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Mystery Man:
Marjorie Palmer Remembers Richard Shaver
Interviewed by Ray Palmer
Reprinted from The Golden Age of Flying Saucers Newsletter
Volume 1, Number 3, October/November, 1997
Editor's Note:
No one person stood more squarely at the center of the Golden Age of Flying Saucers than publisher Raymond A. Palmer. The magazines he created -- FATE, Flying Saucers and Search -- were (and in the case of FATE Magazine , remain) at the vanguard of paranormal reporting. From Kenneth Arnold's Mt. Rainier saucer sighting, to the Shaver Mystery, to the events at Maury Island and beyond, Ray Palmer was on the case, with his wife, Marjorie, always at his side. Here, in conversation with her son, Raymond B. Palmer, Marjorie Palmer remembers Richard Shaver, and the days when his Mystery first entered her family's life.

Ray Palmer:  When did you first meet Richard Shaver?

Marjorie Palmer:  In person? When they came to our house after Dad went to Pennsylvania -- can I call him Dad?

R:  Sure.

M:  When Dad went to Pennsylvania, and he told me all about what happened there.

R:  Why did he go to Pennsylvania?

M:  To see Richard, because he had those stories, and there was such a reaction from the readers after they were published. When Richard got somebody's attention, he began sending letters, just bits and pieces of things. And Dad would encourage him to do it. He got really curious about it, and he went to see him.

R:  Well, Dad wrote I Remember Lemuria from Richard's letters before that, though.

M:  Yes, he'd already printed some, and it was making such a stir, and so, of course, he was curious all about everything. And he was trying to get more and more out of Richard. He told him to write down everything he'd think about. Sometimes he'd write whole letters, sometimes just little bits and pieces. Whether they "came to him" or what, I don't know. Anyway, when we were first married, Dad had to go to New York once a month, to the office there, so he probably went to New York, then went by Pennsylvania and stopped there. He stayed all night, and he slept in this room -- you know the story, Dad's written about that. Dorothy [Shaver] was down taking care of the cats and dogs like always, and Richard was in his bed in the next room. Dad could hear him talking in a lot of different voices. He tried to hear everything, but he didn't really get much. Then Dorothy came to bed and "Zoop!" the people stopped talking.

R:  Dorothy didn't think much about it, really?

M:  No, she was Pennsylvania Dutch, and just easy-going, and they have a lot of superstitions and things, so she just accepted it. She didn't want anybody to laugh at him or anything like that, but she just went along. She called him "sick" when he was hearing things.

R:  I remember one Christmas when he came. Just after Christmas dinner, he went over to the couch and went into his trance...

M:  That was quite a while after they'd been here. When they first came to Evanston [Illinois] and stayed all night with us, they brought their two dogs. They were looking around for a place to live, but then they stayed another night. Guess what happened to our house?

R:  From the dogs?

M:  Fleas! All over the carpet! So we fumigated. By that time they'd got a place, so we decided we were going to go out to see them. Dorothy was a good cook, Pennsylvania Dutch. It was a nice place, a nice trip, and we went out there a lot on Sundays, because Richard and Dad liked to fish, and they liked to talk... I could tell you some things that happened there, with Richard's writing.

R:  What about his writing?

M:  When we were out there one time, Richard went into his study and started typing like mad. Now Richard could write really good sometimes, and sometimes he just brought in all these other things. But this time, he just kept writing and writing and writing. Dad told me he read it when Richard got done, and he thought it was like Richard's brother that was dead. He was a writer, too, but much more... polished .

R:  Yeah, I've seen Richard's writing.

M:  Dad was just quiet and let him go on, and he just kept right on going while we were there, didn't pay any attention to us, which wasn't like him. Dad told me he was sure that it was the brother, the one that's dead. When the brother died, that upset Richard a lot. Then people began writing in or coming to see us with different points of view -- the White Brotherhood, this is spirits, this is all sorts of things. Richard would have nothing to do with it. It was all physical, absolutely nothing to do with it, so Richard would shut up for a while. So Dad just translated, and so did we all, to "Deros" and "Teros," and we just began using those terms. Even if we were thinking from another point of view. If this person said, "Well, this works because of spirits," or whatever, we wouldn't say that. Dad would NOT say that. He'd say "Deros" and Teros," translate everything.

R:  But he meant "spirits."

M:  He just was thinking and exploring all these things. He'd wonder if it could be this or this, and he'd ask Richard, but he wouldn't say "spirits" or "your brother" or whatever...

R:  Or else Richard would be quiet.

