Sunday, March 20, 2011

Society for the Investigation of The Unexplained: SITU.

Hello folks. I've been very busy with a so-called "vacation" trip back to Michigan. The trip, no vacation, was to prepare the house and then to accept the archives of the defunct Fortean organization, The Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained. SITU. As some of you will well know, it was founded by naturalist/zoologist/anomalies-lover Ivan Sanderson and served as a focus point for American anomalies researchers for two decades in the late sixties to late eighties era. When Ivan Sanderson passed away in 1973, the organization ultimately fell to Robert Warth to continue on. Robert Warth was a nice and stalwart guy and I got to know SITU during his directorship. Bob and I corresponded quite a bit and he "talked me into" writing several articles to publish in PURSUIT, and ultimately to be listed as one of his scientific consultants. I was saddened as were a great many of us, when SITU had to close and the voice of PURSUIT went silent. I didn't hear of it again for years. During that time, the SITU archives came under the ownership/stewardship of the Society for Scientific Exploration and in the personal care of a wonderfully fine fellow, absolutely dedicated to the preservation of anomalistic archival materials, Dr. John Reed. Being a busy man with a full real life, John could do no more than safely store them. He wanted to get them somewhere where they could be looked into, "cleaned up", characterized, and, hopefully utilized. That's where I came in.

My intellectual life, such as it is, has been dominated by a feeling of duty to both preserve the information-which-doesn't-fit and to get it out in front of the world, whether by my own writing efforts or by others'. John knew me as a long-time SSE member and one-time council member, a publisher of several pieces in the JSE, and a "fellow he had a talk with once" about this exact "presevation passion" we share. He wanted to know if I could "swallow" the SITU archives at my place [no mean feat I am telling you] and ultimately get them into order [an even more daunting affair] and finally arranging for utilization by responsible researchers.

I said I'd give it my best. The archives arrived in Kalamazoo on Friday. Two very hard-working days of shelving and stacking later, punctuated by anomalies "parties" punctuated by sub-sandwiches and pizzas and large quantities of extravagant commentary, our eight person crew [coming from Chicago, Detroit area, Maryland, and a scattering of my best local buddies], we at least got it all off the truck and inside. It's going to take a LOT of archival work, my friends, but it will be worth it---the unloading days themselves were some of the most fun I've had in a very long time.

I want to give you some extremely "early" assessment information. This stuff is EXTENSIVE. It nearly filled a 26-foot U-Haul truck. Secondly, it has survived the rigors of time and mice [there were nibblers about back there in New Jersey] very well. The nibblings and rare water damages are very minor [three great cheers to Charles Fort, Ivan Sanderson, & Bob Warth being guardian angels from above]. The book and journal library is pretty impressive. Doubtless not everything survived cherry-pickers, but I'll bet ALMOST everything did from what I saw going to the shelves. That brings me to the big deal.

There is an internet legend that these archives have been severely depleted by sticky-fingered knowledge-thieves. Again, who knows what all MIGHT have happened in the past, but my eyeballs say that the VAST majority if not all of the famous SITU files [even dating back to Sanderson and the early years; i.e. Sanderson's own file creation] ARE STILL EXTANT AND RIGHT HERE IN KALAMAZOO. I am hoping that this will make everyone happy. I cannot give you an accurate count yet, but I can give you a MINIMAL count. Sanderson kept his topical files arranged in three-ring notebooks usually about two-inches wide. At a minimum there are 184 of these already shelved [i.e. sitting outside the original boxes off the truck before your eyes.] I counted them the grade-school way with my own index finger. As a wild guess, there are at least 30-35 "linear feet" of them, in librarian-talk. This 184 count does not count three-ring notebooks which contain only journal/magazine runs --- these are mainly Sanderson's own constructions containing clippings, pictures, correspondence, & whatever, around some topic or set of topics. 42 of these notebooks refer to "ABSMs" [bigfoot, yeti et al], or sea, lake, or river monsters. Folks, after having read the idea that the files had been "raped clean", you can't imagine how happy I was when we opened the first box and read the ABSM on the cover!!!. God bless the protecting elementals who guard our favorite subjects.

