Today’s article is the third and final installment on what I call “The Hazards of Ufology.” We’ve seen how Albert Bender’s life suffered to a seriously dangerous degree because of his UFO obsessions. That is, until he walked away from it all. As for part 2, it was focused on a series of strange events that occurred in New Zealand and that resulted in the key players in the story buried in a world of stress, chaos and fear. The third part of the story is significantly different, as you will see. In this example, lives and minds are not torn apart at all. Paranoia and isolation are nowhere in sight. So, you may very well wonder what today’s ufological hazard is. I’ll tell you: it’s the astonishing speed that causes some people to buy into just about everything of a UFO nature – no matter how ridiculous or bogus it might be. In other words, today’s hazard is losing one’s common sense. I could come up with more than a few examples, but I’ll present one for you that will demonstrate exactly what I mean.
Our story revolves around a married couple, Bryant and Helen Reeve. In 1957, they wrote a book titled Flying Saucer Pilgrimage, which was published by Ray Palmer. It’s not a particularly well-known book, but it is readable. In essence, the book tells the story of the pair’s road-trip around the United States, and of their meetings with just about as many people on the UFO scene as they could. It was a trek around the country, in the 1950s, that took three years and that covered approximately 23,000 miles. I should stress this is not a wild and crazy groundbreaking road-trip of the likes that Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady famously embarked on. Or, one of Ernest Hemingway’s adventures. Nope. Bryant and Helen were a retired couple verging on old age and who decided to see if they could figure out what was at the heart of the UFO phenomenon. Not a bad thing to do when you no longer need to work. I have to say that the pair spent a lot of time and effort trying to get the answers to the mystery. And, unlike so many, they were not researchers of the armchair kind. They really did hit the road for three years. There was, however, a problem: they weren’t just a nice, trusting old couple. They were too nice. As you’ll now see.
What’s particularly interesting about Helen and Bryant – and their immersion into the world of Ufology – is that they began as complete skeptics, but, in amazingly fast time, became not just believers, but uncritical believers. They bought into just about every story and every character that came their way. That was their big hazard: they practically lost their ability to see the difference between credible people and horseshit. In the process, their lives were altered by hanging out with characters who ranged from the sane to the crazy, and from con-men to fantasists. I should say, though, that some of those who Helen and Bryant met may well have had genuinely intriguing alien encounters. It all began for the Reeve’s in November 1953, in Detroit, where the two lived. The pair was in debate with a friend of theirs – Henry – about the growing Flying Saucer craze, and particularly the claims and controversial photos of George Adamski. Some of the words that were used in that debate were “insane,” “gullible,” “fake,” and “disgusted.” You get my drift. On top of that, Bryant was an engineer who had little time for aliens and UFOs. But, he agreed to at least take a look at it all.
Admittedly, you have to give it to Bryant and Helen: they certainly wasted no time in trying to solve the mystery. They quickly got in touch with Adamski and invited him to come and speak for the people of Detroit! Not surprisingly, the presence of a man who claimed to have met aliens caught the attention of the local media. As the Freedom of Information Act has shown, FBI special-agents were in attendance, too. And, there are some amusing parts, such as when the matter of Adamski’s expenses surface. So successful were the lectures and radio coverage, the two decided that a road-trip was the only way to find the answers. Not only that, just about all thoughts of Adamski being a hoaxer went right out of the window. They were becoming true-believers, even if they didn’t realize it. Their first interviewee (who actually decided to visit them at their home) was none other than Truman Bethurum. He was a Contactee made famous for his “encounters” with a hot space babe from a faraway world named Clarion. As for the captain of the craft, her name was Aura Rhanes. Bethurum may or may not have got it on with Aura, who Bethurum described as being “tops in shapeliness and beauty.” Throughout his books, lectures, and interviews Bethurum skillfully skirted around that thorny angle. When Helen and Bryant met Bethurum, and heard his story of extraterrestrial love (maybe…), they were caught. Indeed, from then on they called Bethurum a “pioneer saucerer.”
Next on the list was George Hunt Williamson. He was a man who had a complicated and controversial connection to George Adamski and who claimed to contact aliens via ouija-boards from his Prescott, Arizona home. The pair attended one of Williamson’s presentations. They wrote: “His lecture amazed us in its scope and breadth of view.” Adamski’s co-author on his book Flying Saucers Have Landed – Desmond Leslie – was also someone Helen and Bryant met on their road trip. They said of Leslie: “We enjoyed the Saucerer Royal very much and feel that he is among those chosen to bring the New Age messages to doubting humanity.” Then, on April 22, 1955, the pair went from being interviewers of those who had seen UFOs to witnesses themselves. They had now become a part of the phenomenon. The location was a few miles from Joshua Tree, California. Helen shouted: “It is a mother-ship, a cigar-shaped mother-ship!” Silver-white in color, the craft was soon gone. George Van Tassel was interviewed during the Reeve’s journey through California, as was Contactee Daniel Fry, and Meade Layne. Much of the rest of the book is focused on, for example, “clairaudience,” “projections of Consciousness,” “Samhadic meditation,” “spectrums of sense,” and “vibratory frequency explanation of outer-space.” All of which was quite a change in the lives of the Reeve’s.
So, in conclusion, what we have here is this: the story of two people – Helen and Bryant Reeve – who in November 1953 had no time at all for UFOs. Their lives and thoughts on Flying Saucers and alien life, however, were radically altered in an amazingly quick time. To the point that they came to believe the words of just about all of the well-known Contactees of that era. Then, they had their encounter – which changed them profoundly. And, as the above-paragraph makes clear, they soon turned their attentions to matters more of a mind-body-spirit nature. Of course, there is nothing wrong with that at all. The hazard, though, as I see it, is this: for reasons that are not really clear, the UFO subject has the curious and sinister – and sometimes tragic – ability to radically alter the mindsets of those who immerse themselves in the controversy. A kind of control? Maybe.