Reality Checking—Alternate Perceptions Magazine, December 2022
Keel and Arlene Stadd, and saying goodbye to cryptozoologist Linda Godfrey
by: Brent Raynes
For my readers who enjoy stories and glimpses into the life of the late Fortean author John A. Keel, I suspect many will enjoy this.
In my book John A. Keel: The Man, The Myths, and the Ongoing Mysteries (2019), I mentioned a picture of Keel in Sweden from back in October 1976, when he was accompanied by a woman on the trip who appeared in the photo with Keel as he was cutting a cake. The photo was supplied to me by Hakan Blomqvist of Sweden's AFU (Archives for the Unexplained). I asked him who the woman was and Hakan didn't know, though Keel's good friend Doug Skinner in NYC speculated that it was Arlene Stadd, who Keel was seeing around that time. But no one was for sure.
I wrote in my book, "Stadd would have had things in common with Keel, as she was a longtime television writer and had written scripts for shows such as Hawaii 5-O and Love, American Style. He was planning to join her in Los Angeles in his later years, but before that could happen she died of a stroke on February 5, 2001, at age 70." (pg 56)
Mystery solved! Several months back, Hakan cleared things up for all of us. Turns out it was indeed Arlene Stadd. He came upon a letter in an archive file of Ake Franzen (who I mention in my book paid a couple of extensive visits to Point Pleasant, West Virginia, beginning in 1969).
Here's a letter she wrote to Ake shortly after their visit, dated February 21, 1977. Keel and her were living together in Woodstock, New York at the time. As you’ll see, the lives of authors are not always glamorous, though they do visit really cool places from time to time and possess very creative and determined talents and motivations. I know some of you are quite interested in John Keel as well and this letter gives us yet another interesting little glimpse into another portion of his life.
“Your letters are so warm and loving, they sound so much like you. When we get one, it gives us so much pleasure, I want to sit right down and answer. No, what I'd rather do is see you and your lovely smile, but this will have to do.
“We have had a series of misadventures in the houses we've lived in since returning from our trip. The first house was charming through the summer. But when winter came, we realized we couldn't heat it without robbing a bank. So we found another which was almost as charming, an old house set in the woods. We were there less than two months when one disaster after another struck. Mostly it was the water. Mostly it was no water. In four weeks, we were without water for twenty-one days. The pipes froze during this very bad winter and burst over and over again. The plumbers came and fixed first the cold-water pipes, then the hot water pipes, but they would no sooner mend them than they would freeze again. We had no water to drink, cook with, nor flush. We had heaters going day and night, aimed at the plumbing. Nothing helped. Finally, in desperation, we decided to leave once more. Now we're in a beautiful new house (with faultless plumbing) half way up a mountain, with sensational views of trees, mountains, and sunsets. After the work of moving, we're quite comfortable and hope to make some progress in our work.
“The only news of my play, ELEANOR, is that the lady from Zurich who wants to translate it, visited us in New York. She and I were instantly sympatico and I gave her full permission to go ahead. “John is going through a time of re-evaluating and sorting ideas inbetween the enormous waste of time involved in getting through the mechanics of living: houses, starting cars in below freezing weather, and so forth.
“We were interested in your account of your first seance. I imagine the only conclusion we can draw is that like so many things in parapsychology - who knows? And can there be any harm in honest, open-minded investigation?
“We were happy to see our pictures. They will always remind us of the wonderful hours with you and of John's first (and probably last) flying saucer cake. “After all these months, when I think of Sweden, I always picture the street in Stockholm across from NK, where the foreign press office is, looking toward the park. Then, in my mind, I remember other scenes - but that one is first. We seemed to spend a lot of time there, didn't we? “We live very quietly here in Woodstock, going into New York City once or twice a month to attend the theatre or conduct business. We have four cats. We started with two, but then two orphans came crying that they were hungry and cold, so they've joined the family. If you were here, you would go hiking down the mountain into the village - only forty-five minutes' walk, dear Ake - but only two or three miles, I suppose, for a mountain goat. I walked it one morning when my car was being repaired and John walked it when his wouldn't make it up after a snowstorm. It really is straight up (or down).
“I'm partial to England. Someday I'd like to spend a summer going around the countryside. Last summer, at any rate, it was quite a bit cheaper than Scandinavia. You must let us know your impressions of Stonehenge. Alas, we never got there.
“Please write again. I send you an ENORMOUS hug.”
Many in the field of cryptozoology are mourning the passing of one of their celebrated authors, best known for her research and investigations into the legendary Bray Road Beast of Wisconsin. The author, Linda Godfrey (March 20, 1951-November 27, 2022), died I learned from Parkinson’s. I first learned of her demise from a Facebook posting by Maine’s own noted cryptozoologist, who heads the International Cryptozoology Museum, Loren Coleman.
Linda Godfrey was a frequent guest at cryptozoological conferences, on national TV and radio shows, and the author of a good many books dealing with reports of strange creatures.