As we have seen in the last chapter, Colonel Fawcett had stumbled across many strange and sometimes unexplained things while trekking through South America in his search for "Lost Cities." This resonated with Ivan, for he had come across many unexplained things himself that fellow scientists refused to explain, usually on the grounds that the subject was “kooky” or just plain nonsense.
RG: For the last 30 years you’ve dealt with the “unusual.” You’ve been hunting monsters, for instance.
ITS: Well, I’ve always been hunting monsters, you see. Anything.
Look here, we know there are more than a million animals now that we have got Latin names on. But the bug hunters, the entomologists, say they think we’ve only found one-tenth of those which exist. So there’s probably ten million different species of insects—nine more million to be discovered. Well, a monster, you see, has two meanings: “Monstrously big,” or monstrously odd to look at. So you can have a little monster, like the spirochet that causes syphilis is called a monster, because it has monstrous habits compared to what we think we’d like it to have. So, I was hunting monsters all my life. When I did wander around, I found all kinds of things when I was a kid, to which everybody said: “Oh, no, no. Absolute nonsense. You can’t have river monsters in Africa and you can’t have giant bats in the Orient,” Well, the local people said, “Sure, we’ll show them to you.”
Occasionally, Ivan would find mysterious things on his own that were not even mentioned in the wildest native stories, such as the discovery of large toads in water holes a hundred feet up in trees in South America, species that were incapable of climbing to any height at all. And yet at other times, Ivan would not have to search for such strange things at all, they would quite literally fall right into his lap, as in the case when, during a gentle rain in the mountains of West Africa, he witnessed a mysterious fall of frogs from the sky of a rare lowland species that his expedition had not encountered in nearly a year of collecting frogs. Even more puzzling, Sanderson's group was north of the lowlands and the winds at that time of year blew in the opposite direction, from north to south.
Ivan began to wonder how to tackle the study of such anomalous phenomena. Ordinary scientists were not interested in any such findings, for they only contradicted the prevailing scientific paradigms maintained by orthodox textbooks. Ivan might have dismissed the whole matter if it were not for a humorous incident that occurred while he was in the last leg of his first expedition:
RG: How did you first come to hear about Charles Fort?
ITS: Well, I heard about him when I first came to the United States of America. When I finally crossed the continent and got to New York, I went to stay with a very old friend of my mother’s. An American, but he had lived for a long time in England. He was a pretty wealthy man, a businessman, and retired.
About the second night I arrived in New York, he said: “Young man, I’m going to take you out to a lecture this evening at the Plaza Hotel, in the big ballroom downstairs.” So, after all, I was his guest and I was a youngster, so I went over there.
“Oh my God,” I thought, “a lecture! What now?” And this fellow who was going to speak was Charles Fort.
There were about a thousand people in the room, all “fey fey, fee fee” you know, and Dukes and Dutchesses, and all the “four hundred” from New York. I mean top-notch chaps, and all the literary people and everybody.
Then old Charles Fort, with his walrus moustache, waddled out onto the stage, and harangued us for about an hour and a half on the subject proving, absolutely, that the world was flat!
Of course, everybody was looking nervous. They didn’t understand a word he was saying. What a sense of humor! He kept a straight face. And right at the end he spent about ten minutes proving that everything that he’d said before was wrong, and of course it was wrong! Well, I was so impressed, when I got back I said to the gentleman I was staying with: “Who is this guy? What’s it all about?” He said: “Here, read this young man,” and he handed me a book which was called Lo!, one of Fort’s four books.
Well, he’d only written two of them then, and I went to a couple of other lectures by him in New York. I was so impressed that when I got back to England, I started collecting “forteana,” the same things Charles Fort was collecting.
Then I went to Latin America and I collected them there, and I was partly educated in France. English and French are the same to me, I’m bilingual. Then I learned Spanish, sort of, and I can read Portuguese. So you see, being in South America and also in Europe, I was able to take out of the newspapers all these “crazy” things that Fort used to collect, which in those days everybody thought was strictly crazy. Now we’re beginning to realize, of course, that he was one of the greatest collectors of “data” as he called it—ever.
1965: The Ivan T. Sanderson Foundation
Wanting to preserve this unique volume of material for later investigators in the field, Ivan created an organization to handle the influx of new material and to catalogue them with his older literature.
The first combined meeting of “The Ivan.T. Sanderson Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Biosciences and Geosciences” took place on August 1, 1965. This non-profit corporation was then registered in the County Clerk’s office of Warren County, New Jersey, on August 25th of that same year, in order to make the whole thing legitimate and legal.
The actual first organizational meeting of the Ivan T. Foundation apparently took place in September 1965, at a restaurant called "The Judge's Place" in Blairstown, New Jersey, in the main dining room. (See photos below.)
These images document the first organizational meeting of the Ivan T. Sanderson Foundation, the organization that preceded SITU. (The SITU promotional pamphlet says the first meeting occurred on August 1, 1965, though these slides were later dated September 1965 when displayed for an "open house" celebration in 1974.) This meeting was held at a Blairstown, New Jersey restaurant believed to be Rocco's Villa, otherwise known as "The Judge's Place," in the main dining room. In this photo, Ivan Sanderson is at the podium. The out-of-focus head to his right belongs to his wife, Alma.
Another shot of Ivan Sanderson speaking at the organizational meeting for the Ivan T. Sanderson Foundation. Ivan's literary agent Oliver Swan is to his left, and his wife Alma is to his right.
Another photo of this early meeting of the Ivan T. Sanderson Foundation, September 1965. Speaking at the podium is Walter John McGraw 2nd (died 18 November 1978, aged 59), a writer, director, and producer, mainly in radio and mostly of documentaries. The camera-shy woman sitting to the right is Alma Sanderson's "half-sister," Edna L. Currie (in actuality, Edna was not a family relative, just a good friend).
View of the now-unattended speaker's platform and audience for this early meeting of the Ivan T. Sanderson Foundation, the predecessor of SITU.
Photo of the audience observing the meeting of the Ivan T. Sanderson Foundation, September 1965, in the main dining room of what is believed to be Rocco's Villa, otherwise known as "The Judge's Place" in Blairstown, New Jersey.
Photo of Ivan T. Sanderson Estate, September 1965, at the time of the organization meeting of the Ivan T. Sanderson Foundation held in Blairstown, New Jersey. Ivan's apple trees can be seen in the backyard.
Photo of the adjournment of another meeting of the Ivan T. Sanderson Foundation, circa 1966. The photo is labeled, "Backyard Banquet at the Farm," and indeed Ivan would host lavish lunches and dinners during meetings held at his home/headquarters. Here we see a clean-shaven Ivan standing before one of his bus/laboratories, with long-time assistant Eddie Schoenenberger at right. Next two photos to the right detail "the banquet."
Following a Board meeting of the Ivan T. Sanderson Foundation at "the Farm," (the future SITU headquarters) Ivan is seen here cooking the main course of a "backyard banquet" for the board members, consisting of a large number of lobsters.
Another "banquet preparation" photo for a meeting of the Ivan T. Sanderson Foundation (SITU's predecessor), also taken on the same night, probably in 1966. While preparing a salad, Alma Sanderson poses as her "half-sister" Edna L. Currie, looks on. (Edna was a close friend, not a relative. She was born in British Honduras, today's Belieze.)
1967: ITS Foundation becomes the Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained (SITU)
It quickly became evident that the Foundation arrangement was not satisfactory—people, seeing the word "Foundation," thought Ivan Sanderson was a wealthy philanthropist who would dole out money for any crackpot project—so he and his associates created the Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained, or SITU, in 1967. Equipped with the files and materials from the Ivan T. Sanderson Foundation, SITU was designed to be a little more dynamic than a “foundation.”
As Governing Board Member Jack A. Ullrich wrote in the Society's second newsletter:
"Promoting" a Foundation sounds rather repellent, but promoting a Society and its legitimate aims is something quite else. [Newsletter No. 2. March 1968. p. 9]
Now at least, there would be a group of people around to continue to collect material on unexplaineds and investigate them long after Ivan and Alma had passed away, or so everyone thought.
Map of the Ivan Sanderson Estate and SITU Headquarters, March 1968. At this point in time the Annex building (marked "MS") was simply a machine shop and storage. This plan includes a proposed two-storey library building (marked "PNB") near the parking lot, which was never built. Instead, in August 1970, construction work by Ivan, Rich Grybos and Mike Freedman converted the Annex into a combination library and meeting facility. (Map drawn by Edgar O. Schoenenberger.)
An aerial view of 33 Ivan Road in 2009. The former SITU headquarters (nicknamed "the farm") is now the home of Ivan's former assistant, Edgar O. ("Eddie") Schoenenberger and his wife Patricia. The "Mansion House" is still there in the lower left, as are the deteriorating remnants of the Annex Building above and to the right. The bus behind the Mansion House is gone, the apple trees in the backyard are larger, and the "pool" and swamp have maintained their former water levels.
Here we see Ivan T. Sanderson busy with a phone call in SITU's main office in the "Mansion House," December 1968. Nearly all of his later books and articles were written here. The office held two large desks and one small one. The other large desk was used by Marion L. Fawcett (the future Sabina W. Sanderson) as can be seen in a later image. (Photo courtesy Richard T. Grybos.)
Closeup of Ivan Sanderson engrossed in a phone call at his desk in the main office of SITU headquarters, which he shared with Marion L. Fawcett, as you can see in the next image. (Photo courtesy Richard T. Grybos.)
A few seconds after Rich Grybos took the previous photos of Ivan Sanderson working at the SITU office, he rotated a bit to his right and took this one of Marion L. Fawcett. Following Alma Sanderson's death in 1972, she would become the second Mrs. Sanderson - using the name Sabina Warren Sanderson. (Photo courtesy Richard T. Grybos.)
Although Ivan Sanderson coined the term "cryptozoology," it was Dr. Bernard Heuvelmans who popularized it in a series of popular yet scholarly works. Ivan Sanderson and the jovial Heuvelmans were the best of friends, at least until the Minnesota "Bozo the Iceman" affair. "Bozo" was supposedly a frozen Bigfoot specimen put on display by Frank Hansen during 1967-69. Heuvelmans violated an agreement with Ivan and went ahead and independently published a report on it less than a month after seeing it for the first time: "Note Preliminaire sur un Specimen Conserve dans la glace d'une forme encore inconnu d'Hominide Vivian Homo Pongoides (Sp. Seu Subsp. Nov.)," Institute Royal des Sciences Naturelles de Belgique Bulletin. 45:4. 1969. p. 1-24. This so infuriated Sanderson that from that moment on he referred to Heuvelmans as "the Belgian swine." Indeed, in dating this photo, one can see the 30 November 1968 issue of The New Yorker sitting on the desk next to Heuvelmans, which indicates that this photo was taken during his famous December 1968 visit to SITU when zoologist and animal importer-exporter Terry Cullen called Sanderson to tell him about seeing Frank Hansen's "frozen iceman" traveling exhibit at Wisconsin State Fair the previous year and a friend's viewing of it in Chicago a few days earlier, around 17 December 1968. In early January 1969 (shortly after this photo was taken), both Sanderson and Heuvelmans drove to Rollingstone, Minnesota, and the whole "Bozo the Iceman" affair was now underway. Today, with 20/20 hindsight most experts would say with near 100 percent certainty that the iceman was a hoax, but one done so brilliantly that it fooled the two most famous legitimate scientists who also happened to be cryptozoologists. Others note that the limb proportions of the "Iceman" are identical to the creature in the Patterson film. Since the Iceman was never "defrosted," we'll never know exactly what it was. (Photo courtesy Richard T. Grybos.)
Another photo of Dr. Bernard Heuvelmans' visit to SITU in December 1968. As in the previous photo, he appears to be sitting in the smaller back office of the "Mansion House," not the Annex building. (Photo courtesy Richard T. Grybos.)
SITU Board Meeting in the uncompleted Annex building, held 1 November 1969. Michael Richard Freedman is at extreme right. (Photo courtesy Richard T. Grybos.)
Another angle of SITU Board Meeting in the uncompleted Annex building, held 1 November 1969. The dour-looking fellow with the glasses holding the cigarette is newsman Walter J. McGraw 2nd. Marion L. Fawcett is at right. (Photo courtesy Richard T. Grybos.)
SITU Board Meeting in the uncompleted Annex building, held 1 November 1969. Al Bielek is at left foreground, Walter J. McGraw is in left background. Marion L. Fawcett is at center. (Photo courtesy Richard T. Grybos.)
During the SITU Board meetings, not all of the participants could fit at the meeting table in the Annex building. Moreover, friends and relatives would be present. The bed shown here was one used by the Resident Staff, such as Rich Grybos and Michael R. Freedman. The out-of-focus head in the foreground belongs to Edgar O. ("Eddie") Schoenenberger. (Photo courtesy Richard T. Grybos.)
Although meetings had been held in the Annex Building (the former Machine Shop & Storage Building), an additional room to the Annex wasn't finished off until a construction effort occurred in August of 1970. Ivan helped work on the project, with the two principal workers being SITU resident assistants Richard T. Grybos and Michael R. Freedman. Here we see Michael Richard Freedman at work. (Photo courtesy Richard T. Grybos.)
Richard T. Grybos working on the Annex during August of 1970. (Photo courtesy Richard T. Grybos.)
Another photo of Michael R. Freedman working on the Annex Building, August 1970. (Photo courtesy Richard T. Grybos.)
Richard T. Grybos working on the Annex Building interior, August 1970. (Photo courtesy Richard T. Grybos.)
Richard T. Grybos working on the wall separating the meeting area from the file room in SITU's Annex Building, August 1970. (Photo courtesy Richard T. Grybos.)
By the end of 1970 the interior of the SITU Annex Building was pretty much completed, with the exception of conventional plumbing and toilet facilities. (Photo courtesy Richard T. Grybos.)
