CYLINDER-SHAPED UFO SEEN IN IRELAND
On Sunday, April 10, 2005, at 10:30 p.m., Karl Reynolds was driving through Ranelagh, a suburb of Dublin, the capital of Ireland, when they spotted an unusual object approaching from the northwest.
“I was driving into town to meet my Polish girlfriend for coffee,” Karl reported, “when I noticed in the corner of my eye a blue-and-red flashing light. I looked to my left and, to my amazement, there was a large, chrome, cylinder-shaped object with lights spiraling around the circumference. It was stationary over a photo developing shop. (Later I thought they must have stopped on their intergalactic journey for a one-hour photo–K.R.) The object quickly accelerated away to the south, increasing in altitude. It was out of sight in what seemed like only five seconds.”
Karl estimated that the UFO was “about 100 feet (30 meters) in the air when I first saw it. It accelerated at supersonic speed.” (Email Form Report)
THREE ORANGE UFOs SIGHTED IN FLORIDA
On Saturday, April 29, 2005, at 9:05 p.m., Ida B. was at her home in Jupiter, Florida (population 39,328) when she spotted some strange lights in the sky.
“At approximately 9 p.m., I was out on the balcony, on the phone, when I noticed three bright orange lights, very visible to the eye, going towards the sky at high speed. At one point, they stopped in mid-air and changed to white lights. Then the three lights disappeared, and it became just one light. And this one disappeared about ten minutes later.”
“At the time of the sighting, it was a triangular shape (arrangement) of lights just before disappearing. It was also witnessed by one other observer than myself. Definitely the strangest thing I have ever experienced. Almost like a fire in the sky. That’s the only color I can describe. No sound whatever was heard during this time.”
Ida estimated that the UFOs were “5,000 or more feet (1,500 meters) high. Not sure of speed but initially slow and then fast and then no speed at all. It just hovered. I checked the TV but heard nothing” about the sighting.
TWO UFOs SPOTTED OVER GRAND MARSH, WISCONSIN
On Saturday, April 29, 2005, at 9:40 p.m., eyewitness R.M. was outdoors with his hunting dog in Grand Marsh, Wisconsin when he spotted something unusual approaching from the south.
“I was outside with our dog, facing the east,” he reported, “and I saw two lights traveling at the same speed. They appeared from the south and were heading north. I could not see any details at first.”
“I called my wife out to come and see the lights. As the lights got parallel to us on the horizon, we could see that they were connected by a large, dark, cylinder-like object.”
“We could only make out that the lights were connected by a dark object. The lights were somewhat brighter than the stars, which is what caused me to notice them. The lights did not blink and were a solid white color. There was absolutely no sound from these objects.”
“The object didn’t change speed, direction or height. The lights were probably higher than most passenger jets travel (upwards of 38,000 feet or 11,400 meters–J.T.), but took about one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half minutes to cross the entire sky.” (Email Form Report)
LIZZIE BORDEN HOUSE TO UNDERGO RESTORATION
“Talk about reconstructing a crime scene.”
“The city landmark known as the Lizzie Borden house” in Fall River, Mass. (population 91,938) is on its way to looking more like it did on the day in (August) 1892 when Andrew J. Borden and Abbey Durfee Gray Borden were murdered than it has in decades.”
“When Rhode Island nursing home owner Donald Wood bought the house–now a bed-and-breakfast and tourist attraction–last year (2004), he said one of his first priorities was to remove two structures added in the 1900s, which housed a print shop.”
“That work began yesterday (Thursday, April 28, 2005) as an excavator crunched its way through the ceiling beams of one of the structures in the house’s driveway, which was built around 1950.”
“One of the trickiest steps in the demolition was separating the house from the” Leary Press building at 234 Second Street, “according to Billy Williams, a foreman with E.W. Berman, the construction firm doing the demolition work. The two structures were attached in places.”
“‘We just had to cut it away from the house first,’ he said.”
“Lee Ann Wilber, the house’s manager, said that particular step was nerve-wracking for her.”
“‘I was giving a tour in the house at the time, and every time they hit it with the excavator, it shook,’ she said, ‘I was almost waiting for my wall to fall down. But I have faith in them.'”
“When the contractors are finished taking that structure down, they’ll start on another, larger one next to the house, built around 1920, which was once the storefront for Leary Press.”
“Leary Press is still open but has moved to Stafford Road” in Fall River.
“Wilber said when the renovations are complete, the house will have a large parking lot and look more historically accurate.”
