Thursday, August 2, 2007
Coral Lorenzen Took No Prisoners
If you read my tribute to Coral Lorenzen (in an earlier blog entry), who started the now defunct UFO organization APRO (Aerial Phenomena Research Organization) with her husband Jim in 1952, you know how much respect I had for them. They are deceased.
History must also come to grips with the fact that Coral, like women who have come so far in traditional areas of employment and education over the years, was a woman who truly sparkled in the UFO research area. That's not to say there aren't others, for there are, but Coral was a pioneer among the women of UFO research, and because that troublesome term, "UFO" enters the stage, gaining the respect and acceptance of her name and accomplishments in traditional society will be a slow process.
You should also know -- if you are as unfamiliar with Coral as I think you are because, frankly, a lot of the older UFO researchers are dead now, so I'm assuming most of my readers are new to the UFO subject -- that she had her enemies. Well, maybe enemies is too strong a word. What I should say is that some people in the UFO "field" plain, flat-out disliked Coral, and she didn't particularly care for some of them. No, I don't want to start parading out names. I have entitled this entry as I have because if she didn't like somebody, Coral "took no prisoners." She didn't nice-up the circumstances, instead saying what was on her mind about people. If you did something to incur Coral's displeasure, she remembered forever. She told it the way she saw it. In a world where so many people wear two or more faces, I think she only had one, and I appreciated her all the more for her honesty and integrity. For her moral sense.
We had phone conversations from time to time and she would tell me things about various UFO "personalities" and the dirt and baggage they carried that would amaze. One time, she related something of such a bizarre nature with potential implications for a member of the scientific community that I'll be taking it to my grave; it isn't something anybody needs to know. Nor would the likely inevitable lawsuit for fostering a "rumor" appeal to me. In fact, you'll find it not uncommon at all for folks who have spent any time looking into UFO reports to harbor secrets, because some things are both told and consequently then held in strictest confidence.
But, you'll ask, well, if you're not telling, why mention it? I mention it because I want to emphasize that after a time, once Coral and I spoke or wrote on a first-name basis -- unlike the early letters posted here, where she addresses me as "Mr." -- I knew we could trust one another's judgment, and she was truly a friend via correspondence and the occasional phone conversation. Was I an inner circle-type friend? Good grief, no. I never met Jim or Coral personally, and I'm sure my relationship with them merely equaled that of numerous other APRO associates. Yet, they did arrange for me an entrance into the world of writing for national magazines, so how does one gauge degrees of friendship on that incredible basis?
I think a substantial number of problems Coral and other researchers encountered with one another in an area already rife with jealousies concerned a perceived unwillingness of APRO to share UFO information, whereas much of the disagreement came about because APRO wished to protect information and witnesses -- and, obviously, Coral had the right to include results of APRO's investigations in her books and A.P.R.O. Bulletin issues, if the only other option was for unscrupulous writers or so-called investigators to steal the documentation for their own purposes. Oh yes, Coral knew the UFO arena well, and no less the factions recognized for pitching intellectual circus tents of every enticing, deceitful and just plain crazy color imaginable.
Today, we'll post four letters from Coral Lorenzen. Actually, one is a snippet that she typed and returned on a letter I had sent her regarding permission to use various APRO items in something I was writing for eventual publication (a project I abandoned). Here, she makes reference to the Lorenzens' close friend, the late Dr. Olavo T. Fontes, a physician and prominent Brazilian UFO researcher whose writing and work has long been quoted in international UFO literature.
In yet another letter, Coral delineates the reasons why she believes the organizations APRO and NICAP are so different in their approach to UFOs -- yet each so necessary in its own way. Though she takes great care to say she isn't condemning NICAP's UFO goals, well, she is offering criticism. But the generally unspoken, and even denied, rivalry between NICAP and APRO was never a secret anyway.
However, as another letter shows, Coral was hardly a fan of veteran broadcaster Frank Edwards. In this instance, she takes him to the UFO woodshed for several errors he allegedly made in reporting about the 1964 Socorro, New Mexico UFO case (patrolman Lonnie Zamora's encounter with a landed object and apparent small figures).
Edwards, affiliated with NICAP, was a veteran broadcaster, for many years with the Mutual Broadcasting System, who gained national notoriety by both speaking and writing about UFOs. I loved his early paperback book, My First 10,000,000 Sponsors, about radio's early days and his days in early radio broadcasting.
Obviously, Coral rakes Edwards over the coals about Socorro, especially because she and Jim were on the scene within hours after the incident and knew the details well. Nevertheless, while it's not up to me to defend Frank Edwards, who performed a monumental service in the fifties and sixties by alerting the public to government UFO policy and dramatic reports, I will make one point. Unlike Coral, who was a seasoned writer with time to research her cases thoroughly before writing about them, Edwards was brought up in the broadcaster mode: Get the story, pow, get in and report it, pow, then get out and go on to some other piece of news because radio's time constraints wait for no one. Given the choice, I think Frank Edwards would find the truth and nothing but the truth preferable to tidbits thrown together, but, again, precision and intricacies played a small role in his radio days. There just wasn't time, and the writing in his books reflected the same background. Of course, Coral didn't see things that way when conjuring up Frank's name!
There will be more about the Lorenzens and APRO presented here. The organization is no more and its invaluable files are with people I don't know. The disposition of APRO's extensive global case files has been a source of controversy for years, unfortunately -- unlike, conversely, the matter of NICAP's files which, to everybody's good fortune, now belong to the J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS).
In the next blog entry, I'll include three Lorenzen book covers, a sampling of several books Jim and Coral wrote about UFOs. In Encounters with UFO Occupants, they were kind enough to list each and every one of their field investigators, including yours truly, state by state and country by country, in way of thanking us for being a part of APRO. In many ways, as Coral flatly states in one of the letters shown here, APRO's international connections really did make the organization something akin to "the United Nations of UFO research."
(Read more about my relationship with Coral Lorenzen at nicap.org, where you may access the site search engine to look up my article, "Coral Lorenzen and the Ubatuba UFO Fragments.")