In this photo from May 1977, you can see that the SITU Annex was not really large enough to accommodate the many books and files of Ivan Sanderson and those contributed by SITU members. That's Steve Mayne peeking around the corner of the entrance, making sure that visitors are not walking off with the files the way they did during the time of Ivan's demise. (Photo by Richard Grigonis.)
Ivan's neighbor and SITU Board member, Allen V. Noe, donated his rock and artifact collection to the organization.
Sparky's, a bar in Blairstown, New Jersey, was where SITU procured its festive alcoholic libations. When no vehicles where available, thirsty members had to walk six miles, sometimes through the snow. (The place still exists but simply as a liquor store, renovated and under new management.) In this photo, Ivan is in the back room, no doubt investigating the mysterious sightings of a bottle of Cardow single malt scotch.
The Society was located on eight acres of property belonging to the Sanderson Estate. The property was rented from the Sanderson Estate on a 99-year lease for the legal minimum of one dollar per year. Included in the Headquarters were several buildings, among them being Ivan’s 11-room home (built in 1682, making it something of a colossal museum piece in itself) where my conversation with him was taped; a two-room concrete structure with garage (additions changed this into a much larger four-room structure); two laboratories constructed in sprung-steel bus bodies; and tool sheds. There was also a half-acre pond for their ecological delvings; a swimming pond, three acres of lawn and orchard; and four small fields for agricultural and other botanical “search” in addition to their library of maps, Sanderson correspondence and memorabilia, plus photographic and other files from the Ivan T. Sanderson Foundation. There was also a machine shop for maintenance and a small number of full-time staff members who ran the place on an annual salary of one dollar per year, plus “pocket change,” room and board.
Many radio shows that interviewed Ivan Sanderson by phone (known as "beepers") resulted in some listeners attempting to contact Sanderson and SITU with "rather extraordinary" incorrect postal addresses. On hearing of this, SITU member Jan Rubinowitz went to work in 1971 and presented the sign shown here to the Society as "A Postman's Guide." It was heralded in the April 1971 issue of Pursuit, and for many years hung in a place of honor inside the front door of the Mansion House. This photo of it was taken by Yours Truly (Richard Grigonis) in June 1974. The center column from the top to the bottom reads as follows: A POSTMAN'S GUIDE - C2 - THE ONLY TRUE INVISIBLE RESIDENCE - Home of THE BERMUDA TRIANGLE MAN and his ALMA - COLUMBIA, NEW JERSEY, N.Y. - (YOU'VE COME A LONG WAY, BABY...) - THIS SIGN AND ITS SUPPORTING EDIFICE ARE A MIRAGE... - WALKING TOURS AVAILABLE: CONSULT BRUNO, KAZIE, AND MARZIE, NON-LTD. Left side reads: UNEXPLAINED PHENOMENAE EXIST - WATCH OUT FOR RINGING ROCKS The right side reads: this is not the Society for the Investigation of the Unemployed (see Yellow Pages)
Visitors to SITU's "Mansion House" (a farm house, really) were first greeted by this bookcase holding copies of Ivan Sanderson's books, a series of artifacts (such as plaster casts of strange hominid footprints) and a painting used to illustrate a magazine article about a strange undersea object that was seen to burst through Arctic ice and fly away. (Photo by Richard Grigonis.)
Ivan T. Sanderson was a great amateur chef when it came to preparing Asian cuisine. When he tried to cook western dishes, however, he sometimes ran into trouble. An example of this occurred on Christmas Day, 1970, when Ivan decided to prepare a stuffed goose for the SITU staff and guests. Ivan somehow understimated the time it would take to cook the bird sufficiently, and the results were catastrophic (not to menion unpalatable). He had to send his assistants out into the cold on Christmas Day to find something for everyone to eat. Here we see resident staff member Richard T. Grybos (left) helping to prepare the ill-fated fowl, while Ivan (at right) continues with his elaborate preparations, unaware of the debacle just hours away. (Photo courtesy Richard T. Grybos.)
Nearly seven years after "the Christmas Goose incident," here's the scene of the crime, the Mansion House kitchen, as seen from the "Oriental Room" in May 1977. (Photo by Richard Grigonis.)
Richard T. Grybos was a member of the SITU resident staff at this time and had not yet secured employment as a photo analyst with the CIA. Engineer and SITU member Alfred D. Bielek (at right) appeared to be a highly intelligent, friendly, down-to-earth fellow who nevertheless had an "air of mystery" about him. In 1971 he was placed in charge of a SITU Standing Committee researching "Brain Control" (SITU's "low-rent" version of MKULTRA). More than a decade after this photo was taken, Bielek would travel the lecture circuit, relating the most incredible stories about his involvement with scientific luminaries and secret experiments, in particular the so-called Philadelphia Experiment. Bielek has in recent years suffered a series of strokes and now resides in a Florida nursing home. This photo was taken a day after the "Chrismas Goose fiasco." Not wanting to offend anyone or "play favorites," Ivan's holiday decorations on the Mansion House consisted of stringing lights in form of a Christmas Tree (Christianity), a crescent (Islam) and a Star of David (Judaism). (Photo courtesy Richard T. Grybos.)
The "Mansion House" which also served as the Sanderson residence had an "Oriental Room" containing some interesting items gathered by Ivan Sanderson during his many travels. Here we see his Chinese wall hanging and a hand-carved wooden chair with monkey figures from North Korea (before it turned communist). Ivan called it a "Japanese work made in Korea." The exotic Chinese wall hanging was given to Ivan's mother Stella by the last emperor of China, Puyi. View is from the kitchen - the table in foreground was used for dining purposes. (Undated photo courtesy Richard T. Grybos.)
Yours Truly makes himself at home in Ivan T. Sanderson's elaborately-carved Korean chair, June 1974. Thanks to my use of age-resistant Kodachrome film, one can still see the fabulous detail and color of Sanderson's Chinese wall hanging. (Photo by Andy Struble.)
Looking from the tapestry/dining area to the conversation/living area. This space was thus a combination living/dining room. What appears to be abstract sculptures along the edge of the ceiling and at upper right are actually various species of fungus, pried from stumps and trees, particularly in late fall. In the two old buses behind the house (used as potting sheds, labs and workshops) Ivan and the staff would spray these large fungi for insects, dry them, the spray them with metallic paint. A chic New York dealer used to sell all they could produce! (Photo circa December 1968, courtesy of Richard T. Grybos.)
Close up of wall in conversation area. One sees a sawfish nose, ostrich egg, and some sort of manta ray-like creature. (Photo by Richard Grigonis.)
Ivan and Alma's sense of decor was a bit unusual, consisting of placing on display the many exotic items they had collected on their travels. Here we see a blowfish, spiny sea urchins, a bees' nest, some tree fungi, cages and an African statuette. Not the kind of room you would see in Architectural Digest. (Photo taken around 1970, courtesy of Richard T. Grybos.)
