Classic Mysteries—Alternate Perceptions Magazine, January 2021
Daniel Drasin: Memories of John Keel, UFOs, Mothman, and a possible materialization of a deceased friend of Keel’s
by: Brent Raynes
Our story begins back in the 1960s, with a young filmmaker named Daniel Drasin who was then living in downtown Manhattan, in the East Greenwich Village. One day in early 1967, he and a young girl friend of his took a subway to The Cloisters, a museum of medieval artifacts and history. From that location they had a great view across the Hudson River of the cliffs of the Palisades over on the New Jersey side.
It was a clear day. Then, unexpectedly, they noticed an oval-shaped object flying north in front of the cliffs. Suddenly it reversed direction without turning and without a moment’s hesitation. As a student pilot at that time Dan knew this was unconventional behavior for a normal aircraft.
A few days later a friend who Dan had mentioned his sighting to pointed out to him a notice in a local newspaper that an author named John Keel was going to give a talk on UFOs. So he attended and approached Keel with the details of his recent sighting.
Not long afterwards, Keel invited Dan to come down with him to West Virginia and check out the strange activity that was going on there. In total, Dan made four trips to Point Pleasant, initially with the intention of making a documentary film. “I met a lot of witnesses in Point Pleasant (most of whom are surely deceased by now), and collected a lot of information,” Dan recalled.
On one occasion, he was on a hill overlookimg Point Pleasant in the company of Keel and local newspaper reporter Mary Hyre. He recalled, “It was a sparkling clear day with a cloudless blue sky except for one peculiarly perfect little cloud that could have been lifted from a child’s storybook.” Then on the horizon there appeared an odd “fuzzy oval object” that approached and entered that cloud. They waited with eager anticipation for the UFO to re-emerge on the other side and when something did finally come out, much to their surprise, it was a small twin engine airplane “that looked and sounded perfectly real” and that flew over their heads. “That was quite a head scratcher,” he added. Keel also noted this particular incident in chapter 10 of his book The Mothman Prophecies.
There were other strange sights in the sky also during Dan’s time in West Virginia. “On one of my visits I carried a simple, silent 16mm movie camera (sound cameras were hard to come by then). On some nights I’d drive alone into the TNT area, never completely out of sight of the main highway, and sit on the hood of my car watching the sky. On one occasion, I saw a dim, diamond-shaped cluster of round, multicolored lights cross the sky, but my film wasn’t sensitive enough to capture them.” “One evening John and I saw a bunch of strobe-like light flashes in the sky, south of Point Pleasant, that seemed to come from nowhere. There was no aircraft that would have explained them.”
In one of Dan’s visits to Point Pleasant he was accompanied by John A. Osmundsen, Science Editor for the Public Broadcast Laboratory on Madison Avenue in New York City. Osmundsen was on board with Dan’s proposal to do a UFO documentary and even wrote a formal proposal for it on November 10, 1967. It was quickly slated for production but for some unknown reason funding, at the proverbial last minute, was pulled.
Ah my gosh, the significant stories and details that such a documentary would have preserved for us all of these years later. Such a shame it fell through. Though Dan was initially interested primarily in the UFO activity he soon became aware of the so-called “Mothman” activity as well. He recalled how one time he spoke with a private pilot in Ohio on the other side of the Ohio River who told him how he had seen something like this from the air. “After first mistaking it for a small plane he was astonished to find that it was some kind of huge flying creature,” Dan explained.
In October 1967, Dan took a walk out to the middle of the Silver Bridge that connected Point Pleasant to the Ohio side. He stated, “Frankly, it spooked me. The bridge was lightly built and had been designed to carry 1920’s traffic. But now it was the 1960s and the bridge was crowded with cars, trucks, and heavy semis, often bumper to bumper in the rush hours. The whole roadway kept bouncing up and down, unnervingly so that my curiosity was quickly satisfied and I was happy to sprint back to terra firma ASAP.” Dan, of course, had no way of knowing what terrible tragedy in a couple months would take the lives of 46 people due to metal fatigue and the failure of a single eyebar in the bridge’s suspension chain. But after it happened, Keel and Mary Hyre made some kind of sense of the strange dreams locals had been having, including Mary herself. They had suspected some sort of tragedy was going to happen on or along the Ohio River. “It’s the most terrible thing I’ve ever seen,” Keel quoted Mary telling him on the phone just a few hours afterwards [The Mothman Prophecies]. “But I was kind of prepared for it. You know those dreams I had…well, it was exactly like that. The packages floating in the water. The people crying for help. Those dreams came true.”
