Just a little anecdote for synchronicity fans: A number of years ago (I forget exactly when), I went to a library sale in Manhattan. Near the check-out was a stack of old copies of The Realist, which I happily scooped up. As it turned out, I knew the volunteer at the cash box, comedy historian Ron Smith, and so chatted with him as I paid, rather than look at the magazines.
It was only when I got back home that I saw that they were John’s subscription copies. When I told him, he laughed, saying, “I threw those out years ago. You bought my garbage!”
John was a friend and fan of editor Paul Krassner, and, as Satyr-man buffs know, put him into his superhero spoof, The Fickle Finger of Fate.
This is the last letter in John’s folder of Mary Hyre’s letters. She wrote it on March 24, 1968, and mailed it the next day, John’s birthday. She died on February 15, 1970. I assume they kept in touch by phone; they may have written other letters that John didn’t keep in this folder.
John wrote “MIB” on the envelope: the letter does describe a visit from a “strange visitor” with an intense interest in UFOs. There’s also a report on strange phone calls, and an update on Mothman witnesses Roger and Linda Scarberry.
John Keel died six years ago, on July 3, 2009. We’re still reading you, John!
The next letter from Mary Hyre was written on January 14, 1968, a month after the collapse of the Silver Bridge (December 15, 1967). She tells John about some of the aftermath of the disaster, as well as a few UFO sightings, including one of her own. Jack Brown makes a reappearance, although, of course, he could be a different one. The Messenger is the paper that Mary wrote for; they did print a large article about the disaster, which John saved. (Also, in case anyone is wondering, I’m scanning each page in two sections because Mary Hyre wrote on oversize paper that won’t fit on my scanner.)
John intended these photos for the Newsletter, but didn’t put them in the tenth issue, and that was the last one he printed. He typed out captions for them, which I attach to the proper photo. It’s a good thing I recognize these people. I don’t recognize the man with Dr. Grosso, though; maybe somebody out there can identify him.
John published a number of photos in the last issue of the New York Fortean Society, in 1989. Here they are in color, with John’s captions. Everyone looks so young!
Author Whitley Strieber
Caught with his hand in the till, David Walley tries to eat the evidence.
George Hansen, Princeton parapsychologist.
Star UFO speaker, Antonio Huneeus.
Murky picture of a group of Forteans on outing to Easter Island.
This is Mary Hyre’s last letter to John before the collapse of the Silver Bridge, on December 15. John marked the envelope “tape drop”; gaffer’s tape had fallen in the area, and Mary enclosed a sample. She also reports on a few UFO sightings. The tape sample was attached to the top of the page; I posted it after the letter.
Mary Hyre’s next letter to John was only a day later. A lot was happening. John marked the envelope “Checkered shirt,” and there is indeed a sighting of a prowler in a checkered shirt. (A footnote for newbies: Men in checkered shirts appear elsewhere in UFO lore; Chapter 14 of Strange Creatures from Time and Space gives a few examples.) There are also numerous UFO sightings, and the news that Roger Scarberry has gone missing. As Mary says, “Well I told you things would break when you left.”
John made this sheet up sometime in the ’80s. It’s notable for his usual burlesque bio, and for another mention of his phantom title, How to Build an Atom Bomb in Your Basement. I hope it got him some work.
Mary Hyre’s next letter is from a few weeks later, November 25, 1967. As readers of The Mothman Prophecies know, we’re coming up to the collapse of the Silver Bridge, on December 15. In this letter, a man is concerned about his dog, Mary’s sister has premonitory visions, and we learn that John’s last visit ended badly, when Mary’s car stalled in the rain.