“In the place of the structure demolished yesterday will go a replica of the barn that once stood in back of the (Borden) house. While the original barn stood about 15 feet (4.5 meters) from the house, Wilber said the replica will be located further to the back of the property, to accomodate parking.”
“The first floor of the new barn will contain the house’s gift shop, she said.”
“The house itself will also be restored to look more as it did the day of the Borden murders, Wilber said.”
“Most significantly, she said, it will be painted to resemble its appearance in the early 1890s. But there’s one problem with that goal–no one’s sure what the house’s paint scheme was back then.”
“‘It was repainted a couple of months before the murders, and it was only described as ‘drab,” Wilber said.”
“Wilber said she can’t quite remember how much the demolition and renovations will cost.”
“‘I don’t want to think about it. It hurts,’ she said.”
“To help pay for the work, the Lizzie Borden house has been selling bottles of brick dust from its basement.”
“Some customer–lucky or unlucky, depending on your point of view–could end up purchasing a bottle with ghosts from the house attached to it, she said. About 45 customers have bought the $5 souvenirs.”
“The house’s history with the Bordens began in 1872 when Andrew J. Borden, a wealthy Fall River businessman, bought it in order to live closer to the city’s downtown district. Lizzie became the prime suspect when he and his wife, Lizzie’s stepmother, were murdered.”
“Lizzie was acquitted in 1892, and she and her sister Emma moved out of the house to a home in French Street. Lizzie lived there until her death” in 1927.
“The Borden sisters sold the house in 1918, and it has changed hands several times since then.”
“Before Wood, it was owned by the McGinn family, who bought it in 1940 and used it as a private home and base for Leary Press. In 1996, they converted it to a bed-and- breakfast.” (See the Providence, R.I. Journal for April 29, 2005, “Lizzie Borden house owners take a whack at restoration,” pages D1 and D7.)
“BEWITCHED” STATUE CAUSES FUROR IN SALEM, MASS.
“A proposed statue of a TV witch who casts spells by twitching her nose has some residents” of Salem, Mass. (population 40,407) “wrinkling theirs at the thought of what they say is further exploitation of the city’s tragic past.”
“The 9-foot (2.7-meter) tall statue of ‘Bewitched’ character Samantha Stevens (portrayed in the 1964-1972 series by actress Elizabeth Montgomery–J.T.) astride a broom is planned near one of the busiest intersections in a city where 20 people were sentenced to death during the witch hysteria of 1692.”
“‘It’s in horribly bad taste,’ John Carr, a lifelong resident, said of the statue. ‘It is trivializing that aspect of Salem’s history.'”
“The statue will stand near the church where people were falsely accused of witchcraft and the site of the courthouse where they were condemned, Carr said.”
“A massive bronze tribute to a 1960s TV show is unwelcome, said longtime resident Meg Twohey.”
“‘Do we need more kitsch?’ she said, ‘We are giving out public space for a TV group to make money. I don’t understand why we’re doing it.'”
“Still others say the ‘Witch City’ has itself commercialized the (1692) trials–the local police cruisers feature decals of a broomstick-riding witch.”
“Proponents say the statue is harmless fun in a place that has long made money by playing off the witch hysteria.”
“Salem bills itself as the ‘Witch City’ and each October hosts a Halloween party featuring all manner of ghouls. The ‘Haunted Happenings’ festival, which draws thousands of tourists, is monitored by police officers in cruisers bearing witch logos.”
“Thomas Doherty, a Salem resident since 1991 and TV historian at Brandeis University, said it’s hard to get upset about the statue.”
“‘I think the city can sort of do both,’ Doherty said. ‘It can remember the dark side of its heritage, but can celebrate getting beyond it.'”
“The city accepted TV Land’s offer of the statue about two months ago, but made sure it was placed appropriately, said Kate Sullivan, an aide to Mayor Stanley Usovicz. It wasn’t allowed near a memorial to the victims or the home of the judge (Justice John Hathorne– J.T.) who presided over the trials.”
“The statue flap is the latest in a running local battle over the image of Salem, a historic seaport” northeast of Boston “with abundant Federal period architecture and literary fame as the home of Nathaniel Hawthorne.” (See the Boston Herald for May 4, 2005, “No magic fix to ‘Bewitched’ statue brewhaha,” page 24, and the Attleboro, Mass. Sun-Chronicle for May 4, 2005, “‘Bewitched’ statue causes latest flap over Salem’s image,” page A2.)
(Editor’s Note: Nineteenth Century author Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote The Scarlet Letter and was a direct descendant of Justice Hathorne.)
