The saucer world was stunned by the passing this week of Reverend Robert “Bob” Short, a beloved and cantankerous fixture in the world of ufology dating back to the halcyon days of the old school UFO contactees. Although Hunter S. Thompson wasn’t speaking specifically about Bob Short, he might as well have been when he uttered those immortal words: “There he goes. One of God’s own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.”
For well over a half century, Rev. Short and his spunky wife Shirley operated the Blue Rose Ministry out of their home in Cornville, Arizona, publishing The Solar Space Newsletter where you could “learn the mystic connection between the Hopi’s, the Pope’s and the UFO’s!”
Bob Short’s entrée into the wacky world of ufology dated back to 1953 when he had a calling to travel out to the Mojave Desert at the behest of an ET named Jon-Al who directed him to “Go to the Big Rock in the Desert.” That big rock, it so happens, was Giant Rock, and when Short laid eyes on that magnificent 23,000-ton boulder, it was love at first sight.
Short became fast friends with George Van Tassel and was a frequent attendee of the Giant Rock Interplanetary Spacecraft Conventions. One of my fav Bob Short stories was the time he was at Giant Rock hanging out with Van Tassel when a flying saucer landed and, according to Short, Van (as he was known) jumped in his pick-up truck and drove it onto a ramp and into the space brother’s ship then flew away. After about an hour or so, the flying saucer returned, opened up the ramp, and Van drove his truck back out of the saucer, then the ramp closed and it took off, back into outer space. “George, George, what happened?” an excited Short stammered. “Well, that was interesting,” was Van Tassel’s reply.
Another fond memory I have of Bob Short was during Retro UFO 2 when I was among a group attempting to space out to one of the Karl sister’s Sound Baths up on the top floor of the Integratron, while down below Bob and Shirley suddenly started hollering at each other (as they were sometimes wont to do), which wasn’t out of the ordinary for the pair. Someone had to yell down at Bob to have him put a sock in it, and he finally did pipe down so that our collective group upstairs could return into their mellow meditative happy place space.
Short was an associate of famed contactee George Hunt Williamson with whom he engaged in short wave ET communications in Winslow, Arizona, along with a radio operator named Lyman Streeter. As Reverend Short noted:
“Many times during my association with these two men, UFOs hovered over where we were receiving messages. They (Space Intelligence) would even answer questions we hadn’t asked! We began to contemplate the possibility of bypassing the ham operator altogether and using direct mental telepathy in our communication with the Space Intelligence. However, our efforts to explore this possibility were hampered, when in 1952, the government closed our operation. Their explanation given for this action was that we did not have proper legal grounds for “extraterrestrial” or “alien” contacts. Because of this, I eventually left Winslow, disappointed at the mindset of those “authorities” who sought to limit our understanding of the Extraterrestrial Intelligence and their presence on Earth…” (Source: Short, Robert, 2003. Out Of The Stars: A Message From Extraterrestrial Intelligence. Infinity Publishing Company.)
Like George Van Tassel and a number of other contactees, Bob Short channeled Commander Ashtar and by the mid-1950s (using the non-de-plume of Bill Rose) he started an organization called “Ashtar Command” to monetize his otherworldly conversations.
At the 1967 Giant Rock Convention, “as Short was being introduced to the assembled audience, a reddish-orange craft flew overhead and was seen by all for approximately two minutes. Short then channeled a message from Korton, a resident of the planet Jupiter who had flown over Earth in a mother ship—the light the audience had seen was described as a spacecraft from that mother ship…”(Source: Melton, Gordon J., 2009. Melton’s Encyclopedia Of American Religions. )
The July 9, 1968 Long Beach Independent Press-Telegram featured an article entitled “Outer Space Chef Tosses Bewildering Salad” chronicling a lecture by Rev. Short at the Los Altos Public Library. Staff writer Frank Anderson described Short as a
…outer space chef, [who] cut some green cheese from the moon, mixed it with horse radish and served it up on flying saucers…
Billed as a lecturer of unidentified flying objects, Short confined most of his remarks to communiqués from extra-terrestrial sources which have been published in the Solar Space Letter of his Solar Space Foundation at Joshua Tree.
The audience of 30 persons appeared mystified by it all, for the knowledge by Short flew by faster than the cafeteria line at a tape worms’ convention.
Short was introduced by Rev. Raymond Broshears, pastor of the sponsoring Church of God of Light. After some Hawaiian music, the lecture began with Short telling his audience how outer space beings tune in on earthlings.
It’s done, he said, by means of a resotron, a device that fits on the head like a hair-dryer and immediately translates earthlings thoughts and language into super space intelligence.
Having cleared up this awesome technology, Short read some documents, the substance of which is that the United Nations just isn’t interested in UFOs and “please stop writing to this office.”
Next came the slides. The first one purported to be outer space lights seen through pink clouds—but if you thought it was a slice of liver left too long in the hot sun, you wouldn’t be far off the mark.