Well, that's all that I can say with accuracy in this first day-of-rest for my aching back after the Great Coming. I will promise you that I will [with my local buddies when I'm back in Wheeling helping Mom] keep SITU safe, slowly get it organized, tell you what we find, and when it's a bit orderly at least, tell you how to get your own eyeballs on the files if you want to travel to Kazoo.

I'm going to try to finish up the remaining bits of the CE2p entries and the last greatest trip by GHW looking for Shamballa soon. Maybe after that I'll try to sneak enough peeks at Ivan's stuff to tell you more. God bless and Peace. I think we've saved something good here, folks.

38 comments:

  1. Professor,

    What do you think the chances are of getting that material scanned into digital form for safekeeping?

    - Steve Muise

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  2. Steve: your thought is an ideal one of course, and perhaps it was mentioned by over half the crew who worked the move this weekend. But not by me. What I did was listen to their happy talk and then just ask: OK, who's going to do it? Who's going to pay for it? Who's thinking that they have the time to handle a hundred boxes worth of materials, some of which are on old frail paper, some of which are old "flying away" paste-down newsclippings, some of which is dirty....etc? AND, if "we" would make the material available to others WIDELY, who's going to go through every sheet to black-out the names of private people who have not indicated that they wanted their names bandied about?

    Silence reigned. I think that the digitization of all archival information [within a little reasonable restriction] is the ideal state for the whole planet, let alone just SITU, CUFOS, The USAF, etc. But I'm not going to do it. If someone shows up with a plan which includes professional handling, transparency, funding, manpower, security....i.e. something which will actually work....then I'm right there. Nobody's got any idea of how to do that outside of digitizing select outstanding and limited parts of these collections. Even then, volunteers and money materialize VERY slowly.

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  3. Hello, Prof.

    Speaking for myself, I sure would like a peek at Sanderson's early USO files. And whatever the Navy may have contributed, if anything. Someone should do a film of Sanderson's life. Or a decent bio. What a guy. I'm glad his history is in the hands of an enthusiast. Best of luck with this material. Sure hope it gets 'saved' somehow.

    Regards,

    richard

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  4. To Richard, I will actually be happy to try to locate information of special interest in these files once we can get some order and accessibility into the "big glump". This is a REALLY big "mess" at the moment, and, especially with my only temporary residency back home here in Kalamazoo, it's going to take awhile for any "efficiency" to arise. I have a little opportunity to look for USO material "just at the moment" and will give it a try...no promises.

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  5. Hello Professor,

    This certainly is great news for Forteans everywhere, including me. If I might suggest, contact AFU http://www.afu.info/ as I am sure they can advise you where needed in regards to preserving and cataloguing this unique collection.

    Again, congratulations, this is great news!

    Best,

    Theo

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  6. Thank you Theo. We're going to be fine on this, because Ivan did such a good job coalescing things into his three-ring notebooks and over two hundred of them are intact. Sorting the library will be no problem, other than time, and making the very good journals/newsletters collection neat and orderly in journal boxes [at my expense] will make that part of things look sharp. That will "just" leave plowing through those unsorted "other" boxes and cataloguing their contents while making file folders for everything---a big job, but I knew that already. The few "artifacts" and audiotapes I just hope will be identifiable---they are NOT usually so now. Although the Bigfoot prints are probably easier as I have several from Grover Krantz myself [which I will donate to SITU] and they should be good hints as to the SITU prints. For fun, there are at least two samples of the notorious "lines-from-the-sky" that I've located.

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  7. I have information that before he committed suicide, Morris K. Jessup turned over his personal copy of the Varo edition of "The Case For The UFO" to Hans Stefan Santesson (and Ivan T. Sanderson) in case anything should happen. Morris K. Jessup had also annotated this personal copy of the Varo edition, ridiculing A's and B's comments. He felt that Allende was a mental case. This 'holy grail' must be found and made public!

