Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Sunday, October 11, 2015


Long John Nebel, a well-known radio talk show host, ruled the all-night radio waves from the mid-Fifties to his death in 1978 with a mix of unusual and off-beat subjects from UFO's to ESP to conspiracy theories to ghosts.  Because of the spontiniety of his show, Nebel was one of the first radio hosts to incorporate the seven-second delay.  Among his frequent guests were Jackie Gleason (who offered a million dollars to anyone who could prove that aliens were visiting Earth and who tore apart Gray Barker in an on-air argument; Barker was the one who propagated the "Men in Black" legend), science fiction writers Lester del Rey and Frederik Pohl (both of whom could speaak cogently and rationally about a number of subjects; each appeared more than 400 times on Nebel's program), and debunker extrodinaire The Amazing Randi.  Nebel styled himself as a "curious skeptic" while allowing his guest to promote some rather far-off views.  Nebel's wife and co-host of the show following their marriage, was former model and pin-up girl Candy Jones, who clained to be the victim of CIS mind control experiments.

The Shaver Mystery was a fraud/hoax/publicity stunt promulgated by the then-editor of  Amazing Stories, Raymond Palmer.  In 1943, Richard Shaver, a former mental patient, wrote Palmer that he had discovered an ancient language, Mantong, which was the source of all human languages.  By using Mantong, Shaver was able to find the hidden meanings in words used today.  It turns out that Shaver was able to hear telepathically the  thoughts of evil entities in subterranean caverns.  These beings, known as Deros, are the remants of an alien race that came to Earth thousands of years ago.  Deros are resposible for just about all the ills that have plagued mankind over the centuries.  At one time, Shaver claimed to be held captive underground by Deros for years.  Palmer took a manuscript submitted by Shaver, added a plot and some juvenile flash-bang and published it in Amazing Stories, claiming that the story was based on truth.  This "Shaver Mystery" became a phenomenon with many people offering similar claims.  Shaver clubs spawned like mushrooms and Shaver continued to publish dozens of stories in Amazing about the "Mystery."  For a four-year period in the mid- to late-Forties, about three quarters of the content of Amazing Stories was Shaver Mystery related.  Shaver and his ramblings had served its purpose -- the magazine's sales soared.  By the Fifties under new editors, the "Shaver Mystery" was gone from the magazine with the exception of one special Shaver Mystery issue in the July 1958 issue of Fantastic, a companion magazine to Amazing Stories.

About Raymond Palmer:  Palmer was a talented and genius huckster.  Stunted and crippled by an accident when he was seven (he grew to be about four feet tall and had a hunchback), Palmer found his refuge in science fiction.  He was the co-editor of the (arguably) genre's first fanzine and, at 29, found himself the editor of Amazing Stories, started in 1926 by Hugo Gernsback as the first professional science fiction magazine.  Palmer immedately ignored the magazine's backlog of rather staid stories and transformed Amazing into a vehicle for juvenile space-opera adventure.  Palmer went on to found Fate, a forerunner magazine in the paranormal field.  He was the first to publish Kenneth Arnold's story about flying saucers which began the UFO craze.  In later years he championed a man who claimed to be Jesse James.

Anyway, that's the background to Nebel, Shaver, and Palmer.  Here's a 1956 episode of Nebel's show taking on The Shaver Mystery.

BTW, This book should be brought to your attention:  War Over Lemuria:  Richard Shaver, Ray Palmer, and the Stangest Chapter of 1940s Science Fiction by Richard Toronto (Jefferson, NC:  McFarland & Company, 2013).

Also BTW.  Despite appearances, the Shaver Mystery was not an influence in the creation of Scientology.  At least, that's what Xenu told me.

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