More artifacts adorning the "Mansion House" at SITU headquarters. At upper left is a 2000-year-old stone axe found in a peat bog in Denmark. A friend of Ivan's fitted it with a beautiful cherrywood handle. Ivan used to say, "I have out-chopped a man with a regular steel axe with that." In the case of the Ghurka knife at right, Ivan would point out the notches on the handle and the stains on the blade, which he insisted were blood. At top is some spray-painted fungi. (Photo taken circa December 1968, courtesy of Richard T. Grybos.)
From Ivan Sanderson's travels: These appear to be kukri (also sometimes spelled khukri or khukuri) knives, which is a form of curved Gurkha knife that can be used as both a tool and a close combat weapon. (Photo by Richard Grigonis.)
One could never tell what one might run into at SITU headquarters, such as this map of the Nazca Lines of Peru casually sitting in a back office of the "Mansion House."
One of the two back rooms at SITU's Mansion House, facing the grape arbor, pool and pond. Both rooms had large windows - when Ivan and his associates cut into the old walls to install them, they discovered that the walls had been packed with mud for insulation. In fact, they could still see the dried fingerprints of small children who had helped to press the mud into every empty space. This is the same room and desk where Dr. Bernard Huevelmans was photographed (see earlier bar of photos) and this appears to be a member of the same series of photos. Ivan would often relax here at the end of the working day and listen to Romantic era music (e.g. Richard Wagner) or comedy records. (Photo circa December 1968, courtesy of Richard T. Grybos.)
The second back room at SITU's "Mansion House." Whereas the first "back room" (to the left of this one) was where Ivan often relaxed, listening to LP records, this one was originally a guest room, then Resident Staff member Marion L. Fawcett's quarters from around 1968 to 1972. After Alma died and Marion married Ivan, this became an office. As in the case of the other room, it also has a large window looking out toward the grape arbor, pool and pond beyond. (Photo by Richard Grigonis.)
Those live-in staff members needed that particular blend of irrational optimism, diligence and fortitude that only the young among us possess. As former Resident Staff member Richard T. Grybos told me, "There was no plumbing at the time I was living at the Annex. The sink in the building drianed into a 5-gallon pail which we would dump out back. We brought water from the farmhouse for drinking, washing, and so forth. I'll leave it to your imagination for the rest... Actually, we had a portable, sit down toilet with bags we could dispose of."
An alleged fragment of a UFO photographed at SITU headquarters, circa 1969. (Photo courtesy Richard T. Grybos.)
Roger Patterson (February 14, 1926 - January 15, 1972) became interested in Bigfoot after reading an article by Ivan Sanderson in a December 1959 issue of True magazine. Patterson published his own book about the creature in 1966. The following year, Patterson rented a 16mm movie camera and set out to make a Bigfoot documentary. Strangely enough, on October 20, 1967, he and Robert Gimlin (born October 18, 1931) allegedly stumbled across a Bigfoot in the Six Rivers National Forest in northern California, and made a 53-second film of something walking along a creek and into the woods. It became the most famous Bigfoot film in history, with scientists still divided as to whether or not it is a hoax. The case for it being a hoax is detailed in Greg Long's book, The Making of Bigfoot. Here we see a plaster cast of the alleged creature's footprint. (Photo circa 1969, courtesy Richard T. Grybos.)
Cast of a three-toed creature - not the famous Florida "Three-Toes" which is now claimed to be a hoax. (Photo circa 1969, courtesy Richard T. Grybos.)
Some of the footprint casts collected by SITU were so unusual or ill-defined that it was impossible to even speculate on what made them, such as this one. (Photo circa 1969 courtesy Richard T. Grybos.)
First "officially" observed by a Westerner in 1921 (Lt. Col. Charles Kenneth Howard-Bury of the British army), Lynn Arave of Utah's Deseret News writes that the Yeti "proved very helpful indirectly to mountain climbers in the next 30 years because it generated extra interest in the remote area [of the Himalayan region of Nepal and Tibet]. In fact, during the 1950s there were more Yeti expeditions than mountain climbing." Interestingly, Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, who climbed Everest first with Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953, never saw a Yeti in his 50 years of climbing the Himalayas. (Photo circa 1969 courtesy Richard T. Grybos.)
While visiting SITU's Mansion House in May 1977, Yours Truly (Richard Grigonis) took an assortment of strange anthropoid and hominid footprint plaster casts and laid them out on the floor. (Photo by Richard Grigonis.)
SITU’s eight acres of property and buildings formed the southern triangular tip of the 25-acre Sanderson Estate. The other 17 acres consisted of a large field and a few acres of woodland. In the past this had been leased out: The field was farmed, the woodland was used as a horse range, with the remainder reserved for ecological studies.
The main objective of the Society was, as its name implies, the investigation of everything of a factual nature that is as yet unexplained in all fields of the natural sciences. According to their explanatory literature published at the end of the 1960s: "This means search as opposed to research; and, to this end, the greater part of its energies are devoted to fieldwork and the encouragement of on the spot investigations by its members. For this, the Society provides expert advice in planning and organizing reportorial enquiries, field trips, and full-fledged expeditions; offers assistance in raising funds for such; arranges contracts for exhibits; and undertakes to obtain permits through diplomatic and other official channels."
"At the same time, the Society devotes its energies to augmenting its informational files which act as an essential reference source for all of its investigations. There is no other such source in existence since the material in the Society’s possession is either unique or otherwise scattered through rare technical literature or newspaper morgues in several dozen languages, or is miscatalogued in those larger libraries that do possess any of it."
The main objective here was not just to preserve what they had but to augment this by the receipt of original reports, tearsheets and clippings, and by correspondence; by audio tapes; by films, still photographs, and drawings; and most particularly with maps of all kinds.
Two types of research were conducted by SITU: 1) “Bibliographic” entailing a constant search for published references and for books devoted either wholly or in part to their “fortean” interests, and 2) both field and laboratory experimentation at their Headquarters.
Their final objective of SITU was to disseminate information on their findings. To this end the Society issued its journal Pursuit and “Occasional Papers” and reports. It also aided members in writing up and placing their technical reports, and in selling their “stories” to the mass-media. The latter included assistance in publicity, promotion, and public relations.
Members (numbering about 2000 at its peak) could examine and use the materials at SITU Headquarters—provided that you can find your way up there. After all, that was the whole purpose of the Society from its inception.
Interestingly, 17 top-notch scientists had the courage to lend their names to the Scientific Advisory Board of SITU, such as Dr. J. Allen Hynek, formerly the Air Force’s beloved “Dr. Swamp Gas,” of UFO fame. It was the Scientific Advisory Board’s job to examine new reports and to try to make suggestions as to why certain unexplained events might have occurred. Of course there were countless scientists who were just members, read the Society’s quarterly journal Pursuit, and sent in their comments about such things to SITU Headquarters.
