High Strangeness: Standing On the Shoulders of Giants

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Standing On the Shoulders of Giants

The more I dig into this J. Allen Hynek book project, the more fun it becomes. I'm brushing up on journalistic skills that have laid dormant for several years, and I'm already making some progress...

Today I made two very interesting phone calls. First, I called a lovely lady named Jennie Zeidman, who was Dr. Hynek's assistant on the Air Force's Project Blue Book from 1953 to 1955, and an accomplished UFO researcher and author in her own right. Ms. Zeidman seems to have put all that behind her, however, as she seemed reluctant at first to talk about her UFO days.

"I don't have anything to add, beyond what I've already written," she told me with an air of finality. I could have let it go at that, but I wanted to know more -- much more. So I turned on the charm. I asked her if her writing could be found in the archives of Dr. Hynek's research organization, CUFOS, and that spurred her to think on it some more. She suggested I start with an article called "I Remember Blue Book," from an old publication called the International UFO Report. The article, it turns out, is readily available online and looks to be quite revealing. Ultimately the charm worked (first time ever!), because she said that after I had read her articles and her book, she would be agreeable to entertain some questions from me...

This drawing is from "The Coyne Case," a UFO sighting investigated by the inestimable Jennie Zeiman.
Hot off that success, I called Cherie Ward, a journalist who covered the 2011 death of UFO abductee Charles Hickson for The Mississippi Press in Pascagoula, MS. I was calling to see if she knew how I could contact Hickson's fellow abductee, Calvin Parker. I didn't even need to turn on the charm this time, which was good because I used up a lot of it with Jennie Zeidman and I could feel it running low.

Even though she no longer works for the Press, Ms. Ward was more than willing to share her thoughts with me as she recalled what a pleasure it was to honor Hickson in print at the time of his passing. "See, we grew up with that story," she explained. "Everybody here in town knew about their experience, and we can all remember Charlie Hickson setting up his table outside Wal-Mart to sell his book." I liked her immediately, because she spoke of Hickson with such respect, bordering on affection.

Alas, she did not know how to contact Mr. Parker, who has kept a lower profile than Mr. Hickson over the years. But she offered to make some calls on my behalf, in the hope that she could track him down.

All in all, a pretty good day's work. Considering we're talking about events that took place 40 to 60 years ago, it's kind of amazing that I can make a couple of phone calls and actually connect with those events... The trail may be getting cold, but it hasn't disappeared completely.

No comments: