true story of
PART FOUR OF TEN PARTS
July, 1947 press wire photo of Kenneth Arnold.
PERHAPS NOTHING better illustrates the sudden change in 32-year old Kenneth Arnold's fortunes during the first two weeks of summer 1947 than the fact that in just 14 days he had gone from being a complete unknown to making news nationwide simply because he had bought himself a camera...
Original Discs Observer Plans To Film Proof
Boise, Idaho, July 6 (AP) -- The airman who first reported "flying saucers" sailing through the western sky said today he had invested $150 in a movie camera to film photographic proof of the discs he said flipped through the wild blue yonder "like fish skimming through water."
Kenneth Arnold, 32, Boise flying businessman, said he would take the camera with him on every flight he makes over his five-state business territory because "a picture of them would be the most beautiful thing you ever saw and it would provide a record of what I saw and I know to be true."
National Fan Mail
Since Arnold reported sighting a flight of nine saucer-like objects scooting between Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams in Washington state June 24, he has received "fan mail" from all parts of the country.
"None of the writers has called me screwball," he said. "They really want to help figure this thing out."
Several of the half-hundred letters Arnold received have been from persons who said they represented religious groups. Those writers, Arnold said, placed religious interpretations upon his report.
"One fellow in absolute seriousness," Arnold related "wrote that he believed the flying saucers were responsible for peculiar fog conditions recently in Los Angeles." Other correspondents suggested the objects may be from another planet.
Others Hear Him Out
"Because my report would seem fantastic when I made it," Arnold said, "I knew I would be an object of ridicule but the subsequent observations -- particularly that of a commercial air line crew -- bear out my own observation." A United Air Lines crew reported sighting nine of the saucers over Emmett, Idaho, last Friday night.
Arnold said the avalanche of reports since he first told about the "flying saucers" have pointed up two factors which he considers significant:
1. Most observers on the ground and in the air place the height of the discs at "9,000 feet or higher -- never any lower."
2. Generally a large volume of reports of saucers being sighted in the Pacific northwest "occurs only days when the air is quiet -- hardly ever when the air is turbulent."
The above, published in the Lewiston, Utah Morning Tribune on July 7, 1947, was just a taste of the national coverage Arnold had received in the press over the previous 14 days. It had all begun on June 24th when the Boise, Idaho businessman-pilot reported sighting nine aircraft traveling 1200 mph or more while flying his small plane near Mt. Ranier in Washington. From one short news article in an Oregon paper Arnold's story had immediately mushroomed into a national press frenzy -- the speed and performance of the unusual craft were far beyond the capabilities of any known jet or even experimental airplane. Within days similar reports were coming in from all over the Pacific Northwest as well as the American Southwest, soon followed by reports across the United States and Canada. Variously labeled as flying discs or flying saucers, the wave of sightings became the impetus for dozens of feature articles, scientific appraisals, editorials, and man-on-the-street interviews in the newspapers even as various National Guard units sent well-publicized flights aloft in search of potential aerial intruders over American skies. And almost all of the news coverage made at least passing mention of Kenneth Arnold by name.
But just as life-changing as the press coverage was the variety of new people coming into Kenneth Arnold's life. The first of these was not exactly "new". Dave Johnson, the aviation editor for the Boise, Idaho Statesman -- Arnold's local paper -- had been already been friends with Arnold. Johnson, a man in his mid-thirties with 2800 hours of flying time behind him, had been a flyer during the war -- he had been the first to pilot a B-29 assigned to the 20th Air Force, then stationed on Tinian Island in the Pacific theater of operations. After the war Johnson and Arnold -- both now being pilots of private planes in Boise -- "had frequently got together to talk shop," according to Johnson.
But following Arnold's reported sighting the relationship grew stronger, with Johnson interviewing Arnold and Arnold even turning to Johnson for advice, enhancing a relationship which would only grow closer over time. In fact, on the very day Arnold bought his camera -- the story of which may have been written by Johnson -- the two would go searching together to see if they could find and photograph a disc. From the July 8, 1947 edition of the Lewiston, Idaho Morning Tribune...
First Day Of Find Saucers Assignment Proves 'Dud' For Newspaperman-Pilot
By DAVE JOHNSON
(Idaho Statesman Aviation Editor)
Boise, Ida., July 7 (AP) -- If anyone wishes to report that he hasn't seen a flying disc, I will confirm it for him.
I have just come back from flying seven and one-half hours over a 1,100 mile route in search of some trace of the discs, but I was not among the blessed.
I didn't see any, and neither did Kenneth Arnold of Boise, who rode with me in the Statesman's plane. We both packed cameras with telescope lenses and were ready to open fire with the film if we saw one of the objects which have been keeping the nation in an uproar for more than two weeks.