M:  Yes. He just knew that, to Richard, it didn't mean afterlife or spirits or anything like that. It was all whole, it was solid as far as Richard was concerned. So in our talking, it was all "Deros" and "Teros." That was our familiar way we talked, and it was no big deal. But that way he got a lot out of Richard because he didn't make fun of what he did, he didn't make fun of anyone. That's how he found out about a lot of things. He'd just listen to what people had to say, and not sneer like so many people do at anything that's another point of view. Like they do right now to this day... "A flying saucer!" The news people, they'll give a story, but they have to "heh heh heh" at the end because nobody believes. Well, who said we believed? We didn't say we believed.

R:  You just wanted to know.

M:  Yes! And then there's the government thing: "Oh, ninety-some percent are this or that..." It's just silly. Could be, but what about the 1%? Or the 1/2% that somebody did see that you can't find an explanation for? Don't you think maybe something is?   I think more than they say.

R:  It's like Richard's voices. Nobody believed him but, as Jen [Ray Palmer's daughter, this interviewer's sister] said, she'd hear those voices coming out of his mouth and would be scared by them. She was never scared of Richard, just the voices.

M:  Sure. We didn't know what it was. We just wondered about spirits, Christianity, life after death... With Richard, no, it was all solid. Solid rock. Solid everything. You know, the last article that Dad wrote, he ended it up that maybe, if you both were dead, and you saw each other, that you could shake hands, and it would be solid because, in other words, it's a different dimension, and if people were both in a different dimension, you would be solid to them.

R:  So the Shavers moved up here [Amherst, WI]?

M:  It was about the time Dad quit [as editor of Amazing Stories Magazine]. and don't believe all those things that he was fired or anything, because it's not true, absolutely not true. What happened had a lot to do with these "New York Writers," and that group. Oh, they're the "Capitol of Literature," I guess, or something anyway. When they got the Shaver Mystery, there was this big, "We don't believe that!" and how it shouldn't be in a science fiction magazine -- I don't know why it shouldn't be in science fiction, do you?

R:  There were a lot of different stories in Amazing Stories. They weren't fiction, they were science.

M:  I know! Dad always did like, "What if?" And I always thought, well, that's it - what if this was this way? And what if this was this way? So anyway, one of these "fans" or whatever from New York evidently wrote to Mr. Ziff [of Ziff-Davis, publishers of Amazing Stories], who didn't even know what science fiction was, I don't think, and said that it was ridiculous.

R:  I read somewhere that it was a group of six guys, and they got together, and they just kept writing letters to Ziff.

M:  That's what Dad always told me. He said, "Don't pay any attention. It's just a handful." But they just kept on and on.

R:  It was a handful that didn't like it, but they didn't care about the thousands who did like it.

M:  And why? It doesn't make any sense.

R:  Well, maybe it's the Deros. They found a handful they could control... Did you believe Richard's story?

M:  I listened to him. I was interested in what he had to say. I wouldn't suddenly say I believed him, I don't know. I listened to him. And why not? Why not believe him? Or why not not believe him? I don't know.

R:  He was sincere, though. It sounded like he thought what he said was true.

M:  Yes, he believed what he did, and for us it was, "Sure, why not listen to him?" He was no dummy, either. He was smart -- a genius according to his mother. She had him tested when he was young.

R:  He didn't seem like he was making it up.

M:  No.  As I said, we translated into his language, and then we got a lot of things because he didn't feel we were making fun of him, or not believing.

R:  Were there things that happened that ever made you think maybe the Deros were after you?

M:  Really and truly, a lot of times Dad used to say how things seemed to work out just right, you know? It's just amazing, different things in his life.

R:  Bad things, I mean. "Deros" and "Teros"...

M:  All right. But I tell you, most of the time it seemed like we had it pretty good -- things worked out. Sure we had real problems, I mean lot's of times were horrible! But then it seemed like whatever happened, in the end, was for the best. We had that for a long time. But towards the end, Dad was really discouraged and he actually said "... maybe it's because I'm printing some of this Shaver thing. Maybe they're going after me." And he really sort of thought so, and I thought, well, maybe, too.

R:  Do you remember Dad seeing any flying saucers?

M:  When he was coming up from Evanston one time, he said he saw this thing while driving along... I don't know. An "unidentified flying object?"

R:  I heard him say that in Chicago, too, he saw one, lots of people did.

M: Yes, along the lake.

R:  And he said he saw one off the top of the windows of our house, too, one time.

M:  It was one of those "fireballs," an unidentified something, flying low.

R:  Did the flying saucers effect your life in any way? You did so many other things, too. It's just one of many things, isn't it?

M:  Sure, it effected my life. The whole works -- it was all interesting. I was part of it with Dad. We talked about it all the time. I was always interested in what made things tick, and so was Dad. We got along good. We had a horrible lot of problems, but we got along good.

Copyright (C) 1997, by Raymond B. Palmer

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