This was followed by what appeared to be a human eyeball the day after New Year’s—or an under-fried egg.
Short —perspiring freely in his royal blue turtleneck, dark blue blazer and canary yellow slacks—got the next slide in upside down and backwards. But his apology was wasted—the audience didn’t know the difference…
Pity the poor Martian trying to decode Monday night’s proceedings on his resotron. He’ll think he blew a fuse.
For many years, Bob and Shirley Short were familiar figures on the flying saucer lecture circuit where the good reverend was usually more than happy (for a free will love offering of around $20 or more) to put on a pair of eye shades and perform psychic readings courtesy of Ashtar or Korton or whatever entity was possessing his vocal chords at the time. As my pal Greg Bishop recalled:
“At the International UFO Congress in 2004, Bob Short set up a TV tray in the merch room (because he couldn’t afford a table) and gave psychic readings. I gave him $20 and he gave me a $20 performance. He went into a trance and began to spout extreme generalities which could apply to almost anyone. I was not very helpful with any feedback to lead him, so he continued in this vein. It was a fun session, mainly because I just wanted to help him out with a few bucks and see how good he might be. I recorded the session, but mistakenly recorded over it with a bootleg recording of a Hasil Adkins concert.”
Your humble author had the opportunity to first hook-up with Bob Short at the 2006 Retro UFO Convention, and over pie and suds one night at a local Joshua Tree pizzeria, the Short’s regaled my wife and I with tales of old school ETs—who they referred to as their Sources.
“Bob, how’d you become interested in flying saucers,” I inquired between gulps of beer that formed tiny foam droplets that dripped off my moustache much to the amusements of the Shorts.
Bob Short: “The same way a lot of people did—after I heard Kenneth Arnold’s sighting near Mt. Rainer in 1947—that got me really intrigued and I began working with Ric Williamson.”
Adam Gorightly: “You’re talking about George Hunt Williamson, right, the famous Contactee?”
BS: “Yes, that’s right! I worked with Ric Williamson for a number of years—everyone who knew him called him Ric—I was in on ham radio contacts with Ric up in Winslow, Arizona in the early 50s along with a ham radio operator named Lyman Streeter—that is until the FCC shut us down for ‘communicating with alien unknown sources against the U.S. Government’—as the Feds called it—and they threatened us with federal prison if we didn’t do what we were told! Anyway, we would have UFOs hovering right over us when we received their messages. It was wild! But yeah, I did a lot of stuff with Ric over the years, including a trip to Peru where we learned all sorts of information about the ETs. Anyway, the ham radios weren’t really needed we later figured out, you could do it all with your mind using mental telepathy. I did this first by using automatic writing, which someone had mentioned to me, so I started playing around with automatic writing and eventually began channeling an ET named Jon-al.”
AG: “When’s the first time you went out to Giant Rock?”
BS: “I found my way out there in 1953. They led me to find my way out there—my Sources—absolutely. To this day it just amazes me how they led me out there. Actually I could hear them talking to me just like I’m talking to you sitting here eating pizza. They told me what road to take and the whole thing. I knew how to find Highway 62 because Nora Helms—James Cagney’s personal secretary—came into my mother’s restaurant in North Hollywood, and told her that she’d been out there to talk to this man under the rock near 29 Palms who talked to extraterrestrials…I knew where 29 Palms was, but I didn’t know any big rock in the desert, and that’s what the ETs told me that I needed to find: the big rock in the desert if I wanted to know more of the truth about them.
“So anyway, I drove out there and when I got to the town of Joshua Tree, I got some gas there at what was then the 76 station—where there’s a real estate office now—and the guy said You’re in luck, I was just getting ready to close down and I said By the way, could you tell me where I could find this big rock in the desert and he said Yeah, look all around, Mac, take your pick and I said Well, ask a dumb question, you get a dumb answer…
“And so I told the ETs: If you want me to drive off of this road anywhere, you tell me. I got about five blocks down the highway and I heard this voice go TURN LEFT! And I said what do you mean? And it said again TURN LEFT! And I said OK and I did and I turned onto a paved road and I got up to the top of the hill where the school is now, the elementary school—and by the way, Shirley was told by the ETs that she was going to teach all of Van Tassel’s grandchildren, which she later did, including Matthew Boone—which was fantastic. Isn’t that right Shirley?”
“That’s right!” said Shirley in between a large chomp of pepperoni pizza.
BS: “But anyway, I got out to this point where the road forked and I stopped and said OK, now where? And the voice said TURN HERE! TAKE THE ROAD TO THE RIGHT! And I said OK and the road bent around and finally ended up on this kind of gravely road. I looked off to my left and saw what looked like a dry lake bed and I saw this light and I thought, Well, there’s somebody out here, but I didn’t know this for sure, it could have been 50 miles away and I wouldn’t have known it in the cold, desert air. Well, I drove up a bit further and there was Giant Rock, that’s how I found my way there.
