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The Barker Files (Part 1)

on Wed, 09/16/2015 - 23:18

The Collection

By Raymond A. Keller, II, Ph.D.

Gray R. Barker, Pioneer Ufologist, 1925-1984

It is the privilege of your author, Dr. Raymond A. Keller, a.k.a. the “Cosmic Ray,” to carry out UFO research in both the paranormal and personal files of the late Gray Roscoe Barker, a noted ufologist and writer from the early 1950s until his death in 1984.  Barker was best known for his book, They Knew Too Much about Flying Saucers (1956), which provided a description of fellow pioneer ufologist Albert K. Bender's encounters with the so-called “Men in Black.” These mysterious agents, whose job it was to keep UFO experiencers from talking about their close encounters, were later popularized in movies with Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones in starring roles. Barker also received worldwide notoriety through his own UFO investigative efforts, which he wrote about in the pages of the serial magazine, The Saucerian, of which he was editor and publisher.  For the most part, The Saucerian served as collection point for contactee stories and other types of UFO encounters.  It was through the pages of this cutting-edge periodical that Barker brought an intense spotlight to the appearance of such enigmatic entities in West Virginia as the “Flatwoods Monster” and the “Mothman.”  In addition, it was Barker who first focused attention on the alleged disappearance of the Navy destroyer  USS Eldridge (DE-173) and its crew in the so-called “Philadelphia Experiment.”

The Barker Collection consists of approximately 29 drawers of file folders, 300 books, 75 magazine sets, photographs of Barker and various props used by Barker. My own Venus Rising can also be found among the titles in the collection.  The Barker Collection is located in the Gray Barker Room of the historic Waldomore House adjacent to the Clarksburg Harrison Public Library at 404 West Pike Street in Clarksburg, West Virginia  26301.  The public is welcome to visit during regular library hours.  David Houchin is the collection curator.

 

Barker Biography

Gray Roscoe Barker was born on 2 May1925 and grew up in rural Braxton County, West Virginia, near the town of Riffle among a culture saturated with story-telling. Barker was introduced to science-fiction while studying at Glenville State College, which he continued to read as a hobby throughout his life. After graduating, Barker briefly taught English in a Maryland high school before moving back to West Virginia to manage a small theatre in Clarksburg. Barker went on to establish his own business in Clarksburg, booking films for local drive-ins and cinemas.

In January 1953, Barker's first UFO article, "The Monster and the Saucer," was published in Fate magazine, wherein the emerging writer described the sightings of the so-called “Flatwoods Monster.”  This was a very spooky alien with a spade-shaped head and glowing eyes.  The enigmatic entity was observed within a few miles of Barker's hometown of Riffle. The overwhelming interest that the article generated prompted Barker to write and release the first volume of his own UFO magazine, The Saucerian, in September of that same year.  In 1956, Barker changed the name of the publication to The Saucerian Bulletin; and it continued to attract readers- all fans of everything UFO and extraterrestrial- from around the globe well into the 1960s.  In this same year, the immediate success of Barker’s book, They Knew Too Much about Flying Saucers, also served to fuel the notoriety of The Saucerian Bulletin and prompted Barker to look into establishing his own book publishing enterprise.

Of the period that followed, the collection curator, David Houchin, noted that, “Beginning in 1959, Barker expanded Saucerian Publications, which produced The Saucerian/The Saucerian Bulletin in Clarksburg, West Virginia, to include books sales and production. The first book the Saucerian Press produced was Howard Menger's From Outer Space to You.  Saucerian Books also produced and sold works by Morris Jessup, Laura Mundo, and Michael X, which can be found in the collection. The business also sold overstock books from other publishers, and served as a mail order book service for hard-to-find or out-of-print works as noted throughout his personal correspondence….” 

By 1962, however, Barker ended up selling The Saucerian Bulletin to James Moseley, the editor of the competing Saucer News; and not long afterward, Barker filed for bankruptcy. Barker did return to magazine publishing when he replaced Moseley as the chief editor of Saucer News for a brief stint between 1968 and 1970; and five years after that went on to set up another UFO magazine, Gray Barker's Newsletter. The newsletter continued until April 1984.  Saucer News, on the other hand, was restarted in 1976 by its long-time editor, James Moseley, and it continues to be published to this day under the name of Saucer Smear.  It is more of a specialized publication, focusing on the lives of ufologists and other paranormal researchers. 

On his other works, Houchin stated that, “In 1970, Barker published his second best well-known book, The Silver Bridge, in which, Barker regaled readers with the Mothman sightings that took place around Point Pleasant, West Virginia, before the collapse of the Silver Bridge in 1966.”  The curator added that, “Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, Barker continued to publish his own works as well as others via the Saucerian Press. In 1983, Barker released Men in Black: Secret Terror among Us. In the book, Barker provided readers with additional and updated stories about the men in black. Barker may have gone on to write other works; these have not been confirmed.”

End of an Era

Beginning in October 1984, Barker began to struggle with difficult illness, being admitted and released from a local hospital. By late November, Barker was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit in Charleston, West Virginia, where he died on 6 December 1984.  He continues to be missed by the worldwide ufology community.  Barker’s creative writing style inspired a generation of readers to dream about UFOs and life on other planets or other dimensions.   His works sparked debates among ufologists and enthusiasts around the world and pushed the boundaries of reality through the infusion of UFO lore into popular culture, thus significantly expanding the planetary level of consciousness.

Next:  The ET-China Connection

 

Comments

cosmicray's picture

This is fabulous, Ray.  

Stahrman's picture

Not bad my friend. 

 

 

cosmicray's picture

Dear Stahrman,  Glad you enjoyed our Venus page.  More exciting, entertaining and enlightening articles are yet to come.  -Cosmic Ray