Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Barker and Bender on the Case-Part Six

On the evening of July 30, 1952, Albert K. Bender received a strange phone call during which his head "began to ache and spin." "No voice answered when I spoke," he wrote, "but nevertheless I seemed to receive a message, as if telepathically. The message decreed that I should not delve into the saucer mystery any further." (1) Bender noticed in July and August that year--the same summer in which flying saucers descended upon Washington, D.C.--that "numerous sightings suddenly made the news in Bridgeport and surrounding towns." Bender wondered in private, later in the first issue of Space Review, whether
the saucer occupants sensed that we [in the IFSB] were going to look into the mystery of their appearance here on our planet and might be looking us over to see what we were up to--or putting on a show for us, possibly to encourage us. (2)
In any case, this seems to have been the beginning of the fear, terror, and paranoia that would soon consume Bender and bring the IFSB to an end.

If Bender was being contacted telepathically, he might have thought that a connection could be made in the opposite direction, so he announced that March 15, 1953, would be C-Day--Contact Day--for officers, representatives, and members of the IFSB. On that day, the whole group would attempt to send, all at the same time via mental telepathy, a message that began as follows:
Calling occupants of interplanetary craft! Calling occupants of interplanetary craft that have been observing our planet EARTH. We of IFSB wish to make contact with you. We are your friends, and would like you to make an appearance here on EARTH. (3)
Bender did his part in the effort. At the appointed time, he lay down in his bed and mentally repeated the message again and again. "It was after the third attempt that I felt a terrible cold chill hit my whole body," he recounted. "Then my head began to ache as if several headaches had saved up their anguish and heaped it upon me at one time." (4) What followed was a kind of out-of-body experience complete with the smell of rotten eggs, the appearance of swimming and flashing blue lights, a sense of weightlessness and floating, a throbbing pain in the temples, then, in culmination, Bender's vision that he was floating above his bed and looking down upon his own body. A voice spoke:
"We have been watching you and your activities. Please be advised to discontinue delving into the mysteries of the universe. We will make an appearance if you disobey." (5)
The vision then ended.

Despite the warning, Bender carried on, releasing issues of Space Review in April and July 1953. The April issue included a column by Gray Barker called "Gray Barker Reports," as well as mention of climate change (the world was getting colder, not hotter), the Earth's poles, a government conspiracy of silence about flying saucers, and a secret base on the far side of the moon. The July issue had a little more by Gray Barker. It also included an announcement on the creation of the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO), in June 1952, headed by Coral Lorenzen. (I had thought APRO might have been the first flying saucer organization. It's clear here that it wasn't the first, but it may have been the oldest surviving organization of its type after the demise of the IFSB and for as long as it was in existence.) Not long afterwards, in the summer of 1953, Albert Bender had his first visitation from the Three Men in Black.

They came on a hot July night into Bender's bedroom, announcing by telepathic communication that they were in disguise, implying that they were occupying the bodies of human beings abducted for that purpose. The aliens told Bender that they had an important mission on Earth, that they would be here for some time, and that they must not be disturbed in their work. They added that they had a base and craft hidden in an undisclosed location on EarthThey gave Bender a small metal disk, explaining that in order to contact them he should hold it in the palm of his hand and repeat a code word, "Kazik." Oh, and he had to turn on his radio while doing this.

The Three Men in Black left. Two nights later, Bender called for them in the manner in which he had been instructed. Instead of coming to him, they delivered him to themselves, again through a kind of out-of-body experience in which Bender seemingly traveled on board a flying saucer. There he was treated to a lesson in history and astronomy, including mention of a planet once located near Earth that had been "destroyed by marauders from another system of planets beyond our own" (i.e., the aliens' own). (6)

The creature who spoke to him told Bender that he and his associates were "taking a valuable chemical" from Earth's oceans. (So they can fly from one star system to another but they can't synthesize chemicals? Strange technology.) If they were to be interrupted or interfered with in this work, they would destroy the Earth. Not to worry: there isn't anything we could have done to them, protected as they were by their superior technology (except for that part where they can't synthesize chemicals). Bender wrote:
Then he switched to a horrifying picture that made me shudder. It depicted a hideous monster, more horrifying than any I have seen depicted in the work of science fiction or fantasy artists. . . . (7) He then seemed to be speaking from the screen itself, and from the mind of the monster itself. It was if he had instantly changed himself from the form of a man to a creature which appeared to be similar to that pictured by the West Virginia witnesses who described the Flatwoods monster!
"You view me here on the screen in my normal appearance," the creature said. (8)

To be continued . . .

(1) Flying Saucers and the Three Men by Albert K. Bender (1962), p. 27.
(2) Bender, p. 26.
(3) Bender, pp. 83-84. I'm not sure how you can hit CAPS LOCK when you're communicating telepathically, but then as now, crackpots, cranks, and crazies use ALL CAPS TO EMPHASIZE THEIR VERY IMPORTANT POINTS.
(4) Bender, pp. 84-85.
(5) Bender, p. 85.
(6) Bender, p. 97. I have quoted Bender's aliens here because of the similarity of their story to a theme from the writings of Charles Fort, that many of the things that now fall from the sky are debris from a long-ago interstellar conflict.
(7) Mention of artists of science fiction and fantasy is an unmistakable Lovecraftian touch applied to Bender's tale.
(8) Bender, p. 99.

Albert K. Bender's sketch of one of the Three Men in Black who visited him in his home in Bridgeport, Connecticut, in 1953. The Men in Black aren't men after all: they're the Flatwoods Monster disguised as men, and they're here to get a VERY VALUABLE CHEMICAL from our oceans. From Flying Saucers and the Three Men (1962), p. 107.

Bender was a regular moviegoer and a fan of science fiction. It seems pretty likely that he saw It Came from Outer Space soon after it was released on May 27, 1953. (The Hartford Courant has listings for it for June 1953. Bender, then living in Bridgeport, probably found the film playing in his hometown that month.) That summer, Bender had a vision in which men dressed in black came into his bedroom. "The eyes glowed like two flashlight bulbs," as the caption of Bender's drawing puts it. Like the aliens in It Came from Outer Space, the Three Men in Black were aliens, disguised as humans and engaged in an important matter here on Earth. Although they did not wish to harm us, they also would not be interfered with in their work. Again and again during the flying saucer era, real people claimed to have seen or experienced things in real life that had already been depicted in popular culture, especially movies. The aliens with glowing eyes shown here are a perfect example. Another is the abduction and examination of General Hanley (no relation) and the police officer in Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956), a scene replayed by Betty and Barney Hill in their memories of the events of September 19-20, 1961, and by Charles Hickson and Calvin Parker at Pascagoula, Mississippi, on October 11, 1973, near or at the end of the flying saucer era.

Original text copyright 2018 Terence E. Hanley

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