Arnold, unhappy man, gritted his teeth and moaned most of the way home. He's the one who can be said to have started the disc stuff, with his report of nine of the objects wheeling around Mt. Rainier and disappearing in the vicinity of Mt. Adams in Washington.
The Statesman's "Early Bird" droned to within good sight of the Canadian Rockies, around the atom plant at Hanford and over the rough country between Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams.
We followed Capt. E.J. Smith's airline route from Boise to Pendleton hoping to see some of the objects he, his co-pilot and a United Airlines stewardess reported the other night.
On the way up to Pendleton, Arnold broke into a laugh and said, "Just think of all the folks who must be walking along the streets looking up for discs."
I asked him what the hell he thought we were doing.
Heard It Was Hoax
At Yakima, where we ate lunch at the central aircraft hangar, we nearly had convulsions when we heard that a fellow in a P-38 up in Montana reported meeting a disc at 32,000 and sending it spinning. We heard it was supposed to have had a plexiglass blister on top.
Later we heard it was all a hoax.
We told people at Pendleton, Yakima and Kennewick what we were after. I am proud to be an American when I say that nowhere did we get the whirling finger at the temple stuff.
Will Keep Up Search
Now about this assignment. The city editor was very explicit when he said he wanted me to hunt until I found a disc, or had to give up. I am a Swede from a long line of Swedes, and I am convinced a Swede discovered America and that a Swede was the first president of the United States.
I will keep it up. I still have some of that expense dough in my sweat-soaked pocketbook and unless the city editor takes it away from me the search will go on. There is one drawback I can't overcome. Without supercharging, the Early Bird No. 3 is good up to about 14,000 feet. If these things are from another planet, I'm sunk.
The Early Bird ran very well today, the engine sounding like molasses being poured on flapjacks, until Kenneth Arnold began talking about forced landings. He chose for that discussion the time we were covering the ridge between Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams, a most difficult piece of terrain.
City Editor Grumbling
At that moment the engine began to sound as if it were coming apart. That's a peculiarity of airplane engines, or maybe of airplane pilots. The city editor, who doesn't fly, was not along.
I am off into the blue stuff yonder tomorrow. This time I'm going alone, for Arnold, who sells fire fighting apparatus, says this is his best season and he's taking his own plane to Pendleton. He'll also take his camera.
Arnold and I are not alone in this disc hunt. Some very solid citizens, including pilots on the major airlines, are carrying field glasses and cameras with them in the same endeavor.
I hope to be able to report better luck tomorrow. I'm going first up around St. Maries where discs were reported to have hit a mountain.
Then around the mountain, ad infinitum.
Two days later, flying solo in the "Early Bird", Johnson would have his own sighting.
The next person who had come into Arnold's life was United Airlines pilot E.J. Smith, who -- as mentioned in Johnson's article -- had along with his crew also made national news when they reported encountering nine flying discs during a flight from Boise to Seattle. Arnold had met Smith serendipitously while returning from a fishing trip in Washington where he had gone to get away from the tumult caused by his report. Meeting up by pure coincidence at the Seattle offices of the International News Service, the two men shared their experiences -- the beginning of a life-long bond according to Arnold, with Arnold thereafter referring to the extremely tall pilot as "Big Smithy".
Finally, during those intense two weeks Arnold had attracted the attention of investigative partners from A-2 Military Intelligence, Fourth Air Force -- Captain William L. Davidson and Lieutenant Frank M. Brown -- who after interviewing Arnold about his experience had left him their phone numbers should he ever need to get in contact, later filing a formal report saying they had been favorably impressed with Arnold -- for whom the feeling was mutual.
The interview by Brown and Davidson had lead to all of them together -- Arnold, Johnson, Smith, Brown, and Davidson -- meeting up at Boise Municipal Airport, as Arnold would later write...
That evening, at about 9:30 Captain Smith was coming through Boise on his flight to the east from Seattle. I told Davidson and Brown that I intended to go out and say hello to Big Smithy. They were highly elated with the opportunity to meet Captain Smith for, as Brown said, he was on their list to call on. It was like killing two birds with one stone, so to speak.
After dinner we drove out to the Boise Municipal Airport. I was rather surprised to find Dave Johnson, the aviation editor for The Idaho Statesman, there. I wondered how he knew. Then it occurred to me that the military wanted to talk with him also. Only a few days previously he had attempted to photograph a disk-like object which he had observed from his National Guard AT-6 airplane while he was flying at 14,000 feet over Anderson Dam, a few miles to the east of Boise.
