38.5 F
Wednesday, November 29, 2023
HomeOpinionColumnThe fringe of history

The fringe of history

By Jeremy D. Wells

Carter County Times

I’m a fairly skeptical person by nature. If I can’t see physical proof of it, or it isn’t explained to me in a way that makes sense, I can’t accept it. Things that are real leave evidence. Crashed aircraft leave wreckage. Malfeasance, neglect, and embezzlement leave paper trails. You can see where records don’t match. You can see a void when documentation has been destroyed. You can see evidence of work that was billed but isn’t done. You can see the effects, and measure the impact, of exposure to toxic chemicals (including pharmaceutical poisons).

All of these things leave evidence, and a trail that a researcher or journalist can follow. So I can believe in them, when that trail has been followed and the evidence holds out.

Journalism requires that kind of skepticism and scrutiny.

Because of this, when I share my interest in more esoteric topics – like UFOs, ghosts, and other night visitors – some folks are taken aback.

It doesn’t seem odd to me though, because while my job requires a healthy dose of skepticism, it also requires me to be open to possibilities.

Is the person complaining about corruption and duplicity simply a malcontent, who doesn’t understand how government works? Maybe. But not always. You have to look into it and see how it pans out.

When you take that approach with the unexplained what you’ll often find is, like with other stories, you don’t get that smoking gun evidence of the weird, but you do find something else interesting along the way. Something that might not give evidence of an alien civilization, or a channel to the land of the dead, but something that does give great insight into the human condition.

And, as the newest episode of Eli Watson’s Mysteries & Monsters series, “Mountain of God UFO Cult” shows us, it can also serve as an entry point to uncovering hidden bits of local history. The latest episode, currently available for free on the Small Town Monsters YouTube channel, takes a look at self-proclaimed UFO contactee Everett H. Lea.

Lea, as the title of the episode suggests, not only claimed to be a UFO contactee, but was the leader of a religious cult, the Olympian Society, that espoused ideologies that would come to be associated with the New Age religious movement, but which were extremely novel at the time.

But Lea, his Olympian Society, his writings, and the tunnels he and his followers dug into the hillside they dubbed Mt. Olympus – looking for Noah’s Ark and/or a mystical lost city – might have all been lost to history if it weren’t for a single letter found in the archives of the late Kenneth Arnold, and shared by his granddaughter with Vince Ynzunza, the organizer of a small town flying saucer festival in Chehalis, Washington.

Ynzunza’s research into that letter, penned just months after Arnold’s famous 1947 UFO sighting, would ultimately lead to an anecdote in a local historical society newsletter telling of the death of an unnamed cult member. That account would later by corroborated by a newspaper story – giving “Mr. Jones” a name for the first time in more than 80 years – and lead to further historical documentation, and eventually uncover the location of the cult’s compound.

It’s a fascinating look at the work and process of historical research, but as Watson astutely points out, it’s also a look at how one man dealt with the immense changes he’d seen over the course of his lifetime. Lea, who was already a grown man at the turn of the 20th century, saw his world change from one where no one had electricity, to one where there was a radio and television in nearly every home. His world changed from one where people used beasts of burden and the repeater rifle was the deadliest innovation in weaponry, to one where cities were redesigned around automobiles and airplanes flying through the sky could drop bombs that wiped out entire cities at once.

How people dealt with that change is just as important as the dates of the inventions and the names of the inventors. And that’s what looking at the unexplained, and the things people believe, can give us – if we care to look at it the right way.

Contact the writer at editor@cartercountytimes.com



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

%d bloggers like this: