Monday, November 9, 2009

OUT PROCTOR: Where the Dark and Weird Things Go

Today, Mothman. But first I need another state-of-consciousness. We have "conservative", "liberal", and "All-The-Way-Fool". But for today and in the future, I'll need "Out Proctor". When we want to talk about normal and relatively normal things, we're in the comfort zone of conservative/liberal. When we're among friends [like here], and we want to take a risk to speak of strange things that we really think we have a pile of evidence for [like everything on the blog so far], we might be willing to go All-The-Way-Fool. But there are some things that, as John McEnroe would say: You can not be serious. Since those things are often interesting and some may even be true, I am introducing a state-of-blogmind called Out Proctor. When we're in Out Proctor, we're having fun---and just maybe...
Out Proctor exists near a small West Virginia town inhabited by members of my family--one of which even lives in Proctor, West Virginia itself. But this is not Out Proctor. If you drive off the highway to Proctor, that is, for a few miles, Actual Proctor. But as you continue, should you be that foolish, up the road and into the deep holler, the environment begins to get strange. Light dims. People, if so they are, begin to range mysteriously about the landscape, and "things" are on the move. Few people go Out Proctor and fewer want to. Those who have returned tell tales of the Flatwoods Monster being used as an over-sized vacuum cleaner in a home inhabited by Gray Barker. Mothman cowers in trees from the Proctor Predatory Parrot. Indrid Cold is just cool. Out Proctor is a 'pataphysical reality. ['pataphysics being a state of being as far beyond metaphysics as metaphysics is beyond physics---anyone beginning to understand and believe what I'm talking about here should consult a physician---not a 'pataphysician.] Out Proctor is strangely empowering to a blogger. When Out Proctor, no one can tell whether the blog is serious or not, and well, the devil take the hindmost. I am certain that although you have always wanted to know where all these strange entities that we're interested in come from, all I can tell you is where they go. Today we'll go to the dim edge of Out Proctor, where Mothman keeps an alert watch on the dark within. 'pataphysics thy name is freedom. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
One of the world experts on Mothman is my buddy, Jerry Clark. If he ever reads this blog, hopefully he will laugh at it rather than cringe. Jerry can tell you far more about Mothman than I--buy his books [shameless plug]. In them you will see that Mothman, although almost unique, is part of a class of mysterious flying impossibilities that date back far into the past. My favorite "Jerry case" is the giant bird with the metallic scales and burning-coal eyes from 1868 Chile. "Our" West Virginia Mothman is, mainly, the hero in a condensed drama or flap of sightings occurring in SW WVA in November of 1966. There were some credible reports and a believable local newswoman, Mary Hyre, who bird-dogged the early investigations. Then of course in came world-class lunatics, Gray Barker and John Keel, and nothing more about the cases can be asserted with assurance again. Woody Derenberger and Indrid Cold [a brilliantly sinister name] were glued on to the flap by Keel, as well as the collapse of the Point Pleasant Silver Bridge [something that I and my family passed over dozens of times in our lives as Point Pleasant residents---just lucky I guess]. In some count, greater than 100 witnesses reported Mothman. Frankly the descriptions have a great deal of variance in them. Some are very "impossibly-big" and bird-like. Some are Out Proctor. Keel and Barker of course preferred the latter, and the composite description of Mothman became 5 to 7 foot tall, brown or gray, wings to 12-15 feet, "human" legs, shuffling walk, flies without flapping its wings, eyes in shoulders and often glowing red. Well, that's plenty Out Proctor for me. What worries me, mainly about my own sanity, is that there is just enough non-Barker/Keel testimony to make me think that this might have happened. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I will proffer one Mothman tale that is probably out in the literature somewhere, but, as I didn't see it at quick glance, maybe it will be new to some of you. I was listening to a UFO witness tape made by my Ohio buddy, Bill Jones. He was interviewing a colleague who worked at Battelle Memorial Institute, William Pickering, who had several UFO case involvements. Right in the middle of talking about one of them, Pickering said: you're not going to believe me about the bird I saw. The interview never could pin down the date, but Pickering said that it was before all the hullaballoo in Point Pleasant, but not hugely before [maybe 1965]. His family was native to West Virginia, and the family home was in Jackson County [see the map]. They had a hunting cabin there as well. This was at the home, quite rural and largely unpopulated. He saw a large thing coming low over the rolling land at no more than twenty feet elevation. It had a 14 foot wingspan, a 3 1/2 foot thick body, 6 to 6 1/2 foot in length. The color was mainly dark brown, though lightening a bit behind the neck [although there wasn't much neck] and down at the lower breast. Sort of like wild turkey color. It was covered with feathers including the head. Its tail came to a point [i.e. was not fanned]. It had "dirty orange" clenched feet beneath of great size. It flew without effort, flapping very slowly as though this was nothing at all to move this bulk. No sound was made even though the thing went directly over his head. As it did, it had its eyes turned and fixed on him. [scared the crap out of him]. The head was roundish like most birds, but the eyes were forward mounted as humans. They were 5 inches in diameter, and amber-colored. The "beak" began above these eyes and curved down close to the face, making an oddly flat countenance. Asked if he knew about big local birds like turkey buzzards, Pickering said that the thing "could have eaten a buzzard in two bites". Well, what do you do with that story? Pickering said that people around Jackson county had seen this sort of giant bird often in that era, and having nothing to do with the Point Pleasant sightings which came later. He appeared not to have known nor cared about Barker or Keel. You can see the relationship of the area Pickering's talking about [near as I can make it out from the tape] to the Mason County area around Point Pleasant and the TNT Area. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
