Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Strange Disappearances: Here One Minute, Gone the Next

I recall an episode of The Twilight Zone where a little girl tumbles out of bed and falls through a portal into another dimension that had opened up in the wall of her bedroom. Her rescuer reached through and pulled her back. Of course, that is fiction. Or is it? Legend is full of stories just like this where people are here one minute and gone the next, never to be seen or heard of again.

In recent history, science has provided enough evidence of space holes and other dimensions that this Twilight Zone scenario is much more believable. We pretty well accept that a worm hole can lead to either another time or place in the galaxy. Why is it, though, that mankind has suspected this was true even before anyone knew about the science behind it? Probably because history is laced with strange disappearances.

Keep in mind that the following information may or may not be authenticated and all fall into the category of Legend.

Take the case of the Eskimo Village, for example, where the entire population of over 2000 vanished in 1930. A tracker who had been camping in the wilderness returned home to find everyone was gone. The village was still there as if the people could have returned at any moment. Cooking pots simmered on the stoves and rifles and kayaks remained where they always were. Would the whole community have walked away? And why? But there were no tracks leading away from the village and none of the missing tribe could be located anywhere. Only two mysterious clues remained. All the sled dogs were found buried deep in a snow drift in the area. They had all starved to death. Also the graves of the tribe's ancestors had been opened (which would have been extremely difficult with the ground frozen in ice) and the bodies had been removed.

In Bennington, Vermont, during the period of 1920 and 1950, several unexplained disappearances took place. A Mr. Tetford, who lived in the Soldier's Home in Bennington, disappeared from inside a bus where he was sitting with 14 other passengers. They all had seen him sleeping in his seat, but when the bus arrived, Mr. Tetford was nowhere to be found. All his belongings remained as they were, including his bus timetable lying open on the adjoining seat.

Other Bennington disappearances included an 18-year-old student who vanished off a trail in Glastenbury Mountain and an 8-year-old who went missing suddenly off his parent's farm. Neither were ever found.

Dozens of disappearances like these around Bennington caused the area to become known as the Bennington Triangle. Native Americans in the 18th and 19th centuries, believed this Glastenbury wilderness to be a haunt of evil spirits, and they only used it for a burial ground. According to their legend, this spot was a place where all four winds met and an enchanted stone would swallow anything that passed by. But the strange disappearances in this so-called Bennington Triangle have ceased since the last one in 1950.

One of the most well-known disappearances in history is the case of David Lang. On September 23, 1880, David was walking in a field near his home in Sumner County, Tennessee. He was in full view of his wife and two children. His brother-in-law and a local attorney were approaching nearby in a horse-drawn buggy. Suddenly, David Lang vanished before their very eyes. It was said that a circle marked the spot where he vanished. Nothing would ever grow there and animals and insects avoided going into it. It was also reported that his children claimed to hear their father's voice once when they ventured into the center of the circle.

Another disappearance on the order of David Lang's was reported in "The Difficulty of Crossing a Field" written by Ambrose Bierce in 1909. This disappearance occurred in July, 1854, involving Orion Williamson who vanished, like David, while walking across a field.

Quite the reverse of disappearing from our realm is the story of the Green Children of Woolpit who are said to have appeared from somewhere else. Sometime between 1135 A.D. and 1154 A.D., two children were found near a pit at Woolpit, England. Huddled together, the boy and girl were terrified and screamed in an unknown language. Their clothing was made of an unknown material and the children's skin was green. They were taken to the home of Richard de Calne where by trial and error, it was found the only thing they would eat were fresh bean pods which they ate exclusively for quite sometime. However, the boy died soon after they were found. The girl thrived and lost the green hue in her skin when she started eating the local food. She learned English and finally was able to say where she and the boy had come from. She described a land with no sun where the people were all green and lived in perpetual twilight. The two children had heard bells, then found themselves in the pit and emerged into the light of our world. The girl lived long and eventually married, but was never able to explain her origins.

Two accounts of the Green Children of Woolpit were written around 1200 A.D., nearly 60 years after the time it is said to have happened. The names of these writings are 'Historia Rerum Anglicarum' by William of Newburgh, and 'Chronicon Aglicanum' by Ralph of Coggeshall Abbey. These were not eyewitness accounts of the green children but merely included in these collections of stories the authors had heard.

Of course, I cannot fail to mention the most notorious place of disappearances and that is the Bermuda Triangle, an area of 750,000 square miles in a triangle shape from Florida to Bermuda to Puerto Rico and back to Florida. It is said that the first report of a strange occurrence in that place was recorded by Christopher Columbus in 1492. He saw a ball of fire fall into the sea, then his compass did not work properly. Over 50 ships and 20 airplanes have been known to disappear there.

One reference found in the Bible, Acts 8:39-40, could fall into the category of a strange disappearance. Philip may have disappeared from the sight of the eunuch he had just baptized. Then he reappeared at the city of Azotus.

Strange disappearances and appearances are found throughout historical records. Are they based in fact or fiction? Urban legend? Hard to say, but at least the freight train that may be running through your living room in another dimension does not keep you awake.


Anonymous said...

That was so cool I loved the story about the green kids.

jennism said...

My mom used to give mashed up avocado as baby food until she noticed my skin was turning greenish! I guess that's why I love it so much! Hey, it ain't easy being green!