Buck Nelson (1894-1982) had an eighty-acre hard-scrabble farm in northern Howell County, Missouri, in the 1950's. As he later told it, he was sitting at home one evening in 1954 listening to radio when it (the radio) suddenly went "wild crazy" - and his dog, which was outside, started barking excitedly. The old farmer ran out the door to see what was going on, and to his astonishment he saw three large disc-shaped objects floating above his property.
Buck ran into his house and grabbed his camera and a flashlight. When he came back out, the discs were still there and he took three pictures. Of the three photographs that he attempted, only one came out, and it captured the image of just two of the flying discs. (More on that photo later.) He described the discs as being about fifty feet across and eight feet high.
The excited farmer then used his flashlight to signal the three spacecraft. The extra-terrestrials reacted in a surprising manner. They shot poor Buck with a ray that was brighter and hotter than the sun - knocking him down behind a barrel. When he finally came to and got to his feet, the discs were gone. Over the next few days Buck was pleased to discover that he no longer needed to wear glasses to read, and his lumbago was gone!
It was midnight nearly a year later before the aliens paid a return visit to the Nelson farm. This time they landed their craft and came to the house for a visit. The group included three men and a 365-pound dog called "Bo." Of the men, one was from Earth - a 19-year-old American named Bucky who spoke with a Scandinavian accent. Bucky was a distant relative of Mr. Nelson. The other two were genuine extra-terrestrials: a 200-year-old individual named Bob Solomon who appeared to be no older than Bucky, and a wrinkled ET with no name.
The three space voyagers and their dog invited Buck Nelson to join them on a cruise into outer space!
The trip, as chronicled by Buck Nelson, took him to Mars, Venus, and the moon. While the group was planet-hopping, their craft passed through some cosmic rays, causing poor Bo to lose all of his hair. When Buck was finally returned to his farm in the Ozarks, the spacemen gave him the bald dog as a gift. Unfortunately, Bo was very shy and would never come out in public or pose for pictures.
Buck Nelson related that Mars was a very colorful planet with a canal system. He said that people of several different colors lived there. The moon used to have buildings in its craters, and there was a bridge between two of the craters on the side of the moon that faces Earth. Buck said that the side of the moon facing away from Earth, the dark side of the moon, had snow-capped mountains and lots of lakes and rivers when he was there.
Venus, according to the space tourist from Howell County, had three moons, and the people who lived there drove cars without wheels - cars that levitated three-to-five feet off of the ground. He said those cars used the same power as spaceships - solar power and lines of energy (similar to magnetism) between the sun and the planets. Nelson described a "book machine" from Venus that was the size of a television set. It could read text, play any music, and show any photograph that was in the book. (So now we know where Steve Jobs was from!) Buck Nelson offered definitive proof of his trip to Venus by putting a hand-drawn picture of a Venusian seventeen-hour clock in his book, My Trip to Mars, the Moon, and Venus.
The space people were described by Mr. Nelson as eating mainly fruits and vegetables. He said that they were very healthy and had nice teeth. He also said that their doctors used only natural medicines. The people from outer space worked only three hours a day, and one of the things they did in their spare time was to attend classes so that they could learn the languages of people they would be contacting.
The aliens also informed Mr. Nelson that 1,500 space people were currently living incognito in America.
Bucky, the young American who flew with the extra-terrestrials, issued a warning to the people of Earth through Buck Nelson. He said that many civilizations on other planets have been destroyed by atomic weapons, and he called on the world to give up atomic weapons and warfare. Bucky warned that if another war was fought, it would be on American soil and America would be destroyed.
Buck Nelson began turning a profit from his adventures in 1956 when he opened his farm on NN Highway between Willow Springs and Mountain View to Spacecraft Conventions. People would come from all over in their cars and RV's to camp and listen to Buck Nelson and other contactees tell of their travels and adventures in outer space. While camping and enjoying the beautiful Ozarks, they could also purchase food prepared by the host as well as copies of his book, My Trip to Mars, the Moon, and Venus, and packets of Bo's hair. Many of the locals would also drive out to Buck's spacecraft conventions to join in the fun or just to satisfy their curiosity. These conventions were annual events that lasted until 1965.
I first became acquainted with the story of Buck Nelson while teaching at the Mountain View-Birch Tree high school in the late 1970's. Somewhere I even acquired a copy of his" book" - a poorly xeroxed tome of about 20 stapled pages. Ten years or so later when I was making a few dollars freelancing for a couple of national historical and genealogical magazines, I thought that it might be fun to produce an article on the early astronaut. I wanted to write a piece that would entertain, elucidate, and yet not destroy the local legend.
A former co-worker in Mountain View gave me the name of a retired pharmacist who was close with Buck Nelson. I called the pharmacist hoping to gain some heretofore unknown insights on the notable character and clever entrepreneur. He was very friendly and began telling me a story about the photograph of the flying saucers, a photograph that was developed through the services of his drugstore. The man said the photo was a complete fake. He said that he helped Buck attach some tin pie plates to a stick with some thread, and they then took pictures of the pie plates as they seemingly "floated" in the air. I pretended to have not heard all of that and asked a question about something else.
"Rocky, did you hear me?" The pharmacist said. "The photo was a fake!"
I was stunned - and I never wrote the article - until now.