Saturday, April 27, 2019

That "Flatwoods Monster" ... 3 of 3

Something "Happened"?
It's happening.
It will continue to happen...
"We" happened... so! We're not alone.
We are not alone and them not being here
because we can't get there...
Is pretty weak tea.

That "Flatwoods Monster"  
... 3 of 3
by Alfred Lehmberg

At that moment of the portrait's startling reveal, history was barely if indelibly made as a shocked American public gasped at the sight of the "Green Monster of Braxton County " on their nascent television sets for the first time! Too searing to last apparently... eh? 

The oddly penultimate Flatwoods program is barely referred to in concerted research... and the signature "monster" segment of it not at all... It did happen, reader. It did. Happen. There is too much reportage of the event for it not to have happened. What happens...  remember, continues to happen.

Verily, the artist's rendering was "a lie telling a truth," but real tragedy on further investigation, reader. It was a foolish TV rendition facilitating naught but cheap-shots for the "effects" they encourage, echoing decades, from in the beginning... and to this very day. 

Chief among these "shots" are the regretted memories of collateral damages suffered. Consider the unreturning and forgotten pilots lost engaging those UFOs... their families... and THEN think through the wounded pride and sensibilities of the betrayed persons involved with the Flatwoods affair extant. We arrive finally to the ongoing disgrace of a media continuing to misinform us today!

Still reader, the "monster" was seen for the first time, after a fashion, during that broadcast 63 years ago and remains in the public imagination—even apart from Feschino's efforts to make the story known himself—today!  Sadly, then as sometimes even now but for Feschino's valiant efforts, the "Monster" was incorrectly portrayed by the sketch artist, this writer is compelled to reiterate to the reader. How?

No... just, no... and thanks, History Channel!
We flashback to an intrepid first responder! During Feschino's videotaping with the former reporter Stewart, Stewart held up a reproduction of the 1952 drawing, telling Feschino:

"The picture in question that always seems to be in a lot of the articles that've been seen is the one right here. The artist at We the People drew that in New York on the actual day we were there. In fact, it was the focal point of the entire show. They started interviewing Mrs. May, and then went to Lemon, which was all a question-and-answer situation. They gave me the opportunity of summarizing the thing [story] in general and then again finished with this particular picture. That was basically the entire program."

Kathleen May with drawing 
Stewart alludes to...
Mrs. May told Feschino the following about her interview on TV, "They asked me if I knew what it was—you know [pauses] and Lord I didn't know... I had no idea. I know it wasn't an airplane. That's the only thing I'd seen in the sky besides a kite."

Now reader, let's fast forward to Feschino's investigation and explain his work and findings regarding the witnesses with which he'd toiled for all these years... until their deaths, verily. Remember, Feschino is a trained illustrator who graduated with a four-year fine arts diploma in illustration from the prestigious Paier School of Art in Hamden, Connecticut.

Frank's training is not to be taken lightly as he was coached by some of the best artists and illustrators in the world, including Kenneth Davies, Rudolph Zallinger, and John Massimino. Let this writer proclaim that it was Feschino who sat with the witnesses and talked for countless hours, questioned them, and otherwise interviewed them about their lurid close encounter.  Most importantly reader, Feschino also sat with them and drew police-style forensic drawings of the "monster" from their descriptions... their correct recollections!

Subsequently, from his drawings and sketches, Feschino made comprehensive and detailed studies of the "monster," later composing detailed paintings from them. His due diligence, tireless investigation, and talented illustrations result in an informed perspicaciousness several orders of magnitude ahead of the artist from the We the People program... who too quickly hashed out an incorrect drawing depicting the 12-foot-tall giant as a claw waving "monster" inexplicably floating and wearing a skirt from the '50s.  That's "built-in" deniability, reader! ...Happens a lot. I won't digress but the reader may have... imagination.

Is this picture resolving yet? At this time, we do not know the name of the artist, but we know he didn't get it right

Off the set with the witnesses maybe the artist was rushed and under pressure to finish the drawing prematurely. Maybe he was instructed by the producers to make it look like a scarier monster for impact effect... or maybe he just totally had misunderstood the witnesses during the pre-talk interview. I point out in preceding articles in this series above how unlikely all that seems given he must have had some foreknowledge by way of the existing print reportage...  Regardless of the reason, the drawing was not portrayed correctly and it almost stuck... to the significant chagrin of principal persons... who?

...Ask the families of 2nd Lt. Jones and 2nd Lt. Del Curto, two USAF jet fighter airmen who vanished during 21-plus hours of continuous UFO activity on September 12th, the night of the "monster" encounter in Flatwoods, to begin to appreciate the enormity of this, even if innocent, error.

