Truth be told, Erich von Daniken was a johnny-come-lately in the field of extraterrestrial visitation. Still, just about the time his "researches" were hitting the paperback racks of the nation's drugstores, I was a curious and impressionable 12 year old looking for some mental stimulation. I discovered some new editions of two books by a Mr. Frank Edwards that promised to be a wealth of knowledge on the odd and paranormal (what with their Chariot of the Gods typeface and all), and I begged my parents to snag them for me. Happily, they heard my plea and the paperbacks popped up in my Christmas stocking that year, along with a pair of Groucho Marx glasses.
Flash forward a couple of years. I was now living in Roswell, NM, the interplanetary ground zero for Planet Earth. As the greater Roswell Chamber of Commerce hadn't realized the income potential of this fact, I was blissfully unaware. Still, in a little junk shop I found, among the crystal candy dishes and doilies, several back issues of FATE, a little pulp magazine out of the fifties, dedicated to the weird, the paranormal , and the sale of advertising space to the Rosicrucians. And there was good old Frank, a chunky meat-and-potato kind of guy, with his BCG's and portly frame. It seems Frank had a regular column in FATE, from which most of the pieces in his books had been lifted.
So, I found this book recently, in a lovely 1964 edition complete with dust jacket, and all the old favorites were there: "UFO Explodes Over Nevada", "UFO Over Hawaii", "The Search for the Hairy Giants", "The Monster Apes of Oregon", "The Enigma of the Atomic Tornadoes", "The Ghost Was Right!", "Monster on the Beach", "Ramu the Wolf Boy", "Bobby the Wonder Boy", "The Coffins are Restless Tonight!", "The Runaway Coffin Comes Home", "Exploding Fish Bowl", and the viral classic "Our Martyred Presidents".
Some of these pieces have the whiff of possibility, some seem suspiciously like Mr. Edwards had a deadline, and most seem like sources of Roky Erickson lyrics. No matter. Don't believe everything you read in a book, but at least stay awake to the possibility that the world is stranger, much stranger, than the evidence of pedestrian reality might suggest.