2,300-YEAR-OLD MUMMY DISCOVERED IN EGYPT
“A superbly-preserved 2,300-year-old mummy bearing a golden mask and covered in brilliantly colored images of gods and goddesses was unveiled Tuesday,” May 3, 2005, “at Egypt’s Saqqara Pyramids complex south of Cairo.”
“The unidentified mummy, from the 30th Pharaonic Dynasty, was enclosed in a wooden sarcophagus and buried in sand at the bottom of a 20-foot (6-meter) shaft when it was discovered recently by an Egyptian-led archaeological team.”
“‘We have revealed what may be the most beautiful mummy ever found in Egypt,’ said Dr. Zahi Hawass, chief of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities.”
“Dr. Hawass said experts will use CT scanning technology within the next week to reveal details about the ancient Egyptian’s identity and how he had lived and died.”
“Afterward, the mummy will be displayed at Saqqara’s Museum of Imhotep, the famed architect who designed the Stepped Pyramid–Egypt’s oldest.”
“The mummy, found two months ago (March 2005), was covered from head to toe in burial cloth painted in bright colors that depicted a range of graphic scenes, including the goddess Maat of balance and truth with outstretched arms in the shape of feathered wings.”
“Also shown were the four children of the falcon- headed god Horus and the rituals and processes to mummify the person, whom Dr. Hawass believes must have been wealthy considering his burial location and the fine gold used for the mask.”
“‘The artists who made this mummy more than 2,000 years ago demonstrated the brilliance of the ancient Egyptians by using stunning colors and depicting his face so graphically,’ Dr. Hawass said.”
“The mummy was buried within the necropolis of King Teti, a funerary area containing dozens of burial chambers, false doors that ancient Egyptians said the souls of the dead would use to leave their tombs, and temples.” (See the Attleboro, Mass. Sun-Chronicle for May 4, 2005, “In Egypt, a grand and colorful find,” page A1.)
NEW DINOSAURS COME OUT OF THE BEDROCK
“A fossil found in South Dakota comes from a never- before-seen species of dinosaur–a horse-sized plant-eater with spikes on its bony, flat head, scientists said.”
“‘When my colleagues saw a CAT scan of the new fossil, they tore up their family tree diagrams and said, ‘Back to the drawing board!'” paleontologist Robert Bakker said, ‘We never suspected such a creature existed.'”
“Discovery of the new member of the Pachycephalosaur family changes the view of dinosaur history 66 million years ago, showing that family trees were still evolving even as the dinosaur world was about to go extinct, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis said.”
“The nearly complete pachycephalosaur skull was donated to the museum by three amateur fossil hunters from Iowa who found it in 2003 while exploring the Hell Creek Formation in central South Dakota.”
“The new species has a flat head with no bone dome. The only other flat-headed pachycephalosaurs were found in China and Mongolia, but all of these had short muzzles and no long horns anywhere on the skull, the announcement said.”
Elsewhere, “paleontologists in Utah, with the help of twin Temple University graduate students, say they have found” a missing link between meat-eating and plant-eating dinosaurs “in a new species of feathered dinosaur.”
“The Falcarius utahensis, which stands for ‘sickle maker from Utah,’ appeared about 125 million years ago. It stood about 4.5 feet (1.1-meter) tall and had 4-inch (10-centimeter) claws of a meat-eater but tiny plant- eating teeth–a carnivore well on its way to becoming a vegetarian.”
“‘It’s the strangest-looking dinosaur you can imagine,’ said Matthew Cerrano, curator of dinosaurs at the National Museum of Natural History, part of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. ‘It’s as if you sewed the dinosaur together from pieces from other dinosaurs.'”
“Early dinosaurs appeared in what is now the United States about 210 million years ago. Most were meat eaters and stayed that way, but over time others became herbivores. The Falcarius played an intermediate role, giving rise to a group of bird-like plant-eaters called therizinosaurs.”
“‘We don’t know if it was an omnivore like us, eating plants and meat, or just plants,’ said Scott Sampson, chief curator of the Utah Museum of Natural History and coauthor of the study. ‘But it tells us about the shift.'”
“A new dinosaur species is discovered about a half- dozen times each year, scientists said. But the Falcarius is a major discovery because it fills in a piece of the paleontology timeline scientists knew was out there, but weren’t sure where.”
“The Falcarius excavation began about three years ago, after a man who sold fossils on the black market approached James Kirkland, Utah’s state paleontologist and lead author of the study.”
“The seller said he’d found bones that might come from a new species. He showed Kirkland the site, and ended up spending five months in jail, Kirkland said.”