Characteristic of our other meetings, everybody was talking at the same time. As a result, during the brief stay that Smithy had between flights, none of us found out much. I did learn in the course of the conversation that Davidson and Brown had flown to Boise specially to see me in a military A-26 bomber. I was really impressed! About all I knew about planes was from the puddle-jumpers I had always flown and because these military craft are so big and so powerful I guess I had the idea that brains were sticking out all over anyone who could fly them.
The five men would never meet all together as a group again, though their lives were destined thereafter to become intertwined in intrigue and tragedy.
The capricious beginnings of which would be triggered when an impish and decidedly idiosyncratic individual made his way into Arnold's circle.
Above: July 5, 1947 national wire photo of Captain E.J. Smith and Kenneth Arnold at the International News Service offices in Seattle, Washington.
ARNOLD WOULD LATER write of the intrigue's beginnings, picking up just three days after the five men had each gone their separate ways...
It was while going through my mail about the fifteenth of July that for some reason or other I gave attention to one particular letter that I had received. It was from a Mr. Raymond A. Palmer. It was written on stationery with the letter head of THE VENTURE PRESS. I didn't know who Raymond Palmer was and I had never heard of the Venture Press.
The letter from Raymond Palmer had been dated June 26, 1947. It read...
I have just read an account in the Chicago Tribune concerning an aerial train composed of at least 9 units shaped like a pie-plate and silvery in color, traveling at 1200 m.p.h. near Mount Ranier [sic], as witnessed by you while flying in the vicinity.
This is quite important to me, because I have in my possession numerous independent confirmations of what you saw, although none in as great detail as your account. I am interested in publishing an article in our magazine, written from a personal account by yourself, and accompanied by pix of yourself, plane, and rough sketches by yourself, of what you saw.
If you care to do this for me, I am prepared to pay our usual rates of 2¢ per word, plus $5.00 for each photograph you can provide, or for each sketch which can be used by our art staff to illustrate the article.
Included in this material, we'd like a short biographical sketch of yourself as "author background" material. The article would appear under your by-line.
If you are not interested, I would at least appreciate a letter from you, confirming the newspaper story.
Very truly yours,
In your reply, please use airmail.
Kenneth Arnold would later write of his reaction...
At the time, had I known who he was, I probably wouldn't have answered his letter. It wouldn't have been because he wasn't a sincere or a good man, but later I found he was connected with the type of publications that I not only never read but had always thought a gross waste of time for anyone to read. I never was much interested in reading anyhow. It had always been much more interesting for me to do things even though most of the time I did them wrong. Some people call my kind of a person "the one who learns it the hard way" and after what had happened I think, "How true, how true!"
This letter from Mr. Palmer was far from being anything sensational, but somehow it had a tone of softness and sincere interest that appealed to me. I think I read that letter at least ten times. Finally I answered it. I was intensely interested in finding out who Raymond Palmer was and inquired from all my friends as well as the newspaper offices here in Boise. Nobody that I ran into had ever heard of either him or the Venture Press.
Nor would it have mattered much if they had, for outside of the fact that Raymond Palmer had been the editor of Amazing Stories and had been variously credited or lambasted for pushing what came to be known as "The Shaver Mystery", there were very few familiar with the real Raymond A. Palmer -- who literally dwelled in his own secret world.
RAYMOND ALFRED PALMER was born August 1, 1910 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin -- that much at least can be confirmed or refuted by public record. As for what happened after that, it is largely dependent on the degree to which what Palmer wrote of his life can be taken for fact.
Palmer published his sole autobiographical work, The Secret World, at the age of 65, just two years before his death. Much more a compendium of his esoteric philosophies and experiences than a conventional biography, it remains nonetheless almost the only source for key incidents in his life.
At the age of seven Palmer was struck by a butcher's truck, breaking his back. He would spend the next five years in near-isolation...
During the time when my education was going on, when other youngsters my age were sitting in classrooms, much of my time was spent in hospital beds or in bed at home, including several years strapped to a torture rack made of iron pipes and stretched canvas called a "Bradford frame". I was strapped to this thing face down, able only to move the lower part of my legs, my arms, and my head. At intervals totaling more than five years, I got my education from a tutor sent by the Milwaukee School Board, and from reading books delivered weekly by the Milwaukee Public Library. I received a large case of books every week, and read most of them, an average of sixteen a day. First I read all the fiction, then more advanced books, and finally, textbooks -- physics, chemistry, astronomy, botany, biology, philosophy, history, archaeology, exploration and even the classics, mythological and legendary material...
I became a "self-educated" man, and in the process acquired a habit that was to last my entire lifetime.
Released after five years from the "Bradford frame" and daily life spent in bed, Palmer re-entered the public school system...
