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Interview-Alternate Perceptions Magazine, January 2016


An Interview with:
Steve Ward:
Keel, Mothman, and One Man’s Ufological Journey
Part 4

by: Brent Raynes





Boyd and I were sharing rent on an apartment in a northern suburb of Detroit in the mid '70's. We were immersed in UFO literature and were huge fans of John Keel's writings. We even took a few excursions down to Monroe, Michigan to look for Bigfoot. About a decade earlier people had reported something "big and terrible" stalking SE lower Michigan. Our search for the hairy beast was pretty much tongue in cheek and more of an excuse for a road trip than any serious investigation. Our expeditions were completely unsuccessful and the Monroe Monster remained hidden from sight.

One night, Boyd came back to the apartment and described an odd encounter that he just had. He was at a gas station and he noticed a black late model car parked nearby. There was a gentleman in the car dressed in dark clothing and wearing a fedora. From his vantage point, Boyd couldn't make out facial features of the man, but whoever this character was, he was starring directly at him without breaking eye contact. Having read Keel's articles on the dreaded Men in Black, he wondered (not too seriously) if this strange person was a member of that fraternity. Of course, somebody starring at you from a car in the Detroit area at night probably wouldn't work out to an encounter with the UFO silencers. In fact if that didn't happen once in a while, then you probably weren't in Detroit.

Around that same time, during a phone conversation, I started hearing several intermittent beeps through the receiver with no indication of it's source. The incident sounded somewhat similar to what some UFO investigators had reported that they had experienced in the way of unexplained telephone interference. I assumed that it was just a technical glitch. Neither of us really believed that either incident, the creep in the car or the phone interference, was anything out of the world of John Keel. --- that is until Boyd overheard some of his coworkers talking about the two strange individuals that came into the store where he was employed.

Boyd at that time worked for a chain of stores that had "Expedition Outfitter" in it's title. One day, he returned to his workplace after his lunch break and caught part of a conversation that some of the employees were having. It seemed that two people dressed in Air Force uniforms had come in the store and purchased a bunch of camping equipment. Boyd joined the conversation and started asking questions. According to their description, the hair of the Air Force duo seemed a little longish and probably not regulation for the military. When he asked what their facial features looked like he really got a shock. He was told that they both appeared to have Asian features --- exactly the same type of description that Keel had uncovered in so many of the MIB cases that he had investigated. Keel found that often the person that had an MIB encounter would describe the individual as having something similar to Asian features, but they didn't think that they were necessarily Asian. Sometimes other characteristics like a darker skin tone would tend to suggest something else.

In one of Keel's lectures from the '80's, he spent a lot of time discussing the Men in Black. He said that back when he was busy investigating many of those type of cases, he carried photos of a variety of different ethnic groups in his briefcase. When a witness described an MIB type encounter, he would have them go through the photos and see if any resembled the individual that they were encountering. Keel said (to his surprise) the most common photo that the witnesses would single out was the one of a Laplander -- the Sami people of Northern Europe. Keel had no explanation. Of course, he wasn't suggesting that they were actually Laplanders. It was just as close as the witnesses got to some kind of uniform description of these strange denizens of the shadowy world of UFO's.

Also it should be noted that Keel used the term "MIB" as a generic term. These characters weren't necessarily dressed in dark clothing with old style fedoras. Sometimes they were clothed in military uniforms or other more common street clothes. It was their odd behavior that put them in a category by themselves. There was the officer that tried to drink Jell-O for example -- or Mr. Jack Brown who was fascinated by a ball point pen. Some of them would carry on pointless conversations or seem to have trouble controlling their motor functions. In some cases they would tell the UFO investigator or witness to stop investigating UFO's even if the sighting or the information that the investigator had was of little consequence.

Nick Redfern, who has written three books on the Men in Black and who has collected many declassified documents through "freedom of information" said on a radio show recently that back in the '50's and '60's many witnesses were reporting the "odd" type of MIB complete with the unusual features and strange behavior and blaming the government for the intrusion. According to Redfern, the various alphabet agencies were blaming each other for the harassment when in fact it appeared that none of them were responsible. Something else was going on.

