Art Rapp has asked me to write a column for SPACEWARP. Of all the writers for SPACEWARP I am the most unworthy. In the first place I live in the great mid-west science fiction desert comprising the states of Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. Few outstanding fans have come from this area. There are no fan clubs. The newspapers are so conservative that they ignore science news until it is right before their eyes. Stf conventions shun the area and are held at such a distance that the few fans here have to take a two weeks vacation to attend.
The news that trickles into this area is hard to come by. One has to keep tabs on the inside pages of the general papers or keep close touch with the smaller publications that are not sold on newsstands. It would sure be nice to have visions like Nostradamus to have something to write about.
In addition to the lack of news, I am a considerable skeptic. I was named after St. Thomas, who had to feel the nail holes in the hands of Christ before he would believe his Savior had risen. And I am a true son. I have never seen a flying saucer, ghost, or heard anything go "bump" in the night. My entire family, even back to the three Watkins brothers who came over from Wales to Virginia before the revolution have been completely unromantic. Not one of them ever got out of line a half an inch. Not one murdered anyone, or got himself murdered; or disappeared, or caused anyone to disappear; or saw a ghost, or became a ghost; or invented anything; or invested in anything that had been invented. Few even graduated from high school. Not one became a scientist, writer, statesman, or outstanding success. They were born, they married, had children, and then died, and they remained dead.
In spite of this dearth of information and lack of background, I will try the column. It will be called THE KAN KAN KABITZER. "Kan Kan" because all mail coming into Kansas City, Kansas is labeled "Kan Kan" on the Postoffice facing slips. "Kabitzer" because I will have to rely on this unpopular habit to have anything to write about. If the mail proves interesting and I keep up my kabitzing, we may have a good column. The subject for thisss column shall be:
((Turn the page, reader, turn the page! But this is the appropriate place to announce that if you want to make T. E. Watkins' mail interesting, address it to 1605 Wood Avenue, Kansas City 2, Kansas. Let him know your reactions to this first "Kan Kan Kabitzer"))
FLYING SAUCERS: We have had another flying saucer "scare" in Kansas City. Many of the facts in this story agree with those of the Wilkie Conner article in SPACEWARP for January. The WYANDOTTE ECHO, issue of Jan. 6 came up with a story that Rudy Fick, a prominent Kansas City, Mo. auto dealer, met an engineer named George Coulter in Denver. The conversation took place in the office of Jack Murphy, Denver Area Ford Manager.
Coulter threw a piece of metal on the desk saying, "Well, there it is, boys." He claimed he had wrangled an entrance to a radar station on the Arizona-New Mexico border. This station had "captured" two flying saucers. One was badly damaged and the other was in good condition. The ships had cabins six feet across, encompassed by rings eighteen feet across. In flight the rings revolved around the stationary cabins. There were two men found in each saucer. All were dead. In the damaged ship the men were burned so badly that little could be determined about them except that they were 30 inches high. In the other ship, however, the men were in good condition. They wore clothes of spun metal and were taped. The men were beardless and had no fillings in their teeth.
The cabins were supplied with small white tablets and brown tablets. The white tablets were about half the size of Alka-Seltzer tablets -- the brown cubes when immersed in water swelled to a volume of about a gallon. They also carried water that seemed twice as heavy as our water and a clock device that was based on a calendar of 28 days. The ships were magnetically controlled and powered and there was no power plant in the ship. No armament or exploratory equipment was found in the ships and it was assumed that the radar had interfered with the control in such a way that they crashed. Coulter insisted that the ships were from Venus because it is the only near planet that "has an atmosphere like ours." Mr. Fick assumed that the government is letting the information leak through unofficial sources so that the public will be better prepared for an official announcement.
THE KANSAS CITY STAR of January 20 under the head, "The Little Men in Space Ships Sail Back to Fiction's Limbo" had a lot of fun kidding Rudy Fick. It claimed that the story had spread all over this area. Fick was caled on the telephone by out of town papers, he was sought for speaking engagements. The STAR then claimed that engineer Coulter called Fick on the road from Denver and said:
"I have been told in recent days that I saw nothing, that I have heard nothing, that I know no names. My lips, therefore, are sealed."
Sometime later Coulter and Murphy told Associated Press reporters that the whole thing was a gag. Fick has a reputation for pulling gags and they put one over on him.