When I first decided to be a writer, I had to begin by dealing in fantasy, which came naturally to me because of my vivid imagination. At the age of fifteen, I wrote my first story which I submitted as a theme in English I. I got an A on it and a special singling out by the teacher, who proceeded to read the whole sixteen thousand interminable words to the class. I was rather pleased that they were not bored, and the reaction encouraged me to submit the story to a publisher. In 1926, Hugo Gernsback brought out the first science fiction magazine called Amazing Stories and when I saw the first issue on the newsstands, I snatched it up. That same day I sent my story to him for consideration for the magazine. My story, I realized, was science fiction.
The story was sold for forty dollars, and it was published some years later in a magazine called Science Wonder Stories. Its publication brought the first real surprise of my life, the discovery that something I had suspected about the writing of the story was no fantasy -- the story itself was not entirely fiction, a lot of it was true! While I was amazed to find out that some of it was literal truth, I was more concerned with how I had gained those truths, which were part and parcel of the creation of the story: I had dreamed them!
Palmer's confirmation of his dream had come, he writes, as the result of a letter from an unnamed "professional guide and trader" in Africa. The guide was sure that Palmer had been on one of his tours, and what's more had written the Science Wonder Stories article -- titled The Time Ray of Jamba -- using a pseudonym. The guide said that he was sure of this because he didn't recognize Palmer's name as ever having been on one of his tours, yet the place Palmer described in Africa -- an ancient lost city now in ruins from a volcanic eruption -- was correct in all its detail both as to the lost city and its hidden location.
The letter, according to Palmer, triggered an extraordinary revelation...
His letters were a disaster. They destroyed any complacency I might have had about being a normal person. Something was decidedly unusual about me! I dreamed true! How could this be, and what could it be?
If the dreaming was true, why not the imagining? Maybe the story of the death of the city was as true as the description of its ruins? If so, then there was something radically wrong with history, with religion, with everything!...
You see, this wasn't an isolated dream -- I dreamed all the time! Every night, all night long! I could not understand people who went to sleep and eight hours -- one third of their day -- was empty. I lived twenty-four hours a day. I had believed that the hours spent sleeping were fantasy, imaginative, creations of unreal substance my subconscious had erected and made into elaborations based upon real experience, things I had read, plus sheer invention. Now, I thought, I couldn't be sure of that. I had to consider that dreaming might be -- was! -- as real as being awake.
Palmer wrote that there were many such confirmations of his "dreaming true", giving more examples. One was a recurring dream from when he was very young, again of a place in ruins but this time overgrown with vegetation. He would explore its tunnels and great rooms until coming upon remnants of a wall behind which was a giant ape who chased him away. It was only later, he said, upon seeing a picture of the temple complex of Angor Wat in Cambodia, that he knew he had actually visited it in his dreams.
Another example Palmer would give of his "dreaming true" was of a naval battle in the Pacific during World War II. According to Palmer he had been there to see it as it occurred, all as part of a dream. Floating between the battle itself and some sort of command center, Palmer said he knew that the damage to the U.S. fleet had been much greater than at first admitted. Writing down and sealing the names of the lost ships into an envelope, and putting the envelope into the care of a coworker, Palmer says he was confirmed in all details eight months later when Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox publicly revealed for the first time the true extent of the loss.
Nor was "dreaming true" anywhere near the limit of Palmer's claimed abilities and experiences. For instance as a boy, Palmer's maternal grandmother -- who lived 150 miles away -- had appeared in his room and told him "goodbye" upon her death. It was because of this, according to Palmer, that he was the first to inform his family of her passing.
Years later -- after the death of his brother in the Battle of the Bulge -- Palmer said he had prayed to find out how his brother had died, for the cause of death had never been told to the family. That night, awakened by a voice saying, "Come, we are ready," Palmer says he was taken to a sort of school, literally 1,000 miles above Luxembourg, where he met his brother, who appeared to be 17 -- 10 years younger than at his time of death...
I think you can imagine how I reacted to the discovery that he wanted to play "tag" with me! And that is precisely what I did for five minutes or so. Finally I managed to stop the game long enough to get him to listen to me. Then I asked him some questions. I asked him what he was studying, and he said "Oh, things". Then he added: "like arithmetic, and how to make stuff, and things like that." Well, I finally asked him one of the important questions: I asked him how he had gotten killed. He thought about it a minute, and said he hadn't gotten killed, only had his left leg blown off at the hip. He said he was in the hospital a few days, somehow the surgeons had given him a new leg, then he was moved here, where he was mustered out of the army and sent back to school.
Only months later would Palmer learn that the loss of the left leg was indeed the means of his brother's death -- at least according to Palmer.
