Encounters of the Unknown—Alternate Perceptions Magazine, February 2016
Brooksville, Florida: UFO/cryptid Window
by: Brent Raynes
(In Brooksville cave entrance)
(Ramona Clark leads us to cave site in search of possible Bigfoot evidence)
Some decades back, or somewhere along the line anyway, researchers of UFO, paranormal and cryptozoological anomalies that seemed to cluster in a certain geographical locality became named “windows.” I remember noted New York journalist John Keel as being a source for repeated references to this term in his various books and magazine articles. I believe that most of us began using it after seeing how he used it.
Although largely forgotten in today's venues for high-strangeness occurrences, Florida's small community of Brooksville played a major role back in the 1960s and 1970s when it came to places to investigate flying saucers and Bigfoot!
In late November 1973, I dropped in on local resident Eula Lewis. Eula had a chilling tale of how one day, a few years earlier (1966?), she was outside her home watering a tree when she heard a strange noise like static electricity, or like someone jumping around in dry leaves. It seemed to be coming from somewhere overhead. But apparently before she could really study it further she noticed a tall creature with broad shoulders covered with dark brown hair on the edge of her property. She ran for the door, making it there just as this creature reached the edge of her small porch.
Eula said that about three weeks later, she had a daughter-in-law who also saw a similar creature, and heard the “static” noise too.
As happens often in UFO encounter cases, Eula's home, she said, became besieged with poltergeist type activity it seemed. When it was time to go to bed and the lights would be turned off, she and her husband would hear an unexplained sound like a ping-pong ball rolling across a table and then bouncing on the floor. She also described how three playing cards had fallen out of a deck before her very eyes and did not show up till maybe 3-4 weeks later. They were all found in different place; one in another room.
Eula was also a strong believer in UFOs. “I saw my first three in the spring of 1942,” she had explained to me. “That was in southern Ohio, on the river. There was a lot of action in the early '50s there and I believe they tried to contact me, or did considerable observing at that time. It would take a book to tell all my sightings and those I have heard of.” Eula believed that when she was chased by the Bigfoot that the “static” noise she had heard was caused by a “saucer.”
Brooksville is best known in UFO circles for the John F. Reeves incident of March 2, 1965. Reeves, a retired 66-year-old former New York City Longshoreman, claimed that he was out simply taking a leisurely walk when he came upon a landed disc-shaped craft. Then he noticed a humanoid being, that he estimated at 5-foot-tall, wearing silver/grey colored canvas like clothing over its entire body, what appeared to be mittens, with a bowl-shaped helmet over its head. Its face looked human-like, with a very wide set pair of eyes and a very pointed chin. The being approached within about 15 feet of Reeves, then produced in one of its hands a small black object removed from somewhere on its left side, bringing the object up to its chin and sighting through it. Fearing for the worst, Reeves at this point took off running, and soon noticed a bright flash of light. He would then wonder if an ET had just taken his picture! Reeves paused for a moment and then with the being still standing in the same spot there was a second flash of light. Soon the figure returned to the craft, which initially rose with a roaring sound, soon followed by a whistling noise, and then in a few seconds was gone.
Cautiously, Reeves approached the area where the UFO and being had been, finding that the craft's landing gear had made deep impressions in the sand and that there were a lot of odd figure-eight shaped footprints too. In addition, he came upon a tightly rolled up sheaf of tissue thin paper, which he found upon unrolling contained two sheets of paper with unusual writing on them. The Air Force became involved, and the next day he handed them the papers. A couple of months later the Air Force would return the papers, although Reeves would insist that what he got back from them was not the originals. They would also level the charge that his story was simply a hoax.
Reeves's story over the years evolved into more incredible stories of alien interaction, which included space flights! “This last trip that I made on October 5, 1970 to this planet Monikeya; it is thirty-two thousand miles around it,” Reeves wrote me in a letter dated July 14, 1971. “Its population is between twelve and fifteen billion people. It took us two days to go there. I brought back the flag and a cure for cancer. The laboratories are working on this now. I also went to the moon back on August 6, 1968, in a space ship. There are people on the other side of the moon. I counted 17 or 18 of them as we flew over a field. We stopped on this side of the moon. It only took us six hours to go to the moon from this earth.” While I was in town in November 1973, I also visited Reeves at his modest litte home, which had become quite a local tourist attraction of sorts. People would pull over to the side of the highway or into his driveway and he'd cheerily greet everyone and tell them his stories. They'd walk around in his yard and look at the monument he had made to honor the space people, which bore globes on slender posts as I recall, representing different planetary bodies that he had allegedly visited in his space travels. He also, toward the back, he had built a full sized wooden replica of the flying saucer he had encountered back in 1965. It had been hurricane damaged, but what it was built to represent was still quite obvious.
