High Strangeness: It's a Small UFO World -- Part 2

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

It's a Small UFO World -- Part 2

A while back I wrote about being contacted by an English professor who is planning on writing some poetry about the famous Betty & Barney Hill UFO abduction case, and I wanted to give an update on his progress.

Yesterday Txxx wrote to me to say that he was at the Betty Hill archives in New Hampshire, and he had this to report: "I'm here in the archives now . . . and they're incredible.  The personal detail from her correspondence and journals is vital to the book.  I'm getting the three-dimensional picture of her I need for the poems.  Later today, will be looking at the files on the chemical analysis of the dress she wore the night of the alleged abduction."

I'll be damned if I can figure out how you can write poetry about chemical analysis, but if anyone can do it I bet Txxx can.

Right around the same time Txxx was sending me this note, I was digging through the J. Allen Hynek archives at Northwestern University, and I was surprised to find a bit of synchronicity in the files... There, in the 1966 Correspondence folder, was a poem. Not just any poem. A sarcastic poem. A sarcastic pro-Martian poem. If there's anything harder than writing poetry about chemical analysis, it's got to be writing sarcastic pro-Martian poetry.

The poem, written by a Mr. Yxxxxxx on October 22, 1966, is entitled "Martian Gas." Mr. Yxxxxxx was, apparently incensed by Dr. Hynek's embarrassing "swamp gas" incident, and wanted to make the Doctor pay...

The swamp gas incident of March, 1966 was a significant moment in Dr. Hynek's career as the U.S. Air Force's official UFO debunker. Close to 100 people saw strange lights in the sky in and around Dexter and Hillsdale, MI over the course of two nights. Several of the witnesses were police officers, who of course are reliable witnesses, and several of the witness were sorority sisters, who of course are rotten witnesses. I don't know why, they just are.

Anyway, the sightings made the national news and the Air Force sent Dr. Hynek to investigate. Reporters were clamoring for an explanation, so a press conference was held. Even though he had barely begun his investigation, Dr. Hynek was being called on to make a statement, so he made one. Trouble is, he made the wrong one. He said that one possible explanation for the sightings was luminous "swamp gas."

The reporters apparently didn't hear the "one possible explanation" part of his statement, and they all ran with swamp gas as the official Air Force explanation, leaving poor Dr. Hynek at the podium saying, "But, it could also be..." to an empty house.

Well, the citizens of Dexter and Hillsdale did not take kindly to being publicly ridiculed by Hynek, and the next day newspaper headlines were heaping ridicule right back on the Doctor... Swamp gas? How stupid did he think they were?

Enter Mr. Yxxxxxx and his poem...
Would sorority sisters mistake this swamp gas for UFOs?


"Martian Gas"

In the midst of the twentieth century,
   when man reached for the stars
And probed the void with telescopes
   and inter-planet cars

And sought communication
    with life beyond our own,
We found we still had earth-men
    who feared the great unknown.

Scientist, astronomer and physicist but fair;
Yet, Air Force Apologist, most ex' trordinaire.
"Deny, debunk, deplore, decry the witness of your eyes.
Saucer-sighters are but fools delighting in their lies."

Mortal man is nor prepared
     for interstellar strife.
Leave him to the ignorance
     of just this earthly life.
Just as priests reserve the faith,
     scientists hide the plan;
Martian conquest needs no help
     from ordinary man.

Hynek never really lived down the swamp gas incident, and soon after he began to chafe at his role as the Air Force Apologist ex' trordinaire. From what I've uncovered so far, this is the only time he was heckled via iambic pentameter. But once is enough.

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