From such experiences came Palmer's developing belief in an ethereal repository of knowledge that could be tapped for information...
This library is accessible to anyone, from the furthest reaches of the galaxy, to the lowest official in charge of a planet, or even a more local jurisdiction, such as a continent, or even a city.
Obviously the idea of places of record, where all information is available, is a universal concept throughout all religious and philosophical thinking. This being true, then it is possible to "know" anything, if only we have the access to these records. Do we have such access?
For Palmer personally the answer was yes, and he attributed some of his dream experiences to tapping into that library. He also attributed the human experiences of hunches, intuition, and even mental telepathy as further examples of tapping into universal "places of record".
But it was in the realm of imagination and Palmer's belief in its capabilities to shape not only events but physical processes that Palmer's "secret world" found its most esoteric expression.
For instance, in Palmer's efforts to shape and guide his memory.
According to Palmer, he had always had an extraordinary memory, including being shown Haley's comet -- which had made its visible passage two months before he was born. His memory of this and other events -- which his family denied had happened -- inspired him to work at remembering all he could, partly to pass the time when he was re-hospitalized at the age of 20...
I used to practice remembering. I would begin by remembering what happened yesterday, then a week ago, a year ago, and proceed back into time as far as I could go. Eventually I could remember detailed events of specific days at a very early age. I was astonished at what I could remember. And it always checked out.
At length I got to the point where I could remember my mother in a very intimate way -- I could remember nursing at her breast. I could remember peering through the bars of my cradle at her, sitting naked on a chair in the sunlight beside the window, combing her long red hair, which was so long it touched the floor as she sat. Actually it was auburn, but in the sunlight, it was fiery red-gold and very beautiful. As an infant, I didn't note that my mother was an extremely beautiful woman -- but in my memory I was fully aware of it. And I enjoyed reliving those moments while I clutched her breast in both my tiny hands and satisfied my almost frantic hunger.
But I found out now that my mother had not been very happy. It was at these moments that she cried, and she always talked to me as I nursed. Sometimes I would stop suckling and look up at her intently, listening to the sound of her voice. Naturally those sounds were unintelligible to an infant, but now, as I strove intently to remember, I could recreate the sounds in my mind -- and I understood her words!
And it was likewise through the powers of imagination -- according to Palmer -- that he not only shaped, but saved his own life.
Above: June, 1947 issue of Amazing Stories.
EARLY ON IN HIS LIFE Palmer had considered -- and rejected -- the idea of fate, or predestination...
Predestination means "before destination". It is the goal or place or achievement we have decided to reach. Yes, decided! Personally decided. Not arbitrarily decided by some extraneous hag-faced "woman" called Fate, but decided by ourselves. How it can be that man has so erroneously come to define a simple word like predestination, I do not know... Predestination is the way we want it to be, and the way we decide that it will be!
For Palmer, confirmation of that realization was the result of a matter of life and death, which occurred at the age of 20...
When I went to Muirdale sanatorium, tuberculosis was in the process of destroying a spinal graft bridging the broken vertebrae suffered as a result of being run over by a butcher's truck at the age of seven. It was also destroying as many as six of the vertebrae themselves. The doctor showed me the x-rays, depicting the damage. When the destruction had proceeded far enough, he told me, there would be a sudden collapse, I would be instantly paralyzed, and would die immediately because of the area of the spinal chord that would be involved.
Given a death sentence by the doctor -- who gave Palmer six months to live -- Palmer wrote that he made a five-dollar bet with the doctor that he would get better, and set to work on healing himself...
For six months I held a mental picture of bone forming around that damaged series of vertebrae, first as cartilage, then slowly hardening and fusing into a solid mass. Meanwhile I remained in as rigid a position as I could in bed, so that the bone formation would not be influenced by unnecessary movement.
The result, according to Palmer, was that in six months' time he had healed himself, confirmed by X-rays which amazed the sanatorium doctors...
I tried to tell them it was no miracle, only the deliberate work of my mind visualizing a process of just what was needed, cartilage and bone. They were willing to believe in a miracle, but not in pre-destination.
According to Palmer, the visualization technique he had used in the sanatorium would not only stay with him the rest of his life, but result in his most important opportunity.
It occurred after he left the sanatorium, and began working in sheet metal and construction, supplemented by writing articles for various pulp magazines. After six years of this, Palmer writes he decided -- or pre-destined -- a new course for himself...
In 1938 I gave up my job, went to my rented room, and simply waited. I was waiting for a specific event to occur. I was waiting to be called to the editorship of Amazing Stories magazine which was published in New York and had an editor who had no intention of relinquishing his job.