A lot of people were quite fascinated by the stories Reeves told, and in the beginning some impressive folks took a serious interest in his situation. “I believe Mr. Reeves's story,” Martin Griffin, Ph.D., of the University of Tampa wrote to a close colleague of mine. “Friends of his brought him to me originally to attempt to determine the validity of his experience and to determine whether or not he could have been hypnotized into believing he saw 'little green men.' Under hypnosis I satisfied myself that he had not had past hypnotic suggestions, that he had NOT been hallucinating, and that the circumstantiality of his recall under hypnosis appeared to validate his story. At a later date, at least one year, a colleague of mine, Dr. Marrin Webb, Chief Psychologist, Bay Pines Veterans Hospital, in complete ignorance of his visit to me, repeated the test under hypnosis and was also convinced of the warranty of Mr. Reeves.”
“Additionally, Mr. Reeves brought with him, at the time of his conference with us, a model of the flying saucer which he had made. It seemed to me to have had tremendous authenticity and to be an actual reproduction of something he had seen.”
Soon after his initial encounter, Reeves also submitted to a lie-detector test and the examiner, a Mr. E. J. Edwards, concluded that Reeves wasn't guilty of any deception and that he had been truthful in his answers to the questions he had been given.
In 1974, my friend Ramona Clark (described in my Reality Checking column in the January issue) had left her husband, who was in the Navy, to be with a fellow investigator and experiencer in Brooksville. [The work that Ramona would come to do in the Bigfoot field is mentioned in an abbreviated reference in Loren Coleman and Jerome Clark's Cryptozoology A to Z (1999)] As I recall, in the beginning Ramona didn't think that the overlap she had found with UFO/paranormal phenomena would apply to the Bigfoot matter. I believe that she initially felt that here was something truly physical and not so complicated.
When Ramona moved to Brooksville she had her a new home and a base of operations for investigating many new and perplexing accounts. Plus I had a place to visit, get the latest information, join her and her new husband Duane on field trips, sometimes spending the night.
It wasn't long before the reports came flowing in. On October 22, 1974, Ramona wrote me: “Yeti reports from TWO TRAILERS DOWN from us last Sunday night...Wow! Banging on trailer and weird sounds...no prints in the yard.” One very close encounter, on November 9, 1974, just five miles from her home, came in of a black haired upright creature, estimated at 8 foot tall and weighing at an estimate of approximately 400 pounds. A terrified young couple had been going down the Weeki Wachee River in an aluminum canoe and had stopped along the river bank for a little “petting.” Then the man looked up, into the eyes of this creature that had a gorilla like face and huge hands, “the size of note book paper,” I was informed. For several minutes the man allegedly starred into the eyes of this being. The girl became hysterical. The couple then ran off, leaving their canoe behind. When they came back later, it had a hole knocked out of the bottom of it.
I had visited Ramona and Duane a few weeks earlier, on October 13th and 14th. They had been, for several months, staked out at an area location known as the Kelly Ranch, where a lot of Bigfoot type activity had been reported. One night at approximately 11 p.m., around August 1974, Duane was out around the front of the ranch when he stepped out of his pick-up truck and observed a silent craft that he estimated was about 60 feet overhead, moving very slowly. He estimated that it was about 100 feet in diameter, with lighted square windows that were about 20 feet across. Also during my visit, Ramona showed me a location near the Kelly ranch, as we were driving down a two lane Route 491, where she said a “big ball” of light flew down from the west, seemed to hit the road in front of her about 200 feet away, and then shot straight up. There was swamp on both sides of the road.
