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Ovnis Rhode Island Innkeeper Keeps the Light On for UFO Researchers, Abductees

Dim 31 Oct 2010, 22:29
Rhode Island Innkeeper Keeps the Light On for UFO Researchers, Abductees

Author: Tim Brosnan
Published: October 31, 2010 at 8:04 am

Just beneath the gaudy surface of the UFO phenomenon, obscured by the tabloids and the for-profit channelers, the fake photos and the fight club mentality that dominate so much of the ufological landscape, lies a layer of painstaking research and painful testimony.

Most of the people who operate at this level do so very quietly. For them, far from being a source of easy income, speaking openly about UFOs courts social and financial disaster.

Nevertheless, some are drawn in by professional interests, others by simple curiosity. Still others, particularly the ones who call themselves abductees, would like nothing better than to find a prosaic explanation for what they say is happening to them.

Safe house

For 15 years, a Rhode Island innkeeper has been reaching out to members of the UFO community who seek to avoid, rather than invite, the limelight. Once each summer, she closes her eight-bedroom Victorian waterfront property to the general public and hosts an informal, invitation-only gathering of researchers and abductees in equal number. Four days, no fees, no agenda.

And no press.

When representatives of the late Peter Jennings asked for access to the gathering, they were refused, she says. “Too many of the attendees had been burned by the media.”

She agreed to be interviewed by Technorati, in fact, only on the condition that her name, the name of her inn and the name of her city be withheld.

“Believe me, it’s not a club that anybody wants to belong to,” she says, making a clear distinction between her guests and the for-profit world of what investigative journalist Paola Harris derides as “retail ufology.”

At 76, the innkeeper no longer worries about public opinion for her own sake, but says that she does worry about the effect that unwanted exposure might have on her attendees.

“I’ve reached the point that I really don’t care what the neighbors say,” she says. “There’s a core group that comes back each year. Friends have been made out of this. That’s what it’s all about. These (attendees) have had experience being ridiculed. They say this is a place where they can relax for the first time ever and talk.”

Some of the attendees are well-known UFO researchers. Harvard psychiatrist John Mack , for example, attended until his death in 2004. Elsewhere on the guest list are an Australian psychologist and a Massachusetts astrophysicist, as well as abductees from Scotland, England, Manhattan and Vermont. Profiles kept any lower would be subterranean.

“I’m not even sure that some of these people tell their wives and families that they’re coming,” the inkeeper says.

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“I knew it was real.”

Her interest doesn’t arise from personal experience with UFOs, but from decades of interaction with people who have had such experience, as well as those who try to parse the evidence they offer.

“In 1948, I was 14,“ she recalls. “My father was a liaison with the Navy to Congress. He came home and said, 'These things hover and take off at incredible speed.' I put that in the back of my head and didn’t think much more about it.”

Years later, she was given a book by Major Donald Keyhoe, author of the seminal work Flying Saucers Are Real, among others, and then in 1993 began attending UFO conferences on a regular basis.

“I knew it was real,” she says.

Not so her children.

“When my grandchildren were young, my children disallowed me from discussing (UFOs) with them.”

But her grandchildren developed a fascination for the topic anyway, and the innkeeper’s fascination for it has never flagged.

“My friends and neighbors know that I have this interest. In the past, they’d change the subject when it came up. Now, since A&E & the History Channel air (UFO programming), it’s easier.”

Easier, but not easy. Especially for the attendees.

“They suffer rejection, hostility, loss of job, loss of marriage, relationships. It isn’t fame and fortune. You get depression, physical ailments. It’s happening all over the world.”

The method in her madness

It may seem self-contradictory that a woman so careful to protect the identities of her publicity-shy guests should be talking with the media at all, even with name withheld. But her motivation seems to arise, in part, from a sense of compassion for the abductees.

“I feel for these people,” the innkeeper says. “They suffer not only the horror of having it happen to them, but the ridicule afterward. Who do you tell? The more it’s out in the public and people are talking about it, the less stress for the people who’ve had experiences with extraterrestrials.”

It’s a bit quixotic, this one-woman campaign to improve the quality of public discourse on a topic so far outside mainstream media’s comfort zone. By her own count, seven out of ten people she tries to engage in conversation about UFOs would rather talk about something else.

But the innkeeper keeps on keeping on.

“If you get the word out,” she says, “then maybe these people won’t have to think they’re crazy.”

We wish her well with that.

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