I had decided that this was precisely what I wanted to happen. And I fixed in my mind that this was my "destination". In short, I pre-destined it! I knew it could be done. If I could do what I had already done in winning a $5.00 bet, I knew that I could do anything I wanted. I could make it happen.
Teck Publishing Company, which then owned Amazing Stories also owned Radio News. The Ziff-Davis Publishing Company in Chicago wanted to buy Radio News and Teck Publishing company was willing -- but only on the condition that Amazing Stories was part of a deal. It was a matter of buying a magazine that was bankrupt in order to get one that was successful. Amazing Stories had a pathetic 19,000 circulation, which amounts to a disaster in newsstand publishing. Ziff-Davis bought both tiles, and trade journals announced the fact.
Just as he was waiting, says Palmer, his friend and fellow science-fiction writer Roger Hoar paid a visit to Ziff-Davis in Chicago in hopes of selling some his stories...
"We don't need stories," said Mr. Bernard G. Davis, "we need an editor."
"I know just the man for you," said Mr. Hoar, and recommended me. The advantages in having a personal friend at the helm of Amazing Stories were not lost upon him. He promised I would be in Mr. Davis' office at 10:00 A.M. The next morning. That night I received a call from Mr. Hoar, and the next morning went to Chicago to begin work in my new job. I was informed by Mr. Davis that the magazine was a dud, that they intended only to publish one issue to assure themselves that it was indeed dead, then discontinue it. It was up to me.
My first issue sold 75,000 copies, the second 93,000, and within a year the circulation was 185,000 and I was editor of seven additional magazines.
Six years later, Palmer and Amazing Stories would be launched into circulation highs and raging controversy...
As editor under Bernard G. Davis, I had free rein with the pulps, and was answerable to no one but Mr. Davis. One day a letter arrived giving the details of an "ancient alphabet" that "should not be lost to the world". It was opened by my managing editor, Howard Browne, who tossed it into the wastebasket with the comment: "The world is sure full of crackpots!"
Overhearing Browne from the office next door, some instinct drove Palmer to retrieve and finally publish the letter...
The results made publishing history, insofar as pulp magazines were concerned. Many hundreds of readers' letters came in, and the net result was a query to Richard S. Shaver asking where he got his Alphabet.
The answer was in the form of a 10,000-word "manuscript" typed with what was certainly the ultimate in non-ability at the typewriter, and entitled "A Warning To Future Man".
I read through, every single word, and then sat back. What was it I had here? Certainly not an attempt by an "author" to sell a story. Mr. Shaver wanted no money for his manuscript. It wasn't a manuscript, but a letter. Mr. Shaver seemed anxious that it be published, not for notoriety, but out of a sincere (apparently) desire that the world be warned of a terrible danger it faced, and informed of a wonderful heritage it had lost, and which should be recovered if at all possible.
The story Shaver told involved a race of ancients who inhabited vast caves deep underground, descendents of a group which had been abandoned thousands of years ago when a spike in the sun's radiation forced Earth's original inhabitants to leave the planet. The ones left behind were the "abandondero", who had not been lucky enough to escape the planet. Fleeing from the ravages of the sun they headed underground where they now lived amidst wondrous technology, far in advance of anything the present above-ground inhabitants knew. But the "abandondero" -- called "dero" for short -- had degenerated into an evil race.
Countering the "dero" were a much smaller force of "tero", who had taken a more constructive path. According to Palmer's version of Shaver's mythos...
These dero have access to the wonderful machines of the ancients, still in working order, since they were built almost indestructible, and with these machines they are able to bedevil both the teros and surface people. Among these machines are marvelous vision rays that can penetrate miles of solid rock, picking up scenes all over Earth without the need of a broadcast unit; transportation by teleportation instantaneously from one point to another... mental machines which caused seemingly solid illusions, dreams, hypnotic compulsions (which account for the strange "urges to kill" of surface folk...)
Today, said Mr. Shaver, the dero still exist in the caves and many of our troubles are caused by them. Some wars are fostered by them; our terrible air accidents are not always accidents but the result of destructive rays aimed at planes by idiots whose only delight is death and torture; even our nightmares can be the result of their "dream mech" trained on us in our sleep.
And although Palmer says he was hesitant about publishing a supposedly true story in a magazine of fiction, he was so taken with the story that he decided to rewrite and then publish it...
I put a piece of paper into my typewriter, and using Mr. Shaver's strange letter-manuscript as a basis, I wrote a 31,000 word story which I entitled "I Remember Lemuria!" (complete with exclamation mark), and although I added all the "trimmings" I did not alter the "factual" basis of Mr. Shaver's manuscript except in one instance. Here, perhaps, I made a grave mistake. However, I could not bring myself to believe that Mr. Shaver had really gotten his Alphabet, and his Warning To Future Man, and all the "science" he propounded, from actual caves in Earth, and actual people living there. Instead, I translated his thought-records into "racial memory", and felt sure this would be more believable to my readers, and a reasonable and actual explanation for what was going on in Mr. Shaver's mind – which is where I felt it really was going on; not in any caves, nor via any telaug rays, or telesolidograph projections of illusions from the cavern ray operators.
