Over the years I've noticed that some people in the UFO field begin to veer towards the worlds of the occult, the paranormal and the supernatural. There's nothing wrong about that, at all. Indeed, I have deep interests in all of those subjects, and I have a very big collection of old books on the occult. What I have also seen, however, is that some people begin with a fascination in these subjects, but then things start to turn into an unhealthy obsession. One particular example of this scenario stands out hugely: that of Albert Bender, the guy who brought the Men in Black into the UFO field. Bender had a deep interest in UFOs as far back as the famous June 24, 1947 Flying Saucer encounter of Kenneth Arnold. It all began in a dark, eerie attic in a three-story, old house at 784 Broad Street, Bridgeport, Connecticut. And it revolved around Bender - an undeniable eccentric with a fascination for the realms of monsters, the supernatural, alchemy, the paranormal, and the occult. And with a significant degree of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, too. Without him, they may never have left their terrible marks – or, perhaps, more correctly, the ugly scars – on society they most assuredly have. He was Albert Bender. They were the Men in Black. And, in a strange - almost symbiotic - fashion, they fed on each other. I should note, Bender's paranoia and his strange obsessions began to grow after he got involved in Ufology. There's a lesson to learn there.
Artwork of bloodsucking bats, monsters, ghouls and skulls adorned the walls of Bender's room. There was barely a space for wallpaper. Imagery of vampires, the Moon, a horse’s head, and black cats could be seen. And, possibly as a worrying precedent of what was to come later: a painting of a cloaked man wearing a fedora hat and prowling around an old, tree-shrouded cemetery after sunset. Both the cloak and the hat were, of course, black in color. Bender wouldn’t have it any other way. Bender was very much a loner. Girlfriends were nowhere in sight. Certainly not a wife. Much of his spare-time was taken up watching sci-fi movies and horror flicks on Saturday nights. By Bender’s own admission, his visits to the local cinema were always made alone. As were the late-night walks back home. When the few friends Bender had called on him, he would entertain them with spooky sound-effects that boomed around the room. It was all good fun – albeit undeniably odd. And, it surely cannot have been healthy for Bender to have lived in such a claustrophobic situation. Even Bender himself had to admit that "late at night the attic became a creepy place." No doubt!
Interestingly, Riley Crabb – the director of Borderland Sciences Research Associates and who followed the Bender affair - went on record as saying of Bender that he "…dabbled in magic, with no success in table-tipping, and surprising success with a yes-or-no technique using the Holy Bible. There was a history of psychic phenomena in his family." There was a hell lot more than that. Pushing thirty, no girlfriend or a wife, cooped up in an attic, and a devotee of the world of sorcery, Bender surely needed something else in his life. He did. It arrived out of the blue. And it did so in a not particularly unwelcome fashion. It was the Flying Saucer sensation of the summer of 1947. For a couple of years, Bender just followed the UFO mystery – excitingly poring over the likes of Fate magazine and getting his kicks. That, however, all changed in 1952. That’s when Bender created the grandly titled International Flying Saucer Bureau (IFSB). It didn't last for long, however: the dangerous Men in Black soon descended upon Bender, scaring him to death, causing his paranoia to expand, and plunge him into conditions of terror. In the summer of 1953 – July – Bender was visited by a trio of Men in Black. Depending on whose version of the story you believe, Bender was either (a) visited by three agents of the U.S. Government, maybe from the FBI; or (b) terrorized by non-human entities who manifested in his attic late night and – via telepathy. Either way, Bender was in a state of terror. An almost continual state of terror. .
Bender chose to take his very own advice. He walked away from UFOs and began corresponding with an Englishwoman named Betty Rose, who had subscribed to Bender’s journal. They actually corresponded for a number of years, finally marrying and settling down in the States and running a motel in California; but not before Betty came to visit Bender in New York – a period that totally changed his life. As Bender put it, when it was time for Betty to fly back to the U.K.: "As she walked up the stairs to enter the plane, she gave me one last wave, then moved quickly through the doorway. A strange feeling hit my stomach. I stood there still waving and could not move from the spot until I saw the plane taxi to the runway and take off. As the plane vanished in the distance I realized I had left something important undone, an unasked question which she now had no opportunity to hear from my lips. And so it was that I found out, for the first time, that I was in love." Apart from a few dabbles in the 1960s, Bender left the whole UFO subject and never went back to it. Instead, he and Betty did something completely different. Click on this link and you'll see what it was.
I have to say that I have seen this situation of spiraling into mental illness, paranoia, and worse when people get into the UFO subject - and particularly so when it then gets worse and becomes even more tied to the occult and the paranormal. There's nothing, at all, wrong with getting into all of this, I should stress. I did. I still do. But, for some reason, some people most definitely fall into the grip of the world of the paranormal - and in an undeniably negative fashion. My advice: just be careful. Don't let such manipulative "things" take control of your life. It's happened to so many people I've known.