“Since then, almost 1,700 bones have been found at the two-acre dig site at Utah’s Crystal Geyser Quarry, and scientists have about 90 percent of Falcarius’ bones.”
“‘If it wrapped its hands around your face, it could go all the way around,’ said Kirkland. ‘It probably couldn’t eat you, but it could rip your face off.'”
“Celina and Marina Suarez, twin 23-year-old geology students at Temple, went to the site last summer as part of their graduate thesis. The two had been geology fans ever since first grade in San Antonio (Texas), where they spent recess digging at a limestone rock with pens and sticks, hoping to get oyster fossils out.”
“In Utah, Celina Suarez worked in the quarry, digging out bones with piano wire and studying fractures and bite marks on the fossils themselves. She believes that some of the dinosaurs died elsewhere, and that water in a streambed moved the bones to the quarry site.”
“Meanwhile, her sister (Marina) was surveying the landscape, trying to determine what sort of environment existed 125 million years ago from rock samples. By following a layer of rock along the landscape, she discovered a second (fossil) site about a mile away.”
“‘There was a cliff and I saw two or three (dinosaur) ribs just sticking out of the side of the cliff,’ she said.”
“‘I collected one of the bones and…when we went back and started searching the surface, there were bones everywhere.'”
“Excavation on the site is expected to begin next summer, she said, and, although the duo will be working on their doctorates at the University of Kansas, they hope to return to Utah for the dig.” (See the New York Post for May 2, 2005, “New dinosaur discovered,” page 11; the New York Daily News for May 2, 2005, “S.D. fossil dino-mite!” page 9; and the Philadelphia Inquirer for May 5, 2005, “Fossil find links dino dining styles,” pages A1 and A18.)
J.LO MULLS A CAREER IN POLITICS
“Jennifer Lopez is ready to take on the White House after conquering Hollywood and the pop charts.”
“‘I’m a total powerhouse. If you ask me, I’d like to become the first female (USA) president–that would be really cool,” J.Lo told Bravo,” the German celebrity magazine last week.
“And which issue would be at the top of President Lopez’s agenda?”
“‘The first thing I would do is redecorate the White House–it doesn’t look very cozy.'”
On Tuesday, May 3, 2005, “Jennifer Lopez and husband Marc Anthony entered the ‘Late Show with David Letterman’ theatre…after police arrested a PETA protestor who tried to charge at the couple.”
For the past couple of weeks, the singer-actress has been trailed by activists from People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Members have targeted her for protests because she was photographed wearing fur.
“On Wednesday afternoon,” May 4, 2005, J.Lo “took questions, in person, from 100 KDWB-FM Radio listeners in a conference room in St. Louis Park, Minn.,” a suburb of Minneapolis.
“Inquiring Minnesotans (and Wisconsinites) wanted to know: Why doesn’t J.Lo do a concert tour? What was it like working with Jane Fonda in the new movie Monster-in- Law? What do you look for in a back-up dancer? (Shouldn’t that question be directed at Cris Judd?–J.T.) What city is your favorite place to shop? What sports did you play in high school? What’s the craziest thing a fan has done?”
“‘I’m looking at my security guard (for a reminder),’ said J.Lo, perched on a stool on a small stage and perplexed about fan weirdness. ‘I get lots of love.'”
“Before J.Lo entered, the fans were told by KDWB officials to be polite. In other words, no questions about ex-beau Ben Affleck or People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) protesting her wearing fur, Clear Channel Radio executive Mick Anselmo clarified for the Star- Tribune before J.Lo was escorted into the room by three bodyguards, her manager and her mom.”
“The fans, most of whom appeared to be in their 20s and 30s, seemed more impressed than starstruck.”
“‘She came off very well-spoken and intelligent and nice, which is not what the media portrays,’ said Xavier Rice, 25, of Minneapolis, who asked her about being a minority in show business. ‘There were no bored-performer answers.'”
“She was sharp and attentive, acknowledging some questioners whom she had met earlier in the day. Her answers were straightforward.”
“KDWB (101.3 FM) had set up the promotional visit with her record label even though Lopez is on tour–she was in Chicago on Wednesday morning–to promote her new movie. She spent less than four hours in the Twin Cities, most of it at KDWB, where she also did an on-air interview.”
“After 20 minutes of interrogation by the fans, J.Lo slipped on her tinted aviator glasses and made for her private jet, headed to Atlanta for a charity affair with (co-star Jane) Fonda.”