I published "I remember Lemuria!" in the March, 1945 issue.
The article -- which went out as authored by both Richard Shaver and Raymond Palmer -- was such a sensational success that, even though Palmer issued an extra 50,000 newsstand copies, it sold out almost overnight...
More incredible, a flood of letters began that totaled, in the end, more than 50,000 letters (our usual letter-response was some 45 or 50 letters per month) and moreover, they confirmed the story's truth.
It was the beginning of a phenomenon, as reported by Life Magazine years later in its May, 1951 issue...
The deros were responsible for all the evil in the world. All catastrophes, from shipwrecks to sprained ankles, were directly attributable to their influence. They often appeared on the surface of the earth and were sufficiently human in appearance to pass unnoticed in a crowd. But they performed most of their harassments by telepathy, rays and other remote-control devices from their subterranean homes. Their underground cities communicated with the surface through various caves which were extremely dangerous for human beings to enter.
The deros first came to light in a story called "I Remember Lemuria," published in 1945 in Amazing Stories. The story was purportedly the work of a Pennsylvania welder named Richard Shaver who, it was alleged, had a "racial memory" capable of recalling events that had happened to mankind since the beginning of time. The "racial memory" idea, it turned out later, was an editorial device thought up by Raymond Palmer, editor of Amazing Stories, to lend verisimilitude to Shaver's account of Lemuria.
The device proved unnecessary. Practically everybody seemed to remember Lemuria. The deros were apparently as familiar to Amazing Stories readers as they were to Shaver. Letters to the editor poured in at 10 times their usual volume. The letters stated that Lemuria still existed, that the ground beneath dozens of American cities was honeycombed with dero communities. Some identified their neighbors as deros; others reported or hinted at personal encounters with deros carried out under conditions of terrible danger. The deros were referred to as "the fifth column from Hell."
"For heaven's sake drop the whole thing!" wrote an excited ex-Air Force captain. "You are playing with dynamite. My companion and I fought our way out of a cave with submachine guns. I have two 9-inch scars on my left arm. ...My friend has a hole the size of a dime in his right bicep. It was seared inside. How, we don't know. But we both believe we know more about the Shaver mystery than any other pair. ...Don't print our names. We are not cowards, but we are not crazy."
Editor Palmer expressed skepticism over these letters but confessed with an appropriate show of reluctance that the mounting evidence of the existence of deros seemed overwhelming. Circulation zoomed. In the interest of science Palmer went to visit Shaver in his home and came away hinting darkly at strange happenings.
The "strange happenings" hinted at by Palmer were later revealed in The Secret World. Visiting Shaver, Palmer discerned that Shaver truly believed in the world he described. Palmer had gone to bed and heard Shaver go to his room and fall asleep, while Shaver's wife, Dorothy, remained downstairs...
Within in a few moments, I began to hear voices. No, they weren't in my mind, nor in the air about me...
I heard five voices: a woman's voice; a child's voice; a gruff man's voice; and two other male voices of varying pitch and timbre. What they said startled me beyond all imagination. Briefly, that afternoon, these five "persons" had witnessed a woman being torn into four quarters about four miles away and four miles down (from the Shaver house). They remarked on how "horrible" it had been; that such things "should not be" – and how I heartily agreed! I sat up in bed and answered the voices.
"What's this all about?" I asked. "Let me in on the secret!"
Instantly there was a change in the voices.
"Pay no attention to him," said the childish voice. "He's a dope!"
And the voices switched to a strange language, one I could not identify as any I had ever heard before. In the bedlam that followed, sometimes all five of the voices were speaking at once, excitedly and volubly. If you have been thinking, as you read this, that it was Mr. Shaver "imitating voices", indulging in an "act of ventriloquism", or any such explanation, you are dead wrong. What I heard could not have come from Mr. Shaver's lips – it was humanly impossible!
Now convinced that there was something to Shaver's story, Palmer began publishing a series of follow-ups that enjoyed even greater success than the original. Life Magazine would note...
Expeditions were planned by readers to certain caves that were thought to be entrances into Lemuria, but anonymous telephone calls warned the participants of the danger of death. Editor Palmer reported that the keys of his typewriter had been mysteriously mutilated and later revealed that his life had been threatened. By this time deros had been hooked up with virtually every mysterious or unexplained occurrence reported in the news... They were reported as far north as the Aleutians... A colony of them was detected in caves on Mount Shasta in northern California.
