Search This Blog

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Attack of the Mummies! Assorted Mummy Weirdness and a New-ish Short Story

 Friends and assorted weirdos, I'm happy to share that my short story Otherworldly Rewards is now available for your reading pleasure at a pay-what-you-wanna price. Originally published in HighStrange Magazine last year, I've made it available for your eyeballs in a downloadable format- a story about greed, dirty dealing, and the results of such actions involving murder, mystery, and of course, mummies!

Mummies have been a long running theme between at least myself and my Holy Donut Revival Hour co-host and bestie SJ. It probably began with pestering John E. L. Tenney about fighting mummies, which culminated in a short story we collaborated on for his birthday one year. Over time, I've found plenty of extra weird mummy-related things, some of them falling under the umbrella of the paranormal and others just plain strange. Otherworldly Rewards, for instance, was inspired by the use of mummified remains in the production of paint- a practice with a relatively brief and murky history. For the record, and as should be evident in the story itself, I have a great respect for the sanctity of human remains and a belief in honoring the lives of the very real people who inhabited those bodies- but such obviously wasn't always the prevailing belief, and in some cases, still isn't.

As evidenced by the exploits of Mexican UFOlogist Jaime Maussan in recent years, mummified remains of nebulous origin are still being showcased publicly as evidence of alien lifeforms. While the carnival barker-esque hucksterism of such exploitation is perhaps rightfully mocked and derided online, it's easy to lose sight of what very may well constitute abuses of sacred or significant cultural artifacts. Ethical scrutiny should be applied whenever one delves into the "ancient astronaut" type of speculation, and the history of UFOlogy is rife with examples of a disregard for such thought.

A particularly wacky, and likely less problematic example of the old "Alien Mummy" trope is that of Ralph Lael's, which he exhibited in his Outer Space Rock Shop Museum near Brown Mountain, in North Carolina. According to Lael, he was directed to take the mummified creature as proof of alien life by sentient "ghost lights" in a Brown Mountain cave... after a quick trip to Venus and a sexy encounter with a Venusian lady named Noma. Even the Venusians didn't really know precisely what kind of extraterrestrial remains had been mummified in the cave, but Lael showcased it in his shop until his death when the place was demolished. The current whereabouts of the mummy are unknown.

While unidentifiable "ET" mummy remains vary from the wacky to the offensive, they are only part of the equation in UFO / mummy related weirdness. After all, horror movies have led us to believe that mummies can be reanimated, a theme which, as I alluded to in my post about the Universal Movie Monsters last Halloween, has no real basis in Egyptian mythology. Be that as it may, there have been humanoid sightings related to UFOs which feature mummy-like entities, interactive and mobile.

One such case was recorded by APRO (Aerial Phenomena Research Organization) investigator Richard Greenwell. The witness, only identified as "C.A.V.", reported being abducted in Peru by flying saucer occupants in 1949, which he described as nude and mummy-like. One supposes he meant that the beings had the appearance of unwrapped mummies, as his description more closely matches that of the gray alien which would become more prevalent decades later. He also noted that the beings had claw-like hands, with the top four fingers stuck together and a protruding thumb, and that they seemed to either only have one leg or that both legs were bound together. These particulars draw a comparison to the entities reported in the Pascagoula abduction case, although I never considered them to sound very mummy-like. A similarly "unwrapped" mummy alien encounter is recorded reportedly happened as recently as 1988 in Denmark, with much smaller humanoids invoking the description alongside a public road.

For the fully wrapped and animated UFOnaut Mummy experience, I take you now to November of 1973 in Goffstown, New Hampshire- the home of one Mrs. Florence Dow. At around 8:30 that night, her attention was directed to the front of her house where the sound of a loud thump had emanated. When she looked outside in an attempt to discover the sources of the thud, she came face to face with a weird entity that was peering inside. This alien mummy must have had the same tailor as the Men in Black, because he wore a black suit and wide brimmed black hat- and, notably, its face was wrapped in white fabric as a mummy's would be!

The being motioned for her to come outside, which she wisely did not; but when she chained the door and opened it enough to look out where the Mummy in Black had been, it was gone. This was the initial event that kicked off a flap of sightings in the Goffstown area, investigated by Raymond E. Fowler- but the only one to involve such an entity. The others were more elf-like, silver-suited and more interested in soil samples than pestering the locals...

  An even more bizarre and unnerving alien mummy story returns to the abduction scenario. The details of the encounter were retrieved through hypnosis by Leo Sprinkle, and it has the hallmarks of such abduction accounts- missing time, memory wiping, and apparent medical examination. The twist with this one, however, is the entity itself, which seemed to be some kind of mummy space robot. In late August of 1975, Sandra Larson, her daughter, and a friend were driving on I-94 in North Dakota when the car they were traveling in stopped dead by itself as 8-10 UFOs hovered overhead and nearby. In her later recounting of events, the "attending doctor" of the craft they were brought aboard was wrapped in bandages, never blinked, had metallic, mechanical arms and seemed to give off an eerie light. While all of this is terrifying, Sandy was apparently cured of a sinus condition by the Robo-Mummy- so one supposes it could have gone much worse.