If course, it was possible that Boyd was being hoaxed by his coworkers since he didn't witness any of this himself. While MIB lore wasn't well known at the time, they may have learned enough to pull it off depending on how much he may have talked openly about Keel's writings and MIB activity. --- Or maybe the two customers were simply just Air Force officers in desperate need of haircuts.

I have never experienced anything that would come under the heading of a "Man in Black" type encounter. Maybe the "UFO Silencers" figure that I am so far off track from uncovering the truth behind flying saucers that they don't need to bother with me -- or maybe they have suffered too many cutbacks with the state of the economy and they just don't have the staff to go around badgering every UFO investigator that saves newspaper clippings and watches reruns of "UFO Hunters."

I'm going to return now to the present day because I interviewed a lady fairly recently about her MIB experience. This was at a Michigan MUFON meeting in Flint. Michigan MUFON is headed by Bill Konkolesky who is an abductee and has chronicled his experiences in his book, "Experiencer: Raised in Two Worlds." I have spoken to Bill several times and he is well aware that the UFO enigma comprises much more that just "ET" coming to visit. He is also familiar with the writings and research of John Keel. Bill has done an excellent job in running the Michigan chapter of the MUFON organization.

Before the meetings start, there is plenty of time to talk to other attendees about all things UFO/ paranormal and share ideas and experiences. An older lady I will call Mrs. Findley was sitting at my table at one meeting in particular along with several others and the subject of MIB's came up. She asked me if I was interested in hearing about her Man in Black encounter. Of course, I was and she launched into one of the strangest MIB stories I have ever come across. While it had some similarities to other classic MIB experiences, this one stands alone.

It was back in the mid 1960's. She and her husband had just recently gotten married and they were in the Las Vegas area. They were hitchhiking to their destination and they were picked up by two men in a large black car. Mrs. Findley didn't know the make of the car. The men were dressed in classic Man in Black attire complete with black suits and black fedoras. When I asked her about their facial features she said that they just looked "normal' --- there wasn't anything different about the way the two men looked as has been reported in many other cases such as Keel had chronicled in his writings or encounters such as the one Dr. Hopkins experienced where the MIB's movements were almost robotic and his facial features were hairless and manikin-like.. .

One thing that was different about the vehicle they were riding in was that the dashboard was very unconventional and had all kinds of lights on it. Some of the lights were continuously flashing. Mrs. Findley had never seen anything like it before. I asked her some questions to see how much general knowledge she had regarding MIB lore. She seemed unaware for the most part, of the writings of Gray Barker and John Keel. In "The Mothman Prophecies" Keel describes an incident where a lady who had claimed to be in contact with an entity named Mr. Apol was given a ride in his black Cadillac which reportedly had a dashboard with an array of bright flashing lights.

The strangers took them to their destination and when they stopped the car the driver recommended that they not leave right away, but that they should wait a while. Mrs. Findley said that they both found themselves falling asleep in their seats. When they woke up they didn't know for how long they had been unconscious. They departed and thanked their strange hosts for the ride and walked off to find a motel. They eventually found accommodations and went to check in. The proprietor who was standing behind the counter looked at them with a shocked expression on his face. He explained to them that the police had just arrested two people that had robbed a convenience store nearby. The perpetrators he told them, looked very much like they did. If they had shown up any earlier they could well have been mistaken for the thieves and may have been arrested for something that they had nothing to do with.

Mrs. Findley told me her story in a very straightforward manner with no embellishments. She certainly didn't appear to be the type to spin a tale just for the fun of it and as I mentioned before, her knowledge of reports of alleged MIB experiences seemed to be limited. It was a MIB story with a twist.

We have all heard stories about people who have said that they have had encounters with angels. Someone will have been in great danger and suddenly a stranger shows up and intervenes in the situation to the point where the person or persons are lifted out of the desperate situation. The mysterious individual then vanishes leaving no trace and is assumed to be an angel. Mrs. Findley's experience fits the "angelic intervention" category like a glove --- except central casting seems to have issued her two benefactors the wrong costumes. The Men in Black performing good deeds? Those guys might get their charter revoked.