THE WYNADOTTE ECHO, which is a small political paper devoted mostly to news of our county courthouse, hit the ceiling in their January 20th issue out Saturday, Jan 21st. They declared that THE KANSAS CITY STAR had quoted from them without revealing the source. They claimed that they had heard the story from other sources not related to Murphy and Coulter and that if it was a hoax some of the biggest scientists in the Rocky Mountain area had neem taken in. They claimed that they would investigate the matter and report their findings in the January 27th issue. I can't wait.
There are two other stories of flying saucers to which we might call attention. TRUE magazine, January 1950, issue, carries a story by Donald E. Keyhoe, who is a Naval Academy graduate and has had a distinguished career in aviation. He investigated the flying saucers from every angle, interviewing United States Army Air Force investigators for "Project Saucer." He comes up with several facts, conclusions and speculations.
FACTS: There have been reports of flying saucers since 1772. Many of these reports are well authenticated. These reports rose remarkably in January, 1947, and reached a peak in July, 1947. They began again in January 1948, and reached a peak in July, 1948. There are many honest reports of flying saucers coming in every month. There are two other types of flying objects. One is a wingless space ship, about twice the size of a B-29. It has a tail wash like a rocket and can fly at terrific speed. The other object is a small light that can turn at right angles at high speed. Both objects as well as saucers have been reported for years. (Shades of Charles Fort!)
CONCLUSIONS: There are flying saucers! They are reasonable flying devices. We could build one if the money were available. They are not a secret Army Air Force experiment. They could not be built by another nation on this earth. "Project Saucer" has pictures of them. The government is being careful about saucers and fears a nationwide hysteria such as the Wells Martian broadcast provoked.
SPECULATION: The saucers are from some star system outside the solar system. They are carrying out a systematic investigation of our planet. There are two schools of thought: (1) That they have discovered the planet recently and the investigation has just started. (2) We have been under investigation for years, but atomic bombs and radar signals have increased the interest of the saucers. We should not be alarmed because the beings do not try to make contact. The investigation of one planet by another, each having totally different backgrounds, would be very difficult and our civilization must appear very confusing to them.
OTHER WORLDS for March 1950 carries a story on page 38 that gives more evidence for flying saucers. One report states that a flying saucer was seen in space through a telescope by a qualified observer. He caught it when it moved across the face of the moon. Other sightings are given. The article concludes that there are flying saucers and that they are products of an advanced science.
Do you believe in flying saucers? A lot of people do. On the other hand, a lot of people do not. In the KANSAS CITY STAR article of January 20 which exposed the Rudy Fick "hoax," Dr. Irving Langmuir, Nobel prize winning scientist, was quoted as saying when asked about flying saucers, "Forget it." The TRUE article states that there are a lot of government officials and scientists who regard the whole thing as a mass hallucination. They think we are seeing balloons, planes,or dots before the eyes.
Certainly the WYNADOTTE ECHO, Rudy Fick story sounds like a hoax. For example, why should the ships come from Venus? The Fick rumor states because Venus is the nearest planet with an atmosphere like earth. But Venus does not have an atmosphere like earth -- it has no moisture and is loaded with carbon dioxide and the latest dope from science boys states that life as we know it could not exist there. (See "Life on Other Worlds" by H. Spencer Jones, Astronomer Royal, Honorary Fellow, Jesus College, Cambridge. A Mentor book - 35¢) (Oh yes, it was printed in May 1949 -- latest stuff). Why should the passengers of a flying saucer look like men? If they are from another world, the chances that intelligent life would develop into men would be slim. There seems to be no chemical analysis of the white and brown tablets carried in the ship, or the metal of the ship, or on the clothes worn by the men. Certainly the story sounds as though it were cooked up by an amateur.
The public is certainly interested in flying saucers. We would like to believe in them. I had a time getting a copy of January TRUE. It had sold out on all downtown newsstands. One of my mail carrier friends, also interested in flying saucers, found a copy in an obscure drugstore on his route and bought it for me. THE WYNADOTTE ECHO sold out its flying saucer issue and printed another run a week later to take care of the demand. The STAR says so many people have called Rudy Fick that he won't answer his phone.
Do you believe in flying saucers? Do I? Well, I am a cautious man and a skeptic, but I am almost a believer. If a small boy would sail a milk bottle cap past my eyes I'd be over the brink, a true believer!
Text versions and page scans Judy Bemis
Data entry by Judy Bemis
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