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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2007 > May > May 11

H. Allen Smith And Charles Fort

From: Jerry Hamm <zoomar1.nul>
Date: Thu, 10 May 2007 18:19:45 -0700 (PDT)
Fwd Date: Fri, 11 May 2007 08:38:29 -0400
Subject: H. Allen Smith And Charles Fort


Dear List,

In H. Allen Smith's 1962 autobiography, To Hell In A Hand
Basket, at the end of Chapter 18, entitled The World's Worst
Reporter he recounts his attendence at the first meeting of the
Fortean Society in 1931, and his encounter with Charles Fort.

Smith was born in McLeansboro, Illinois in 1907 and became a
newspaper reporter at the age of 19. He later became a humorist
author who was very popular in the 1940's and 50's. He died in
1976. He spent four years of his childhood living in my hometown
of Defiance, Ohio, after his family moved there from Decatur,
Illinois in 1918.

Quoted below, Smith discusses the event which ended his one-
track pre-occupation with literary people.

-----

The instrument responsible for my disillusionment, I think, was
a man known as The Mad Genius of the Bronx - Charles Fort. He
had serious doubts that the earth revolves around the sun. He
scoffed at medical science even on his deathbed. He subscribed
to theories that a mud turtle would blush to believe.

I attended the first meeting of the Fortean Society in a suite
at the Savoy Plaza on a cold, snowy night in 1931. Theodore
Dreiser was there and Burton Rascoe and Ben Hecht. Tiffany
Thayer, the novelist, was present as secretary of the Society
but Dreiser did most of the talking. Fort himself, somewhat
fishfuddled by it all, sat and puffed quietly at a cigar. I was
told that Edgar Lee Masters, Booth Tarkington, John Cowper
Powys, and Alexander Woollcott were among Charles Fort's
followers.

Fort wrote books about weird natural phenomena, especially a
force called teleportation - the reverse of gravitation. He
cited scores of instances in which objects have been swished off
the earth to vanish in space. Among these mysterious
disappearances were not a few human beings who were standing in
the middle of the road one moment and gone forever in the next.
He called attention, for example, to the simultaneous
disappearance of Ambrose Bierce in Mexico and Ambrose Small in
Canada. Was someone Out There collecting Ambroses? Fort
suspected as much.

Dreiser and the others at that little dinner made a tremendous
fuss over Fort. A week or so later I went to visit the old boy
in his grubby apartment up in the Bronx. I wanted to look at his
files, the records which Dreiser had talked about so much. They
consisted of thousands of newspaper clippings plus more
thousands of penciled notes, written in a code known only to
Fort, and these were pigeon--holed around the apartment, many of
them packed away in old shoe boxes.

Fort showed me a game of supercheckers he had invented, in which
he employed one thousand men, moving them by battalions on a
board containing some seven thousand squares. He told me that
the stars were not actual bodies in space but that they were
merely apertures in a gelatinous substance surrounding the
earth. What we see is a light shining through these holes. Fort
pursued this notion to such lengths that he once warned aviators
against the gelatinous shell, declaring that if they were not
careful they might find themselves stuck like currants in a
blancmange.

He said there were fields of ice as big as those in the Arctic
Ocean floating around in the sky. Hence, winter.

He went on and on, and I got to thinking about Dreiser and the
others who were trumpeting his genius and I lost some of my
blind enthusiasm for book authors. I began writing about movie
actresses and strippers and athletes and. . . The Greatest Man
in the World [Albert Einstein].

-----


Best Wishes,

Jerry Hamm



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