I have already mentioned my second solo excursion into the TNT area (where nothing paranormal occurred) which lies a half a dozen miles North of Point Pleasant and was home to many of the early sightings of the Mothman. My first venture into the TNT alone resulted in one of the few strange -- maybe even paranormal experiences that I have ever had. It was shortly after one of the concrete storage bunkers or "igloos" blew up late one night in May, 2010. My friends John and Tim Frick were in Point Pleasant that same night and they happened to be on the very same igloo road where the explosion occurred. Fortunately, they had called it an early night and missed the fireworks by a few hours. The next morning, when they woke up at the Lowe Hotel, Rush, the owner, told them what had happened.

Many of the igloos had been sold to private interests and that igloo was one of them. I met John and Tim down there about a week later to see the destruction. The damaged igloo was located further South down road number 7 than we normally traveled and down past the creek. The concrete top had completely blown off and the metal doors had blown out toward the pond. The ATF was called in to investigate and supposedly about 20,000 pounds of explosives were involved - some of which were unstable. I was never sure from the report if these explosives were still remnants of stuff stored there from WW2 or if it originated from something more recent.

After The Frick brothers headed home that evening I decided that I wanted to see what it would be like to go in there alone. I waited until dark and drove out Route 62 to Potters Creek Road. I parked my car at igloo road # 7 and headed for the second igloo on the path. This was late May so the sounds from the wildlife were almost deafening. Frogs and a myriad of hidden critters made a lot more noise than I was accustomed to as I had never been out there at that time of year. It's a creepy place in the daytime -- at night it's really creepy. My plan was to get in and get out --- just I guess to say that I had braved the TNT alone at night. For all I knew, I might actually have a paranormal encounter as others have had out there --- as unlikely as that might be.

Nothing happened. That is until I headed back to my motel. On the way back down route 62 on a very dark stretch of road still several miles from the city limits I experienced a couple of bright flashes as if a strobe light went off two times in quick succession. I wasn't blinded, but whatever the light source, it completely blocked out my entire field of view for a fraction of a second each time. I was unable to determine where the flashes originated from. I should have tried to be more aware as to exactly where I was on the road so I could retrace my steps the next day to see if I could figure out if the source of the light had a mundane explanation. There is a coal plant across the river in Ohio that has some flashing lights high atop some of the smoke stacks, but they were definitely not the cause of what I had seen. It was when I got back to the motel across the river that things got really weird.

As I arrived at the motel and walked through the door to my room the TV set came on all by itself --- and that wasn't all. The television had started running through all its channels continuously without any help from me or a remote control. That was weird. As I have mentioned before, this kind of stuff doesn't happen to me. It happens to other people and then I read about their experiences. I'm never the guy that says, "you want to hear what happened to me?" I checked the clock in the room hoping that "missing time" wasn't going to be another item that I could add to my list of new experiences. At the time, I was satisfied that little time had passed and I hadn't been spirited away to Lanulos or a passing Mother Ship......

Looking back I did everything wrong. I didn't take note of where I was on the road when the flashes occurred. I didn't bother to check the TV remote to see if any buttons were stuck or try to find a logical explanation for why the set was operating the way it did. I should have written down everything that happened and noted the time that everything happened. If I'd had a paranormal investigator card it would have been suspended. Some people have suggested that something truly paranormal did happen. That might explain why some of the details are a little fuzzy and why I didn't pursue some of the logical steps as the experience was unfolding to try to figure out what was going on. It was also suggested that I may have brought something back with me to the motel from the haunted TNT area. If I did, he's still flipping channels because nothing ever made the trip home with me --- as far as I know.

As the TV was rotating through it's entire selection of channels I thought of the movie "Poltergeist." Toward the end of the film after the family's house had been sucked into a vortex and they have fled their subdivision to seek refuge in a motel (which looked a lot like the one I was in) Craig T. Nelson grabs the TV and pushes it out on the balcony and shuts the door. I decided that I didn't need to be quite that extreme but I also didn't want to deal with a "possessed" television set either so I unplugged the damn thing and went to sleep. It was a quiet night.

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Wednesday, December 08, 2021