Dan became aware of all of the strange paranormal phenomena that Keel was coming upon in his quest. “Some weeks after my last visit to Point Pleasant, I was at home alone in my New York apartment, sitting at my desk,” he explained. “Suddenly, the air around me seemed to be filled with ‘sparkles.’ I can’t say whether or not I actually saw them with my eyes, but it felt as if I were taking a bath in soda water. It felt good – sort of tickled. This lasted maybe a half a minute, and then suddenly ended. A half-hour later the phone rang. It was Mabel Park McDaniel calling to let me know that Mary Hyre had passed away a half-hour earlier.”
“Mary, by the way, was profoundly psychic. When we first met, she immediately said she felt that we had some kind of connection – presumably in a previous life.”
In her Foreword to my book John A. Keel: The Man, The Myths, and the Ongoing Mysteries (2019), Rosemary Ellen Guiley, a leading figure in the UFO and paranormal field wrote: “Keel recognized that certain individuals were ‘wired’ differently from others and thus were more likely to encounter the strange beings and entities that exist in a netherworld on this planet. Keel never said that about himself, but I always thought that he too was one of those wired persons, for he had a great many paranormal experiences – and highly unusual ones, for he had a great many that happened to him while he was investigating the Mothman wave. From the getgo, Keel had an antenna tuned to the frequencies of parallel worlds, alternate realities and interdimensional realms.”
I couldn’t help but wonder if Dan himself was “wired” to some degree that way as well. “My work with John was part of a chain of influences that actually started in my early childhood, when I experienced many precognitive dreams and was fascinated by reports of UFO sightings,” he confessed. “During my teen years – the 1950s – I was a devoted listener to a late-night New York radio host named Long John Nebel, whose studio guests included many of the classic early UFO contactees, researchers, and authors of books on paranormal issues. Later I’d experienced a number of UFO sightings of my own, and in general became increasingly curious about what was going on behind the curtain of mainstream awareness. My interest in afterlife research began mainly with my exposure to the books of Robert Monroe, a businessman turned out-of-body explorer. My interest in EVP and ITC was sparked mainly from my meeting Mark Macy in Boulder, Colorado, where I lived for a few years in the early 1990s. At first I was quite skeptical about ITC, but was intrigued enough by that and other aspects of afterlife research to follow it up in the early 2000s by joining up with co-film-producer Tim Coleman. Together Tim and I traveled across the US and to England, Scotland and Spain, shooting several documentaries about afterlife research. In 2009, we went our separate ways, with Tim going on to complete his film The Afterlife Investigations (which centers on the Scole Experiment), and me finishing Calling Earth.”
Thanks to Dan, I learned of a thoroughly bizarre incident that he shared in part with Keel on the night that the Silver Bridge collapsed, on December 15, 1967, taking the lives of 46 people. Keel had kept this story out of The Mothman Prophecies. Now with Dan’s permission I am going to share the letter Keel wrote to him explaining the very strange incident that happened on that very date. (See attached)
That evening an old friend of Keel’s, a Joe Woodvine, a security officer with the New York City Transit Authority, showed up at Keel’s door. Keel hadn’t seen Joe in a few years. He had been best man at his wedding back in 1950. They had been quite close. [Dan met Joe briefly at Keel’s apartment and says what he remembers most about him was his heavy build and very firm handshake]. Then Keel and Joe spent a long evening together, catching up with each other and attending a UFO conference organized by Jim Moseley. Three years after that fateful evening, Keel wrote Dan a letter in which he said that he happened to run into Joe’s wife at Macy’s. He naturally asked how Joe was doing and she told Keel that he had died of a heart attack in July 1965, more than two years before Joe had visited him! “I argued that I had seen him in December 1967 and that she must be mistaken,” Keel wrote in his letter to Dan. “She was most indignant. How could she be mistaken about a thing like that? She was with him when he died. She went through the funeral and all. She insisted it happened in July 1965.”
“It looked like Joe, had Joe’s memories, was flesh and blood. But it couldn’t possibly have been Joe. Strange, too, that he turned up on what proved to be one of the most important days in my life. You met him. All the people at Moseley’s meeting saw him. I had to leave this out of The Mothman Prophecies for obvious technical reasons. It would have been anticlimactic. But this had kept me awake many, many nights.”