Myth Monday: The Nudists from Space (Aliens & UFOs)
By Kara Newcastle
All right, so this isn’t exactly a topic that is widely documented in the realm of aliens and UFOs, but it’s weird, so it’s perfect for my weird alien blogs … though I will say that trying to find illustrations to go with this blog was quite the experience.
The late-1800s up to the early 1900s was awash in reports of giant floating airships. Hot air balloons were well known in the 1800s, but “lighter than air” craft—such as blimps—weren’t constructed until 1900. Therefore, when these things hovered past, they sent the overly straight-laced and deeply repressed Victorians into a veritable panic (see my blog The Great Worcester MA Airship Hoax—Or Not?, for an example from my home state!) And how did the denizens of Earth conclude that the ships were of extraterrestrial origin? Mostly because the crews of the airships told them.
This takes us to our two rather unique examples.
In April of 1897, not far from Springfield, Missouri, one Mr. W.H. Hopkins, a traveling salesman, was out in his wagon when he perchance upon one of these intergalactic airships. It had landed … somewhere … and standing before it was a breathtakingly beautiful woman.
Oh, by the way—she was naked. Like, stark naked. Nothing on but a smile naked. A naked woman standing in front of a grounded twenty-foot long, eight-foot wide, three propellered mystery airship from outer space. Hopkins said she was, “the most beautiful being I ever beheld … She was dressed in nature’s garb and her golden hair, wavy and glossy, hung to her waist …”
Oh, what should a man of undescribed age do while living during a time when a woman’s moral character was called into question when so much as an ankle was mistakenly revealed?
What pretty much any guy would do: he went over for a closer look.
As Hopkins approached the bare-naked lady, a bearded man “of noble proportions and a majestic countenance,” according to Hopkins, suddenly appeared—and he too was nekkid. The woman screamed and ran into the bearded man’s arms. The man then shot Hopkins a threatening look. I think most of us would take one look at this scene and conclude we had interrupted somebody’s date, but no such thoughts crossed Hopkins’ mind.
Hopkins tried to explain that he meant no harm, but the man spoke aggressively in a language Hopkins didn’t recognize. Trying again, Hopkins offered his hand to the man, who accepted it, then kissed the hand of the woman, making her blush. Thus charmed, the space trekking nudists invited him into the airship, where they examined his clothes, his gray hair and gold watch with great interest. At some point, Hopkins asked them where they were from. Neither the woman nor the man—both still au naturel—could speak English, but they pointed up to the sky and said something that sounded like “Mars.” (Sure they did.) Hopkins noticed that the aliens were sweating quite a bit; if the aliens really were from Mars, the fourth planet in our solar system, they might have found Earth’s climate much warmer, since we’re so much closer to the sun.
As Hopkins stood inside the ship, speaking with the two birthday-suited aliens, he realized that the ship was starting to lift into the air. Hopkins bailed out of the door, narrowly escaping abduction and God knows what else.
Get your minds out of the gutter, perverts.
Hopkins recorded this all in a letter and sent it to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which printed his story on April 19, 1897 (I have also seen the date listed as April 10.) Allegedly, the Post-Dispatch sent a reporter to interview Hopkins’ family and acquaintances, and everyone agreed that he was not prone to telling tall tales. While I’ve read accounts of this in various books and articles, I haven’t seen any copies of the printed letter itself. I don’t know how or if Hopkins described what the aliens looked like, or what the interior of the ship was like.
I’m calling bullcrap on this one. Yes, I know, there were many sightings of phantom airships around the world at this time, and there have been other encounters with human-like alien beings with blonde hair (the Nords), but what really makes me doubt this story is the time period in which it was printed. Many newspapers in the 1800s to early 1900s would engage in “yellow journalism” from time to time. Yellow journalism is the term given for fake stories reporters would write up to pad their newspaper to bolster sales. You would see these crazy stories in one paper, but it would never be followed up by any other local news agency—such as the story of Mr. Hopkins here. People interviewed would have fairly common-sounding names or be identified only by their initials, making them difficult to locate, and locations were vague. Furthermore, this was the 1890s—people thought it was vulgar for a woman to wear cotton gloves, for God’s sake. Don’t you think that W.H. Hopkins should have been at least a little perturbed by seeing an unclad female standing out for the world to see?