Circulation zoomed up to 185,000 per issue -- an unheard of distribution for a pulp magazine. But as Life Magazine reported, the Shaver mystery also brought with it scorn and protest, particularly by fans of more high-brow science fiction fare...
Editor Palmer, in their eyes, was debasing the ethics of science fiction in a shameless bid for circulation by presenting fiction in the guise of fact. The Queens (N.Y.) Science Fiction League passed a resolution expressing the opinion that the Shaver stories were actually endangering the sanity of their readers and brought this resolution to the attention of the Society for the Suppression of Vice. Delegates to a Philadelphia fan conference threatened to draw up a petition to get the Post Office to ban Amazing Stories from the mails. The fanzines bellowed for Editor Palmer's scalp. At this point somebody, according to Palmer, convinced his publisher, William B. Ziff of the Ziff-Davis Publishing Company, that the theories of Shaver and Palmer were in flat contradiction to Albert Einstein's Theory of Relativity. This, obviously, was too much. The Shaver stories were discontinued; Editor Palmer, still affirming his faith in the existence of deros, resigned his job.
In fact, Palmer did not resign because of the discontinuation of the Shaver stories according to his son, who says that at the time Ziff-Davis was planning a move to New York, and Palmer wished to stay where he was. It was just at this time that Palmer was approached by another Ziff-Davis editor, Curtis Fuller of Flying magazine, and the two decided surreptitiously to launch their own publishing company -- Venture Press -- whose first effort would debut the following year, in March, 1948, under the title Fate magazine.
And it was at this time of transition that, in July, 1947, Raymond A. Palmer wrote to Kenneth Arnold, who had never heard of Palmer or the Venture Press. Arnold picks up the story from there...
His next letter arrived about a week later. In it he expressed his desire to pay me if I would write down my experience for him. This didn't particularly appeal to me. I had received other letters and other offers. However, since Mr. Palmer was so interested, I sent him a carbon copy of the report I had sent the commanding officer of Wright-Patterson Field.
In the next letter I received from Mr. Palmer, he told me that he had heard that two harbor patrolmen at Tacoma, Washington had had a very unusual experience -- a Mr. Harold A. Dahl and a Fred L. Crisman claimed that they had not only seen a group of flying saucers but that they had in their possession some fragments that came from one of them. Mr. Palmer wrote that he had a definite interest in the case and would send me expense money if I could find the time to go up there and investigate the authenticity of their story as well as ship some of the fragments, if I could obtain them, to him at Evanston, Illinois. I just let the letter sit for a few days to think it over...
The next day I found out that Dave Johnson of The Idaho Statesman also had been requested to send in a complete written report of his observation to the commanding officer of Wright-Patterson Field, Dayton, Ohio. It was that afternoon as we were walking down Capitol Boulevard in Boise that I talked to Dave about the letter that I had received from R.A. Palmer. I asked him if he thought it would be right for me to accept expense money to fly to Tacoma, Washington and investigate the sighting and fragments in relation to Harold A. Dahl and Fred L. Crisman. Dave thought that I would be silly not to accept the money. He suggested that a good way to find out if this Mr. R.A. Palmer was sincere was to write or wire him for the expense money first. I did so that afternoon, requesting $200. The $200 was at Western Union waiting for me the next morning.
I was quite surprised and I think that Dave was, too. Dave, being a hard-headed newspaper man, just couldn't believe an unknown party, so to speak, would be tossing money around that way. So there I was with the $200 and now the responsibility to go to Tacoma and investigate the matter.
And it would be in what Arnold called "The Tacoma Affair" and what others called "The Maury Island Incident" that Kenneth Arnold would fly into his most controversial adventure.
1. The title of this series is taken from two statements made by Kenneth Arnold -- once to the press and once to the military -- stating that his story was "positively true".
2. As related in Part Three of this series, Kenneth Arnold had provided both Air Materiel Command in Dayton, Ohio and 4th Air Force investigators Capt. William Davidson and Lt. Frank Brown with his personal written account of his experience. It had been divided into two parts, the first part being his biographical info and the second part being his account of the events of June 24, 1947, with the second part also headed by the notation "BY KENNETH ARNOLD". That this exactly mirrors the format requested by Raymond Palmer for a story for publication, and that Arnold also included a byline -- and that within his account he referred to it as "this article" -- strongly indicates that it was in fact prepared in response to Palmer's letter, though FBI files show that the account wasn't mailed to Palmer until July 29, 1947.
3. The story of Dave Johnson's own sighting will be included in a future Saturday Night Uforia series.
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