“Lopez mentioned her upcoming endeavors, including making a third video from her CD, shooting a dramatic movie in June and launching a third fragrance in the fall.”
“‘She was awesome!’ said Taylor Caldwell, 11, of Ellsworth, Wis. (No relation to the author of the same name–J.T.), who had asked a question about fashion design.”
“Maria Isa Perez, 18, a St. Paul rapper, met J.Lo earlier in the day. ‘Man, it’s an inspiration,’ she beamed, ‘You don’t get to see people like us Puerto Ricans on TV. I’ve wanted to meet her since I was 8.'” (See the Boston Herald for May 4, 2005, “Star Tracks,” page 17; the New York Post for May 4, 2005, page 11; and the Minneapolis, Minn. Star-Tribune for May 5, 2005, “100 fans are J.High with J.Lo,” pages B1 and B4.)
“BIG FREEZE” JUST WON’T LET GO IN NORTHERN TEXAS
A “blue norther” turned the Texas panhandle back into a winter wonderland last week, as five inches (12 centimeters) of snow fell on the city of Amarillo (population 173,627).
Amazingly, temperatures were in the 80s on the Fahrenheit scale just days earlier.
“An early May snowstorm left this Panhandle city with nearly five inches of snow. The snowfall was a record for May 2 in the city, the National Weather Service said.” Amarillo residents had to break out their snow boots, parkas and long brushes to sweep the accumulated snow off their cars before the morning commute.
However, “it wasn’t the latest recorded snowfall in the area. The latest fell on May 6 and 7, 1917, when the city got 9.1 inches (22.7 centimeters), National Weather Service meteorologist Roland Nunez said.”
“Is our ‘Big Freeze’ winter over at last?” UFO Roundup editor Joseph Trainor asked. “I certainly hope so!” (See USA Today for May 3, 2005, “Across the USA– Texas,” page 10A and the photo on page 3A.)
From the UFO Files…
1898: ARKHAM UNVEILED
What reader of the works of Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890-1937) has not felt a frisson of apprehension upon encountering Arkham, “a very old town full of witch legends?”
Witch-haunted Arkham, with its Seventeenth Century gambrel homes clustered on the banks of the sleepy Miskatonic River, has confounded both readers and researchers for decades. Neither Arkham nor the Miskatonic River appear on any map of Massachusetts. The researchers suspect that it must be one of the 359 communities in the Commonwealth. But which one?
In The Annotated H.P. Lovecraft, scholar S.T. Joshi writes, “It is difficult to know how far ‘west’ of Arkham the setting for this story (“The Colour Out of Space”– J.T.) is, especially as it is not clear where exactly Arkham itself is situated; but as characters are seen walking back from the Nahum Gardner farmhouse to Arkham; one assumes that the setting of the tale is not very far west of the imaginary city. In earlier stories, Arkham seems clearly to be an inland town in central Massachusetts; in later stories, it is identified loosely with the coastal town of Salem. Here an inland setting seems more likely.”
Lovecraft’s descriptions of Arkham are themselves so internally consistent that they seem to describe a very real town. Here’s a collection from HPL’s various stories:
The Colour Out of Space: “…he dares to do this because his house is so near the open fields and the travelled roads around Arkham. There was once an open road over the hills and through the valleys, that ran straight where the blasted heath is now…When I went into the hills and vales to survey for the new reservoir, they told me the place was evil, and because that is a very old town full of witch legends I thought the evil must be something which grandams had whispered to children through centuries.”
The Dreams in the Witch House: “He was in the changeless, legend-haunted city of Arkham, with its clustering gambrel roofs that sway and sag over attics where witches hid from the King’s men in the dark, olden days of the Province. Nor was any spot in that city more steeped in macabre memory than the gable room which harboured him–for it was in this house and this room which had likewise harboured old Keziah Mason, whose flight from Salem Gaol at the last no one was ever to explain. That was in 1692–the gaoler had gone mad and babbled of a small, white-fanged furry thing which scuttled out of Keziah’s cell, and not even Cotton Mather could explain the curves and angles smeared on the grey stone walls with some red, sticky fluid…Gilman came from Haverhill (Massachusetts), but it was only after he had entered college in Arkham that he began to connect his mathematics with the fantastic legends of elder magic.”
The Thing on the Doorstep: “What lay behind our joint love of shadows and marvels was, no doubt, the ancient, mouldering and subtly fearsome town in which we lived– witch-cursed, legend-haunted Arkham, whose huddled, sagging gambrel roofs and crumbling Georgian balustrades brood out the centuries beside the darkly muttering Miskatonic.”