These were men launched into anxious flight
 with shoot-down orders, at night and 
in bad weather, during roughly 24 hours 
of continuous UFO activity all over the
United States, but specifically in the region in which
they were operating.  They were never seen again. 

This writer is a retired Master Military Aviator who flew 
in combat and reports that 
this is consummate bravery! 

Author/illustrator Feschino concludes, "When Mrs. May and the boys encountered the 'Flatwoods Monster' on the Fisher Farm on September 12, 1952, an alien being may have been inside of a large hovering probe or encounter suit, making it the reported twelve feet tall. The height of the figure witnessed was gauged by a tree branch under which it was seen. This mechanical, metallic-like hover-craft was more likely a shell with a propulsion system located at the lower torso. The color of the upper and lower torso areas was described as looking like the color of aluminum." One is compelled to gather back the fallen jaw.

Some of the witnesses described the metallic-looking body of the "monster" as green. Reasoned conjecture concludes that when May and Lemon cast their flashlight beams upon the "monster," it immediately reacted and the interior of the figure lit up, forcing bright light through the eye openings! Thus, the area was aglow and the (shiny aluminum-like) shell of the figure reflected the environment surrounding it, tree leaves and bushes. A reflected "green" is what they saw... Hence, the nickname, the "Green Monster." The following are the actual true descriptions of the "Flatwoods Monster" that Feschino describes here:

Forensic draft Sketch by Feschino as advised Freddie May 
with his mother Kathleen.

1. OUTER HELMET. A black ace-of-spades shaped outer helmet that sat upon the shoulders of the upper torso area. This outer helmet also had a clear glass-like barrier located at the front of it. The entire helmet was approximately three feet high and about three feet wide at the base.

2. INNER HELMET. Set inside the black outer helmet, was a red-colored interior helmet that had two large porthole eye openings. It was "worn" by the occupant. The neck area consisted of some sort of collar covering and this inner helmet rotated upon this collar.

3. UPPER TORSO. The upper torso of the structure was about three feet wide at the top and flared toward the waist area. Attached to the upper portion of the torso were a pair of antennae-looking devices, which were said to resemble small mechanical toy-like hands.

4. LOWER TORSO. The lower torso flared out from the waist area to the bottom area. The bottom area was said to be approximately four feet across. Set upon the lower torso were thick pipes situated vertically and equally spaced around the lower torso. They were described as being silver in color and as thick as a fireman's hose. The pipes seemed to be the exhaust outlets for the propulsion system capable of lifting the large fabricated unit.

Now reader, back to the original 1952 drawing, which is a focal point of this article. After the now we know doomed TV show, the three Braxton County residents stayed briefly in New York to see sites and then were flown back to West Virginia. 

Mrs. May was given the original drawing.  This she hand-carried with her back on the flight to Charleston, WV.

She told Feschino, "When we got off the plane down there in Charleston, Lord, there were photographers and everything else. They had taken pictures of me, and they were all waiting for us." The trio was taken to the Charleston Greyhound Terminal for their long trip back to Braxton County and Flatwoods. There, a Charleston Gazette photographer who had followed them from the airport took the below photo of Mrs. May and Eugene Lemon. This photo, as A. Lee Stewart pointed out to Feschino, has appeared in countless publications. 

...Too, it's funny... they don't look like hillbillies ...and, remembering that we all know a camera doesn't ordinarily add intelligence to someone's portraiture... it must have been a lucky shot. 

National News! ...And there WAS a "Flatwoods monster" We The People episode!
Trials and travails for the players were just beginning. Their ordeal would last for decades. I'm sure survivors are dealing with some aspect of it... even this moment.

Upon their arrival back home in Flatwoods, A. Lee Stewart would continue to handle the public relations, acting as the spokesman dealing with the media through his newspaper. The story was simply not containable as we would see... and top brass was worried about it.

Moving on, Mrs. May also told Frank about an incident involving a West Virginia National Guard commander the reader will remember, Colonel Dale Leavitt of Sutton, that bonafide hero of WWII we read about earlier. ...You didn't become CIC of the WV State Guard without a certain competence, eh?
Colonel Leavitt

Her meeting with Leavitt occurred in her house, which is near the farm, shortly after she returned home from Charleston, that afternoon.

All week long, Colonel Leavitt and groups of troops had been deployed on the Fisher property allegedly to control the large crowd of curiosity seekers and news reporters who were overrunning the farm and town. Upon her arrival home, Mrs. May explained the meeting she had with Colonel Leavitt and what curiously unfolded involving the drawing she had in her possession.

