Monday, November 26, 2007

A Conversation with Coral Lorenzen

Maybe you wonder why some of my blog entries seem irrelevant to your interest. I know a lot of this seems to be all about me, and that's because (unfortunately) much of it is about me. It's a blog, my name's at the top and if you sometimes think, oh, good grief, this guy is so full of himself, I guess that's an unintended impression I leave. However, my primary concern here is to offer whatever I can for historical reasons. I suspect that many UFO researchers of the past didn't send or receive as many letters as I, and if they did chances are their collections were simply thrown in the trash by surviving relatives or friends after their demise, people with no understanding of the historical treasures they condemned to extinction.

Therefore, I beg your indulgence when I get personal about important UFO researchers or witnesses of the past. I just want some things on the record, particularly when I believe that few, if anybody, had the opportunity or desire to bring these little nuggets to the forefront.

Readers who follow this blog realize that I had occasional phone conversations with Jim and Coral Lorenzen, the late couple who originated the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO) in 1952, one of the oldest UFO research groups in the world. In my old files I've found notes made during an afternoon call to Coral on Saturday, May 29, 1976, and today I'll just list a few points from that conversation:

My reason for calling was to ask how Jim was doing, as he continued recovery from recent cardiac bypass surgery. Coral recalled that night when Jim felt so poorly and frightened about his condition. He had phoned his physician emergently, and when the surgeon replied that he would be at the hospital in one hour Jim responded, no, I want you there now. The operation proved successful.

Jim's post-surgical depression and spirits had lifted significantly the previous week when he appeared, still accompanied by a weakened voice, with alleged UFO abductee Travis Walton on ABC-TV's "Good Morning America," hosted by David Hartman, who was joined by actor Paul Michael Glaser of the "Starsky and Hutch" TV series (as the art of coincidence goes, I guess I should mention that Glaser's acting TV partner in the series, David Soul, appeared in the UFO-related TV movie, "The Disappearance of Flight 412," mentioned a couple of blog entries ago). The weeks after surgery had been chaotic, with medical insurance not covering enough and Coral losing weight because of worry over Jim's ordeal. While in Hollywood, the Lorenzens had spoken with an unidentified motion picture producer who expressed considerable interest in making UFO documentaries.

We talked about her new book, Encounters with UFO Occupants, actually an updated version of Flying Saucer Occupants. She also labored busily on a future book about UFO abductions. I was interested to learn that she had also written a science fiction story about a time in the 1930s when people saw a landed UFO with occupants exiting and then re-entering the object, which quickly departs. All witnesses, from the town drunk to the highest official, decide not to tell anybody for individual reasons of their own. To her regret, Coral had been unable to sell this one. I wonder what happened to it?

There were troubles at the magazine, Official UFO. Coral knew very well by then that its editor and his boss had serious disagreements (I'll write more about this situation in another blog entry), but was surprised when I informed her that he had already resigned on May 1.

Nor was it ever a secret that there had been "bad blood" between APRO and another major UFO organization known to many. In this conversation, Coral excoriates its director, who has just assumed the position of editor for the group's membership publication following a resignation ("Can you imagine what a mess that will be?" she asks). She asserts that he was once an APRO member who broke away to form his own organization, calling APRO members around the country in the process in an attempt to get them to abandon APRO. One APRO member had even taped a call from him and played it for Jim and Coral, who stated he said some terrible things about they, the Lorenzens.

Before ending our talk, I did ask Coral about her UFO opinions, in light of the Travis Walton abduction case and others then coming to light. Without hesitation, and with perhaps the only laughter induced during a call enhanced by her coughing and obvious weariness, she merely shot back this response: "Beats me."