Oh, but hang on, I have another story of alien naturists for you. You might want to strap yourselves in for this one.
Some 53 years later on March 28, 1950, Samuel Eaton Thompson, a poorly educated former railroad worker in his seventies, was driving through the forests of Mineral, Washington, heading back to his home in Centralia (also listed as Markham) after visiting friends. During his drive, Thompson came across an old logging road and thought it would be fun to explore it. He didn’t go very far before he found what he described as “something unheard-of.”
In a clearing in the forest, Thompson chanced upon a round, rimmed craft floating just above the trees, with a wide, open door in its side and a set of steps descending from it. Describing it as a flying saucer, Thompson said that he was a little surprised to see it, but that’s not the unheard-of thing he was talking about (I mean, you see one flying saucer, you’ve seen them all, right?) What really took him aback was a pair of naked children playing around on the steps.
Thompson approached the beings feeling more excited than afraid (shut up). He said that when he got within 50 feet of the UFO, he could feel sun-like heat radiating from it. He concluded that this must be why the aliens were so tanned. Makes about as much sense as the rest of the story.
A group of naked adults appeared at the open doorway of the ship and seemed to be nervous. Thompson promised that he came in peace, so the aliens invited him into their ship—provided he take his shoes and socks off first. Don’t go tracking that Earth crap into that shiny new spaceship.
Thompson claims that he spent 40 hours inside the ship with the naked aliens , describing them as beautiful, darkly tanned, child-sized humans with waist-length blonde hair. The aliens were exceedingly friendly and gentle, rather child-like, but spoke poor English. They told Thompson that they were from Venus, and wanted to be friends with Earthlings. However, they were frightened because the Earthlings had weapons that had already shot several Venusian ships out of the sky. The Venusians were vegetarians who ate raw fruits and nuts very much like those “grow in Minnesota and them places,” according to Thompson (his words, and it’s interesting to note that Thompson was born in Minnesota, which we’ll discuss later.) There was no illness on Venus, and death only comes with old age. They have no concept of time, embarrassment, or criminality. They always live on their ship, which is indeed powered by heat, but they don’t know who actually made their space RVs, and don’t really know how the things work in the first place. He also mentioned that the naked E.Ts felt cold in Earth’s climate, since Venus is so much closer to the sun and therefore warmer. Well, if they just put on some damned clothes they wouldn’t have this problem, now would they?
They went on to tell Thompson that the only planet they fear more than earth is Mars, because Martians were incredibly mean, and that’s because anybody born under the sign of Mars can’t help but be mean … and Martians were born on Mars, so that’s why they’re mean. They explained that anybody born under the sign of Venus is kind and peaceful, and Thompson himself was born under that, which they recognized as soon as they saw him. They added that if he continued to live as a good person, he would be reincarnated as a Venusian when he died.
Confused yet? Hold on, it gets better.
The naked Venusians told Thompson that they had visited Earth for many years, but he was the first human they ever spoke to. They told him that a millennia ago humans and Venusians were once the same, speaking the same language and worshipping the same religion, but humans began to sin and thus a curse was placed upon them. In order to move humanity in the right direction again, it is the duty of Venusians and other peaceful aliens to be reincarnated as humans on this planet. They can’t come here physically because our poisoned environment would kill them.
Are you getting all this? Too bad, ‘cuz we’re not done yet.
The intergalactic nudists then informed Thompson that they planned on contacting each human being on Earth one at a time to spread the message of peace. Their mission will be completed when Christ is reborn in 10,000 A.D. Start your timers.
