Unconventional Conventions – John Keel 1966

John Keel is regarded by many as a pioneer in the field of Fortean studies. He popularized, and indeed may have created, the terms “Men In Black” and “Ultraterrestrials” but Keel is most well-known as the main researcher and investigator of the Mothman experiences. He wrote a number of books including The Mothman Prophecies, Disneyland of the Gods, Our Haunted Planet and Jadoo. He challenged the commonly held belief that flying Saucers, cryptozoology and hauntings were unique and separate experiences. In an interview Keel stated that,”The objects and apparitions do not necessarily originate on another planet and may not even exist as permanent constructions of matter. It is more likely that we see what we want to see and interpret such visions according to our contemporary beliefs.”
Without Keel the “paranormal community” would be lacking in much of its insight and humor.

Here for you enjoyment is a lecture by John Keel recorded during a UFO convention in 1966.
John Keel, UFO Convention 1966

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8 Ideas for National Paranormal Holidays

There are, of course, thousands of incidents I could have chosen for these holiday ideas, but I’ve tried to pick events which are not state specific and span across much of, if not all of, the United States. Some of these proposed holidays are serious, some are not, any of them would be great!

8. June 24, 1947 – Flying Saucer Day
In celebration of Kenneth Arnold’s report of seeing 9 strange flying objects, erroneously reported as “saucers” near Mount Rainer in Washington state and sparking a massive flap of UFO sightings.

7. July 8, 1947 – UFO day
Although the Roswell incident may have occurred on June 14, 1947, on this day in July The Roswell Daily Record reported that the RAAF had captured a “Flying Saucer”. Added to the sighting by Kenneth Arnold earlier in June of 1947 this has become a defining moment in UFOlore.

6. October 20, 1967 - Bigfoot Day
It was sometime in the afternoon on this day when Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin shot the most famous and controversial footage of a large unknown crypid. The footage to this day stirs debate about the existence of a large, as of yet, undiscovered upright-walking primate. Although reports of “Bigfoot” type creatures go back centuries this was an earth-shaking moment in cryptozoological research.

5. March 31, 1848 – Splitfoot Day
Although there are many and varying accounts of what actually happened with the spirit “rappings” that took place in the home of the Fox sisters, it cannot be denied that their story influenced the wave of spiritualism which had been growing in the United States. The spirit “Mr. Splitfoot” (the Devil) was allegedly the creator of the sounds the girls heard, and although in later years the girls admitted to some hoaxing, there can be no doubt that they left a firm impression on Americans’ social awareness of a psychical world.

4. October 5, 1967 – Cattle Day
On this day the Associated Press ran a story about the cattle mutilations happening in and around Colorado. Although strange happenings have been reported for decades, this story sparked the nation’s collective imagination and so began the wave of cattle/livestock mutilations that are reported to continue to this day. Everything from UFO’s and secret government projects to simple animal attacks have been proposed as explanations. Many people even believe it to be one of the strangest phenomena to continually occur in the United States. Plus we should honor all those poor cows.

3. September 19–20, 1961 – Abductee Day
The reported contact and or abduction of people by so-called extraterrestrials has been reported for decades, but on the night of September 19, 1967 the experiences of Betty & Barney Hill awoke the nation’s interest in the abduction phenomena. Though the events of that night remain controversial and are ascribed by many as being due to lack of sleep, stress, and false memories ‘recovered’ under hypnosis, the influence of the Hills on our nation’s psyche remains to this day.

2. July 1856 – Mad Scientist Month
Although the world has experienced thousands of “Mad Scientists” over the centuries, none have influenced the paranormal community as much as Nikola Tesla. To this day Tesla is associated with everything from Death Rays to The 1908 Tunguska event in Russia, conspiracy theorists associate his work with the H.A.A.R.P. program as well as free energy theories, and some even believe that Mr. Tesla was not from Earth!

1. September 22, 1692 – Remembrance Day
Although the dates of those murdered during the Witch Trials are many, it was on September 22 that the so-called “8 firebrands of Hell” were hanged for allegedly practicing witchcraft. Unarguably, this is one of the most outrageous events in American history, when the lives of innocents where carelessly lost due to the ineptitude and close-mindedness of people in power. The day, like many unfortunate others, is a remembrance of what can happen when religious fervor overtakes rational thinking.