A full listing of the board as of the early 1970s is as follows (most of these fellows have now passed on, with the exception of Bert Schwarz):
Dr. George A. Agogino—Chairman, Department of Anthropology, and Director, Paleo-Indian Institute, Eastern New Mexico University. (Archaeology)
Dr. N. Burtshak-Abramovitch—Academician, Georgian Academy of Science, Palaeobiological Institute; University of Tblisi. (Palaeontology)
Dr. Carl H. Delacato—Associate Director, Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential, Philadelphia, (Mentalogy)
Dr. W. C. Osman Hill—Dublin and London. (Comparative Anatomy)
Dr. J. Allen Hynek—-Director, Lindheimer Astronomical Research Center, Northwestern University. (Astronomy)
Dr. George C. Kennedy—Professor of Geology, Institute of Geophysics, U.C.L.A. (Geomorphology and Geophysics)
Dr. Martin Kruskal—Program in Applied Mathematics, Princeton University. (Mathematics)
Dr. Samuel B. McDowell—Professor of Biology, Rutgers University, Newark, N.J. (General Biology)
Dr. Vladimir Markotic—Professor of Anthropology, Department of Archaeology, University of Alberta, Canada. (Ethnosociology and Ethnology)
Dr. Kirtley F. Mather—Professor of Geology, Emeritus, Harvard University. (Geology)
Dr. John R. Napier—Unit of Primate Biology, Queen Elizabeth College, University of London. (Physical Anthropology)
Dr. W. Ted Roth—Assistant Director, Baltimore Zoo, Baltimore, Maryland. (Ecologist & Zoogeographer)
Dr. Frank B. Salisbury—Head, Plant Science Department, College of Agriculture, Utah State University. (Phytochemistry)
Dr. Berthold Eric Schwarz—Consultant (Brain-Wave Laboratory), Essex County Medical Center, Cedar Grove, New Jersey. (Mental Sciences)
Dr. Roger W. Wescott—Professor and Chairman, Department of Anthropology, Drew University, Madison, New Jersey. (Cultural Anthropology and Linguistics)
Dr. A. Joseph Wraight—Chief Geographer, U.S. Coast & Geodetic Survey. (Geography and Oceanography)
Dr. Robert K. Zuck—Professor and Chairman, Department of Botany, Drew University, Madison, New Jersey. (Botany)
RG: Of course, there are a few of what you might call “very” disbelievers.
ITS: Oh dear boy, 99 percent of everybody are disbelievers, and about 105 percent of scientists are disbelievers, but now wait a minute—it’s breaking through slowly, because you see, Fort does not deal in mystical things: The Occult, ghosts, all this kooky stuff. Rather, he deals with things like this ashtray [he slams it onto the table] bang, which you can get your hands on.
RG: Material things, you mean.
ITS: Material, physical, or we use the word tangible things.
Now, if you said to me, “I had a wonderful talk for an hour last night with my grandmother, but she’s been dead for 40 years…" No, I won’t laugh at you. I will say, “Yes young man, very interesting what you say.” But it doesn’t make any impression on me because you haven’t got a tape recording of it, you haven’t got a photograph. That’s what we call an “intangible,” because it may be absolutely true—
RG: Or it may not be.
ITS: 50-50 as far as I’m concerned. It may be your imagination, it may be a lie, it may be a hoax. On the other hand, you may be perfectly sincere. How it occurs is another matter. Maybe your grandmother did actually materialize, or maybe the whole thing was in your mind, or maybe it was in someone else’s mind and transferred to you. Or perhaps it’s the stuff that dreams are made of. I don’t have anything to do with that. I’m polite and say: “Forget it.”
It was some of those skeptics who once prompted Ivan to fume: "It has always seemed strange to me that almost everybody not only believes in, but almost casually accepts, the existence of a Universal Power, God, the Almighty, or however they choose to designate a Supreme Being, without a single iota of the sort of concrete evidence for His existence that they so clamorously demand before they will even ‘believe in’ anything as concrete as a lake or sea monster." [Invisible Residents, 1970.]
ITS: Fort dealt with objects and material matters that you could measure or weigh, but which have not been explained. Then he tried to explain them, or he went to the expert who was “most expert” in that field. There are very few experts when it comes to unexplaineds, because how can you be an expert on something which no one knows anything about? Anyhow, he’d go to a physicist on flying saucers, or he would go to a geologist on some strange thing found in the ground. He then found out that these people didn’t want these things to be explained, because they would have to re-write their textbooks, and so on and so forth. They tried to get out of it by saying: “Charles Fort is a crackpot.”
Then he turned around and said: “Well, I didn’t make this up, you wrote it yourself.” All these incidents had been reported by scientific journals, you see. Well, then they got very annoyed, because if specialists and experts can turn around and say: “This man is obviously a nut, a screwball, a wack, a kook—” that is, once they’ve said that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, everybody usually forgets it.
But if somebody turns up like Charles Fort—and now myself, and says, “But chum, I’m not kooky or anything, I am simply saying that you said this in the Journal of Anthropology, on the eighth of March, 1970. What do you mean?” The guy’s got to say something, hasn’t he? He can’t just turn around and say that he didn’t say it, because it’s in print. Then if he says that it’s all nonsense, then you say: “Well, why did you print it in the first place?” Then you say: “If it’s not nonsense, what’s your explanation?”
He can only say one of two things: He can either give you an explanation or he can say, “I don’t know.” Now, no scientist or government official is ever going to say “I don’t know,” because the one thing that an authority or an official can never say is that he doesn’t know. After all, they’re supposed to know everything, otherwise they’d lose their jobs. You follow me? Have I made that logical? Have I made it in understandable terms?
RG: Yes, but let’s think of whomever I am going to play this for later.
ITS: Well, I am, I’m saying to young people of your age: “Does it make sense, or does it not?”
RG: Oh yes, it makes sense.
ITS: All right. Well, I’ll tell you what you ought to do. You ought to play that bit of tape and run it again. Say, “Now look here, this fellow is talking with a slightly British accent, and if you don’t understand, this is the pith of the whole business. I’m going to play it back for you, because it goes one, two, three, four, five, six—little one, little two, little three.” The skeptics can’t have it both ways. This is what Fort started, this is the “glory” of Fort. He was the first one who came out and said: “I’m not making this up, you said so. Now you tell me what it’s all about.”
RG: Would you say that you are following in his footsteps?
ITS: Yes. I am because I am a great admirer of Fort, and I’m an admirer of Fort mostly as a pioneer. His knowledge of zoology was lousy. He made an awful lot of mistakes because he—well, let me put it this way: When Fort was a collector—collecting facts—he was superb. His humor was absolutely out of this world. The way he wrote, the whole of his approach to life—sort of snide, I must admit. He loved to deflate “stuffed shirts,” to put a pin in them and hear them go pop. But when he started to theorize himself, he was absolutely no good at all. As a philosopher, yes, but that was more on the humorous side. When he started to try to explain things he was shot.
Now, I look upon myself as this: I’m a great admirer of Fort, and on my own I’ve dug out a lot of the same things Fort dug out. I do have scientific training—rather a lot of it, and I’ve also spent 40 years of sort of what I think you would call in this country, “research.” I call it “search” because research is reading what other people have already searched.