So, what, I ask foolishly, are we dealing with here? Many of the reports sound like Big Birds [including one of Barker's {Tom Ury} who talks clearly about a bird not a Mothman], and yet many are way past that and Out Proctor. I don't know what to make of this, but the once scared out of her mind, Linda Scarberry, claimed frequent revisitations of Mothman around her home, even to the point of feeling sorry for it. "We rented an apartment down on 13th street, and the bedroom window was right off the roof. It was sitting on the roof one night, looking at the window, and by then I was so used to seeing it, I just pulled the blinds and went on. I felt kind of sorry for gives you the feeling like it was sitting there wishing it could come in and get warm because it was cold out that night". As John McEnroe would say....well, you know. My favorite longshot challenger for the dramatic lead in this play is the Piasa Bird of the Native American cultures around St. Louis. A mighty fine beast to me, though perhaps better suited to a dragon. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
My family's relation to all this is minor, but perhaps not entirely irrelevant. During WW2, my father was, as a Notre Dame chemical engineering graduate with experience in the heavy chemicals industry, deemed not suitable for dying by overseas shrapnel, but rather to risk his life making TNT instead. His manual is at the left. Glued onto that is an instance of some fancy armament being moved,[although he probably shouldn't have had a picture of that]. Below, Dad is hiding in his and his buddies' "victory garden", where being city boys they grew essentially inedible produce. They grew so much squash that it had to be hauled away and buried--not quite 'pataphysics but still theatre-of-the-absurd. I, as a little kid lived at the Ordnance Works from 1942 to about 1947 when the plant was sufficiently dismantled so that it could be abandoned. Mothman was nowhere in evidence. The biggest scary bird we had was a brown hawk of some kind that Dad and his ne'er-do-well friends shot and brought home--scratching on the window and holding it outstretched across the outside glass, so that when Mom opened the curtains she almost fainted. This was amusing but dangerous, as Mom was the best rifle shot in the plant area, including the military. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Since I haven't seen a really good map of the WVOW, I'm putting one on. The blue line is the public road. Down goes to Point Pleasant. Up goes to northern Mason County and, ultimately, with a bend in the Ohio River over to Jackson County. The yellow oval is the Staff House area, where we lived [as Dad was #2 civilian at the Works]. The red area held two power plants--you had to get past two check points to get in. The purplish-pink area is the heavy chemicals "acid plant". In most ways this was the most dangerous area of the place and where my Dad was, in essence, production boss. It dealt with things like Ammonia, Nitric Acid, etc--NOT "mutagenic chemicals" like some videogame fictionists would like to ascribe an Godzilla-like Mothman to issue from. The danger came from simple explosions and the instant kill properties of ammonia and nitric acid if released and breathed in. My father once had a runaway reaction going in there. The whole WVOW was evacuated to wait for the explosion. Dad told Mom to put us kids in the car and drive far away. He would "see us later". He and one man went back inside that plant and shut the reaction down. [I suppose that not everyone will relate to this, but that last sentence made me stop and cry]. Anyway, the salmon-orange ellipse contained the Toluene which was nitrified to make the Trinitrotoluene [TNT]. That was in the green area. Ready-to-roll-armaments were in the brown area. I've lumbered you with all this description of the Works because I believe that knowledge is better than ignorance, especially when trying to figure out the anomalies. But, what-the-heck, here's what really happened: Dad and his friends buried the multi-tons of squash on WVOW property. Over twenty years, the squash fermented into a mass of swamp gas rivaling even that of Michigan. Occasionally this squash gas would erupt into glowing and red-orange floating masses which were capable of over-exciting ignorant hill-billies like ourselves. This attracted not only Gray Barker and John Keel, but also UFOs wondering what the fuss was about. Seeing an opportunity for communication, the UFOs released Mothman and you know the rest of the story. I just knew Dad had created Mothman somehow. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Well, seriously, if such words can be used in an Out Proctor situation, I don't know what to think about Mothman. Mary Hyre seems a good local information source. Tales like Ury's or Pickering's seem to clearly say impossibly big birds. Others say no way. Despite the outrageousness of the topic, there seems too much there to just toss this away. Yet I don't have my "best" witnesses types to anchor me firmly. If someTHING went on, it was paranormal either way [that is, we're not dealing with Earth-biological Cryptozoology]. We're All-The-Way-Fool or we're just Out Proctor until more information comes along. I've attached here at the bottom a few of the early WVA newsclippings in case you've not seen them. Hmmm..."Proctor" if you rearrange the letters spells "crop-rot". This is starting to all make sense!!!


