Soon after we were driving up the long driveway leading up the Observatory, and I was glad we had gone a few miles out of our way to see it. Not only is it a gorgeous Romanesque building, built in 1895 in a beautiful setting overlooking Lake Geneva, it's where young J. Allen spent many mystical nights looking through Yerkes' 40" refractor telescope -- the largest in the world at the time -- measuring the brightness of stars for his doctoral dissertation, ultimately titled “A Quantitative Study of Certain Phases of F-Type Spectra.”
|A person could get awfully mystical working at a place like this...|
The Observatory was closed, so our visit was limited to us taking a walk around the building, soaking in the scenery, and letting our dog romp around the beautifully-groomed lawn. But I was curious to learn about Hynek's time at Yerkes, so over the weekend I started my research... Turns out, there's a surprising amount of relevant information available through the Williams Bay Historical Society and the archives of the University of Chicago, the institution that has owned and operated Yerkes since it was erected nearly 150 years ago.
And suddenly, Chapter One is in for a major rewrite... stay tuned.
In other news, I have started to read one of the most uproarious UFO books of all time! When I recently visited UFO historian Michael Swords, he lent me his prized copy of the famous "annotated" version of "The Case for the UFO," a 1955 pro UFO book by Morris K. Jessup. The copy Michael lent me was the "VARO edition," transcribed and published by the VARO Mfg. Co of Garland, TX in 1959 and distributed to a few UFO VIPs like Captain Edward Ruppelt, the Project Chief of Project Blue Book in the early 1950s. Now, this is widely available online and you can buy it from Amazon if you want, but I'm getting a big kick out of reading a copy that's one removed from the original transcription.
The book is just an overload of weirdness... Jessup had set out to make the case that UFOs were very real and very serious, and that we should be studying them to find out what exactly they were up to. Apparently he got a little too close to the truth, as a copy of the book was delivered to U.S. Navy intelligence with voluminous notes written on the margins of the pages, discussing Jessup's material in astonishing detail. Funny thing is, the notes were apparently written by three aliens, Mr. A, Mr. B and Jemi, and they were freaking out about Jessup being so close to blowing the lid off the whole UFO mystery.
That's weird enough, but the VARO edition also includes copies of two letters written to Jessup around the same time by a guy named either Carlos Allende or Carl Allen (and who may have actually been "Mr. A"), who insisted on leaking a story to Jessup about his first-hand involvement in "The Philadelphia Experiment." This was an alleged experiment in matter transmission or teleportation that took place in 1943; as the story goes, the Navy successfully teleported a ship from one place to another after rendering it invisible. Pretty cool, right? Only thing is, they left the crew on board the ship, and not all of them made it back in very good shape...
To quote Mr. Allende's letter:
"Half of the officiers (sic) & the crew of that Ship are at Present, Mad as Hatters. A few, are even Yet, confined to certain areas where they May receive trained Scientific aid when they, either 'Go Blank' or 'Go Blank' & 'Get Stuck.' Going-Bland (sic) IE an after effect of the Man having been within the field too Much, IS Not at all an unpleasant experience to Healthily Curious Sailors. However it is when also, they 'Get Stuck' that they call it 'HELL INCORPORATED.'"
Not for the faint of heart... Although there is a somewhat light-hearted side to the story. According to Allende/Allen/Mr. A, several sailors still feeling the effects of the experiment got off the base one night and went carousing at a local bar. Nothing unusual about that, except that in this case the sailors were invisible.
"They Raided a Local to the Navy Yard 'Gin Mill' or 'Beer Joint' & caused such Shock & Paralysis of the Waitresses that Little comprehensible could be gotten from them."
Yes, if I could travel back in time to one event in history, I would without a doubt choose to be at that 'Gin Joint' near the Navy base when it was raided by a horde of invisible sailors, at least half of whom we know were Mad as Hatters...
There are some good things and some bad things in UFO world, and let me tell you... It just doesn't get much better than this.