“It was about 1 AM when I arrived at Giant Rock and Eva Tassel was there to greet me and said, You’re like all the rest, you came in the back way. There is a front way, you know. And I said I didn’t know that, and she said Well, you know it now—If you’re meant to be here, you will and if you’re not, you won’t—obviously you’re meant to be here, ‘cause you are here. And then I met Van Tassel, he walked into the Come On In restaurant, which they ran that was built beside another big boulder that was just beyond Giant Rock itself…
“Anyway, I was sitting there talking to her. In fact, I went there was because the ET’s had instructed me to, of course, but also because I’d heard of Van Tassel—because of what Nora Helms told my mother, that he had also made contact with the ETs and all that—so I went there so I could talk to him and and I showed him some of the automatic writings I had at the time and he said Yep, uh huh he was very pragmatic OK, looks like the real McCoy to me and I said Oh, thank God, I’m not crazy! (laughs)”
AG: “Did you ever come face to face with these ETs?”
BS: “Yes, many times. In 1958, I had my first actual physical contact with an ET that happened in an area between Joshua Tree and Yucca Valley called Paradise Valley. I was out walking in the evening and this ship came down about not quite a football field away from me and this being got out of it and walked to the road where I was standing and I was shaking and hyperventilating and I was scared to death! I mean didn’t know what was going on and he walked up to me and I thought I’d better put my hand out to show him I’m friendly. He did something I’ll never forget, he put his hand where my heart is and swept his hand out as if to say Everything that is happening to you, everything that you are seeing, everything that you are going to, is open to you. And I knew he knew all about me from the word git go and his eyes looked like he was looking right through me and he said, We’ve come down to make an adjustment of our craft. We will see you again at a future time, and I thought, That’s it? Is that all? That’s it?
“He started walking away and I couldn’t hear the creosote or any of the desert brush crunching or crackling, which was incredible to me, and there wasn’t any footfalls I could hear, except in the roadbed. In the roadbed you could hear the gravel crunching under his feet and I thought, Sure, yeah Bob, you just thought this happened. Then I said, Wait a minute, wait a minute, let’s check and see if there’s footprints in the roadbed and I checked that out. Sure enough they were there and when I got back to where I was staying, the lady who ran the motel tried to dismiss it and years later she told Shirley: Bob’s face was absolutely ashen, he was shaking all over and he was trying to tell me about this and just hardly couldn’t get the words out. It was really quite an experience!”
AG: “Yeah, an out of the world experience! (laughs) Did any of these ETs ever show up at the Giant Rock conventions?”
BS: “Oh, yes, of course. In April 1964 we had a whole family of ETs—including two twins that were just over five feet tall, dark short cut hair, swarthy skin, looked exactly the same wearing the exact same t-shirts, that were standing around our table. And this family of ETs sat down with us and the wife and the daughter never talked, but the gentleman talked to us, he said, We understand that you get communications. And Shirley said, Well, yes, we do, she told them we get our communications from Venus—right, Shirley?”
“Yup!” said Shirley.
BS: “…And he said, Well, we get our communications from Mars, and he kind of smiled and he wore this lumberjack shirt and lumberjack cap and had a pipe in his mouth but no tobacco in it and he sat discoursing with us and I was standing there watching these two twins at the table—and Bill Hamilton was standing close by and I recalled it to his mind years later and he remembered that—and anyway, suddenly Shirley called me and said Robert, Come here right now! And so I did and she was psychometrizing this man’s ring.”
AG: “Psycho what?” I asked.
“Psychometry!” Shirley interjected. “It’s a form of ESP that allows you to pick up psychic impressions from somebody by scanning an object that belongs to them, like this ring the ET man was wearing.”
BS: “Right…So anyway, Shirley was doing her psychometry bit and discovered that his hands were blank! No fingerprints, no lines at all! And I said Holy Cats, I’ve never seen anything like that! And so he said, Why don’t you and your wife walk around and talk to your friends and visit people and I said Wait, that wouldn’t be right and he said No, go ahead we’ll take care of everything here and so we did and after about 20 minutes or so we came back to our table—near the rock itself—and they said See, everything is fine, everything’s OK. And I said We want to take a picture of you and he said No and I said, But we need this for our files and more sternly he said No and I asked Why can’t we take a picture? and he said Because it won’t come out—but we want to take a picture of you and your wife. So they did and then they said Well, we have to be going now, and they all started walking away towards this aircraft that was parked near the north edge of the airfield there at Giant Rock, and as I looked on I was distracted for just about a minute or so and I looked back and they were gone! So I ran out there and said Where did they go, where did they go?! Where did they go?! They just disappeared, vanished!”
AG: “To Mars, perhaps?“
BS: “Yeah, could be, could be…I don’t know…but that really happened!”