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  8. Mike, Finally you have it! You can look forward to months of paper-pushing now. I had great fears that the collection was cherry-picked to death, according to Loren Coleman, but it seems that this was exaggerated. On the issue of scanning, in the ideal world everything is on the Internet for all to use. But this is the real world where the scattered portions of anomalist history are usually in the hands of one person each, who are overwhelmed by having to live everyday life as well. Not much in the way of resources go in the way of archival preservation of such topics. This has to change. If scanning is desired for historical collections, the tasks must receive funding from those interested in seeing such projects done to do so. It is extremely unfair for a patron (usually significantly short of wealthy) to take over a mountain of paperwork and then field requests by the dozens to "put everything up" now or soon. It reminds me of the pre-Internet queries from letter writers to "send me everything you have." I wonder if such collections would receive more than a passing glance from national endowments?
    A good Sanderson bio is online at: www.richardgrigonis.com. I would suggest downloading it before the site disappears someday.

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  9. To my good friend & good colleague Barry: my elation was just like yours when the files came in safely and Ivan's old notebooks began to appear from the boxes. Both of us hold the preservation of such things as sacred, and I will do what i can just as I've done with the Ruppelt, Williamson, McCarthy files, and parts of CUFOS, NICAP, CSI, Bloecher, et al. This is a "whale" in size but it is just small enough that we should be able to make it presentable and easily researchable in time. p.s. I downloaded the Grigonis bio and it's a helpful reference.

    To Robert Goerman: I am hoping that Ivan saw Allende for the nut that he was, but perhaps had interesting material related to him anyway. There is no sign yet of any VARO edition, and I'm not expecting one, but who knows?? I have a copy of the original VARO to compare to anything which shows up. What does exist is a medium box of envelopes with material apparently from Allende to SITU. We'll see later what's there. I would not be surprised to see other stuff as well, as one very early SITU associate was Al Bielek.

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  10. Hi. After some searching I came across your blog here and thought that you might be able to give me some information regarding the journal Pursuit. My father recently passed away and had an extensive collection of the journal (not sure how extensive, I'm still going through them but the oldest one I have come across so far is v2 #4 1969. I'd like to find someone or some organization that might be interested in buying this collection. Do you have any ideas who I might contact? Any information you might have would be greatly appreciated.
    Justin Robertson

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  11. Justin, this may sound paradoxical [with me being the holder of the SITU archives], but when you think of it, it isn't: I don't know of anyone who needs a near-complete collection of PURSUIT. The reason is that we are awash with PURSUIT here [the archive has three complete sets; I have my own set; John Reid has his own set; my "interested" friend has his own set]. The people that I "run with" are usually oldtime anomalies researchers who were SITU members themselves.

    This archive hasn't had sufficient visitors yet to have someone tell me :"Boy I wish I had a set of PURSUIT". [for example, when Bill Kingsley came down, he was an SITU oldtimer who had his own set too].

    I don't know if you want to get into the internet, but you probably could sell it on E-Bay, or put it on a booksale site. Your local curiosity book store might buy it and they sell it on the net.

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    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

      Delete
    2. Justin: I've recreated your e-mail below in case anyone wants to read it. The blog engine will not allow specific deletion, so I'm deleting the whole thing to get rid of your E-mail address.


      Thank you for your kind reply! I am in no real hurry to do anything with it, nor am I really interested in making a bunch of money off of it. I was hoping that someone (or some organization) might be interested in them - I'd rather they go to someone who will enjoy/use them rather than have them sit. (I know my father would have wanted that as well.)

      I think what I will do is sit on them for a while and maybe you will come across someone that is interested in them. I'll give you my email address and if you want to keep up with it and find someone interested please feel free to contact me.

      Thanks again for your help!

