Saturday, July 18, 2009

John Keel Interviewed by Kenn Thomas

This is what appeared in Steamshovel Press #7 of my 1993 interview with John Keel. The interview was much longer and I’m transferring the tape of it into a digital.

Kenn Thomas,

John Keel Discusses Winged Cats, Mothmen and Unidentified Flying Objects
Interviewed by Kenn Thomas

Q: Mothman Prophecies is a regarded as a classic ufological world and it details your experiences in Point Pleasant, West Virginia in the mid 1960s but the book wasn't published until the mid-1970s.

A: It took almost ten years for the book to be published. It came out around 1975. The New York editors had never heard about some of the things in the book and didn't care very much. They only know what they read in the New York Times. If they didn't see it in the Times then it doesn't exist for them. Although this material got nationwide publicity it didn't get much publicity in New York City itself. That was a handicap.

I happened to be in West Virginia when the story broke. I was there investigating a winged cat.

Q: A winged cat?

A: Yes, there was a famous winged cat down in West Virginia. A young boy had found this cat in a woods and he decided it was worthy of public attention and so he charged ten cents a look. All of his neighbors lined up to see this winged cat for ten cents. He came to New York and did the Today show. The cat's name, as I recall, was Thomas. And then one of his neighbors suddenly appeared and said, "That my cat!" and demanded the cat back. There was a big controversy about this winged cat down in Beckley, West Virginia. And I was in Beckley, West Virginia when this story in Point Pleasant broke. So I went and talked with the witnesses there and got involved with this.

Q: The Point Pleasant experiences, of course, all involved a winged man.

A: This was two young married couples in an automobile, driving through an area outside of Point Pleasant called the TNT area. It was really a sort of lover's lane kind of thing, a sort of isolated area. It had been used in the Second World War to manufacture high explosives and had been closed ever since. They were driving through this area and they suddenly saw this large creature standing next to a building there. He was larger than a large man, they said, and he had fiercely glowing red eyes. And suddenly he spread his wings and he had a ten foot wing span and he started chasing the automobile. And these teenagers, they were all under twenty years old so I'll call them teenagers, they were so terrified that they drove as fast as their jalopy would take them to the local police station. It takes quite a lot to get teenagers to go to the police in any town. They were terrified. And the police were very impressed by their story. So the police held a press conference the next day and the story carried on all the wire services. That's how it all began.

In the end, I had tracked down over a hundred witnesses, all of whom had seen this creature. Some of them very prominent people in the area. One was a local banker, the head of the Chamber of Commerce. Eventually the wife of one of the deputy sheriffs saw this thing. Quite a few people saw it. But nobody ever got a picture of it.

Unfortunately, the winged cat shed its wings. The wings fell off. That ended the controversy. When the wings fell off it was just another cat and so the neighbor said, "That's not my cat! I don't want that cat!" So the boy had the cat Thomas, I guess, until it died.

Q: The appearance of Mothman, of course, was just the beginning of the weirdness at Point Pleasant, right?

A: It got more and more complicated as time went on. The witnesses to this thing began to have other experiences., UFO type experiences. Interference with their television sets, strange phone calls, a multitude of things like poltergeist manifestations. It just seemed to grow and grow. And people began to see UFO type lights over the TNT area itself and finally great crowds of people would gather every night to watch the UFOs go over. You could almost set your watch by them. All up and down the Ohio Valley they were seeing things during that period anyway. Between 1964 and 1968 there were thousands of UFO sightings all over the country, in fact all over the world. It was a major UFO wave.

In the Army I studied psychological warfare. I was a propaganda writer in the Army. I know quite a bit about psychology and I certainly know a lot about these people in West Virginia and other areas. And they're usually not seeking attention and they're certainly not the kind of people who have that kind of imagination that would make something up. Most of them are often very sorry afterwards that they even said anything to anybody.

I've had a lifetime background in journalism and professional writing. I really don't have any major theories about any of this. I just find that none of theories that have been forth work. The extraterrestrial does not work at all when you the study all of the aspects of the UFO phenomenon. It simply doesn't work. We're dealing with manifestations that have been reported throughout the centuries, not just in modern times.

Our version of reality is probably as wrong as an ant's version of its reality. The ant can only perceive things immediately around it and then it perceives it in a wrong way. People really have no sensory equipment at all. Our eyes are very limited in what they can see and our hearing is also very limited. Many animals have better hearing than we do. AN eagle certainly has better eyesight. Our perceptions are very wrong in many ways.

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