Big Toe and The Whatzit

Every state seems to have its mysterious creatures but where most people only know the big names in the cryptid world, Mothman, Bigfoot, Jersey Devil, etc., there are also local legends and lore that the residents seem to keep to themselves. Michigan has had its share of Bigfoot sightings, some say we even have a Dogman and a devilish little red imp but most people have never heard of two of the strangest creatures which may inhabit the Great Lakes, I’m talking about The Whatzit and Big Toe.

In the late 1950′s in a suburb of Detroit the first sightings of The Whatzit were made. Residents of the cities of Royal Oak and Berkley, Michigan told stories to their friends and neighbors of seeing a large rat-like creature that walked upright. William Liberman of Huntington Woods said the creature attacked his dog and during the fight “leaped over the fence of the backyard” and vanished into the night. The Whatzit was said to have enormous ears and a long tail. Over the course of three weeks it was spotted by numerous witnesses but only at night. Tales of The Whatzit reached a fever pitch when finally the Huntington Woods police department actually caught the strange creature. One officer, James T. Mavis, thought the strange animal was a type of Chinchilla although he also stated that the only chinchilla he had ever seen was in an encyclopedia. The police department fed The Whatzit dog food while they waited for a staff member from the Detroit Zoo to arrive and reveal what exactly The Whatzit was. A zoologist arrived later in the day and could not immediately identify the creature, possession of The Whatzit was turned over to the Detroit Zoo and strangely, that is where the story ends. No mention of The Whatzit occurs in any other newspaper accounts after the creature was taken in for examination. So what was The Whatzit?

Throughout the 1970′s and into the late 1980′s there was a large human-like creature/being that stalked the upper portions of Michigan. Although most people would lump the tales together, picking and choosing information to make it fit traditional Bigfoot sightings, there were a number that seemed to describe something that was indeed not Bigfoot but what has come to be called Big Toe.

The first documented sighting comes from the Antserton brothers who were hunting in Grayling, Michigan in September of 1973. After an unsuccessful day of deer hunting the two brother decided to sleep in their tree-blind. The older of the two brothers was awoken by a “large dull pop sound and a bright flash of light.” He roused his brother and explained that he had heard “something like a dull boom” they discussed if a tree might have fallen somewhere close by and if the flash of light had been an electrical storm. Just then they noticed on the ground, through the trees, illuminated by the moonlight a large man walking around the rye clearing which their tree-blind overlooked. The man seemed to be immensely tall, “between 7 to 8 feet” with “long hair on his head that reached past his shoulders.” As the man moved out of the brush and into the rye clearing the brothers could now see that although the man seemed to be shirtless it did look as though he was wearing some kind of pants. He was not covered totally in hair but it did seem that his arms and head were covered in long unkempt hair or fur. The also noticed that, “There were like wide-silver bracelets on his upper arms, or something that would reflect like, whatever they were sparkled in the moonlight.” One of the brothers shifted his position in the tree-blind and when the sound of his movement alerted the strange being on the ground to their presence. A second later there was another large dull “pop” sound and a flash of light and the man-thing was gone. The brothers stayed awake until sunrise, about 2 hours later, and finally came down from the blind to check out the area where the being had been seen. The only evidence they found were a few large footprints in the soil. They were much larger than a normal man’s footprints between 15 and 17 inches and the prints revealed a very deep heel prints and one giant toe. The brothers didn’t speak to anyone but their families of this story for years and when they finally did talk to a newpaper in 1975 the reporter who finally wrote down their tale manipulated it to fit the popular “sasquatch” legends of the time.

Big Toe encounters around Michigan can be found by looking more deeply into the “Bigfoot” reports which came out of the area in the 1970′s and 80′s. The creature/man/being is always described as wearing some sort of clothing but partial nude. Long hair on the head and back of the hands but not completely covered with hair. There is very commonly a flash of light or a thudding sound associated with the creature’s appearance and disappearance. And, of course there are the strange large footprints with a deep heel imprint and one large single toe.

Was the Whatzit just a normal creature and so once discovered was no longer newsworthy? Is Big Toe just a whacked out giant toed hippy doing magic tricks in the vast Michigan’s forest? One thing is certain Michigan’s strange beings are stranger than just Bigfoot and the Nain Rouge.