So I think I know, more or less, what I’m talking about. I take the same kind of things that Fort came up with, and a lot that he never heard of, because they are coming in all the time. I try to go to work and find out possible explanations. If I can’t find a possible one, I say so. There is another whole category of explanations which are probable, as opposed to improbable. I don’t make any flat statements. The one thing that I spent all my life trying to avoid, Richard, is to fall into the trap that Charles Fort fell into, by trying to set yourself up as a know-it-all. I only make suggestions. I never state that: “That funny thing happened because...” I say: “Now that thing did happen—we’ve got all the evidence. Now, why it happened I don’t know, but Professor so-and-so made this suggestion, another Professor so-and-so made that suggestion. I have a suggestion to make.” A suggestion. But I’ll never say: “That’s the cause,” until it’s proved. Now if one of our suggestions is tried again and it works, then I can say: “We tried my suggestion and it worked. Therefore, this possibly could be the reason for all the other cases of the same nature.”
RG: Unfortunately, many “good” forteans believe Fort to be a mystic, or they have turned into mystics themselves.
ITS: That, oh Richard you're so right! That’s the terrifying thing because nobody has really understood Fort. Oh, yes, there are a few. The Willis brothers who revived the Fortean Society—they put out a publication called Info; do you get it?
ITS: I’ll see that you do—as one of our members.
The whole western world has got this crazy idea that anything that isn’t in the textbook as being pragmatic or mechanical science must be either spiritual—which is religious—or “kooky.” Just because Fort has been picking up things which they don’t understand, more and more of them go crazy or mystical. This has happened with the UFO people, the “flying saucer boys.” They started off with a perfectly straightforward thing. There are things seen in the sky which seem to be objects. I’m talking about the solid ones, not the lights. They didn’t get anywhere. Then they found that Charles Fort had had these things called OSFSs—Objects See Floating in the Sky. They put the two together and said: “Well, we can’t catch one. They seem to disappear, or suddenly appear. Some of them go hazy and they do all kinds of crazy things that we can’t do, so they must be mass hallucination or something.” The next stage was that they kept on coming and more and more people saw them so they said: “The whole thing is kooky.” By inversion they said that, therefore, everything else that Fort said was kooky.
Human beings are awfully apt to do that. If you get football teams and one makes a lousy showing, and then somebody says, “Well, that’s because their quarterback is lousy.” Then all of the sudden they turn around and say that all the other ones who lost their games this year must have a bad quarterback too.
RG: You’re saying then, that most scientists are too orthodox?
ITS: Yeah. Not the top ones, the real top boys, like we have as our advisors. People who really have arrived at the top. They’ve got open minds and they’re big enough. But from Number Two or Three down to the bottom of the ladder—you know this famous thing which you hear all the time: “Publish or perish?”
Once a scientist gets paid to be a scientist, he’s got to publish, or perish. He’s fighting for his 12,000 dollars a year, or his 20,000 dollars a year, and his lace curtains, you know, just like all the other social stuff. If you don’t keep up with the Joneses down the street—they get a new set of drapes, or a bigger car than you do—you’re out. It’s the same with scientists—they’re just a bunch of phonies. A lot of them are serious-minded people, they start off as nice young people, really enthusiastic about doing a job of research or search, and they soon get mixed up in this establishment system and then they start lying, and cheating. Oh yes, my dear sir, they don’t want to have anything come up which they don’t want!
When they get to the top—real scientists, philosophical scientists or technological scientists, they’re entirely different, you know. When you get to the top, you can afford to have an open mind, and to keep in mind all kinds of things which we don’t know about.
Now, I’m not against science, I’m against “middle-class scientists.”
RG: Charles Fort had a name for that process whereby scientists can get rid of an unexplained, didn’t he: “The Wipe?”
ITS: Yes. Here were these same people whom he called experts—in quotes. He said: “How can you be an expert on bodies burning spontaneously when the same people such as you say they don’t burn like that?”
Then he had “The Wipe.” The Wipe was, to put is very simply: A story comes up, a report. I’m a newspaperman as well, so when I get a report, I write it down in all sincerety. My colleagues generally subscribe to this dictum also. Sometimes, however, if it’s too difficult to explain, then instead of explaining it, they “explain it away.” Fort invented this term: The Wipe. Pick up a rag in the corner, get a broom and wipe it underneath, put the rug down, and nail it down. Get it away. It’s called The Wipe, and we use that term all the time.
RG: Would you say that a great many members of your organization are forteans?
ITS: I’d say they all are. I mean, why would they join us otherwise? I yack about this all the time and I write about it, and I’m trying to explain to them that we’re not against Science on the one hand, and we’re not against the mystics on the other. We’re right in the middle, we’re a different group of people. We’re entirely pragmatic. I keep on pounding this on my radio shows and everything. Simply saying, if you would like to join us, you don’t have to be a scientist. Our first member was your age. Yes, the first dollar that came when we founded the Society legally is pinned on the wall in there. Yes, he’s now 20 years old, and he’s done his stint in the Army. We’ll take any age group, and you don’t have to even be educated. Yes, I think basically that they’re all forteans. All of us have been looking for someplace where we can get together and not get laughed at. That make sense?
RG: Sure it does. Otherwise—
ITS: If it doesn’t, and they start coming here and starting this kooky stuff—well, I’m always polite, I hope—and I ask them to leave. I refuse to accept membership from anybody who thinks that we chase ghosts, and all that kind of stuff. We don’t—period, finis. I get a little tough sometimes, don’t I?
RG: Yes, ha. You’ve come across many reports that have been explained away, such as the one from Tasmania involving a “marine turtleback” on a beach.
ITS: What makes you think that was a marine turtleback? Where did you get that idea from? Well, I call it a globster. Oh no, no, the marine turtleback is a different thing altogether.
RG: I think “devil jelly” is another name for it.
ITS: No, that’s another thing again! Devil jelly are great hunks of jelly which are so cold, they burn you. They’re a sort of mauveish color and they dissolve or vaporize in air. They seem to just fall out of the sky, sometimes in connection with UFOs, and other times just “bonk!” there it is, this horrible-looking mess. The marine turtlebacks were discussed in Dr. Bernard Heuvelman’s book, In the Wake of the Sea Serpents. He broke down reports of sea monsters—several hundred of them—into seven categories. One of them he called, “The Giant Turtle.”
No, these funny things that have been washed up on the beaches of southern Australia and Tasmania—there have been about seven of them—I call globsters because they’re made of great hunks of flesh of some kind, but you can’t cut it with an axe. After lying for two years on a beach, a newspaper reporter took out his cigarette lighter, lit it, put it towards this stuff, and it all retreated. The moment he took the flame away it all came out again. A big sergeant of police with a double-headed, professional axe couldn’t cut it. They had to go and get a power saw to cut a piece off. That’s only one that was lying there for two years. It was still alive, apparently.