      Best,

      Delete
  12. Professor,

    How much money would it take to oct and scan these documents? I would like to know I can also provide free web hosting for this archive.

    please contact me at techzombie432 at gmail.com

    -TechZombie

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  13. I have exactly zero idea of what such an effort would cost. It would not be a casual thing. The things which should in theory be scanned are the Sanderson notebooks, not the whole SITU collection --- scanning books and journals would be crazy. Also, much of the rest of the collection makes no sense to scan --- example, business administration matters, duplicate materials worked-on for publishing the journal, lists of member names --- privacy issues. Some interesting letters would have to be vetted for name and address blockage --- what I'm communicating is that this is not a simple idealistic nor technological issue. The work would also have to be done in Kalamazoo or by a good trusted friend, or I would not simply mail unique materials away.

    My life does not lend itself to time-heavy personal labor on things like this, though I may have some friends who would be willing to do targeted best-use scanning. If and when that occurs, John Reed, SSE treasurer and administrator of the collection, would have say on internet availability. He already has an ambitious program to do things like this, and my guess is that such material would go first there.

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    1. I am in the process of writing a book on cryptozoology that has a dinosaur sighting mentioned in Pursuit. Is there any chance you may have an article titled "An Iguanodon from Dahomey" (pages 15-16) published in January of 1970? This would be a tremendous help and I would be willing to pay for your time to locate it. Feel free to give me a call, my number is (503) 769-1330 and my email is phillip@livingdinos.com

      Thank you

      Delete
  14. Dear professor, I understand you have an original Varo edition. Is that the Saucerian edition republished by Gray Barker in 1973? Or is that one of the first mimeographed ones directly issued by Varo mfg? Would very much appreciate your description of it. Many thanks, Marco from Rome - Italy

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  15. Dear professor, thanks for your cultural initiative! I understand from a past post of yours replying to Mr. Goerman, that you have an original Varo edition of the Case for the ufos, not the 1973 re-edition by Saucerian, but the very first printing issued by Varo itself. Would you mind describing it? I mean, binding, size, tupé of printing etc? Is the Saucerian one a trustfull copy of it? Thanks so much, Marco from Rome Italy

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    Replies
    1. 8 1/2 x 11. Glossy light blue "cardboard" covers. Bound with deep blue plastic "spiral binder".

      Title on front: THE CASE FOR THE
      UFO
      UNIDENTIFIED FLYING OBJECTS

      by M. K. Jessup


      Near bottom of cover: Republished by VARO MFG. CO., INC Garland Texas.

      printed on normal heavy paper with standard typescript in black, and with red lettering emphases.


      .......... Whether the Barker copy is faithful I don't know, as I have had no interest in the Barker copy.

      Delete
    2. Thanks professor! This is interesting since it looks much alike my own copy I stumbled upon several years ago. As a collector I always was fascinated about the myth behind this book, and wondered what the original archetype looked like. My own copy has no introduction by Gray Barker, as the Saucerian edition usuale does. If I can, do you know what Dr. Sanderson think about the book and annotations? Finally, do you know where I can find and buy copies of Pursuit? Thanks again and have a good day! Marco

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    3. Thanks so much! Is there any plae you know where the reviews Pursuit can be found and purchased? Great blog, thanks for your initiative! Marco

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    4. I have not found any Sanderson commentary about the VARO edition material. Ivan was much more interested in what he would call "physical" [i.e. concrete get-your-hands-on] anomalies than other things which he viewed as less substantial or extremely unlikely to be accessible by researchers like himself. He was curious about Morris Jessup, but does not seem to have pursued the topic.

      PURSUIT has been out-of-production for a very long time and did not have a large readership. When the archives came here, there were some duplicates of the magazine [some almost absent; some in mass quantities]. I made up three complete sets for keeping in the archives. I made another set for John Reed from which he made electronic scans. I made three other sets for close friends. At that point, there were no further possibilities of forming anything like complete sets. Instead, I took the twenty or so numbers which had a lot of copies, and saved about six-eight sets of those twenty to give to visitors to the archives if they wanted them, which I plan to maintain until visitors actually are here and want them. To my knowledge, the only way to obtain copies of PURSUIT would be to get lucky on the Internet when someone sells their personal set, or find out where John Reed has deposited the electronic scans for free.

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    5. Thank you very much for your through anwer. Ciao. Marco

      Delete
  16. Did you find any files relating to Sanderson's investigation of the 1948 incident involving mysterious three-toed footprints found on Clearwater beaches in Florida, in which he theorized it might have been from a giant penguin? I think it was his first involvement in a cryptozoological investigation.

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  17. I came across this when googling for fafrotskies. I was a member of SITU yearrrrrs ago and had a collection of Pursuit magazines which have disappeared. I heard Sanderson on the radio in Cleveland in the ?1950s-60s, but have lived in England for 30 years.

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  18. Professor,

    I'm glad to find that blog and I was wondering if I could talk to you in a more private way. I hope that you answer my call. Thanks for everything you've done untill now. I admire your kind of work

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    Replies
    1. ??? I usually don't answer calls where people don't identify themselves and give no reason for why they're calling [unless I already know them, of course]. You might be better off, since you seem to be secretive for some reason, to write me a letter or e-mail me something similarly lengthy. My e-mail address is mswords@att.net. I cannot promise to respond functionally to anything, especially if it's requesting me to do some serious work or go somewhere or get personally involved with some problem that you have. I am no field worker and no counsellor. What I do is to share information about anomalies and provide reasonable access to the SITU archive. Also note that I am 73 tears old and have other things to do with the years I have left, if any.

      Delete
  19. My father (Ted Bradstreet, an "old-time" SITU member) knows of a younger, eager student of Forteana who would be overjoyed to obtain a "nearly complete" collection of PURSUIT if it is still available. E-mail tbstreet@uninets.net if so, and he will put the seller in touch with the buyer so that they can haggle.

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    1. The SITU collection/archive which I'm protecting at Kalamazoo has several complete sets of PURSUIT [three or four] but these will not be for sale. I have the "archivist's sense" that any original archive should contain more than one original publication of its making. The "extra" full sets which were able to be culled out of the overage when I received the collection for cataloguing/organizing were handed out to John Reid, Will Matthews, Bill and Linda Murphy [all of whom "earned" a set by "work"], and European anomalies researcher Theo Paijmanns, who paid the costs of shipping, and who is a colleague who "bartered" things to me beforehand. There are no sets idly sitting sitting around here anymore, although I saved out some "handfuls" of things to give to visitors if they wanted them. Perhaps other readers of the blog have sets which they no longer wish to shelve.

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    2. Old issues of Pursuit are sold through the AFU Shop: http://afushop.hemsida24.se/store#/page=1&sort=sold&dir=desc&search=pursuit
      The AFU Shop by now has some 4.000 items up for sale - especially rare items from the "good old days" of phenomena studies. Please check in on recently added items by checking this url: http://afushop.hemsida24.se/store#/page=1&sort=date&dir=desc&search=
      We have books and magazines published in (so far) 11 different languages and you can also search our site by subject areas in the left menu.
      Orders will help out the work of AFU where we currently keep 25 people employed on ordering and digitizing collections.

      Delete
    3. Though I don't usually allow postings involving economic "advertisings" here, I'm delighted to make an exception and support AFU, one of the finest UFO organizations on the planet, and led by fine fellows, including my book colleague Clas Svahn.

      Delete
  20. Professor,
    Thank you so much for your posts. They are a remarkable gimps into the SITU.

    For years now, I have been researching the missing thunderbird photograph that Sanderson had loaned to two Pennsylvania bound researchers in the mid 1960s. So I would like to ask you a question concerning this photo and the archive in Kalamazoo.
    According to fellow Cyrptozoologist, Dale Drinnon, the names of these men were well known within the SITU. Dale also states that there were several sketches of the missing photograph that were made in an attempt to remember what it looked like. So my question is: have you ever come across either the names of these two researchers or sketches of the missing thunderbird photograph. And if not, what are the chances that these things are in the surviving archive, but remain allusive?
    Lastly, and I am sure you have been asked this countless times, what is the possibility that I could visit the archive in Kalamazoo?

