By Gary George
I’ll never forget the looks of concern I got when I told my friends I was going to a UFO convention. They wondered if I had finally gone over the edge.
I felt I had to go for two reasons. One, I had been curious about UFO’s (Unidentified Flying Objects) since I was a child and Two, I read they were having an aluminum foil hat contest.
I am drawn to anyone who wears an aluminum foil hat at Halloween parties. I feel that they might be in touch with the cosmic beyond. I feel the same about people wearing Pink Floyd t-shirts. So with this kind of mentality, you can see where I might be interested in going to a UFO convention.
Sitting in the passenger seat on the way to Landers and the convention, I wondered what kind of crazy people I would meet. The answer was sitting behind the wheel–my friend Trina, publisher of the Senior News, was the one taking me.
We contemplated whether potential alien visitors to earth were (or would be) the benevolent beings depicted in The Day the Earth Stood Still and Close Encounters. Or would they be like the Looney Tunes’ Marvin the Martian whose sole goal was to destroy the Earth because it was blocking his view of Venus?
The first speaker tread a razor’s edge while giving her tongue-in-cheek history of the Lander’s area’s connection with sacred Indian sites, extraterrestrial sightings, people who claimed to speak with aliens, the world’s largest geoglyph (design in the ground), energy centers emanating from three underground rivers, and the world-famous Giant Rock.
While trying to give the facts without offending the “believers,” Jane Pojawa casually mentioned that scientists have found that saucer shapes are aerodynamically unstable and any such shape going over 35 mph causes what is called “hubcapping”–erratic behavior. Which explained the flying saucers I saw in the Doo Dah Parade in Pasadena a few years ago. All these years I just figured the drivers were drunk or stoned. Now I knew they just never had a chance.
The word from contactees back in the 50’s and 60’s was threefold: there were 3,000,000 flying saucers shielding the earth from deadly cosmic rays, aliens would not permit an A-bomb attack by any country and the Cubs would win a World Series. Crazy stuff.
A woman from 29 Palms was discussed. She had been given a ride to Venus where she had a romance with a Venusian named Lelando. She came back and he never writes. His name probably wasn’t even Lelando.
On a lunch break Trina and I shared a table with a nice couple. The fella, named Tom, told us of his UFO encounter that happened right after he moved to the area eight years ago. He went outside his home at night for the second time, and realized the moon wasn’t where it should be and looked up. There was a bright second moon, round and white and glowing, emitting its own light, soundless in the desert night. And then it was gone. As I watched his face, Tom told this story quietly and without drama. I believe that he believed he saw something.
I told them that 40 years ago I had gone to hear Betty Hill of “The Interrupted Journey” fame speak. She and her husband had belatedly realized that they had been repeatedly abducted by aliens, taken aboard a spaceship and had medical experiments performed upon their bodies. I believed Betty Hill had experienced something.
Tom and his wife were very impressed I had met Mrs. Hill and called my meeting her “a Holy Grail.” I was impressed they knew of a book that is 45 years old and I began to realize a lot of folks at this gathering were not there casually.
Later that day, an attendee stood up and matter-of-factly told of his UFO sighting. Another bright light in the sky that disappeared quickly. Another told his story; he saw a UFO but didn’t have his good camera with him.
It’s 2014. Why has no one gotten a good photograph of a UFO? I look at people’s pictures. They can’t get a good shot of five people in the sun standing dead still. How are they going to get a good picture of a bright object moving against a huge dark sky. Cut them some slack. Maybe if Steven Spielberg was in his back yard at night and had his “good” camera and saw a UFO, we’d have something.
After lunch materials to make aluminum foil hats were awaiting us. By the time I finished eating many were well on their way to finishing. There were so many good hats, especially by the women, that I decided just to take pictures. No one would be interested in any dunce cap I would have made. So I chatted people up. Everyone was friendly and in a good mood. One couple was from Montreal and I was happy to find out that station Chom-FM is still rocking after the 30 years since I last listened to it.
Then we went on a field trip to Giant Rock (see photos). Steeped in Indian history as a holy spot and its connection to UFO’s and the supposed Nazi sympathizer that lived in a room he dug out UNDER it, it was impressive to stand next to. Then Trina and I climbed near-by Crystal Hill which is comprised of quartz and which some believe has healing qualities.
These two places have mystic auras to some but the only thing that was mystic to me was how two people as old and out-of-shape as Trina and I could climb Crystal Hill and survive.
We went back to the Morongo Basin Historical Society’s building where the day had started. I was so impressed with what a great presentation the Society had put on and how well they treated us (the food was spectacular and the people running it were wonderful) that I decided to buy some raffle tickets, just to beef up their take a little because this event was put on as a fund-raiser for the Society.
And I end up winning the giant basket with the Patron tequila and the FBI files on George Van Tassel, friend of Frank Critzer who lived under Giant Rock.
As if the day wasn’t wonderful enough, the Society gave us all gift baskets with space themed stuff: Starburst candy, a Moon Pie, Sun Chips, Cheddar Rocket Crackers, Orbit gum, Reese’s Pieces (i.e., E.T.) and Pringles Pecan Pie flavored crisps. Oh, wait, that last one I bought myself at the 99 Cent Store.
I found out later that this was the first one of these that the Morongo Basin Historical Society had ever done and I have to congratulate Barbara Harris and all of the great people working with her for hitting a lead-off home run. Check them out at www.mbhs.net. Note it’s net and not com. Or phone (760) 364-2000.