Today's article is a very strange one. It concerns a man who, in the 1950s, was overwhelmingly obsessed with a beautiful space woman who also happened to be a Woman in Black! That's right. She had two "jobs" on our planet: one to enlighten us and the other to terrorize us. Sounds strange? Yes. There's no doubt about that. With that said, read on. Truman Bethurum was a Californian, born in 1898, who spent much of his early years working jobs that never seemed to last. His first marriage both began and crumbled during the Second World War. He entered into a second marriage only several months after the war ended, and ultimately wound up working out in the harsh, hot deserts of Nevada – specifically in the highway construction game. It was while Bethurum was out in the desert, in 1952, and while his second wife, Mary, was stuck at home in Santa Barbara, that Bethurum claimed he had an extremely close encounter with extraterrestrials on Mormon Mesa, a near-2000-foot-high foot high mount in Nevada’s Moapa Valley. On the fateful night in question, and after the working day was over, Bethurum climbed the mountain, primarily to search for shells, something that Mary particularly enjoyed collecting. The story goes that Bethurum was rendered into a strange, altered state of mind, during which aliens from another world suddenly manifested before him; having arrived in a huge, gleaming, flying saucer that quietly descended to the desert floor. Although only around four-feet-five to five-feet in height, the aliens were eerily human-looking and claimed to come from a faraway planet called Clarion. Not only that, their leader was a Captain Aura Rhanes, a shapely woman that the near-salivating Bethurum described as being “tops in shapeliness and beauty.” All thoughts of Mary – back in Santa Barbara – were suddenly gone from Bethurum's mind.
Bethurum's odd story continued and grew at a steady and controversial pace, as did his relationship to the flirty Captain Rhanes. For months, Bethurum and Rhanes had clandestine meetings; usually, late at night. They generally occurred in isolated desert locations in Nevada, where, after Rhanes' huge ship landed, the pair had long and deep conversations about the state of the Earth, the Cold War, and the captain’s home world - to which she promised to take Bethurum, one day. While Bethurum did not explicitly say so, there are more than a few nuggets of data in Bethurum’s collective work that suggests on a couple of occasions the pair had just about the closest and most intimate encounters, of all. It’s hardly surprising, then, that many students of Ufology outright dismiss Bethurum’s story as either a hoax, or a fantasy born out of Bethurum’s unhappiness with both wife number one and two (eventually, there would be wife number three). There is, however, one particularly fascinating aspect of Bethurum’s claimed experiences that has a significant bearing upon the matter of the Women in Black.
On two occasions, Bethurum said, he encountered Aura Rhanes under circumstances very different to those which occurred out in the desert, with Rhanes' huge flying saucer and her crew of little men in view. These additional encounters saw Rhanes operating in what can only be termed disguise. In fact, in definitive Woman in Black mode. There was nothing flirty or friendly about these close encounters, however: they were downright hostile. The first occurred around 3:00 a.m. – a time when a wealth of supernatural activity typically occurs - one August 1952 morning. Bethurum and a work friend, Whitey, had just finished their shift and decided to head off in Whitey’s pick-up truck to a favorite, all-night diner in Glendale, Nevada. Whitey was someone who Bethurum had quietly confided in about his experiences with Aura Rhanes. He was also someone who, although fascinated by Bethurum’s claims, was somewhat skeptical of the story. That is, until they entered the diner. Any skepticism Whitey had was very soon to be wiped out.
As the pair sat, a noticeably quiet Whitey elbowed Bethurum in the ribs and motioned him to take a look at the end of the counter. Bethurum looked up. He was amazed and shocked to see Aura Rhanes, and an equally small male individual, standing there. "It's her, isn't it?" asked Whitey. Bethurum nodded, pretty much in a state of near-shock. Both men watched carefully as Rhanes and her colleague took seats at a window table. In stark contrast to everyone else in the diner, Rhanes was dressed in black: black beret, wraparound black sunglasses, black velvet blouse, and black boots. The only thing that wasn’t black: a "glaring red"” skirt. Just a couple of weeks later, on a Saturday afternoon, Bethurum was having his hair trimmed at a barber’s shop in Las Vegas, when he caught sight of Aura Rhanes, yet again. This time, she was walking along the sidewalk outside the barber's – wearing her same outfit of black sunglasses, black beret, black blouse, and red skirt. Bethurum practically threw his dollars and coins at the astonished barber and raced out of the door. "Lady! Lady!" cried Bethurum, as he caught sight of Rhanes, about sixty feet ahead of him. She quickly turned, looked directly at him – despite the fact that the street was crowded and the shout could have come from any number of dozens of people on the sidewalk. She slowly shook her head. The stone-cold look on her face was one of pure evil. Bethurum got the message, as Rhanes vanished into the crowd.
It wasn't long before Captain Rhanes was gone. Back to her own world of Clarion. Of course, the story of Truman Bethurum, and of the one woman with two distinct characters (and appearances, too), stretches credulity to the absolute max. Nevertheless, truth, hoax or something weirder, there's no doubt that those encounters with Rhanes changed Bethurum's character and life: his beautiful space-girl vanished, but Bethurum spent the rest of his life writing books on UFOs, giving lectures, and telling anyone who would listen about the woman who left him behind. Or, was it two women? Extraterrestrial twins, maybe? We'll never know.