The Shadow Out of Time: “I was born and reared in Haverhill–at the old homestead in Boardman Street near Golden Hill–and did not go to Arkham till I entered Miskatonic University at the age of eighteen. That was in 1889…It is, of course, from others that I learned what followed. I shewed no sign of consciousness for sixteen and a half hours, though removed to my home at 27 Crane Street and given the best of medical attention.”
Huddled gambrel roofs…witch legends…a blasted heath…Crane Street… Christchurch Cemetery…Meadow Hill and the old Crowninshield House. In story after story, the familiar landmarks of Arkham appear. The clues are all there. But where exactly is Arkham?
I think I have the answer. It’s in Plymouth County, on Route 139, approximately 12 miles (20 kilometers) north-northwest of Plymouth. Today it goes by the name of Marshfield (population 4,246).
To understand why Lovecraft selected Marshfield, Mass. as the site of “Arkham,” you’d have to know something about Seventeenth Century history, HPL’s childhood, his mother’s family history and HPL’s penchant for in-jokes in his fiction.
Let me give you an example–the name Peters. It appears in passing in two of Lovecraft’s tales. Here we go…
Pickman’s Model: “No, I don’t know what’s become of Pickman, and I don’t like to guess. You might have surmised I had some inside information when I dropped him- -and that’s why I don’t want to think where he’s gone. Let the police find what they can–it won’t be much, judging from the fact that they don’t know yet of the old North End place he hired under the name of Peters.”
The Terrible Old Man: “These folks say that on a table in a bare room on the ground floor are many peculiar bottles, in each a small piece of lead suspended pendulum- wise from a string. And they say that the Terrible Old Man talks to these bottles, addressing them by such names as Jack, Scar-Face, Long Tom, Spanish Joe, Peters, and that whenever he speaks to a bottle the little lead pendulum within makes certain definite vibrations as if in answer.”
In using the name Peters, Lovecraft was paying homage to his literary idol, Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849). “Peters” is the name of the sailor who accompanies the hero on his voyage to Antarctica in Poe’s novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket.
Like many other Lovecraft aficionados, for years I hunted for “Arkham.” Many times I got out the old magnifying glass and surveyed topographic maps of the coastline of Massachusetts, from Provincetown to Salisbury Beach, looking for some clue to its location. I began to suspect that “Arkham” may have been an archaic name for an existing Massachusetts community. But, again, without a starting point, I was hopelessly adrift.
Then, shortly after re-reading HPL’s “The Rats in the Walls” last winter, a name on the map caught my gaze– Rexhame Beach, located on the shore 12 miles (20 kilometers) north of Plymouth and 3 miles (5 kilometers) east of Marshfield. Instantly I recalled that the fictional Exham Priory in Sussex was the locale of “The Rats in the Walls.” Rexhame…Exham…hmmmmm!
I used Google to pull up tons of information on Rexhame Beach, all the while reflecting upon what fun HPL would have had with the Internet. What a pity he died fifty years before its appearance. But the “smoking gun” still eluded me. “Arkham” was not an archaic name for Rexhame Beach–at least as far as my sources on the World Wide Web were concerned.
I realized that, to do this properly, I was going to have to return to Massachusetts and do the on-site research. And, in early April 2005, an opportunity to do so rather suddenly and unexpectedly came my way.
First, a little about the name Marshfield. According to Rev. Edward Turner, Marshfield was a “name which had been gradually corrupted from Marysfield to Marifield, from its being a district early dedicated to St. Mary, as we find the ancient chapel at Nutley to have been in use as a chantry, which is also mentioned in all the ancient lists of Sussex (UK).”
(Editor’s Comment: As a Fortean, I’d sure like to know more about that apparition of the Virgin Mary in the farm field near Nutley, Sussex back in the early Middle Ages.)
According to the History of Plymouth County, Massachusetts, the area was originally known as Missaucatucket after the river that flowed through the meadows. That’s close enough to “Miskatonic” for me to wonder if Lovecraft had come across the alternate spelling of Missaucatucket during his delvings into the dusty tomes of Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century New England.
Missaucatucket was the home of a band of Eniskeetompauwuag indigenous people (sometimes called the Wampanoag Indians–J.T.), who were led by the sachem (chief) Chickatabut. To give the Eniskee a free translation, the chief’s name means House Afire. It’s pretty easy to guess how he got that name. Chickatabut’s mother probably went into premature labor at the stress of seeing the family’s wigwam on fire.