Ramona and Duane's stake out at the Kelly Ranch had paid off. At approximately 10 p.m., on February 15th, 1974, she was alone in a wooded area, near a small pond, when, at a distance of about 45-55 feet, she saw a 7-8 foot tall erect walking creature with dark brown hair, that appeared to be 4 inches in length. Its arms and legs were long and muscular looking. She had a side view of it. The creature's head she said had a pointed “dome shape” to it, adding that the “back of the skull was flat,” and that it had a “pointed chin or beard.” She did not see the eyes. Afterwards, a 19 inch footprint with five toes was found nearby. Then the following month, on March 11th, at about 9:45 p.m., both Ramona and Duane encountered “several creatures in the area of a garbage pile.” Kneeling on their hands and knees, making “smacking, sucking sounds” and “chatter and clicks,” with short dark and light brown hair on their bodies, leathery faces, with sunken eye sockets, thin lips, fangs, a pointed chin, pointed head, and pointed ears. They appeared rather frail looking with long arms. In both incidents, the investigators described being hit by a sudden wave of fear. Ramona and Duane had been an estimated 30 feet from the creatures.
By late March, 1975, Ramona was notifying me of activity she was investigating around Green Swamp in Polk County, near Lakeland. “I interviewed a lot of people that have seen these creatures,” Ramona wrote me. “There is something very odd going on. A Mrs. Rawlenson of Ridgerock Road saw the being in the back of her place. She describes it as 'some sort of Indian.' She explained he was running, 'faster than a horse,' and had 'long flowing hair.' He was bent over while running.”
“Several people believe the 'monster' to be some kind of an INDIAN. The reports are that the game biologist is searching for it. One young boy claims to have been knocked off his motorcycle by the monster on a dirt road in the same area. It was carrying an armload of dry corn!”
In August 1975, I again dropped in on Ramona and Duane and caught up on the latest developments. Around the third week in May, at about 3 a.m., Duane saw an incredibly large bird. For about a week prior, something had been killing two or three ducks each night. They had speculated that perhaps a possum was responsible. But on this particular early morning, Ramona had heard a commotion among the ducks. Duane grabbed a flashlight and ventured outside to investigate. He shined the light on the ground to see where he was stepping. Then looking up he saw a light colored bird flying in from the east. What made this sight so extraordinary was that this bird had what Duane estimated was a 20 foot wingspan, from wingtip to wingtip. It came within what Duane estimated was 20 feet of the ground, with suddenly it changed course and soared out over an auto junkyard off towards the north. He felt that he had observed its flight over about a 300 foot distance, during which time it did not flap or flutter its wings once. He had turned off his flashlight right after he had initially noticed it, and so he thought that perhaps it had intended to land but didn't because it had seen his flashlight beam on the ground. After that sighting, no more ducks were killed.
UFOs often seemed plentiful around Brooksville. “Duane and I saw a huge UFO off Highway 75 coming back from St. Pete about six weeks ago,” Ramona wrote back around December 1976. “It was cigar shaped and a real monster! We also saw one near the Kelly ranch about a week before that. It appeared to be landed in a pasture. Was big as a house.”
May 1977 turned out to be an explosive time for Ramona and Duane. A town known as Nobleton became a hot spot for all sorts of high-strangeness. For weeks “silver disks” were reported in the sky. A 7 foot tall lizard like creature was seen by a man as it crossed a road. It appeared to be a mix of grey/green, had a long tail, was “sort of humped over” and had a head resembling an alligator. Plus its eyes were red, seemingly reflective. In addition, birds with reported 15-20 foot wing spans were seen (one with just an 8 foot span...tsk, tsk). No feathers, “skin like leather,” with large beaks, long legs, and large feet. They reportedly flew as if in slow motion. Bigfoot was also on the prowl. In fact, Ramona noted that during one Bigfoot type incident on the night of May 13th, that there were also reported “strange electronic beeping” sounds and a metallic “cricket like” noise.
The giant bird sightings seemed concentrated over an orange grove. “Do you remember the young boy who was burned by a UFO, late 60's?” Ramona asked me. “This is the same orange grove! I spoke with the boy again. He's now a teenager. Has had no more experiences, but still 'quivers' when he talks about it.” Ramona found that a lot of people had been seeing UFOs back then in that area.
As John Keel used to say, “The game is afoot,” and what game it is! Or, should I say, what a game it is, for Keel perceived it as a mind game of sorts being perpetrated by earth-based intelligences he called “ultraterrestrials,” entities who manipulated the electromagnetic spectrum; what occultists long have called “elementals.”