The funny thing was that naturally everybody said that it must have been a sea-animal of some kind washed up by a great storm from the bottom of the sea. And then a strange old gentleman in Hobarten, Tasmania popped up. This is what started all the excitement: He published a tract and said, “Look here. I know of three more of these that have popped up over the last ten or twenty years. They didn’t come out of the sea after storms,” he said, “they fell out of the sky.” Well, this puts the whole thing in an entirely different light! The local government then stepped in, and that was the last anyone ever again heard about them. The local officials even brushed off a reporter from the National Geographic Society.
This was certainly the strangest part of my conversation with Ivan. My misinterpetation of the humorous-sounding terminology he used to differentiate marine turtlebacks, globsters, and devil jellies annoyed me to the extreme, since I had carefully prepared for my interview with him. But I suppose few of us can be as well informed of such bizarre matters as was Ivan T. Sanderson.
It’s a Strange, Strange World—Ivan Sanderson’s Film Loop, John Lennon’s Bed-In
Historians tell us that the most successful world’s fair of the 20th century was probably the 1967 International and Universal Exposition, known worldwide as simply Expo 67, held in Montreal, Quebec, Canada from 27 April 1967 until 29 October 1967. It set the all-time single-day attendance record for a world’s fair with 569,000 visitors on its third day of operation. Over 50 million visitors ultimately came.
When Expo 67 closed, the property and pavilions were recast into an annual event called Man and His World, open during the summer months from 1968 to 1981. One of the most popular pavilions at Man and His World was “Le Monde Insolite,” which translates to “Strange, Strange World.” This was one of three similarly-designed, interconnected buildings built around a plaza. During Expo 67, there were four exhibit areas in these buildings: “Man and Life” in the building on the south side of the plaza, “Man, his Planet and Space” in the pavilion on the northeast side, “Man and the Oceans” on the upper level of the northwest building, and “Man the Polar Regions” on the lower level of the northwest building. It was this northwest building that would later become “Strange, Strange World.” It dealt with everything from Bigfoot, psychic phenomena, UFOs and the Loch Ness Monster, to the Piri Reis Map and the Antikythera mechanism, an ancient mechanical astronomical calculator found in an old Greek shipwreck, designed to calculate astronomical positions.
"Strange, Strange World" was part of the Terre des Hommes or Man and His World annual event, held every summer on the old Expo 67 site in Montreal, Canada, from 1967 until 1981.
The location of Strange, Strange World (near Swan Lake) is indicated at Man and His World expo on the Île Sainte-Hélène in the St. Lawrence River.
White arrow indicates the Strange, Strange World pavilion.
Photo of "Strange,Strange World" Pavilion at Man and His World expo in Montreal, Canada. Swan Lake is in foreground. In May and June 1969, Ivan Sanderson, Joseph Mark Glazner and others worked on a film for this exhibit. (Photo by Richard Grigonis.)
Photo of Joseph Mark Glazner about a year before he worked with Ivan T. Sanderson on the film for the Strrange, Strange World pavilion at Man and His World. In May and June of 1969 at Montreal's Queen Elizabeth Hotel, he traveled back-and-forth by elevator, working on the film with Ivan Sanderson on one floor and interviewing John Lennon and Yoko Ono during their famous "Bed-In" on another floor. (Photo courtesy of and copyright held by Joseph Mark Glazner. All Rights Reserved.)
Photo from a 1978 brochure for "Strange, Strange World" pavilion. See here is the escalator to the entrance and elevated walkway from other, neighboring pavilions. Mural of Peru's Nazca Lines can be seen above walkway.
This postcard depicts a view from the top of the escalator at one of the pavilions at Expo 67. When Expo 67 became Man and His World, this pavilion was reconfigured to become "Strange, Strange World."
Front of brochure for Strange, Strange World pavilion, 1978.
Back of brochure for Strange, Strange World pavilion, 1978. Text is reproduced in next photo in this sequence.
- Text of Strange, Strange World Pavilion Brochure
Top of the front page of a 1978 brochure for Strange, Strange World pavilion at Man and His World in Montreal. Text on upper right reads: Explore the Solar system and beyond. Puzzle over reports of extra-terrestrial beings. Dig into archaeological riddles. Contemplate the question of life after death. Probe into the fringes of the factual. Discover a STRANGE, STRANGE WORLD.
Bottom of the front page of a 1978 brochure for Strange, Strange World pavilion at Man and His World in Montreal. English text reads as follows: Ezechiel's Spaceship and other exhibits from the permanent collection of the Strange, Strange World pavilion will be on display at the Chicago Ancient Astronaut Society.
Brochure's upper block of English text reads as follows: Man and his World is the direct descendant of Expo '67 and retains many of the features which made Expo one of the most successful international expositions of all time. As a permanent cultural and recreational exhibition Man and his World is devoted to promoting international friendship and understanding among nations and individuals. On the occasion of its tenth anniversary its cultural and educational objectives were officially recognized by UNESCO.
Since its inauguration in 1968, some 69 countries have participated at Man and his World, and every year this unique exhibition attracts more and more visitors. In 1977, Man and his World welcomed a total of four million visitors to the 14 theme pavilions and 12 national pavilions.
Man and his World is a unique blend of displays, exhibits and demonstrations supplemented by a continuing program of cultural activities which make it truly an international festival. Each year a new theme focusing on different aspects of the nature of man pervades the exhibits and festivities.
Bottom block of English text reads as follows: One of the most popular pavilions has proven to be Strange, Strange World which boasts an average of 250,000 visitors each summer. Strange, Strange World is a thematic pavilion - the only one of its kind in the world – dealing with various enigmatic aspects of the immediate world we live in and of the universe itself.
This year, to celebrate its tenth anniversary, Strange, Strange World will renew its presentation of ever important questions: is there life in the Universe? Are we being visited by extraterrestrial beings that come from other dimensions? What do they want from us? Why do they not make themselves known? Have we been visited in the past? How can we understand archaeological riddles that do not correspond to our traditional views of ancient civilizations? From where did they get their knowledge?
True to tradition, Strange, Strange World will explore a new theme with most recent scientific discoveries: what is the real nature of man and of the world he lives in? What are these strange streams of energy that flow through his body and into surrounding matter? What is the link between form and energy? Is the Earth a huge magnet attracting energies that flow through the Universe? Can man transmit energy into matter? Are we on the point of explaining what tradition as shown us for centuries? All these questions will find an answer in Strange, Strange World.
It was inevitable that Ivan T. Sanderson and SITU would be called upon to consult on "Strange, Strange World." This occurred in 1969. On this particular project he would have help in the guise of 24-year-old Joseph Mark Glazner (aka Joseph Louis), who is today an internationally-acclaimed American-Canadian author of seven novels, and co-writer of the feature film, The Shape of Things to Come, a cult science fiction classic starring Jack Palance and Carol Lynley. Yours Truly had a conversation with him about Ivan Sanderson in December 2009.
