
"If the government were to suddenly reveal some of our latest weapons and possibilities of weapons, there likely would be mass hysteria. For that reason, you can expect no immediate announcements from Washington regarding the recent purported H-Bomb blast."
Gable hinted that no scientist, either Russian or allied, is anxious to set off an H Bomb. It feeds on nitrogen, he explained, adding that nitrogen is available anywhere and a sudden chain reaction might glass over the globe.
Splitting of the atom has opened a limitless avenue for scientific progress, he said.
We cannot begin to envision the possibilities," he emphasized. However, he sounded a solemn warning that if religion failed to keep abreast of scientific progress, "we may someday find our new discoveries turning upon us. Atomic power, you know, was sought for peaceful products, not A-Bombs."
Oh, yes, about that two-hour work day: atomic power will simplify most jobs, the native Pennsylvanian believes.
And controlled temperatures?
"Easy. Just hang up a gadget above the city that produces infra-red rays." Radium holds the key to great plant growth, and a chemical injection into the human system should provide extended longevity.
NOVEMBER 20, 1952:
Oak Park, Illinois Oak Leaves - 20 Nov 52
Methodist Men Hear About Flying Saucers
The Men's club of the River Forest Methodist church will hear a talk on "Flying Saucers and Other Sky Riders" by Paul Dallwig, layman lecturer at the Chicago Museum of Natural History at the regular meeting Tuesday evening.
Mr. Dallwig, who is in his thirteenth year of lecturing, has appeared before capacity crowds on Sunday afternoons at the Museum.
Supper will be served at 6:30 p.m. before the program, according to R.W. Critchfield, club president. Other entertainment is also being planned for the evening.
Scandia, Kansas Journal - 20 Nov 52
Defense Head Asks Communities' Help To Identify Saucers
LINCOLNTOWN, N.C. -- The following announcement seeking information, from the public on the strange phenomena, flying saucers, was made by S. Ray Lowder, director of civil defense program in Lincoln county.
This office is now acting as a clearing point for information regarding the sighting of flying saucers over North Carolina. This is at the request of army intelligence. Reports are being compiled and forwarded to the proper headquarters.
I would like to interview as many of those reporting these objects in the sky as soon as possible after their sighting them so that the, descriptions will be fresh.
This is the approximate information we require:
Name and address and phone number of persons sighting object.
Time and place object seen
Direction traveling, if moving.
Full description of object, whether light, solid, trail of light followed object, whether object was surrounded by halo effect, whether traveling slow or fast and whether stopped and started.
How long was object in view?
Was weather hot, extremely hot, cool?
Army intelligence is not discounting these reports, while at the same time they do not give too much credence that these objects are man controlled, at the same time they would like to have information regarding the sighting of these objects by reliable persons.
Four-men have been chosen from various parts of Lincoln County to act as observers and recruiters for Lincolnton and Lincoln county. These men need volunteers who will report the movement of all overhead aircraft to the ground observer, corps filter center at Lincolnton. You can help yourself to better protection of your community, home and your family by joining the ground observer corps unit in your locality.- There are numerous jobs open and you are needed to fill these important positions. The work is interesting and it will not take much of your time. The ground observer corps Is vital to the National Defense effort. Here in Lincolnton, call 184 for further information.
NOVEMBER 21, 1952:
Tucson, Arizona Daily Citizen - 21 Nov 52
Glowing Meteor Lights Sky Over Four Southwest States
A glowing meteor flashed across the southwestern sky last night and suddenly disintegrated in a blaze of white light turning, night into day at some places. It was seen by competent observers in four states.
The Oklahoma City weather bureau said from the varied reports it had received there was no doubt the fireball was a meteor.
Amazed newspapermen said as far as they knew no one had mistaken it for a flying saucer.
REPORTS OF THE celestial phenomenon came from cities in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, and Colorado.
Windel Maynard, civil aeronautics administration air traffic controller at Oklahoma City called it the "brightest meteor I have ever seen." Others described It as a "bolt of sheet lightning," and a "red ball of flame."
The weather bureau reported curiously that each observer seemed to think the meteor was right near his particular area. Bill Jones, Oklahoma City state highway patrol dispatcher placed it directly north of the radio tower at Edmond. Others in Texas, Kansas and Colorado were equally sure the meteor wasn't more than a few miles away.
THE METEOR appeared like a gigantic flare over southwestern Kansas. Witnesses at Hutchinson and Wichita said it flashed across the sky in a southwesterly direction and then burst into a number of vari-colored pieces like a skyrocket. Some said there was an accompanying noise -- like distant thunder.