Chickatabut was friendly with the Pilgrims settled at Plymouth (original Eniskee name: Patuxet–J.T.). He converted to Christianity and took the baptismal name of Josias.
In 1630, a Pilgrim named Richard Green settled at the mouth of the Missaucatucket. The river became known as Green’s River; the new settlement as Green’s Harbour and the meadowland as Green’s Harbour Marsh.
Curiously, one of the first settlers there was George Curwin, whose family name is familiar to any reader of Lovecraft’s novella The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. (Editor’s Note: The bad guy in Ward is the ageless sorcerer Joseph Curwen … George’s son?…who, according to HPL, “in 1761, must have been almost a century old,” i.e. born in 1661 in the old Plymouth Colony.)
In a deed witnessed by the sannompaug (warriors) Wawayanna and Machippo, Chickatabut sold the Missaucatucket country to the Pilgrims in the 1630s. On March 2, 1640, the General Court (governing council) at Plymouth voted “that Green’s Harbour Marsh shall be a Township and have all the privileges of a Township that other towns have, and that it should be called by the name of Rexhame but also Marshfield.”
Rev. Turner informs us that hame or ham is an Anglo- Saxon word meaning town. Of course, Rex is Latin for king. So Rexhame can be rendered as King’s Town or Kingston (Or “Kingsport”–J.T.). Indeed, a couple of decades later, the south section of Marshfield broke away and established itself as the new town of Kingston, Mass.
One of the more famous early residents of Marshfield was Rev. James Keith (1643-1727). He shares the name of Fortean researcher/author Jim Keith (1950-1999), who is best known for his Black Helicopters books. Rev. Keith was born in Aberdeen, Scotland. He arrived in Marshfield in 1662 and became the minister in nearby Bridgewater in 1664, where he married Susanna, the daughter of Deacon Samuel Edson.
(Editor’s Note: Today the western end of Bridgewater, Mass., on Lake Nipenicket, is called Scotland. “The Nip” or lake is said by some to be the nexus of the notorious “Bridgewater Triangle.”)
Interesting as it is, what does Marshfield history have to do with HPL? Well, to answer that question, we need to look at the history of Lovecraft’s maternal relatives–the Phillips family.
H.P. Lovecraft was born on August 20, 1890, the son of Winfield Scott Lovecraft (1853-1898), a native of Rochester, N.Y., and Sarah Susan Phillips Lovecraft (1857- 1921), nickname “Susie,” at the home of his maternal grandfather, Whipple Van Buren Phillips (1833-1904), at 194 Angell Street in Providence, Rhode Island.
(Editor’s Note: Since that time, the homes on Angell Street have been renumbered, and the old Phillips mansion is now 454 Angell Street.)
“In April 1893, father (Winfield S. Lovecraft) has a mental breakdown and is committed to Butler Hospital, an asylum in Providence.” The elder Lovecraft, who had been a sales representative for the Gorham Silverware Co. of Providence, R.I., “went away” when HPL was less than three years old, and Susie moved into her father’s house on Angell Street. Thereafter, Whipple Van Buren Phillips, a most notorious New England occultist, became HPL’s “father” and was probably the most formative influence on the young author’s life.
Phillips, a wealthy businessman and land developer, had been born in Moosup Valley in western Rhode Island, had travelled extensively in the USA–and in Italy and Egypt–and spent each summer at his beach home just east of Marshfield, Mass.
The roots of the Phillips family went deep into Marshfield history. For instance, Joseph Phillips, a soldier in the town militia, was killed in 1676, during the war between the European colonists and the Eniskeetompauwaug, who were led by the sachem Metacomet and his brother, Wamsutta (better known to the white people of Plymouth Colony as “King Philip and Alexander.”- -J.T.).
The family played a key role in town politics just before the War of the American Revolution (1775-1783). A seat on Marshfield’s Board of Selectmen (town council) was held from 1768 to 1770 by Elisha Phillips, from 1771 to 1773 by Nathaniel Phillips, who also served as moderator at the annual town meeting, and from 1775 to 1777 by Isaac Phillips.
One can easily visualize young Lovecraft, in the company of his mother’s father, wandering down Crane Street in Marshfield, gaping at the Seventeenth Century homes with their huddled gambrel roofs and decaying Georgian balustrades, while Grandfather Phillips held forth on the family history and the curious legends of the area.
Oh, yes, just like fictional “Arkham,” Marshfield has its witch lore. There is Pagan Hill, located just south of Rocky Nook in what is now Kingston, Mass. What strange fires blazed and even stranger rituals flourished atop this modest peak in the Pilgrim days.
