In 1950’s America an interesting phenomenon occurred. Hot on the heels of the ‘flying saucer flaps’ (as they were then known) which had been occurring since 1947*, a small group of people went public with claims that they had both met and travelled with men and women from outer space.
These ‘contactees’, as they came to be called, began going public with prophetic messages and dire warnings about mankind’s future which they claimed originated with the men from Venus.
The first and most famous of these was George Adamski who went from dishwasher in a burger joint to millionaire after the publication of his book about his ‘encounters’ with space people but he was not the last. There was at least a score of others peddling pretty much the same line in space dust.
One of those who became almost as famous as Adamski was Howard Menger of High Bridge New Jersey. Menger claimed that when he was a young boy back in the 30’s he encountered a beautiful woman sitting upon a rock in the woods outside of town. The woman revealed herself to be from Venus and told Howard that he would meet her again at some point in the future.
Menger, in his book From Outer Space to You, claimed that this proved to be the case when, in the 50’s, he witnessed a spacecraft which landed in a field outside High Bridge. Menger alleged that one of the three figures that emerged from the craft was the very woman he had met 20 years before. Furthermore, he claimed she had not aged a day in the intervening years.
It seems amazing to think that people bought into Howard Menger’s tales of encounters with Venusian amazon women but many did. Howard claimed that many beside himself also witnessed the craft he frequently saw and filmed. However, even a cursory examination of his images leaves the modern viewer more than a little unconvinced and wondering what his so-called witnesses thought they were seeing.
Among Mengers more outrageous claims is that he was taken by the Venusians to Earth’s moon and that it had an atmosphere and horticulture. He even claimed to have brought back a ‘moon potato’.
If this all seems rediculous, it’s worth noting that Howard often spoke to very large gatherings of devoted believers (some of which took place right here in High Bridge) and he appeared often on the radio where he waxed lyrical about the teachings delivered by the Venusians**.
There are still people living in High Bridge today who claim that Howard was a hardworking and honest local businessman who was well liked and respected within the community. His own wife, Connie, met Howard when, as a local journalist, she came to interview him about his experiences with the Space Brothers. Connie was so impressed by him that she married him, quit her job, and started preaching the message too (something she continued to do even after Howard’s death in 2009).
The contactee movement has been chalked up largely to the extreme paranoia of the ‘A-Bomb Generation’. Many people (intellectuals among them) were convinced that mankind was on a fast track to annihilation and the thought of benevolent and technologically advanced beings intervening in our affairs like protective parents must have held a lot of appeal for those traumatised by their fear of the bomb.
I’ve watched some of Menger’s filmed interviews and there’s no denying he was charismatic and seemingly sincere. Perhaps he actually believed what he was saying or perhaps he just needed to believe it was true.
*It’s probably not a coincidence that these ‘flaps’ occurred as the paranoia of Cold War was gearing up.
**In later years (once space exploration had proven that the other planets in our Solar System were hostile to humanoid life) Menger and the other contactees claimed that they had misunderstood their Space Brothers as to their point of origin.
Menger claimed he now believed they merely had a base on Venus (or maybe Mars) and actually came from outside of our system.