One evening in July of 1952, Truman Bethurum—a heavy equipment mechanic working on a project near the California/Nevada border—pulled off the side of the road to catch some quick shut-eye when he was startled from sleep by several small olive-skinned beings gathered around the cab of his pick-up truck. “Our homes are our castles in a faraway land,” Bethurum’s new found friends informed him. Meanwhile a silver saucer 300 feet in diameter spun overhead.
“Have you a captain?” Bethurum inquired, rubbing the sleep from his bedazzled eyes.
“Surest thing you know,” one of the olive-skinned ETs replied and invited Bethurum aboard their ship (which they called a “scow”). 1 In short order, Bethurum found himself in the presence of the ship’s captain, a gorgeous gal named Aura Rhanes. As Bethurum waxed in Aboard A Flying Saucer (1954): “Little did I suspect that their captain would turn out to be a woman—and what a woman!”
Bethurum described Aura as “tops in shapeliness and beauty” with a complexion that was “a beautiful olive and roses” causing him to stare dumbfounded, unable to form a sentence. “Speak up, friend,” Captain Rhanes implored Bethurum. “You’re not hexed!”
Aura and her crew spoke perfect English—in rhyming couplets, no less—and hailed from Clarion, a planet permanently hidden behind Earth’s moon. According to the Claronites, their home was straight out of some Utopian paradise where such things as divorce, smoking tobacco, drinking liquor, and other such evil earthly pursuits didn’t exist. (Borrrrinnngg!) On account of all this wholesome living, Clarionites lived to be around a thousand years old and could levitate at will. They were also tops in scientific technology and had developed a machine called the Retroscope that allowed them to see any place in the universe at any time in history.
The Clarionite “scow” was constructed of “the finest Martian steel.” The crew members dressed like Greyhound bus drivers, except for our adorable Captain Rhanes, who sported a radiant red skirt, black velvet short sleeve blouse and black beret with red trim like some kind of space age beatnik beauty. For general amusement, the Claronites passed the time—during the course of their intergalatic travels—playing polkas and square dancing. On a more serious note, Captain Rhanes informed Bethurum that if mankind didn’t quit squabbling amongst themselves, they would never be able to achieve space flight. She also had a flair for the dramatic: “I expect to be around for 1,000 years, but the water in your deserts will mostly be tears.” Sad!
Following his initial contact with Captain Aura and her crew of Greyhound bus drivers, Bethurum returned to his hotel room and wrote this historic note: “If I am found dead in my bed, it will be because my heart has stopped from the terrible excitement induced by seeing and going aboard a flying saucer!”
Over a three month period, Aura visited Truman on eleven occasions, sometimes materializing in his bedroom, much to the chagrin of Bethurum’s wife, Mary, who later cited the comely space captain in her divorce petition.
Bethurum enjoyed another shot at marital bliss in 1960, although unfortunately it wasn’t with shapely Aura, but a weathered old gal named Alvira Roberts, their nuptials taking place on the podium at the Giant Rock Spacecraft Convention.
During one of Aura’s later materializations, she instructed Bethurum to gather around himself some friends—particularly those with greenbacks—and establish the “Sanctuary of Thought”, a cosmically inspired commune dedicated to “peace and brotherly love” based out of Prescott, Arizona, that could help Truman generate some extra income. It was through the “Sanctuary of Thought” that he sold signed copies of Aboard a Flying Saucer, as well as delivering services as a “spiritual advisor.”
The last time Bethurum beheld his curvaceous space captain was in the early morning hours of August 27th, 1952 at an all-night roadside diner in Glendale, Nevada:
Bethurum was enjoying a late night snack of pie and coffee with Whitey Edwards…when he felt an elbow in his side. Edwards gestured eagerly toward the lunch counter, where a small man was seated next to a tiny woman wearing a black and red beret, a black, velvety blouse, and a brilliant red pleated skirt… It had to be Aura Rhanes and one of her crewmen!
Bethurum looked, and confirmed Edwards’ suspicion. Would he like to be introduced?
Edwards, strangely put off by the presence of the celestial visitors, refused and began gathering his things to leave.
“If you do,” Bethurum cautioned, “stand near the door so you can see what they get into and which way they go when they come out.”
Then he approached his extraterrestrial friends. “I beg your pardon, Lady, but haven’t we met before?”
No, she insisted to each of his repeated requests for recognition, no, no. He turned to pay his check, and the pair were gone. He rushed outside and demanded Whitey Edwards’ report – where had they gone?
“Honest, Truman,” his friend responded, “Not a blessed soul passed through that door until you came out.”
1 Nebel, Long John. 1961. The Way Out World. Prentice-Hall, Inc. (p. 36).