Remember “Arkham” and its “blasted heath?” S.T. Joshi believes this to be a reference to lines in both MacBeth and Paradise Lost. Perhaps so. But old Marshfield has its own “blasted heath” at the Spirit Pasture.
The History of Plymouth County, Massachusetts informs us: “The swampy pasture, located between the junction of the old and new roads to Plympton, and Rocky Nook, has for an unknown period borne the name given above (Spirit Pasture–J.T.). In the olden times, when the belief in ghosts, witches and hobgoblins really produced an effect upon the minds of men, this location was credited with being the abode of such beings, and many aged persons have given the testimony of the courage it required to pass the place in the night-time, for any such unusual sound, even the rustling of a leaf, could be enough to send a thrill of terror through the faint-hearted.”
“It is related that a certain judge, who was on his way to attend a session of the court at Plymouth was determined, in that he did not reach Kingston until after dark and while passing the dreaded place heard a most dismal sound, accompanied by intervals by the clanking of a chain.”
“At first a sudden fear came upon him, but he was determined to know whence came the noise that had startled him, so he called at the farm of Colonel (John) Grey. (Meaning this incident took place circa 1785–J.T.), who lived just opposite, and told him what he had heard.”
“The colonel took his lantern and walked with the judge into the pasture in the direction where the sounds proceeded, all the while feeling doubtful what discoveries they would make in the lonely spot where spirits were believed to dwell.”
However, as things turned out, “an old horse had been fitted with a chain about his leg. It had broken away from its confinement and (had) fallen into a large hole, where rock had been taken from the ground. When the judge and the colonel reached the place, the ‘spiritual manifestation’ was explained.”
You might say that “Arkham” was born in 1898, the summer H.P. Lovecraft turned eight years old. During this summer, which he spent at the house near Rexhame Beach with his mother and beloved grandfather, he first discovered the works of Edgar Allan Poe.
Science fiction author Lyon Sprague de Camp once pointed out that people write about what makes them happy. “Arkham” is all about what made HPL happy: carefree childhood days on the Massachusetts shore, Seventeenth Century architecture, New England folklore, the company of his mother and grandfather, and reading Edgar Allan Poe.
Only one mystery remains…where did HPL come up with the pseudonym of “Arkham” for his “witch-haunted” locale? I think I’ve found the template for “Arkham,” but I was unable to find the “smoking gun,” the name itself.
This time, that is. (See the books H.P. Lovecraft Tales, The Library of America, Literary Classics of the United States, Inc., New York, N.Y., 2005, pages 25, 26, 27, 32, 33, 340, 341, 342, 343, 654, 655, 693, 706 and 707; The Annotated H.P. Lovecraft, edited by S.T. Joshi, Dell Publishing, New York, N.Y., 1997, page 58; More Annotated H.P. Lovecraft, edited by S.T. Joshi and Peter Cannon, Dell Publishing, New York, N.Y., 1999, page 14; The Transition of H.P. Lovecraft: The Road to Madness, Ballantine Books, New York, N.Y., 1996, pages 80, 157 and 159; and the History of Plymouth County, Massachusetts, edited by D. Hamilton Hurd, J.W. Lewis & Co., Philadelphia, Pa., 1884, pages 270, 271, 272, 274, 464, 774, 1140, 1141, 1142 and 1143. Many thanks to Marguerite Gomes of the Taunton, Mass. Public Library for letting me peruse the volumes from the library’s Rare Books Room.)
Well, that’s it for this week. “Roundup on the Road” has come to an end, with your editor once again back in his customary northern Minnesota haunts. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank our Massachusetts correspondents, Mary Lou Jones-Drown and her husband, Karl Drown, for letting me use the computer at their farm to put together the previous three issues. And the other correspondents who managed to catch up with me while I was on the road. My only regrets are that I didn’t quite make it to Windham, Connecticut as planned and that I was unable to take advantage of Bruce Chesley’s kind offer to take me on a tour of the historic Witchcraft sites in Salem. Sorry, Bruce, but family matters kept me in the Taunton area. Hopefully, we can try again on my next trip back East.
In the meantime, we’ll be back again next week with more UFO, Fortean and paranormal news from around the planet Earth, brought to you by “the paper that goes home- -UFO Roundup.” See you next time.
UFO ROUNDUP: Copyright 2005 by Masinaigan Productions, all rights reserved. Readers may post news items from UFO Roundup on their Web sites or in news groups provided that they credit the newsletter and its editor by name and list the date of issue in which the item first appeared.