High Strangeness: A Bit of Balony

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Bit of Balony

I wish I had known years ago how much fun it would be to write a book about the career of a famous UFO researcher! Had I know what a pleasure it would be, I would have made this my career fresh out of college. Which would have been weird, just having gotten a film degree, but what the hell?

My latest fun experiences have just unfolded over the past few days. First, I've been in correspondence with a couple of gentlemen in Kalamazoo, MI, both of whom have done exceeding amounts of work in documenting the history of UFO research, and both of whom have been graciously allowing me to interview them via email.

One of these guys, in particular, is a real hoot. He's a cantankerous retired college professor who is extremely particular about how he will and will not help me:

"I dislike long talks on the telephone and don't want to do that;"
"This probably is not feasible, but coming to Kalamazoo for a day [+] would be not only much more comfortable for me, but doubtless far more informative for you;"
"I am willing to write short responses to specific questions via e-mail, or possibly landmail, but more than that is onerous;"
"Should you want to stay in Kzoo more than a day in a nearby motel, I could deal with a couple of days of inquiries or files mining if that was within your scope"


After some haggling, we agreed that if I stood on my roof and sent short questions to him via semaphor, he would happily respond with monosyllabic answers in Morse Code. So far it's working, but my arms are getting tired.
This is no way to conduct an interview.
Seriously, he has been a peach, in part because I have deliberately asked him questions designed to arouse his ire, and so he can't help but send me long, detailed, irritated responses refuting my questions :) See? I'm kind of a genius that way.

Then there's the lawyer from Mississippi... I love this guy!

While writing about the Close Encounter of the Third Kind that took place in Pascagoula, MS, back in 1973, a case that has been written up a billion jillion times, I was quite understandably looking for a fresh angle. I kept running across references to Joe Calingo, a local lawyer who was called in after the Close Encounter to look out for the best interests of the witnesses, Charlie Hickson and Calvin Parker. After a little internet scrounging, I found a phone number and called it. After a few rings it was picked up and I found myself, against all reasonable odds, talking to Joe Colingo.

Turns out I got lucky. Joe had recently been hospitalized and thought I was the hospital calling him. That's the only reason he answered. It helped that I identified myself as Dr. O'Connell from the hospital. But when he realized his mistake he was not rude to me at all. In fact, he started rattling off memories of Charlie and Calvin and Dr. Hynek faster than I could jot them down.

The first amazing thing he told me was that, despite what 50 zillion babillion UFO books not written by me have maintained over the years, he had not been hired to represent Charlie and Calvin at all! SCOOP! In actuality, he represented the shipyard where they worked, and the morning after the incident the shipyard was being overrun by nosy reporters and pesky TV crews. Joe told me that "(Shipyard owner) Johnny Walker called me up and said 'Joe, you've got to come down here and help me figure out how to keep these reporters from getting in the way!'" 

Joe also told me that, while he never got to know Charlie and Calvin very well, he never doubted their sincerity. He also had a high opinion of Dr. Hynek, telling me, "There wasn't a bit of balony to that man."

And that, folks, might just end up being the title of my book: "Not a Bit of Balony -- The J. Allen Hynek Story."

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