In search of taps

Fortean Times - - LETTERS -

Jerome Clark presents an en­ter­tain­ing dis­cus­sion of “Mr Wil­son and the aero­nauts of 1897” [ FT362:38-43], but could have noted one strangely re­cur­ring de­tail. Per­haps it was a de­sign flaw in the mys­te­ri­ous di­ri­gi­bles, but they seem to for­ever have needed to stop and take on a bucket or two of wa­ter, thus oc­ca­sion­ing the meet­ings with be­mused wit­nesses. This ex­cuse for land­ing thus has JR Ligon tak­ing four of them to his house near Beau­mont where “they each filled two buck­ets”, prob­a­bly where Rabbi Levy also spoke with them. A day later, Sher­iff Bay­lor in Uvalde con­ducts pre­sum­ably the same chaps to a hy­drant where they top up again.

Two days af­ter that, Frank Ni­chols is awak­ened near Josserand by an air­ship land­ing in his corn­field and “two bucket-bear­ing men” ask to draw wa­ter from his well. Six days later Dead­wood’s HC Le­grone meets five crew mem­bers from a landed craft and again, two of them have “rub­ber bags” that they need to fill with wa­ter. Lastly, Sher­iff RW Dowe is called out at mid­night and has a con­ver­sa­tion with three men from an “air ship” who have landed to fill their “can­teens” on the banks of the Rio Grande near Ea­gle Pass.

One ex­pla­na­tion that sup­ports the nar­ra­tive struc­ture of the en­coun­ters is that the sto­ries (which is not to sug­gest that they are fic­tional) need a rea­son for the craft to have landed; sight­see­ing in a corn­field, a back lane or the Rio Grande at mid­night are sim­ply not very con­vinc­ing mo­tives for the aero­nauts to have landed and be am­bling around so that the meet­ings can take place. Hence the buck­ets, bags and can­teens – “Ex­cuse us, mind if we use your tap sir?”

One might spec­u­late that weight con­sid­er­a­tions pre­vented a few bar­rels be­ing part of the equipage and that sim­ply stop­ping ev­ery so of­ten and re­plen­ish­ing a small wa­ter sup­ply was ex­pe­di­ent. But what about eat­ing? None of the en­coun­ters in­volve ques­tions about “that pump­kin pie y’all have coolin’ on the win­dow ledge

yon­der” or food of any sort. And don’t get me started about the on-board lava­tory sit­u­a­tion – it’s highly likely that the aero­nauts were off-load­ing some ex­cess bag­gage while they claimed to be in­no­cently stop­ping for a cool drink. Robert T Walker Wagga Wagga, New South Wales

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.