The Tulsa CAA office said four American Airlines pilots saw the display from the air. Observers also reported seeing it in Amarillo, Tex., Trinidad, Colo., Newton and El Dorado, Kas., and Dallas. Patrolmen from every corner of Oklahoma said they saw it.
NOVEMBER 22, 1952:
Charleston, South Carolina News and Courier - 22 Nov 52
Letters to the Editor
To The News and Courier:
My little daughter, three grandchildren and I, saw the object Sunday afternoon in the sky as we returning from Columbia. We were between Foreston and Greeleyville, about 5 o'clock, when one of the children saw it.
It was rather pointed, about the color of the moon: it was low in the west and slow in disappearing. The last we saw of it was just this side of Greeleyville and was about the size or looked the size of 36 inches long and 12 inches wide.
If it was a flying saucer it was my first time to see one.
MRS. SIDNEY DENNIS.
New Castle, Pennsylvania News - 22 Nov 52
Railroad Inspectors See Flying Saucers
Two railroad inspectors and yard master of the new yards of the Pennsylvania railroad at Cherry street saw what they claimed were some flying saucers Friday morning at 1:45.
Seeing the flying discs were Louis DePorzio and Frank Vallelly, inspectors, and Claire Locke, yard master.
According to reports they lasted about 10 minutes.
San Mateo, California Times - 22 Nov 52
'Quick, Watson - The Space Helmet'
It is completely characteristic of the incredible age in which we live that a proposal to create a man-made island in space should be seriously made and seriously considered. Fifty years ago anyone who seriously proposed such a feat would have been quietly removed to the nearest asylum for the unbalanced. Twenty-five years ago a mere expression that a space island might be feasible would have brought the label of "crackpot" to anyone who held such an opinion. Today few eyebrows are tilted at a scheme that goes beyond terrestial [sic] boundaries and proposes a change in the universe.
Instead, the reaction is interested speculation on how long a time will elapse before the project will be completed.
Truth used to be stranger than fiction. Now truth seems to be taking on a nightmarish, Alice-in-Wonderland, queerness that would have left Jules Verne pop-eyed and skeptical. For the plan to establish an island in space is offered by an army missiles expert as a national defense measure to offset similar plans by Soviet Russia. The Associated Press says that some top rank businessmen believe the project should be financed on this ground.
The fiction writers, however, were the first to venture into space as an imaginative feat and they seem to be more than holding their ground. Several magazines of national circulation deal with space adventures and even the staid Saturday Evening Post has offered fictional space exploits.
Times' readers, young and old, have followed the adventures of Buck Rogers for many years and find the bizarre setting commonplace.
Those who enter toy shops and departments this holiday season will find shelves loaded with miniature space ships and equipment. One San Mateo store has full size, plastic space helmets for the small fry as lively competition for the perennially popular cowboy suits. Many an astounded father is going to find what looks like a creature from a Flying Saucer cavorting under the Christmas tree this year.
We are all becoming accustomed to an odd intermingling of fact and fiction with respect to scientific achievement and it is difficult to separate the jargon of the fiction from the technical nomenclature of the factual accomplishments. It is almost equally difficult to distinguish between what actually can be done and that which still exists only as fancy.
Most of us were reared under the old maxim that, "What goes up -- must come down." The skyward flight of taxes in recent years seems to have been the first disproof of the old maxim, but now the scientists appear intent upon proving that matter can be rocketed aloft and stay there.
We are willing to allow this, but we hope that taxes, at least, will respond to the old fashioned law of physics. Islands in space are all very well, but there are those among us who are beginning to think seriously about finding some space on an island.
1. The story behind the mystery of the "Durham Lights", mentioned in "People of Dominant Nation Always See Flying Saucers", can be read here.
2. Not much information on Dr. Luther Gable, mentioned in "By Golly, That Will Be Nice!", is readily available. However, an article in the February 7, 1933, edition of the Glenville, West Virginia, Mercury gives the following background...
Dr. Gable Predicts "Garden Of Eden" As Science Future
The future, from the harnessing radium rays for power, through a period in which man will have perfect health and extreme long life, to the destruction of the world by Science, which he identified with God, was pictured and pictured again by Dr. Luther Gable in a series of lectures held here Friday, Saturday, and Sunday under the sponsorship of the Chemistry Club.
Dr. Gable was advertised as being the only survivor of six who first refined radium in America and as the former head of the department of heliology in Detroit Institute of Technology. What his present work is and what his scientific associations are he did not explain...
The entire article may be read here. A later brochure concerning Dr. Gable may be seen here.
3. Research on the sightings in South Carolina and North Carolina is currently underway, and the results will be added to these notes.
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