Alien mummies are more plentiful than one might think, whether they are upwardly mobile or otherwise. In either case, though, they deftly avoid proof of their existence as extraterrestrial beings. So we gently come back down to earth for some more grounded, mundane mummy weirdness, albeit with a little bit more UFOlogical lore to soften our landing:

Hobo Mummy and Airship Pilot

Article from May 24, 1973 The Record (Hackensack, New Jersey)

 One wonders- in what state of preservation the Airship Pilot would have been found, had he been exhumed? Perhaps we will never know. It seems, though, that it must have been fairly common to "mummify" a corpse and set it up in a shop window, or parade it around in carnivals, leaving it for future generations to discover as was the case with Elmer McCurdy, McCurdy was only discovered to be a legitimate corpse, and not a funhouse prop, during the filming of an episode of The Six-Million Dollar Man in 1977. Sometimes mummies, when kept in the home, provide some semblance of home security; a collector of curiosities named William Small, of New Jersey, found this out in 1951 when a break-in was halted by the grinning visage of the mummy in Smalls' closet. It seemed the burglars abandoned their scurrilous enterprise and stole nothing in their haste to get out of the house of horror- but a few years later, when a fire broke out there, the firefighters on the scene received a similar scare.

I would be remiss in not mentioning the crème de la crème of oddball mummies, that of Achile Chatouilleu, Shriner, "French Tickler", and... Clown Mummy.

Achile is a rare example of an exhibited corpse for whom it was a dying wish. Well known in his time and locale, he participated in the first Shriners parade- and apparently hoped that even in death, he could inspire smiles. He was preserved with toxic materials like mercury and arsenic, and was kept behind glass for public viewing at the California Institute of Abnormalarts in North Hollywood. The venue closed its doors permanently in 2022, and the clown prince of mummies was sold to an anonymous buyer- as so often is the case, the mysteries surround the mummified.

In closing, I'll share a few of the mummies I've met in person.

The first such mummy item from my travels is the mysterious mummy hand that can be found in the Caldwell Library at Lake George, in New York. Cattycorner from The House of Frankenstein Wax Museum, which features a recreation of the Karloff Mummy, is the unassuming and quiet local library. In stark contrast to the shops and tourist traps, restaurants and boat tour docks along the strip the small library is very much what one would expect in a town library; that is, unless one knows about the mysterious mummy hand. I anticipated an awkward exchange with the young librarian on duty when I dropped in, but she was overjoyed at the chance to 'lend me a hand'. The story goes that the hand was donated from the personal collection of the former head librarian, and was at some point stolen. No one knows how Hubbell, the librarian, acquired it; nor is the identity of the thief known, but the hand was discovered at an estate sale and mailed back to its current home on Lake George. It's a very small hand, and a significantly weird item to casually view while on vacation...

Synchronicity led me to another mummy, this time in Belfast, Maine. At the time I was reading Jadoo by John Keel, his first book about traveling around the Middle East and India in search of magic and mysticism. My ratty old paperback edition of the book came with me on the trip to Maine, and I was worried it would fall apart from being in my away bag. I had dreamed of trying to catch a snake one night, and when I began the book, it was about catching snakes; later that summer I did have to catch a snake which had hitched a ride inside of our camper. At one of the only used book shops I managed to find up there, I was surprised to find a hardcover first edition of Jadoo for a very reasonable price- reducing my concern over the fate of my old mass market copy. Then, as I sat to read the chapter of the book about mummy dealers, I got a tip from Twitter mutual Brad Knight that there was a mummy to be found in Belfast.

So off we went to the charming roadside candy and curiosity shop known as Perry's Nut House. They specialize in gag gifts, fudge, mixed nuts, and campy home decor, and among the taxidermy apes and large sections of snakeskin adorning the walls you can find Jay, the mummy. Jay had a history with libraries as well; brought to the U. S. by an adventurer named Jack Williamson, who ended up writing a book about Egyptian mummification processes. Jay the Mummy was stored along with other artifacts long after Williamson passed away in 1945, and forgotten about. When they were discovered, the artifacts were returned to Williamson's descendants- but no one wanted to take poor Jay. No one, that is, except the proprietor of Perry's Nut House at the time. 

To refer back to my introductory thoughts, I have mixed feelings about the mummies I've met. I'm not sure what the right thing to do is. I'm certainly glad to have met them- and I use the word "met" because these are not "things", they are human remains. Just as Osiris was made complete by Isis, and the wrappings of the mummy culminated in his apotheosis as the ruler of the underworld, the spirits of these long deceased Egyptians have a life outside of the one they lived thousands of years ago. They are remembered and in a strange way, cared for. While the unwilling recent examples such as McCurdy have been committed to burial, and others like Achile the Clown chose to be showcased, the true history of the Hand of the Caldwell-Lake George Library and of Jay can't be known. I can only hope their souls found peace in a bygone age, and that they are treated with dignity in their respective residences.

Oh, and I hope Lael's alien mummy pops up somewhere, someday...



  1. Simon from HidDenmark here, thanks for linking to our article about the Nivå Mummies in your long and fascinating blog post. I learned a lot about the topics of alleged alien mummies and mummy-like aliens alike, which I did not know before.

    1. You are most welcome, Simon! Thank you for all the work you do, and for illuminating us English readers to the weirdness in your part of the world!