“I grew up in Warrenville, New Jersey, in Somerset County,” begins Glazner, “ which is just north of Plainfield. It was ‘hunt’ country. We knew the Forbes and Congresswoman Millicent Fenwick and people like that because my mother was very active in local Republican politics, but of course we didn’t have quite the kind of social ‘status’ they did.”
“I attended the University of Southern California from 1963 to 1967. At the end of that time, I was now in graduate school at UCLA,” says Glazner. “This was at the point of major escalation of the Vietnam War and at the time I was classified 2-S which was a deferment for being a student. [Note: The U.S. government discontinued 2-S deferments in December 1971.] For a whole bunch of reasons that I won’t go into here, I decided I just didn’t want to deal with the Vietnam draft, which would eventually get me once I finished grad school. So in November 1967, to get a jump on what I viewed as my inevitable future, I left the U.S. to become one of the first Vietnam War draft resisters in Canada.”
Glazner continues: “By this time I already had met Derek Taylor [7 May 1932 – 8 September 1997] the British journalist who became famous for his work as the first publicist and press officer for The Beatles. He went to California in the mid-1960s. One of my college classmates was very deeply involved with him in terms of putting on the Monterey International Pop Festival in June 1967 [Taylor served as the Festival’s publicist and spokesman and is recognized today as the co-founder of the festival by many] and he was involved in the Beach Boys’ ill-fated Smile album. [In May 1967, this album project—which had the longest recording sessions of any Beach Boys album—was cancelled, and the group pulled out of their headlining spot at the Monterey International Pop Festival. Released in its place was the not-so-successful Smilely Smile album.] My classmate introduced me to Derek Taylor in October 1967. But not long afterward I found myself in Canada, making a living at the time doing various things and stringing for publications. For example, I had been working as associate editor for the supermarket tabloid, Midnight, which later became The Globe.”
Midnight was founded in 1954 by Joe Azaria, who hired John Vader as the editor because he had $14 and a $1,000 line of credit from a Montreal printer. It was first published in Montreal, Canada, and it gave America’s National Enquirer a run for its money in the 1960s, reaching a peak circulation of more than a million and a half copies a week at that time. It changed its name to the Midnight Globe in 1978 and later, simply the Globe. It is now owned by American Media Inc. of Boca Raton, Florida.
Glazner goes on: “The owner, Joe Azaria, sold the newspaper in 1969, and the owner’s younger brother resigned and I was let go the day of the sale because the new owner was eventually going to ‘clean house’ and we were the most obvious people to get rid of first. So I was scrambling around to make a living. When Azaria started another newspaper, a New York Daily News-like tabloid, the Sunday Express, I began stringing for that as well as freelancing for a couple of small local film companies while trying to sell an original screenplay to yet another company. I was 24 years old.”
“It was precisely at this moment when I was juggling all these piecemeal jobs in May 1969 that John Lennon and Yoko Ono came to Montreal to do their second ‘Bed-In’,” says Glazner.
The couple’s first Bed-In followed their 20 March 1969 marriage, with John and Yoko promoting world peace by spending their honeymoon in the presidential suite (Room #702) at the Amsterdam Hilton Hotel between March 25 and 31 1969, allowing reporters into their hotel room daily between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. Their second Bed-In started on May 26, 1969, when they flew to Montreal and stayed for seven days in Rooms 1738 and 1742 at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel. During this time they invited Timothy Leary, Dick Gregory, Tommy Smothers, and a considerably hostile Al Capp to see them--everyone but Al Capp sang on the recording of the song “Give Peace a Chance,” made right in the hotel room on 1 June 1969. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) also conducted interviews from the hotel room.
“I got a call from the Sunday Express managing editor and was told, ‘Go see John Lennon. He’s having a press conference at Noon. Go to the Queen Elizabeth Hotel and ask for Derek Taylor’,” says Glazner.
Glazner muses, “The irony of the whole thing—and it’s one of those weird coincidences—was that when I got the call that morning I was already heading out the door to go to the Queen Elizabeth Hotel anyway. That’s because I was going to see Ivan T. Sanderson, who just happened to be staying at the hotel during the same week that John Lennon was there holding his Bed-In. Ivan was there because he had been hired by one of the small film companies I was working for to help put together a film loop about unexplained phenomena to be projected continuously at the ‘Strange, Strange World’ Pavilion at the Man and His World Expo in Montreal. The film loop would consist of footage of such things as UFOs, the Loch Ness monster, Sasquatch, and so forth. Sanderson was brought to Montreal as basically as a consultant, because he was one of the few scientists who was an expert about unexplained phenomena and he had worked in film and television. I was hired to help him.”
“Once I got through hotel security and met Ivan for the first time, I told Ivan, ‘Look, I’ve got to go upstairs to see John Lennon, because I had to cover the Bed-In for the newspaper. I told him about my having met Derek Taylor and all that, and I asked him if he thought I should go up there early. Ivan replied, ‘Yes, definitely! Come back and tell me everything that’s going on in there.’ And that’s essentially what I did.”
“Over the next week I spent half my time at the Bed-in upstairs, and the other half with Ivan in his room on a lower floor of the Queen Elizabeth Hotel,” says Glazner, “which became our base of operations in a search for weird film footage. I was calling all sorts of places like Brazil, Europe and Asia as we attempted to locate any legitimate film material available that showed unexplained phenomena. Once we found some good footage, we would then arrange for it to be brought back to the little film company, which would edit together the film loop to play on a constant basis at ‘Strange, Strange World’. One of the people who worked on the film was a UCLA film school graduate, Nancy Dowd, who had come to Montreal to work for the film company that summer. In 1979, she would win an Academy Award for best original screenplay [shared with Waldo Salt and Robert C. Jones] for the 1978 anti-war film, Coming Home."
Glazner pauses for a moment and reflects: “What stood out most about Ivan was that he was a very warm person who had an incredible amount of personal magnetism. He was not only charismatic in the sense that he had an interesting personality and knew all kinds of things, but he was truly born curious. He was quite talkative and could talk a great deal about himself and his adventures if you asked him to, but most of the time he was intensely curious about everything and he was always very interested in everybody around him. He really listened to you and made you feel that he wanted to know everything about you and what you were up to. He wanted to know what was going on in Montreal and what life was like for me and who I actually was and all that stuff. ”
“I also was impressed by Ivan’s integrity. He was up-front about everything. Fortunately, he took a liking to me and the interaction we had while working on the film project. He even asked me several times to start up a Canadian branch of his Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained, but I just didn’t have the administrative skill to do it. However, I would have been fascinated by the whole thing if I had been able to do it. We wrote back and forth to each other a few times, and he even sent me a copy of one of his books with the inscription, ‘To My Soulmate,’ which was very nice. He was just a wonderful, brilliant, fascinating guy.”
There are some other fascinating things that happened regarding Glazner’s dealings with John Lennon and Ivan Sanderson, but I’ve promised not to reveal these secrets, at least not yet—he’s in the process of writing a huge, eye-opening memoir on the 1960s and many of the era’s “household names” with which he was acquainted.