  1. As my kids would say, this is "seriously cool" stuff. I've always had questions about the Mothman events and if nothing else it's neat to see some original newspaper clippings about it. I'd give a nickel or two to know the "truth" about what happened in '66. The term "high strangeness" seems to take on new meaning.

    Thanks for sharing. I only have a couple of blogs that I follow and this is a regular stop.

  2. thank you, my pleasure. The "Out Proctor" concept is to allow me to range a bit more widely in these areas of high strangeness and at the same time give readers a fore-warning that we're headed for the twilight zone. Hope my conservative colleagues take these adventures in the same open-minded spirit of exploration that you do.

  3. Unfortunately Out Proctor brings to mind the term proctologist, so I suspect you might find some of your hostile contributors sticking their oars where oars don't belong!

    For what it's worth, though, personal experience strongly suggests to me some at least of these encounters are INTERPRETATIONS of encounters with human beings undergoing out of the body episodes, something we're all prone to, whether we're aware of it or not.

  4. really? I'd never heard of that idea.----and, on the "unfortunate" double entendre, the pun is not entirely unintentional---but the phrase really does exist near my old home town.

  5. Hi Professor,

    First post here,

    What do ya think about the "Flatwoods Monster"?

  6. The Flatwoods monster was of more interest to the USAF than they let on, but the documents released don't tell all the story yet so I can't be too positive in my assessment. Someday I'll make a post which covers it, and probably a few other things since the story isn't really a long one. For now, something real and anomalous went on, but we don't know what.

  7. Professor,

    Thanks for your comments. I actually went to the "Flatwoods Monster Festival" this year.

    I have been doing a some research on Thomas Townsend Brown, do you know of his story?

  8. I know some of his story, of course, since he was an original founder of NICAP. I am always happy to learn more. He is such a complex character though that it might be difficult to write a meaningful comment on him without taking up pages of blog-space--i know nothing of blog etiquette in such matters--maybe you could post your knowledge somewhere and tell us how to get to it, if it is extensive.

  9. Professor,

    Perhaps you would enjoy looking at Linda Browns forum. She is the daughter of Thomas Townsend Brown, and is currently writing a biography on him. Check out and go to the quonset hut. See you there!!!!

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