During an interview with Feschino, she reported, 

"I hadn't been home too long until this truck came up and it had all these troops and everything on it, and Dale came in. He asked me if he could borrow the picture and he took it out and showed it to all the boys [troops]. After a while, he came back in and said, 'Well, I want you to take a look at this' and he just turned it sideways and said, 'this is a complete missile.' "
The aforementioned missile is another reference to the 1952 drawing showing that Colonel Leavitt had actually held the illustration in his hands and displayed it to his troops as some kind of briefing aid!  He's turned it on its side to illustrate his supposition of the object as a mechanism. It also shows that even though the drawing was inaccurate, Leavitt already knew that it was something mechanical, some type of machine or rocket!

Remember, Leavitt, by his videotaped report, was tasked originally to collect leaked "oil" deposits and "debris" from the farm that night during a covert mission.  He also noted, "the [noxious] odor of burning celluloid" as he supervised that operation.  Leavitt ceaselessly talked to Mrs. May and all of the other witnesses in the days following the incident and stated, "Their stories are all identical." That's two good men, now. Feschino has them on tape.

During Feschino's interview with Leavitt on the Fisher Farm, Feschino asked: "Do you think it was an experimental CRAFT [of human manufacture], or do you think it came from someplace else?" 

Leavitt replied, "No... I think it came from someplace else..." ...And there we leave it?

Not quite. When pointedly drilled by Feschino, "What do you think happened here?" The colonel answered, "Well, there was something here that could fly backwards—or wherever they wanted [it] to go. Just anywhere, I think—As long as they don't tear up their equipment! It was right here."

Yes, reader, Colonel Leavitt knew it was not a monster, but a machine. ...What was the Colonel out there to actually search for? Why did he have towed watercraft and big caliber weapons?  We can't know that, as yet.

Subsequently, after the TV show, several more newspaper and magazine reporters set upon Flatwoods and interviewed Mr. May while several more photographers took photos of her in her home with the We the People "monster" drawing.  This would become harassment over the years and a reason Feschino had such a hard row in the township, initially. They'd had it to "here" with the ridicule!

Pioneer UFO researcher and writer Major Donald Keyhoe, USMC Retired, referenced in the epilogue below, wrote about the Flatwoods case in 1953, stating:
Donald Keyhoe

"...Then Mrs. May and the Lemon boy appeared on We the People and retold their frightening experience. It was obvious they believed the monster was real, and a dozen papers and magazines sent writers to Sutton [the nearby Braxton County Seat] for new angles on the story."  
No "ghosts," "haints," or Roc sized barn owls, then, eh?

Today, some of the photos taken of Mrs. May with the original 1952 drawing can be seen in numerous publications. It is incorrect to say that the original drawing has become a part of history regarding the "Flatwoods Monster" incident and endures as a legacy of the highly strange... for that reason.  Time marches on to reveal what it reveals. This writer suspects it'll be Feschino on the byline.

Kathleen May with We The People Illustration

The format of the We the People show, which was first telecast on June 1, 1948, was to interview various guests of the day about important events occurring in their lives. Ordinary people, celebrities, entertainers, and politicians alike were informally interviewed by the host, who would casually chat with them on the set. This informal talk show format made We the People one of the most popular TV shows of its time.

At the beginning of each segment, the guests were introduced with the opening line, "We, the People...speak." Yet, after airing the "Flatwoods Monster" story on September 19, 1952, this popular show was summarily and inexplicably canceled after the telecast of only one more program.  Highly strange, on September 26, 1952, the show made its final appearance on NBC TV. Curious, doubly so when you can find no trace of it in the current record... but, it did happen.

In closing reader, I would like to go back to 1952 and talk about a conversation occurring between Mr. Donald Keyhoe and Mr. Albert Chop, Public Liaison for the whole USAF.  Keyhoe, hugely respected at the time as a retired Marine officer aviator and former close aide to Charles Lindbergh, phoned Chop at the Pentagon and spoke to him about the Flatwoods case shortly after May, Lemon, and Stewart appeared on We the People and he witnessed the continuing press coverage of the story.  Keyhoe wrote the following in his 1953 book, Flying Saucers from Outer Space:

"This could get out of hand," I told Chop. Why doesn't the Air Force squelch it?"
"We've already said the object was a meteor," he retorted.
"A lot of people don't believe it. and the way it's built up it's bad. It plants the menace idea ten times more than the Desvergers story did..."
"It'll die out," Chop insisted.
"But people will remember it if something breaks." Keyhoe would finally insist.

Keyhoe would go on to say, "The Air Force hands-off attitude seemed peculiar to me. For the monster story was having a serious effect, in addition to letters from worried Americans." 

Was the frightening nationwide telecast of the "Flatwoods Monster" segment on September 19, 1952, the reason that the plug was pulled on We the People, reader? Well, here we are 66 some odd years later and still learning about the "Flatwoods Monster" incident.  Perhaps more truth looms in the upcoming future.  I'll stay tuned.

Read on...