Thompson also described most of the interior of the flying saucer, which was pretty unremarkable—it sounded basically like the layout of a house, save that he didn’t know where they went to the bathroom and never got around to asking (when he needed to relieve himself, he just went outside.) Thompson spent the night aboard the ship, and as he departed in the morning, he asked if he could return with a camera, but the buck-naked aliens didn’t understand what he meant by that. They asked him if he was planning on returning with a friend. He said that he could, but they asked him not to. “They were afraid that somebody would breathe on them or something and try to destroy them,” Thompson recalled.
Thompson did return with a camera, but the light from the UFO was so bright that it bleached out all the pictures. The aliens then made ready to depart, telling him that he could contact them any time, so long as he didn’t reveal too much about the Venusians to other Earthmen. They said that they would watch him every minute, and promised that he could take a ride in their ship sometime, but he had to strip down and be deeply tanned before boarding. And that’s all we know about the nudist colony from Venus.
Shortly after Thompson revealed this story to the world, he was interviewed by Kenneth Arnold. For those of you who don’t know, Kenneth Arnold was a private pilot who witnessed a fleet of strange flying ships over the Cascade Mountains on June 24, 1947, and described them as looking like saucers skipping over the surface of a pond (reporters misinterpreted what Arnold said and described the crafts as “flying saucers.”) Arnold became a UFO investigator after his encounter, but when he interviewed Samuel Eaton Thompson, Arnold admitted that he had a hard time not laughing right in the man’s face. Arnold said of Thompson, “he couldn’t have imagined a ham sandwich if you held it up right in front of him.”
It’s interesting to note that Thompson apparently never tried to gain any fame from his experience, and that his full story wasn’t released until nearly three decades afterward (it’s believed that Thompson passed away sometime in 1960. I found an Ancestry.com entry for a Samuel Eaton Thompson who matches some of his details, and his death is listed as December 12, 1987. With that being said, please don’t pester this family.) Kenneth Arnold believed that Thompson seemed sincere in his account, though Arnold himself didn’t believe it (he even suggested that it was possible that Thompson had some kind of psychic experience, but I think he was trying to be nice to the guy.) Why would Thompson tell a story like this if he wasn’t trying to get famous?
I have a theory. First of all, let’s look at the year this supposedly happened: 1950. This was the dawn of the nuclear age, and the Cold War was well underway. People the world over lived daily with the fear that a nuclear war could happen at any second. To say that the times were tense would be a serious understatement.
Now, take a look at Thompson’s Venusians. They were a group of child-like, innocent creatures that had nothing but pure intentions, wanted nothing but to help humanity. They lived very simply, free of clothing, never eating meat, were friendly and kind. They spoke of a time when the races were unified, and their plan to unify the races once again, bringing peace to Earth. These loving Venusians were the complete opposites of the violent Earthlings.
I think that Thompson was so fearful of nuclear war and wished so badly for peace that he created the Venusians.
To what end I’m not sure; maybe Thompson thought this was a way to spread a message of peace, using a method that would certainly grab people’s attention (by the 1950s people had lightened up on the cotton gloves thing, but accepting public nudity was still a no-go.) Perhaps Thompson had a mental illness that we’re not aware of, like schizophrenia or a delusion disorder that made him believe that his own fantasy had actually happened. Maybe he wished for a simpler, more innocent time, like his own childhood in Minnesota.
In addition, if the Ancestry.com entry is indeed the same man, Samuel Eaton Thompson was born about two years before W.H. Hopkins had his encounter. Minnesota is a scant one state over from Missouri, so I suppose it’s possible that he had heard of Hopkins’s encounter, which might explain some of the similarities, but that’s just speculation on my part.
And coincidentally, this past May, scientists toyed with the idea of sending pictures of naked humans out into space for aliens to find, but ultimately decided against it. They don’t need to bother; with all the porn bouncing off of satellites out there, the aliens are probably well aware of what we got goin’ on.