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    1. Well, my answer is mixed. The easy part first: sure you can come to Kalamazoo and try to find these things in the files. Any responsible person can; that is my duty as "keeper".

      As to these things themselves: Ivan had a three-ring notebook file labeled "Thunderbird", which thankfully still exists here in plain sight. It is fairly substantial, about two inches thick. I am about as certain as I can be that it does not contain the elusive Thunderbird Against The Barn photo. All I remember [and forgive me if I do not myself take time to research this] is that the search for this photo was driving Ivan crazy as he was sure that he had seen it and even in what magazine it was in --- but had "turned every page" and could not locate it. The existing notebook contains some comment about this but I can't tell you how useful it would be [and, as it is not my research area, I'm not going to read the file.]

      There are handwritten letters in there, and so could give names, but I bet not the location of the picture or Ivan would have gotten it. It saw a sketch once, but my memory of it is that it was very crude, more like childish outlining than a sketch.

      But you are welcome to come and see what you can see --- just give me plenty of warning.

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    2. Wow, firstly, thank you so much for your prompt reply.
      I would love nothing more than to come in, and greatly appreciate your invitation to do so. I am unsure when I can make the trip, but will give you plenty of notice when the time comes.
      Also, I have searched so deeply for this photo, so your reply has given a bit of hope--at the very least, for further clues, so I thank you greatly for that.
      Have an excellent week and best wishes.

      Delete
  21. Have you ever thought to create a "gofundme" account in order to raise the funds needed, to hire professionals to digitize this material? The preservation of these materials seems very important. I am in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and would be happy to assist in any way needed.

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    1. Of course one always has such thoughts pass through ones mind. I had a small grant which allowed me to buy a good scanner and scan about 30 gigs of my own files, and friends scanned another 30 gigs. These flash drive depositories will be dispersed to serious UFO researchers around the world sort of like seed pods. Sanderson's useful notebooks [not all are] would be less bytes than that but harder to do, since he scotch taped so much of it into the three-ring notebooks that a lot of slow pre-work would have to be done to pull this off. [My own 30 gigs took three months with a dedicated young lady working about 20 hours a week at it.]

      So, yeh, I've thought about it and ,no, I've not thought seriously about it. I had to put in about as much time as the young lady to pull the other off, and that thought just puts the idea WAY out of reach for me.

      Delete
    2. Processing all that information does sound overwhelming. Especially if there are just two of you doing it.
      Perhaps, instead of just flash drives, you might think about putting the data on a cloud server, where it would be available to all. Seed pods, although a noble idea, are not always germinated. Plus history does show that many serious UFO researchers do come to unfortunate and questionable ends, and the cloud server would keep the data “alive” no matter what happens to the individuals. The more that something is seen, read or heard, the more mainstream it becomes, and the more people recognize it as fact. Keeping information to only a select few, would seem counterproductive to awakening people to this reality.

      Not out of reach! It is simple and easy. Setting up a gofundme, and facebook page, take all of 20 minutes. Once it is there, the word is spread easily.
      As a medium who channels aliens, and forms of life not of this earth, I am connected to many hundreds of like minded individuals. Some published authors, radio personalities, etc. They are connected to hundreds as well. These people are potential donors. All it takes is sharing across the web. You basically do not have to do anything different than you are doing now with your blog. Maybe update your facebook page every few days or week to continue to generate interest. It is like your blog, but only a much bigger audience. You only have 192 members on your blog, with facebook, you could have over 100K people seeing it. It is pretty self-driven.
      Meanwhile, good luck out there in Kalamazoo & best wishes,
      Joan

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  22. I believe I've seen THE thunderbird picture fairly recently, and may have downloaded it off the Internet.

    I will look for it in the very near future; and will report.

    Not a joke.

    ReplyDelete

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