This next letter from Mary Hyre is a bit more eventful, being devoted to an extended UFO sighting. What was that thing?
August 11, 2014
August 7, 2014
This next letter from Mary Hyre contains no news on the Mothman flap, just Point Pleasant gossip and bits of Mary’s life: a school board meeting until the wee hours, a proposed road trip with a hard-drinking friend from Cincinnati. But I’ll post it for the sake of completeness, and for fellow Hyre fans. The clipping she mentions in the first paragraph wasn’t in the envelope; John must have filed it separately.
July 29, 2014
A longer, more chatty letter from Mary Hyre this time. She expresses interest in John’s “adventures on Long Island”; in fact, he did enter into correspondence with “one of them,” Mr. Apol. or, at least, someone claiming to be Mr. Apol. There is also news of Linda and Roger Scarberry’s marriage; a Mrs. Bowen, who wants to tell her experiences to John; a Mrs. Bennett, who may have missing time episodes related to Mothman (this, I assume, is Marcella Bennett); and an upcoming trip to New York. She has been unable to find out more about the contactee she mentioned in her last letter.
July 23, 2014
The next letter from Mary Hyre is from May 24, 1967. She sent John some clippings (which he must have filed somewhere else, but which apparently contained new Mothman sightings), spotted a UFO over her house, and sent a report of a local contactee, who apparently wasn’t Woodrow Derenberger.
July 14, 2014
From the 6th issue of Shavertron (Winter 1980) comes this article: John was attending a UFO conference in NYC, and was questioned about Richard Shaver by Mike Cohen. Obviously, he was suffering at the time from his diabetes, which had not yet been diagnosed.
It’s taken from Shavertron: The Mimeograph Years, a collection of the Shaver zine that Richard Toronto published for many years. I suspect many Keel fans will enjoy it. There’s not much JAK, but there’s a full menu of ’80s forteana: the Shaver Mystery, mutes, UFOs, Alternative 3, rock books, the hollow earth, and more, all in the scrappy fanzine format that served us so well before the internet. You can find it at over here.
July 3, 2014
John died five years ago today. After he died, I wrote a piece on his final years for the Fortean Times. Some readers, especially American, may not have seen it, so I’ll post it here. RIP, John!
June 30, 2014
John wrote this one-act play in 1960. It was one of his few excursions into science fiction, and it’s thoroughly dystopian. After a nuclear holocaust, a few survivors huddle in a dark cave. They complain about the cold and dark, reminisce about life under sunlight, and prepare to hunt rats as the rats hunt them. Another survivor joins the group, and they greedily devour the small bag of termites she’s managed to find. A firefly makes its way into the cave, and they marvel at its dazzling light, “a sun of our own”—except for the youngest of the group, who is blind. Here’s the first couple of pages.
June 17, 2014
In the 1980s, John’s magazine work was drying up, and he tried working on a number of novels and plays. Unstrung, from 1982, is a two-act romantic comedy set in World War III. A couple, Pete and Barbara, wake up hungover after a one-night stand. They discover that World War III has broken out, there’s no power, and the streets are full of rioters and looters. In the course of the play, they get to know one another, quarrel, make up, fight off intruders, and finally decide to stay together. One amusing note: near the end, Pete reveals something he thinks Barbara should know: he’s a great fan of Harvey Kurtzman.
Here’s the beginning.
June 8, 2014
Mary Hyre’s next letter to John was postmarked May 20, but, as she notes in a postscript, it had been returned; so, I’m assuming it was written the preceding Sunday, the 14th. She fills him in on UFO sightings, Mothman reports, strange noises, doorbell ringers, and a dream of her own.
May 21, 2014
One of John’s odder unrealized projects was a short diet book, known as either The Invisible Diet or How to Turn Yourself Inside Out. He wrote it in the ’80s under his favorite pseudonym, Randolph Halsey-Quince, and imagined it illustrated with cartoons. Although written in John’s usual humorous style, it offered serious advice: cut out white bread, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco; keep track of what you eat; get more exercise. It also recommended changing your eating habits by changing your other habits: read a different newspaper, go to a different church, watch different TV shows. As he put it, “you must change everything.”
Publishers were confused, since it was neither a standard diet book nor a parody, so he was never able to sell it. Here are the first few pages. The “Dachau diet” of the chapter title, by the way, is the starvation diet that was given prisoners — a bad way to lose weight.